Dr. Kimberly Yates is a senior research oceanographer at the U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Center for Coastal and Marine Science (SPCMSC). She is also a member of the U.S. Interagency Work Group on Ocean Acidification (IWG-OA), the Executive and founding Steering Committees of the Southeast Ocean and Coastal Acidification Network (SOCAN), and served as Co-Chair of the Ocean Carbon & Biogeochemistry – Ocean Acidification Subcommittee (OCB-OA). She specializes in integrated science studies that examine how changes in coastal ecosystem processes may impact or mitigate risks from coastal hazards, using a whole system perspective that considers the interactions and linkages among chemistry, biology and the physical environment. Much of her recent work has focused on how coral reef seafloor erosion changes risks from sea level rise, waves and storms; impacts on coral reefs and estuaries from coastal and ocean acidification; and identifying and characterizing coastal climate change refuges.
University of South Florida (USF) Honors Program & Geology B.A. 1992
University of South Florida Geology (Biogeochemistry) Ph.D. 1996
- Senior Research Oceanographer, U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg, FL 2007 – Present
- Research Oceanographer, U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg, FL 1998 – 2007
- Research Assistant, University of South Florida, Department of Geology 1989 – 1997
- Executive Committee Member and Steering Committee Member, Southeast Ocean and Coastal Acidification Network, 2015-present
- Committee Member, Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification, National Ocean Science and Technology Subcommittee, 2009-present
- Co-Chair, Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Program – Ocean Acidification Subcommittee, 2011-2016
- Committee Member, Gulf of Mexico Coastal Acidification Network, 2016-present
Science and Products
The specific objectives of this project are to identify and describe the processes that are important in determining rates of coral-reef construction. How quickly the skeletons of calcifying organisms accumulate to form massive barrier-reef structure is determined by processes of both construction (how fast organisms grow and reproduce) and destruction (how fast reefs break down by mechanical...
Synchronized field work focused on geochemistry, geology, and metabolic processes overlaid on a habitat map of an entire reef to produce a synoptic overview of reef processes that contribute to carbonate precipitation and dissolution.
This task focuses on forecasting and hind-casting the future and past response of coral reef calcification and growth to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry from pre-industrial time to the year 2100.
Carbonate system parameters of an algal-dominated reef along west Maui
Constraining coral reef metabolism and carbon chemistry dynamics are fundamental for understanding and predicting reef vulnerability to rising coastal CO2 concentrations and decreasing seawater pH. However, few studies exist along reefs occupying densely inhabited shorelines with known input from land-based sources of pollution. The shallow...Prouty, Nancy G.; Yates, Kimberly K.; Smiley, Nathan A.; Gallagher, Christopher; Cheriton, Olivia; Storlazzi, Curt D.
Vulnerability of coral reefs to bioerosion from land-based sources of pollution
Ocean acidification (OA), the gradual decline in ocean pH and [ ] caused by rising levels of atmospheric CO2, poses a significant threat to coral reef ecosystems, depressing rates of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) production, and enhancing rates of bioerosion and dissolution. As ocean pH and [ ] decline globally, there is increasing emphasis...Prouty, Nancy G.; Anne Cohen; Yates, Kimberly K.; Storlazzi, Curt D.; Swarzenski, Peter W.; White, Darla
Divergence of seafloor elevation and sea level rise in coral reef ecosystems
Coral reefs serve as natural barriers that protect adjacent shorelines from coastal hazards such as storms, waves, and erosion. Projections indicate global degradation of coral reefs due to anthropogenic impacts and climate change will cause a transition to net erosion by mid-century. Here, we provide a comprehensive assessment of the combined...Yates, Kimberly K.; Zawada, David G.; Smiley, Nathan A.; Tiling-Range, Ginger
Seafloor elevation change in Maui, St. Croix, St. Thomas, and the Florida Keys
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center conducted research to quantify the combined effect of all constructive and destructive processes on modern coral reef ecosystems by measuring regional-scale changes in seafloor elevation. USGS staff assessed five coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic Ocean (Upper...Yates, Kimberly K.; Zawada, David G.; Smiley, Nathan A.; Range, Ginger; Resnick, Jessica
Distribution of sediments at Crocker Reef, Florida, 2013-2014
Understanding the processes that govern whether a coral reef is accreting (growing) or dissolving are fundamental to questions of reef health and resiliency. The Reefscape Characterization task of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies (CREST) project is focused on geochemical, geologic, and metabolic processes that affect carbonate precipitation and...Zawada, David G.; Yates, Kimberly K.; Moore, Christopher; McLaughlin, Molly R.; Resnick, Jessica P.
Community metabolism in shallow coral reef and seagrass ecosystems, lower Florida Keys
Diurnal variation of net community production (NEP) and net community calcification (NEC) were measured in coral reef and seagrass biomes during October 2012 in the lower Florida Keys using a mesocosm enclosure and the oxygen gradient flux technique. Seagrass and coral reef sites showed diurnal variations of NEP and NEC, with positive values at...Turk, Daniela; Yates, Kimberly K.; Vega-Rodriguez, Maria; Toro-Farmer, Gerardo; L'Esperance, Chris; Melo, Nelson; Ramsewak, Deanesch; Estrada, S. Cerdeira; Muller-Karger, Frank E.; Herwitz, Stan R.; McGillis, Wade
How can present and future satellite missions support scientific studies that address ocean acidification?
Space-based observations offer unique capabilities for studying spatial and temporal dynamics of the upper ocean inorganic carbon cycle and, in turn, supporting research tied to ocean acidification (OA). Satellite sensors measuring sea surface temperature, color, salinity, wind, waves, currents, and sea level enable a fuller understanding of a...Salisbury, Joseph; Vandemark, Douglas; Jonsson, Bror; Balch, William; Chakraborty, Sumit; Lohrenz, Steven; Chapron, Bertrand; Hales, Burke; Mannino, Antonio; Mathis, Jeremy T.; Reul, Nicolas; Signorini, Sergio; Wanninkhof, Rik; Yates, Kimberly K.
Characterization of available light for seagrass and patch reef productivity in Sugarloaf Key, Lower Florida Keys
Light availability is an important factor driving primary productivity in benthic ecosystems, but in situ and remote sensing measurements of light quality are limited for coral reefs and seagrass beds. We evaluated the productivity responses of a patch reef and a seagrass site in the Lower Florida Keys to ambient light availability and spectral...Toro-Farmer, Gerardo; Muller-Karger, Frank E.; Vega-Rodriguez, Maria; Melo, Nelson; Yates, Kimberly K.; Johns, Elizabeth; Cerdeira-Estrada, Sergio; Herwitz, Stan R.
Ocean acidification buffering effects of seagrass in Tampa Bay
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified ocean acidification as a critical threat to marine and estuarine species in ocean and coastal ecosystems around the world. However, seagrasses are projected to benefit from elevated atmospheric pCO2, are capable of increasing seawater pH and carbonate mineral saturation states through...Smiley, Nathan; Torres-Garcia, Legna M.; Powell, Christina E.; Chappel, Amanda R.; Bociu, Ioana; Yates, Kimberly K.; Moyer, Ryan P.; Moore, Christopher; Tomasko, David A.; Smiley, Nathan A.; Torres-Garcia, Legna; Powell, Christina E.; Chappel, Amanda R.; Bociu, Ioana
Seasonal microbial and environmental parameters at Crocker Reef, Florida Keys, 2014–2015
Crocker Reef, located on the outer reef tract of the Florida Keys (fig. 1), was the site of an integrated “reefscape characterization” effort focused on calcification and related biogeochemical processes as part of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Coral Reef Ecosystem STudies (CREST) project. It is characterized as a senile or dead...Kellogg, Christina A.; Yates, Kimberly K.; Lawler, Stephanie N.; Moore, Christopher S.; Smiley, Nathan A.
Investigación del USGS sobre el ecosistema de arrecifes de coral en el Atlántico
Información General Los arrecifes de coral son estructuras sólidas, biomineralizadas que protegen comunidades costeras actuando como barreras protectoras de peligros tales como los huracanes y los tsunamis. Estos proveen arena a las playas a través de procesos naturales de erosión, fomentan la industria del turismo, las...Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Yates, Kimberly K.; Zawada, David G.; Richey, Julie N.; Kellogg, Christina A.; Toth, Lauren T.; Torres-Garcia, Legna M.
USGS research on Atlantic coral reef ecosystems
Overview Coral reefs are massive, biomineralized structures that protect coastal communities by acting as barriers to hazards such as hurricanes and tsunamis. They provide sand for beaches through the natural process of erosion, support tourism and recreational industries, and provide essential habitat for fisheries. The continuing global...Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Yates, Kimberly K.; Zawada, David G.; Richey, Julie N.; Kellogg, Christina A.; Toth, Lauren T.
These Elkhorn corals (Acropora palmata) near Buck Island, U.S. Virgin Islands have died and collapsed into rubble. As coral reef structure degrades, valuable habitat for marine life is lost and nearby coastlines become more susceptible to storms, waves and erosion.
In the first ecosystem-wide study of changing sea depths at five large coral reef tracts in Florida, the Caribbean and Hawai’i, U.S. Geological Survey researchers found the sea floor is eroding in all five places, and the reefs cannot keep pace with sea level rise. As a result, coastal communities protected by the reefs are facing increased risks from storms, waves and erosion.