2016 Science Immersion Workshop Agenda

18th Annual Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists

Coastal Impacts: Global Change in Coastal Environments
June 5-10, 2016
View 2016 Workshop

Sunday, June 5
Science From the Ground Up

3:30 p.m.    Fellowship Convenes

3:30-4:15    Orientation (Hampton Inn South Kingstown Meeting Room)

Sunshine Menezes Katharine McDuffie, Metcalf Institute
Introduction to Metcalf Institute, the Annual Science Immersion Workshop,
the 2016 Metcalf Fellows, and overview of activities and goals for the week.

4:20    Depart for Turtle Soup

Fellows will travel in 12-passenger van to restaurant.

4:30-6:00    Presentation and Discussion

Turtle Soup Private Dining Room
113 Ocean Road, Narragansett, RI

The Building Blocks of Scientific Knowledge
Tatiana Rynearson, URI Graduate School of Oceanography; Scott McWilliams, URI College of Environment and Life Sciences; Sunshine Menezes, Metcalf Institute

“Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which
it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.”
Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Although scientists see peer review, which occurs prior to the publication of a study, as an essential stage in the development of scientific consensus, the average news consumer is not exposed to the process of peer review. Yet familiarity with the different stages of scientific inquiry is critical to understanding the culture of science. Presenters will review the culture and practice of science, ranging from the identification of research questions and funding to the nature of scientific uncertainty to the peer review process.

6:00-7:15    Dinner

7:30    Van departs for Hampton Inn

Monday, June 6
Environmental Feedbacks:
Unlocking the Connections Between Oceans and Climate

Checklist:

  • Metcalf binder
  • completed Sunday survey
  • comfortable clothing and footwear
  • sweater/fleece

Breakfast service begins at 6 a.m. in the lobby of the Hampton Inn. A packed breakfast-to-go is also available on request at the Front Desk. Fellows should be ready at the entrance at least a few minutes before departure time each day as noted on the daily agendas. The Metcalf van will arrive 10-15 minutes prior to departure and wait at the entrance. The van will depart at the time designated on the agenda.

6:00-8:30 a.m.    Breakfast  (Hampton Inn)

8:45    Van departs for GSO  (Hampton Inn front entrance)

9:00-10:00    Presentation and Q&A  (GSO Coastal Institute Large Conference Room)

Introduction to Global Change
Becky Robinson, URI Graduate School of Oceanography
The term global change refers to a wide range of environmental responses to human activities. Climate change is a significant aspect of modern day global change, but it is only one in a broad suite of human impacts on the environment. This session will set the stage for understanding the science and implications of global change.

10:00-10:15    Break

10:15-11:30    Science Translation I  (CI Large Conference Room)

Graphing for Communication of Complex Data
Mary Dzaugis, URI GSO
This session will introduce a variety of ways to depict data in graphs. Fellows will apply these skills in an informal challenge to interpret more complex graphs.

11:30-3:15 p.m.    Tours

Touring the Global Ocean: Global Change Research in Oceanography
Oceanographers combine the basic scientific disciplines of physics, geology, chemistry, and biology to answer challenging questions about Earth’s oceans and climate.  This brief tour of three GSO laboratories will highlight some of the biggest questions facing oceanographers today, while demonstrating a range of oceanographic methods.

11:30-12:15    Stop 1  (Watkins Building, Room 216)

Ocean Circulation
Kathleen Donohue, URI GSO
Ocean circulation is critical to understanding climate. Is the Gulf Stream slowing down? Are northeast coastal waters warming? Is the transport of oceanic heat stable from the North Atlantic to the Nordic Seas? Why should we care? Donohue’s partnership with the Merchant Marine allows for long-term observation of key elements of Atlantic circulation.

12:30-1:15    Lunch  (Ocean Science Exploration Center, Nautilus Galley)

1:25-2:20    Stop 2  (Ann Gall Durbin Aquarium, Room 208)

Methane Cycling in the Ocean
Brice Loose, URI GSO; Christiane Uhlig, URI GSO
At this stop, Fellows will learn about the methane trapped in the Arctic Ocean.  The Arctic Ocean is a massive reservoir for methane, a potent greenhouse gas; these reserves occur as drowned permafrost, methane hydrate ice, and in ocean sediments. As global temperatures rise or ocean currents change, these reservoirs could become unstable, releasing large amounts of methane to the atmosphere and launching a dangerous climate feedback. But marine microbes could play a helpful role in mediating this process. The only problem is, scientists’ current understanding of this microbial role in marine methane cycling is very limited. Loose and Uhlig will highlight their project in Alaska, talk about methane cycling in the ocean, identify the broader significance of this research, and describe some of the tools and instruments they use to search for answers.

2:30-3:15    Stop 3  (Watkins Building, Room 316)

Hurricanes and Climate Change
Isaac Ginis, URI GSO
As climate change warms the air and ocean water, hurricanes should become more common, right? As it turns out, it’s not that simple. Ginis will describe the current understanding regarding air-sea interactions related to hurricanes and climate change and describe some of the outstanding research questions that require clarification to improve hurricane forecasting.

3:15-3:20    Coffee Break (Waktkins Building, Trident Room)

3:30-4:30    Public Lecture  (GSO Corless Auditorium)

Pausing for Debate: The Global Warming Hiatus in Scientific and Public Discourse
Derek Arndt NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Last year, researchers at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information determined that a potential global warming hiatus in the early 2000s was explained by a technical correction in observed ocean data, but the finding mushroomed into a major scientific publication that generated millions of words in public commentary. Arndt, chief of the NOAA Centers’ Climate Monitoring Branch, will review the scientific basis and impact of the technical correction and how the findings played out in the public conversation.

4:45-6:30    Reception and Dinner  (GSO Mosby Center)

Welcome to the URI Graduate School of Oceanography
Bruce H. Corliss/David Smith, URI GSO

Overview of Tuesday Activities
Sunshine Menezes, Metcalf Institute

6:45    Van departs for Hampton Inn  (Mosby Center entrance)

Tuesday, June 7

Long-Term Research: The Importance of Establishing Baselines
Checklist:

  • Metcalf binder
  • completed Monday survey
  • non-skid shoes with closed toe
  • rain gear, if needed
  • possible change of clothing

8:20 a.m.    Van departs for Wickford Shipyard  (Hampton Inn front entrance)

8:40-11:45    Fieldwork  (Narragansett Bay)

Assessing the State of Coastal Fisheries
Joe Langan and Stephanie Anderson, URI GSO
Fellows will gain an appreciation for the development of a long-term data series by participating in a fish trawl modeled on the GSO Fish Trawl Survey and observing the GSO plankton long-term monitoring project. The Narragansett Bay plankton monitoring survey was started in the 1950s and the fish trawl celebrates its 57th year in 2016, making it the longest continuous fisheries survey in North America; the data gathered from these efforts have informed scientists around the world.

8:40 a.m.    Arrive Wickford Shipyard, board URI’s research vessel, R/V Cap’n Bert. Captain Tom Puckett will review safety guidelines, and Puckett and Langan will explain the trawler’s functions and the significance of the time series. Anderson will explain the plankton trawl and uses of these data.

9:00-11:30    Depart for fisheries trawl in Narragansett Bay, rain or shine. Steam to the East Passage, east of Conanicut Island. Langan and Anderson will show Fellows how measurements are taken of surface and bottom water temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity and pH as part of the fish survey. At our destination Langan will demonstrate trawl deployment and Anderson will demonstrate how to collect a plankton sample. Fellows will participate in sorting and identifying fish species, counting and weighing the catch, and logging catch data. Langan and Anderson will discuss how these data reflect the ecology of Narragansett Bay and impacts thereon of global change and how the data can be analyzed to inform fisheries management. As time permits, a second tow may be done at Fox Island.

11:45    Van departs for GSO.

12:00-12:30 p.m.    Lunch  (CI Large Conference Room)

A Window into the Sea
Microscopes will be set up with plankton samples collected during the trawl. Fellows will view phytoplankton and zooplankton common to Narragansett Bay.

12:30-1:00    Presentation and Q&A

Marine Food Webs and the Role of Long-Term Data Sets
Mary Kane, URI GSO
Kane will explain the dynamics of marine food webs and how the data gathered from the GSO Fish Trawl Survey and similar efforts enable scientists around the world to understand them. She will explain the utility of long-term data series for placing research questions into context for public policy and future scientific studies.

1:00-1:50    Science Translation II  (CI Large Conference Room)

The Journalist’s Guide to Understanding and Explaining Probabilities
Rich Bell, The Nature Conservancy
Policy decisions about global change are made, like most policy decisions, based on the risks of various outcomes for public health, economic security, and/or environmental protection. Yet very few people actually understand the probabilistic mathematics involved in climate models, the methods scientists use to constrain their uncertainty about a certain result, or even what a “probability” really means. This session will provide a primer on probabilities, confidence levels, and some basic statistical concepts that are often miscommunicated. This discussion won’t make you an expert, but will allow you to feel more confident digging into, and perhaps questioning, the numbers in scientific papers, government reports, or organizations’ press releases.

2:00-3:00    Science Translation III  (CI Large Conference Room)

Deconstructing a Scientific Publication
Metcalf Fellows; Olivia Ahern, URI GSO; Stephanie Anderson, URI GSO;
Rich Bell, The Nature Conservancy; Kathy Donohue, URI GSO; David Smith, URI GSO
For this Science Translation session, Fellows will partner with scientists in five groups, two journalists per scientist. Using a pre-assigned paper as a model, scientists will review the structure of the published paper and present each pair of journalists with tips and tools that can be used to effectively read and “translate” a science journal article. Pre-assigned papers are inserted in the Fellows’ binders under the Tuesday tab. Journalists and scientists will exchange ideas about how to interpret the main ideas of the paper for news audiences. At the end of the exercise, each group will share a specific translation tip gained during the session.

3:00-3:15    Break

3:30-4:30    Public Lecture  (Corless Auditorium)

How Will Efforts to Address Climate Change Impact the Ocean?
Jasmin John, NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
Given the close links between Earth’s climate and ocean, climate change has already affected ocean chemistry and ecosystems. As policy makers work to limit carbon emissions, scientists are trying to predict how different approaches might affect marine biodiversity and the growth of phytoplankton, microscopic plants that drive ocean ecosystems. John will show models depicting a range of responses, with important consequences for ocean life and public health.

4:45-6:30    Reception and Dinner  (Mosby Center)

Overview of Wednesday Activities
Sunshine Menezes, Metcalf Institute

6:45 p.m.    Van departs for Hampton Inn  (Mosby Center front entrance)

Wednesday, June 8

Science to Guide Adaptive Coastal Management

Checklist:

  • Metcalf binder
  • completed Tuesday survey
  • comfortable clothing
  • shoes that can get wet + dry shoes
  • sweater/fleece

8:45-11:45 a.m.   Presentation and Fieldwork

Coastal wetlands function as nursery habitats for commercially important species, and also serve as natural barriers that moderate the effects of coastal storms. These valuable ecosystems (also referred to as salt marshes) have been the focus of extensive restoration efforts in recent decades to restore their natural functions after centuries of damage from human activities. But as sea levels rise, prior restoration efforts have exacerbated the challenges facing some coastal wetlands.

8:45-9:30 a.m.     Presentation and Q&A (Hampton Inn meeting room)

Climate Impacts in Coastal Zones: Sea Level Rise

Bryan Oakley, Eastern Connecticut State University

A leading complication of warming temperatures is the rise of global sea levels. Recent studies have diverged in their projected rates of sea level rise, ranging from about 0.5 to more than 2 meters by 2100. Oakley will describe the drivers of these different projections, explain the occurrence of regional “hot spots” with greater than average increases in sea level, and discuss the implications of these changes for coastal zones.

9:35                  Van departs for Middletown

10:15-11:45        Fieldwork (Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge)

Climate Adaptation in Coastal Zones: Taking Steps to Sustain Coastal Wetland Ecosystems

Caitlin Chaffee, R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council;

Jennifer White, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Following an introduction to the structure and functions of a coastal salt marsh, White will lead a tour of two sites at the Sachuest Point Refuge. The first site, at the Maidford River, will show a natural marsh suffering degradation from sea level rise. The second site will show a previously restored section of marsh, where the restored elevation was lower than intended, leaving more “low marsh” area than “high marsh,” a situation that limited habitat for the salt marsh sparrow. White and Chaffee will describe the techniques used to measure the marsh responses to these interventions, and discuss the role of permitting agencies in facilitating adaptive coastal management activities like this one.

11:50                 Van departs for Newport

12:00-12:05        Time allowing, fellows will stop at Easton’s Beach parking lot, remaining in the van, for a quick look at the storm levee and storm water outfall at this popular municipal beach.

12:15                 Arrive at Seamen’s Church Institute, 18 Market Square, Newport, (401) 847-4260

12:20-1:00          Lunch (Seamen’s Church Institute Library)

12:45-2:45          Panel Discussion and Walking Tour

Climate Adaptation in Coastal Zones: Building for Resilience

Teresa Crean, URI Coastal Resources Center/RI Sea Grant; Melinda Hopkins, RI Emergency Management Agency; David Everett, City of Providence Planning Department

Like coastal wetlands, our coastal communities also face daunting challenges from sea level rise. Feasible solutions can be even more complicated in urban settings. Coastal cities around the world must consider the difficult questions of deciding which areas should be protected or rebuilt, and which should be abandoned or repurposed. This panel discussion will provide a range of perspectives on this decision making process, highlighting new tools that are helping communities to focus their resources most effectively.

Following the panel, the group will depart for a short walking tour of the Newport waterfront, ending at The Point, a Newport neighborhood most affected by rising seas and flooding events.

3:30-4:30            Public Lecture (Corless Auditorium)

Flood Risk Policy and Law in the Era of Climate Change

Samantha Medlock, White House Office of Management and Budget

As sea levels rise worldwide, flooding is a growing problem for residents, businesses, insurers, and policy makers. How will American government and financial markets adjust in order to participate in reducing climate impacts? Medlock will provide an update on federal policy advancements through President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, including the development of data, tools, and standards to support flood resilience.

4:45-6:15            Reception and Dinner (Mosby Center)

 Overview of Thursday activities

Sunshine Menezes, Metcalf Institute

6:30-7:15            Tour (GSO Inner Space Center)

Exploring the Unknown Ocean

Catalina Martinez, NOAA Office of Exploration and Research

Fellows will tour URI GSO’s Inner Space Center, a state-of-the-art research, exploration and education center that utilizes telepresence technologies to bring oceanographic exploration to the world in real time.

7:30                  Van departs for the Hampton Inn

Thursday, June 9

Connecting Science to Public Policy

Checklist:

  • Metcalf binder
  • Completed Wednesday survey
  • Change of clothing (for Newport)
  •  Sweater/fleece

8:45-11:45 a.m.    Presentation and Fieldwork
Coastal wetlands function as nursery habitats for commercially important species, and also serve as natural barriers that moderate the effects of coastal storms. These valuable ecosystems (also referred to as salt marshes) have been the focus of extensive restoration efforts in recent decades to restore their natural functions after centuries of damage from human activities. But as sea levels rise, prior restoration efforts have exacerbated the challenges facing some coastal wetlands.

8:45-9:30 a.m.    Presentation and Q&A  (Hampton Inn meeting room)
Climate Impacts in Coastal Zones: Sea Level Rise
Bryan Oakley, Eastern Connecticut State University
A leading complication of warming temperatures is the rise of global sea levels. Recent studies have diverged in their projected rates of sea level rise, ranging from about 0.5 to more than 2 meters by 2100. Oakley will describe the drivers of these different projections, explain the occurrence of regional “hot spots” with greater than average increases in sea level, and discuss the implications of these changes for coastal zones.

9:35        Van departs for Middletown

10:15-11:45    Fieldwork  (Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge)
Climate Adaptation in Coastal Zones: Taking Steps to Sustain Coastal Wetland Ecosystems
Caitlin Chaffee, R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council;
Jennifer White, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Following an introduction to the structure and functions of a coastal salt marsh, White will lead a tour of two sites at the Sachuest Point Refuge. The first site, at the Maidford River, will show a natural marsh suffering degradation from sea level rise. The second site will show a previously restored section of marsh, where the restored elevation was lower than intended, leaving more “low marsh” area than “high marsh,” a situation that limited habitat for the salt marsh sparrow. White and Chaffee will describe the techniques used to measure the marsh responses to these interventions, and discuss the role of permitting agencies in facilitating adaptive coastal management activities like this one.

11:50        Van departs for Newport

12:00-12:05    Time allowing, Fellows will stop at Easton’s Beach parking lot, remaining in the van, for a quick look at the storm levee and stormwater outfall at this popular municipal beach.

12:15        Arrive at Seamen’s Church Institute, 18 Market Square, Newport, (401) 847-4260

12:20-1:00    Lunch (Seamen’s Church Institute Library)

12:45-2:45    Panel Discussion and Walking Tour
Climate Adaptation in Coastal Zones: Building for Resilience
Teresa Crean, URI Coastal Resources Center/RI Sea Grant; Melinda Hopkins, RI Emergency Management Agency; David Everett, City of Providence Planning Department
Like coastal wetlands, our coastal communities also face daunting challenges from sea level rise. Feasible solutions can be even more complicated in urban settings. Coastal cities around the world must consider the difficult questions of deciding which areas should be protected or rebuilt, and which should be abandoned or repurposed. This panel discussion will provide a range of perspectives on this decision making process, highlighting new tools that are helping communities to focus their resources most effectively.

Following the panel, the group will depart for a short walking tour of the Newport waterfront, ending at The Point, a Newport neighborhood most affected by rising seas and flooding events.

3:30-4:30    Public Lecture  (Corless Auditorium)
Flood Risk Policy and Law in the Era of Climate Change
Samantha Medlock, White House Office of Management and Budget
As sea levels rise worldwide, flooding is a growing problem for residents, businesses, insurers, and policy makers. How will American government and financial markets adjust in order to participate in reducing climate impacts? Medlock will provide an update on federal policy advancements through President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, including the development of data, tools, and standards to support flood resilience.

4:45-6:15    Reception and Dinner  (Mosby Center)

Overview of Thursday activities
Sunshine Menezes, Metcalf Institute

6:30-7:15    Tour  (GSO Inner Space Center)
Exploring the Unknown Ocean
Catalina Martinez, NOAA Office of Exploration and Research
Fellows will tour URI GSO’s Inner Space Center, a state-of-the-art research, exploration and education center that utilizes telepresence technologies to bring oceanographic exploration to the world in real time.

7:30        Van departs for the Hampton Inn  (Ocean Science Exploration Center front entrance)

Friday, June 10
Translating Scientific Uncertainty and Debate

Checklist:

  • Metcalf binder
  • Luggage
  • Completed Thursday survey
  • Completed Friday survey

Check-out from Hampton Inn by 8:30 a.m. with luggage ready to load into the van.
All Daily Surveys are due prior to departure.

8:40 a.m.    Van and drivers depart for GSO  (Hampton Inn entrance)

8:55     Arrive at GSO Coastal Institute. Drivers may park anywhere on campus without permit.

9:00-9:45    Presentation and Q&A  (CI Large Conference Room)
Crazy Weather and the Arctic Meltdown: How They Are Connected
Jennifer Francis, Rutgers University
As extreme weather events affect an ever-wider range of locations around the globe, scientists are trying to identify whether and, if so, how the apparent trend toward more of these events is related to climate change. This scientific effort relies upon observations, experimentation and computer modeling to resolve the significant uncertainties inherent in global-scale environmental change. Francis will discuss one aspect of the climate system that has led her and her colleagues to hypothesize that melting of polar ice is affecting atmospheric circulation in the Northern Hemisphere, leading to a “wavier” pattern in the jet-stream that may be driving some extreme weather events.

9:45-10:30    Discussion  (CI Large Conference Room)
Shop Talk: Pitching and Reporting Global Change Stories
Karen Bordeleau, The Providence Journal, ret.; Peter Thompson, PRI’s The World
Even with a solid understanding of global change and the culture of science, it can be hard to pass the ultimate hurdle: your editor. Veteran editors Bordeleau and Thomson will lead a capstone discussion, integrating concepts explored throughout the week and providing an opportunity to share constructive ideas for reporting on these complex and challenging topics.

10:30-10:45    Break

11:00-12:15 p.m.    Public Lecture  (GSO Corless Auditorium)
Uncovering Flint’s Water Disaster: Insights from the Reporter Who Broke the Story
Curt Guyette, American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan
In one of the biggest news stories of 2015, Guyette reported that as many as 100,000 Flint, Michigan, residents were found to be exposed to harmful toxic chemicals in the water supply. He will share what he learned from reporting this public health crisis and discuss the need for watchdog-investigative reporting.

12:15-1:15    Luncheon  (CI Hazard Seminar Room)

1:30        Fellowship Concludes
Van departs for public transportation depots per schedule (CI front entrance)

1:30-4:00    Optional Tours

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