AGU Highlights from UM Rosenstiel School


AGU Highlights from Univ. of Miami Rosenstiel School

How will a Changing Climate Affect the World's Largest Dust Bowl?

During an invited talk, Rosenstiel School Professor Emeritus Joseph Propsero will present the latest trends in Africa dust transport to the Caribbean. Know as the "grandfather of dust," Prospero will discuss how increases in African dust may impact future climate processes and human health throughout the Caribbean.

In recent decades African dust concentrations over the Caribbean basin have often exceed U.S. EPA standards for respiratory particles. The human health impacts may rise under future climate change scenarios as more severe droughts coupled with soil disturbance, from increased land-use in the Sahel-Soudano region of North Africa, occur.

The infamous Dust Bowl in the United States during the 1930's was the result of severe drought combined with poor farming practices that caused soil disturbance. Exposure to large amounts of dust can lead to dust pneumonia and other respiratory problems.

Prospero and colleagues have over 45 years of daily dust measurements collected at sites in the Caribbean Basin. The dust concentrations from this continuous record show variability from days to decades and are important to understand both the role dust plays in climate processes and the environmental factors that contribute to long-range dust transport.
Presentation: A21O-04 · Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 8:52-9:08 a.m. · Moscone West 2022-2024

Seagrass: A Coral Reefs Best Defense Against Ocean Acidification
During an invited talk, scientists from the Rosenstiel School's Cooperative Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and NOAA will present recent finding on potential safe havens for Florida reefs from the effects of ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is the result of increased CO2 from the burning of fossil fuel in the ocean, resulting in more acidic seawater.

The scientists will discuss their recently published research that suggests seagrass in near-shore waters along the Florida Reef Tract absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide and therefore helps to create a refuge from acidification on inshore reefs. Coral reefs located within or immediately downstream of seagrass beds may find refuge from ocean acidification.

The Florida Reef Tract spans 160 miles (260 kilometers) from Miami to the Dry Tortugas and is the only living barrier reef in the continental U.S.
Presentation: OS51H-05 · Friday, Dec. 7 at 9:00-9:15 a.m. · Moscone West 3005

Disappearing Act: Human Footprint on Iran's Lake Urmia
The water level in the world's third largest saltwater lake has dropped by more than nine meters over the last two decades. Rosenstiel School scientists will discuss recent geochemical studies that reveal the human impacts that are causing Lake Urmia to disappear, and its outlook under future climate change projections.

Geochemical analysis of surface sediment reveals high degrees of heavy metal contamination in areas of the lake where intensive dredging and construction activities have occured. Excessive damming on the tributaries that supply water to the lake, poor water management in their catchment basins, and construction of a major highway across the lake has caused significant disturbance to the natural water and sediment circulation, resulting in enhanced evaporation in the northern and southern "sub-basins" of the lake.

"While enhanced global climate change cannot be ruled out as a contributor to higher evaporation rates," said Rosenstiel School Assistant Professor Ali Pourmand. "It is clear that anthropogenic sources have played a far more significant role in the graduate demise of the largest continental lake in the Middle East."

Located in northwestern Iran, Lake Urmia is an important wetland habitat that supports a variety of reptiles and amphibians as well as many migratory birds. The surrounding watershed is an important agricultural area with an estimated 76 million people living within a 500 kilometers radius, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
Presentation: GC42B-02 · Thursday, Dec. 06 at 10:35-10:50 a.m. · Moscone West 3001

Large-scale Volcano Monitoring Could Detect 'Inflation' in Advance of Eruptions
UM Rosenstiel School researchers present surveys of ground deformation for volcanoes in Indonesia and Mexico. This study shows remote sensing monitoring as an effective tool to detect inflation prior to volcanic eruptions.

In one study geophysicist Estelle Chaussard and UM professor Falk Amelung used over 1200 satellite images obtained by interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) to analyze the entire west Sunda and Mexican volcanic arcs, which cover a total of 500 000 km2. In west Sunda, the researchers detected deformation at six volcanic centers, three of which erupted after the observation period, confirming that inflation is a common precursor of volcanic eruptions in this region.

Because these regions are so volcanically active, our use of InSAR has been very successful. We now have a tool that can tell us where eruptions are more likely to occur," said Amelung, who has been studying active volcanoes for 15 years.

The InSAR technique can detect the ascent of magma to shallow levels where it can be stored prior to eruptions. The team will also present satellite-based ground deformation surveys of Latin America with emphasis on Mexico.

An article on the Indonesia study by Chaussard and Amelung appears in the Nov. 5 issue of AGU's Geophysical Research Letters.
Poster Presentations: G51B-111, G51B-1108 · Friday, Dec. 7 at 8:00 a.m. -12:20 p.m. · Moscone South

About the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
The University of Miami's mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. Founded in the 1940's, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world's premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit

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