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Poster Session

Coordinated by the Florida Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University

Poster Abstracts by Summit Topic

Abstracts of each poster are available by clicking on the individual titles below.

Julie Lambert, Ph.D., Professor of Science Education, Department of Teaching and Learning; Alana Edwards, Education & Training Coordinator, Center for Environmental Studies, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Geosciences; Colin Polsky, Ph.D., Professor of Geosciences and Director, Center for Environmental Studies; Adam Chapman, Research Assistant, Center for Environmental Studies

ABSTRACT: Despite the scientific consensus about climate change and associated socio-environmental impacts on society, the topic has been under-emphasized in curricula and as an opportunity to address climate change. Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Environmental Studies and the College of Education’s Department of Teaching and Learning have collaborated on a variety of educational projects aimed at increasing climate literacy of high school and university students, as well as preservice and practicing teachers. This poster highlights three of the instructional projects developed over the past few years. Each of the three projects is appropriate for use in a variety of formal and informal learning environments. 1. Climate Science Investigations (CSI) (, is an online, interactive series of modules that provides an innovative framework for teaching and learning about climate science. The curriculum is designed to enable students to analyze data available through various sources and utilize tools to address common questions and about climate change. 2. Climate Science Evidence-Based Argumentation is an instructional approach developed by Lambert and Bleicher (2014) to teach students about climate change and how scientific knowledge is accumulated over time. Students are assigned a typical argument of skeptics and asked to refute it through research and development of an evidence-based scientific argument. 3. South Florida Rising Tides: Should I Stay or Should I Go? is a socio-environmental case study developed as part of a short-course, Teaching Through Socio-Environmental Case Studies, at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center in Annapolis, Maryland. In this case study, each student assumes the primary role of a concerned citizen scientist living in one of four south Florida counties. PDF

Alexis St. Juliana, Jason Vogel, Joel Smith, Missy Stults, Lorine Giangola, Heather Hosterman, Megan O'Grady

ABSTRACT: This poster presentation will profile actions that nine coastal communities are taking to address sea level rise and climate change as identified by the Kresge Foundation and Abt Associates, including Avalon, NJ, Baltimore, MD, Boston, MA, Chula Vista, CA, Miami-Dade County, FL, Mobile County, AL, Norfolk, VA, Oakland, CA, and Seattle, WA. Responses to sea level rise range from little or no consideration, to extensive scoping studies, regulatory or policy changes, hard and soft infrastructure projects, and consideration of intensive infrastructure options. The communities represent a spectrum of size, politics, socioeconomics, geography, and potential sea level rise impacts. Participants will learn the implemented actions in each community and the mechanisms used to achieve these. These communities are part of a larger analysis of U.S. communities that have implemented climate change adaptation actions. The full report with 17 detailed case studies will be available on the Kresge Foundation website in spring 2016.

Andrew Kamerosky, Dr. Keren Bolter

ABSTRACT:The knowledge of risks that coastal communities face from impending Sea Level Rise (SLR) are vital to future development and disaster response. Substantial research has been conducted assessing these risks in terms of changes to the physical environment, costs of maintaining the status quo, or population impacts. However a significant limit to identifying at risk locations is the availability of data or resources that may be used to address data gaps. As more governing bodies apply principles of Open Governance, additional data sources have become available in the last few years. Coupled with advanced SLR and high accuracy elevation models, a more complete and accurate assessment of risk and damages can be performed.

This research will address these new developments by attempting to identify as wide variety of relevant and publically available data to determine the risk to both human and built environment for Palm Beach County, Florida. The 2010 US Census and 2013 American Community Survey will be assessed through established risk indices with additional consideration given to topics not covered by the indices. Land use and development data made available by the state of Florida and Palm Beach County will be utilized, with a focus on infrastructure and industry locations. SLR risks will then be assessed through the NOAA Sea Level Rise and Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) and the Tidal Flooding models.  PDF

Anne Henderson, Julie Lambert, Alana Edwards

ABSTRACT:This poster will outline the results of a pilot study of a Socio-Environmental Case Study lesson held in a graduate level class on Seal Level Rise and Society. The lesson was prepared as part of a short course, Teaching Through Socio-Environmental Case Studies, held at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center in Annapolis, Maryland. Case studies are a powerful pedagogical technique for teaching scientific concepts and content, and also process skills and critical thinking. This case study combines data and methods from natural and social sciences to prepare students to address complex, trans-disciplinary environmental problems. In the pilot, students were assigned a county in Florida that is vulnerable to Sea Level Rise. Students were asked to take on the role of a community stakeholder; water manager, business leader or resident and approach the data with that perspective. Each county group then analyzed current articles, data, and GIS maps to identify specific sea level rise problems, potential socio-environmental impacts, and possible adaption/mitigation strategies. The lesson culminated in a mock town hall meeting where they made recommendations to their community leaders on future action. Feedback from the lesson was obtained from the participants in the form of pre and post assessments and a post survey.  PDF

Gibran Casas

ABSTRACT:The negative impacts of climate change and Sea Level Rise (SLR) on ecosystems and wildlife have been demonstrated in several previous studies. In particular the spread of invasive species into previously unsuitable habitats is of particular concern. In this study we examine the potential spread of the Cuban Tree Frog Osteopilus septentrionalis into previously uninhabitable climates due to Sea Level Rise and climate change. As the climate warms and Sea Level rises the range of Osteopilus septentrionalis is expected to expand northward possibly as far north as North Carolina. This study will examine the northern expansion of Osteopilus septentrionalis due to human impacts and factor in the projected Sea Level Rise by the year 2100. Using these predictions we will predict the northern reach of Osteopilus septentrionalis and discuss potential impacts on these northern communities. Namely the major effects expected are loss of native tree frog populations, destruction of human property, and loss of ecosystem services. These impacts will highlight the potential dangers of Sea Level Rise and Osteopilus septentrionalis to northern communities.  PDF

Hannes Ziegler, Zhixiao Xie

ABSTRACT:Decision makers require high resolution population distribution data as a foundation for informed policy making. Physical and social vulnerabilities to sea-level rise are often studied at the scale of Census data or global population grids, but these data are coarse and have arbitrary boundaries due to administrative and privacy concerns. Dasymetric mapping and areal interpolation can provide detailed small area population estimates below the scale of the census enumeration units. This study incorporates elevation, spectral, and ancillary parcel data to extract residential buildings, and then applies a dasymetric areal interpolation technique based on housing units to estimate residential building populations. In a case study of Boca Raton, FL, a sea-level rise inundation grid based on mapping methods by NOAA is overlaid on the highly detailed population distribution data to identify vulnerable residences and estimate population displacement.  PDF

Jessica Huffman

ABSTRACT:The average global temperature has increased by 1.4˚F over the last 100 years and will continue to increase with an additional 2 to 11.5˚F by the end of this century. This increase in temperature will continue to have significant impacts on Earth’s systems, including raising sea levels through thermal expansion and polar melt. Global sea level rise is projected to be approximately 2 feet by 2050 and around 6.6 feet by 2100. Unfortunately, global warming and sea level rise (SLR) will have significant impacts on sea turtle populations around the world. A large impact that has already been seen is the disappearance of nesting beaches, and this will only increase with continual coastal urbanization and SLR mitigation strategies. Furthermore, increased global temperatures will increase nesting beach temperatures. Reptiles rely on temperature dependent sex determination, and a shift in temperature can cause an imbalance in hatchling sex ratios. Increased nest temperatures are predicted to yield higher proportions of females which may ultimately become a threat to the genetic diversity. Increased ocean temperatures may also negatively affect sea turtle food resources. Because storms, rainfall patterns, evapotranspiration, and humidity are also expected to alter with climate change, these factors should be investigated more in depth in order to determine their effects on global sea turtle populations.

Jing Liu, Keren Bolter

ABSTRACT:The mangrove forests in Everglades National Park (ENP), at the interface between land and sea, play a crucial role as a natural barrier protecting inland ecosystems. The mangrove forests have a high level of ecological stability and are highly adaptable to environmental disturbances, tidal changes, and a range of fresh water and salt water exposure. However, rising sea-level, coupled with increasing salinity, storm intensities, and storm surge, poses a substantial threat mangroves. Mangrove forests thrive in intertidal coastal locations with specific characteristics: a gentle slope and, a minimal variation in hydrological regime. Sea-level rise (SLR) will cause a significant change in the mangrove inundation duration. With limited area for landward migration to maintain their preferred hydroperiod, mangroves die offs are likely to occur. More research is needed to monitor and study uncertainties about the current and future environmental conditions. This study reviews previous research and utilizes Geographic Information System (GIS) to help explain, study, and visualize the processes how SLR would impact mangroves in South Florida. The methods include an analysis of the spatial distribution of mangroves. Results may inform restoration to help mitigate rising sea levels and improve resilience to SLR. Studying the restoration of Everglades coastal areas may motivate more action to restore ENP, which is vital to mitigate and adapt to sea-level change.

Jose A. Carrillo

ABSTRACT:Coastal wetland change has been and will be primarily caused by natural and anthropogenic drivers of environmental change; which include sea level rise (SLR). The loss of coastal wetlands and their potential migration areas from SLR-caused hydrologically-connected inundation and urban development will make coastal urbanized communities more vulnerable to SLR-enhanced flooding and storm surge. Undeveloped areas (including coastal wetlands and their potential migration areas) in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) system were noted as areas that would most likely not be protected from hydrologically-connected inundation. To analyze the potential undeveloped land loss (ULL) in the northern portion of the IRL system by 2070, this project identified the potential ULL hotspots and their threatened potential urban development areas and vegetation communities. Five drainage basins within the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, the Kennedy Space Center, and the southern portion of Mosquito Lagoon were identified as potential ULL hotspots. While no potential urban development areas were found to be threatened; the Live Oak Woodland, Sand Cordgrass Grassland, and Xeric Scrubland communities were seen as the most threatened vegetation communities.  PDF

Keren Bolter, Alaurah Moss, Sara Denka, Albert Slap, Leonard Berry

ABSTRACT:While the scientific community is rapidly developing sea level rise (SLR) models and storm-impact tools, this abundance of information (what some call “noisy climate data”) has resulted in individuals, businesses, and local governments expressing the need for high resolution, easily understandable geospatial data and tools to assess their climate impact vulnerability, inform management decisions, and develop long-term resiliency strategies in Southeast Florida. Additionally, such geospatial data and analysis tools should be fast, accurate and affordable. This project highlights local examples of how Coastal Risk Consulting’s flood prediction technology leverages existing public datasets and provides this information in creative formats to narrow the gap between scientific output and user-friendly needs in South Florida. This research highlights emerging best practices of using LIDAR-based, flood prediction modeling (non-storm and storm) to achieve regional objectives,namely, making Southeast Florida communities and residents more climate ready and storm safe. Results show multiple examples of how downscaled, geospatial flood prediction modeling is currently being used to provide better information for government and community decision-making.

Kevin J. Cresswell

ABSTRACT:Generally, the scientific community agrees that South Florida is one of the most susceptible regions for experiencing potentially devastating ramifications of sea level rise, due to a confluence of local ecological, economic and institutional factors. Despite ambiguity over the extent of which water levels will rise, local geographical features make areas situated away from the coast increasingly vulnerable relative to inland areas found in other states. Because of this imminent threat, it is necessary for elected officials, community members as well as government employees to produce comprehensive and adaptable plans to prepare for and mitigate some of the effects. Moreover, it is imperative for local and regional governments to disseminate information in a way that is both pertinent and easy for the general public to digest. This research considers how local entities currently communicate messages concerning the risks associated with sea level rise and then advances it a step further by observing residents’ reactions to the messages. Currently, there is no research examining the effectiveness of local public messages about sea level rise in South Florida, so this report attempts to fill this void. Collectively, the research aims to offer invaluable insight as to how information should be presented in addition to diction that is proven most effective for respective audiences, and how to keep the public’s interest, when dealing with sea level rise.  PDF

Mario Job, Mitchell Collins, Matthew McClellan, Matthew Sirianni, William Wright, Cali Munzenrieder, Xavier Comas

ABSTRACT: Subtropical peatlands such as the subtropical Everglades are net sources of biogenic gases (i.e. CH4 and CO2) throughout the year. Average temperatures in the region are expected to increase by two degrees Celsius in the next fifty years, with some models indicating a greater increase. Previous studies, limited to northern peatlands, suggest that increases in temperature will promote methanogens to metabolize more efficiently, thus generating more methane and carbon dioxide within the peat column. There is a distinct lack of data quantifying these releases in subtropical systems and to our knowledge none have intended to monitor the internal gas dynamics through an array of geophysical methods. Through the coupled use of ground penetrating radar (GPR), gas chromatography, soil moisture capacitance probes, and time-lapse photography with standard image processing, this experiment will monitor changes in carbon dynamics (particularly in terms of biogenic gas production and emissions) of peat soils in the Everglades with respect to temperature variations. The purpose of this experiment is to better understand the processes that lead to gas releases, which can then be incorporated into current and future carbon flux models and to further explain how climate change will affect subsequent releases. PDF

Meagan Weisner

ABSTRACT:The availability of high quality drinking water to South Florida residents is a vital component to maintaining an individuals’ health and quality of life. Factors associated with climate change such as increasing temperatures and sea-level rise will compromise the future of drinking water, human health, and the social and economic stability of South Florida. This study addresses some of the changes that are likely to occur in drinking water systems in South Florida as a result of climate change, including increasing biofilms within the distribution system and potential effects to human health.

Climate change places incredible stress on drinking water distributions systems and maintaining the integrity of infrastructure piping will become more urgent. Methodology for this study includes a thorough literature review of current research that highlights drinking water problems and human health issues in the context of climate change. Additionally, interviews with city water treatment managers in South Florida will show which problems they recognize and how they are planning to mitigate these issues.  PDF

Melissa K Hill, University of Florida School of Natural Resources and the Environment; Gennaro J. Scibelli, University of Florida Levin College of Law; Tom Kay, Executive Director, Alachua Conservation Trust; Thomas T. Ankersen, Director, Conservation Clinic University of Florida Levin College of Law

ABSTRACT:Conservation easements can protect crucial nesting habitat for endangered and threatened species of sea turtles by restricting artificial lighting, coastal armoring, beach erosion, and beach activities. The ultimate goal of this two-year program is to determine whether a robust less-than-fee land acquisition program will satisfy the “net conservation benefit” criteria of the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF). Phase I of the project will, 1) determine suitable biophysical and socioeconomic circumstances of properties with critical sea turtle habitat along the southwest Gulf coast, the Atlantic coast, and the Panhandle; and 2) research and identify potential property interest and issues. Phase II will identify one or more willing beachfront property owners, draft a model less-than-fee instrument, and negotiate one or more conservation easements that explicitly protect sea turtle habitat. This project aims to serve as a model for future programs and coastlines.

This project is in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Sea Turtle Conservancy, Alachua Conservation Trust, Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research University of Florida, and the Conservation Clinic University of Florida Levin College of Law.  PDF

S. Fiaschi, Department of Geosciences, University of Padua, Padua, Italy; S. Wdowinski, RSMAS, University of Miami, Miami, USA.

ABSTRACT:South Florida is one of the most vulnerable areas to Sea Level Rise (SLR) due to its low elevation, large population concentration, and economic importance. Heretofore, the effect of SLR has felt mostly in low-lying coastal communities, such as the City of Miami Beach. A recent flooding hazard study of Miami Beach have shown a significant increase in flooding frequency after 2006, in which the flooding frequency increased by 400% compare with flooding events during the previous decade (Wdowinski et al., 2016). This study attributed the flooding frequency increase to a decadal-scale accelerating rates of SLR that occurred most likely due to the weakening of the Gulf Stream. However, some of the increased flooding frequency might have caused due to local land subsidence.

In this study we evaluate the contribution of land subsidence to the flooding hazard of Miami Beach using Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) observations. We analyzed 23 ERS-1/2 images acquired during the period 1993-1999 using InSAR time series techniques. Preliminary results yield localized subsidence at a rate of 2-3 mm/yr, mostly along the western section of the city. The subsiding areas correlate well with the areas that were built on reclaimed swamps. Although the detected subsidence velocities are quite low, their effect on the flooding hazard is significant, because (1) houses originally built on higher ground have subsided since the city was built, about 80 years ago, by 16-24 cm down to flooding hazard zones; and (2) the combined effect of subsidence and SLR further expose the subsiding areas to higher flooding hazard than the rest of the city.  PDF

Thomas Shahan

ABSTRACT: Peatlands have important implications for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because they are globally important terrestrial carbon pools and are vital components of carbon soil-atmosphere exchange processes. Peatlands are traditionally thought of as carbon sinks, storing more carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) than they release. However, large deforestation projects can emit significant amounts of GHG, and episodic ebullition events can result in large gas releases over short time scales. These and other natural processes already contribute to increases in atmospheric GHG, and will continue to intensify as climate changes. Substantial research has been conducted to quantify carbon storage and exchange in and from peat soils, but less is known about future changes. This study looks at four peatlands to examine the amount of CO2 and CH4 being released from peat soils around the globe and to synthesize potential effects. These results will emphasize worldwide peat soil contributions to GHG emissions.  PDF

Thomas W. Doyle

ABSTRACT: A handbook for resource managers was produced to describe the science and simulation models for understanding the dynamics and impacts of sea-level rise on our coastal ecosystems. The focus of this guide was to categorize and describe the suite of data, methods, and models, their design, structure, and application, for hindcasting and forecasting the potential impacts of sea-level rise in coastal environments. Basic illustrations of the components of the Earth’s hydrosphere and effects of plate tectonics, planetary orbits, and glaciation are explained to understand the long-term cycles of historical sea-level rise and fall. Discussion of proper interpretation of contemporary sea-level rates and trends from tide gauge stations and satellite altimetry missions are presented to show their complementary aspects and value for understanding variability in eustasy and land motion for different coastal reaches of the U.S. Examples of the different types and classes of hydrology and ecosystem models used to predict potential effects of future sea-level rise at local and regional scale applications are presented. Specific illustrations and applications of sea-level rise impacts on coastal ecosystems are presented for south Florida and the Everglades. Coastal land managers, engineers, and scientists will benefit from this synthesis of tools and models that have been developed for projecting causes and consequences of sea-level change on the landscape and seascape.

Vince Edwards

ABSTRACT: As climate change and sea level rise research increases, a wealth of scientific evidence, models, and predictions have emerged and improved. These are complemented with enhanced representations of potential impacts and adaptation strategies. It is essential to translate this information into a more accessible, compelling, and practical message for policymakers and the public alike. This study will examine the recent and relevant recommendations from the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact’s Regional Climate Action Plan regarding strategies for sea level rise adaptation, and distill them into a more concise and actionable message that can be utilized by these parties. Additionally, effective methods of outreach will be synthesized from existing literature and discussed, and consideration will be given to possible hurdles that must be overcome. Results will showcase the process of translating scientific data into functional methods and recommendations to increase resiliency through mitigation and adaptation.  PDF

William Warren, Corey Aitken

ABSTRACT: Hurricanes, along with winter storms, such as cold fronts and nor’easters, impact barrier islands along the East and Gulf Coasts each year. These storms are capable of significant damage and geologic alterations to barrier islands. Barrier islands are important because they protect inland regions. Barrier islands are especially susceptible to storm surges, due to their low lying topography. The surges associated with these storms are directly responsible for altering the topography of barrier islands. The morphology of these barrier islands is also directly related to current and future sea levels. An increase in sea level will only exacerbate the impacts of these coastal storms on barrier islands in the future. Development has created permanent establishments on these dynamic and mobile islands. With development of these barrier islands comes additional concerns beyond the geological. As the use of the land shifts toward more development the concern branches into protecting property and communities. The need to protect these communities becomes more important as sea levels continue to rise. Natural and anthropogenic coastal resilience is necessary in order to properly protect these coastal island communities. An interdisciplinary literature review by a geologist and geographer will be presented to better describe the geologic and social implications of storms and sea level rise on barrier islands and their communities.

For more information contact:
Mary Beth Hartman, Conference & Outreach Coordinator
Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University
Mary Beth Hartman or 561-799-8558



 Last Modified 4/3/23