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Federal News

Myth vs. Fact: The Truth about Registering for Federal Disaster Assistance

FEMA Press Releases - Sat, 12/07/2013 - 14:12

Springfield, Ill. – In the aftermath of a disaster, misconceptions about disaster assistance can often prevent survivors from applying for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration. A good rule of thumb: register, even if you’re unsure whether you’ll be eligible for assistance.

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Categories: Federal News

USGS Science at American Geophysical Union Conference, San Francisco, December 8-13, 2013

USGS Newsroom - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 15:30

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Geological Survey participates in the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting with hundreds of technical presentations.  Below are some highlights of USGS science at AGU this year. Highlights about the technical sessions are presented in chronological order with session numbers, and room numbers in San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center (either Moscone South, MS, or Moscone West, MW). For more information, visit the AGU Fall meeting website.

News media representatives are invited to visit the USGS booth in the AGU Exhibit Hall. This is an easy place to connect with USGS data, publications, and information. Please contact Leslie Gordon to arrange for an interview with the USGS scientists.

 News Conferences – Moscone West, Room 3000, Level 3

Dynamic Mars from Long–Term Observations
Tuesday, 12/10, 11:30 a.m. – Participating USGS Scientist Colin Dundas

Associated oral session with USGS Scientist Colin Dundas
Observations of Ice-Exposing Impacts on Mars over Three Mars Years
Wednesday, 12/11, 9:20 a.m., MW 2022/P31C-07

Titan as You've Never Seen it Before
Thursday, 12/12, 11:30 a.m. – Participating USGS Scientist Randolph Kirk

Associated oral session with USGS Scientist Randolph Kirk
Cassini RADAR Observes Titan’s Kraken Mare, The Largest Extraterrestrial Sea
Friday, 12/13, 11:05 a.m., MW 2007/P52B-04 

Public Lecture --Sunday  

Sunday, 12/8, 12:00 p.m. – MS 102
Free Public Lecture - Imagine an America without Los Angeles: Natural Hazards and the Complexity of Urban America
USGS Scientist: Lucy Jones
Lucy Jones will discuss how science can improve society’s resiliency to earthquakes. Free and open to the public.    

Technical Sessions --Monday  

Monday, 12/9, 8:00 a.m. – MS Poster Hall 
Influence of Older Structure on Quaternary Faulting in Northeastern California
USGS Scientist: Vicki Langenheim
Geologically young faulting and volcanism may be influenced by a concealed crustal structure between Mt. Shasta and Lassen Peak.  This structure is revealed by tiny perturbations in the Earth's gravity and magnetic fields caused by differences in rock density and magnetization.    

Monday, 12/9, 8:15 a.m. – MW 2004
Deep Soil Carbon and Vulnerabilities to Anthropogenic Change
B11J-02/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Jennifer Harden
Soils store large amounts of organic carbon (C), thus have helped regulate greenhouse gases and temperatures of the earth’s atmosphere. Land use change and rapid warming now influence the capacity for soils to actively store carbon. Scientists explore basic principles of soil formation and C cycling in order to understand how soils will respond to anthropogenic change.    

Monday, 12/9, 1:40 p.m. – MS Poster Hall
Science For Decision-Makers: Climate Change Indicators For The North-Central California Coast And Ocean
USGS Scientist: Tom Suchanek
Ocean climate indicators were developed in a project based at NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary for the North-central California coast and ocean, from Año Nuevo to Point Arena, including the Pacific coastline of the San Francisco Bay Area. These represent the first regional ocean climate indicators in the National Marine Sanctuary System. The indicators were developed in collaboration with over 50 regional research scientists and resource managers representing federal and state agencies, research universities and institutions, and non-governmental organizations.     

Monday, 12/9,1:40 p.m. – MS Poster Hall
Comparison of Nutrient Sources in a Former Salt Pond Under Restoration
USGS Scientist: Brent Topping
Nutrient level fluctuations can disturb an ecosystem, and a key monitoring question during wetland restoration efforts is nutrient flux and transport. With the implementation of the South Bay Restoration Program in 2008, water quality in the Alviso Salt Ponds, California, has been monitored to document the effects of changing hydrologic connections among the ponds and the adjacent pond, slough and estuary. Ongoing research is shedding light on how bottom transport may be an important movement mechanism for both nutrients and toxicants in a rebuilding ecosystem.    


Tuesday, 12/10, 9:15 a.m. – MW 3016
Multi-Scale Simulations of Past and Future Projections of Hydrology in Lake Tahoe Basin, California-Nevada
H21M-06/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Richard Niswonger
Using a new-generation, linked surface- and groundwater-flow model, we examine impacts of climate changes and extremes in the Lake Tahoe basin. Climatic impacts are simulated in terms of water-availability and flood responses to selected climate-change projections and to an extreme ("ARkStorm") storm scenario and its resulting floods.    

Tuesday, 12/10, 9:45 a.m. – MW 2003
Predicting Barrier Island Evolution Through Numerical-Model Scenarios  
EP21A-08/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Nathaniel Plant 
Prediction of barrier island evolution using numerical models can explain which processes, natural or human, are most important to long-term changes that affect future vulnerability to storms, sea-level rise, and human modification. Scientists will show numerical simulations of processes that transport sand along and across a barrier island during storms.    

Tuesday, 12/10, 11:05 a.m. – MW 2000
A Global Perspective on Warmer Droughts as a Key Driver of Forest Disturbances and Tree Mortality
B22C-04/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Craig Allen
Global warming and droughts are causing greater forest-water stress across large regions, and amplifying forest disturbances, particularly drought-induced tree mortality, wildfire, and insect outbreaks. Emerging global-scale patterns of drought- and heat-induced forest die-off are presented, including a newly updated map overview of documented die-off events from around the world, demonstrating the vulnerability of all major forest types to forest drought stress, even in typically wet environments.     

Tuesday, 12/10, 1:40 p.m. – MS 103
Recent Microscopic Imager Results from Opportunity
USGS Scientist: Ken Herkenhoff
Exploration of Endeavour crater by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity continues, with the rover approaching more exposures of clay minerals detected from orbit; the latest Microscopic Imager results will be presented.    

Tuesday, 12/10, 1:40 p.m. – MS Poster Hall
Magnetic Tides of Honolulu
USGS Scientists: Jeffrey Love, E. Joshua Rigler
Geomagnetic tides are time-periodic variations in the Earth’s magnetic field. Using almost a century of magnetic observatory data collected at the USGS in Honolulu Hawaii, we analyze magnetic tides caused by the relative motion and interaction of the Earth, Moon, and Sun, and the sunspot solar cycle.    

Tuesday, 12/10, 1:40 p.m. – MS 103
Limits of Statistical Climate-fire Modeling: What Goes Up Must Come Down  
GC23G-01/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Jeremy Littell
Climate affects wildfires, but “how” varies across ecosystems. Water balance (water surplus and drought) characterizes these effects, and scientists used it to project how fire could change under climate change. Will the whole West burn up? In some forests, it might appear so, but the whole story is more nuanced.    

Tuesday, 12/10, 2:10 p.m. – MS 103
Different Climate–Fire Relationships on Forested and Non-Forested Landscapes in California
GC23G-03/ Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Jon Keeley  
Although wildfire activity is expected to increase due to global warming and other climate changes in the future, this study shows it is more complicated than a simple increase in fires with increased temperature. While climate will likely play an important role in determining fire regimes in the high elevation mountain forests, there is less evidence that it will alter fires at lower elevations. Future fires in California’s foothill and coastal environments will be affected by many global changes, particularly increases in human populations.   

Tuesday, 12/10, 2:55 p.m. – MS 103
Can climate change increase fire severity independent of fire intensity?
GC23G-06/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Phillip van Mantgem
Regional warming may be linked to increasing fire size and frequency in forests of the western United States. Recent studies have also suggested that warming temperatures are correlated with increased fire severity (post-fire tree mortality), though the precise mechanism is unclear. Our research presents evidence that trees subject to environmental stress are more sensitive to subsequent fire damage. (see related news:  

Tuesday, 12/10, 3:25 p.m. – MW 3002
Are Large-scale Manipulations of Streamflow for Ecological Outcomes Effective Either as Experiments or Management Actions?
H23J-08/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Chris Konrad
Water managers increasingly address ecological sustainability as part of dam operations. Dam releases for ecological outcomes have been practiced for over half a century to improve ecological conditions in rivers and estuaries. A review of more than 100 large-scale flow experiments evaluates their effectiveness for learning how to achieve sustainable water management.    


Wednesday, 12/11, 8:00 a.m. – MS Poster Hall
Surprise and Opportunity for Learning in Grand Canyon: The Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program
H31B-1154/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Ted Melis
Flow experiments from Glen Canyon Dam since 1990, have informed federal managers trying to mitigate peak water flow impacts on Colorado River resources. Results were not predicted, but were "surprise" learning opportunities for adaptive river managers. Major uncertainties remain about the influence of global warming on the river’s native fish and beaches.        

Wednesday, 12/11, 11:20 a.m. – MS 307
Missing Great Earthquakes
S32A-05/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Susan Hough
The past decade has witnessed an apparent bumper crop of great earthquakes, with a total of six events above M8.5. Best available historical catalogs reveal only seven M≥8.5 earthquakes during the entire 19th century. Although the average long-term rate of global great earthquakes remains uncertain, one can show that great earthquakes are missing and/or estimated in best-available historical catalogs.  Since the largest known earthquakes in many regions occurred before seismometers were developed around 1900, some of our estimates of largest possible magnitudes are likely too low.  This suggests that so-called black swan events like the 2011 Tohoku, Japan, earthquake, while still not commonplace events, are not such rare beasts after all.    

Wednesday, 12/11, 11:20 a.m. – MW 3003
An Integrated, Indicator Framework for Assessing Large-Scale Variations and Change in Seasonal Timing and Phenology
GC32B-04/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Julio Betancourt
As part of the National Climate Assessment's Indicator System, the Seasonality and Phenology Indicators Technical Team proposed a framework for tracking variations and trends in seasonal timing of surface climate, snow and ice, vegetation green-up and flammability, and bird migration across the U.S. These national indicators are measured by day-of-year, number of days, or latitude of observation at a given date.    

Wednesday, 12/11, 1:40 p.m. – MS Poster Hall
Tracking Hydrothermal Feature Changes in Response to Seismicity and Deformation at Mud Volcano Thermal Area, Yellowstone
USGS Scientist: Angie Diefenbach
Mapping surficial change over 50 years at Mud Volcano thermal area in Yellowstone using readily accessible archives of aerial photographs from several federal agencies, gives scientists a better understanding of the links between seismicity and deformation episodes to increased heat and gas emissions at thermal areas.  

Wednesday, 12/11, 1:55 p.m. – MW 3009
Influences on the Morphologic Response to Hurricane Sandy: Fire Island, NY
OS33C-02/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Cheryl Hapke
Hurricane Sandy fundamentally altered the geomorphology of Fire Island, NY. Changes included severe beach erosion, razing of the dunes, extensive overwash and breaching of the island. The response during Sandy varied considerably along the island and appears to be largely controlled by the local geology (associated poster session Monday, 12/9 at 1:40 p.m. – MS Poster Hall).    

Wednesday, 12/11, 3:10 p.m. – MW 3009
Sandy-related Morphologic Changes in Barnegat Bay, NJ
OS33C-08/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Jennifer Miselis
Estuaries are some of the most productive habitats in the world. Biological, chemical, and physical estuarine processes are influenced by changes in depth and sediment composition, but storm-related changes are rarely measured. Our study integrates airborne and boat-based sensors and sampling to understand estuarine changes caused by Superstorm Sandy.  


Thursday, 12/12, 8:00 a.m. – MS Poster Hall
Fog as an ecosystem service in northern California
USGS Scientist: Alicia Torregrosa
Humans can greatly benefit from temperature cooling derived from coastal fog such as reducing the number of hospital visits/emergency response requests from heat stress-vulnerable population sectors or decreased energy consumption during periods when summer maximum temperatures are lower than normal. The thermal relief provided by summertime fog and low clouds is equivalent in magnitude to the temperature increase projected by the driest and hottest of regional downscaled climate models using the A2 (“worst”) IPCC scenario. Extrapolating these thermal calculations can facilitate future quantifications of the ecosystem service provided by summertime low clouds and fog. 

Thursday, 12/12, 8:00 a.m. – MS Poster Hall
SAFRR Tsunami Scenario: Economic Impacts and Resilience
USGS Scientists: Anne Wein
The SAFRR Tsunami Scenario models a hypothetical but plausible tsunami, created by an M9.1 earthquake occurring offshore from the Alaskan peninsula, and its impacts on the California coast. We provide an overview of the likely inundation areas, current velocities in key ports and harbors, physical damage and repair costs, economic consequences, environmental impacts, social vulnerability, emergency management, and policy implications for California associated with the tsunami scenario. Scenario users are those who must make mitigation decisions before, response decisions during, and recovery decisions after future tsunamis.
(associated oral presentations on Friday, 12/13 starting at 5:30 p.m. – MS 309)

Thursday, 12/12, 8:00 a.m. – MS Poster Hall
Multi-Temporal Harmonization of Independent Land-Use/Land-Cover Datasets for the Conterminous United States
USGS Scientist: Chris Soulard
USGS Land Change research aims to extend LULC change monitoring beyond 1973-2000 to more recent dates, without resource-intensive manual interpretation. We leveraged a range of existing LULC products and improved LULC classification by identifying agreement between datasets. This process, termed harmonization, has proven to be a cost efficient way to create reliable LULC maps.  

Thursday, 12/12, 8:00 a.m. – MS Poster Hall
Megasplash at Lake Tahoe
USGS Scientist: Jim Moore, Richard Schweickert (Univ. of Nevada)
One of the largest landslides on the continent occurred in Lake Tahoe 12,000 to 21,000 years ago. Backwash from the gigantic splash caused by the 2.5 cubic-mile landslide formed major tsunamis. This backwash was equivalent to 15 major rivers flowing into the lake at the same time, and would have decimated life in the splash zone surrounding the lake.   

Thursday, 12/12, 8:45 a.m. – MW 3001
Integrated Climate/Land Use/Hydrological Change Scenarios for Assessing Threats to Ecosystem Services on California Rangelands
GC41D-04/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Kristin Byrd
Scientists have developed integrated climate/land use/hydrological change scenarios for assessing threats to ecosystem services on California rangelands. Model outputs quantify the impact of urbanization on water supply and show the importance of soil storage capacity. Scenarios have applications for climate-smart conservation and land use planning.  

Thursday, 12/12, 9:15 a.m. – MS 307
Understanding the Largest Deep Earthquake Ever Recorded
P23F-1858/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Robert Graves, Shengji Wei (Caltech)
In May 2013 a M8.3 earthquake ruptured beneath the Sea of Okhotsk at a depth of 610 kilometers, far below the Earth's crust. The entire earthquake sequence took just 30 seconds with energy released in four major shocks. This suggests that deep earthquakes are more efficient in dissipating stress than shallow earthquakes.  

Thursday, 12/12, 11:20 a.m. – MW 3007
High Resolution Space-Time Analysis of Ice Motion at a Rapidly Retreating Tidewater Glacier
C42B-05/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Shad O’Neel
Rapid changes to rates of sea level rise are forced in large part by tidewater glacier dynamics. With unprecedented detail, we analyze discharge from Alaska’s Columbia Glacier supporting other lines of evidence that the retreat has peaked and is now declining, suggesting regional ice mass loss rates may also decrease.    

Thursday, 12/12, 3:25 p.m. – MS 308
Detecting Deep Crustal Magma Movement: Exploring Linkages Between Increased Gas Emission, Deep Seismicity, and Deformation Prior to Recent Volcanic Activity
V43D-08/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Cynthia Werner
In 2003, deep long-period earthquakes, CO2 emissions, and surface uplift were described as three ‘promising indicators’ of deep magmatic processes.  Now, ten years later, new data suggests that indeed that combination of very subtle changes in these parameters can help understand and predict changes in volcanic activity months in advance.    

Thursday, 12/12, 5:00 p.m. – MS 307
Megacity Megaquakes: Two Near Misses, and the Clues they Leave for Earthquake Interaction
S44B-05/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Ross Stein
Two recent mega-earthquakes, a M8.8 earthquake off the Chilean coast and a M9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan, resulted in a large number of fatalities.  Even though the capital cities of Santiago and Tokyo escaped severe damage, the rate of lesser shocks beneath each city jumped by a factor of about 10 following each megaquake.  What does this portend for the likelihood of future large earthquakes? Are these really aftershocks, and are large shocks more probable now than before the mega-earthquakes?      

Thursday, 12/12, 5:30 p.m. – MS 305
Crowd-Sourcing for Earthquake Monitoring and Rapid Response
S44A-07/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Sarah Minson
Earthquake early warning systems are being implemented in select locations. Expansion to high-risk regions lacking seismic infrastructure, however, is cost-limited. Scientists demonstrate that a stand-alone system comprising cell-phone quality GPS stations is inexpensive enough to be implemented globally and accurate enough to provide early warning of large earthquakes and tsunami.    

Thursday, 12/12, 5:45 p.m. – MS 309
Six Large Tsunamis in the Past ~1700 years at Stardust Bay, Sedanka Island, Alaska
NH44A-08/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Robert Witter
On a small island facing the Aleutian-Alaska subduction zone, the 1957 Andreanof Islands tsunami deposited beach sand and stranded drift logs 18 meters above sea level. Five older sand sheets suggest great earthquakes along this part of the Aleutian megathrust generate Pacific-wide tsunamis on average every 325 years. Intriguingly, the age of the predecessor of the 1957 tsunami overlaps the time of unusual marine flooding on Kaua'i about 400 years ago.    


Friday, 12/13, 8:00 a.m. – MS Poster Hall
Recent Applications of Continental-Scale Phenology Data for Science, Conservation, and Resource Management
USGS Scientist: Jake Weltzin
Professional and “citizen” scientists are contributing data on seasonal plant and animal activity across the United States – as part of a national project called Nature’s Notebook – to inform science and natural resource management. Featured applications include a national index of Spring and tools to support detection and eradication of invasive plants.    

Friday, 12/13, 11:05 a.m. – MS 309
Community Vulnerability to Tsunami Threats in the U.S. Pacific Northwest
NH54A-04/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Nathan Wood
Coastal communities in northern California, Oregon, and Washington are classified based on similar characteristics of vulnerability to tsunamis associated with Cascadia subduction zone earthquakes. Research focuses on the number and type of at-risk individuals in hazard zones, including estimates of needed evacuation time. Results can be used to prioritize risk-reduction efforts that address common issues across multiple communities. 

Friday, 12/13, 2:10 p.m. – MS 307
The Effect of Porosity on Fault Slip Mechanisms at East Pacific Rise Transform Faults: Insight From Observations and Models at the Gofar Fault
S53D-03/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Emily Roland
East Pacific Rise transform (strike-slip) faults demonstrate significant variability along their length in their ability to generate large earthquakes. Using observations and models, scientists consider how changes in fault zone material properties, specifically porosity of fault zone rocks and pore fluid pressure, may influence rupture segmentation.     

Friday, 12/12, 5:30 p.m. – MS 309
The SAFRR Tsunami Scenario: Improving Resilience for California from a Plausible M9 Earthquake near the Alaska Peninsula
NH54A-07/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Stephanie Ross
The SAFRR Tsunami Scenario models a hypothetical but plausible tsunami, created by an M9.1 earthquake occurring offshore from the Alaskan peninsula, and its impacts on the California coast. The scenario includes the likely inundation areas, current velocities in key ports and harbors, physical damage and repair costs, economic consequences, environmental impacts, social vulnerability, emergency management, and policy implications for California, providing the basis for improving preparedness, mitigation, and continuity planning for tsunamis, which can reduce damage and economic impacts and enhance recovery efforts.    

Friday, 12/12, 5:45 p.m. – MS 309
Environmental and Environmental-Health Implications of the USGS SAFRR California Tsunami Scenario
NH54A-08/Oral presentation
USGS Scientist: Geoffrey Plumlee
The SAFRR Tsunami Scenario models a hypothetical but plausible tsunami, created by an M9.1 earthquake occurring offshore from the Alaskan peninsula, and its impacts on the California coast. Environmental impacts from contamination and potential for human exposures to contaminants and hazardous materials, are an underappreciated hazard from tsunamis. Inundation-related damages to major ports, boat yards, and many marinas could release complex debris, crude oil, various fuel types, other petroleum products, some liquid bulk cargo and dry bulk cargo, and diverse other pollutants into nearby coastal marine environments and onshore in the inundation zone.

FEMA Says File Insurance Claims Before Calling Agency

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:54

SPRINGFIELD, IL -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends that survivors with homeowner’s insurance affected by the Nov. 17 Illinois tornadoes file a claim with their insurance company and then register for federal disaster assistance.

Once Illinois residents have filed their insurance claim and registered for assistance, it’s important to be aware of the next steps in the process:

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Disaster Recovery Centers Open in East Peoria, Brookport

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 12/05/2013 - 19:24

SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) will be opening Friday, December 6, 2013 to serve people who were affected by the recent severe storms, straight-line winds and tornadoes.

DRC services include help with applying for disaster assistance and finding out about other disaster programs available from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), state and local agencies, and voluntary organizations. Residents must apply with FEMA even if they already provided damage information to local officials, other agencies or organizations.

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Disaster Unemployment Assistance Deadline is Approaching - Aid may be available to producers who sustained losses in October Storm

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 12/05/2013 - 16:21

RAPID CITY, S.D. –South Dakota workers, including ag producers, have less than two weeks left to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits. The deadline to apply for DUA is Wednesday, Dec. 18.

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Acquisition: Rebuilding Homes and Lives on Safer Ground

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 12/05/2013 - 15:45

LINCROFT, N.J.-- In New Jersey, Superstorm Sandy destroyed or damaged 40,500 primary residences. Two years ago, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, FEMA granted nearly $152 million to New Jersey for housing assistance. After Hurricane Floyd, just over a decade before Irene, FEMA issued Disaster Housing Assistance Grants to more than l72,700 households.

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Imperiled Mussels May be Further Harmed by Climate Change

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 12/03/2013 - 11:15

Rising water temperatures as a result of climate change may harm already endangered or threatened native freshwater mussels in North America, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report.

During laboratory tests, USGS scientists and partners found that the heart and growth rates of some species of young freshwater mussels declined as a result of elevated water temperatures, and many died. Freshwater mussels have been compared to the "canary in the coal mine" in that they are indicators of good water and sediment quality in U.S. rivers. They are also important in the aquatic food web, filter large amounts of water and suspended particles, and serve as food for other organisms. The study is published in the December issue of the journal Freshwater Science.

 "Native freshwater mussels may be especially sensitive to climate change because of their patchy distribution, limited mobility, and dependence on host fish for their larval stage, as well as fragmentation of their ranges by habitat alteration," said Teresa Newton, USGS scientist and an author of the report. "Many species are currently in danger of extinction."

The scientists studied the effects of high water temperatures, ranging from 20-35 degrees Celsius (68-95 degrees Fahrenheit), on three species of two-month-old freshwater mussels: pink mucket, fat mucket and washboard. Temperatures at which at least 50 percent of the populations died after 28 days ranged from 25.3-30.3 degrees Celsius (about 78-87 degrees Fahrenheit). Heart rates in the pink mucket and washboard mussels declined significantly with increasing water temperature.

The observed effects may ultimately decrease biodiversity and cause a shift to more temperature-tolerant mussel species. 

"Freshwater mussels are the most endangered group of organisms in the U.S. and in the world," Newton said. "More estimates of the upper thermal limits in native mussels are urgently needed to assess the potential effects of global climate change on native mussel populations."

Over 70 percent of North America’s 302 mussel species are imperiled or extinct. Declines in the abundance and diversity of these mussels have been attributed to a wide array of human activities that cause pollution, water-quality degradation and habitat destruction.

The USGS report is in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse River Studies Center, and is available online.

This research was supported by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center which provides scientific information to help land managers effectively respond to climate change. 

Additional information on native freshwater mussels in the midwestern U.S. is available at the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center website.

USGS Estimates 6.9 Trillion Cubic Feet of Gas in the Alum Shale of Denmark

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 12/03/2013 - 10:31

The Alum Shale in Denmark contains an estimated mean of 6.9 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey. This estimate comes from the first-ever USGS assessment of shale gas resources in Denmark.

The geological foundation that underpins the assessment was facilitated by data provided by the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. USGS released the assessment to the GSDG in a meeting earlier this morning.

"This is a potential resource for Denmark, although there is no current production there," said USGS Acting Director Suzette Kimball. "The complicated geology in Denmark and the difficulty involved in assessing it really demonstrates how important it is to have a robust geologic model underpinning all of our assessments."

The Alum Shale is part of the Baltic Basin and is made up of two assessment units, the onshore portion and the offshore portion. The offshore area was estimated to contain a mean of 4.4 trillion cubic feet of gas and the onshore area was estimated to contain 2.5 trillion cubic feet of gas.  

Using its geology-based methodology, the USGS team estimated recoverable gas resources to range from 0 to 13.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Alum Shale.  The wide range in the estimate reflects the geological uncertainty inherent in this as-yet largely untested resource.   A complicated geological history of burial, uplift, and erosion may have led to the loss of the natural gas over time, which contributes to the large uncertainty. 

In most areas of Denmark, the burial history of the Alum Shale resulted in temperatures consistent with the formation of oil; however, subsequent additional heating transformed the oil into natural gas.  Thus shale oil is not expected from the Alum Shale. 

Areas of the Alum Shale with potential for gas production are found beneath Jutland and the Island of Zealand, including the City of Copenhagen, and beneath parts of the North Sea, the Kattegat and the Baltic Sea near Bornholm.

This assessment is part of the USGS World Petroleum Project, in which the USGS is assessing conventional and unconventional formations to determine undiscovered, technically recoverable resource potential. Previously published USGS assessments of unconventional resources have included areas in Poland, India, China, and several countries in South America.

Continuous oil and gas, also sometimes referred to as unconventional, remains in or near the original source rock, and, instead of escaping the source rock and collecting in distinct accumulations like conventional oil and gas, is dispersed unevenly over large geographic areas.

Technically recoverable oil resources are those producible using currently available technology and industry practices. USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources of the world. 

To learn more about this or other geologic assessments, please visit the USGS Energy Resources Program website. Stay up to date with USGS energy science by subscribing to our newsletter or by following us on Twitter.

Beware of Disaster-Related Fraud

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 12/03/2013 - 10:18

CHICAGO, IL -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) urge Illinois residents affected by recent severe storms, straight-line winds and tornadoes to be alert for potential fraud and to keep these points in mind:

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Landsat Users Confirm Its Unique Value

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 12/02/2013 - 12:43

Since 1972, the Landsat program has allowed scientists and analysts to observe the world beyond the power of human sight, monitor changes to the land, and detect critical trends in the conditions of natural resources. 

To learn more about who uses Landsat imagery and the value these users see in Landsat imagery, the U.S. Geological Survey analyzed responses to a survey of more than 40,000 individuals who accessed free Landsat images from the archive at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. Over 11,000 users responded to the survey. 

Recently published in a USGS report, the survey findings demonstrate that a very wide range of customers use Landsat — from educators to Earth scientists, foresters to urban planners, agricultural managers and water users, and many more. These diverse users were surveyed about their specific utilization of Landsat imagery, as well as the impacts of doing without Landsat imagery and its value to each group.

"The value of Landsat's unique 40-year archive of Earth imagery is incalculable," said Anne Castle, Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, who welcomed publication of the survey. "But with this study, we can begin to quantify the benefits of Landsat to the national economy and to its many users."

Respondents used Landsat imagery in 38 different primary applications, ranging from environmental sciences to agriculture to planning, administration of natural resources, and humanitarian aid. Three-quarters of respondents said the imagery is somewhat or very important to their work and stated that they were moderately or very dependent on Landsat imagery to do their jobs. Almost two-thirds of users reported that they would have to discontinue half of their work, on average, if new and archived Landsat imagery were unavailable.

The value of Landsat imagery was quantified through a contingent valuation method that estimates the aggregated annual economic benefits derived from the imagery. Based on the survey results, economists estimated the benefits from Landsat imagery distributed directly by the USGS in 2011 to be just over $1.79 billion for U.S. users and almost $400 million for international users, resulting in a total annual economic benefit of $2.19 billion. This estimate does not include benefits from further distribution and reuse of the imagery after it has been obtained from the USGS or from the use of value-added products derived from Landsat imagery. 

Landsat images are unique in that they provide complete global coverage, they span over 41 years of continuous Earth observation, and they are available for free to anyone in the world. No other satellite provides that combination of attributes.  

The USGS report, "Users, Uses, and Value of Landsat Satellite Imagery—Results from the 2012 Survey of Users," is available online. The survey was the second completed as part of a larger study, which also includes a survey conducted in 2009. The Landsat program is jointly managed by USGS and NASA.

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