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News and Notes – Fall 2016
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Communities Under Water: Lessons Learned from Extreme Floods
VOLUME 29, NUMBER 4, FALL 2016            

By Joey Holleman                                                                       back to main story  

News and Notes

Consortium receives $1.33 million for Sea Grant activities

The National Sea Grant College Program awarded $1.33 million to the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium to support the first year of its research, extension, communications, and education efforts for 2016-2018. As part of this award, the following eight peer-reviewed research projects were selected for funding. More details are posted on the Consortium’s website at

Coastal and Ocean Landscape
  • How does coastal development impact groundwater inputs to estuarine tidal creeks? Alicia Wilson and Erik Smith, University of South Carolina. Researchers will assess the impact of coastal development on nutrients that move into tidal creeks underground at various development sites. The study will measure variations in the concentration of nutrients in groundwater with a goal of building models to better describe the impact of development sites on the nutrient level in tidal creeks.

Sustainable Coastal ­Development and Economy
  • Sources and impacts of microplastic contamination in Charleston Harbor and Winyah Bay. Peter Van den Hurk and Charles Rice, Clemson University, and John Weinstein, The Citadel. Previous studies have found high concentrations of microplastics in estuarine inver­tebrates such as grass shrimp in Charleston Harbor, and lower concentrations in Winyah Bay near Georgetown. This study will build on that work by focusing on sources of black plastic fragment debris and its toxicity in grass shrimp, copepods, and mummichogs.

  • Safeguarding environmental and public health by developing a tool to rapidly detect cyanobacteria that can cause harmful algal blooms (HABs). Dianne Greenfield, University of South Carolina and S.C. Department of Natural Resources, and William Jones, University of South Carolina. Researchers will develop a genetic tool and assess its effectiveness in early and cost-effective detection of a toxin associated with HABs.

  • Determining potential sedimentation rates in stormwater ponds to help assess future dredging costs. Erik Smith and Claudia Benitez-Nelson, University of South Carolina. Researchers will determine sediment accumulation rates in a variety of stormwater ponds in coastal South Carolina. That data will help better predict the need for future dredging and will measure nutrient concentrations in pond sediments to help better understand the role of ponds in nutrient sequestration.
Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture
  • Determining the optimal balance of stock enhancement and harvest reduction to restore inshore cobia population in South Carolina. Tanya Darden, S.C. Department of Natural Resources. The genetically distinct inshore population of cobia in South Carolina waters has declined to the point conservation action might be necessary. Researchers will develop a model of cobia genetics and population variables to help forecast outcomes of various levels of management.
  • Genetic diversity in historic overfished populations and contemporary recovered populations of black sea bass. Tanya Darden, S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Researchers will use a collection of bones from black sea bass to determine changes through time in the genetic diversity of the population. Genetic samples from bones from known periods of over-fishing and recovery can determine how population size impacts genetic diversity. The data will help managers understand the population’s ability to recover and its adaptability to environmental change.

Hazard Resilience in Coastal Communities
  • Adaptability toolkit for South Carolina’s coastal water infrastructures. Kalyan Piratla, Clemson University. The project is a collaboration among research scientists, water infrastructure agencies, and consumer groups to predict the future impacts of climate change on water infrastructures. Science-based analysis of potential challenges and costs of adaptation strategies will aid in planning for climate resilience.

  • Designing low-impact development (LID) technologies to better respond to intense rainfall events. Nigel Kay and William Martin, Clemson University. Researchers will develop models to help quantify the hydraulic and hydrologic capacity of LID technology, including green roofs and porous pavement. Models developed will predict the impact of LID technologies at various volumes of rainfall.

Consortium teaches climate change ­concepts to educators

Educators from throughout the country explored strategies for incorporating climate change into educational activities during a two-day workshop at the South Carolina Aquarium in August.

E.V. Bell, the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium’s marine education specialist, and Elizabeth Fly, the Consortium’s coastal climate extension specialist, received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Stewards Program to host the “Rising Tides and Changing Times” workshop.

Formal and informal educators from South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and U.S. Virgin Islands attended. Partners in the effort included the Consortium, the Aquarium, NOAA, and the National Park Service.

Educators discussed the past, present, and future of Fort Sumter during a trip to the national monument in Charleston Harbor. They scurried through Charleston on an “Amazing Race”-style scavenger hunt that showcased the challenges associated with sea-level rise. And they learned from Aquarium staff members about the impacts of climate change on marine wildlife.

Each activity included connections to lesson plans and other resources to pass along the knowledge to students. Educators who didn’t attend the workshop can find educational tools focused on climate change at

Flood information gap prompts water monitoring data portal

While scenes of flooded neighborhoods, failed dams, and washed out roads in South Carolina made headlines nationwide in October 2015, the deluge also impacted water quality.

In the aftermath of the event, the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium recognized the need for a readily accessible, common platform to illustrate and share information on hydrological and water-quality monitoring site locations. The Consortium then contacted a number of state and federal agencies and academic institutions that conduct long-term and event-based monitoring programs.

“Together with these partners, the Consortium is developing a web-based visualization tool—the S.C. Coastal Water Monitoring Network,” said Rick DeVoe, Consortium executive director. “When completed, this tool will allow scientists, resource managers, policy-makers, and citizens to easily identify water resource monitoring locations. They can gather information on who is conducting the monitoring, the parameters being monitored and measured, and click on a link to the website where detailed data and information for each location can be accessed.”

Partners in the effort to date include Coastal Carolina University; College of Charleston; S.C. Department of Natural Resources; S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control; University of South Carolina; U.S. Forest Service; U.S. Geological Survey; North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve; and Charleston Waterkeeper.

The visualization tool is designed to serve as a time-saving first step for water-resource managers and researchers, whether anticipating future events or examining archived data on historical events, such as Hurricane Hugo or the 2015 and 2016 flooding. It provides a baseline for understanding the status of water resources and context for the impacts of climate and weather events.

The tool is accessible from the Consortium’s homepage at

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Last updated: 1/18/2017 10:40:08 AM
News and Notes – Fall 2016


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