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Weekly Highlights


From: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Subject: Weekly Highlights, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, September 13, 2012  

Departmental/Bureau News - Current

  • USGS Investigates Impacts of Hurricane Isaac on Shorebirds: Avian ecologists at the USGS NWRC surveyed shorebirds on Trinity Island, Whiskey Island, and west Raccoon Island, part of the Isles Dernieres chain in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. Surveys were conducted one week prior to the landfall of Hurricane Isaac and again one week after landfall. The islands are west of Isaac’s path. Wrack and sand movement suggests water moved from west to east during the hurricane. As the surge drained back to the bayside of the island and reached the higher vegetated areas, it scoured the biofilm from the sand. Prior to the hurricane, shorebirds were abundant on the western edge of Whiskey Island, with dunlin, least sandpipers, and semi-palmated sandpipers being abundant in the shallow interior areas that retained water and where there was an abundance of biofilm on the sand. Post-storm counts suggest a lack of the biofilm influenced totals more than other issues because the number of most other species increased post-Isaac. The role of microtopographical changes in foraging patterns of shorebirds is being investigated by comparing laser-scanned surface features from before and after the storm’s passage. (Clint Jeske; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8652)

  • Satellite Radar Flood Inundation Products: The International Charter was activated on August 31, in response to Hurricane Isaac’s flooding of coastal Louisiana and Mississippi. In reply to the charter call, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data from Radarsat-1, Cosmo-SkyMed, and TerraSAR-X were made available. NWRC’s Remote Sensing Applied Research (RSAR) team prepared flood inundation extents using Radarsat-1 data to estimate the occurrence of residual flooding on September 1 in Plaquemines Parish and Slidell, Louisiana. These maps were uploaded to the USGS Hazards Data Distribution System (HDDS) site with a brief evaluation describing the usability and calibration of the Cosmo-SkyMed data as well as recommendations to improve the timeliness and details of flood maps produced from Radarsat-1 data. RSAR is preparing an evaluation of producing flood maps with pre- and post-Isaac TerraSAR-X data covering Louisiana and Mississippi. (Amina Rangoonwala; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8558)

  • USGS Continues Recovery of Storm Surge Sensor Data: USGS NWRC Ecologist William Vervaeke continued assisting with the recovery of storm surge sensors in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac. Vervaeke spent September 10-13 measuring elevations of sensors on the east bank of the Mississippi River downstream of Belle Chasse, Louisiana, after officials opened up the area once flooding subsided. (William Vervaeke; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8588)

  • BTNEP Management Conference: USGS NWRC Branch Chief Scott Wilson, Ecologist Kate Spear, and contractor and Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) Outreach Coordinator Susan Testroet-Bergeron attended the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) Management Conference Meeting in Thibodaux, Louisiana on September 11. The meeting was held to examine the effectiveness and cost of various shoreline protection techniques, including an update on the CWPPRA Terrebonne Bay Shore Protection Demonstration (TE-45) project. (Scott Wilson; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8644)

  • USGS Completes Second Flyover of Storm Damage and Marsh Dieback: USGS NWRC Ecologist Camille Stagg, geographers Brady Couvillion and Chris Wells, and University of Louisiana at Lafayette researcher Tommy Michot, participated in a flyover of southeastern Louisiana to view storm damage and marsh dieback on September 12. Fred Roetker of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was the pilot. The group applied methodology and techniques developed by the NWRC to assess and document the extent of marsh dieback, termed “brown marsh” or “sudden marsh dieback,” in Terrebonne and Barataria basins. Previous reports of sudden marsh dieback in the spring and summer of 2012 indicate that the dieback in this area has been increasing over time and may be the result of a combination of stressors. NWRC issued a press release on September 11 to discuss what was seen during the first flyover. (Gabrielle Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

  • CWPPRA Technical Committee Meeting: On September 12, USGS NWRC Branch Chief Scott Wilson, Ecologist Kate Spear, and contractors Susan Testroet-Bergeron and Cole Ruckstuhl attended the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) Technical Committee Meeting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Wilson serves as the Public Outreach Committee Chairman, Testroet-Bergeron serves as the CWPPRA Outreach Coordinator, and Ruckstuhl serves as CWPPRA’s Media Specialist. (Scott Wilson; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8644)

  • NWRC Director Meets with UL Lafayette Interim Vice President for Research: On September 13, USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed met with Dr. Ramesh Kolluru to discuss continued collaboration between NWRC and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Turnipseed also wanted to welcome Kolluru to his new position. Dr. Kolluru was named interim VP for Research on August 22 and replaces Robert Twilley, who accepted a position with the Louisiana Sea Grant Program in June. (D. Phil Turnipseed; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8501)

  • GOMA Federal Work Group Conference Call: USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed, Branch Chief Scott Wilson, and Ecologist Kate Spear will meet with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) Federal Work Group during a call on September 14, 2012, to discuss collaboration among Federal agencies in the Alliance and to coordinate efforts. (D. Phil Turnipseed; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8501)

  • Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge Hunting and Fishing Day 2012: The Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge will hold its annual Hunting and Fishing Day event on Saturday, September 15 on the Refuge's Visitor Center grounds in Tallulah, Louisiana. USGS NWRC Research Wildlife Biologist Wylie Barrow and Five Rivers Services Scientific Technician Heather Baldwin will set up an exhibit showcasing their work on the forest history of the refuge and surrounding Tensas River Basin from the 1840s thru the 1940s. (Wylie C. Barrow; Lafayette, La; 337-266-8668)

  • Gulf of Mexico Program Director to Visit NWRC: EPA Gulf of Mexico Program Director Ben Scaggs will visit the USGS National Wetlands Research Center on September 19-20, to meet with NWRC’s Executive Management Team, tour the center, and visit field sites in the Atchafalaya Basin. The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. The program is financially supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of State and Federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. (D. Phil Turnipseed; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8501)

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