Professor Emeritus Al Hine strives for Marine Science activism at the community level

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - "Back away from the barrier islands," Dr. Albert Hine urged county commissioners in the past here in the Tampa Bay region. 

Also known as ‘Retreat from the Beach’, scientists have repeatedly stated that extensive permanent structures should not exist on barrier islands because they are, on long time scales, temporary bodies of land that change shape and even disappear or migrate due to fluctuations in sea level, currents, and wave patterns.  Even more pressing, category 5 hurricanes are incredibly destructive and costly to areas where extensive infrastructure exists on the beach. 

Catastrophic events like hurricanes were Al Hine’s focus throughout most of his career when speaking publicly before elected officials and policy makers concerning the beach issue.  Ironically, though, it has been Sea Level Rise (SLR) that has recently captured the attention of most decision makers.  A much more gradual issue than hurricanes, SLR seems to be viewed as a more certain one.  Al Hine and colleagues have written an engaging and very informative book on this issue called Sea Level Rise In Florida: Science, Impacts, And Options.  It is, as the title suggests, recommended reading for every Floridian.

Regardless of which natural deterrent draws the most attention, Al Hine would be glad to see any method successfully prevent people from further building out the beaches.  Taxpayer burdens from storms could be reduced, and he feels that barrier islands should be developed mostly as public recreational spaces with minimal infrastructure beyond that needed to enjoy a day-trip to the beach.  Beachfront living and vacationing continues to be extremely popular and lucrative, so turning high-rise properties into meadows of sea oats and palm trees is decidedly a long-term goal.  Any major storm event to make landfall on the Tampa Bay area, though, will likely begin to change the minds of developers and residents alike.   Drawing on his 40 year career, Al offers this life lesson as admonition, "I’ve moved away from telling people what they should do and instead to explaining the science to inform decision making." 

Al Hine began at the College of Marine Science in 1979 when the Florida legislature allocated 8 new faculty positions for what was then the Department of Marine Science within USF’s College of Natural Sciences.  Outside disciplines are desirable in marine science because they bring ingenuity to the field.  Al joined as a geologist and began teaching classes in geological oceanography, eventually focusing on marine sediments, continental shelf processes, and seafloor features like reefs and other hard bottom structures where life in the ocean congregates.  Al was awarded the national Shepard Medal for sustained excellence in marine geology in 2009.  Dr. Francis P. Shepard is considered the father of modern marine geology.  Recently, Al published a book, Geologic History of Florida: Major Events that Formed the Sunshine State, which explains the geological processes in a way that is applicable to college students and to intriguing minds of all ages. 

Another frequent subject of Al’s research career was related to carbonate rocks and the principles that allow scientists and engineers to discover oil reserves within them.  Thinking often about the subject of oil and gas exploration, Al put pen to paper and recently published a column in the Tampa Bay Times entitled, "In the long term, Florida offshore oil drilling is simply irrelevant."

Present onshore oil wells in Florida are tiny, accounting for just 0.05% of US crude oil production.  Further offshore, as Al writes, there may be something worth exploring but there is simply no guarantee.  The oil reserves in question are an unknown, and the only thing that we know for certain is that it would take an enormous effort to extract that oil, he suggests.  According to Al, the debate over Florida offshore drilling is irrelevant because of the high cost of extraction, the cost of environmental damage that will likely result, and because other viable energy sources will someday replace oil and gas.  In the article, Al also recognizes that the energy companies’ are the ones best poised to lead the transition to renewables, and indeed, they have already begun.

"Explaining science to the public is kind of my mission now," stated Al Hine.  He admits that he still wrestles with how much of the science to explain.  How much is too much before you lose your audience?  And, how much is enough to get the point across without sounding like you’ve just made something up?  The key, he suggests, is to make it interesting and to explain science in such a way that your listener doesn’t hear ideologies. 

Written By: Sean Beckwith

Last modified on Friday, 20 April 2018 13:00

National Academies Gulf Research Program Awards Over $340,000 to Assist Scientific Research Impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - The National Academies' Gulf Research Program is awarding USFCMS Professor Robert Weisberg $47K to repair crucial meteorological & oceanographic monitoring research moorings damaged during Hurricane Irma. USF is one of 11 institutions receiving recovery support.

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Last modified on Friday, 20 April 2018 12:39

USF students gain valuable experience on floating lab

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - It’s been nearly a year since University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft christened the multi-million-dollar research vessel, the WT Hogarth. Since then, students and scientists have climbed aboard this floating lab in St. Petersburg, FL.

Ryan Venturelli receives a 2018 GSA Graduate Student Research Grant

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Ryan Venturelli, a Ph.D. student working with Dr. Brad Rosenheim, will receive a 2018 Graduate Student Research Grant from the Geological Society of America for her research project entitled, “Deconvolving Holocene Hydrologic Variability Along the Florida Keys Reef Tract.”

This research involves the application of coral clumped isotopes to understand changes in temperature, seawater isotopic composition, and salinity along the Florida Keys Reef Tract throughout the last 11,000 years. This information, along with a recently published radiocarbon record from the same corals, will be used to gain an improved understanding of Holocene hydrologic/oceanographic variability in the Straits of Florida, a region that provides an important link between the tropical and high-latitude Atlantic Ocean.

The role of colloidal iron species in the marine environment


Speakers/Affiliations: Jess Fitzsimmons, Texas A&M University

Seminar TitleThe role of colloidal iron species in the marine environment

When: Apr. 20, 2018 3:30pm EST

Where: MSL Conference Room (134)

Host: Timothy Conway

Jessica Fitzsimmons Abstract Title

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Last modified on Monday, 16 April 2018 23:38

Theresa King wins poster presentation at the USF Graduate Student Symposium

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - A student of geological oceanography at the College of Marine Science, Theresa King, was chosen to represent USF at the 5th Annual Statewide Graduate Student Research Symposium in Tallahassee on April 20, 2018 for her winning poster entitled “Antarctica in Hot Water:  Employing a Suite of Archives and Techniques to Understand the Melting Continent.” 

One of two winners in the category for Natural and Physical Sciences at the USF Graduate Student Symposium, Theresa’s poster and presentation focused on the importance of understanding past interactions of warm waters and Antarctic ice shelves in terms of changes in sea level.  To meet the challenge of presenting among a broad group of contestants to judges of various disciplines, she decided to include a brief background of where she works and why her research is important. Also, as it is difficult for people living in Florida to sense a connection with changing conditions in Antarctica, she discussed some of the impacts of sea-level rise on low-lying communities like the Tampa Bay area.  Making sure to get her point across, Theresa refrained from getting bogged down in specific methods and, instead, explained her results and future work in the context of achieving a better understanding of Antarctic contributions to sea level. 

Theresa “really enjoyed being able to talk with other grad students about their research, and it was really interesting to learn about work outside of [the] marine science ‘bubble.’"  Beyond the bubble, presentations of the attendees ranged from virtually recreating Medieval Spain to the medicinal properties of deep sea corals.

Written By: Sean Beckwith

Spatial dynamics of Florida's recreational fisheries and implications for their management


Speakers/Affiliations: Ed Camp, University of Florida

Seminar TitleSpatial dynamics of Florida's recreational fisheries and implications for their management

When: Apr. 13, 2018 3:30pm EST

Where: MSL Conference Room (134)

Host: Marcy Cockrell

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Ph.D. student, Michelle Guitard, invited to sail on IODP Expedition 382 to the Southern Ocean

ST. PETERSBUFG, FL - USF CMS Ph.D. student, Michelle Guitard, has been invited to join the Shipboard Scientific Party of International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 382 to the Scotia Sea, in the Atlantic Sector of the Southern Ocean. This 2-month expedition (March-May, 2019), led by co-chief scientists Prof. Maureen Raymo (LDEO) and Dr. Michael Weber (Cologne), will recover sediment sequences that contain records of Antarctic Ice Sheet evolution and ocean circulation changes since the middle Miocene, 14 million years ago.

Guitard will sail on the JOIDES Resolution as a Physical Properties specialist. Post-expedition, Guitard intends to generate ocean temperature records from sites north and south of the Polar front to understand the role of ocean heat on Antarctic ice sheet dynamics during the mid-Pleistocene transition, ~1 million years ago. 

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Last modified on Friday, 06 April 2018 13:28

Interdisciplinary research in Costa Rica: Beach water quality and management to protect public health

National Water Lab at the University of Costa Rica - USF Reclaim alumna, Dr. Erin M. Symonds, is currently a USF postdoc working with the Instituto de Acueductos y Alcantarillados (AyA)’s National Water Lab in Costa Rica. Symonds, two USF Integrative Biology Ph.D. students (Adriana Gonzalez and Javier Gallard), and Marine Science Ph.D. candidate Abdiel Laureano-Rosario are investigating beach water quality and how it relates to pathogens and human health in Costa Rica.

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Cycling of carbon from the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - This study led by Brad Rosenheim shows that the isotopic signature of oil is still present in the water column of the N. Gulf of Mexico 4 years after the spill. The chemistry of the oil may have changed through biosynthesis or degradation, however the isotope signature remains. The fascinating part of this observation is the physical oceanography question of how the signature remains in the water column for such a long time despite currents and waves that would suggest otherwise.

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Last modified on Thursday, 05 April 2018 18:02