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Public Invited to Some Sessions of OCEANS '12 Conference

"OCEANS '12, Harnessing the Power of the Ocean," a conference expected to attract an international contingent of 2,500 engineers, scientists and public policy experts to Virginia Beach in October, will include several sessions that are open to the public. All sessions are at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

The well-established OCEANS Conference series is sponsored by the Marine Technology Society (MTS) and the Oceanic Engineering Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. (IEEE/OES). Old Dominion University is the academic host for the conference.

Students and other residents of the region who are interested in environmental preservation and sustainable use of natural resources are invited to register free of charge to visit an exhibition hall where they can network with university researchers, industry representatives and others who have contracted to have OCEANS '12 booths. University Row at the exhibition will be hosted by ODU.

The exhibition portion of the event will be open Tuesday, Oct. 16, from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Oct. 17, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Thursday, Oct. 18 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Researchers affiliated with ODU's two-year-old Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative (CCSLRI) will be key participants in an OCEANS '12 "Sea Level Rise and Inundation Workshop: What? So What? Now What." The public is invited to the half-day workshop, which will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 15.

Other free-to-the-public workshops, all of which run from 1 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 15, are on the topics of ocean planning, autonomous systems and glider missions.

In addition, the public can register and attend without charge the plenary session of the conference from 8 to 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 16. That session will include a welcome from ODU President John Broderick and the two other honorary chairs, Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms and Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, as well as an address by Kathryn Sullivan, the U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction.

"The time is ripe for a 'think tank' assembly whose aim is to explore challenges and opportunities that our oceans present," Broderick wrote in a letter posted at the OCEANS '12 website. "ODU was eager to support this OCEANS '12 meeting because we are a metropolitan research university in a coastal setting, and we have a deep and growing interest in those research areas suggested by the conference agenda. Our faculty members and students, I feel certain, will be valuable contributors to OCEANS '12 as well as recipients of exciting new ideas."

The OCEANS Conference series has become a major international forum at which scientists, engineers and responsible ocean users can present their latest research results, ideas, developments and applications in oceanic engineering and marine technology. In addition to government and academic attendees, there will be conferees from more than 100 marine-related companies.

Conference topics will include homeland security, safety and efficiency of marine operations, ocean observing, coastal marine conservation and the sustainable use of marine resources. A specific focus will be offshore energy resources, such as wind and wave power.

But no topics on the conference agenda are more important to ODU's CCSLRI than 1) Improving predictions of climate change and weather, and their effects on coastal communities and the nation; and 2) mitigating the effects of natural hazards.

"OCEANS '12 will provide opportunities for universities to showcase their research and educational activities in coastal engineering, marine sciences, ocean observing and marine technologies," said Larry Atkinson, the ODU Slover Professor of Oceanography who directs CCSLRI. "And coastal inundation and sea level rise will be a key local theme."

Elizabeth Smith, the physical oceanographer who coordinates day-to-day activities of CCSLRI, and Wade Smith, who works for Noblis, a nonprofit organization that promotes science and technology, have planned the sea level rise workshop. It is designed to explore a series of issues:

Why the global ocean sea level rises

Why the land subsides in the mid-Atlantic region

How storm frequency and intensity could change

How to map flooding from sea level rise

How to forecast and show storm surge flooding at high resolution with sea level rise

How to identify and analyze societal effects of sea level rise

How to measure the risk involved from sea level rise

How to work with the public to help identify the best way to adapt to sea level rise

What the city of Norfolk is doing to prepare for sea level rise

What North Carolina is doing to understand the effects of sea level rise

Workshop speakers will include Robert Tuleya, a research scientist with ODU's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography, and Burton St. John, an ODU assistant professor of communication and theatre arts. Others will be from the city of Norfolk, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, the North Carolina Office of Geospatial and Technology Management, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University of Idaho and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

For more information about OCEANS '12, see www.oceans12mtsieehamptonroads.org.

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