SBC LTER sites oiled by pipeline break
Refugio Beach, May 2015 (credit: US Coast Guard).
On May 19, 2015, a black tide of heavy oil from a broken pipeline began to come ashore at Refugio State Beach on the Santa Barbara Channel mainland. A large group of SBC investigators and students responded immediately to what became known as the Refugio oil spill, pooling their expertise and local knowledge of the SBC LTER area to help monitor the spill as it spread to many miles of coast and ocean over the next few weeks. The coastline and waters affected by the oil spill include a number of SBC’s long term research sites ranging from kelp forests to sandy beaches. Working in collaboration, SBC investigators and students have been gathering and providing myriad data and observations to the state and federal agencies working to evaluate and clean up the damage from the oil spill. Although the clean up of the coastline and beaches following the Refugio spill is winding down, scientific investigation of the environmental impacts of the spill will continue for much longer. SBC’s scientists are playing an important role in determining the extent of those impacts and what may be done to restore this once pristine coastline. For more information see Network News
or UCSB press release
Kelp influences sandy beaches
Kelp wrack at a Santa Barbara beach
Kelp that washes onto our local beaches provides a very important, though understudied, resource upporting food webs in sandy ecosystems. A better understanding of the relationship between kelp forests and our sandy beaches will help to manage and preserve coastal ecosystems that are important to local residents and the economies that rely upon them. A new NSF-supported project led by SBC researchers Jenny Dugan, Bob Miller and Carter Ohlmann will provide needed new insights into the dynamics of connectivity between a donor ecosystem, kelp forests, and a recipient ecosystem, sandy beaches, by measuring intertidal community structure over time in response to variability in kelp input. The project will use the Santa Barbara Channel as the study region, and includes intensive work at a well-studied SBC LTER kelp forest (Mohawk Reef) and along 10 kilometers of adjacent coastline.
Carlson receives ASLO's G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award
SBC scientist, Craig Carlson, has been named 2015 recipient of the G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award from the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography. The goal of Carlson’s research is an understanding of the role of dissolved organic material in ocean biogeochemistry and and its link to the dynamics of microbial communities. His work has established scientific concepts which are now considered essential to understanding the ocean carbon cycle and assessing its impact on future planetary health. Carlson's work with SBC is concerned with cycling of algal exudates, and the partitioning of carbon between dissolved and particulate fractions in waters of the Santa Barbara Channel. In February, Carlson will travel to Granada, Spain to receive the Hutchinson Award at ASLO’s international meeting.
UCSB scientists lead a team designing a Marine Biodiversity Observation Network
Researchers from UCSB, including several SBC LTER investigators, are joining the USGS, NOAA, NASA and BOEM to demonstrate a new prototype system - the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network. The local five-year project led by Bob Miller will focus on the Santa Barbara Channel. A total of three demonstration marine biological observation networks will be established in four locations: the Florida Keys and Monterey Bay, the Santa Barbara Channel, and the continental shelf of the Chukchi Sea in Alaska. The long-term goal is to expand the network to track diversity of marine organisms globally at scales ranging from microbes to whales. Marine biodiversity is a key indicator of ocean health and critical to sustaining natural resources such as fisheries. The networks will integrate data on large-scale sea-surface conditions observed by satellites with observations made in the ocean and the laboratory. They will build partnerships with existing long-term biodiversity efforts, explore innovative uses of new in situ observations and genomic techniques, and improve access to integrated biodiversity data (more information).
Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Two SBC LTER associated investigators, Jarrett Byrnes (UMass Boston), and Kyle Cavanaugh (UCLA) have developed a website where the public can assist with their research on kelp forests. An algorithm for estimating kelp biomass from NASA Landsat imagery using SBC data collected by divers developed by Cavanaugh has allowed new synoptic analysis of kelp forests over large spatial and temporal scales. Data are now available for central through Baja California. However, in some satellite imagery, computers cannot correctly distinguish kelp from sea foam, but fortunately human eyes can. Floating Forests
displays Landsat shoreline images, and visitors are asked circle the kelp forest they see in the images. The results will help reveal valuable new information about how giant kelp and the marine ecosystems they support have changed through the last 30 years. Initially, the images available on the site are of the coastlines of California and Tasmania. Kelp forests are found along 25% of the world's coastline, and subsequent sets of images will include areas from Chile to South Africa. The team plans to first analyze giant kelp dynamics and canopy coverage, and then estimate the total carbon in the giant kelp across the globe, measuring potential shifts in range, seasonality and distribution over the 30-year Landsat time scale. The collaborators on this project, which includes Zooniverse
, have contributed to an education portal, ZooTeach, which contains teaching materials, including lesson plans and other resources related to kelp forests.
SBC LTER kelp forest field guide is an iPhone app
Kelp forest app for iPhone
This new application is a free field guide to 150 algae, plants, fish and invertebrates that inhabit the unique ecosystem of the Pacific Ocean kelp forests. Students, divers and nature lovers will learn about the amazing inhabitants of the California coast and Channel Islands kelp forest ecosystem. The app was a collaborative effort of UCSB Marine Science Institute
and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
, using data and imagery from SBC LTER. Coding was provided by Citrix Systems. The app is available from the iTunes store under "california kelp forest", and plans are underway for a version for the iPad and Android operating systems as well.
New study of Santa Barbara coastal ecosystem vulnerability
NOAA Climate Program
Office's Coastal and Ocean Climate Applications (COCA) program
Wave energy hits an SBC beach
recently awarded two grants to conduct a coastal ecosystem vulnerability assessment in
the Santa Barbara area. SBC investigators, Melack, Page, Reed and Dugan are working with lead investigator, Monique Myers,
Sea Grant advisor, Scripps researchers Dan Cayan and Sam Iacobellis and USGS scientist, Patrick Barnard on the study which
focuses on the vulnerability of key coastal ecosystems including watersheds, wetlands and beaches to climate change impacts.
The researchers will work with city and county partners to develop a guidance document that informs climate adaptation
SBC members at 10th International Temperate Reefs Symposium in Perth
SBC investigators Dan Reed and Steve Schroeter and graduate student Dan Okamoto participated in the 10th International Temperate Reefs
Symposium in Perth, Australia in January 2014. The International Temperate Reefs Symposium
is held every two years.
This symposium is recognized as the world's premier conference on the ecology of rocky reefs.
SBC lead PI Reed gave an invited plenary talk entitled "The value of a long-term perspective in understanding short-term dynamics
of giant kelp ecosystems". SBC graduate student Dan Okamoto's presentation on "The role of food limitation on
reproductive capacity and larval recruitment in purple sea urchins" was the first runner up for the Best Student Paper Award.
SBC student Lindsay Marks wins Nancy Foster Scholarship
SBC graduate student Lindsay Marks is one of three students nation-wide to be awarded NOAA's
highly competitive Nancy Foster Scholarship
in 2013, administered by the National Marine Sanctuaries.
Marks studies the susceptibility of kelp forest communities to invasion
by exotic species and the effects of marine protected areas (MPAs). She is particularly
interested in Sargassum horneri, an invasive seaweed rapidly spreading throughout southern
California, and her research is aligned with the
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
The scholarship was established in honor of Dr. Nancy Foster, a pioneer in marine ecosystem- based management. The program encourages independent graduate-level research in oceanography, marine biology, and maritime archaeology.
California kelp forests
Two natural history applications for smart phones
California tide pools
The "California kelp forests" and "California tide pools" are 2 new free apps for smart phones, supported by
UCSB Marine Science Institute's Outreach Center for Teaching Ocean Science (OCTOS)
and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
Together, these provide a rich experience for students and nature lovers to learn about the local marine life. Released in 2012, "California tide pools" is now available for iPhone, iPad and Android operating systems. "California kelp forests" is currently available only for iPhone, but plans are underway to develop a version for the iPad and Android operating systems as well. Coding was provided by Citrix Systems.
Professional Development Workshop for Teachers
In Summer 2014, SBC, the Math-Science-Partnership (MSP) Project, Pathways to Environmental Literacy, Nature Bridge, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park.
will host a 1 week summer Professional Development for Teachers workshop for junior high and high
school teachers from Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The 2014 workshop will include training on in-class science curriculum based on SBC LTER field study sites, data and ecological principles in the context of the project's
environmental literacy strands of Biodiversity, Carbon and Water and participate in field protocol refinement and testing for monitoring rocky shores and sandy beaches as part of the LiMPETS program (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students) and the South Coast Marine Protected Area Baseline program. For more information please contact Scott Simon at the UCSB Marine Science Institute's REEF.