Drs. David Lagomasino (Coastal Studies) and Sean Charles (Coastal Studies, pictured above) attended the NASA BlueFlux project meeting in Washington, DC. The meeting brought scientists, managers, and practitioners to the table to discuss recent findings from the field data collected over the past two years. Multiple teams from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Yale University, University of Maryland, Everglades Foundation, Seminole Tribe of South Florida, Florida International University, and of course ECU presented on their research focused on measuring carbon dioxide and methane emissions over Everglades National Park. The research project, co-led by Dr. Lagomasino, is one of the first of its kind when it comes to simultaneous measuring carbon emissions from the ground, air, and satellites to understand how cyclones and water management influence how carbon is emitted to the atmosphere.
Dr. David Lagomasino (Coastal Studies) took his GEOL 7002 - Coastal Geoscience class on their annual field trip to the Aurora Fossil Museum. Lecture was held in the education and learning room for the first part of the day where students learned about the geologic history of North Carolina and how rocks turn to sediment. The second part of the day the students went on a self-guided tour of the museum to contemplate the reason why the museum exists at that location and how geologic processes result in fertilizers for the present and future. After exploring the museum, the students had fun digging for fossils and the elusive Megalodon teeth.
Dr. David Lagomasino (Coastal Studies) traveled to the Philippines at the start of the semester to lead a hands-on workshop on Remote Sensing of Coastal Habitats. The workshop was hosted as part of the USAID Fish Right Philippines program through the University of Rhode Island. The goal of the Fish Right Program is to sustainably manage fisheries in the region, build resilience, and secure local livelihoods. Actively mapping and monitoring the coastal habitats like mangroves, seagrass meadows, and coral reefs are an integral part of the sustainable management plans. Dr. Lagomasino (ECU) and Dr. JP Walsh (URI) held a 3-day workshop where participants used open-source programming cloud computing to map the distribution of coastal habitats around Puerto Princesa.
Over the summer (August 2023), Daystar Babanawo (above), a PhD Integrated Coastal Sciences student, participated in a workshop in Ghana that trained local partners to use a co-designed ESRI ArcGIS SDG15 mapping tool (used to map the impacts of illegal gold mining on ecosystems in Ghana) as part of project with Dr. Lagomasino under a NASA Project (Designing Applications to Foster the Health of Terrestrial and Wetland Ecosystems in the Coastal Zone of West Africa). With the project team, she also actively participated in ground truthing field work to validate the mapping tool. The collaborators on this project include folks from The Space Enabled Research Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), East Carolina University (ECU), Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) and Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute (GSSTI).
Kinsey Blumenthal (ICS student) gave an oral presentation on mangroves and human health at the 6th Mangroves, Microbes and Macrobenthos Conference (MMM6). The presentation highlighted the need for more human health related research in mangrove science with emphasis on mosquito-borne disease and traditional medicine. MMM6 is an international conference that was held in Cartagena, Colombia in July. For more information about the conference click HERE.
Shalimar Moreno, a PhD student in the Integrated Coastal Sciences program was selected to attend the Integrated Marine Biosphere Research (IMBeR) Climate and Ecosystems 8 (ClimEco8) summer school, an endorsed United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development activity. Additionally, she received travel sponsorship from the Ocean Carbon & Biogeochemistry (OCB) program to attend the school hosted at the Mediterranean Institute for Environmental Studies in Koper, Slovenia. The school participants included graduate students, postdocs and early career scientists to develop a strong theoretical and applied understanding of different disciplines for sustainable development of the ocean from experts in the marine natural and social sciences field. For more information about the course click HERE.
The annual Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Summer Workshop, supported by the multi-agency US Carbon Cycle Science Program, was held this summer in Woods Hole, MA from June 12-14. Dr. David Lagomasino (ICP) was invited to give a plenary presentation in the session “Role of deltaic sediments in regulating biogeochemical cycles”. This session explored the physical processes and biogeochemical cycling across different deltaic systems around the world; the latest measurement and modeling approaches being used to study these systems; and their impact on global biogeochemical cycles. Dr. Lagomasino presented on how mangrove forests help to regulate the movement of nutrients and sediments in delta region around the world. For more about the OCB Summer Workshops click HERE.
This past summer, Dr. David Lagomasino (ICP), was an invited speaker at the first Blue Carbon Law Symposium held at the University of Georgia through a partnership with SC Sea Grant. The goal of the symposium was to bring legal scholars, environmental investors, carbon registry specialists, coastal and marine decision makers, and scientists to identify opportunities and challenges for coastal blue carbon investments. Dr. Lagomasino presented on the novel use of remote sensing and satellite data that can augment the monitoring, reporting, and verification of blue carbon projects. Dr. Sean Charles and ICS PhD Student Maria Gomez were also in attendance from ECU and engaged in discussions regarding blue carbon science and economics. For more information about the symposium click HERE.
ICS Ph.D. student Shalimar Moreno (above) has also received lots of great news in the past month.
As changing climates continue to increase coastal hazards such as sea level rise, large storm events, flooding, and erosion, it is ever more important for communities such as those found along the Outer Banks to heighten their resiliency. But what exactly does that entail?
According to NOAA, resilience is defined as the “ability to adapt to changing conditions and withstand- and rapidly recover from- disruption due to emergencies”. In other words, it is a community’s ability to bounce back after catastrophe strikes. Coastal resiliency is a feedback loop that includes planning and building, natural disaster response, and recovery, using lessons learned in the process to recuperate and prepare for the next event better than ever before. In theory, the more resilient a community becomes, the less time it will take them to recover after each coastal hazard event.
Those who live on the Outer Banks are familiar with having to rebuild after storms, and they are also slowly being introduced to measures that take the mitigation of coastal hazards into consideration. Examples of such measures for an area experiencing sea level rise, erosion, and/or flooding could include protection, accommodation, ecosystem-based adaptation, or retreat. Researchers from the Coastal Studies Institute are currently leading a research project in South Nags Head which will provide insights for coastal management and hazard responses.
A NATURE-BASED APPROACH TO RESILIENCY
While beach nourishment is one way to temporarily fix erosion issues, some coastal communities are also utilizing greener tactics. One example of such practices here in North Carolina can be seen employed by Better Beaches OBX (BBOBX), a community group that encourages discussion and consideration of “more natural means, and necessary maintenance programs… to keep [the] beaches beautiful and protective.”
Among their top strategies for doing so is planting beach grasses and placing recycled Christmas trees along the dunes of the Outer Banks to create better stabilization and hopefully reduce impacts from sea-level rise, beach erosion, and flooding during storm events. It is an effort that not only paints the dunes with green color but may also be a more sustainable alternative for shoreline and infrastructure protection compared to other tactics.
While their work is performed in good faith and the local towns take great interest in BBOBX’s contributions, up until now, no measures of effectiveness have been implemented. However, the Fall of 2022 brought a change, and Dr. Lin Xiong, a postdoctoral scholar at the Coastal Studies Institute, received a mini-grant from NC Sea Grant to implement a 12-month study to assess the impacts of dune restoration on coastal resilience in the area.
According to the grant proposal submitted by Xiong and his colleague Dr. David Lagomasino, the study will include the use of a device known as a terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) to “quantify sediment budgets, foredune dynamics, and assess how various dune restoration activities impact coastal resilience along the North Carolina coast.” The TLS emits laser pulses and measures traveling time from returns to create a three-dimensional scan of the surrounding area.
To accomplish the goals set forth in their proposal, Xiong and his team, which includes Lagomasino, as well as ECU Integrated Coastal Sciences Ph.D. student Shalimar Moreno and a lab research specialist, will conduct repetitive hyper-resolution topographic surveys along the beaches in South Nags Head. A newly secured UTV with a TLS attached to the top, collectively named the Coastal Laser Scanning System, is a key tool for their work.
During each survey, the researchers will cover approximately 9km of shoreline with the Coastal Laser Scanning System. The survey area includes both planted and non-planted beachfront dunes, and they will stop, on average, every 30m to collect a three-dimensional snapshot of that portion of shoreline and dunes.
“The TLS in our lab, VZ400i, can emit up to 500,000 pulses/sec and acquire millions of measurements of coastal dunes and beaches in a very short time. This is amazing! It is like a digital twin of the coastal system with point clouds,” shares Xiong.
Their data, once fully processed, will provide preliminary, baseline measurements for the state of the shoreline and the effectiveness of dune stabilization. Additionally, Xiong hopes this work will “[lead to] future funding, provide training opportunities for students, and reinforce community partnerships between the ECU Outer Banks Campus, BBOBX, and the Town of Nags Head.”
While this research project is still in its infancy and there is still much to be known about the effects of dune stabilization here on the Outer Banks, it is important to recognize how valuable nature-based adaptations such as those described above can be for the resiliency of both the environment and coastal communities. With this research project in South Nags Head, the municipalities of the Outer Banks are inching ever closer to understanding coastal dynamics and becoming more resilient communities in the face of change.
Original Story at CSI News