Faculty Spotlight: John Jaeger

John Jaeger

Associate Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, UF

Dr. John Jaeger’s research program in Florida centers around resolving the relative impact of human activities on coastal and estuarine sedimentary environments in the context of the natural variations that influence their habitability. The continuing urbanization of Florida’s coastal watersheds provides a unique opportunity to correlate historical changes in land-use practices and coastal development with the depositional sediment record, placing the impact of this development within a longer temporal context of coast-line evolution. His collaborative research program has been able to document how development and urbanization are affecting estuaries and shoreline changes in Florida and the southeastern U.S.

Dr, Jaeger is part of a multi-state, NOAA-funded project that tackles the tricky issue of using historical air photos and other surveys to establish 50+year trends in estuarine shoreline erosion/deposition. Inconsistencies in methodology amongst PIs hampers the ability to quantitatively compare changes across regions, and the funding allowed for development of geospatial tools and datasets that are ideally suited to recognizing how, or if, human impacts on the coastal environment can be differentiated from natural forcing.

Resolving natural controls on shoreline change requires high-frequency, long-term studies. Dr. Jaeger in collaboration with Dr. Peter Adams and their respective lab groups have received national recognition for their exceptional NASA-funded five-year-long, monthly-to-storm resolved shoreline and sedimentary study at the Kennedy Space Center. Storm-induced erosion near critical space launch infrastructure required a strategy for mitigating continuing dune loss, especially from tropical storms. Just like humans dealing with stress and their likelihood to get sick, they document that KSC’s sedimentary shoreline environment responds similarly, with the relative impact of large tropical storms significantly affected by the cumulative storm-induced buildup of erosion. As sea-level continues to rise, his research in this area will become part of larger discussion of how and where we adapt as a society to these changes.

Dr. Jaeger’s research program outside of Florida centers on using marine sediments to explore changes in global ice sheets and glaciers and their effects on the landscape.