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In The News 2013

Andrea Dutton: NHK TV

Today's Close-up
January, 2013

Geological Sciences Assistant Professor Andrea Dutton will appear in late January on the daily show "Today's Close-up," broadcast by NHK, a Japanese public television network. She was interviewed on campus by producer Rie Koko on January 4 about her research on the fluctuation of the Antarctic ice sheet in the past. Until recently it was thought the East Antarctic ice sheet was relatively stable even in warmer climates. Dutton's research demonstrates that during a previous warm period the East Antarctic ice sheet was probably reduced in size, and contributed to higher sea levels, when polar temperatures were only a few degrees warmer than they are now.

The 30-minute program emphasizes issues in science and medicine. "After the tsunami and the earthquake in Japan, most of our shows focused on radiation," Koko said. "We have recently started focusing on other important issues like poverty and Alzheimer's and are trying to bring back other topics."

Anthony Randazzo: NPR's All Things Considered and others

Florida sinkhole swallows man
March 1-5, 2013

Geological Sciences Professor Emeritus Anthony Randazzo, now president of Gainesville-based Geohazards, Inc., was interviewed by numerous media outlets in March, 2013 after a 30-foot-wide sinkhole opened suddenly in Seffner, FL, destroying a house and killing one of its occupants. They included National Public Radio's All Things Considered, ABC's 20/20, the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Fox News, The Guardian (United Kingdom), the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, BBC, and many others.

Randazzo pointed out while sinkholes are common in Florida, deaths from them are not. He said he could recall only two other people who died in the U.S. due to sinkholes in the past 40 years. In both cases, the victims were drilling water wells, which triggered the sinkholes.

Randazzo was quoted by Chicago's WBEZ Radio on April 18 about a 40-foot hole there that consumed three cars and injured a man. He said this was a pothole and not a sinkhole. He was also quoted in follow up articles about sinkhole risk in Florida in the Orlando Sentinel and the Ocala Star-Banner.

Raymond Russo: Gainesville Sun

Boom brings theories, no answers
March 23, 2013

Geological Sciences Associate Professor Raymond Russo was interviewed by the Gainesville Sun about a window rattling sonic boom on March 21, 2013 that affected a large area of North Central Florida. Law enforcement agencies received many calls about the boom. Russo said people could mistake it for thunder. He said the event was likely caused by a military-grade jet breaking the sound barrier. When planes fly faster than the speed of sound, a sonic boom results because a shock wave forms at the front of the plane, spreading out in a cone shape. Russo said planes at higher altitudes create wider cones, allowing the sonic boom to affect a larger area.

Jerry Black: CNN's Anderson Cooper 360

Go inside a sinkhole
May 5, 2013

Geological Sciences alumnus Jerry Black, who is Vice President of Environmental Field Operations for Gainesville-based Geohazards Inc., was interviewed by David Mattingly for CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 show inside the Devil's Den. This large sinkhole in Williston is used for tourism and scuba diving. The visit showed how large underground sinkholes can be even if they cannot be seen above ground.

Black also appeared on Fox News on March 5 discussing the Seffner sinkhole (see article below) that collapsed suddenly, demolishing a house and killing one occupant. Black explained how sinkholes form when groundwater erodes limestone, forming cavities, which is why they are so common in Florida. He said collapse sinkholes are hard to predict, but subsidence sinkholes may reveal evidence of their existence in the form of cracks in homes or ground depressions.

Anthony Randazzo: Tampa Bay Times

Line of sinkholes could be sign of more to come
June 13, 2013

Geological Sciences Emeritus Professor Anthony Randazzo, now president of Gainesville-based Geohazards, Inc., was quoted in the Tampa Bay Times about the continuing likelihood of sinkholes in the Seffner, FL area. This city was recently in the news when a sinkhole-caused collapse under a home killed one of its occupants.

Randazzo told the Times sinkholes are often triggered by "sinkhole weather" where intense periods of rainfall (as from tropical storms) follow periods of drought. He believes sinkholes are more likely to occur along a fracture zone in the limestone. Sinkholes form when limestone dissolves and the ground above it collapses.

Andrea Dutton: Amherst Magazine

Rise of the Oceans
Summer 2013

Geological Sciences Assistant Professor Andrea Dutton's research dating dead coral formations in Seychelles to determine specific historical sea levels at various elevations was featured in an article in Amherst Magazine. The area studied was formerly under water. The article reports that her work, along with data from other scientists, suggests that continued melting of ice sheets as polar temperatures increase could lead to average global sea level rise of 20 to 30 feet. She said the potential problem is greater for the Eastern U.S. coastline because the land is sinking, creating the possibility of greater sea level rise than the global average.

Andrea Dutton: New York Times

Timing a Rise in Sea Level
August 12, 2013

Geological Sciences Assistant Professor Andrea Dutton was quoted in the New York Times commenting about another scientist's paper on predicting the timing of sea level rise. Dr. Michael O'Leary of Curtin University in Australia examined the period between 127,000 and 119,000 years ago just preceding the most recent Ice Age. By looking at fossil beaches and coastal coral reefs, he found that sea level then had stabilized 10 to 12 feet above the current level before jumping about 17 feet, ending up 30 feet above the modern level. He believes this rapid sea level increase took less than a thousand years.

Dutton told the Times that while she couldn't assess O'Leary's conclusion until the data is published, if his work is valid, it has profound implications. She said such a large, rapid jump in sea level could only be caused by the collapse of a polar ice sheet.

Andrea Dutton: The Scholar's Circle radio program

Sea Level Rise Discussion
September 22, 2013

Geological Sciences Assistant Professor Andrea Dutton's research on past sea level rise and what might happen in the future was discussed on the Scholar's Circle radio program. Hosted by Maria Armoudian and broadcast in California, Texas, and the Midwest, Dutton talked about her research examining the Last Interglacial, a time period before the last Ice Age with temperature conditions similar to today, except that the polar regions were a few degrees warmer. This was a warm period with polar ice sheets much like those currently in existence. She said compared to that time, temperatures are now changing much faster on a global scale.

By studying fossil corals, Dutton determined sea level then was 18- to 30-feet higher than it is now, implying that polar ice sheets are very sensitive to very small increases in temperature. Her current research looks at when, how long, and under what conditions the West Antarctic ice sheet collapsed. She said her research suggests temperature increases of only a few degrees at the poles expected to occur within decades could commit us to reaching these very high sea levels at some point in the future.

Thomas S. Bianchi: Nature International weekly journal of science

The Changing Carbon Cycle of the Coastal Ocean
December 5, 2013

The coastal areas of the world's oceans, once thought to be a source of atmospheric carbon dioxide, now absorb carbon, according to a new paper published in the journal Nature.

In a comprehensive review of the latest research into the carbon cycle of coastal regions, a team of researchers, including Thomas S. Bianchi, the Jon and Beverly Thompson Chair of Geological Sciences at the University of Florida, contends that human activities have transformed the role these systems play in the global carbon budget. Bianchi was responsible for the continental shelves in this paper.

They add, however, that much additional research and monitoring is necessary to calculate just how much these activities are affecting carbon flux from these coastal subsystems.

The coastal ocean consists of rivers, estuaries, tidal wetlands and the continental shelf.

"The effects of climate change, including sea-level rise, will add even more uncertainty over how coastal oceans affect the global carbon cycle" said Bianchi.

Using the latest available data, the researchers estimate that the coastal ocean absorbs as much as two-thirds more carbon than it emitted during the pre-industrial era. According to their findings, coastal areas released about 150 million metric tons of carbon annually a century ago. Now, these waters absorb about 250 million metric tons of carbon per year.

One major factor is the increased growth of microscopic plants, fed by fertilizer runoff from rivers, which absorb carbon dioxide, carrying it to the ocean floor when the plants die.

Bianchi also emphasized that "the highly variable coastal margins of the world process carbon in different ways which in turns affects how much is buried in coastal sediments and what is lost to the atmosphere in CO2, climate change will affect these processes and we need to better understand how"

"Humans have changed the rate of these coastal fluxes, but we're still trying to figure out the extent," said Peter A. Raymond, a co-author from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, whose research was focused on the role of rivers in the global carbon cycle. "This is almost more of a call to arms to figure out that anthropogenic component."

The lead author of the paper is James E. Bauer, a professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University.

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