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Posted by: | January 26, 2016 | 1 Comment |

After much oscillation, I decided the first slice of my research existence I wanted to discuss would be waves. My motivation for this decision was that when I started this post (a while ago at this point), we had one of the largest wave events experienced by our coast in years. Registering this from my office chair as a buoy reading (http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/) is one thing but in person they were undeniably the largest waves I have ever seen.


It’s hard to get perspective as this is from the top of Yaquina head (a good distance above the ocean) but take my word that those are big fellows. Like massive earth-shacking mobile mountains. Lake watery whales smashing into shore, roaring and flinging foam at us like salty missiles. From the beach the view looked a bit like I should be running the other direction (something I promptly did).




The beach was literally a wall of white water as far as one could see. During these photos the significant wave height at Bouy 46089 was around 38 feet.

All of us on the coast see waves on a daily basis but, like most things in life, never stop to think about what they are, what causes them, and how do they effect the world we live in. Before we jump into this thought, I should sharpen the focus of our question as waves are one of the most common things in the universe. The light hitting your eyeball as you read this past is a wave as is the sound coming from your headphones. Even matter in small enough sizes behaves as a wave as “Dr. Quantum” would be happy to explain to you:

As I am not nearly as awesome as “Dr Quantum” I will be focusing on water surface gravity waves, a microscopic topic in the vast spectrum of wave phenomenon. This said it is fairly awesome to consider the fact that what we see on the ocean is in many ways a metaphor for some of the more complex and mind blowing physics out there. For example the interference pattern from the double slit experiment in the video above is something that we (as coastal engineers) would have to consider. Previous Malouf scholar Annika O’Dea  (scholar http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/education/sea-grant-scholars/meet-scholars/annika-odea-2013) was working on this problem in the context of offshore wave energy converters causing a pattern of high and low wave energy which could potentially effect the shoreline.

So shifting back to the question at hand, the first obvious question would be “what is a surface gravity wave?” The first part of the name is wave. I like to think of waves as a transfer of energy, generally accomplished through an oscillation of “something” (medium would be the more scientific name). In our case the “something” is water.  It’s important to note that despite appearances, what is moving not water but energy. The graphic below shows the path of water particles (circular in deep water and elliptical for shallow water).



This is why if you see a seagull on the surface of the ocean, it doesn’t get “pushed” in the direction of wave propagation, but instead appears to do little circles on the surface.

An important caveat to this is that this concept is only true for linear waves and breaks down for nonlinear conditions (within the surf zone would be an example). Linear wave theory results in waves that are sinusoidal. Not so true in the surfzone.


The details of what the “linear assumption” means is a bit mathy and probably beyond what anyone wants to know, but it’s generally quite accurate for normal ocean conditions. I would say remarkably to magically accurate considering what a drastic assumption it is. The realm beyond this is known as non-linear waves.

The second component of the name is “gravity.” This refers to the restoring force for this particular type of wave. All waves require that the medium has an equilibrium position that is being disturbed. The restoring force is what is trying to return the disturbance to the equilibrium position. If we consider a perfectly calm ocean, it would be perfectly flat and in equilibrium. If something disturbs this (say wind for swell or an earthquake for a tsunami) then the surface is moved upward or downward. Gravity tries to restore the surface to the flat condition that would be perfect balance. Other restoring forces could be the capillary force for very small waves (say when wind is just starting to blow over the surface and create ripples). The restoring force can also be much more complex. For example, with Rosby waves it is the variability of the Coriolis force and the requirement for conservation of absolute vorticity.  This article has a fairly good description of this concept for atmospheric Rosby Waves (there is a corresponding phenomenon within the ocean).


The final part of the name is surface. Surface refers to the fact that that the ocean waves are at the surface of the medium. This may seem obvious but the ocean is actually full of internal waves.

Internal waves

Internal Waves within the South China Sea (NASA’s Shuttle- June 1983)

Waves can form at any interface between two layers. For the surface this is an interface between water and air. For internal waves it is generally between layers of different density.

video credit:  Office of Naval Research, NSF, Sixth Man Productions, Edgeworx.

These waves can be larger than sky scrapers and contain massive energy that is critical to the earth’s climate.

So now we have pretty much only defined waves and I’m probably over my word limit so that may be all for the time being. Next up: How do Surface Gravity Waves effect the world we live in?

under: Uncategorized


Posted by: | January 10, 2016 | 1 Comment |


I will try to keep the fall update condensed, as it was a very busy time of year.

I am one of the new Malouf scholars for the 2015-2016 cycle. Getting into the Masters of Environmental Management program at Portland State University was exciting enough, but being awarded the Oregon Sea grant Malouf Scholarship was even more cause for celebration.

The fall quarter was a whirlwind of activity. I moved to Portland in September from rural northern California. In addition to learning how to navigate a large city, I got to explore the wonderful outdoors including the coast around Astoria.

Once school started I focused on getting down a plan of action for my proposed project. I came up with a poster explaining the project I am hoping to complete that will gather Oregon tribes’ past and present use of marine species. Eventually I would like this to help inform the Marine Protected Area baseline. I took this idea in the form of a poster first to the State of the Coast conference in Coos Bay. In addition to the poster session I was able to talk to several professionals in the marine arena, including a representative from the Surfrider Foundation. He later asked me to present the same poster at the Land Sea Symposium in Yachats. At both of the conferences I was able to talk to a variety of professionals, and this has led to some opportunities to potentially participate in various projects and many wonderful contacts for future career development.

In accordance with a class I took at Portland State University, I have drafted a prospectus and have a clear plan for a time table and next steps for 2016, which will include a lot of outreach (especially with tribes) in the coming months.

Although it is currently raining/sleeting outside, I am looking forward to a proper winter with lots of outdoor activities. Wishes to all for a happy and productive 2016.



under: Uncategorized

As a Oregon Sea Grant Natural Resource Policy Fellow, I work with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to help develop their storm water monitoring program. The folks at ODEQ develop monitoring and management plans of pollutants that enter Oregon’s aquatic, atmospheric, and terrestrial environments. I have been working with the water quality permitting section of ODEQ, which sounds pretty technical but in reality its simply a group of people who issue permits to municipalities, construction and industrial enterprises, and other agencies who would otherwise discharge pollutants or toxins into Oregon waterways unabated. Water quality permitting is an entirely new area for me, as my primary interests and focus have been in marine ecology, but I always love to grow and learn new things.

So far, I have worked with DEQ and Oregon municipalities to assemble past and current stormwater data and give an assessment of data collection efforts. The issue is that with limited resources DEQ cannot tackle the mountain of annual reports and data that municipalities have been collecting, and both parties have raised concerns about whether their data has or will inform management decisions. This is a huge deal for not only the permittee and DEQ, but also the people of Oregon who deserve to know the condition of their waterways. I will be writing a report that will be finalized around March to present my findings. Hopefully this report will be useful for future data collection and retention in the future and will help inform permit decisions.

Around March I will be segueing into another project focusing on data collection and monitoring of stormwater in industrial and construction sites in the Port of Portland as well as the entire state. This will be similar to the previous project, but will be shorter in scope. Primarily, I will be focusing on data from runoff of heavy metal and pesticides.

There is no shortage of work to be had at DEQ. There are mountains of annual reports and hundreds of Microsoft Access files (I had assumed everyone used Excel, so I had to learn this). Its very dense permitting and policy language, but I am happy when I get to work with data. I feel good about the project and I am learning something completely new.


More to come!

under: Uncategorized


Posted by: | December 17, 2015 | 2 Comments |

Hello World! I am the new Sea Grant Malouf Scholar (Kai) and it is past due time for me to post to the blog. I have been delaying posting due to a whirlwind of ideas as to how I could build a case that would make my research accessible and make sense. My overall project and interests revolve around trying to understand how estuary systems change as a result of climate change. As a bit of a motivation for the problem, the following picture is of Netarts bay along our coast of Oregon.


First of all, beautiful. The coast of Oregon is absolutely epic and everyone should at some point take a trip to soak it in. Second of all, physically there is so much going on in this picture that I could easily talk about it all day. Estuary systems are incredibly complex as they are the meeting point of a variety of environments (land, sea, atmosphere, stream, etc.). The middle of the ocean is nice because it’s just water. Well water and a massive swirling chaos machine know as the atmosphere all of which is spinning on a sphere which makes things appear to curve (the coriollis force). And a massive conveyor belt of currents caused by various temperature and density gradients:


Perpetual Ocean:  https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=3827

So maybe not that nice……. But still better than the coast where you have interaction with land and all the complexities that it brings. In the Netarts picture we see a huge spit (the sandy looking peninsula) has been built as a result of waves slowly, grain by grain pushing sediment for years and years. This in turns modifies the waves (as seen by the odd breaking pattern in there shoals off the tip of the spit). Estuaries also have streamflow coming into the system making density variations and season freshwater influxes a factor. And thats just a taste of the problem. Overall the situation is a mess which is why the geophysics of estuaries is relatively understudied and not particularly well understood.

So my research is trying to work out what drives estuaries but then with the icing on the top: climate change and how it will effect the system. Science assemble!!!!!!!!!


So hopefully over the year I will break down how one goes about approaching this problem. First up…. Waves!


under: Uncategorized

Check out this interesting event being thrown by OPB and the University of Oregon’s Agora Journalism Center.

under: Geoff Ostrove, Natural Resources Policy Fellow, Uncategorized

The State of Oregon is currently applying for HUD’s Natural Disaster Resilience Competition, and there is an opportunity for you to comment on the proposed projects. Check out the draft application, and send comments to hud@oem.state.or.us.  Please include “HUD NDRC Application Phase 2 Public Comment” in the subject line of the email.

under: Geoff Ostrove, Natural Resources Policy Fellow, Uncategorized

The 2015 Annual Conference for the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association starts today, and I will be there to talk about the SRGP. Mostly, I’ll be talking about how the SRGP is currently accepting applications until the end of 2015. Check here for more updates on application procedures.

under: Geoff Ostrove, Natural Resources Policy Fellow, Uncategorized

Oregon Coast Economic Summit

Posted by: | September 1, 2015 | No Comment |

The Oregon Coast Economic Summit was a huge success! Even Governor Kate Brown showed up!

under: Geoff Ostrove, Natural Resources Policy Fellow, Uncategorized

Week Ten: The End

Posted by: | August 18, 2015 | 1 Comment |

I decided to write my final blog post on my second to last day of work at the EPA. I am only working three days this week, because I need time to pack for school before I fly to Pennsylvania on Saturday, and tomorrow the interns are presenting their summer work. This week wasn’t eventful, I was mainly finalizing tables at work and preparing for school. However, amidst the uneventfulness, I had time to reflect on this past summer and whether I achieved the SMART goals that I had created at the beginning of the summer.

I had three SMART goals. My personal goal was to learn to cook cheap and healthy food that tastes good every evening for dinner, while my two professional goals were to provide useful feedback during my team’ weekly group meetings that will contribute to the overall outcome of CBRAT and to determine whether I can see myself as a future EPA employee like I previously desired, or if non-governmental organizations seem more exciting and relaxed than the rigid structure of a government agency.
My personal goal was to a certain extent achieved. I did not starve obviously but I did not particularly venture into the world of cuisine. I made burritos, nachos, salad, sandwiches, pasta, and other easy dishes. However, I feel like even though these dishes are not complex, it still required basic skills such as using the stove and microwave and chopping up veggies.

My first professional goal was achieved, however, without question. Every week, I shared what I had been working on and what values I found, but I also helped design the homepage for CBRAT, compile a list of ‘to-do’ items for CBRAT’s public version, helped identify problems with CBRAT, and helped write an abstract submission to a climate change conference. I participated every week outside of sharing my work duties.

With regards to the final professional goal, I have determined that a non-governmental agency suits me better than a government agency at this point in my life. I applaud the work of government workers and truly think the EPA is doing some incredible things, but the bureaucracy and structure in the government agency is limiting. My mentor, Christina, used to do field work every day. However, the agency decided to focus more on using data previously available rather than create more. Now Christina is restricted to sitting at a computer for forty hours a week. My future career goal now is to work for a non-governmental organization working with the EPA to create policies and advocate for environmental protection, environmental justice, and climate change and clean energy initiatives.

On Wednesday I leave for Salem with my goals for the most part achieved. It feels weird knowing I am leaving a summer full of memories behind. Although I live in Oregon, I am not sure if and when I’ll be able to visit Newport next; and when I do visit, the atmosphere will be nostalgic rather than exciting. Thank you Oregon Sea Grant for this amazing summer!


So long Newport!

under: Micaela Edelson

As I have said in so many of my posts, Oswald West State Park, basically my second office here, is absolutely gorgeous. In case I haven’t convinced you to come here and hike Cape Falcon or surf at Short Sand Beach, I have even more pictures of it that I think should do the trick. Oswald West is a unique place where the forest and cliffs go right up the edge of the ocean, which makes for great hiking views.


This is a picture from the half mile hike it takes to get from the parking lot down to Short Sand Beach, where we hand out visitor surveys.


Here I am chilling in my office! This is where we stand and ask people to fill out surveys as they are heading down to the beach. All of trees at Oswald West are super different and neat. This intriguing tree is climbed by dozens of kids and adults everyday as it has such a gradual slope.


Here’s where the stream that flows through the forest comes out and flows into the ocean!


Early morning tidepooling! There are amazing tidepools at Short Sand. When the tide is low you can actually walk into deep caves full of starfish and other interesting critters.

under: Haley Epperly

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