GeoHab Conference, Winchester

GuildhallWinchester

This year the annual GeoHab international marine habitat mapping conference took place in Winchester, UK. This is an annual conference with over 160 people attending from 24 countries, for the first time in England! Organised by my former department of study at the National Oceanography Centre, it had been a long time since I had been back in the South of England. The Monday started with a workshop on Object Based Image Analysis (OBIA). Seabed classification methods can be based on classifying pixels, whereas these newer OBIA methods are based on classifying a group of similar pixels or “objects” on the seafloor. The conference began on the Tuesday with the key note speaker Dr. Larry Mayer of Center for Coastal & Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center. The first session was on “Technological Advances in Habitat Mapping” with presentations on how new hydrographic surveying techniques can be used for habitat mapping. A poster session took place where one minute oral snapshots of posters were given. The following session on “Coastal and shallow water habitats” discussed environments such as tidal inlets, seagrass beds and mangroves and then “Shelf and deep-sea habitats” had rhodolith beds, shelf breaks, deep sea corals, submarine canyons, mud volcanoes and cold seeps. “National mapping programs” session then discussed important issues regarding the seabed mapping programs internationally and within the UK. The following session on “Anthropogenic and natural disturbance effects” then looked at man’s and nature’s impacts on benthic habitat and “Role of oceanography in habitat mapping” looked at the physical processes driving habitat distribution. This was for me one of the most interesting sessions. Following this, was very pleased to introduce a special lunchtime screening of my full one hour documentary- “Maerl:A Rare Seabed Habitat.” Being a firm believer in science communication, marine science documentaries can serve to educate, inform and transform the science and are useful tools for stakeholder management. It was great to be able to share our team’s work with scientists and educators internationally and even had one request to translate into Swedish! The final session was on “Development of standards for classification, confidence and assessment of habitat maps“- an important session to conclude on new methods to quantifying the uncertainty of the habitat map.  The conference concluded with thanking the organising committee and preparing for Geohab next year in Halifax, Canada. Overall, it was my first GeoHab in ten years and I was so inspired by the dedication of the GeoHab community – at home and abroad.

Nelson
Admiral Nelson at the Naval Museum, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

ECSA55 – Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Conference, London

This week I attended the Estuarine and Coastal Science Association conference- ECSA55 in the Docklands, London. The theme of the conference was “Unbounded boundaries and shifting baselines”- a theme relevant to the changing seas of modern times. The plenary sessions were all very interesting and covered different perspectives to coastal sciences and management. As discussed in the maerl documentary, maerl beds will disappear from their northern range, with kelp disappearing from their southern range. More technical sessions on hydrodynamic- sediment transport modelling ran alongside scientific sessions and a diverse range of disciplines were represented. Having visited the Coral Reefs exhibition at the Natural History Museum in the same visit, the session on the Great Barrier Reef was especially interesting. The water quality at the Great Barrier Reef over the last decade is a major threat to the ecosystem. I have been working on a paper about for submission to the Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science journal and the early career workshop by Elsevier on publishing in scientific jorunals was very useful. Delegates came from all around the world and the most enjoyable conference dinner was aboard the Elizabethan on the River Thames! The river cruise went from Tower Bridge to Westminister to Greenwich and back to Tower Pier. I was pleased to see friends and collegues from my undergraduate and masters days and meet new ones as well! Here are some of the collection of tweet scientific highlights from the conference.

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European Marine Biology Symposium 2013

The 48th Annual European Marine Biology Symposium 2013 starts today in Galway, being hosted by the National University of Ireland, Galway. The overarching theme of EMBS 48 is Biodiversity in a Changing Ocean. Research is proceeding actively on many fronts as we attempt to sustainably manage human activities in the ocean against a backdrop of climate change and ocean acidification. Here are some photos from the first day.

delegates
Delegates of the European Marine Biology Symposium, 2013
poster
Poster session in the Bailey Allen Hall, NUI Galway
Key note speaker Prof. Jason Hall-Spencer's talk about ocean acidification and biodiversity.
Key note speaker Prof. Jason Hall-Spencer’s talk about ocean acidification and biodiversity.
Mark Costello
Keynote speaker Prof. Mark Costello’s talk asked the question “Can we discover Earth’s species before they go extinct?”
Species
The number of marine vs. terrestrial species discovered per year over time. Since the latter half of the twentieth century, there has been a recent increase in the number of marine species discovered, with increasing number of marine science expeditions and research.
Peter Croot
Prof Peter Croot, NUIG gave a talk about the change in distribution of picoplankton and the Peruvian oxygen minimum zone in the Eastern Tropical South Pacific.

More information about the conference can be found at this link and on the EMBS 2013 Facebook page.

Video Poster Trailers

This year, in addition to oral presentations and posters, some participants are preparing video presentations of their poster, in advance of the conference, which can be viewed on the web. Here are some of them highlighting the diverse range of research at this year’s conference. A wonderful medium for communicating scientific research!

Poster and video by M Bolgan- Does the Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) rely on sound to communicate?

Poster and video by M. Milanese, on behalf of the SPECIAL Consortium – SPECIAL- Sponge Cells and Enzymes for Innovative AppLications

Poster and video by N Artemis – Benthic Diversity in Messolonghi Lagoon, Greece

International Coastal Symposium, Plymouth University

The 12th International Coastal Symposium – ICS 2013, took place at Plymouth University last week. Almost 500 scientists from all around the world came to Plymouth and many presented their research to a truly international audience. The symposium was organised by the Coastal Processes Research Group at Plymouth University. Parallel sessions about Coastal Engineering, Coastal Hazards, Deltas and estuaries, Marine renewable energy, Shoreline change, Coastal ecology and pollution, Sea level and climate change, Coastal management, GIS and remote sensing, Gravel beaches and more took place on campus. Last week my supervisor and I went to Plymouth to attend the conference. I made a presentation about maerl sediment dynamics in the Hydro/Sediment Dynamics session. I had been anticipating the presentation for a while and fortunately it was well received, with interesting and useful scientific feedback. We also made a tour of the hydraulics laboratory within new Marine Science building and took part in a one day field-trip.

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Professor Marcel Stive of Delft University of Technology made one of three Keynote lectures entitled “Rising Tides – The Dutch strategy on how to cope with climate change in the 21st century“.
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The Icebreaker session was in the National Marine Aquarium.
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The Wave Tank at Plymouth University is 35m long x 15.5m wide x 3m deep.

The COAST Lab in the new Marine Science building contains flumes, wave tanks and basins for hydrulics work- facilities which are largely unmatched anywhere in the UK. It combines wave, current and wind power to create a dynamic ‘theatre’ appropriate for device and array testing, environmental modelling and coastal engineering. The equipment is flexible that it can generate short and long-crested waves in combination with currents at any direction to the waves, sediment dynamics, tidal effects and wind (COAST Website). Here are some examples of the different types of waves that can be generated by the large wave tank:

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Scientists touring the Coastal, OceAn and Sediment Transport laboratory.
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A scaled sandy beach can be created at the Coastal Basin.
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I managed to get splashed by a diagonal wave at the wave tank.

For the field trip, I chose to go to the Eden Project in Cornwall and made a visit to the landmark botanical gardens on the Thursday. The Eden Project was built in a 160-year-old exhausted china clay quarry near St Austell. It was established as one of the Landmark Millennium Projects to mark the year 2000. Eden’s mission is “To promote the understanding and responsible management of the vital relationship between plants, people and resources leading to a sustainable future for all.” I enjoyed exploring the warm and humid Rainforest Biome and had a lovely lunch in the Mediterranean Biome.

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The Eden Project, Cornwall

Lastly, guess what? Plymouth University have their very own seismometer – just like the one which was blogged about a few weeks ago and they take part in the Schools Seismology Project. I was really happy to see one there!!

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A SIS Seismometer at Plymouth University

International Rhodolith Workshop

The IV International Rhodolith Workshop took place in Granada, Spain in September. Meeting every three years, delegates were from Brazil, Spain, United Kingdom, USA, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia, as well as other countries. Rhodolith is a term largely used interchangeably to “maerl,” as free living non-geniculate coralline algae. Researchers came to share the latest research about one of the big four macrophyte dominated benthic communities (others being kelp beds, seagrass meadows and biogenic reefs) (Foster, 2001). Topics included taxonomy, ecology,  management and conservation biology, genetics, geochemistry, evolution, palaeoecology, climate change studies and sediment dynamics.

Two excursion took place; the Granada coast to look at living rhodoliths and a two-day excursion to Almería-Cabo de Gata to observe both fossil and living rhodolith beds. The first excursion involved diving off the Granada coast or shorkelling to explore the small sea-caves along the coast. The second excursion involved exploring the processes responsible for deposition of rhodolith debris as cliff-deposits and how they have been preserved across geological time.

Further information can be found on the conference website. My poster presented to the conference can be found on the Griffith NUIG Biogeosciences website

References

Foster M, 2001, Rhodoliths: Between rocks and soft places, Journal of Phycology, Vol 37 Issue 5, 659-667