Faculty and Alumni News

The Oceanography Society Honors Professor Fine

rana-fine

Rana Fine

UM Rosenstiel School Professor Rana Fine was elected a 2016 Fellow of The Oceanography Society (TOS) for her outstanding contributions to the field of oceanography. She will be honored along with other 2016 Fellows during the TOS breakfast on Feb. 23, 2016 at the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Meeting.

Fine’s scientific interests include ocean circulation processes and their role in climate using chemical tracers. Fine is a fellow of the AGU, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and American Meteorological Society.

A graduate of the UM Rosenstiel School, Fine has received the highest honor attainable at the University of Miami, induction into the School’s Iron Arrow Honor Society. Fine also received a Provost’s Award for Scholarly Activity from the University of Miami.

TOS was founded in 1988 to disseminate knowledge of oceanography and its application through research and education, to promote communication among oceanographers, and to provide a constituency for consensus building across all the disciplines of the field.

Alumna Heads to Washington, DC as 2016 Knauss Fellow

Erica-Towle_thumb

Erica Towle

UM Rosenstiel School alumna Eric Towle was awarded a 2016 NOAA John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship through the Florida Sea Grant Program for her outstanding achievement in marine and coastal policy research. Towle will relocate to Washington, D.C. for one year to work with the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation for the majority staff, focusing on oceans, atmosphere, fisheries, and the Coast Guard.

Towle is a double alumna of the UM Rosenstiel School earning her B.S. in marine and atmospheric science in 2010 and her Ph.D. in marine biology and ecology in 2015.  Her Ph.D. research was completed in Chris Langdon’s Corals and Climate Change Lab, focusing on identifying indicators of resilience to climate change stress in corals of the Florida Reef Tract.

The National Sea Grant College Program created the Knauss fellowship in 1979 to provide educational experiences to students that have an interest in ocean and coastal resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.

Towle hopes the fellowship will teach her more about how science is translated and used in policymaking.

Alumna Elected Chair of Beach Preservation Association

Leanne Welch

Leanne Welch

UM alumna Leanne Welch was elected chair of the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association (FSBPA) at their annual meeting in September. Her tenure as chair began Jan. 1, 2016 and runs through Dec. 31, 2016. As chair, Welch directs the board meetings and serves on the planning committees for the statewide meetings, which will be held in Jacksonville and Naples in 2016. She works closely with the president and executive director of FSBPA, as well as with other member counties and cities, to promote effective beach management throughout the state.

Welch graduated from UM in 1994 with a double major in marine science and biology and is currently an environmental manager with Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management. She manages many coastal issues in Palm Beach County, including coastal construction (beach and dune nourishment, artificial reef construction, inlet management, and living shorelines), coral reef ecosystem monitoring, sea turtle nesting, manatee protection, and a variety of estuarine management and monitoring programs in Lake Worth Lagoon.

Since its inception in 1957, the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association has functioned as a league of coastal cities and counties on behalf of Florida’s beaches. FSBPA provides information to the Florida Legislature and Congress on beach preservation issues and funding.

Welch has been on the Board of Directors of FSBPA since February of 2012.

Coral Metabolism and Climate Change

A team of Rosenstiel School researchers and alumni published a new study on the intra-and inter-specific variation of metabolic factors of corals in Florida. Their study is important to better understand if some coral will be more resilient than others to climate change.

“Knowing which coral species will be ‘winners’ on reefs of the future will help people be aware of what reefs might look like in the coming decades,” said UM Rosenstiel School alumna Erica Towle.

Mustard hill coral. Credit: Johnmartindavies/wikicommons

Mustard hill coral. Credit: Johnmartindavies/wikicommons

For the experiment, Towle and her team from the UM Corals and Climate Change Lab collected three common species of corals from the Florida Reef Tract, which extends from the Florida Keys to Stuart in Martin County, during two seasonal points (winter and summer).

The species mustard hill coral (Porites astreoides) great star coral (Montastraea cavernosa) and mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata) were analyzed for growth rate, lipid content, algal symbiont density, and chlorophyll content. The surface area of the corals were also measured using a 3-D scanner supplied by UM Alumnus Derek Manzello at the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories.

Great star coral. Credit NOAA

Great star coral. Credit NOAA

The team’s field data agreed with population-level trends that great star coral and mustard hill coral are doing well in the Florida Keys, and may be “winners” on reefs of the future. They point out that future work needed to understand factors driving resilience of “winner” species.

“It’s important for us to start to understand which corals will be dominant on reefs of the future so we can get a better sense of which species to focus stronger conservation efforts on,” said Towle.

regionalstudiesMSThe study, “In-situ measurement of metabolic status in three coral species from the Florida Reef Tract,” was published online in the journal Regional Studies in Marine Science. The work was supported by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program. The study’s authors include: Erica K. Towle; UM Rosenstiel School Professor Chris Landgon; and Renée Carlton and Derek P. Manzello of the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories.

Professor Discusses Future of Extreme Weather Research

 

Professor Sharan Majumdar

Professor Sharan Majumdar

Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Sharan Majumdar recently penned an article on the future of research aimed at improving predictions of and responses to high-impact weather events. Published in the March issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the flagship journal of the American Meteorology Society, Majumdar and colleagues discuss the post-THORPEX (The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment) scientific research planning efforts.

Radar image of Tropical Cyclone Isaac

Radar image of Tropical Cyclone Isaac

THORPEX, a 10-year research and development program organized under the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)/World Weather Research Programme (WWRP), was designed to accelerate improvements in the accuracy and use of 1-day to 2-week numerical weather predictions and concluded in 2014.

“We are planning out the next decade(s) of national and international research with big ideas and broad goals,” said Sharan Majumdar, who was put in charge of steering the initiative. “One important element is to define our national goals, such as improving responses to flash floods, or multi-hazard problems in big cities like New York.”

According to the authors, the “proposed new U.S. high-impact weather research initiative promises significant benefits for the nation in terms of research advances that will directly benefit the entire weather enterprise in reducing loss of life and property.” Read more

 

UM professor co-authors influential climate change paper

Professor Brian Soden

Professor Brian Soden

Professor Brian Soden’s 2006 paper is “one of most influential climate change papers of all time.

The Carbon Brief recently asked climate experts what they think are the most influential papers. In joint second place was a paper by Isaac Held (NOAA) and UM Rosenstiel School’s Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Brian Soden published in the Journal of Climate in 2006.

The paper, “Robust Responses of the Hydrological Cycle to Global Warming,” identified how rainfall from one place to another would be affected by climate change. Prof Sherwood, who nominated this paper, tells Carbon Brief why it represented an important step forward. He says:

“[This paper] advanced what is known as the “wet-get-wetter, dry-get-drier” paradigm for precipitation in global warming. This mantra has been widely misunderstood and misapplied, but was the first and perhaps still the only systematic conclusion about regional precipitation and global warming based on robust physical understanding of the atmosphere.”

The Carbon Brief reports on the latest developments and media coverage of climate science and energy policy, with a particular focus on the UK. They produce news coverage, analysis and factchecks. Read more

Award-Winning Faculty! German Cross of Merit and more…

Professor Graber receives the German Cross of Merit

Hans GraberHans C. Graber, UM Rosenstiel School professor of ocean sciences and director of the Center for Southeastern Tropical Remote Sensing (CSTARS), was awarded the Federal Cross of the Order of Merit, or Bundesverdienstkreuz, by the German government, the highest civilian award given by the Federal Republic of Germany. The Consul General Juergen Borsch presented the Federal Cross of Merit to Graber at an event on March 20 in Miami.

The order was established in 1951 to provide awards “for achievements that served the rebuilding of the country in the fields of political, socio-economic and intellectual activity, and is intended to mean an award of all those whose work contributes to the peaceful rise of the Federal Republic of Germany.”

Graber’s research focuses on radar remote sensing of hurricanes and typhoons, understanding air-sea interactions and the generation of ocean waves and storm surge.

Notable recipients of the Bundesverdienstkreuz include, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Mikhail Gorbachev and Queen Sofía of Spain.

 

Professor Amy Clement Receives Mentor Award

Amy ClementAmy Clement, associate dean and professor of atmospheric sciences is the second recipient of the UM Rosenstiel School Outstanding Mentor Award. Clement was presented the award by the Graduate Academic Committee at a ceremony on May 20 at the School. At the award ceremony she gave a talk titled, “A discussion on mentoring and being mentored.”

The award was designed to recognize an exceptional faculty mentor and based upon the recommendation of a committee of Rosenstiel School students, post-doctorate researchers and faculty.

Clement leads a climate modeling research group at the UM Rosenstiel School, which aims to better understand various aspects of Earth’s climate, from Saharan dust and clouds to El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is the largest mode of variability in the modern climate. Clement’s research focus is on fundamental aspects of the climate system, including understanding why the climate changed in the past, and predicting how it will change in the future.

World Oceans Day: Thought Leaders

UM Rosenstiel School faculty provide their insight on the oceans.

Dennis Hansell, Chair and Professor, Department of Ocean Sciences

Dennis Hansell“Think of the ocean as you would the blood coursing through our bodies.  It offers connectivity to all corners, leaving no part in isolation.  It carries life-supporting oxygen, nutrients and energy to its greatest and darkest depths.  It exchanges that oxygen and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide with the atmosphere above it, keeping both the terrestrial and marine biospheres healthy and stable.  It moves heat from where it is in excess to those much colder zones, maintaining the narrow thermal stability required for life that would otherwise be diminished.  Just as understanding the physical, chemical and biological dynamics of a healthy circulatory system within our bodies is central to medical science, ocean scientists seek to understand those dimensions of the global oceans’ metabolism.  As with the living body, it is a wondrous and beautiful system, its core functions are often hidden and thus incompletely known, and its health is conditioned by our treatment of it.”

 

Benjamin Kirtman, Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences

Ben Kirtman“The health of our planet and all of its ecosystems (humans, animals, fish, plants …) critically depend on what is happening in the ocean today. Indeed, current threats to food and water security and the associate famine and drought can be directly related to ocean processes. We are concerned about the health of the planet because ocean temperatures (in the upper 75 m) consistently have risen 1.5F since 1950 and sea-ice concentrations have decreased at record rates so that it is now expected that we will have a nearly ice free Arctic summer in ten years. 95% of all ice sheets are declining and global sea level has risen over half a foot since 1950. All of these unprecedented changes indicate that the climate system and the entire health of the planet is out of balance, and this comes with changes that will significantly challenge all of our ecosystems.”

 

Claire Paris, Associate Professor, Department of Ocean Sciences

Claire Paris“Most marine species, whether they are reef building corals or bluefin tuna, spend the early stages of their life as tiny plankton, navigating the world oceans. To know where they are, where they need to swim, and to avoid predation, these minute larvae are adapted to detect ocean signals, such as sounds, odor, or even celestial and magnetic cues. One of the last frontiers resides in the study of the mysterious world of larvae and the small-scale physical-biological interactions. It is important to understand how the “critical” pelagic phase of so many marine species endure such a challenging odyssey. The ocean is their nursery.  If we care for our oceans to reduce the pollution that affects the cues, we will protect the small things and everything else will thrive.”

Neil Hammerschlag, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Marine Ecosystems and Society

Neil“Over the past 50 years, we have learned more about our oceans, estuaries, rivers and lakes than ever before, while at the same time degrading, overfishing and destroying these vital systems. Every year, over 1.5 billion hooks are set in the ocean to commercially target large pelagic predators including tunas and billfish, catching and killing them faster than they can reproduce resulting in drastic worldwide declines of many species. With changes in global climate, the chemistry of our oceans is changing and corals are bleaching. Not only is the mystery and beauty of these systems and species being lost, but also their functions within the ecosystem. The web of life that sustains us is deteriorating. To aid in understanding and addressing these issues, we are conducting a variety of innovative research projects in collaboration with various University and community partners.”