DENVER – There’s a hidden threat that strikes countless unprepared Americans each year – flooding. Unlike fire, wind, hail or most other perils, flood damage is not covered by a homeowners’ policy. An uninsured flood loss can undo a lifetime’s worth of effort and create a mountain of bills. Fortunately, a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy provides the defense against such losses and can ensure that a flood doesn’t bring financial ruin.Language English
Asian carp eggs, including late-stage embryos nearly ready to hatch from the egg, were recently identified in samples collected by U.S. Geological Survey scientists in 2013 from the Upper Mississippi River as far north as Lynxville, Wisc.
"This discovery means that Asian carp spawned much farther north in the Mississippi than previously recorded," said Leon Carl, USGS Midwest Regional Director. "The presence of eggs in the samples indicates that spawning occurred, but we do not know if eggs hatched and survived or whether future spawning events would result in live fish."
The Asian carp eggs and late-stage embryos were discovered two weeks ago while processing samples that were collected in mid-May and mid-June, 2013. The samples were taken as part of a larger research project designed to identify Asian carp spawning habitats. The eggs and late-stage embryos were 250 river miles upstream of previously known reproductive populations in the river. Spawning would have occurred upstream from this site.
Once the scientists visually identified the eggs, they examined other samples taken from the Mississippi River and found Asian carp eggs at seven locations between Pool 19 near Keokuk, Iowa, and Pool 9 of the main channel of the Upper Mississippi River near Lynxville. Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin border the navigation pools where these samples were collected.
The eggs and late-stage embryos were identified as bigheaded carps — either bighead carp or silver carp — through visual analyses of specific features of the eggs and embryos. It is also possible that some eggs could be from grass carp, although no eggs were visually identified as such. The USGS attempted genetic analyses to definitively determine which species of Asian carp the eggs belong to, but the results were inconclusive. Additional steps are being completed to attempt genetic confirmation, and those results are expected in one to two weeks.
The research project that collected these eggs is being coordinated by the USGS in collaboration with Western Illinois University. Scientists plan to collect additional samples from the Mississippi River in 2014 as part of their on-going research project.
"Invasive Asian carp could pose substantial environmental risks and economic impacts to the Upper Mississippi River if they become established," Carl said. "Further research will help us to better understand their habitat requirements and inform integrated control efforts."
For more information on Asian carp research, please visit the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC) website. The ACRCC is a partnership of federal and state agencies, municipalities and other groups, led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Delaware students invited to sign up for unique science and technology experience at annual Junior Solar Sprint on May 14
Leslie Gordon ( Phone: 650-329-4006 );
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Michigan, the University of Arizona, and the University of Technology, Sydney (Australia) are collaborating with scientists in Brazil on a three-year research project that investigates a basic yet unanswered question in Earth-system and global carbon-cycle science: What controls the response of photosynthesis in Amazon tropical forests to seasonal variations in climate?
Results of the study will help improve the reliability of global climate forecasts by guiding improvements in the treatment of tropical forest photosynthesis and related water-cycle processes in Earth-system models.
This question of photosynthesis' response to climate variations, despite its seeming simplicity, is the subject of an ongoing scientific puzzle that has so far been remarkably difficult to answer with confidence. For example, seasonal patterns of photosynthesis simulated by several state-of-the-art, numerical models of the Earth system, and seasonal patterns of vegetation "greenness" as inferred from observations by Earth-observing satellites, disagree with patterns seen in measurements of ecosystem-atmosphere carbon dioxide exchange at monitoring sites in the central Amazon.
"Improving our understanding of how a changing climate affects the fundamental processes that control absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide by tropical forests, can help us improve Earth system models, and help improve the reliability of global climate forecasts," said USGS geographer and project leader, Dennis Dye.
The project is designed to resolve disagreements between the computer models, and actual forest measurements by developing new knowledge and deeper understanding of seasonal climate, photosynthesis, and water relationships in Amazon tropical forests, through the use of advanced remote-sensing techniques and field observations. The project focuses on existing tropical forest study sites near Manaus and Santarem, Brazil. Scientists will measure physiological properties of leaves and trees, and water flow, and use innovative remote-sensing instruments to monitor the light-reflecting properties of the forest and the effects of clouds and smoke on solar radiation. Scientists will also model the three-dimensional variation in photosynthesis in various forest structures and light levels.
"The ability to monitor the ecohydrologic function of the rainforest at a range of scales – from leaf, to tree, to stand levels – will offer an unprecedented observational support for testing hypotheses and developing new types of forest representation in land-surface models," said University of Michigan Hydrologist Valeriy Ivanov.
The project is supported in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, GOAmazon campaign.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska —A recent U.S. Geological Survey-led study of the bar-tailed godwit, a shorebird known famously as the ultimate marathon champion of bird flight, suggests that these birds can sense broad weather patterns and optimally time their long, nonstop, transoceanic migrations to destinations thousands of miles away.
Like airplane pilots examining weather charts for the course ahead, godwits awaiting to take flight ultimately selected dates of departure that corresponded to the best atmospheric wind conditions possible within a two-week window. Remarkably, not only were the conditions optimal for take-off, but they almost always provided the best possible conditions for the birds' entire transoceanic flights.
"We think that these behaviors represent a previously unknown cognitive ability that allows bar-tailed godwits to assess changes in weather conditions across widely separated atmospheric regions in different parts of the Pacific Ocean and to time their migration patterns accordingly," said Robert Gill, Jr., an Emeritus Scientist with the USGS and lead author of the study.
These findings are part of a new scientific publication by collaborators from the USGS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the University of Groningen and the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research. The researchers used detailed information on individuals tracked by satellite transmitters, along with data on wind conditions across the Pacific Ocean, to investigate migration patterns along the 18,000 mile annual route of the bar-tailed godwit. Their study determined that bar-tailed godwits are able to make efficient decisions about when and where to fly during nonstop flights of up to 10 days long between wintering areas in New Zealand and breeding areas in Alaska.
"There are a number of broad-scale prevailing wind patterns through the Pacific Ocean, and the godwits take advantage of these winds to facilitate successful migration between their wintering and breeding areas. These wind patterns appear to be teleconnected, or linked, across broad expanses of the Pacific Ocean," said Gill. "Just like airline pilots, birds occasionally have to abort flights or change course drastically when they encounter severe, unexpected weather," noted David Douglas, Research Wildlife Biologist, who like Gill, works out of the USGS Alaska Science Center and is co-author of the study.
The researchers observed two birds that made abrupt course changes when they encountered rapidly developing cyclones along their flight paths. In one case, the prolonged flight change resulted in the bird not breeding that season, likely due to energy spent fighting the headwinds of the storm.
The report on this study, entitled "Hemispheric-scale wind selection facilitates bar-tailed godwit circum-migration of the Pacific," was recently published in the journal Animal Behaviour.
Photos of bar-tailed godwits, their migration and habitats, are available from the USGS online.
DENTON, Texas — A federal grant totaling more than $2 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will help fund the elevation of 16 additional homes in Jefferson Parish.
The grant covers $2,063,418 of the total project costs of $2.7 million. FEMA grants pay the federal share of the eligible costs for the work. Under a cost-sharing formula, FEMA reimburses the state for 75 percent of the total costs, while the state and/or applicant cover the remaining 25 percent.Language English
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.-- A first of its kind study has the potential to impact future regulatory decisions on disinfection practices for water prior to its recharge or following its storage in the Floridan Aquifer.
The U.S Geological Survey report found that coliform bacteria die off faster in a regional aquifer system than was previously known, though a small percentage survives. One of the state's regulatory criteria for ensuring the quality of recharged water is whether it contains coliform bacteria.
Aquifer storage and recovery facilities have been used in Florida for about 30 years to store large volumes of water over long periods of time, increasing water supply during seasonal and multi-year droughts. Potable water, treated and untreated groundwater, partially treated surface water and reclaimed water is recharged into zones of the Floridan Aquifer and later recovered when needed.
"Although it is commonly believed that bacteria are few in number and mostly inactive in the lower zones of the Floridan aquifer system, we found relatively high numbers of bacteria that are alive and active," said USGS microbiologist, John Lisle. "However, when we looked specifically at coliform bacteria, we found that they died off at higher rates in the aquifer than was previously known." Understanding that coliform bacteria die off faster than previously known has the potential to shape the standards or monitoring requirements that are set.
In addition to the coliform die off data, this study is the first to characterize both the geochemistry and natural microbial ecology of the Floridan Aquifer and how they influence groundwater quality. It provides a baseline that can be used to enhance geochemical models that predict changes in groundwater quality following any type of recharge event.
"Characterization of native bacterial communities in aquifers is important because of the direct connection between some groundwater quality variables and bacterial activities. Groundwater bacteria catalyze geochemical reactions under conditions that can be significantly different within the same aquifer," said June Mirecki, a hydrogeologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "Fundamental studies, like this study, have significant implications for truly understanding the fate of contaminants in aquifers targeted for aquifer storage, carbon sequestration and deep well injection."
The Floridan Aquifer flows southward at between 800-3,000 feet below the ground. It is among the most productive groundwater sources in the U.S. The upper zones of the Floridan aquifer are used as a drinking water source, while the lower zones, like those in this study, have been targeted for the recharge of treated surface water and reclaimed water and carbon sequestration repositories.
The fate of coliform bacteria injected into the lower zones of the Floridan Aquifer was studied as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. The study was done in cooperation with the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The full report "Survival of Bacterial Indicators and the Functional Diversity of Native and Microbial Communities in the Floridan Aquifer, South Florida" by John T. Lisle is available online.
FEMA Awards $4,106,484 Grant to Pine County: Hazard Mitigation funds will be used to acquire and demolish 32 flood prone homes
CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved $4,106,484 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to Pine County, Minn., for the acquisition and demolition of 32 homes.Language English
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DENTON, Texas – More than $7.6 million is being awarded to the state of Texas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to relocate the Lone Star Flight Museum out of a flood zone in Galveston to Ellington Field in Houston.
The FEMA grant was approved after it was determined that it would be better to relocate and construct a new complex, managed by the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, instead of repairing the Galveston-based museum and replacing damaged aircraft and/or contents.Language English
DENTON, Texas — Fire departments in Texas have been awarded more than $1.2 million in preparedness grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The Lancaster Fire Department received more than $740,640 to boost hiring efforts for firefighters. The Leander Fire Department received $473,375 in funding, which will be used to hire a Volunteer Liaison who will recruit new, diverse volunteers and also work to retain current and future members.Language English
FEMA Awards $656,147 Grant to Clark County: Hazard mitigation funds will be used to acquire and demolish 12 flood prone structures
CHICAGO –The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released $656,147 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to Clark County,Ill., for the acquisition and demolition of 12 residential structures located in the floodplain of the Wabash River and its tributaries. Following demolition, these properties will be maintained as permanent open space in the community.Language English
A coalition of scientists from the United States and Afghanistan today released 60 high-tech maps that will help Afghanistan chart a course for future economic development. These maps represent a milestone as Afghanistan is the first country to be almost completely mapped using hyperspectral imaging data.
The coalition of the U.S. Geological Survey, the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, and the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), was created by the U.S. Department of Defense, to share American international science and technology as a strategic tool for promoting economic development.
"Hyperspectral data from this research provides a fingerprint that identifies Afghanistan’s natural resources," said Dr. Suzette Kimball, acting USGS director. "This detailed data serves as the backbone of crucial scientific information needed for economic development of natural resources as well as the potential to identify water, biological and natural hazard information."
Hyperspectral imaging is an advanced imaging technique that measures visible and near-infrared light reflecting off the Earth's surface. Researchers use hyperspectral imaging spectrometer data to identify and characterize mineral deposits, vegetation, and other land surface features.
Data were collected in 28 flights that commenced from Kandahar Air Field in 2007. Because of great advances in technology, this information was gathered in just two months where in the past, it would have likely taken up to 25 years to acquire.
The project utilized NASA's WB-57 high altitude research jet outfitted with an imaging spectrometer. Flying at an altitude of 50,000 feet, the spectrometer captured hyperspectral images over 400,000 square kilometers. Scientists using data from the flights have mapped an area that covers more than 70 percent of Afghanistan.
The maps are the newest and most detailed addition to a series of hyperspectral data from the USGS and the TFBSO. In July 2012, the hyperspectral data team released two surface materials maps of Afghanistan produced in partnership with the Afghan Geological Survey and TFBSO.
Learn more about USGS projects in Afghanistan.
Ethan Alpern ( Phone: 703-648-4406 );
A recent USGS-led study shows new, recently-formed patches of permafrost in one of Alaska's retreating lakes, a finding that, at first glance, would seem at odds with prevailing theories about arctic climate.
Widespread lake shrinkage in discontinuous regions of permafrost has been linked to climate warming and shallow permafrost thaw. Counter-intuitively, USGS scientists have observed newly forming permafrost around Twelvemile Lake in interior Alaska, where lake water level has dropped by several meters over the past three decades.
"Central Alaskan lake shrinkage may be caused by shallow permafrost changes and not by increasing deep aquifer connections," said Martin A. Briggs, USGS, lead author of the study. "Newly formed permafrost along the shores of shrinking lakes may reduce groundwater outflow and allow them to refill."
Permafrost, or frozen ground lasting at least two consecutive years, typically forms in colder climates when average annual temperatures remain close to or below freezing. Permafrost soils accumulate ice and plant material and can impede groundwater flow. While the upper 1-2 meters may thaw seasonally, frozen soil and dead plant material continues to accumulate at depth over thousands of years, depending on the strength and duration of the colder climate.
During periods of thaw, water and gases are released from their frozen pockets of ice. By understanding permafrost thaw, its degradation in a warming climate, and its impacts on ecosystems and society, managers will be able to plan for rising global temperatures, and climate change. New permafrost formation should also be considered as a possibility in some systems.
This study considered ecological succession, the pattern of vegetation regrowth, within the receded lake margin as the driver of new permafrost through alterations in ground shading and water infiltration. This hypothesis was tested by modeling variably saturated groundwater flow and heat transport under freeze-thaw conditions.
The simulations supported new permafrost development under current climatic conditions, when the net changes effects of woody vegetation are considered, thus pointing to the role of ecological succession.
"Large lake level swings due to shallow permafrost thaw and subsequent refreezing due to ecological succession may be an important natural cycle," said Briggs. "However, in the long term, model simulations projected into the future to reflect even moderate climate warming indicate new permafrost around similar lake sites will stop forming and recede within seven decades, possibly ending the current natural cycle of lake level waning and waxing."
In summary, the findings in this study highlight the importance of vegetation succession in promoting permafrost regeneration in a lake system near the Arctic Circle, which is highly sensitive to subtle soil temperature changes.
This study was conducted by team of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and was published in the journal of Geophysical Research Letters.
DENVER – In the past six months, more than $284 million in federal funds has been provided to Coloradans as they recover from last September’s devastating floods.
More than $222 million has come in the form of disaster grants to individuals and families, flood insurance payments and low-interest loans to renters, homeowners and businesses. More than $62 million has been obligated to state and local governments’ response and recovery work.Language English