News & Announcements

Tsunami Debris Tracking Project

The Ocean Recovery Alliance along with the International Pacific Research Center has developed a tracking system to monitor the debris flow from Japan's 9.0 earthquake on March 11, 2011.

The debris poses danger to maritime safety and fishery activities and may shelter Japan-native species, making it possible for some to survive a voyage across the Pacific Ocean. The introduction of non-native species to the US West Coast and Hawaii could potentially threaten our native fish and wildlife. In addition to this, the staggering amount of floating plastic and other material will have significant impacts on the ocean's entire ecosystem.

For these reasons and many others, monitoring the debris flow has become extremely important. Here's a link to the Tsunami Debris Tracking Project website:

Oceanography has hired a new Assistant Professor

Dr. Christine Cass is joining the Oceanography crew this Fall! Dr. Cass studied Biology at Pomona College in Southern California and received her Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of South Florida College of Marine Science. She will be teaching OCN 310 -Biological Oceanography and an OCN 109L- General Oceanography lab in the Fall. We are pleased to have her join the HSU community.

Profs and Pizza: Oceanography Students and Faculty Kick off the Fall Semester with a Party

The Oceanography Department will hold a Welcome Back pizza party in early Fall. We'll email you with the date.

Oceanography students Catherine Hoyle, Anna Neumann and Brandon Crawford won cash from a Scholarship Contest (sponsored by the HSU Bookstore) at the last Oceanography gathering. Congratulations!

HSU and Global Climate Monitoring

What happens in the atmosphere can affect the ocean and vice-versa. Not surprisingly, then, there are a lot of collaborations between oceanographers and atmospheric scientists. One such well-established collaboration between HSU and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admininstration has just gone global.

For a number of years, Dr. Jeff Borgeld of HSU's Oceanography program has worked with Dr. James Butler (NOAA's Global Monitoring Division and HSU alumnus) and others to set up, maintain and expand an atmospheric monitoring station on Trinidad Head, not far from HSU's Telonicher Marine Laboratory. The observatory measures a wide range of atmospheric properties, like methane, carbon monoxide, ozone, and aerosols.

The Trinidad Atmospheric Observatory has become part of an international network of observing systems known as Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW), which is organized through the World Meteorological Organization. Here is a link to the HSU press release.

Director of the Nation's Ocean Observing System Visits HSU

The Director of NOAA's Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), Zdenka Willis, visited Humboldt State University and Humboldt County, in order to see how HSU is helping to collect critical environmental data to help inform decision-makers at the national, regional, and local community levels. Willis and CENCOOS (Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System) Executive Director Steve Ramp spent two days on campus and in the area, touring field sites and research facilities. They also met with local politicians and representatives from government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Reporter John Driscoll wrote a nice article on the visit for the local newspaper, the Times-Standard. Here's a link to the article (note: this will take you to the Times-Standard website).

Harnessing Energy From Waves: Things to Think About

In response to the need for cleaner forms of energy, some governments and businesses are looking to ocean waves. The State of California has yet to embrace wave energy conversion (WEC), but there is serious consideration. The State recently released a white paper which addresses many of the possible socio-economic and environmental issues associated with WEC. Prepared for the California Ocean Protection Council and the Public Interest Energy Research Program of the California Energy Commission, the report represents the work of a panel of experts, including Humboldt State University's Steve Hackett (Economics) and Greg Crawford (Oceanography). The report is available on the OPC's website, You can read HSU's press release here:

HSU Oceanography Prof to Study Ocean Acidification

As most people know by now, the climate is changing due in part to increases in carbon dioxide from various factors like excess fossil fuel burning. Some of the excess CO2 actually gets stored in the ocean, which helps mitigate the problem. However, this can make ocean water more acidic and, during upwelling events along the California coast, this more acidic water is brought over the continental shelf and into the surface waters of the ocean. We know very little about how exposure to this water affects the development of larval, juvenile and adult organisms (like shellfish and coral, who form calcium carbonate shells and coverings, and young salmon that need small, calcifying zooplankton for food).

HSU Oceanography's Dr. Jeff Abell is part of a research team that has been funded roughly $600K by California's Ocean Protection Council to conduct a three-year study of this phenomenon. The project, which includes researchers and managers from CSU San Marcos, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, NOAA, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and the California Department of Fish and Game, began February 2009. Jeff will be helping to run an ocean acidity observing system to measure CO2 concentrations over time. Other investigators will be examining the physiologic responses of several key species, including red sea urchins, red abalone, and oysters.

HSU Begins Mapping Ocean Surface Currents in Northern California

HSU is now providing near-real-time ocean surface current measurements in northern California, between the Oregon-California border and Trinidad Head. This is the first step in our efforts to fill the data gap between Oregon and Pt. Arena (near San Francisco Bay). You can see recent and historical data here: . (That webpage allows you to zoom in and out, select different days, etc. Feel free to play with the options.)

HSU is a participating member of the Coastal Ocean Currents Monitoring Program (, funded by the California State Coastal Conservancy. The COCMP effort represents part of California's contribution to the US Integrated Ocean Observing System, IOOS and the international Global Ocean Observing System, GOOS.

From the Rivers to the Sea ...

Professor Jeffry Borgeld has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant to study the transport of particulate organic carbon (POC) from small, mountainous rivers along the west coast of the United States. By some estimates, this process accounts for more than 50% of the global transport of particulates from the land to the sea, so it is clearly an important component of the global carbon cycle. However, little is known about the ultimate fate of this POC when it reaches the oceans. Jeff, along with colleagues from Oregon State University, will focus on measuring the transport and assessing the fate of POC from three key rivers: the Eel, Umpqua, and Salinas. Jeff's focus is primarily on the Eel River. He and a number of his undergraduate students are in the process of sampling the river during the current 2007-2008 rainy season, particularly after major rainfall events.