2014 Publications

Simple models for the heat flux from the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) to the atmosphere (poster). M. Behl, D. Nof, S. Van Gorder. 2014. (TAMU-SG-14-301.)

It has been suggested that a slowdown of the AMOC would cause the northern hemisphere to cool by a few degrees. We use a sequence of simple analytical models to show that, due to the non-linearity of the system, the simplified heat flux from the modeled AMOC to the atmosphere above is so robust that even changes of as much as 50% in the present AMOC transport are not enough to significantly change the temperature of the outgoing warmed atmosphere. Our most realistic model involves a warm ocean losing heat to an otherwise motionless and colder atmosphere. As a result, the compressible atmosphere convects and the generated airflow ultimately penetrates horizontally into the surrounding air. The behavior of the system is attributable to four key aspects of the underlying physical processes: Convective atmospheric transport increases by warming the atmosphere, the fact that ocean is warmer than the atmosphere, the observation that the surface heat flux is usually proportional to the temperature difference between the ocean and the atmosphere, the fact that the specific heat capacity of water is much larger than that of the air. Taken together, these properties of the system lead to the existence of a dynamical "saturation" state, a modeled regime where even significant changes in the AMOC transport have almost no effect on the ocean-atmosphere heat flux and the resulting outgoing atmospheric temperature.

Quantitative modeling of flood insurance claims, inundation, and sea level rise as a tool for coastal planning and policy. Heather Wade, Philippe Tissot, Richard McLaughlin. April 2014. (TAMU-SG-14-302.)

A quantitative model was created to predict changes in flood losses and investigate their relationship with relative sea level rise (RSLR), inundation frequency, and other potential factors to provide a basis for discussion of future changes in insurance policies. A multi-linear regression model was calibrated for several Texas coastal counties. The methods included collection of relevant datasets, data manipulation, forward progression analysis, and model validation. Study data consisted of tide station water level measurements, flood insurance policies and paid losses, census population counts, and precipitation. Differences in the predictor ranking are attributed to the relative exposure of counties to coastal or riverine flooding. Randomly dividing the data into training and testing sets to evaluate the resistance of the model to extreme events shows the importance of such events. The presence/absence of key events in the testing set result in models that under/over-predict losses. Results of the model are helpful to compare locations and discuss the relative impacts of the causes for insurance claims. It is important to develop methods for assessing the impact that RSLR and coastal flooding events have on social-ecological systems at both the local and regional scales and this can be done by looking at economic impacts such as insurance claims and paid losses. Finally, comparing the roles of RSLR, population growth, and storms on flood insurance claims can provide researchers more information as to how coastal planning and policy can best be used to manage social-ecological systems.

Transforming Texas from a State with a Coast to a Coastal State. Josh Gunn, Cindie Powell. August 2014. (TAMU-SG-14-305.)

Poster describing and showing the locations of four Texas Sea Grant projects, the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, “There Is Something Fishy in Texas,” Aglantis and “Linking Inland to the Gulf,” that extend the program’s reach to inland communities and businesses to build awareness of ocean and coastal issues in coastal watersheds.

Texas Sea Grant project helps shrimp fishery preserve sea turtles and gain access to new retail markets (project fact sheet). M. Gaskill. November 2014. (TAMU-SG-14-308.)

This one-page fact sheet describes a Texas Sea Grant pilot project conducted with support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help shrimp fishermen correctly install and operate turtle excluder devices (TEDs) and to certify those that do to allow them access to markets that require proof of compliance from suppliers.

The Outdoor Classroom @ Little Chocolate Bayou Park. Rhonda Cummins. April 2014. (TAMU-SG-14-417.)

This Field Journal is designed to engage middle school students during educational field trips to Little Chocolate Bayou Park, a county park located in Port Lavaca, Texas. Students make notes in the journal as they locate and identify plants; practice field sketching of plants; identify typical bird species; analyze, draw and label insects they collect as part of their activities; make observations about weather conditions; and use a YSI monitor to check water quality two bodies of water in the park, a pond and a bayou. The journal also includes a list of vocabulary words and background about the park and the Outdoor Classroom. (PDF formatted for printing.)

How to Set Up and Maintain a BioCube Saltwater Aquarium. Rhonda Patterson. February 2014. (TAMU-SG-14-501.)

Developed to support the Texas Sea Grant Aglantis Jr. Adopt-A-Tank Program, this guide includes information on placement, procedures and materials needed for initial setup of an aquarium, how to add fish and fish selection, and weekly and monthly maintenance.

Reducing Fuel Use in the Southeastern U.S. Shrimp Fishery with Vented, Cambered Doors and Braided, Sapphire® Webbing. Michael G. Haby, Gary L. Graham, Lawrence L. Falconer. February 2014. (TAMU-SG-14-502.)

Western Seafood and Texas Sea Grant began exploratory work in 2005 with cambered (curved), steel trawl doors as an alternative to the traditional flat, wooden doors in use in the Gulf and South Atlantic shrimp fishery. Initial sea trials demonstrated the promise of the cambered doors but more importantly identified four design modifications that would make the doors a legitimate fuel-saving alternative. Research with cooperating fishermen verified sharp reductions in fuel use (10% to 39%) with no decrease in shrimp production when the modified cambered doors were used with braided Sapphire(r) nets. The complement of fuel-saving trawl gear necessary to replicate an existing trawl system sold for $13,570 in 2010, versus $8,965 for a traditional trawl system. This report includes a Net Present Value analysis that compares expected production costs generated by the more expensive, longer-lived, fuel-saving gear or the less expensive traditional gear with a shorter useful life and no inherent fuel-saving capacity. Over a 14-year planning horizon (required to account for differences in the useful lives of traditional wooden doors and cambered, steel doors), annual estimated production costs were converted to their present values. Regardless of the discount rate used (between 3% and 15%), the present value of production costs from the fuel-saving gear was consistently lower than production costs estimated with less-expensive trawl gear traditionally used in the Southeastern U.S. shrimp-trawl fishery. Because of a longer useful life and no annual costs to maintain Sapphire(r) nets, ownership and operating costs were lower when the higher-priced fuel-saving gear was purchased. In addition, 80% of reduced production expenses resulted from the hypothetical trawler using 10% less fuel each year, which was the most conservative savings level reported by the fishermen who participated in the cooperative research process. This report shows that investing in more expensive fuel-saving trawl gear can simultaneously accomplish three key objectives: (a) reducing both fuel expense as well as the cost to purchase and maintain trawl gear which (b) increases operating income, while (c) providing more capacity to absorb economic shocks like large jumps in fuel prices, production shortfalls, and fluctuating dockside prices.

Green Roofs: Texas NEMO Fact Sheet #21. Charriss York. August 2014. (TAMU-SG-14-504.)

This fact sheet defines what a green roof is, describes the benefits of installing one (cleaning the air, providing habitat, improving water quality and reducing runoff volume), and answers frequently asked questions about green roofs. It also includes a brief case study of the Ghirardi WaterSmart Park in League City, Texas.

Rain Gardens: A Homeowners Guide. Charriss York, Amanda Solitro, Chris LaChance, Fouad Jaber. August 2014. (TAMU-SG-14-505.)

This fact sheet defines the concept of a rain garden, describes the benefits of a rain garden and how it works, and provides information about where a rain garden should be positioned, including such considerations as depth, the slope of the lawn and type of soil, and what plants should be used. Rain garden maintenance and cost are also discussed.

Plants of the Ghirardi Family WaterSmart Park. Charriss York, Chris LaChance. December 2014. (TAMU-SG-14-506.)

This fact sheet lists the plant species, by common and scientific names, that are located at the Ghirardi Family WaterSmart Park in League City, Texas. The lists are separated by the different types of gardens — WaterSmart, rain gardens/swales and green roof — that are featured at the park.