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Federal News

President Obama Signs West Virginia Emergency Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 01/10/2014 - 08:45

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal emergency aid has been made available to the State of West Virginia to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from a chemical spill on January 9, 2014, and continuing.

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Categories: Federal News

The Connected Consequences of River Dams

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 01/09/2014 - 13:51

Contact Information:

Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 ); Katherine Skalak ( Phone: 703-648-5435 );



In a case study of dams on the upper Missouri River, USGS researchers have demonstrated that an upstream dam is still a major control of river dynamics where the backwater effects of a downstream reservoir begin. In light of this finding, the conventional understanding of how a dam can influence a river may have to be adjusted to account for the fact that effects of river dams can interact with one another.

"We have known for a long time that dams have dramatic effects on river form and function," said Jerad Bales, acting USGS Associate Director for Water. "In the past, however, the effects of dams generally have been studied individually, with relatively little attention paid to how the effects could interact along a river corridor."

One of the greatest modifications of rivers by humans has been the construction of dams that provide valuable services such as irrigation, hydroelectric power, navigation, flood protection, and recreational opportunities. Hundreds of thousands of dams have been built worldwide, beginning for the most part in the 20th century. 

The downstream effects of river dams have been well documented by previous researchers. In the presence of a dam, it can often take hundreds of kilometers for a river to adjust to its natural state. The upstream impacts of dams have also been widely considered, particularly sedimentation of reservoirs. These effects may extend upstream for many kilometers. 

"In addition to documenting dramatic changes to a section of the Missouri River during the 2011 floods," Bales continued, "the unique contribution of this important study is development of a conceptual model that establishes a framework for future studies of the many rivers affected by dams in series."  

Working with historical aerial photography, streamgage data, and cross sectional surveys in a careful analysis of the Garrison (N.D.) and Oahe (S.D.) dams on the Missouri River, the USGS researchers propose a conceptual model of how interacting dams might affect a river's physical characteristics (geomorphology).  This model applies to dams on large rivers and divides the river into various zones of predictable behavior (Figure 1).  

The researchers also conducted a geographic analysis of dams along 66 major rivers (as listed in a standard professional reference) in the contiguous United States to determine how often dams occur in a series. Of the rivers analyzed, 404 dams were located on the main stem of 56 of the rivers. Fifty of these rivers had more than one dam on the river creating a total of 373 possible interacting dam sequences.

The results from this work indicate that more than 80% of large rivers may have interactions between their dams. Given this widespread occurrence, the USGS investigators suggest that dam interaction is prevalent and should be the focus of additional research. 

The study was published in the journal Anthropocene  (Oct. 2013). 

Figure 1.  Conceptual model of how two dams in a sequence may interact. 

The diagram correlates the river zones created by large dams (shown on left) to the morphological features (described on right) that each zone influences.  

Conceptual model of how two dams in a sequence may interact. (High resolution image)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn more

USGS studies on 2011 floods 

USGS activities related to suspended sediment  

USGS Water National Research Program

Climate Change Could Negatively Affect Chase Lake Pelican Population

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 01/08/2014 - 17:15

Contact Information:

Marsha Sovada ( Phone: 701 253 5506 ); Jennifer LaVista ( Phone: 720-432-1043 );



Earlier spring nesting related to climate change could negatively affect the survival of pelican chicks at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, N.D., according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report.

USGS scientists found that American white pelicans are migrating north to a large nesting colony at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge about 16 days earlier in the springtime than they did 45 years ago. The earlier migration is likely spurred by warmer spring temperatures on the pelicans’ wintering grounds and along their migration route, but ideal post-hatching weather conditions have not advanced at the nesting colony. Now, vulnerable pelican chicks face a higher risk of encountering life-threatening wet and cold conditions.

Chase Lake is a refuge for the largest American white pelican colony in North America, so declining chick survival rates at this refuge could be especially damaging. On average, over 26,000 adult pelicans nested annually at Chase Lake between 2004 and 2008.

"Given that nearly half of the entire pelican breeding population nests at fewer than 10 colonies in the northern plains, maintaining good productivity at these colonies is important to the health of the species," said Marsha Sovada, USGS scientist and lead author of the study. "Increased mortality of chicks at Chase Lake is a conservation concern."

The study found that while spring temperatures in the northern plains have progressively increased since 1965, the timing of severe weather in the Chase Lake area has not changed during this period. Because pelican eggs are hatching earlier than in the past, the chicks are at their most vulnerable stage of growth—between two and three weeks old—during a time when extreme cold and wet weather is more likely.

Researchers observed significant loss of chicks to exposure in four of five years (2004–2008) of field study. For example, at Chase Lake in June 2008, about 80 percent of the pelican chicks between two and three weeks old died of exposure during a period of severe weather.  

The study was published today in the journal PLOS ONE, and is available online.

For more information on pelican population dynamics in the Northern Plains, please visit the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center website.

 

[Access images for this release at: <a href="http://gallery.usgs.gov/tags/NR2014_01_07" _mce_href="http://gallery.usgs.gov/tags/NR2014_01_07">http://gallery.usgs.gov/tags/NR2014_01_07</a>]

Earthquake Events on Par For 2013

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 01/08/2014 - 15:37

Contact Information:

Heidi  Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 );



Several significant earthquakes occurred in 2013, including two magnitude 8.0 or greater temblors according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Seventeen earthquakes reached magnitude 7.0-7.9 and two in the range of 8.0-8.9.

The USGS measured 1194 quakes magnitude 5.0 or larger in 2013. This is a number that changes annually; in 2012, 1558 quakes magnitude 5.0 or larger were measured, and in 2011, 2495.

Earthquakes were responsible for about 1400 deaths in 2013, with 825 having perished in the magnitude 7.7 Pakistan event on Sept. 24, as reported by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Deadly quakes also occurred in the Philippines, Iran, China, Indonesia, the Santa Cruz Islands and Afghanistan.

The biggest earthquake in the United States and the 6th largest quake of 2013 was a magnitude 7.5 in Craig, Alaska on Jan. 5. Several quakes below magnitude 5.0 rattled Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Arkansas throughout the year. An unusual seismic event happened near Chicago, Ill. on Nov. 4; a magnitude 3.2 rockburst that occurred within seconds after a routine explosion at a quarry.

The USGS estimates that several million earthquakes occur throughout the world each year, although most go undetected because they hit remote areas or have very small magnitudes. On average, the USGS National Earthquake Information Center publishes the locations for about 40 earthquakes per day, or about 14,500 annually. USGS publishes worldwide earthquakes with a magnitude of 4.5 or greater or U.S. earthquakes of 2.5 or greater. On average, 18 of these earthquakes have a magnitude of 7.0 or higher each year.

To monitor earthquakes worldwide, the USGS National Earthquake Information Center receives data in real-time from about 1,000 stations in 85 countries, including the 150-station Global Seismographic Network, which is jointly supported by the USGS and the National Science Foundation and operated by the USGS in partnership with the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) consortium of universities. Domestically, the USGS partners with 13 regional seismic networks operated by universities; these networks provide detailed coverage for the areas of the country with the highest seismic risk.

Earthquakes pose significant risk to 75 million Americans in 39 States. The USGS and its partners in the multi-agency National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program are working to improve earthquake monitoring and reporting capabilities via the USGS Advanced National Seismic System. More information about ANSS can be found on the ANSS website.

New Sensor Network to Detail Virginia Earthquakes

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 01/08/2014 - 15:00
Installation of 20 Seismometers Begins This Week

Contact Information:

Thomas Pratt ( Phone: 206-919-8773 ); Martin  Chapman ( Phone: 540-392-5396 ); Christian Quintero ( Phone: 813-498-5019 );



Editor’s note: Reporters interested in accompanying the scientists as they install the seismic arrays between Jan. 9 and 13 should call Thomas Pratt at 206-919-8773 or Martin Chapman at 540-392-5396 to coordinate opportunities.  

Reston, Va. – Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and Virginia Tech will install a 20-station seismic network in the central Virginia area beginning Jan. 8. The new sensors – each about the size of a soda can – will provide information to help the researchers study the background seismicity in the area and any continuing aftershocks of the Aug. 23, 2011 earthquake near Louisa and Mineral, Va.

More than 450 aftershocks have been recorded since that magnitude 5.8 earthquake, which was felt from central Georgia to central Maine, and west to Detroit and Chicago.  It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt the earthquake, which damaged the Washington National Cathedral and the Washington Monument.

The 20-station network will be placed in locations from Charlottesville in the west, to east of Richmond, and for about 40 miles in a north-south direction centered along Interstate 64.

During the installations, USGS and Virginia Tech crews will place a seismometer and 

electronic data logger at each site; at some sites a solar panel will be installed to power the equipment. In locations where sensors are being installed on private property, the landowners have volunteered their sites. The installations are expected to be completed by Jan. 13. 

The seismic network will record tiny ground vibrations caused by earthquakes, and the science team will use the data to better understand earthquakes in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone. Network sensors will also help determine if the earthquakes align with specific faults by increasing the number of earthquakes detected and improving the accuracy of the locations.  

Additional information about the earthquakes in Virginia is available online.

For more information about the USGS earthquake hazard program please visit http://earthquake.usgs.gov/.

FEMA Help Continues After Registration Deadline

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 01/08/2014 - 10:35

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.—  FEMA says Nov. 17 tornado survivors have until Monday Jan. 27 to register for possible disaster assistance, but that doesn’t mean help is ending.

Survivors who register by Jan. 27 may continue to receive federal disaster assistance after this date. The following assistance may be available:         

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Aid Programs for the State of Arkansas Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 01/06/2014 - 19:47

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of Arkansas.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

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Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for Arkansas

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 01/06/2014 - 19:44

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Arkansas to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by a severe winter storm during the period of December 5-6, 2013.

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Says Help Us Help You

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 01/03/2014 - 14:45

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  – If you’re a survivor of the Nov. 17 Illinois tornadoes, FEMA says you deserve every eligible penny in federal disaster assistance. 

Don’t leave possible FEMA grants and SBA disaster loans on the table. Take the necessary steps to help FEMA help you.

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Categories: Federal News

Take Extra Precautions as Temperatures Drop Below Freezing

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 01/03/2014 - 09:50

CHICAGO – Dangerously low temperatures are in the forecast and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants individuals and families to be safe when faced with the hazards of cold temperatures. 

“Subfreezing temperatures can be dangerous and even life-threatening for people who don't take the proper precautions,” said Andrew Velasquez III, FEMA Regional Administrator. “It is important for everyone to monitor their local weather reports and take steps now to stay safe during times of extreme cold temperatures.”

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