USGS News: June Science Picks - USGS Prepares for Hurricane Hazards and Response
USGS Office of Communications
Feeds, and Story Seeds
June 2006 Edition
For Release: UPON
Last year, hurricane season took
its toll on coastal and wetland communities. Right now, the U.S. Geological
Survey (USGS) is preparing for the 2006 Hurricane Season. The June Science
Picks is dedicated to hurricane studies and planning. It’s full of
the most current USGS science news and information. Science Picks
helps you cover ongoing earth and natural science research, investigations
and technology. Photos and Web links are provided to enhance your story.
If you would like to receive Science Picks via email, would like
to change the recipient or no longer want to receive it, please email dmakle@xxxxxxxx.
? Before and Aftermath
Up ? Science Response Vehicle
for 2006 Hurricane Season
the Wave ? Storm-Surge Sensors
Aware ? 2006 Hurricane Season Ushers Landslide Hazards
You See It, Now You Don’t ? Bye-Bye Beach
of the Storm ? Hurricane, Birds and Coastal Habitats
the Storm ? Checks Flood
and more …
Hurricanes ? Before and Aftermath:
June 1 marked the beginning of the 2006 hurricane season. Last
year, there were 23 named storms, including Hurricane Katrina. USGS researchers
were busy investigating the extent, causes and coastal impacts of hurricanes
and extreme storms as they hit one after another. Find out what was learned
from Hurricane Katrina impact studies at http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/hurricanes/katrina/photo-comparisons/chandeleur.html.
For additional USGS information regarding Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,
see http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/hurricane/katrina.htm. Also, USGS and
other Federal and State partners post hurricane information related to
Louisiana on http://www.lacoast.gov.For more information, contact Gaye
Farris at 337-266-8550 or gaye_farris@xxxxxxxx.
Gearing Up ? Science Response
for 2006 Hurricane Season: The Science Response Vehicle (SRV)
was first used during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to map 911 rescue calls
and critical infrastructure, such as levee breaks, bridges and pumping
stations; and for performing water-quality sampling at sites along Lake
Pontchartrain. USGS is preparing for rapid response and gearing up the
vehicle for the 2006 hurricane season. The vehicle serves as an outside
laboratory, facilitating the collection and processing field samples on
site; provides critical communication via the Internet; receives weather
and emergency information; and provides living quarters for response personnel.
Can the vehicle be helpful during other natural disasters? Yes. Learn more
about the SRV and its rapid deployment capabilities. For more information,
contact USGS scientist James Johnston at (337) 266-8503 or jimmy_johnston@xxxxxxxx,
or Gaye Farris at (337) 266-8550 or gaye_farris@xxxxxxxx.
Catching the Wave ? Storm-Surge
Sensors: As Hurricane Rita approached the coasts of Texas and Louisiana,
USGS deployed experimental water-level and barometric pressure gages to
record the magnitude, extent and timing of inland hurricane storm surge
and coastal flooding. There were 47 sensors (34 water-level sensors and
13 barometric pressure sensors) deployed September 22-23, 2005. Learn more
about the sensors and how creating a time-lapse 3-D view of storm surge
may be useful during future hurricanes, as well as what was learned from
Rita as she came on shore. For more information on this project, contact
USGS scientist Benton Mcgee at (318) 251-9630 or bdmcgee@xxxxxxxx,
or Robert Mason at (703) 648-5305 or rrmason@xxxxxxxx.
Be Aware ? 2006 Hurricane
Season Ushers Landslide Hazards: As the 2006 hurricane season whips
up, it reminds us of past hurricanes and the catastrophic events that followed.
For example, Category 5 Hurricane Camille in August 1969 was the strongest
hurricane to ever hit the mainland United States. It caused extreme flooding
and fast-moving landslides (or debris flows), damage to roads, bridges,
communications systems, homes, businesses, farms and livestock. The potential
for debris flows in mountainous areas that have existing wet soil conditions
is heightened during intense rain storms and hurricanes. During the 2004
and 2005 hurricane seasons, USGS issued six advisories. Get the facts and
information on what citizens living near steep hills prone to landslides
can do prior to and after storms, from USGS Fact Sheet FS-071-00 entitled,
“Landslide Hazards” at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs-0071-00/ and
in Spanish at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs-0072-00/. For more information,
contact Lynn Highland at the National Landslide Information Center at (800)
654-4966 or at highland@xxxxxxxx.
Now You See It, Now You Don’t
? Bye-Bye Beach: Waves, water and wind, like those caused by hurricanes,
accentuate already dramatic erosion along America’s coasts, threatening
America’s beaches. In 1994, scientists estimated a 60 percent loss of
beach in the Gulf region. More recently, a new report, “Coastal Land Loss
along the U.S. Southeast, Atlantic Coast (east Florida, Georgia, South
Carolina and North Carolina),” indicates erosion is greatest along the
shores and barrier islands of North and South Carolina. To learn more,
take a look at the USGS publications, “National Assessment of Shoreline
Change: Part 1, Historical Shoreline Changes and Associated Coastal Land
Loss Along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico,” USGS Open File Report 2004-1043,
and “National Assessment Of Shoreline Change: Part 2, Historical Shoreline
Changes And Associated Coastal Land Loss Along The U.S. Southeast Atlantic
Coast,” USGS Open File Report 2005-1401 at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1401/ofr-2005-1401_print.pdf.
Have questions? Contact USGS scientist Robert Morton at 727-803-8747, ext.
3080, or at rmorton@xxxxxxxx.
Midst of the Storm ? Hurricane,
Birds and Coastal Habitats: On September 24, 2005, Hurricane Rita wrecked
havoc on Louisiana’s coast by toppling vast areas of forest and stripping
away canopy foliage, vine tangles and thickets of perennial plant species
that harbor the insects or produce the fruits that migrant birds depend
on enroute to winter destinations. Since
the fall migration season for land-birds coincides with the peak of hurricane
season, August through October, do hurricanes affect bird migration? That’s
a question USGS scientists are asking themselves, and a newly established
radar laboratory is being used to track bird movements during the fall
migration and hurricane season. To find how radar is being used to study
bird movements ? before and after hurricane passage ? or to learn more
about the new radar laboratory, contact Wylie Barrow at (337) 266-8668
or Lori Randall at (337) 266-8665 or lori_randall@xxxxxxxxx
Gaging the Storm ? Checks Flood:
USGS continues to play a critical role in reducing flood losses through
scientific research and by operating the national streamgaging network,
including more than 7,000 gaging stations that provide real-time information
to emergency responders and flood-plain managers. Check out real-time streamflow
information at http://water.usgs.gov/.
WaterWatch, another USGS flood tool, can be accessed at http://water.usgs.gov/waterwatch.
For more information, call Denver Makle at (703) 648-4732 or dmakle@xxxxxxxx.
Unexpected Imagery Aids Emergency
Response: No one knows where satellites will take their next picture,
but within hours of Hurricane Katrina’s strike on New Orleans, images
from Landsat 7 revealed the 17th Street canal levee breech and extensive
flooding. USGS technicians at the Earth Resources Observation and Science
(EROS) Data Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, processed these data.
USGS is responsible for flight operations, maintenance and management of
all data reception, processing, archiving, product generation and distribution
of Landsat’s imagery. For more information on Landsat 5 or 7, contact
Ron Beck at (703) 648-6168 or beck@xxxxxxxx,
or Karen Wood at (703) 648-4447 or kwood@xxxxxxxx.
Updates and further information are available at http://landsat.usgs.gov/.
Real-time Maps Solve Hurricane
Dilemmas: In New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, maps created with
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) helped locate and rescue stranded
survivors; mapped roads, levees, oil, gas and electric power infrastructure,
and provided a means for flood forecasting and control. To learn more about
how geospatial information is being used to help first responders, call
Denver Makle at (703) 648-4732 or dmakle@xxxxxxxx.
See interactive maps and hurricane communities at http://gos2.geodata.gov/wps/portal/gos
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