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SoMAS News from Stony Brook University and other sources

SoMAS Professor Analyzes Storm Damage on North Shore

Photo above by R. Lawrence Swanson: An eroding bluff at Long Beach has been stabilized by constructing a stone seawall at the bluff’s base. The bluff has been terraced to capture material that rolls down from the top and can be planted with vegetation that will help stabilize it.

In a January 11, 2018 editorial on TBR Newsmedia titled “Your Turn: Forgotten North Shore vulnerable to sea level rise,” SoMAS Interim Dean Larry Swanson highlighted how the South Shore of Long Island is featured in the majority of proposals for preparing for the next big storm after Superstorm Sandy.  According to Dr. Swanson, “the North Shore of the Island has been largely neglected in the sea level rise/storm surge discussions and planning even though it is equally vulnerable to these processes.”

The early March Nor’easter demonstrates the power of nature and the difficulty of implementing resiliency measures that are effective and affordable.  The combination of wind, rain, and storm surge severely eroded the bluffs of Nissequogue on Long Island’s north shore.  The photos clearly show the slumping of the morainal when left unprotected.  However, stabilization measures were left wanting as well.  The terraced slopes failed and even the hardened sea walls suffered damage.  Comparison of Fall 2017 photos with those of March 4 2018 shows these situations along with the hanging stairs where some two to three feet of elevation were lost on the beach face.

Comparison of storm surge elevations in Stony Brook Harbor shows that by historical standards, the recent event was not as high as had been previously recorded.  The undermining of the unprotected and stabilized bluffs could have been far worse and most likely will be in the future.  New York State and the communities located along the north shore need to explore reasonable measures to protect that coastline including both the bluffs and the downstream barrier beaches that are maintained by the natural erosion of those bluffs.

Date Height above Mean Level Water Height above Predicted High Tide
feet meters feet meters
September 21,1938  11.8  3.60  4.7-6.0 1.43-1.83
December 11, 1992  12.8  3.90  6.0 1.83
December 24, 1994  10.5  3.20  5.2 1.58
April 16, 1996  8.7  2.65  2.5 0.76
October 19, 1996  10.3  3.14  4.3 1.31
February 12, 2006  9.5  2.90  3.7 1.13
April 15, 2007  10.6  3.22  3.2 0.97
March 13, 2010  9.7  2.96  3.6 1.10
August 28, 2011
(Hurricane Irene)
 11.9  3.63  4.5 1.37
October 29, 2012
(Superstorm Sandy)
 12.4 3.78  7.3 2.22
March 2, 2018
 10.3 3.14  2.6 0.80

Table above from Swanson, R. L., & Bowman, M. J. (2016). Between Stony Brook Harbor Tides: The Natural History of a Long Island Pocket Bay. SUNY Press.

PDF Report on March 2018 Nor’Easter


SoMAS joint faculty member leads team that discovered “Supercolony” of Adélie Penguins in Antarctica

From “Supercolony” of Adélie Penguins Discovered in Antarctica on the Stony Brook Newsroom by Gregory Filiano

Additional coverage of this story is featured on CBS News, Futurity, Drone DJ,, Newsday, BBC and the New York Times

STONY BROOK, N.Y., March 2, 2018 – For the past 40 years, the total number of Adélie Penguins, one of the most common on the Antarctic peninsula, has been steadily declining—or so biologists have thought. A new study led by Stony Brook University ecologist Heather Lynch and colleagues from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), however, is providing new insights on this species of penguin. In a Scientific Reports paper, the international research team announced the discovery of a previously unknown “supercolony” of more than 1,500,000 Adélie Penguins in the Danger Islands, a chain of remote, rocky islands off of the Antarctic Peninsula’s northern tip.

Thomas Sayre-McCord (WHOI/MIT) and Philip McDowall (Stony Brook University) pilot a Quadcopter at an Adélie penguin breeding colony on Brash Island, Danger Islands, Antarctica. Credit: Stony Brook University, Courtesy Alex Borowicz.

“Until recently, the Danger Islands weren’t known to be an important penguin habitat,” says Lynch, Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolution in the College of Arts & Sciences, Joint Faculty at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and the paper’s senior author, titled “Multi-modal survey of Adélie penguin mega-colonies reveals the Danger Islands as a seabird hotspot.”

These supercolonies have gone undetected for decades, Lynch notes, partly because of the remoteness of the islands themselves, and partly the treacherous waters that surround them. Even in the austral summer, the nearby ocean is filled with thick sea ice, making it extremely difficult to access.

“Now that we know how important this area is for penguin abundance, we can better move forward designing Marine Protected Areas in the region and managing the Antarctic krill fishery,” explained Lynch.

In 2014, Lynch and colleague Mathew Schwaller from NASA discovered telltale guano stains in existing NASA satellite imagery of the islands, hinting at a mysteriously large number of penguins. To find out for sure, Lynch teamed with Stephanie Jenouvrier, a seabird ecologist at WHOI, Mike Polito at LSU and Tom Hart at Oxford University to arrange an expedition to the islands with the goal of counting the birds firsthand.

When the group arrived in December 2015, they found hundreds of thousands of birds nesting in the rocky soil, and immediately started to tally up their numbers by hand. The team also used a modified commercial quadcopter drone to take images of the entire island from above.

Danger Islands Expedition team members on Heroina Island, Danger Islands, Antarctica. Credit: Stony Brook University, Courtesy Casey Youngflesh.

“The drone lets you fly in a grid over the island, taking pictures once per second. You can then stitch them together into a huge collage that shows the entire landmass in 2D and 3D,” says co-PI Hanumant Singh, Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Northeastern University, who developed the drone’s imaging and navigation system. Once those massive images are available, he says, his team can use neural network software to analyze them, pixel by pixel, searching for penguin nests autonomously.

The accuracy that the drone enabled was key, says Michael Polito, coauthor from Louisiana State University and a guest investigator at WHOI. The number of penguins in the Danger Islands could provide insight not just on penguin population dynamics, but also on the effects of changing temperature and sea ice on the region’s ecology.

“Not only do the Danger Islands hold the largest population of Adélie penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula, they also appear to have not suffered the population declines found along the western side of Antarctic Peninsula that are associated with recent climate change,” says Polito.

Being able to get an accurate count of the birds in this supercolony offers a valuable benchmark for future change, as well, notes Jenouvrier. “The population of Adélies on the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula is different from what we see on the west side, for example. We want to understand why. Is it linked to the extended sea ice condition over there? Food availability? That’s something we don’t know,” she says.

It will also lend valuable evidence for supporting proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) near the Antarctic Peninsula, adds Mercedes Santos, from the Instituto Antártico Argentino (who is not affiliated with this study but is one of the authors of the MPA proposal) with the Commission for the Conservation of the Antarctic Marine Living Resources, an international panel that decides on the placement of MPAs. “Given that MPA proposals are based in the best available science, this publication helps to highlight the importance of this area for protection,” she says.

Also collaborating on the study: Alex Borowicz, Philip McDowall, Casey Youngflesh, Mathew Schwaller, and Rachael Herman from Stony Brook University; Thomas Sayre-McCord from WHOI and MIT; Stephen Forrest and Melissa Rider from Antarctic Resource, Inc.; and Tom Hart from Oxford University; and Gemma Clucas from Southampton University. The team utilized autonomous robotics technology from Northeastern University.

Funding for this research was provided by a grant to the Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution from the Dalio Ocean Initiative. Logistical support was provided by Golden Fleece Expeditions and Quark Expeditions.


About Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become a flagship as one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with more than 26,000 students and 2,600 faculty members, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty has earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 50 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University is a driving force in the region’s economy, generating nearly 60,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of more than $4.6 billion. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.

Reporter Contact:  Gregory Filiano
631 444-9343

SoMAS Faculty Testify Against Off Shore Drilling

Photo above:  Interim Dean Larry Swanson speaks about how oil from drilling offshore Long Island would reach our shores based on his research on prevailing winds and the movement of plastics debris in the Atlantic. Photo by Assemblyman Steve Englebright.

Content provided by Dr. Carl Safina, Dr. Malcolm Bowman and Dr. Larry Swanson.

SoMAS faculty joined with public officials, environmentalists and concerned citizens to speak out regarding the Long Island focus of the United States Department of Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s National OCS Program.

On Wednesday, February 14, 2018, Dr. Carl Safina spoke at a meeting hosted by New York State Assemblyman and SoMAS lecturer Steven Englebright.  His testimony, “Why Not To Drill off the East Coast of the U.S.” is below:

Thank you for this opportunity to share my thinking.


I’m a bit out of synch with some other environmentalists worried about the big spill, warning of another Deepwater Horizon or Exxon Valdez-type fiasco coming to the Northeast. To me it’s not about “the big spill.” It’s about the day-to-day of chasing oil, the wrong-headedness of it all.


It’s not that I don’t have some personal history with the major oil calamities of recent decades; I do. In my early teens the first televised images of oil-coated birds during the 1969 blowout off Santa Barbara shocked me and the nation, inspiring the first Earth Day and helping propel the burst of environmental laws signed by Republican president Richard Nixon.


Twenty years later, at home working on a scientific paper, I heard the radio’s news of the Exxon Valdez’ rupture, and of thousands more oiled birds and otters, and sitting right there at my desk I began sobbing.


A decade later I visited Cordova, Alaska, and saw how the Exxon Valdez’ pain and disruption had seeped into lives as thoroughly as the oil had seeped into shoreline sediments and the livers of waterfowl. After citizens were awarded damages in a judgment against Exxon, an appeals court had reduced the judgment by roughly 90 percent.


And in 2010 I spent a lot of time along, on, and above the Gulf of Mexico while oil freely gushed from the hole PB had made in our coastal soul. There was the failure of the ‘blowout preventer’ to prevent the blowout, the crazy “junk shot” attempt to jam golf balls and shredded tires down a gushing well against the geologic force of the upward-shooting oil, the ghastly photo of one nearly unrecognizable brown pelican dying jacketed in crude. I was there when fishing stopped, tourism stopped, property values went to zero, and the oil would not stop. My chronicle of that summer of anguish became the book, A Sea in Flames.


We’re here thinking about all this because the White House has proposed opening a large area off the Eastern Seaboard to oil exploration and potential drilling. No exploration has been allowed here since the 1980s.


With everything we know about the threats of drilling and extraction to marine mammals, it’s noise and disruption to them and to other ocean wildlife, the possibilities of catastrophic spills and blowouts, and the mere grind of daily oil-producing infrastructure—with all we know about the need to move off of fossil fuels and onto renewables—no new areas should be explored for oil. We should be looking, planning, and investing forward to cleaner tech and cleaner energy.


During that summer of anguish in 2010 while I was witnessing BP’s Deepwater Horizon debacle in the Gulf, I got an invitation to appear on The Colbert Report. During the show, Stephen Colbert expressed alarm as a native South Carolinian that the oil might come up the coast and get into the South Carolina marshes. “Those are my marshes,” he said, sounding every bit the homeboy. Colbert’s concern about his beloved marshes is now grounded in possibility.


I’d seen Colbert’s marshes while researching my book Voyage of the Turtle. Sally Murphy of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources took me on an aerial survey of leatherback turtles migrating up the east coast during springtime. Many of them weigh nearly half a ton, so you can see them from the air. As we flew from the airport towards the ocean in a light plane, I wrote, “Soon, we’re over a mosaic of wooded islands inlaid into emerald marshes, grouted with wriggling creeks, spanning expansively toward the coastal contour. The verdant sprawl of a blossoming summer, languid and luscious, stretches to the planetary curve.” More simply, they’re still the most beautiful coastal marshes I’ve ever seen. It’d be nice if they could stay so.


I’ve also seen the Mississippi Delta from the air. Louisiana has lost more than 2,300 square miles of wetlands. Each year, another 25 square miles of marsh disintegrate. Oil leak or no leak, mere busyness of getting oil perpetuates the most devastating disaster that’s hit America’s wetlands.


That’s why, as the oil was gushing in 2010, I came to the conclusion that the main disaster is the oil we don’t spill. It’s the daily grind of oil extraction. That’s why I find myself not focusing on the inevitable big accidents. I’m more worried about the day-to-day.


Sally Murphy, the South Carolina sea turtle researcher who’s now retired after 33 years working for that State, says, “It’s not a fear of a big spill. But everything else: the tanker traffic, the storage tanks, the increased highways, railways, the omnipresent smell of petrochemicals. You might get an occasional big spill,” she says, “but it’s the daily, chronic, minor spills that just pollute everything. Go to Houston, and you get the picture. It’s infrastructure, port expansion—. Our number one industry is tourism. All the stuff that would be needed for oil; where will it go?”


And then, yes, there is the possibility of a blowout or major spill. When that stuff gets on every blade of marsh grass and every mile of beach, there’s no getting it out. It can remain in the sediments for decades.


A question becomes: are we willing to realize that our coast is precious?


Oil-related jobs are being dangled before our eyes, but maybe we’d like to hold on to the multi-billion-dollar tourism that comes for lovely shores and clean waters.


And before we get the first drop of oil, we’d have to find it. To do so, seismic air-guns fire intense blasts of compressed air as frequently as every ten seconds, for days to weeks at a time, loud enough to harm marine life.” A 2012 Draft Environmental Impact statement estimated that the seismic surveys would cause millions of instances of harassment to whales and dolphins annually. [Draft EIS, p xiii]


I asked whale expert Ken Balcomb about this. He was the first person to document Navy sonar kills of whales. “There are many cases of air gun use leading to injury and death of marine mammals,” he said.


With seismic exploration, marine animals often have time to move themselves away from the noise before they’re in the zone of injury. Slowly ramping up air-gun noise is another way to let mammals get out of the area. But “the area” happens to be where they live and hunt for food. They’re there because it’s where they need to be.


Thanks to oil industry lobbying and subsidies, we have built no viable clean alternative to oil. I think our very own coastal ocean is as good a place as any to stop the advance of the fossil fuel footprint.


We get the jobs we plan for. So let’s plan for cleaner, renewable, eternal energy instead. The heat of the sun, the strength of the wind, the power of the tides, the warmth of the earth. It’s there. Remember, a solar spill is called: a sunburn.

Additional coverage of the 2018-02-14 event is available in The Statesman, TBR News, CBS and Newsday.

On Friday, March 2, 2018, the Department of Interior was invited by Representative Lee Zeldin to the Town of Brookhaven offices in Farmingville, New York for a public hearing in response to President Trump’s Executive Order to permit offshore oil drilling all around the US Exclusive Economic Zone.  Dr. Malcolm Bowman noted that there were “several hundred people in attendance.” The hearing focused on the offshore waters of the New York Bight, out to the edge of the continental shelf.  All speakers were given three minutes to make their presentation.

The public comment period closes on March 8, 2018 and the event offered the chance for many to voice their concerns.

The hearing began with the testimony of Congressman Lee Zeldin (R) of the 1st Congressional District of New York, who came out very strongly against the permitting of oil drilling off the coasts of New York. This was followed (in no particular order) by testimonies by NY State Assemblypersons Steve Englebright (D), Christine Pellegrino (D) and Fred Thiele (I), Town of Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle and Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R). All spoke against the proposal.

This was followed by a long stream of testimonies lasting over three hours from representatives of NGOs, academia (Dean Larry Swanson and myself), advocacy groups and private citizens. All testimonies were strongly negative. Not one speaker spoke in favor of permitting offshore drilling.

SoMAS Interim Dean Larry Swanson and Professor Malcolm Bowman both spoke at the event.  Dr. Swanson’s testimony is below:

I am Dr. Larry Swanson, Director of the Waste Reduction and Management Institute and Interim Dean of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. It is an honor to be able to speak to you today. I am pleased to be able to express my concerns about the prospects of opening the New York Bight to oil exploration and production.


Represetative Lee Zeldin introduces a public comment session where SoMAS professor Malcolm Bowman, Interim Dean Larry Swanson and SoMAS alum Carl LoBue (pictured) were there to speak

Represetative Lee Zeldin introduces a public comment session where SoMAS professor Malcolm Bowman, Interim Dean Larry Swanson and SoMAS alum Carl LoBue (pictured) were there to speak

The Federal Government proposal to explore and possibly drill for oil in the New York Bight (continental shelf area off the Atlantic shores of Long Island and New Jersey) is irresponsible and must be prevented. We have four decades of experiences dealing with medical waste and other marine debris wash-ups in this area to inform us of the consequences. The events demonstrate the vulnerability of the coasts to polluting activities within the Bight driven by its oceanographic processes — particularly oil at the surface. We can say with certainty that major negative ecological and economic consequences will occur.


Some 70 miles of beaches were closed at times from Rockaway Inlet to Moriches Inlet on Long Island in June 1976. New York State Governor Hugh Carey declared the area a disaster and President Ford sent the Job Corps to clean up under the supervision of the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1988, essentially the same beaches were closed, off and on, for most of July. The central coast of New Jersey experienced a similar problem in 1987. These latter wash-ups raised the marine debris problem as an international concern and was the cover story of NEWSWEEK on August 1, 1988. Following Superstorm Sandy, when considerable debris escaped into the marine environment, little of it returned to our local beaches.


All this can be explained quite nicely by wind patterns throughout the seasons. Floating debris, like an oil slick, tends to be transported at about 3 percent of the wind speed and in the direction of the wind. Our prevailing summer winds (May-September) are from the south to southwest. If there is debris on the water surface in the Bight (i.e., from combined storm sewers, oil, etc.) these winds, if persistent, will transport it to the ultimate barrier, Long Island’s south shore. Persistent southerlies (blowing continuously from a given direction for days) are rather common in summer. In a controlled experiment in the 1970s, drift cards, designed to mimic surface oil spills, were released some 14 miles south of Long Island during summer. They were recovered on the south shore beaches within days, further substantiating the drift of debris and oil.


The New Jersey wash-up in August 1987 was a consequence of easterlies — somewhat unusual in summer. Superstorm Sandy debris, if in the Bight, most likely moved with the northwesterly winds of winter offshore and to the south.


In a way, these incidents served as grand experiments — ones that are informative, couldn’t be replicated at the same scale as a science experiment, and hopefully won’t be replicated in reality. In 1976 and 1988, for days, even weeks, debris washed ashore in waves. According to records, debris could be identified that came from as far away as Maryland. And, when TWA Flight 800 crashed in July 1996, it took little more than two days for wreckage to wash ashore in the vicinity of Quogue, some 20 miles northeast of where the plane went down. These debris incidents clearly ascertain that the ocean coast of Long Island will be particularly susceptible to the chronic oil discharges from oil rigs and devastated by a spill in summer. New Jersey is less at risk during summer. However, if oil sinks, it could impact New Jersey beaches due to upwelling (bottom water transported shoreward) driven by the southerly winds.


The economic costs of the 1987/1988 incidents were $1.3-5.4 billion ($2.8-11.8 billion in 2018). Summertime visitations (3 months) at Jones Beach, Long Island dropped about 1.4 million from 1987 to 1988. It took until 1993 for attendance to recover.


We can look forward to constantly having oil and tar balls on our beaches during the prime tourism months from offshore oil products as well as spills. Stations dispensing alcohol towels to wash one’s feet will probably be necessary just as it is in much of Florida and the Caribbean.


Predictably, spilled oil will have serious environmental consequences. While it is relatively easy to clean oil off sandy beaches, the real challenge will be in preventing the spilled oil from entering the ecologically sensitive and prolific south shore lagoons, where New York State is trying to restore water quality and shellfish populations. It will be necessary to have floating curtains at the ready at all seven inlets along the south shore to prevent spilled oil from entering.


Clearly, the downsides of oil drilling are excessive and the undertaking is not worth the environmental risks. When it comes to drilling in the ocean, we can with certainty guarantee an accident no matter the assurances of industry. Twenty-five years ago, the Federal government ended ocean dumping of a variety of wastes in the Bight by passing the Ocean Dumping Act (P.L. 100-688), with the idea that we would be able to clean it up for numerous beneficial uses. Let’s not allow the Federal government to reverse this positive step by permitting major polluting activities by the oil industry.


This concludes my testimony and I will be glad to answer questions.

Dr. Bowman did not submit a written testimony; however his oral remarks will be entered in the Federal Register along with all submitted written testimonies.  After introducing himself as a Distinguished Service Professor of Physical Oceanography at the School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS), also President of the NY Marine Sciences Consortium and Chair of the Metropolitan NY-NJ Storm Surge Working Group, he made the following points:

Hydro Power. The US Federal Government is now heading in exactly the wrong direction in terms of energy policy. However, NY State is blessed with abundant resources and possibilities for renewable energy. New York is the largest hydroelectric power producer east of the Rocky Mountains and is fourth in the nation in the generation of electricity from hydropower. More than 300 hydroelectric generating stations – some very small, a few very large (St Lawrence River, plus Quebec Hydro imports) and many in between – connect to New York’s electric grid. Hydro plants typically meet at least 17 percent of the state’s total electricity demand with renewable, clean and inexpensive power.


Wind Power. An increasing number of wind power turbines are being installed, both onshore and offshore. The American Wind Energy Association ranks New York eleventh in the nation for installed wind generation capacity. As of 2014, 20 projects are operating with a rated capacity of a little more than 1,812 MW, approximately 2.6 percent of all the electric power available from generation facilities in New York and enough to power more than 500,000 homes. In addition, two wind power projects are under construction in New York, and one is under active review .

Solar Power. NY-Sun is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move New York State closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. The growth of solar in the State has increased more than 300 percent from 2011 to 2014, twice the rate of U.S. solar growth overall. The NY-Sun Incentive Program will help bring affordable solar electric power to 150,000 new homes and businesses by 2020.


Many opportunities are available to continue this growth of renewable energy.


The 2015 New York State Energy Plan is committed to:

  •  40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels
  •  50% electricity will come from renewable energy resources
  •  600 trillion Btu increase in statewide energy efficiency.


Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has also recently unveiled his 20th Proposal of his 2018 State of the State message: New York’s Clean Energy Jobs and Climate Agenda.  He has also released his First-in-The-Nation Offshore Wind Master Plan to Guide New York’s Development of Renewable Energy.  He has also to set an Energy Efficiency Target for New York. His promise claims to be an important first step to transforming the state into a national energy efficiency leader. It includes offshore wind power, expanding energy storage, and reducing power plant pollution. Energy efficiency is fundamental for climate progress and integral to the state’s clean energy platform.


In November 2017, the northeastern States of Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island released three reports on offshore wind development, claiming that industry has the potential to power almost four million homes and provide thousands of U.S. jobs.


Nine eastern States have agreed to cut power plant emissions by an extra 30% between 2020 and 2030. The compact of Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont) known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has worked for two years to hammer out the next step in their landmark emissions cap-and-trade program, which puts a price on carbon dioxide emissions from the production of electricity. The program has a track record of cutting emissions fairly painlessly across a densely populated section of the country.


Because of humanity’s insatiable appetite for fossil fuels, we are heading down the slippery slope of the so-called “worst case scenario” as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This details the worst effects of the continuing increase in atmospheric CO2 buildup in the atmosphere (and associated acidification of the oceans). In a recent article published by the National Academy of Sciences , the worst case scenario is predicted to lead to a rise in sea level of up to 1.8 m (six ft) by the end of this century .


Long Island, a relic pile of sand (terminal moraine) left over from the retreat of the last ice age, is especially vulnerable with its low topography and the especially vulnerable southern and eastern coastlines. Even a two-foot sea level rise will be catastrophic for Long Island and a serious threat to New York City and coastal New Jersey. A 6 ft rise in sea level will spell the end of life as we know it in Metropolitan New York, coastal New Jersey and Long Island.


New York State

DEC has officially taken the position that a 6 ft rise in sea level may occur by the end of this century and all available steps need to be taken to adjust to this grim prediction.


As a state and as a nation, we need to reverse this dangerous reliance on fossil and fuels and drive forward to a fossil free future before it is too late. As a society, we need to think hard, before it is too late about the legacy we will leave to our descendants. What kind of world will they inherit from us?

Additional coverage of the 2018-03-02 event is available in Newsday, WSHU, TBR News.

Dr. Swanson’s testimony included the following references:

Ofiara, D.O. 2015. The New York Bight 25 years later: Use impairments and policy challenges. Marine Pollution Bulletin 90:281-298.

Long Island Beach Pollution June 1976. 1976. Report coordinated by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Marine EcoSystems Analysis (MESA) New York Bight Project, Stony Brook, New York, R. Lawrence Swanson, manager; with major contributions from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region II (EPA-RII) and U.S. Coast Guard, 3rd District, Marine Environmental Protection Branch, Governors Island, New York Environmental Research Laboratories.

Swanson, R.L. et al. 1978. Pollution of Long Island Ocean Beaches. Journal of the Environmental Engineering Division, ASCE, Vol. 104, Issue 6, 1067-1085.

Swanson, R.L. and R.L. Zimmer. 1990. Meteorological conditions leading to the 1987 and 1988 washups of floatable wastes on New York and New Jersey beaches and comparison of these conditions with the historical record. Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science 30:59-78.

Swanson, R.L., K. Lwiza, K. Willig, and K. Morris. 2016. Superstorm Sandy Marine Debris Wash-ups on Long Island – What Happened to Them? Marine Pollution Bulletin 108, Issues 1-2, 215-231.

SoMAS Participates in New York Harbor Educational Tour

On October 10, 2017, the National Institute for Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure commemorated the fifth anniversary of Super Storm Sandy with a Coastal Resiliency Storm Surge Barrier Boat Tour in New York Harbor.  As described in the invitation “Join us as Scientists, Engineers, Urban Planners and other experts narrate a NYC waterfront view of the impacts of Sandy and how the NY NJ Metropolitan Regional Storm Surge Barrier would provide a “layered defense” protecting the city and 820 miles of NYC Metro coastline for the next 100 years or more.” The group departed Chelsea Piers aboard the Classic Harbor Lines Yacht “Manhattan II” from Pier 62, West 22nd & the Hudson River

SoMAS Professor Malcolm Bowman was on board to continue to push for storm surge barriers to protect the New York area.  Dr. Bowman is the chairman and founder of the New York New Jersey Metropolitan Storm Surge Working Group.

Bill Golden, President of the National Institute for Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure sent this message following the event:

Thank you for joining us on Tuesday’s Coastal Resiliency and Storm Surge Barrier Boat Tour.

Our sold out Tour provided us all with an opportunity to witness first hand the continuing vulnerability of the region to flooding and devastation from the next Super Storm. It was clear from the presentations of over 20 experts given the physical oceanography of the region and the complicated regional interdependence of infrastructure, commerce, workforce and diverse lifestyles, only a regional storm surge barrier system could reliably and comprehensively protect the dense integration of development, recreational facilities and historic and cultural sites that is our Metropolitan area.


With your strong and continuing support, our proposal for a Regional Storm Surge Barrier System for Long Island and the New York and New Jersey Metropolitan Area has now been endorsed by a growing number of public and private sector leaders. Our Proposal has also attracted significant media interest and support.


In addition to being the cover story of amNewYork, the front page of the Metro Section of the New York Times, on CBS TV, PBS TV and Radio in both New York and New Jersey, the Boat Tour and our May Conference has been covered in an article just published in Downtown Magazine. I have also been contacted by Newsweek and by Associated Press and informed that they are working on more extensive articles.


Again, thank you for your continuing support and assistance and for working actively to build support for a regional storm surge barrier system with your elected representatives, colleagues and communities.

For more information about the event or the National Institute for Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure, please visit their web page.

2017 Press



2016 Press

2015 Press
Feb 19, 2015 STONY BROOK, NY, February 20, 2015 – Science on Tap, a live event and web … the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, and marine biologist Debra …
Feb 8, 2015 … the last 100 years dramatically changed the atmospheric asymmetry … University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences(SoMAS), ……/2015-01-14-david-conover-vp-for-research.php
Jan 13, 2015 … David O. Conover, Interim Vice President for Research and Professor of Marine Science in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences …


STONY BROOK, N.Y., October 10, 2014 –Stony Brook University will host its second TEDxSBU event on Nov. 14, 2014, from 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. in the Charles B. Wang Center Theater. The theme of this year’s event is “Connect the Dots,” and will feature 16 speakers and performers from Stony Brook’s student, faculty, staff, and alumni populations.

“I am thrilled to see Stony Brook hosting the second annual TEDxSBU event,” said Vice President for Information Technology & CIO Cole W. Camplese. “TED is such a powerful series of events that inspires a global audience. To have the opportunity right here at home to not only host the event, but to share the brilliance of the Stony Brook community widely is a real honor.”

Topics from a wide variety of disciplines will be presented in two sessions. Each participant will take the stage for up to 18 minutes in front of an audience of 200 attendees (per TEDx rules.)

TEDxSBU, an independently organized event licensed by TED, will tentatively follow the schedule below*.

Master of Ceremonies: Nancy Franklin, Associate Professor, Psychology, Stony Brook University


First Session (10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.)

Presenter Title/Department Title of Presentation
Thomas C. Wilson, Jr. Staff Member in the Ocean Instrument Laboratory, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences For the Record: The Importance of Taking, Sustaining, and Preserving Critical Measures of Environment and Climate
Charles Robbins Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Dean of Undergraduate Colleges Social Justice: Is it Still Relevant in the 21st Century?
Jeanette Yew Lighting, Design and Technology Lecturer in the Department of Theatre Arts Challenging and Relevant: Reimagining Antigone
Pooja Reddy Alumni, ‘14 MBA Connecting the Dots … and being that dot for someone!
TED Talk Video Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud 23-minute video
Morgan DiCarlo Undergraduate Student, Civil Engineering Major, Business Management Minor Using Mentorship and Hand-on Learning to Build the Next Generation of Female Engineers
Jon Oringer Alumni, ‘96 B.S. Computer Science and Mathematics Risk, Reward and Entrepreneurship
Michael Poon, MD Physician/Researcher – Launched Stony Brook’s Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging Program in 2009 Improvement in treatment for acute chest pain through advanced cardiovascular imaging and telemedicine
Anurag Purwar Research Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Alumni, ‘05 Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering Machine design innovation through technology and education
TED Talk Video George Takei: Why I love a country that once betrayed me 16-minute video


Session Two (3 – 7 p.m.)

Presenter Title/Department Title of Presentation
Nadia Jaber Graduate Student, Ph.D. candidate in Molecular and Cellular Biology Reimagining the Ph.D.
Joe Schultz Undergraduate Student, Economics Major,
Music Minor
The sounds of the Didgeridoo, the world’s oldest wind instrument
Erik Callender Alumni, ‘06 B.S. Biology, Minored in Environmental Studies Follow Your Dreams
Margaret Conover Faculty, Center for Science and Mathematics Education A Cure for Plant Blindness
TED Talk Video Marcel Dicke: Why not eat insects? 17-minute video
Robyn Stein DeLuca Faculty, Research  Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Alumni ‘99 Ph.D. Social Health Psychology The Good News About PMS
Dean Miller Faculty, School of Journalism, Director of the Center for News Literacy You Don’t Want to Hear It (and that’s a problem)
Turhan Canli Faculty, Associate Professor of Integrative Neuroscience, Department of Psychology Is Depression an Infectious Disease?
TED Talk Video Ed Gavagan: A story about knots and surgeons 13-minute video
Sam Parnia, MD Faculty, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Director of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Research Erasing Death
Evening Reception

Tickets go on sale on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at Stony Brook’s Student Activities Center (SAC) Box Office and online at Ticket prices are $25 per session. Students who purchase a ticket get a free TEDxSBU T-shirt. The first session includes lunch, while the second session includes an afternoon snack and evening reception. There is also an option to buy a full-day pass for $50.

Stony Brook will be streaming the event live at, while the WUSB 90.1 FM radio station will broadcast the event throughout the day. There will be rooms set aside as viewing locations on both East and West Campus (exact locations to be announced at a later date) for people who are unable attend the event.

This event is being sponsored by Stony Brook University’s Division of Information Technology, the Office of External RelationsLynda.comElencoOffice of Alumni RelationsUndergraduate Student Government, and WUSB.

For more information about TEXxSBU contact Isobel Breheny at or visit Any inquiry regarding TED should be sent to the TEDx Media Liaison at To listen to last year’s TEDxSBU talks visit

Follow TED on Twitter at, or on Facebook at


About TEDx, where x = independently organized event
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

About TED
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California almost 30 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes on a diverse mix of topics. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The TED2014 Conference will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia, along with the TEDActive simulcast in neighboring Whistler. TEDGlobal 2014 will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

TED’s media initiatives include, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; and TEDBooks, short e-books on powerful ideas. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

*Please note this schedule is subject to change without notice.



Deepwater Wind, Stony Brook University and AWS Truepower Launch Research Initiative Focused on Offshore Wind Energy

Providence, R.I. – September 24, 2014 – Deepwater Wind announced a collaborative study of Long Island’s offshore wind resources with Stony Brook University (SBU), New York’s top-ranked public university, and AWS Truepower (AWS), an Albany, NY-based wind energy consultant.  Already underway, this collaboration will provide SBU with tools and resources that will strengthen their atmospheric research in the growing renewable energy industry and support the development of the Deepwater ONE project – a 210 MW offshore wind farm to be located approximately 30 miles east of Montauk, proposed by Deepwater Wind in response to a Long Island Power Authority request for proposals for renewable energy.

As part of this study, Deepwater Wind is providing both equipment and funding to support SBU’s ongoing coastal wind research programs. Two wind monitoring devices, known as Light Detecting and Ranging systems (LiDAR), have already been deployed, one at the university’s Southampton campus and one on Block Island.  These LiDAR units continuously monitor wind speed and direction in the vertical to around 150 meters (about 500 ft) above the surface. Data collected from the devices will be combined with data from another SBU field study, funded by a U.S. Department of Energy grant, to improve atmospheric model wind predictions over the ocean in order to generate a better regional wind resource maps.

“This collaboration is truly unique in that it brings together the best science from a world-class research university with the resources of a leading offshore wind developer and the knowledge of one of the world’s most respected wind consultants,” said SBU School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Professor and Principal Investigator Dr. Brian Colle. “Combining our respective resources and knowledge should bring some very helpful and informed findings.”

“Offshore wind energy can provide a much-needed source of new, renewable energy for the East End of Long Island while reducing fossil-fuel emissions, stabilizing energy costs and generating new jobs and investment,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski.  “We are proud to support research that will lead to a far better understanding of this important resource.”

“This special alliance will accelerate our understanding of how large offshore wind farms can meaningfully add to the mix of energy resources,” said AWS Truepower’s Bruce Bailey. “As a firm that has worked closely with developers, utilities, and government agencies, we fully appreciate what this unique opportunity can mean for Long Island, for New York State, and for a nation that seeks to tap into every viable resource and move closer to reliable energy independence.”

“These are historic times for renewable energy for the nation, the State of New York and Long Island because the technology has now matured to the point where renewables can compete with fossil fuels in providing business, commercial and residential communities with energy,” said Robert Catell, Chairman of the Board of the Center of Excellence for Advanced Energy and Research and Technology   at Stony Brook University, “We need to have a more thorough understanding of the important role wind can play in power generation, and this collaboration is the first step in achieving that goal.”

About Deepwater Wind

Deepwater Wind is America’s leading offshore wind and transmission developer, actively developing projects off both the East and West Coasts. The Company is led by a veteran management team with extensive experience in developing renewable-energy projects throughout the United States. The Company is actively planning offshore wind projects to serve multiple markets, including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Oregon. The Company’s Block Island Wind Farm is on target to become the nation’s first offshore wind farm. Visit for more info, or follow us on Twitter @DeepwaterWind.


Editor’s Note: This press release was issued by Deepwater Wind on Wednesday, September 24, 2014


STONY BROOK, N.Y., August 28, 2014 – Stony Brook University has been named in Princeton Review’s 2015 Green Honor Roll, an annual list that offers a measure of how environmentally friendly universities are on a scoring scale of 60 to 99. Stony Brook, one of 24 universities to receive a score of 99 (the highest possible score), is among 861 colleges reviewed this year. Selection is based on data collected in its 2013-14 surveys of schools concerning their sustainability-related practices, policies, and academic offerings.

“Implementing green technologies, resources, and pollution-decreasing programs is a commitment that Stony Brook University has made to its students, faculty, staff, and they to their campus and to the community at large,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD. “We are in great company, and I am proud to say that as we continue to increase our efforts, and as we all continue to reduce our carbon footprint, everyone can take pride and celebrate in this outstanding distinction.”

Stony Brook has a long history of green awareness and environmental sustainability. It began with the Environmental Defense Fund which was cofounded in 1967 by Dr. Robert E. Smolker, a professor of Biological Sciences at Stony Brook University. Since then Stony Brook signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), created an Office of Sustainability and integrates sustainability into its facilities and services programs. The University also offers a comprehensive Sustainability Studies Program which offers five majors, six minors and a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems, as well as a Fast-track BA-MBA.

As a recognized leader in the field of sustainability and included in the Princeton Review’s “Guide to 334 Green Colleges” for the past five years, Stony Brook University takes pride in the numerous initiatives that led to the Princeton Review’s 2015 Green Honor Roll. They include:

  • Recycled the most e-waste nationally in RecycleMania 2013 & 2014 competitions, and placed 1st in SUNY in the Gorilla category in 2013 & 2012;
  • Tree Campus USA” designation in 2014 by the National Arbor Day Foundation, in recognition of the university’s dedication to the five core standards that promote the health of trees and student involvement to improve their forests;
  • Designated a 2014 Groundwater Guardian Green Site by the Groundwater Foundation in recognition of its groundwater and environmental stewardship;
  • Stony Brook finished in 1st Place in the University category of Car Free Day Long Island 2013 by having its community pledge to be car free;
  • University vehicles are powered by a variety of sustainable propulsion systems, including bio-diesel/ultra-low sulfur diesel, hybrid and electric only;
  • Actively promotes biking on campus: solar powered “Wolf Ride Bike Share” program, expansive Paul Simons Memorial Bicycle Path, bicycle lockers, and bike racks on Stony Brook’s Transit vehicles;
  • University partners with various entities, including Suffolk Transit and 7Bus, to offer enhanced mass transit alternatives;
  • Multiple solar installations, including arrays that partially power buildings, metered parking lots and exterior lighting;
  • Energy performance contracts have been utilized to implement a variety of building energy efficiency initiatives (such as lighting, HVAC), and have saved over $31 million since 2006-07;
  • University uses energy efficient lighting, including LED, induction and fluorescent fixtures, as well as occupancy sensors in a variety of locations on campus;
  • University dining halls use biodegradable food packaging, offer reusable dining plates/utensils and recycle over 5,000 gallons of kitchen compost annually using an on campus, in-vessel food waste composter;
  • During the growing season, organic student vegetable gardenprovides dining hall with herbs and fresh vegetables;
  • Implemented managed print initiative, which promotes networked printing, toner/e-waste recycling and buying of recycled paper;
  • SBU operates a total of 10 electric vehicle charging stations (EVCS) on its main and R&D Park campuses;

The Green Rating scores appear in the profiles of the colleges posted on and the profiles of the schools in the 2015 editions of two Princeton Review guidebooks: “The Best 379 Colleges” and “The Complete Book of Colleges.”

For more information and images visit



Stony Brook, NY, April 28, 2014 – Stony Brook University was recognized twice during a week of Earth Day celebrations for environmental stewardship programs that place it as a leader in sustainability among all U.S. university and college campuses. The Princeton Review and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) named Stony Brook as one of the nation’s most environmentally friendly or “green” colleges for the fifth year in a row, and, in the RecycleMania 2014 tournament, Stony Brook finished strongly in multiple categories, and recycled the most e-waste of all colleges and universities for the second straight year.

Eco Leaders (L-R) Tom Bruno, Risa Cheung, Jessica Quickle,  Michael Shea- photo credit  John Griffin

“I am extremely proud and very impressed by the efforts of our students, faculty and staff to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., President of Stony Brook University. “We are extremely competitive with great results in RecycleMania, but more important is the end result – living more responsibly with an eye toward environmental stewardship, hence our designation by the Princeton Review Guide to Green Campuses. These results reflect a true commitment from everyone on the Stony Brook campus.”

The Princeton Review’s Guide to 332 Green Colleges profiles institutions of higher education in the United States and two in Canada that demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation. As the leader in its total quantity of recycled e-waste, Stony Brook surpassed the second place finisher by 45,000 pounds, with a total of 125,498 pounds of e-waste recycling. Of the 68 colleges and universities listed in the Recyclemania 2014 competition, Stony Brook ranked fifth overall.

The Guide characterizes Stony Brook University as an institution with “a long history of green awareness and environmental sustainability.” It cites the University’s eight-year initiative to reduce utility costs by investing in facility infrastructure improvements that “continue to reduce energy costs in excess of $4 million annually.” It also highlights Stony Brook as the home to many buildings with green features, including the Advanced Energy Center, Frey Hall, the Marine Sciences Research Center, Nobel Halls, the Simons Center for Geometry & Physics, the Student Recreation Center, Southampton Library and West Side Dining. In addition, the Guide cites Stony Brook’s use of a variety of solar and energy-efficient solutions, including LED lighting, and its recent partnering with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to create a campus Master Energy Plan.


According to Barbara Chernow, Senior Vice President for Administration, “Stony Brook University’s commitment to sustainability permeates throughout our administrative, facilities and academic programs and is highlighted by our green buildings, energy efficiency initiatives, alternative transportation services and comprehensive recycling programs. To date, our University has lowered its carbon footprint by 17.4% and is committed to carbon neutrality.”

“SUNY campuses across the state are among the most energy-smart in the nation, a leadership role that we continue to build upon through the expanded use of green technologies and sustainability initiatives,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Congratulations to Stony Brook University and all 10 SUNY campuses to be included in the 2014 Guide to Green Colleges. This recognition is much deserved and highly commendable.”

To develop the 2014 Guide, The Princeton Review partnered with the United States Green Building Council, a national nonprofit organization best-known for developing the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building certification program. USGBC launched its Center for Green Schools in 2010 to increase its efforts to drive change in how campuses and schools are designed, constructed, and operated.

According to Rob Franek, Senior Vice President and Publisher of The Princeton Review, today’s college-bound students have a significant interest in green issues. In a survey or more than 10,000 college applicants, the company found that 61 percent said having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply or attend the school.

“We are pleased to recommend Stony Brook University to the many students seeking colleges that practice and promote environmentally responsible choices and practices,” said Franek.

Stony Brook University’s history of green awareness goes back to 1967, when the Environmental Defense Fund, which advocates using science, economics, and law to tackle environmental problems, was co-founded by a Stony Brook professor. Since then, Stony Brook University has signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, created an Office of Sustainability and has integrated sustainability into administrative, facilities and academic programs. Today, the university’s comprehensive Sustainability Studies Program includes bachelor’s degrees in everything from Marine Science to Environmental Humanities.

Stony Brook offers degrees in Environmental Studies, Marine Sciences, Environmental Design, Policy and Planning, Ecosystems and Human Impact, Sustainability Studies, Coastal Environmental Studies and Business Management with a specialization in Sustainability, which is instrumental in equipping and training the next generation of green leaders.


2014 Press

Oct 20, 2014 Dr. Heidi Hutner, Director of Environmental Humanities and Associate Professor of Sustainability and English at Stony Brook University, has been appointed Director of the Sustainability Studies Program announced Dennis N. Assanis, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Hutner’s announcement comes after serving as the Interim Director of the Sustainability Studies Program.
Oct 9, 2014 Stony Brook University will host its second TEDxSBU event on Nov. 14, 2014, from 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. in the Charles B. Wang Center Theater. The theme of this year’s event is “Connect the Dots,” and will feature 16 speakers and performers from Stony Brook’s student, faculty, staff, and alumni populations.
Sep 23, 2014  Providence, R.I. – September 24, 2014 – Deepwater Wind announced a collaborative study of Long Island’s offshore wind resources with Stony Brook University (SBU), New York’s top-ranked public university, and AWS Truepower (AWS), an Albany, NY-based wind energy consultant.  Already underway, this collaboration will provide SBU with tools and resources that will strengthen their atmospheric research in the growing renewable energy industry and support the development of the Deepwater ONE project – a 210 MW offshore wind farm to be located approximately 30 miles east of Montauk, proposed by Deepwater Wind in response to a Long Island Power Authority request for proposals for renewable energy.
Aug 28, 2014 – Stony Brook University has been named in Princeton Review’s 2015 Green Honor Roll, an annual list that offers a measure of how environmentally friendly universities are on a scoring scale of 60 to 99. Stony Brook, one of 24 universities to receive a score of 99 (the highest possible score), is among 861 colleges reviewed this year. Selection is based on data collected in its 2013-14 surveys of schools concerning their sustainability-related practices, policies, and academic offerings.
Apr 28, 2014 Stony Brook University was recognized twice during a week of Earth Day celebrations for environmental stewardship programs that place it as a leader in sustainability among all U.S. university and college campuses. The Princeton Review and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) named Stony Brook as one of the nation’s most environmentally friendly or “green” colleges for the fifth year in a row, and, in the RecycleMania 2014 tournament, Stony Brook finished strongly in multiple categories, and recycled the most e-waste of all colleges and universities for the second straight year.

Stony Brook Southampton Celebrates Opening of State-Of-The-Art Marine Science Center

President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., Senator Kenneth LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele were joined by members of the community to celebrate the ribbon-cutting of spectacular new research and teaching facility

SOUTHAMPTON, NY, September 27, 2013 – The Southampton Campus of Stony Brook University today celebrated the opening of its spectacular new state-of-the-art LEED-certified Marine Sciences Center for the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS).

At a ceremony held at the Stony Brook Southampton Campus, President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, Provost and Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dennis N. Assanis, Sr. Vice President for Administration Barbara Chernow, and SoMAS Dean Minghua Zhang were joined by New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., Stony Brook Council Chair Kevin Law to cut the ribbon and take a guided tour the new research and teaching facility.

The new 15,000-square-foot Marine Sciences Center, made possible through $6.9 million secured in the NYS budget by Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele, supports the growth of the SoMAS undergraduate marine science and environmental science programs, and plays an important role in their ability to perform groundbreaking research into a variety of issues facing marine estuaries on Long Island and around the world.

The Marine Sciences Center replaced three small existing buildings and is home to a high-tech 2,500-square-foot Sea Water Lab with a computerized circulation system including four different temperature lines, as well as recirculation capabilities and quarantine and culture rooms. A titanium heat exchanger preheats or precools incoming sea water for substantial operational energy savings, and reduces the overall size of required heating and cooling equipment.

The Center also includes two wet labs, an analytical lab, classrooms, a conference room and other lab and support spaces, including an outdoor tank area that will expands the lab resources outside of the building. The facility will serve as a hub for public lectures and summer educational programs, with a large lobby/gathering room to support these public outreach programs.

Construction includes sustainable design features utilizing material that is sensitive both to experiments and the coastal marine environment, including energy recovery of ventilation air, daylighting of all normally occupied spaces, a low-static pressure ductwork system, high-efficiency lighting and a super-insulated exterior wall assembly.

At the ceremony, Dr. Stanley expressed gratitude to Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele for their efforts in securing the funds to help make this project a reality.

“The new Marine Sciences Center will play a key role in augmenting SoMAS’ ability to perform groundbreaking studies in a variety of issues facing Long Island and the world today,” said President Stanley. “It will also enable us to offer more classes with rich experiential components.  There will be cutting-edge research with important implications for Long Island’s coastal ecosystems, including studies of harmful algal blooms, shellfish, eelgrass, fisheries, ocean acidification and aquaculture.

“This new Center will solidify Stony Brook’s reputation as the strongest undergraduate marine sciences program on the east coast and one of the best in the United States.”

“Now in addition to the Stony Brook campus, Southampton will be pivotal in the economic development of Long Island and will help to advance Start-Up NY particularly on the east end of Long Island,” said Senator LaValle during his remarks at the ribbon cutting. “I am confident that research done here over time will help resolve the problems we face on our waters, and hopefully put an end to our hearing about brown tide and algae blooms on our waterways.”

“This new Marine Science Center is another step forward for the Southampton Campus of Stony Brook University,” said Assemblyman Thiele at the ceremony. “We’ve seen a lot of steps forward; from the growth of Southampton Arts, Semester by the Sea, residential students living here and our continued discussions that will eventually yield in the move of Southampton Hospital to the Southampton Campus. It is great to see so much progress here.”

The new two-story facility will enable SoMAS to offer more classes with rich experiential components such as Marine Biology, Marine Mammals, Ichthyology, Physical Oceanography and more, all of which will be taught at the new Marine Sciences Center. Currently SoMAS is ranked sixth in the United States among marine and atmospheric sciences graduate programs, according to the National Research Council.

About the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University
There are more than 500 undergraduate students, 150 graduate students and 90 faculty and staff from 16 different nations working together at SoMAS to better understand how marine, terrestrial and atmospheric environments function and work in relation to one another. At Stony Brook Southampton, students can take courses that explore the natural flora, fauna and habitats of Long Island’s east end. SoMAS faculty and graduate students are engaged in cutting-edge research with important implications for Long Island’s coastal ecosystems, including studies of harmful algal blooms, shellfish, eelgrass, fisheries, ocean acidification, climate change and aquaculture. SoMAS locations allow students and faculty the opportunity to explore and study a variety of habitats ranging from the open ocean to the largest metropolitan area in the United States, and to tap into resources at the nearby National Weather Service and Brookhaven National Laboratory. SoMAS operates research and educational facilities at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook Southampton and the Flax Pond Marine Laboratory on the Long Island Sound.

Stony Brook University Hosts NSF Funded Storm Chasing Project

Photo above: Pictured in front of the Doppler on Wheels 6 from left to right are: Professor Brian Colle, SoMAS at Stony Brook University; Joshua Wurman and Karen Kosiba of the Center for Severe Weather Research; and Kelly Lombardo, SBU Postdoctoral researcher.

 Doppler on Wheels 6 to measure small-scale weather phenomena around Long Island, NYC

STONY BROOK, NY, June 26, 2013 – Stony Brook University in collaboration with the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Center for Severe Weather Research in Boulder, CO, is hosting and participating in the DREAMS (Doppler Radar for Education And Mesoscale Studies) project, a three-week National Science Foundation-funded endeavor to study storms, sea breezes and other weather phenomena around the New York City (NYC) and Long Island area. The project, led by Dr. Brian Colle, a Professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) at Stony Brook, is utilizing the Doppler on Wheels 6 (DOW 6), a truck equipped with a Doppler weather radar and a set of weather instruments that can be deployed in the field (a “pod”). A research (Long –EZ) aircraft piloted by Professor John Mak of SoMAS is also collecting high frequency wind and temperature data just south of Long Island for some events.

The participants in DREAMS include Professor Colle and his Coastal Meteorology and Atmospheric Prediction (COMAP) research group, 15-20 Stony Brook undergraduate atmospheric students, some forecasters from the NWS office for NYC located at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), and a few students and faculty from Nassau Community College. The group is measuring and investigating small-scale phenomena, such as how thunderstorms evolve as they cross an urban coastal region such as New York City and Long Island, and how sea breezes develop on the north and south shores of Long Island, which can potentially modify thunderstorm development.

Students deploying an instrument pod at Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways to study the inflow conditions associated with the severe thunderstorms to the north.

Long Island’s weather patterns, surface observations and numerical models have been studied in the past using conventional radar located at the NWS office at BNL. This project marks the first time a high-resolution Doppler radar can be brought up close to the action to zoom in on Long Island’s local weather phenomena.

“Students have the opportunity to operate the Doppler radar, launch weather balloons, deploy a weather instrument pod in the field, take weather observations with their vehicles and help with daily weather briefings for field operations,” said Professor Colle.

The research team is operating the DOW 6 to measure: the change in thunderstorm winds and precipitation intensity near the coast, the depth and inland movement and speed of the sea breeze, and how a strong low-level jet called the New York Bight Jet develops near the south shore of New York City due to the strong regional temperature gradients between the sea and land, and the small-scale precipitation structures associated with flooding rains.

Students using the DOW radar at Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways on the south shore to scan a severe storm developing along a sea breeze front over Nassau and western Suffolk County in the early afternoon on 24 June 2013.

“This field project provides students an excellent opportunity to learn how a Doppler radar works,” said Professor Colle. “At the same time it provides a unique hands-on research opportunity on how different weather phenomena evolve around Long Island and New York City.”

The DREAMS project team will collect data in the DOW 6 at Smith Point County Park, Jones Beach State Park, Sunken Meadow State Park, Jacob Riis park near the Rockaways, Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai, the EPCAL site in Riverhead, and more.

The project kicked off at Stony Brook University on June 17, 2013 with an open house and seminar with Drs. Joshua Wurman and Karen Kosiba of the Center for Severe Weather Research and of the former Discovery Channel show “Storm Chasers.” During the presentation, Drs. Wurman and Kosiba explained how the Doppler on Wheels truck works and some of their experiences in the Great Plains studying tornado motion and evolution and on the coast studying small-scale wind structures within hurricanes.

SBU Study Published in PLoS ONE Shows Rate of Temperature Change Along World’s Coastlines has Itself Changed Dramatically Over the Past Three Decades

Photo above: Route 1, Monterrey Coastline; credit Dr. Hannes Baumann

STONY BROOK, N.Y., June 28, 2013 – Locally, changes in coastal ocean temperatures may be much more extreme than global averages imply.  New research published in the June 18 edition of Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE) entitled “Decadal Changes in the World’s Coastal Latitudinal Temperature Gradients,” is highlighting some of the distinct regional implications associated with global climate-change.  By looking at changes in coastal ocean temperatures over the past 30 years, Dr. Hannes Baumann in the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) and Dr. Owen Doherty of Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SoMAS alumnus) mapped the differences in how the world’s coastlines are experiencing climate change, and discuss the possible large scale ecological implications of this.

Their results showed a great regional diversity in warming and cooling patterns.  For example, the South American Pacific coasts have been cooling over the last few decades. To some, these cooling trends may be counterintuitive, but they are consistent with global climate change predictions, such as increases in upwelling (i.e., a process that brings cold, deep ocean water to the coast).

In the North Pacific and North Atlantic, however, there has been warming trend.  In some areas, the authors detected changes in temperature of +/-2.5 degrees Celsius, which is 3 times higher than the global average. Climate change is happening everywhere – just not necessarily at the same rate, or even in the same direction.” For example, if you live on Cape Cod, your conditions are warming three times faster than global averages imply, while in Santiago, Chile, coastal waters have been getting cooler.

“The world is getting flatter,” said Baumann. “Coastal waters at high (cold) latitudes warm much faster than at low (warm) latitudes, hence the majority of the world’s coastal temperature gradients are getting shallower.  This could cause dramatic reorganization of organisms and ecosystems, from small plankton communities to larger fish populations.

“We already know, in general, that marine life changes in its characteristics along these North-South temperature gradients,” Baumann explains.  “For example, many coastal fish populations differ genetically from north to south, an adaptation to grow best a local temperature conditions.  With further study, we want to explore how changes in coastal ocean temperature gradients could predict large-scale changes in the ecosystem.”

Baumann and Doherty’s work is especially poignant in that it echoes the importance of regional and community resiliency in dealing with the effects of climate change, which was stressed in President Obama’s address earlier this week.  Regional consequences of climate change may be quite different. This study steps away from global average temperature predictions, and puts climate change in a more meaningful regional context.


About the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University
The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) is the State University of New York’s center for marine and atmospheric research, education and public service. With more than 85 faculty and staff and more than 500 students engaged in interdisciplinary research and education, SoMAS is at the forefront of advancing knowledge and discovering and resolving environmental challenges affecting the oceans and atmosphere on both regional and global scales.

Citation: Baumann H, Doherty O (2013) Decadal Changes in the World’s Coastal Latitudinal Temperature Gradients. PLoS ONE 8(6): e67596. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067596

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