Plenary Lectures

Plenary lectures will be held each day from 11:00-12:00, following the morning group of oral sessions in the Chapin Theater, third level of the OCCC.

David M. Rubin

Monday, 3 March 2008

David M. Rubin

US Geological Survey, Pacific Science Center, Santa Cruz, CA

Grand Canyon's tides, waves, currents, and beaches, and the world's largest sediment-transport restoration experiment

Presentation:In 1963, Glen Canyon Dam blocked the transport of sand down the Colorado River, causing erosion of downstream sand bars, an essential component of the Colorado River ecosystem.  Sand bars provide backwater habitat for endangered native fish, terrestrial habitat for riparian vegetation and associated fauna, and campsites for recreational users.  They also help preserve archaeological features along the river margins.  Because of their importance to the ecosystem, restoration of sand resources is a key management objective of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program.

For more than two decades, sedimentologists, hydrologists, and biologists have worked in the field, lab, and with models to understand how sand bars and native fish populations respond to releases from Glen Canyon Dam.  In 1996 and 2004, flood experiments were implemented to rejuvenate the sand bars using geologic quantities of water and sand.  The 2004 flood released almost a cubic kilometer of water from Glen Canyon Dam and redistributed nearly one million metric tons of sand that had been delivered to the mainstem Colorado River by tributaries downstream from the dam.  Biological experiments removed non-native fish from key spawning areas of the river.

This presentation provides an overview of Grand Canyon ecosystem-restoration work including results of flood experiments, insights into sediment transport, new digital-imaging technology for in-situ measurements of bed-sediment, and recent observations of native fish populations.

Biography:David M. Rubin completed his Ph.D. studies on Cambrian-Ordovician marine carbonates at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1975.  Since then, he has worked at the USGS Coastal and Marine program (Santa Cruz, California).  He has worked in Grand Canyon for 22 years, where he has been a lead designer of restoration flood experiments.

Dr. Rubin has studied sediment transport and sedimentary structures in the lab and in modern and ancient oceans, estuaries, rivers, and deserts.  In the 1980’s he introduced the use of three-dimensional modeling to relate sediment bedforms to stratification.  His work on sedimentary structures (including a book, computer code, and interactive animated DVD) has been applied to sedimentology, geomorphology, paleoclimatology, mine detection, petroleum exploration, and to ripples and dunes on Mars and Saturn’s moon Titan.  He has served as PI on projects supported by the USGS, Bureau of Reclamation, NOAA, NASA, Office of Naval Research, CALFED, and the United Nations.

Dr. Rubin has played a major role in the development of underwater instruments.  These include a seafloor-deployed rotating sonar (1983), an automatic dilution laser particle size analyzer, and an underwater microscope with image-processing software for in-situ digital grain-size analysis of bed sediment (patented by the USGS).  This underwater microscope has led to new understanding of sediment transport and storage in the Colorado River and is to be featured in an interactive display at the San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation.


Wallace S. Broeker

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Wallace S. Broecker

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, NY

What Insights can be Gleaned from the Paleoclimate Record Regarding the Approaching Greenhouse World?

Presentation: Based on the record kept in Greenland ice, we first became aware the Earth’s climate system was capable of jumping from one way of operating to another. Records from other places made clear that the consequences of these reorganizations were large and widespread. This discovery raised the question as to whether the ongoing greenhouse warming might trigger yet another of these changes. Concern has been focused on deep water formation in the northern Atlantic. While certainly legitimate, of late we have reason to believe that the likelihood of an abrupt shutdown of the “conveyor” is unlikely. Rather if a hit is to come, I suspect that it will more likely be associated with the hydrologic cycle. So an alternate title for my talk might be “Water in a Warmer World.”

Biography: Wallace S. “Wally” Broecker is the Newberry Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1958 and became an assistant professor there in 1959. Broecker was made associate professor in 1961 and became professor in 1964. He has been the Newberry Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences since 1977. Broecker became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1979. His research interests include paleoclimatology, ocean chemistry, isotope dating and environmental science.

In his work, he explores the clear evidence that different parts of the earth’s climate system are linked in very subtle yet dramatic ways and that the climate system has jumped from one mode of operation to another in the past. He is trying to understand how the earth’s climate system is engineered, so we can understand what it takes to trigger mode switches. Until we do, we cannot make good predictions about future climate change. Broecker’s research is directed toward the role of the oceans in climate change. Over the last several hundred thousand years, climate change has come mainly in discrete jumps that appear to be related to changes in the mode of thermohaline circulation. We place strong emphasis on using isotopes as a means to understand physical mixing and chemical cycling in the ocean, and the climate history as recorded in marine sediments.

Broecker’s career has included numerous honors and awards. Among his most recent awards are the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement from the University of Southern California and the Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship from the National Academy of Sciences in 2002. The Don J. Easterbrook Distinguished Scientist Award from the Geological Society of America was awarded him in 2000, and he received the Desert Research Institute’s 1999 Nevada Medal. In 1996, Broecker received the National Medal of Science. His honors include the DOCS Distinguished Lecturer (Louisiana State University), 1997; Zucker Fellow (Yale University), 1997; Silver Lecturer (University of New Mexico), 1997; Fellow, American Geophysical Union; Fellow, European Geophysical Union, 1992; National Academy of Science, 1979; and American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1976.


Paul Falkowski

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Paul Falkowski

Institute of Marine and Coastal Science, Rutgers University,
New Brunswick, NJ

The Ocean and the Evolution of Biogeochemical Cycles on Earth

Presentation: The first half of Earth’s history was one of “biological innovation”, in which metabolic processes evolved in marine microbes that ultimately came to couple the biogeochemical cycles of H, C, N, O via biologically catalyzed electron transfer (redox) reactions. The reaction pathways led to a “core” metabolism of Earth, sustained to the present time with very few modifications. Oxygenic photosynthesis was one of the last major metabolic processes to emerge. This process allowed a virtually endless supply of reductant (the water in the ocean) to be used in conjunction with a virtually endless supply of energy (the Sun) to produce organic matter. Yet, remarkably, the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis in cyanobacteria did not lead to large scale accumulation of O2 in the Earth’s atmosphere but, rather was coupled to the carbon cycle through the tectonically controlled burial efficiency of organic matter in the lithosphere. Oxygenic photosynthesis fundamentally altered the nitrogen cycle, allowing ammonium to be oxidized to nitrate and subsequently denitrified. The interaction between the oxygen cycle and the nitrogen cycle in particular produced a negative feedback, in which increased production of oxygen led to decreased fixed inorganic nitrogen in the oceans. This feedback, which is supported by isotopic analyses of fixed nitrogen in sedimentary rocks from the late Archean, continues to the present and controls primary production throughout much of the modern ocean. However, once sufficient oxygen accumulated in Earth’s atmosphere to allow nitrification to out-compete with denitrification, a new, stable electron “market” emerged and ultimately spread via lateral gene transfer to eukaryotic host cells, allowing the evolution of “complex” (i.e., animal) life forms. Thus, the presence of oceans on Earth allowed microbes to develop a network of electron transfer processes that ultimately permanently altered the gas composition of Earth’s atmosphere. The gas composition of Earth is an “emergent” property that is derived from oceanic microbial life, and can be used as a guide to search for the presence of life on terrestrial planets outside of our solar system.

Biography: Paul G. Falkowski is Board of Governors’ Professor in the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences and the Department of Geology at Rutgers University. His research interests include evolution, paleoecology, photosynthesis, biophysics, biogeochemical cycles, and symbiosis. Born in 1951 and raised in New York City, Falkowski earned his B.S. and M.Sc. degrees from the City College of the City University of New York and his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia. After a Post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Rhode Island, he joined Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1976 as a scientist in the newly formed Oceanographic Sciences Division. He received tenure in 1984, and served as head of the division from 1986 to 1991. From 1991 to 1995, he was Deputy Chair in the Department of Applied Science, responsible for the development and oversight of all environmental science programs. In 1998 he moved to Rutgers University. His research efforts are directed towards understanding the co-evolution of biological and physical systems. In 1992, he received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1996, he was appointed as the Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor at the University of British Columbia. In 1998 he was awarded the Huntsman Medal. In 2000 he was awarded the Hutchinson Prize. In 2001 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. In 2002 he was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2005 he received the Vernadsky medal from the European Geosciences Union. In 2007 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He has authored or coauthored over 250 papers in peer-reviewed journals and books. Together with John Raven, he is co-author of Aquatic Photosynthesis (Princeton University Press), and has co-invented and patented a fluorosensing system which is capable of measuring phytoplankton photosynthetic rates nondestructively and in real time. He is an advisor to the National Science Foundation and NASA and serves on the Mars Architecture Mission team, the Earth System Science and Applications Advisory Committee, the Astrobiology Oversight Committee, is co-chair of the IGBP Carbon Cycle Working Group, and a member of the Carbon Cycle Science Steering Committee. He is on the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science and an associate editor of five other journals.


Richard W. Spinrad

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Richard W. Spinrad

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
Silver Spring, MD

The Future of Ocean Sciences

Presentation: In the coming decade we can expect a vast array of technical, political, and societal drivers of change to impact our oceanographic community. Similar to the changes we’ve seen since 1995, the effect on our ability to observe, analyze and forecast the nature of the marine environment will be profound. Sensors, platforms and computational capabilities will enhance dramatically our characterization of the state and the dynamics of the ocean. Policies, treaties, and global agreements will develop whole new forums for our collaboration and coordination among coastal nations. Society’s recognition of and demand for new products and services (to support safety, environmental stewardship and economic development, in a balanced manner) will pull our research into new and exciting areas of applicability. In sum, this decade will surely be one of the most productive and fulfilling for this generation of ocean scientists.

Biography: Dr. Spinrad is the Assistant Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR). He is a native of New York City, and a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University (B.A.). Dr. Spinrad has broad experience in marine science, technology, operations and policy. During his career he has worked in a wide range of positions in government, academia, industry and non-governmental organizations.

Spinrad earned an M.S. in physical oceanography and a Ph.D. in marine geology from Oregon State University. As a research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences he developed and published concepts critical to our understanding of the relationship between water clarity and marine biological productivity. Spinrad served as President of Sea Tech, Incorporated during that company’s development of several now-standard oceanographic sensors. He went on to manage oceanographic research at the Office of Naval Research (including serving as the Navy’s first manager of its ocean optics program), eventually becoming the Division Director for all of the Navy’s basic and applied research in ocean, atmosphere and space modeling and prediction. In 1994 Dr. Spinrad became the Executive Director of the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE) where he led the development of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl for High School Students, and he co-authored, with Admiral James D. Watkins, “Oceans 2000: Bridging the Millennia”, which served as the guiding document for the establishment of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP). In 1999 Spinrad became the Technical Director to the Oceanographer of the Navy. In this position he provided leadership and guidance for the development of the U.S. Navy’s oceanographic and meteorological operational support to Naval forces. Currently, Spinrad serves as the United States’ permanent representative to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, and co-chairs the White House Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology.

Rick Spinrad is the President of The Oceanography Society, and served as Editor in Chief of Oceanography magazine; he has served on numerous professional committees of organizations including the National Academy of Sciences and the American Meteorological Society. Spinrad also served on the faculties of the U.S. Naval Academy and George Mason University. He has spent over 300 days at sea conducting research, and has published more than 50 scientific articles. Spinrad is the editor of a textbook on ocean optics and several special issues of marine science journals.

In 2003, Spinrad was awarded the Department of Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the highest civilian award that can be given by the Navy Department, and he has received a Presidential Rank Award.


Anna-Stiina Heiskanen

Friday, 7 March 2008

Anna-Stiina Heiskanen

European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra, Italy

Towards Sustainable Management of Aquatic Ecosystems in the European Union - From the River Basins to the Open Ocean

Presentation: The world’s aquatic ecosystems are threatened by pollution and the exploitation of natural resources, amplified by the over-arching impacts of climate change. In many regions the thresholds for maintaining sustainable ecosystem functioning have been exceeded, leading to declining fisheries, lack of clean water for human use and recreation, and loss of biodiversity and genetic resources of the aquatic ecosystems. Acknowledging these problems, and the lack of holistic legislative instruments for knowledge-based adaptive management in the European Union, a new comprehensive regulation in the field of water policy was adopted in 2000. The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD; 2000/60/EC) creates the legislative framework to manage, protect, and restore surface water ecosystems and groundwater resources within river basins and in transitional (lagoons and estuaries) and coastal waters in the European Union. It follows the implementation of a number of previous water quality directives and aims to protect aquatic ecosystems as a whole being supplemented by Daughter Directives (for ground waters and priority hazardous substances) to complement and elaborate some areas where necessary. The WFD has ambitious objectives aiming to reach good ecological and chemical status by 2015, while preventing further deterioration of surface waters and groundwater, and to ensure sustainable functioning of aquatic ecosystems (and dependent wetlands and terrestrial systems). Since the start of the implementation of the directive, 12 new Member States have joined the EU, thus extending the geographical scope and the diversity of natural, social and economic conditions beyond the original extent of the directive. It was recognized that the overall complexity of the WFD, multitude of national and local conditions, and a very tight implementation timetable required the development of a novel participatory governance approach to find a common understanding and practical solutions for the various technical issues. Since 2001 a number of guidance documents have been jointly prepared by the Commission, Member States, and several EU-wide sectoral stakeholder organisations and NGOs, as a result of the Common Implementation Strategy of the WFD.

The setting of environmental objectives to be incorporated into river basin management plans followed a series of steps starting with the characterisation of river basins, identification of surface water bodies and types, evaluation of significant anthropogenic pressures and impacts, and identification of water bodies that are at risk of failing to achieve good quality standards. The first report of the implementation of the WFD in the EU Member States suggests that approximately 40% of surface waters are at risk of failing to achieve environmental objectives, while there was insufficient data available to evaluate the preliminary status of 30% of the water bodies. The lack of such data was particularly apparent for coastal and transitional waters.

The first EU-wide evaluation of the ecological quality status of surface waters will be carried out as a result of surveillance monitoring starting in 2007. The WFD monitoring requirements include a number of biological parameters such as phytoplankton, macrophytes, benthic invertebrates, and fish which were not previously required by the other water quality directives (such as Nitrates and Urban Waste Water Treatment Directives), nor have those been traditionally monitored in many EU countries. During the last decade, a lot of research into the development of new biological indicators and metrics to assess the status of the structure and functioning of aquatic ecosystems has been carried out at EU and national level. However, many Member States still lack biological classification tools as required by the WFD. The ecological status class boundaries of the national monitoring systems have been compared through an intercalibration exercise. This process aimed to ensure a common understanding of criteria for ‘good ecological quality’, and to have an equal level of ambition in achieving good surface waters status across the EU. The first round of intercalibration is now complete for several river, lake, and coastal water types across the EU’s ecoregions. Many of the assessment systems are consistent with WFD requirements and generally provide quite comparable results between the Member States that share similar types of waters. For instance, the intercalibration results for the marine ecoregions: Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Mediterranean, and the North-East Atlantic, include agreement on reference conditions and good status classification boundaries of phytoplankton biomass (based on chlorophyll-a metrics) for a number of common coastal types in these ecoregions. Further, intercalibration of boundaries for metrics based on other biological groups: benthic invertebrate fauna, macroalgae, and angiosperms was also addressed. These results define the first set of ecological quality criteria for the assessment of European coastal waters, linking to the development of ecological quality objectives in regional Marine Conventions (OSPAR, HELCOM, BARCELONA, and the Bucharest-Black Sea Conventions).

Currently, institutional negotiations for the political agreement of the new Marine Directive based on the European Marine Strategy are underway. The Marine Strategy has introduced an ecosystem-based approach for the management of marine resources and protection of marine ecosystems, aiming to “promote sustainable use of the seas and conserve marine ecosystems,” representing the environmental pillar of EU Maritime Policy, and extending beyond the scope of the WFD (which covers only the first nautical mile of the coastline, including estuaries and lagoons). The marine strategy sets a number of objectives and actions to prevent the loss of biodiversity and destruction of habitats, reducing discharges and levels of hazardous substances, and minimizing eutrophication, marine dumping and oil pollution problems, and aims to set a legal objective to achieve ‘good environmental status (GES) of the marine waters’ in the EU by 2021. Common principles, generic descriptors, criteria, and methodological standards for GES will be developed at EU level, while the determination of these as well as the definition of management measures will take place on a regional level, requiring coordination and cooperation with marine regional conventions and with non-EU countries. Together these two legislative frameworks aim to ensure the protection of water ecosystems across the river basin - open ocean continuum, and to provide sustainable aquatic ecosystems for the future of Europe. Further information on the status of the EU’s aquatic systems and development in policies can be found at: http://water.europa.eu.

Biography: Anna-Stiina Heiskanen is a Scientific Officer at the Joint Research Centre’s Institute for Environment and Sustainability in Ispra, Italy. She received her Ph.D. in 1998, in hydrobiology from the Helsinki University, Finland, where she holds an external professorship (a docent position) in the field of marine biology. For a number of years, she has carried out research on carbon cycling and nutrient dynamics of the Baltic Sea pelagic ecosystem, first as an assistant and junior researcher at the Finnish Marine Research Institute, and later as a scientist at the Tvärminne Zoological Station of the Helsinki University, and as a Senior Scientist at the Finnish Environment Institute. Her research work has focused on phytoplankton dynamics, planktonic food web interactions, and the role of sedimentation as a loss process from the pelagic system. She has participated in several national and international research projects studying the eutrophication process and functioning of the pelagic ecosystems of the Baltic Sea. Since 2000, she has worked as a scientific officer at the Joint Research Centre, which is a Directorate-General of the European Commission. Currently, she is leading a research team focusing on the development of bioindicators and metrics for surface water ecological quality assessment, and the application of molecular tools for development of biomarkers for risk assessment of toxic substances. Her team is also providing scientific and technical support to the EU Member States and to other Commission directorates such as the Directorate-General Environment, on issues concerning eutrophication and ecological status assessment of inland and marine coastal waters in Europe in the context of the EU Water Framework Directive. Most recently, her team has been focusing on the coordination of the EU-wide intercalibration process aiming to harmonize ecological water quality assessment systems between EU Member States as part of the implementation of the Water Framework Directive.

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