Oregon Sea Grant-funded tsunami research featured in NSF “Discoveries”

“One of our experiments found that small seawalls cause a skyward deflection of an incoming tsunami wave, which consequently reduces wave energy and the force on structures directly landward of the wall. … As seawalls are inexpensive and easy to build, they are a sustainable tsunami defense measure applicable for most coastal communities.”

So writes Oregon State University (OSU) graduate student Mary Beth Oshnack in her article, “Building Tsunami-resistant Cities,” in the National Science Foundation’s online news feature, Discoveries. Oshnack has been working with Oregon Sea Grant researcher Dan Cox at OSU’s O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, part of the National Science Foundation’s  (NSF) Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, or NEES.

Prepare now to survive a West Coast tsunami

Pat CorcoranASTORIA, Ore. – Two weeks after tsunamis in Sumatra and American Samoa initiated by powerful earthquakes killed hundreds of people, a growing number of Oregonians are wondering how people living along the West Coast will fare when a large – and possibly overdue – quake shakes our own soil.

“Unfortunately, our fascination with the physical phenomena eclipses our interest in preparing to survive our next big earthquake and tsunami,” said Patrick Corcoran, coastal hazards outreach specialist with the Oregon Sea Grant program at Oregon State University.

(

Climate change adds uncertainty to fisheries management

A new analysis of fisheries management concludes that climate change will significantly increase the variability of the size and location of many fish populations, creating uncertainty for fisheries managers – and the need for greater flexibility.

Most management processes are slow and cumbersome, as well as rigid, the authors say, and don’t adequately take climate change and human behavior into account.

“What climate change will do is pit the increased resource variability against the rigidity of the process,” said Susan Hanna, a fishery economist from Oregon State University and co-author of the report.

“Over time, managers will have to become more conservative to account for the greater uncertainty, and we will need to do a better job of understanding the effect of uncertainty on human behavior,” said Hanna, a long-time Oregon Sea Grant economics specialist.

Read more …

Podcast features Nobel economics winner

Elinor OstromCongratulations to Elinor Ostrom, the Indiana University political scientist who is one of two recipients of this year’s Nobel Prize for economics.

Ostrom, known for her work on the management of common resources, is the first woman to win a Nobel in economics.

A year ago, Dr. Ostrom sat down with Oregon Sea Grant’s Joe Cone to talk about the challenges of communicating about climate change. The two-part interview, in which she discusses system-based approaches to thinking and talking about the resilience of social and economic systems, is available on our Communicating Climate Change podcast. The episode also includes a link to her 2007 National Academy of Sciences article, “A diagnostic approach for going beyond panaceas.”

Ostrom is among several leading social scientists interviewed for the podcast over the past year and a half.

Quest-building workshop

Looking for a way to connect people with community? Quests are fun clue-directed hunts that get people outdoors exploring the natural, historical and cultural treasures of special places. All it takes is a pencil, a set of directions and a sense of adventure – follow the directions, discover clues and find a hidden Quest box where you can log your success.

The Oregon Coast Quests program, developed by Oregon Sea Grant’s marine education team at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, already has 25 Quests in coastal Lincoln County. Now they’re offering a workshop to teach others how to build their own.

Saturday, February 6, 2010, 1 pm – 4 pm.
OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport
Registration:$25 /person.

Space is limited to 20 participants, and you need to register by Jan. 29, 2010

The workshops are tailored for teachers, park and museum staffers, local history buffs, naturalists and others interested in using this enjoyable, all-ages adventure format to teach about local human and natural history. Participants will learn about the Quest format and educational philosophy, try out an existing Quest, and build a short practice Quest.

For more information, and a downloadable registration form, visit the Oregon Coast Quests page.

For more information about Oregon Coast Quests or the Quest-building workshop, contact Cait Goodwin at cait.goodwin@oregonstate.edu or 541-961-0968. Tailored workshops and curriculum support are also available.

Ocean Observatories Initiative signed

Giving scientists never-before-seen views of the world’s oceans, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) have signed a Cooperative Agreement that supports the construction and initial operation of the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI).

OOI will provide a network of undersea sensors for observing complex ocean processes such as climate variability, ocean circulation, and ocean acidification at several coastal, open-ocean and seafloor locations.

Continuous data flow from hundreds of OOI sensors will be integrated by a sophisticated computing network, and will be openly available to scientists, policy makers, students and the public.

Oregon State University, along with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will be responsible for the system’s coastal and global moorings and their associated autonomous vehicles.

Read more from the National Science Foundation

Chinese visit Oregon to discuss marine invasives

Spartina_alternifloraRepresentatives from China’s Fujian Academy of Science-Forestry-Institute of Ecology and Environment are visiting Oregon this week to confer with an Oregon Sea Grant specialist on methods of fighting the spread of an invasive grass species.

The grass, Spartina alterniflora (also known as cordgrass), is native to the east coast of North America. The grass was introduced into a Fujian estuary in 1982 and has spread rapidly. Spartina invasions have also occurred on the west coast of the U.S. In China, the fast-spreading grass threatens the survival of native mangrove forests.

In 2007 Oregon Sea Grant Extension agent Sam Chan and a team of researchers, educators, and resource managers from Oregon, Washington and Florida visited Fujian, a province about half the size of Oregon, on the southeastern coast of China. This week, the Chinese team is visiting OSU.

Read more …

Public invited to view great white shark dissection today

Great white shark thaws for necropsy

A 12-foot white shark—popularly known as a great white shark—that died in August after becoming entangled in the ropes of a crab pot, will become the focus of scientists this week during its dissection at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.

The public is invited to view the necropsy, which will be performed over two days.

“It is a shame that the shark became entangled in the ropes and died, but the specimen still has a great deal of scientific and educational value,” said William Hanshumaker, the OSU center’s marine education specialist, who is coordinating the necropsy. “Top predators such as this are difficult to study and we don’t know a lot about where they migrate or breed.”

Hanshumaker, who also is a faculty member for Sea Grant Extension at OSU, will remove the shark from the freezer today (Thursday, October 1, 2009) and put it on public display in a roped-off section of the HMSC’s Visitor’s Center beginning at 10 a.m. Visitors may observe the shark via video camera in the Hennings Auditorium—including necropsy activities, which begin late this afternoon.

At 4:30 p.m. today, Dr. Brion Benninger, of the Neurological Sciences Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, will remove the shark’s spinal accessory nerve, where it will be used in OHSU neurological studies.

Tomorrow (Friday, October 2) a series of procedures is planned. Wade Smith, a doctoral student at OSU specializing in shark studies, will conduct measurements of the shark beginning at 11 a.m., and discuss his findings with a fishery biology class taught by OSU professor Scott Heppell. At 1 p.m., OSU students from two classes will examine the shark and hear experts present information on shark diversity, the white shark’s biology and movements, its unique features, and conservation issues.

At 2 p.m., Tim Miller-Morgan of OSU will examine the shark for external parasites, and at 2:30 p.m., Hanshumaker will measure the animal’s teeth and bite impression. At 3 p.m., Smith will conclude the dissection by collecting biological materials, the vertebra, muscle tissue, the dorsal fin and teeth—all of which have scientific value.

“There are researchers from throughout the country who are interested in what we’re doing here and have requested sample materials,” Hanshumaker said. “This also is an opportunity for the public to observe first-hand this unique creature and how scientists conduct research and share information.”

Samples from the white shark will be sent to: Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station; Alaska Department of Fish and Game; University of California-Santa Cruz; California State University-Long Beach; Monterey Bay Aquarium; and Nova Southeastern University.

The samples will provide data for studies ranging from genetics to toxicology, to age and growth data.

(Edited from a news release written by Mark Floyd, OSU News Service, and published online Wednesday, September 30, at democratherald.com)

(photo by Julie Howard, HMSC)