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FEMA to Evaluate Readiness of Pennsylvania

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 13:30

PHILADELPHIA – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will evaluate a Biennial Emergency Preparedness Exercise at the Limerick Generating Station. The exercise will occur during the week of November 16th, 2015 to assess the ability of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to respond to an emergency at the nuclear facility.

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Severe Weather Mid-Week: Get Ready Now

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 13:20

CHICAGO – With an ominous Wednesday forecast for most of the central U.S. that includes severe storms, heavy rains, strong winds and the possibility of tornadoes, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region V encourages everyone to get prepared.

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Two Weeks Left to Register for FEMA Grants and Apply for SBA Disaster Loans

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 12:09

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The deadline is Nov. 23, 2015, to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster assistance and to apply to the U.S. Small Business Administration for low-interest, long term disaster loans.

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Disaster Assistance Help Remains Available After Disaster Recovery Centers in Myrtle Beach, Neeses and West Columbia Close

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 11/09/2015 - 16:46

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The following three disaster recovery centers will close Thursday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. because of a lack of visitors:

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Las Vegas Holds Key to Abrupt Climate Change

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 11/09/2015 - 15:00
Summary: According to new U.S. Geological Survey research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, springs and marshes in the desert outside Las Vegas expanded and contracted dramatically in response to past episodes of abrupt climate change, even disappearing altogether for centuries at a time when conditions became too warm

Contact Information:

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



According to new U.S. Geological Survey research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, springs and marshes in the desert outside Las Vegas expanded and contracted dramatically in response to past episodes of abrupt climate change, even disappearing altogether for centuries at a time when conditions became too warm. This new record, gleaned from dirt and rocks exposed in the desert just outside the city limits, provides an unprecedented look into how climate change can affect fragile desert ecosystems in the American Southwest. 

Kathleen Springer, a geologist with the USGS and former Senior Curator at the San Bernardino County Museum, was the principal investigator and lead scientist for this study showing that desert wetlands are extremely sensitive to climate change.

“This is a story of water,” said Springer. “Water was plentiful in the desert at times in the past, but when climate warmed, springs and wetlands dried up, and the plants and animals living in the harsh desert environment were out of luck.” 

During the Pleistocene, between approximately 100,000 and 10,000 years ago, wetlands dotted the landscape in the area just north of Las Vegas, attracting a plethora of ice age animals, including mammoths, sloths, sabre-toothed cats, dire wolves, and extinct species of bison, horse, and camel, and later, the first human inhabitants to the area. 

Today, existing desert wetlands are home to a number of threatened and endangered species that rely on the ecosystem for water in an otherwise arid landscape. Their fate may lie in the hands of a rapidly changing climate. 

“What we're seeing in the geologic record frames what we are observing today,” said Springer. "The drought that California is currently experiencing is extreme, but droughts are an inherent part of the climate system and have occurred repeatedly in the past." 

The study was initiated by the Bureau of Land Management, which called for an integrative approach to studies that emphasize the geological age and context of fossils, as well as a comprehensive analysis of how local hydrologic systems responded to climate change in the past. 

“Scientists collect fossils all the time,” said Scott Foss, a senior paleontologist with the BLM. "What is remarkable about this work is the vision that Kathleen had of making sure her team understood the intricacies of the deposits in incredible detail, which allowed them to determine how climate affected the local landscape. It was an immense undertaking, and one that will serve as a benchmark for generations to come for those interested in understanding the effects of climate change on desert ecosystems.” 

Studies examining the effects of climate change on springs and desert wetlands will continue through the USGS’s Climate and Land Use Change Research and Development Program, and will build upon the investigations conducted in the Las Vegas Valley, a large portion of which is now protected as Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument

When the monument was established in December 2014, the BLM turned their stewardship over to the National Park Service, who will determine how to interpret the unique land and its former inhabitants for the public. 

“The future of this newly designated national monument and what it can tell us about the effects of climate change is all about the past,” said Springer. “And the past is the key to the present.”

Newly Released Photo Catalog Puts US Landscapes On Exhibit

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 11/09/2015 - 12:30
Summary: The U.S. Geological Survey announced today that it has made part of a huge national repository of geographically referenced USGS field photographs publicly available

Contact Information:

Chris  Soulard ( Phone: 650-329-4317 ); Paul  Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 );



A cow in a pasture taken in the Central Oklahoma/Texas Plains Ecoregion (TX) in August July 2006. (High resolution image) An abandoned mine shaft taken in the Mojave Basin and Range Ecoregion (NV) in August 2002. (High resolution image)

The U.S. Geological Survey announced today that it has made part of a huge national repository of geographically referenced USGS field photographs publicly available. USGS geographers developed a simple, easy-to-use mapping portal called the Land Cover Trends Field Photo Map.

The entire collection contains over 33,000 geo-referenced field photos with associated keywords describing the land-use and land-cover change processes taking place. Initially, nearly 13,000 photos from across the continental US will be available to the public, yet the online collection will grow as more processed photos become available.

“This is a treasure trove of royalty and copyright-free photography collected using consistent procedures,” said Chris Soulard, project leader and USGS research geographer. “We envision that these photos will captivate general audiences and fulfill a myriad of scientific needs.”

Sharing these unique field photos provides an excellent resource for the scientific community with potential to develop future research, such as future repeat photography projects or applications where photos may validate remote sensing classifications. Serving USGS data interactively to the public is integral to the USGS mission and provides opportunities for future scientific collaboration by communicating USGS land change research to the broader public and scientific community.

“The benefit of these photos being hosted by the USGS is equal access to all without copyright concerns and quality control,” said Jason Sherba, USGS geographer and project web-developer.

The photography was collected as part the USGS National Land Cover Trends Project, a research effort that spanned over ten years and represented one of USGS’ largest cross-center research efforts. The project employed Landsat imagery between 1973-2000 to derive rates, causes, and consequences of contemporary land use/land cover change. Photos were collected between 1999 and 2007 to serve as an aid in Landsat-derived land-use/land-cover change analyses and assessments.

The map viewer was developed to present photographs within a land use/land cover change mapping context, yet photos may also be found on the USGS Earth Explorer website.

Screenshot of the Land Cover Trends Field Photo Map website. (High resolution image)

Flood Risk Open House to View Maps in Raymondville and Brownsville, Texas

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 12:58

DENTON, Texas –Homeowners, renters and business owners in the Texas counties of Cameron and Willacy are encouraged to look over newly released preliminary flood maps in order to determine their flood risks and make informed decisions.

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Categories: Federal News

“Fall Back” While Stepping Up Your Disaster Readiness

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 12:26

CHICAGO – Sunday, November 1, Daylight Saving Time ends and we set our clocks back an hour. Take advantage of extra sleep, then take a few simple steps to make your home more disaster-resilient:

1. Verify your carbon monoxide and smoke detector work. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for testing the equipment to ensure it’s functioning appropriately. Invest in new detectors if they’re near or past the manufacturer's recommended replacement age.

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Most South Carolina Disaster Recovery Centers Will Be Closed on Sundays, Open Veterans Day

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 09:46

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Most South Carolina disaster recovery centers will close on Sundays beginning this weekend with a few exceptions.

Only centers located in the following counties will remain open on Sundays until further notice:

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CNMI provides fifth free fax option for Soudelor survivors

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 11/05/2015 - 20:27

SAIPAN, CNMI –  CNMI is providing a new, fifth free faxing location at The Aging Center in Garapan for Typhoon Soudelor survivors on Saipan who need to get documents to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The updated list currently stands at five and includes the following locations:

Saipan Mayor’s Office

Beach Road, Chalan Laulau

7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays

 

IT&E, TSL Plaza

Beach Road, Garapan

8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays

 

IT&E Customer Service

Middle Road, Chalan Laulau

8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays

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Categories: Federal News

Flood Risk Open House to View Maps in Raymondville and Brownsville, Texas

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 11/05/2015 - 20:11
News Release

Flood Risk Open House to View Maps in Raymondville and Brownsville, Texas

Public Open House Events Scheduled to Share Map Changes and Flood Risk Information

DENTON, Texas –Homeowners, renters and business owners in the Texas counties of Cameron and Willacy are encouraged to look over newly released preliminary flood maps in order to determine their flood risks and make informed decisions.

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FEMA Mitigation Advisers Offer Guidance to Flood Survivors in Charleston County

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 11/05/2015 - 16:10

COLUMBIA, S.C. – As South Carolinians rebuild and repair after the recent historic floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local home improvement stores have teamed up to provide free information, tips and literature on making homes stronger and safer.

FEMA mitigation specialists will be on hand in Charleston County to answer questions and offer home improvement tips to prevent and lessen damage from future disasters. Most of the information is geared towards do-it-yourself work and general contractors.

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FEMA Mitigation Advisers Offer Guidance to Flood Survivors in Florence and Horry Counties

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 11/05/2015 - 16:06

COLUMBIA, S.C. – As South Carolinians rebuild and repair after the recent historic floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local home improvement stores have teamed up to provide free information, tips and literature on making homes stronger and safer.

FEMA mitigation specialists will be on hand in Florence and Horry counties to answer questions and offer home improvement tips to prevent and lessen damage from future disasters. Most of the information is geared towards do-it-yourself work and general contractors.

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FEMA Mitigation Advisers Offer Guidance to Flood Survivors in Lexington and Richland Counties

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 11/05/2015 - 16:03

COLUMBIA, S.C. – As South Carolinians rebuild and repair after the recent historic floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local home improvement stores have teamed up to provide free information, tips and literature on making homes stronger and safer.

FEMA mitigation specialists will be on hand in Lexington and Richland counties to answer questions and offer home improvement tips to prevent and lessen damage from future disasters. Most of the information is geared towards do-it-yourself work and general contractors.

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Categories: Federal News

Removing Nitrogen from Groundwater Has New Ally: Anammox

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 11/05/2015 - 13:40
Summary: USGS scientists have conducted the first-ever field measurements of anammox activity in groundwater, demonstrating that nitrogen removal from groundwater can occur through the action of naturally occurring bacteria

Contact Information:

Richard Smith ( Phone: 303-541-3032 ); Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 );



An aerial view looking southeast of the treated-wastewater infiltration beds at Joint Base Cape Cod. The wastewater disposal beds (source of the nitrogen contamination) appear in the foreground. In the background is a freshwater pond that is receiving discharge of some of the groundwater contaminants. Toxic waste disposal at the site ended in 1995. (High resolution image)

USGS scientists have conducted the first-ever field measurements of anammox activity in groundwater, demonstrating that nitrogen removal from groundwater can occur through the action of naturally occurring bacteria. This research was conducted in collaboration with partners from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the University of Connecticut.

Anammox, shorthand for anaerobic ammonium oxidation, is a process carried out by naturally occurring bacteria that can simultaneously remove ammonium and reduce nitrogen oxides (such as nitrate and nitrite), combining the two to produce harmless nitrogen gas.

Over the past 100 years, humans have drastically altered the global nitrogen budget by fixing nitrogen gas from air to produce fertilizer in the form of ammonium and nitrate.  Nitrate and ammonium are now prevalent fixed nitrogen contaminants that may be found in surface water and groundwater worldwide. Until fixed nitrogen is converted back to nitrogen gas, it remains as a potential water contaminant.  Anammox and denitrification are the only two processes that can remove excess fixed nitrogen by chemically changing it back to nitrogen gas.

“Virtually all terrestrial and aquatic environments now contain extra fixed nitrogen from human activities, including groundwater, the planet’s primary freshwater resource,” said Richard Smith, a USGS research hydrologist and lead author of the investigation.

Discovered just 20 years ago in wastewater treatment systems, anammox has been studied since then in laboratory settings using enrichment cultures.  Relatively recently, anammox was found to be ecologically important in marine and other surface water environments.

“Because anammox is a process that can supply its own organic carbon by fixing carbon dioxide,” Smith continued, “naturally occurring anammox bacteria are ideally suited for life in groundwater, where they could potentially be important for fixed nitrogen removal.  While practical applications are still in the distant future, this process could be particularly important where groundwater is discharging to surface waters and coastal environments.” 

Working at a carefully monitored USGS groundwater study site at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the research team found that anammox was active in the subsurface in a variety of geochemical conditions, even where groundwater ammonium concentrations were low.  The rates of activity were relatively low, but anammox could potentially affect inorganic nitrogen concentrations in situations where groundwater residence times are sufficiently long.

The detailed findings of the investigation were recently published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.  

The paper documents the competition between anammox and denitrification for nitrogen oxides and explores the effect of altered organic carbon concentrations on that competition. The results of this study indicate that anammox does occur in groundwater, that it can be an important mechanism for fixed nitrogen removal, and that it should be included when interpreting subsurface geochemistry and constructing groundwater nitrogen budgets. 

Co-authors on the study include USGS scientist J.K. Böhlke; Bongkeun Song from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science; and Craig Tobias from the University of Connecticut, Department of Marine Science. The National Science Foundation provided additional research support.

Learn more

Research article, Environmental Science and Technology
USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
USGS Cape Cod Toxic Substances Hydrology Research Site
USGS National Research Program

Public Invited to Comment on Flood Maps for City of Llano and Llano County in Texas

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:03

DENTON, Texas – After working together for months to create new preliminary flood maps, officials from the city of Llano and Llano County, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) now want to hear from the public.

Homeowners, renters and business owners in these three counties are encouraged to review the preliminary flood maps to understand where flood risks have been identified. Anyone who has comments or who would like to file an appeal has until Jan. 25, 2016, to submit them.

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Completing SBA Loan Application May Mean More Assistance for Some

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 11/04/2015 - 18:37

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina storm and flood survivors are reminded to complete loan applications from the U.S. Small Business Administration even if they do not plan to accept a loan.

Survivors who receive notice to apply to the SBA are encouraged to complete the application as it may make them eligible for other assistance. Survivors should apply to SBA before insurance is settled.

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No flood insurance? Now is the time to buy

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 11/04/2015 - 15:34

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – It is time to buy flood insurance, if you don’t already have it. Available to everyone, businesses, homeowners and renters alike, it is the only insurance that will help you recover from flooding and mudflows.

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Categories: Federal News

Disaster Recovery Center Opens in Johns Island to Help South Carolina Flood Survivors

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 11/04/2015 - 13:58

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A disaster recovery center is open in Johns Island to help South Carolina flood survivors. This Charleston County center is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday until further notice.

The disaster recovery center is located at:
Berkeley Electric Cooperative
3351 Maybank Highway, Johns Island

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Categories: Federal News

Native Bees Foraging in Fields Are Exposed to Neonicotinoid Insecticides and other Pesticides

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 11/04/2015 - 11:30
Summary: According to the first-ever study of pesticide residues on field-caught bees, native bees are exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides and other pesticides

Contact Information:

Michelle  Hladik ( Phone: 916-278-3183 ); Mike Focazio ( Phone: 703-648-6808 ); Alex Demas ( Phone: 703-648-4421 );



According to the first-ever study of pesticide residues on field-caught bees, native bees are exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides and other pesticides. This report was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

This research focused on native bees, because there is limited information on their exposure to pesticides. In fact, little is known about how toxic these pesticides are to native bee species at the levels detected in the environment. This study did not look at pesticide exposure to honey bees. 

“We found that the presence and proximity of nearby agricultural fields was an important factor resulting in the exposure of native bees to pesticides,” said USGS scientist Michelle Hladik, the report’s lead author. “Pesticides were detected in the bees caught in grasslands with no known direct pesticide applications.”  

Although conservation efforts have been shown by other investigators to benefit pollinators, this study raises questions about the potential for unintended pesticide exposures where various land uses overlap or are in proximity to one another. 

The research consisted of collecting native bees from cultivated agricultural fields and grasslands in northeastern Colorado, then processing the composite bee samples to test for 122 different pesticides, as well as 14 chemicals formed by the breakdown of pesticides. Scientists tested for the presence of pesticides both in and on the bees. 

The most common pesticide detected was the neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam, which was found in 46 percent of the composite bee samples. Thiamethoxam is used as a seed coating on a variety of different crops. Pesticides were not found in all bee samples, with 15 of the 54 total samples testing negative for the 122 chemicals examined.  

Although this study did not investigate the effects of pesticide exposures to native bees, previous toxicological studies have shown that the chemicals do not have to kill the bees to have an adverse effect at the levels of exposure documented here. For example, neonicotinoids can cause a reduction in population densities and reproductive success, and impair the bees’ ability to forage.  Follow-up research is now being designed to further investigate adverse effects at these exposure levels. 

There are about 4,000 native species of bees in the United States. They pollinate native plants like cherries, blueberries and cranberries, and were here long before European honeybees were brought to the country by settlers.  In addition, many native bees are quite efficient crop pollinators, a role that may become more crucially important if honey bees continue to decline.  

This paper is a preliminary, field-based reconnaissance study that provides critical information necessary to design more focused research on exposure, uptake and accumulation of pesticides relative to land-use, agricultural practices and pollinator conservation efforts on the landscape. Another USGS study published in August discovered neonicotinoids in in a little more than half of both urban and agricultural streams sampled across the United States and Puerto Rico. 

“This foundational study is needed to prioritize and design new environmental exposure experiments on the potential for adverse impacts to terrestrial organisms,” said Mike Focazio, program coordinator for the USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program. “This and other USGS research is helping support the overall goals of the White House Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators by helping us understand whether these pesticides, particularly at low levels, pose a risk for pollinators.”

More information can be found on this paper here. USGS research on the occurrence, transport and fate of pesticides can be found with the USGS Toxic Substance Hydrology Program webpage or the USGS Pesticide Fate Research project in California. Stay up to date with USGS Environmental Health science by signing up for our GeoHealth Newsletter.