UCF researchers are interested in many aspects of climate change, including its effects on invasive species and native ecosystems, sea level and impacts of hurricanes, and how to communicate climate science with the public. The following list highlights some of the cross-disciplinary work being done at UCF.

Piloting a Community-Based Social marketing program to Protect Marine Ecosystems from Boating Impacts
PI: Denise DeLorme (UCF), Co-PI: Linda Walters (UCF)

The overall goal of this project is to conduct social scientific research to identify the barriers and benefits associated with voluntary environmentally-responsible recreational boating and to use the findings to develop, implement, and pilot test an innovative community-based social marketing program to better protect marine ecosystems from boating impacts in the Indian River Lagoon. Funded by Florida Sea Grant.

EESLR-NGOM: Ecological Effects of Sea Level Rise in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

measuring-vegetationMeasuring vegetation at dawn (Photo: CHAMPS Lab, UCF)

Scientific PI: Scott C. Hagen (UCF), Application PI: Dave Ruple (Grand Bay NERR), Co-PIs: Brian Batten (Dewberry, Inc.), Denise DeLorme (UCF), Wenrui Huang (FSU), James T. Morris (USC), Jerry Sparks (Dewberry, Inc.), Linda Walters (UCF), Dingbao Wang (UCF), John Weishampel (UCF), Gour-Tsyh (George) Yeh (UCF).

This project assesses the risk to coasts and coastal habitats from sea level rise. The team will apply existing models of circulation, transport and biogeochemistry from the watershed to the sea. The ultimate predictions will include sediment loadings to the estuary as a result of overland flow and salinity transport in numerous bay systems. Field and laboratory experiments will result in the data needed to parameterize marsh and oyster habitat models. Together, this data will be used to model the impact of climate change (with focus on SLR) on intertidal marshes, oysters and submerged aquatic vegetation at Apalachicola, Weeks Bay and Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves. The project will result in products whereby managers will be able to assess marshes, oyster reefs, submerged aquatic vegetation, predict wetland stability and identify restoration locations for marsh and oyster habitats. In addition, we will produce Decision Support tools that will enable managers to predict future coastal erosion rates for management-specified shorelines. Project outcomes will enable the management community to prioritize risk management strategies, reformulate set back requirements, improve guidelines for construction of breakwaters and other coastal infrastructure, and assess water resources impacts and protection needs. For more information, see here. Funded by NOAA.

ADCIRC Hydrodynamic Modeling for Jacksonville Harbor Navigation Channel Design
PI: Scott Hagen (UCF), Co-PI: Peter Bacopoulos (UNF)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District is conducting a General Re-evaluation Study for improving Jacksonville Harbor navigation and assessing impacts that channel modifications have on the general circulation in the St Johns River. The purpose of this work is to support the Re-evaluation Study by assessing channel modification impacts to circulation and water-level of the St Johns River, Salt Marshes and tributaries and marsh response and adaptation. UCF shall perform simulations that model the “existing base condition” and a project alternative including a sea level rise scenario for the future “with” and “without project” conditions.

Computational Ecohydraulics for the Kennedy Space Center Ecological Program
PI: Scott C. Hagen (UCF), Co-PI: Dingbao Wang (UCF)

This project, funded by the Kennedy Space Center, will support development of a project plan for integrating computational ecohydraulics into the KSC Ecological Program. The plan will integrate both media and processes across spatial and temporal scales in one, two, or three dimensions as needed. It will be adaptable to allow for periodic updates as knowledge is developed about the various components, which include hydrodynamics, surface and subsurface hydrology, and biological processes. The immediate objective is to develop an an ADCIRC-2DDI hydrodynamic model for the KSC region for the purpose of studying the Coastal Dynamics of Sea Level Rise. The long term goals are 1) development of regional and local data, information, and knowledge (models) needed to manage and adapt to impending climate change forecast for the region while incorporating planned and future growth; and 2) identification of data and information needs that can be incorporated into future iterations of the KSC Ecological Program activities as KSC transitions to a post-Space Shuttle environment.

Examine Effects of Sea Level Rise within the St. Johns River Water Management District
PI: Scott C. Hagen (UCF), Co-PI: Dingbao Wang (UCF)

The overall objective of this project, funded by the St. Johns River Water Management District, is to identify potential sea level rise effects on coastal systems within the District over a 50-year planning period. Other objectives are: a) to assess the differences between static and dynamic response of sea level rise for examining sea level rise effects, and b) to develop a work plan for development of planning and response to sea level rise effects specific to northeast Florida. The project area is the coastal zone and estuaries of the St. Johns River Water Management District from the St. Johns River through the Indian River Lagoon. Funded by SJRWMD.

florida-biodiversityAn open mangrove swamp in the Lower Keys, highly vulnerable to inundation from sea level rise within a few decades (Photo: R. Noss, UCF)

Predicting and Mitigating the Effects of Sea-Level Rise and Land Use Change on Imperiled Species and Natural Communities in Florida
PI: Reed Noss (UCF).

This project will determine the relative vulnerability of species and natural communities in Florida to the combined impacts of sea-level rise, temperature and precipitation change, and land-use change. It will develop a spatially explicit, scientific basis for policy decisions relating to conservation adaptation to sea-level rise. In particular, we will focus on the habitat requirements of Florida’s Comprehensive Wildlife and Conservation Strategy “Species of Greatest Concern and Need” and high priority natural communities that are at most risk of loss or major decline from the combination of sea-level rise and existing and projected urban development. From these analyses, we will develop options for adaptive responses, including movement corridors, new conservation areas, and intensive management such as translocation and ex situ conservation. Funded by Kresge Foundation, with supplementary funding from a separate grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Assess, Protect and Stabilize Eroding Archeological Sites through Soft Stabilization Techniques in Canaveral National Seashore
PI: Margo Schwadron (NPS), Co-PI: Linda Walters (UCF).

This project will implement a living shoreline stabilization system to protect several important historic shell middens in Canaveral National Seashore from sea level rise and storm surge. Work will be implemented by community volunteers and contribute to public education about the site. Funded by the National Park Service.

Turtle Mound: Phase II
PI: Linda Walters (UCF).

This project will implement a living shoreline stabilization system to protect an important archaeological site, a historic shell midden in Canaveral National Seashore, from sea level rise and storm surge. Work will be implemented by community volunteers and contribute to public education about the site. Funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program.

Assess Oyster Reef Restoration and Develop Public Outreach Materials for Long-Term Protection
PI: Linda Walters (UCF).

This project, funded by the National Park Service, provides funding to monitor long-term oyster reef restoration (started in summer 2007). Products will include a laminated map of oyster reef locations based on ARCGIS maps, and a printed children’s storybook on protecting biodiversity in Mosquito Lagoon.

oyster-shellsOyster shell pile used by the town of Apalachicola for reef restoration (Photo: L. Walters, UCF)

Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program Oyster Reef Restoration with Brevard Zoo
PI: Linda Walters (UCF).

This ongoing project develops techniques for and coordinates community-based oyster reef restoration and monitoring in the Indian River Lagoon. The monitoring includes evaluating reef thickness, a sea level rise parameter of interest. Funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, with additional funds from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, Coastal Conservation Association, and several private donors.

Create Climate Change Model to Understand Larval Dynamics of Imperiled Oysters
PI: Linda Walters (UCF), Co-PI: Steven Jachec (FIT).

This project will create a particle tracking model of Mosquito Lagoon that will help managers understand the effects of hydrology on larval oyster movement and settlement in order to better manage oyster populations. The project will incorporate oyster biology, estuary hydrodynamics, and incorporate a focus on the effects on sea level rise. Funded by the National Park Service.

An Integrated Climate Change Impact Assessment Tool for Flooding of the Lower St. Johns River
PI: Dingbao Wang (UCF), Co-PIs: Kaveh Madani (UCF), Scott C. Hagen (UCF), Peter Bacopoulos (UNF).
The goal of this project is to develop innovative tools and processes to assess climate change impacts on urban storm water management and flood control for coastal areas in Florida. The hypothesis to be tested is that risk of flood damage in coastal communities in Florida will be aggravated by continuing human development and climate change including altered rainfall dynamics, intensified hurricanes, and sea level rise (SLR). Science-based decisions will be suggested to minimize the impacts of flooding change by quantifying the socio-economic costs and benefits of different adaptation strategies. Funded by Florida Sea Grant.

SRI: Developing an algorithm to identify perennial and ephemeral streams by using high resolution remotely sensed data
PI: Dingbao Wang (UCF)
In a watershed, the flowing stream network expands in response to rainfall events and contracts during drought periods. Perennial streamflow for much of the year is governed by groundwater flow and therefore depends upon mean annual precipitation as modified by watershed characteristics; ephemeral streams occur once or more each year and are a response to individual rainfall events. It is critical to understand the physical controls on flow durations in streams for projecting climate change impacts on streamflow and stream ecosystems. In this project, high resolution satellite imagery, particularly Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and satellite remotely sensed data, are used to map perennial and ephemeral streams. Field surveys will be conducted to validate the developed algorithm for identifying perennial and ephemeral streams. Specific research objectives of this project are to: (1) Develop a method to delineate accurate stream network including perennial and ephemeral streams by integrating LiDAR data and field work; (2) Develop an algorithm to detect the flowing stream network during dry periods by fusing satellite remote sensing data, extracted stream network, and field data. Funded by Florida Space Institute.

Integrated Impact Assessment of Climate Variability and Human Activities on the Discharge of Blue Spring in Volusia County, FL
PI: Dingbao Wang (UCF)
Blue Spring is located in Volusia County, FL, and flows into the St. Johns River (SJR) near Orange City. Blue Spring is a first magnitude spring and one of only three large natural warm water refuges during winter in North Florida for the endangered West Indian manatee, and the only natural refuge on Florida’s East Coast. Rapid population growth in the region has greatly increased groundwater pumping for public water supplies. This human development has decreased spring discharge especially during drought years. This project studies the responses of Blue Spring discharges as well as SJR baseflow to the climate variability and human activities, especially during winter season in drought years. An integrated impact assessment of climate variability (e.g., drought) and human activities (e.g., groundwater pumping and urbanization) on the spring discharge will provide valuable information for policy decisions on protecting the regional environmental and natural resources related to the spring. Funded by The Walter & Betty Boardman Foundation.