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Public Lecture Series Archive


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January 2013-- No Public Lecture


Wednesday, February 6, 2013, 7:00 PM
Title: Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater: A Cosmic Connection in Virginia
By: David Powars

What were the effects of a 2-3 kilometer sized asteroid slamming into the ocean that covered today’s Virginia Coastal Plain?  How did we learn the largest and best preserved impact crater in the United States is buried in southeastern Virginia?   Learn how this event 35-million years ago affected the region's ground-water, structure, and drainage pattern; it’s role in the formation of the Chesapeake Bay; and how the crater is still impacting the region today.

Listen to the lecture

Virginia and asteroids hitting the earth.
Collage showing Virginia and asteroids hitting the earth.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012, 7:00 PM
Title: A Bird's Eye View: Offshore Wind Energy
By: Alicia Berlin, Ph.D. and Allan O'Connell, Ph.D.

Demands for alternative energy are increasing, and offshore wind projects are slated for several Atlantic coast areas. USGS, in a highly collaborative project, is tracking seabirds using satellite transmitters to determine their migration corridors in relationship to proposed wind energy areas, and to determine the potential impacts on seabirds of underwater noise from construction of these wind energy areas. USGS, in partnership with other federal agencies, is building seabird distribution models based on historic survey data covering over 60 different seabird species, like puffins and petrels to identify areas with higher and lower use by season. Join us on December 5th to learn more.

Collage showing wind turbines and Northern Gannets in flight over water.
Collage showing wind turbines and Northern Gannets in flight over water.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012, 7:00 PM
Title: The Science of Good Taste - Geology, Wine, and Food
By: Larry Meinert Ph.D.

Mounds of grape seeds in prehistoric caves testify that early people had more than a passing acquaintance with wine. Records of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks also contain observations that certain lands seemed to produce better food and wine than others. This is still true today as adjoining farms may share climate, slope and viticulture, yet produce crops that are vastly different. The simple question is, "Why?" This lecture will address how physical factors affect viticulture and food, examining some food and wine producing areas in France, California, and Washington State.

Watch the Lecture

Collage showing a bunch of grapes, vegetables and a vineyard.
Collage includes a cluster of wine grapes, a vineyard and assorted vegetables.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012, 7:00 PM
Title: The Drought Chronicles 2012
More Tales of the Hydro-illogical Cycle
By: Harry Lins, Ph.D.

Drought is a normal and recurrent feature of climate. Indeed, moderate to severe drought has been observed in some part of the United States in every single week over the past decade. So what, if anything, distinguishes the drought of 2012 from other episodes during the past decade, or the past century? What causes periods of intense dryness, and what is the outlook for drought in the coming months and years? Join us on Wednesday, October 3 for these answers and more.

Collage showing a boat in a low water level lake, cracked ground and plants growing in drought.
Collage showing a boat in a low water level lake, cracked ground and plants growing in drought.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012, 7:00 PM
Title: A History of Rubble and Rumblings: Earthquakes in the Eastern U.S.
By: Robert Williams

Last year’s M5.8 Virginia earthquake came as a surprise for many in the area, but in the past 400 years, there have been more than 30 damaging earthquakes in the eastern U.S., ranging from the M6.0 near Boston in 1755, to M7.3 in Charleston, S.C. in 1886. Despite this history of earthquakes the faults on which these earthquakes are occurring are poorly known, and scientists do not have a clear understanding of the causes of earthquakes in the eastern U.S. Scientists are using seismic data from the August 2011 M5.8 Virginia earthquake to answer some of these questions and to refine estimates of the of the region’s seismic hazard. Futures damaging eastern earthquakes are inevitable; join us on September 5 to find out what scientists are learning and how you can prepare for the next big one.

Seismic Hazard map of the U.S. East Coast.
Seismic Hazard map of the U.S. East Coast. (Large version)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012, 7:00 PM
Title: The Anatomy of Floods: Cause and Effect and the Epic Floods of 2011
By: Robert Holmes

Flooding costs the United States more than $7 billion per year and claims more than 90 lives annually. During the Spring and Summer of 2011, the central U.S. experienced epic flooding, while Hurricane Irene followed by Tropical Storm Lee caused severe flooding in the east and northeastern U.S, setting numerous flood records at USGS streamgages. Join us on August 1 to learn more about the cause and effect of flooding, including a look at aspects of the 2011 epic flooding, and how USGS science assists in the overall flood mitigation efforts of the United States.

Watch the lecture

USGS scientists handle a Burmese python in the Everglades;  USGS scientists pull in a net full of mostly Bighead Carp; two USGS scientists display a bighead Carp in the bottom left hand corner.
Collage of boats, cars, a bridge and flooding waters.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 7:00 PM
Title: Under Siege: Battling Flying Carp and Giant Pythons and How Science Can Help
By: Sharon Gross, Robert Reed and Cynthia Kolar

Over the last several decades, non-native species have continued to invade sensitive ecosystems in the United States. Two high-profile species, Asian carp in the Midwest and Burmese pythons in the Everglades, are the focus of much attention by decision makers, the public and the media. USGS scientists will discuss issues related to invasive species and explain innovative methods used to help detect and control these invaders.

Watch the lecture

USGS scientists handle a Burmese python in the Everglades;  USGS scientists pull in a net full of mostly Bighead Carp; two USGS scientists display a bighead Carp in the bottom left hand corner.
USGS scientists handle a Burmese python in the Everglades; USGS scientists pull in a net full of mostly Bighead Carp ; two USGS scientists display a bighead Carp in the bottom left hand corner.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012, 7:00 PM
Title: The 20th Century's Greatest Volcanic Eruption: Mt Katmai 100 Years Later
By: Bill Burton

Join us for a centennial look at the greatest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. The June 6-8, 1912 eruption of Mount Katmai in Alaska was 30 times larger than the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980, caused widespread devastation, and inspired heroic efforts at survival by the local people. Return with us a century later to the scene of the eruption and learn what lessons there are for modern-day monitoring of volcano hazards.

Watch the lecture

Mount Katmai is a large stratovolcano on the Alaska Peninsula in southern Alaska, located within Katmai National Park and Preserve. It erupted on June 6-9, 1912.
Mount Katmai is a large stratovolcano on the Alaska Peninsula in southern Alaska, located within Katmai National Park and Preserve. It erupted on June 6-9, 1912.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 7:00 PM
Title: Nature’s Altered Seasons
By: Dr. Jake Weltzin

Early cherry blossoms and flower blooms and record high temperatures nationwide highlight a phenomenon everyone already seems to know, but science has confirmed -- spring is coming earlier in the year almost everywhere. The USA National Phenology Network, a program sponsored by USGS, is a national effort to help track the timing of plant and animal activity as an indicator of environmental variation and climate change. This unique project engages both professional and “citizen” scientists to document life cycles of nature. This presentation will describe results of some of the research to date and describe how people can participate as a “citizen scientist,” tracking plants and animals in their own backyard!

Video file of the lecture.
Collage of bird sitting on a tree branch with cherry blossoms and tulips in the background.
Collage of bird sitting on a tree branch with cherry blossoms and tulips in the background.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012, 7:00 PM
Title: Science or Soundbite? Shale Gas, Hydraulic Fracturing, and Induced Earthquakes
By: Doug Duncan, Dennis Risser and Bill Leith

Hydraulic fracturing is the process of injecting wells with water, sand, and chemicals at very high pressure. This process creates fractures in deeply buried rocks to allow for the extraction of oil and natural gas as well as geothermal energy. Why is this process in such wide use today? How does hydraulic fracturing affect water resources? And does hydraulic fracturing cause earthquakes? Join us to learn the answers to these questions, and about USGS research into the opportunities and impact associated with hydraulic fracturing.

Video file of the lecture.
Collage of images shows scientists with charts in foreground and gas drilling rigs are shown in background.
Collage of images shows scientists with charts in foreground and gas drilling rigs are shown in background.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012, 7:00 PM
Title: Bat White-nose Syndrome: There is a New Fungus Among Us
By: Dr. David Blehert

Since first discovered in 2007 in New York, white-nose syndrome has spread to 16 states, including Virginia and Maryland, and four Canadian provinces. The disease is estimated to have killed over five million hibernating bats. An outbreak of infectious disease among bats on the order of white-nose syndrome is without precedent, and although insect-feeding wild bats may lack the easily defined monetary value of domestic animals, a recent analysis showed that they provide natural pest control services to American farmers valued at approximately $23 billion per year. Join us on March 7 to learn about this emergent wildlife disease and to discuss the profound impacts white-nose syndrome may have in the 21st century.

Video file of the lecture.
Collage of Satellites and Earth as Art Images.
Collage of Scientists Researching White-nose Syndrome.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012, 7:00 PM
Title: The View from Space: Landsat's Role in Tracking Forty Years of Global Changes
By Dr. Thomas R. Loveland

For nearly 40 years, Landsat and other Earth observing satellites have been silently orbiting the globe collecting high quality images that document the condition of our changing planet. These remote sensing images provide an unprecedented long-term, impartial view of the Earth's cities and natural resources. Join us on February 1 to view the Earth from space, and discuss the profound impact Landsat has on many facets of our economy, safety, and environment.

Video file of the lecture.
Collage of Satellites and Earth as Art Images.
Collage of Satellites and Earth as Art Images.

January 2012: Lecture Cancelled


Wednesday, December 7, 2011, 7:00 PM
Title: Water in the 21st Century: The National Water Census
By Eric Evenson

The 21st century brings a new set of water resource challenges. Even in normal water years, water shortages and use conflicts have become commonplace in many areas of the United States — especially competition among crop irrigation, growing cities and communities, and energy production. Over the next 10 years, the USGS plans to conduct a new assessment of water availability and use. This national Water Census will address critical aspects of recent Federal legislation, including the need to establish a national water assessment program.

Video of the lecture.
Collage of a marsh, girl drinking, and USGS employees using a stream gage.
Collage of a marsh, girl drinking, and USGS employees using a stream gage.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011, 7:00 PM
Title: Did You Feel It?: The Virginia Earthquake of August 23, 2011
By Mike Blanpied and Mark Carter

The magnitude 5.8 earthquake that struck Louisa County was among the largest to occur along the eastern seaboard of the United States. It caused extensive damage in central Virginia and was likely felt by more people than any other earthquake in U.S. history. Join USGS scientists on November 2nd to discuss the seismology of the earthquake, its effects, and its context in the geology of Virginia.

Audio file of the lecture.
Collage of minerals and what can be created using minerals.
Collage of maps of the Virginia earthquake and the Washington monument.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011, 7:00 PM
Title: We Can't Live Without Them — The Importance of Minerals to Our Way of Life
By Jeff Doebrich

Today the United States is the world's leading user of mineral commodities. Every year about 25,000 pounds of new, non-fuel mineral materials are extracted from the Earth for every person in the United States. But what are these minerals and how do we use them? Join us on October 5th to learn more about the minerals we use on a daily basis, where these resources come from, and the steps involved from mineral discovery to mineral use.

Collage of minerals and what can be created using minerals.
Collage of minerals and what can be created using minerals.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011, 7:00 PM
Title: Stranger than Fiction: The Secret Lives of Freshwater Mussels
By Bill Lellis and Heather Galbraith

Within the rivers, streams, and lakes of North America live over 200 species of freshwater mussels that share an amazing life history. To metamorphose from larvae to adult, the mussels must pass through a parasitic phase on the gills of freshwater fish. To trick the fish into accepting their larvae, female mussels have developed a complex array of lures and baits to attract and fool their unsuspecting hosts. This talk will explore the fascinating reproductive biology and ecological role of one of nature's most sophisticated fishermen.


Audio file of the lecture.
Collage showing fresh water mussels.USGS headquarters facility, Great Falls National Park, map of Washington D.C. and local topography.
Collage of fresh water mussels.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011, 7:00 PM
Title: Paleoclimate--Climate Change Lessons from the Past
By Dr. Harry Dowsett

USGS scientists, partnered with international experts in climate modeling, are studying the Earth’s conditions 3 million years ago to gain insight into the impacts of future climate. Learn how we use that information to help understand the magnitude of changes forecast for the end of this century. After a short presentation, a panel of climate change experts will answer questions from the audience.

Collage of climate change problems, cracked earth, melting ice, dying coral, earth heating up.
Collage of climate change problems, cracked earth, melting ice, dying coral, earth heating up.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011, 7:00 PM
Title: Earth History of the National Capital Region – Volcanoes, Earthquakes & Dinosaurs… Oh My!
By Scott Southworth

Reston, Virginia, was founded 47 years ago & Europeans first settled in the National Capital region 403 years ago. This human footprint can’t compare to the dynamic Earth history of this region, extending back as early as 1,180 million years ago & continuing today. For over 120 years, USGS has studied & mapped the region revealing a rich & diverse geologic past. Learn the story of the formation & destruction of continents & oceans, the eruption of ancient volcanoes, climatic & sea level changes, as well as the hazards of modern landslides, earthquakes, & karst. Discover the region’s fossils, dinosaur tracks, & gold, perhaps in your own backyard! Bring your favorite local rocks, minerals, & fossils for identification after the talk.

Audio file of the lecture.

Collage showing USGS headquarters facility, Great Falls National Park, map of Washington D.C. and local topography.
Collage showing USGS headquarters facility, Great Falls National Park, map of Washington D.C. and local topography.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011, 7:00 PM
Title: Gases in the Air we Breathe
By Janet Hannon and Stan Mroczkowski

We live at the bottom of an ocean of air. Most adults take around 29,000 breaths a day, children breathe a little faster; but what is in this air we breathe? What are the gases in the air? How much of each gas is there? Do these gases have different weights? How cold are liquid nitrogen and dry ice, and where did those names come from? Come join us to explore these questions at this family friendly presentation with hands-on experiments.

The Air We Breathe - It's a Gas! (1.1 MB Powerpoint)

Audio file of the lecture.

Collage showing Janet Hannon and Stan Mroczkowki showing children experiments with liquid nitrogen and dry ice.
Janet Hannon and Stan Mroczkowki showing children experiments with liquid nitrogen and dry ice.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011, 7:00 PM
Title: An Unseen World Beneath Our Feet - Caves, Sinkholes and Springs
By: Randall Orndorff

Beneath a quarter of the United States are rock types that can dissolve to form caves, sinkholes and other features. Nearly every state has rock layers of limestone, gypsum, and other soluble rocks we call "karst".  Karst is important for many reasons. Almost half of the ground water used for drinking comes from karst aquifers, and karst regions such as the Shenandoah Valley are some of the most productive agricultural lands in the nation. However, the rock layers underneath karst dissolve easily, sometime creating sinkholes that can be a threat to life and property. Yet these soluble rock layers also yield some of the most beautiful and unique natural environments, found in many of our national and state parks.

Audio file of the lecture.

Collage showing the inside of a cave, a sinkhole, and a water spring.
Collage showing the inside of a cave, a sinkhole, and a water spring.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011, 7:00 PM
Title: USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center:  75 Years of Wildlife Conservation Research
By Dr. Matthew C. Perry

Join us in learning about wildlife conservation research with Dr. Matthew Perry as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. During the past 75 years, Patuxent has emerged as an international research leader exploring issues of national importance and local relevance. Major programs include global climate change studies, Chesapeake Bay studies, and wildlife conservation monitoring. Come and learn the history and celebrate the success of this important resource, right in your backyard!

Audio file of the lecture.

see caption
Adolescent whooping crane.
(High resolution image)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011, 7:00 PM
Title: Treasures of the USGS Library
By Richard Huffine

Since its creation in 1882, the USGS Library has grown to become the world's largest library dedicated to earth and natural sciences, holding more than 1.5 million volumes and 800,000 maps. Richard Huffine, Director of the USGS Libraries Program, will highlight some of the rarest, most valuable, and significant materials held by the USGS. These include early maps of America, documents that establish the provenance of the Hope Diamond, and documentation of our exploration of the American West by Hayden, King, Powell and Wheeler. The Library’s initiative to digitize their collection for online access will make these cultural and historic records available worldwide to anyone at anytime. Join us and learn how the USGS is using history to inform the future directions of USGS research and scholarship.

Audio file of the lecture.

see caption
This 479 year old volume is stored in a specially-made box that protects it from further damage by exposure to light.
(High resolution image)

January 2011
Lecture Cancelled

 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011, 7:00 PM
Title: Environmental Health: Understanding the Role of the Environment in Human and Wildlife Health
By Dr. Patricia Bright and Herbert Buxton

Human health, ecological health, and environmental health are closely interconnected. Emerging and resurging vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, water contamination, airborne contaminants, bioaccumulative contaminants in food chain and environmental changes that affect the spread of disease are growing public health concerns worldwide. Join us to learn how USGS science contributes to our understanding of how such environmental factors affect health threats.


see caption
Feeding wildlife by the shoreline. (High resolution image)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 7:00 PM
Title: Restoring the Everglades: How Old Dead Things help us Solve Today's Problems
By Dr. Lynn Wingard

The Greater Everglades Ecosystem of southern Florida is a unique environment designated a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International Importance. Development and water management practices have profoundly altered this ecosystem, endangering much of the animal life found there. Efforts are underway to restore the ecosystem to a more natural state. But how do we determine what the natural state of the Everglades should be and how do we measure it? Dr. Lynn Wingard will share the research USGS scientists are conducting that is providing the answers to these questions, allowing restoration management agencies to develop realistic and attainable restoration goals. Join us to learn how the past helps us solve present day problems in this "river of grass flowing imperceptibly from the hinterland into the sea."

For more information on this topic visit the South Florida Information Access (SOFIA) website.

Restoring the Everglades: How Old Dead Things Help US Solve Today's Problems (197 MB Powerpoint)

Audio file of the lecture.

see caption
Great Blue Heron hunting for fish in the wetlands of Everglades National Park.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010, 7:00 PM
Title: Eruptions: Volcanoes in America's Past, Present and Future
By Dr. John Eichelberger

Volcanic eruptions around the world have always been a part of human history, and the American experience is no exception. Benjamin Franklin signed the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War, under a pall of Icelandic volcanic ash. The greatest eruption of the 20th century buried Kodiak, Alaska, under ash. More recently, Mount St Helens’ massive eruption changed Americans’ view of eruptions as something that happens in other countries. It also transformed how USGS studies volcanoes. USGS scientists can detect the unrest that leads to eruption weeks to months in advance. This year, the USGS is launching the National Volcano Early Warning System program, which will establish monitoring networks on all hazardous U.S. volcanoes, to reduce the effects of volcanic hazards to communities, commerce, and aviation.

Littoral Explosion At Kilauea Volcano, Hawai'i. (Full size image)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010, 7:00 PM
Title: Turning the Tide on the Chesapeake Bay
By Peter Claggett and Scott Phillips

The Chesapeake Bay has long been a place for DC area residents to escape city stress and relax. However, the 17 million people in the Bay watershed have contributed to its decline over the past several decades.  But a new optimism has spread among scientists and managers working to restore the Bay. Join Scott Phillps and Peter Claggett of the USGS Chesapeake Bay studies, as they discuss new science and cooperation that is being applied to restore the Nation's largest estuary and its watershed.

Child carrying remote sensing equipment.
Chesapeake Bay

Wednesday, September 1, 2010, 7:00 PM
Title: Megafloods in Metropolis: How Extreme Flooding Affects the Vulnerable and What You Can do to Reduce Your Loss

The Washington D.C. area has been spared major widespread flooding since Hurricane Fran left town about 14 years ago. But other cities in the eastern U.S. have been less fortunate lately. Atlanta's floods last year were so severe they defied scientific description. Flooding this year in Nashville inundated the Grand Ole Opry. USGS scientists Brian McCallum and Phil Turnipseed will discuss Atlanta's epic floods, Nashville's disaster, and the prospects and impacts of an extreme flood in the DC area. They will show new tools that can help residents and communities reduce losses from floods.

For more information:

Child carrying remote sensing equipment.
Cumberland River, Nashville, Tennessee, May 4, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010, 7:00 PM
Title: Hidden Treasures in a Troubled Nation: Science for Afghanistan's Future
By Dr. Jack Medlin, USGS Afghanistan Project lead

Recent news reports have brought worldwide attention to Afghanistan's mineral wealth and to the difficulties in bringing a range of commodities to market to rebuild that troubled land. But the mineral assessment is only a part of the story. Recent work by the USGS, the U.S. Navy, and others has made Afghanistan's subsurface among the best known places on Earth. Dr. Jack Medlin will tell the fascinating story about USGS science on energy, minerals, water, and natural hazards and what it means for Afghanistan's future.

For more information:

Child carrying remote sensing equipment.
2006 remote sensing survey of Afghanistan.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 7:00 PM
Title: Science for a Dangerous Planet
By Dr. David Applegate

USGS’s David Applegate will discuss lessons learned from this year’s string of earthquake disasters in Haiti, Chile and elsewhere. Earthquakes and other geologic hazards are an inevitable aspect of life on this active planet, but their impacts on society are not. Hear how USGS is using new science and innovative technology to support emergency responders and help communities in the US increase their resilience before disaster strikes.

Audio file of the lecture

For more information:

Damaged buildings and children hiding under their desk during an earthquake practice exercise.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010 7:00 PM
Title: Passing Strange
By Dr. Martha Sandweiss

Noted author Martha Sandweiss will share the amazing story of the secret life of Clarence King, the first USGS director. While he was well-known as a brilliant scientist and architect of the great surveys that mapped the West after the Civil War, he held a deep secret that was not revealed until decades later. Come hear this fascinating account of a man who by day socialized with the upper reaches of society and by night lived secretly as a black man. Not even his family knew his secret.

Book cover of Passing Strange by Martha Sandweiss.
(Full size image)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 7:00 PM
Title: Mercury Contamination of the Environment: From Me to Shining Sea
By Dr. David Krabbenhoft

This presentation will summarize over two decades of scientific advancements that now allow us to predict reliably which aquatic ecosystems will contain greater or lesser mercury-contamination levels, and to inform decision makers on effective strategies for reducing the deleterious impacts of mercury on our environment.The potential consequences of mercury contamination of the environment were first recognized in Japan in the 1950s, where human consumers of contaminated fish were severely poisoned. These and other tragic incidents prompted regulations such as the Clean Water Act that resulted in significant reductions of direct releases of mercury into surface waters of the US. Mercury levels in fish in affected waters typically declined during the years after point-source loads declined, leading to a widespread perception that the "mercury problem" had been solved. Since about 1985, however, widespread mercury contamination of aquatic food webs has become evident in systems remote from obvious anthropogenic mercury sources. Investigations at these sites have shown that in most cases atmospheric mercury emissions, long-range transport, and subsequent deposition are responsible for the global appearance of mercury-contaminated food webs. In some cases, mercury concentrations in fish from seemingly remote locations have equaled or exceeded those from waters heavily contaminated by direct industrial discharges.

see caption
USGS scientist Dr. David P. Krabbenhoft sampling Ear Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, for dissolved mercury species. Old Faithful is erupting in the background.
see caption
USGS scientists electrofishing on the Lookout Creek near the Blue River, OR. The fish they collected were analyzed for mercury content and added to the data base that the National Fish Mercury Model is based on.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 7:00 PM
Title: Wandering Wildlife: Tracking movement, migrations and mileage, from wolves to wading birds
By Robert Gill and Dr. L. David Mech

Wildlife tracking technology has evolved from bird bands to satellite transmitters and has a wide range of applications in answering important conservation questions. World renowned USGS researchers, L. David Mech and Robert Gill will talk about the use of the latest state-of-the-art technology in tracking wildlife. Mech will share the secret paths of a pack of 20 or more arctic wolves during 24 hours of darkness, and Gill will take us from the arctic to the tropics with migrating shorebirds, specifically godwits and curlews, who make phenomenal nonstop migrations across oceans and continents. Join us to learn about the versatility and innovation in technology that will ultimately guide conservation efforts.

caption is below
A mother wolf carrying her pup back to their den and a bar-tailed godwit flying over a body of water.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010 7:00 PM
Title: Extreme Science: Understanding our Earth
By Dr. Marcia McNutt

USGS Director Marcia McNutt will outline exciting new directions for cutting-edge science at the 130-year old agency. From astrogeology and Earth-observing satellites, to exploring gas hydrates and deep coral reefs, learn how USGS scientists employ highly innovative techniques and perspectives to develop a more complete understanding of how our Earth works.

Dr. Marcia McNutt
Director, USGS

Wednesday, January 6, 2010, 7:00 PM
Title: Flight from Extinction: Helping Whooping Cranes Survive
By Dr. John French

"Whoopers" were on the verge of extinction but thanks to some innovative efforts they have a chance at "flying high." Dr. John French will describe the remarkable journey of survival that begins before the whooping crane chicks are even hatched and ends with taking flight behind an ultralight plane along the migratory route. These extraordinary conservation efforts to establish a migratory population of whooping cranes in the eastern United States are the result of countless partners, pilots, scientists and volunteers.

 

Additional images from the lecture:

see caption Dr. John French, Jr. holds wing of subadult Whooping crane.  (Full size image)
see caption Flight from Extinction: Helping Whooping Cranes Survive  (Full size image)
see caption Dr. John French Jr with audience volunteer dressed in crane costume, holding whooping crane puppet. The costume keeps the crane chicks from becoming accustomed to human contact.  (Full size image)
see caption
Whooping crane chick enjoys a swim while being fed by a crane puppet - a person in disguise. (Full size image)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009, 7:00 PM
Title: Mapping the Future from 125 Years of Experience
By Mark DeMulder

The USGS Celebrates the 125th Anniversary of its national topographic mapping program on December 5, 2009. This lecture will highlight elements of the colorful history of the program and describe the future of topographic mapping at the USGS. on December 2, 2009.

see caption
Above, a topographer surveys in the field making a pencil sketch on vellum fastened to a plane table and sighting traverses with an alidade. His position on the top of a hill provides a panoramic view of the topography. Such locations were often marked permanently as reference points with metal benchmarks. (Additional historical images)

Wednesday, November 4 , 2009, 7:00 PM
Title: Expanding the Energy Frontier
By Brenda Pierce

Over the next 20 years, U.S. demand for energy is projected to increase substantially. Learn how USGS science is providing valuable information to help America find energy for the future.

For more information on this topic, visit:

solar panels
Solar panels on public land in BLM California offer a form of renewable energy development. (High Resolution image)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009, 7:00 PM
Title: Out of Africa--Dust in the Wind
By Ginger Garrison

Every year, billions of tons of fine desert dust from the Saharan Desert are transported thousands of miles through the atmosphere to the Americas, Europe and the Near East. Living microorganisms and chemical contaminants such as pesticides and metals are carried along with the dust. What biological and chemical contaminants are hitch-hiking with the dust and how might downwind ecosystems such as coral reefs and human health be affected?

see caption
The satellite image, acquired by NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center’s SeaWiFS Project and ORBIMAGE on February 26, 2000, shows one of the largest Saharan dust storms ever observed by SeaWiFS as it moves out over the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Spain and Portugal are at the upper right; Morocco is at the lower right. (Additional images)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009, 7:00 PM
Title: Baked Alaska
What's Happening to the Glaciers in Alaska?
By Dr. Bruce F. Molnia

"Glaciers are Earth's largest reservoir of freshwater. As they change, so does global sea level. Alaska has one of the largest accumulations of glaciers anywhere on Earth outside of the Polar regions. For most of the past half century, Alaska has experienced a significant increase in temperature that has profoundly impacted its glaciers. Join USGS scientist Dr. Bruce F. Molnia to explore the relationship between Alaska's glaciers, climate, and sea level. Visit a number of Alaskan landscapes and examine their changes on yearly, decadal, and century time scales."

For more information on this topic, visit:

Muir Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska, August 13, 1941
Muir Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska, August 13, 1941. (High Resolution image)
Muir Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska, August 31, 2004
Muir Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska, August 31, 2004. (High Resolution image)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009, 7:00 PM
Title: Climate Change 101
By Dr. Tom Armstrong

Climate change is an issue of increasing public concern because of its potential effects on land, water, and biological resources. In the next several years, the United States will be challenged to make management and policy decisions as well as develop adaptation and mitigation strategies that will require anticipating the effects of a changing climate and its impacts on humans and ecosystems. The USGS has a well-regarded history in studying these potential effects and understanding climate change science.

Powerpoint (28.6 MB)

For more information on this topic, visit:

polar bear
Polar bear (High Resolution image)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 7:00 PM
Title: Hurricanes and Our Changing Coasts
By Dr. Asbury (Abby) Sallenger

In September 2008, Hurricane Ike destroyed nearly every house in the Gulf-front community of Gilchrist, just north of Galveston Texas. In addition to storm surge and battering waves, the land on which the houses were built contributed to the disaster by changing in shape and elevation. Dr. Sallenger will explain how the coast changes during extreme storms -- such as Hurricanes Isabel, Katrina, and Ike -- and what this means for our coastal developments today and in the future.

For more information on this topic, visit:



Hurricane Ike before and after picture
Oblique aerial photography of Bolivar Peninsula, TX, on September 9, 2008 (top) and September 15, 2008, two days after landfall of Hurricane Ike (bottom). Yellow arrows mark features that appear in each image. In addition to the loss of houses, the evidence of inundation here includes eroded dune face and sand deposited well inland of the shoreline. (Full size, high resolution image)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009, 7:00 PM
Title: A Field Trip to the Congo--Hydroacoustic measurements in "the river that swallows all rivers."
By John M. Shelton, Associate Director-Hydrologic Data South Carolina Water Science Center

Imagine yourself in central Africa, in a dugout canoe crossing the lower Congo River's rapids and whirlpools. USGS scientist John Shelton found himself there this past summer, measuring places where the waters reached a depth of over 700 feet. His measurements indicate that the Congo River is perhaps the deepest river in the world! This discovery was made during data collection to describe the River’s conditions and understand its extraordinarily diverse richness of fish species. In this effort, Shelton worked with a team of scientists from the American Museum of Natural History.

To view the public lecture, visit the video on the USGS Multimedia Gallery site.

For more information on this topic visit:
The American Museum of Natural History
National Geographic--Monster Fish of the Congo

USGS scientist John Shelton using high-tech hydroacoustic equipment to measure the depth and velocity of the Congo River
USGS scientist John Shelton using high-tech hydroacoustic equipment to measure the depth and velocity of the Congo River.  (Full size, high resolution image)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 7:00 PM
Title: "Watching Nature's Clock: A Citizen-Scientist Effort to Track Seasonal Signs of Climate Change"
By Dr. Jake Weltzin

A new USGS program, the USA National Phenology Network, is recruiting tens of thousands of volunteers to team up with scientists to help track the effects of climate on seasonal patterns of plant and animal behavior. Come learn how you can contribute to this new national effort, by getting outside, and observing and recording flowering, fruiting and other seasonal events. Scientists and resource managers will use your observations to help track effects of climate change on the Earth’s life-support systems. Watch the video

For more information on this topic visit:

USA National Phenology Network Web site
USA National Phenology Network fact sheet  (PDF)
Ways to participate

Polar bear striding across the ice
Rice Paper Butterfly (Idea leuconoe). (Larger image)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009, 7:00 PM
Title: Knee-high to Bird's Eye: Multi-scale Remote Sensing of Vegetation Dynamics
By Dr. John Jones

Combining collaborative field and modeling with various airborne and satellite sensing technologies Dr. Jones measures how land cover and terrain varies across space and through time. Dr. Jones will provide an introduction to these technologies and a sampler of his work to illustrate how this research helps address resource management issues related to climate change, water flow, and habitat condition.

To view the public lecture, visit the video on the USGS Multimedia Gallery site.

For more information on this topic visit:
Shenandoah National Park Phenology Project
Eastern Geographic Science Center
Land Surface Anaylsis of the Florida Everglades

View from the USGS Phenology Cam in Shenandoah National Park overlooking the valley
View from the USGS Phenology Cam in Shenandoah National Park overlooking the valley.  (Full size, high resolution image)


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