Revelle Lecture at Scripps Addresses Challenges of Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster

WHAT: Nancy Rabalais, executive director and a professor at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, will present "Troubled Waters of the Gulf of Mexico" during the 12th annual Roger Revelle Commemorative Lecture, presented by the Ocean Studies Board, part of the U.S. National Research Council. With the approach of the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout, Rabalais' lecture will highlight the challenges of developing and implementing large-scale restoration plans for the Gulf Coast ecosystem. - THE PRESENTATION IS FREE AND THE PUBLIC IS INVITED - WHEN: Tuesday, April 5, 2011, 4 p.m. WHERE: Robert Paine Scripps Forum for Science, Society and the Environment (Scripps Seaside Forum); 8610 Kennel Way, just north of El Paseo Grande on the Scripps campus in La Jolla. BACKGROUND: The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster was an engineering failure that brought the world's attention to the Gulf of Mexico. The oil was an immediate environmental threat, with short- and long-term effects remaining elusive given the nature of the spill and incomplete knowledge of the oil's impact on socio-ecological systems. With the spill also came attention to the already-damaged condition of the northern Gulf of Mexico. The area bears marks from decades of extensive oil and gas production with an inshore maze of canals and channels dicing up the fragile landscape. A nutrient-polluted Mississippi River yields a large "dead zone" in the Gulf every spring and summer. "We are now challenged to further document impacts and to initiate and pursue complex, large-scale restoration projects in a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Plan," says Rabalais. "Will we meet the challenge?" Rabalais, who holds a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Texas at Austin, researches the dynamics of oxygen-depleted environments, interactions of large rivers with the coastal ocean, benthic ecology, science policy and other areas. She has earned several research awards for her work on the causes and consequences of Gulf hypoxia. The Revelle Lecture was created by the Ocean Studies Board to honor former Scripps Oceanography Director Roger Revelle for his contributions to ocean sciences and his dedication to making scientific knowledge available to policymakers. Rabalais' presentation is the fourth Revelle Lecture scheduled to be given on both West and East coasts. Rabalais also will give the lecture on March 29 at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Roger Revelle (1909-1991) was director of Scripps Oceanography from 1951 to 1964. He was one of the nation's most prominent oceanographers, a pioneer of climate change research and a world leader in the application of science and technology to help solve problems in developing countries. Long associated with the University of California, Revelle's vision and energies led to the establishment of the UC San Diego campus in 1960.

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