Archive for September, 2013

Skidaway Institute professor nominated for award

September 19, 2013

Marc Frischer

Marc Frischer

A paper published by University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography professor Marc Frischer has been nominated for the James LaBounty Award as the best paper published during the past year in the scientific journal, Lake and Reservoir Management. Published by the North American Lake Management Society, the journal features peer-reviewed scientific papers targeting a largely technical audience of academics and lake managers. 

 The article, “Accuracy and reliability of Dreissena spp. larvae detection by cross-polarized light microscopy, imaging flow cytometry, and polymerase chain reaction assays” described an experiment to assess the reliability of three different methods for detecting zebra and quagga mussel larvae.

 Native to the lakes of southern Russia, zebra and quagga mussels have become a troublesome invasive species in North America. They disrupt ecosystems, and damage harbors and waterways, ships and boats, and water treatment and power plants. The goal of the study was to provide quantitative data useful for managers struggling to contain the current spread of these species in the western U.S.

 The manuscript was co-authored by Kevin Kelly from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Environmental Applications and Research Group, and Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer from the Darrin Fresh Water Institute and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The study was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servce.

An abstract of the article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07438141.2012.731027.

 According to the journal editor, Ken Wagner, the nomination means the editorial board felt that the paper was one of the more important contributions to Lake and Reservoir Management this past year.

 The final award will be presented at the annual symposium of the North American Lake Management Society in San Diego in October.

 For more information on the ongoing invasion and management efforts, see http://www.musselmonitoring.com.

UGA Skidaway Institute participates in Gliderpalooza 2013

September 18, 2013

More than a dozen underwater robotic vehicles called “gliders” will be launched simultaneously this month in a massive, cooperative project involving 10 east coast research institutions, including the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. Dubbed Gliderpalooza 2013, the fleet of gliders will cruise the waters of the east coast for several weeks, collecting data that could help improve future hurricane forecasts. 

UGA Skidaway Institute scientist Catherine Edwards makes adjustments to the glider “Modena” while R/V Savannah crewman Mickey Baxley assists.

UGA Skidaway Institute scientist Catherine Edwards makes adjustments to the glider “Modena” while R/V Savannah crewman Mickey Baxley assists.

The gliders are torpedo-shaped vehicles, equipped with sensors and recorders to collect observations under all conditions. These autonomous underwater vehicles, or AUVs, move through the water by adjusting their buoyancy and pitch. Because they are highly energy efficient, gliders can remain on a mission for weeks at a time. Every 4 to 6 hours over their mission, they surface, report their data by satellite phone and receive instructions as needed.

According to Skidaway Institute scientist Catherine Edwards, one goal of Gliderpalooza 2013 is to test the feasibility of using a fleet of gliders to work together and to integrate their data—collected in the same time period, but over a wide geographical range.

“Gliders are powerful tools for oceanographers,” Edwards said. “We believe there is great potential to expand the value of them by working together on the deployments and integrating the data each collects.”

Another reason for promoting the use of gliders is their relatively inexpensive cost of operation. Gliders can operate for weeks at a time and in all kinds of weather conditions for a small fraction of the daily coast of an ocean-going research vessel.

“Gliders will never replace ships in oceanography—ship surveys are often the best way to collect data,” Edwards said. “But AUVs require far fewer resources and personnel than shipboard work, and can operate in conditions that would be impossible for traditional ship surveys. For lengthy data-collection missions, a glider can operate for pennies on the dollar by comparison.”

Scientists at Rutgers University are coordinating the project. Computers there will gather the data from the various glider groups, and make it available through a data assembly center for access to and visualization of the data in real time. Glider groups participating in Gliderpalooza will contribute pictures, updates and other notes of interest to scientists and the general public on a blog available at http://maracoos.org/blogs/main/

September was chosen as the month for deployment because many important fish species migrate in that month, and a coordinated experiment can provide a more complete picture of oceanographic conditions and fish populations. September is the most active month for hurricanes, and there is interest in the use of gliders to better understand the effects of major storms on the mixing and transport of heat, nutrients and material.

The Skidaway Institute glider, nicknamed “Modena,” and several others will also be equipped with a special instrument to monitor fish migration. In order to track fish migration, some fisheries biologists tag fish with an acoustic transmitter. The tag-transmitter sends out a sound signal identifying the fish. Typically, receivers on buoys and other stationary platforms monitor these signals. This will be the first time a fleet of moving gliders will be used to monitor fish migration.

Gliderpalooza will also serve as a field test of a new glider navigation system developed by Georgia Tech graduate students, Dongsik Chang, Klimka Szwaykowska and Sungjin Cho, who are supervised by Edwards and Georgia Tech collaborator Fumin Zhang.

Catherine Edwards works on Modena with her team of grad students.

Catherine Edwards works on Modena with her team of grad students.

Gliders can only receive GPS information at the surface. They navigate underwater by dead reckoning, using information on ocean currents from the last leg of their mission. However, the strong tidal currents on the Georgia shelf, combined with the fast-moving Gulf Stream at the shelf edge often exceed a glider’s forward speed. This creates the opportunity for significant navigational errors.

The Glider Environmental Network Information System (GENIoS) is an automated system that optimizes glider navigation based on real time data from ocean models, high frequency radar and measurements from the glider itself. By integrating these data with ocean models, GENIoS provides a more accurate prediction of the currents the glider will navigate through, and chooses the most efficient target waypoints for the glider to aim for as those currents change in space and time.   

During Gliderpalooza, the Skidaway Institute glider will conduct a triangle-shaped mission that includes one leg along the edge of the continental shelf, which also corresponds roughly to the western edge of the Gulf Stream.

“The combination of strong tidal currents and the influence of the Gulf Stream will serve as a strong test of the system,” Edwards said.

The collected glider data will go through NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center to the National Weather Service, the U.S. Navy and other data users for modeling. Data from the glider missions will also be public and available on the Integrated Ocean Observing System Glider Asset Map and at http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/gliders.pahp.

Funding for Modena’s mission is provided by the UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association.

More information and an ongoing update on the progress of the project are available on the Gliderpalooza 2013 blog at http://maracoos.org/blogs/main/?p=448.

‘Chasing Ice’ screening Saturday night at the Lucas Theater

September 6, 2013

As you plan your (next) weekend, don’t forget that Skidaway Institute of Oceanography will present the award-winning documentary, “Chasing Ice,” as the feature film at the 11th Annual Gray’s Reef Ocean Film Festival on Saturday, September 14, at 8 p.m. at the Lucas Theater for the Arts in downtown Savannah.

James Balog with of his cameras at an Alaska glacier.

James Balog with of his cameras at an Alaska glacier.

“Chasing Ice” is the story of James Balog, a photographer who directed The Extreme Ice Survey, an ambitious project to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate. With a band of young adventurers in tow, Balog deployed revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to produce a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers.

Balog and his team battled untested technology in subzero conditions to capture images that compress years into seconds and depict ancient mountains of ice as they disappear at a breathtaking rate.

“Chasing Ice” has won 23 awards at film festivals around the world, including the Sundance Film Festival Award for Excellence in Cinematography and the Environmental Media Association’s 22nd Annual Best Documentary Award.

The screening will be followed by a short panel discussion on climate change including several Skidaway Institute scientists and other environmental experts.

The screening will be sponsored in part by the Skidaway Marine Science Foundation.

More information on “Chasing Ice” can be found at http://www.chasingice.com/.

The 11th Annual Gray’s Reef Ocean Film Festival will be presented Thursday, September 12 through Saturday, September 14, at the Jepson Center and the Lucas Theater for the Arts. An encore presentation of selected festival films will be screened at the Jewish Education Alliance on Sunday, September 15. Admission to all films will be free.

More information on the film festival is available at www.graysreef.noaa.gov.

Skidaway Marine Science Day set for Oct. 26

September 6, 2013

An afternoon of marine science programs, displays, tours and activities—Skidaway Marine Science Day 2013—will be held on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the campus of the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography located at the north end of Skidaway Island.

Visitors tour the R/V Savannah during Skidaway Marine Science Day 2012

Visitors tour the R/V Savannah during Skidaway Marine Science Day 2012

Skidaway Marine Science Day is a campus-wide open house with activities for everyone. These will include programs, tours, displays and hands-on activities, primarily related to marine science.

The Skidaway Institute of Oceanography will offer a variety of activities for adults and children, including tours of the Research Vessel Savannah and smaller research vessels, science displays and hands-on science activities.

The UGA Aquarium will be open to visitors with no admission fee. In addition, the aquarium education staff will offer visitors a full afternoon of activities including science talks, a reptile show, crabbing, touch tanks and behind-the-scene tours of the aquarium.

The UGA Shellfish Laboratory will provide visitors with displays and information on marine life on the Georgia Coast. Children will have an opportunity to help protect the marine environment by bagging oyster shells used for oyster reef restoration projects.

The staff of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary will show visitors how to operate a remotely-operated-vehicle (ROV) in a swimming pool and pick up objects from the  bottom.

Skidaway Institute professor Bill Savidge will reprise his very popular talk and tour on the history of Skidaway Island, tracing the Skidaway campus back to its years as a hunting preserve and a cattle plantation.

Bill Savidge's talk and tour attracted a large crowd at the 2012 event.

Bill Savidge’s talk and tour attracted a large crowd at the 2012 event.

Along with the campus organizations, Skidaway Marine Science Day will also include displays, demonstrations and activities from a wide range of science, environmental and education groups, such as The Dolphin Project, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and The Nature Conservancy.

All activities at Skidaway Marine Science Day will be free. For additional information, call 912-598-2325, or visit www.skio.uga.edu