To address environmental issues, society needs a deeper understanding of the natural world, and the ways we can regulate our own behavior. Faculty and students at F&ES conduct research in eight broadly conceived areas of environmental concern – biodiversity, forestry, global climate, industry, law and economics, urban systems, water, and social ecology. The scope of these programs reflects not just the complexity of human interaction with the environment, but the fact that the easy answers have been exhausted. As such, it is the mission of the F&ES faculty and students to conduct research that uncovers new knowledge, unique insights, and approaches that tie many fields together. This mission is further carried out by communicating the results of this research to the widest possible audience through publication, lectures, and other educational programs.

F&ES Research News

Seminar Synopsis | Karen Hébert: New Species of Environmental Politics – Salmon, Risk, and Resilience in Coastal Alaska

Karen Hébert, Assistant Professor of Environmental Anthropology at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, shared her research with the Yale community at the F&ES Research Seminar on Wednesday, November 19th. Hébert has conducted research in coastal Alaska for years, mainly in Bristol Bay and Sitka Sound. Her research focuses on Pacific salmon’s role in resource management struggles and environmental politics: Pacific salmon has become a charismatic figure for vulnerable coastal ecologies and formed a “new species of environmental politics.”

Commercial fishing is often seen as environmentally destructive, but in coastal Alaska there has been a shift in this notion. With prospective mining and logging threatening the coastal ecologies and salmon populations, salmon is no longer only a catch, but also a drive for environmental stewardship. Coastal residents who once competed for salmon are now competing to be useful to salmon; residents seek to save threatened salmon ecosystems, the very ecosystems they themselves rely on. Hébert argues that while this new form of environmental stewardship has proven to be successful and influential, it has also created an uneven distribution of power in environmental stewardship, and mobilized a kind of environmentalism that creates resilience through divisiveness and inequality. Risk and resilience have changed the nature of salmon in coastal Alaska, where salmon shapes and is shaped by the broader ecological system.  ~Enni Kallio

Seminar Synopsis | James Cameron: Diversifying Climate Leadership – Private Sector Engagement in Climate Change Mitigation

James Cameron, Chairman of Climate Change Capital, presented a talk about climate change mitigation at the F&ES Research Seminar on Wednesday, November 12th. International law has not been successful in mitigating climate change to the extent necessary, and new approaches need to be considered. “International law is an ideal,” Cameron said, and emphasized that law instead must be grounded on real facts. Climate change is an extremely complex issue, and Cameron argues that an agreement between sovereign states to deal with climate change is simply not sufficient.

Cameron served as the advisor to the Alliance of Small Island States during negotiations for the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol. The group’s goal was to obligate the world to save small island states, while helping states save themselves. Their model for climate change mitigation did not perform as well as they expected because in Cameron's opinion, it is not enough to create an international agreement which will then be adopted into national law through ratification. There are people with power who are willing to implement such changes without the involvement of national government. Cameron argues that the solution for climate change mitigation is exactly this: diversifying climate leadership and developing international laws and agreements which give a platform for a multilateral approach. There are many successful examples of small grassroots organizations, local environmental initiatives and the private sector addressing climate change independent of national governments. By constructing an agreement that represents our generalized views and wills on the issue of climate change, there will be a push for change at a local level which will transfer to the global level. ~Enni Kallio

Seminar Synopsis | Gidon Eshel: How, and How Not, to Feed a 9-Billion People Earth: New Insights from the US on the Role of Individual Choices

Gidon Eshel, Research Professor of Environmental Science and Physics at Bard College, discussed his work on animal based diets in the US at the F&ES Research Seminar on Wednesday, November 5th. It is known that animal based diets are more environmentally costly than plant based diets but which animal products are least costly to the environment? Determining multi-metric environmental costs for five animal-based categories of the US diet (poultry, dairy, pork, beef, and eggs), Gidon Eshel explained why beef is such a resource intensive product.

Livestock has major environmental costs: it dominates the anthropogenic land use in the US and contributes approximately 1/5 of the global and US greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock grazing reduces biodiversity but the most significant environmental cost is from feed production, in fact if livestock feed production was reallocated it could feed more than a billion people. Thus, in his research, Gidon Eshel focused on the burdens exerted by the feed production in the US. Comparing the land use of crops for each of the livestock categories – poultry, dairy, pork, beef, and eggs – he found that beef requires approximately ten-fold more resources per calorie than the other animal categories. Similar results were found when computing the resources needed to produce 1 kg of protein; beef’s resource intensity was still higher than all the other animal categories. In fact other categories were comparable to the resources needed to produce a vegetable-based diet, eggs being the closest to the resource use of vegetable production. It is often oversimplified that the less animal products you eat, the less your diet’s environmental footprint. However, it is really beef that increases our diet’s environmental footprint more than any other animal product. It is impossible to make beef more sustainable but we can make our diet more sustainable. ~Enni Kallio

Seminar Synopsis | Whendee L. Silver: Garbage In – Carbon Out: Climate Change Mitigation Potential of Grassland Soils

Whendee L. Silver, ’87 M.F.S., ’92 Ph.D., Professor of Ecosystem Ecology at University of California Berkley, discussed her research on climate change mitigation of grassland soils on Wednesday October 29th at the F&ES Research Seminar Series. While her past research has focused on problems associated with climate change, she is now focusing on some of the potential solutions. Lowering green house gas emissions by itself will not be enough to tackle climate issues. Instead, they must be addressed from multiple angles, with soil carbon sequestration being one possible approach.

Could grassland carbon sequestration make a difference? Grasslands cover ~30% of global land area and have the potential to store significant amounts of atmospheric CO2. In her research, Silver studied the effect of adding compost amendments in Mediterranean grasslands in California. She found that the compost-amended fields not only sequestered carbon, but also had significantly better net primary productivity, water-holding capacity, soil stability, and fertility rate than the control fields. Model outputs suggest that the effect of soil carbon sequestration has long-term benefits, with applications occurring only every 17 to 40 years. Using a life-cycle analysis to estimate the net global warming potential (emissions caused from managing the grasslands for carbon sequestration minus the carbon that is off-set), the study concluded that grassland carbon sequestration leads to greenhouse gas savings of 28 million MT CO2e when scaled to 1 million ha. This means that soil carbon sequestration has the potential to off-set all of California’s livestock CO2 emissions, or three-fourths of commercial and residential CO2 emissions. Soil carbon sequestration has great potential in reducing atmospheric CO2, but only by combining it with other approaches can significant progress be made. ~Enni Kallio

Seminar Synopsis | Paula Moreno: A Biodiversity Hotspot at Risk: the Sustainability Dilemma of the Colombian Pacific Coast

Paula Moreno, 2014 Yale World Fellow and president of Manos Visibles, addressed the complex situation of the Columbian Pacific Coast during her talk on Wednesday October 15th at the F&ES Research Seminar Series. The Pacific Coast is a region with many challenges: it is culturally diverse with extreme poverty due to high illiteracy and unemployment rates; it is considered a biodiversity hotspot, but the environment is vulnerable to exploitation. Moreover, the region is under an armed conflict with well-formed criminal structures imbedded in the society. The main challenge the Colombian Pacific Coast is facing is the institutional system, in which there are three rival parties competing for power: the armed forces, the government, and grassroots organizations.

With such a complex situation in the region, Moreno addressed the question: what does biodiversity mean for local communities? The communities on the Pacific Coast are connected to the land, respecting the environment around them and feeling connected to it. However, they often face a choice between helping the people or the environment. She sees a growing need for collaboration between the environmental and the development fields. Her work with Manos Visibles, a non-profit organization operating in the region, focuses on four components: formal education, professional development, leadership programs, and influencing power. Their goal is to improve education by establishing proper schools and professional training programs. They encourage local leaders to take action through their leadership program, and seek to place these leaders in decision-making positions within the community. Moreno sees a need to establish environmental management and sustainability initiatives in the region, and believes that it is possible through education, leadership and partnerships. ~Enni Kallio
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Seminar Synopsis | Macky McCleary: 21st Century Environmental Management: Integration, Innovation, Investment, and Implementation

Macky McCleary, Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Quality at Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), discussed how CT DEEP approaches the challenges of 21st century environmental management in his talk on October 8th at the F&ES Research Seminar Series. The ubiquitous and complex nature of environmental problems makes the future abstract, and it is difficult to make concrete long-term changes for an abstract future.  It is especially difficult for organizations and businesses to change because of the inherent risk involved. Therefore, government is often better prepared to respond to change due to its permanent structure.

CT DEEP is devoted to the synergy between energy and environment, and has taken a “four I” approach in their environmental management plan: Integration, Implementation, Investment, and Innovation. The integration of environmental conservation brings together the public sector, private businesses and universities in a partnership to tackle environmental problems. Implementation is the change that occurs within CT DEEP by seeking to better their policies and procedures through the use of big data. Investment and innovation go hand-in-hand because tackling environmental problems requires innovative ideas and toolsets, along with smart investment. McCleary emphasized the fact that change is always hard, but it is much easier on a smaller scale. While at the state level CT DEEP can focus on the “four I’s,” at a national level this scope of focus can be challenging, and investment may be the most easily implementable approach of the four. ~Enni Kallio

New Project Funding: Eli Fenichel

US-UK Collab: Risks of Animal and Plant Infectious Diseases through Trade (RAPID Trade)
PI: Eli Fenichel
Sponsor: Arizona State University (Prime: National Science Foundation) $140,990

Summary: World trade is a boon to economic development but it also increases the risk of dispersing human, animal, and plant diseases. Disease impacts on crop yields and livestock put global food supplies at risk and newly emergent diseases that move from animals to humans can threaten human health. But because trade is also one of the main drivers of economic development, it is important that it not be disrupted unnecessarily by measures to protect against disease risk. Striking the right balance is currently difficult to achieve, however, because trade impacts are not systematically incorporated into national and international disease risk assessments. This award supports an interdisciplinary and international team who seek to solve that problem by developing new tools for evaluating the disease risks of world trade. The risk assessment tools produced by the project will provide animal, plant, and human health authorities at national and international levels with the capacity to make improved assessment of the disease risks associated with imports, and of the consequences of alternative trade responses. Improving disease risk management will enhance national security and economic well-being by reducing both disease dispersal and the losses caused by trade interdictions. The project also will strengthen collaborations between US and UK scientists and train graduate students and post-doctoral scientists in research.

Seminar Synopsis | James R. Mihelcic: The Last Taboo: Research related to the Global Sanitation Crisis

James R. Mihelcic, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Florida, addressed the global sanitation crisis in his talk at the October 1st F&ES Research Seminar. He raised concerns about how the focus on improving water supply and clean drinking water around the globe has taken attention away from sanitation and wastewater treatment. His view is supported by the latest report compiled by WHO and UNICEF which states that the Millenium Development Goals’ drinking water targets are on track and likely to be met by 2015, but progress on sanitation is well-behind.

Mihelcic has performed research around the world on how to improve sanitation and reuse human waste to address local problems, such as improving health and food security. Human waste is nutrient-rich, particularly in nitrogen and phosphorus, and if treated properly can be used as fertilizer. Mihelcic’s research shows that by collecting urine and using it as a fertilizer, the resulting crop yields are comparable to yields from fields using chemical fertilizers. Feces can also be converted into fertilizer by using compost latrines. However, the challenge is to understand pathogen destruction in these latrines to ensure that the reuse of human waste does not spread pathogens and have a negative effect on health. More research needs to be done to improve the outcomes of compost latrines.

Mihelcic’s research demonstrates that the global sanitation crisis does not need modern mechanized reactors instead of treatment ponds to treat wastewater, or flush toilets instead of compost latrines. Instead, employing innovative methods of resource recovery that are considerate of local culture and resources can be just as effective. ~Enni Kallio

Seminar Synopsis | F&ES New Faculty Panel: Craig Brodersen, Liza Comita, Justin Farrell, and Simon Queenborough

At the September 24th Research Seminar, four new faculty at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies discussed their work and research. With the UN Climate Summit 2014 as a backdrop, they emphasized the importance of science and their research to climate change and the global community.

Craig Brodersen, Assistant Professor of Plant Physiological Ecology, sees food security as a growing issue around the world due to population growth and climate change. Thus, his research on understanding how plants use limited resources, water in particular, is crucial in combatting the challenges of food security. Liza Comita, Assistant Professor of Tropical Forest Management, talked about how important it is to study the drivers of species diversity in tropical forests. There are potentially many unknown species, and with climate change it’s possible that we may never know that these species existed. Simon Queenborough, Musser Director of Tropical Resources Institute, studies how individuals, species and communities (including humans) interact over ecological and evolutionary time. He uses a comparative approach, linking ecological models to social and economic models, to better understand these interactions in the world today. Justin Farrell, Assistant Professor of Sociology, researches humanity’s relationship to the natural environment. By studying human social networks, we can better understand how we make decisions and how people, policymakers in particular, are influenced by these networks. He highlighted that understanding these networks is a key to tackling climate change through policies and peoples’ behavior.

The consensus among the faculty was that despite their different research interests and fields, the science and statistical applications they employ are cross-disciplinary and important to addressing climate change at both a local and global scale. ~Enni Kallio

New Project Funding: Anthony Leiserowitz

TV Weathercasters and Climate Education: Expanding the Reach of Climate Matters
PI: Anthony Leiserowitz
Sponsor: George Mason University (Prime: National Science Foundation) $282,533

Summary: The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) will oversee the design and implementation of two Climate Science Workshops per year, as well as ongoing professional development, for TV Weathercasters.  One workshop will be held at each of the national annual meetings of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association (2014-2015; 2015-2016; 2016-2017). 
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Seminar Synopsis | Dekila Chungyalpa: Why the Environmental Movement Needs Religion?

At the September 17th F&ES Research Seminar, Dekila Chungyalpa, a 2014 McCluskey Fellow in Conservation at Yale University, explained why the environmental movement needs religion (the video is available here). Partnerships between religious institutions and scientists tackling environmental issues are not common in the world, even though 84% of the world’s population follows a spiritual faith in some form. The scientific community is often reluctant to engage with religious groups, and there appears to be a miscommunication of values between science and religion. Through her work, Chungyalpa realized that religious leaders acknowledge science, they are aware of environmental issues, and they want to know how they can help.

Dekila Chungyalpa launched WWF's Sacred Earth initiative in 2011 to bring religious leaders together to tackle environmental issues in the Eastern Himalayas, the Greater Mekong, East Africa, the Amazon, and the United States. Their goal was to build the capacity of religious leaders and to help them raise awareness about environmental issues. Chungyalpa believes “faith-based change is powerful,” and that people are more likely to commit to behavior change if it is linked to their spiritual faith. She saw that putting environmental issues on the table as religious issues turned out to be successful as it allowed religious leaders to reach out to an audience that the scientific community had little access to. She believes the environmental movement needs religion to be able to reach out to a larger population, as working within faith allows the use of the peoples’ vocabulary, which is very powerful. ~Enni Kallio

New Project Funding: Nadine Unger

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Linking multi-scale measurements and models to advance understanding of BVOC-chemistry-climate feedbacks
PI: Nadine Unger
Sponsor: National Aeronautics and Space Administration $456,705

Summary: Terrestrial ecosystem emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) are a critical quantity in air pollution-climate interactions. This project exploits synergies between the NASA SEAC4RS, NSF NOMADSS and NOAA SENEX field campaigns during 2013 to constrain the BVOC emission impacts on atmospheric chemical composition in the U.S. through the growing season into the fall. The specific goals of this proposal are to: (1) improve realism of BVOC emission schemes for next generation global Earth system models (2) assess the impacts of BVOC emissions on oxidant and secondary aerosol formation and composition over the U.S. (3) quantify future global change impacts on BVOC emissions and projections of ozone, organic aerosol and methane for a broad range of possible scenarios (2010-2100). To achieve these goals, we will probe multiple atmospheric measurements from flux towers, aircraft campaigns and satellites in combination with a vegetation model run at the site-level, regional and global scales. The model incorporates two state-of-the-science conceptually different BVOC emission algorithms (photosynthesis-based and MEGAN v3.0) that are embedded within the same host simulation framework. A global carbon-chemistry-climate model based on NASA GISS Model- E2 with interactive terrestrial ecosystems (Yale-E2) will be employed to interpret the aircraft measurements and perform the future projections. The project will provide new quantitative insights into BVOC emissions and BVOC-chemistry-climate feedbacks in the contemporary and future worlds.

New Project Funding: Anobha Gurung (Advisor: Michelle Bell)

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Susceptibility to exposure from traffic related air pollution and human health burden in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
PI: Anobha Gurung, PhD Student
Sponsor: Environmental Protection Agency STAR Fellowship

Summary: Research is critically needed to quantify exposure to air pollution and human health burden in growing Asian cities. As part of her EPA STAR Fellowship, Anobha will investigate exposure to traffic related air pollution and human health burden with characterization of susceptibility factors (e.g. age) in urban areas of Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, one of the fastest urbanizing nations in South Asia. A review of studies conducted in Nepal of air pollution and human health, indicated a dearth of research with the few existing studies suggesting potentially serious health consequences. Here annual average urban population has grown 3.92% in the past ten years. Her previous research identified high air pollution in this region, a result of old vehicles, fuel adulteration, poor road infrastructure, unplanned urbanization, bowl like topography, and growing population. However, despite the rising urban population and traffic identified as the main source of pollution no study of traffic related air pollution and human health has been conducted in Kathmandu Valley.

New Project Funding: Jennifer Marlon

Collaborative Research: Testing hypotheses about human and climate impacts on fire over the past millennium using paleodata syntheses and global fire modeling
Yale PI: Jennifer Marlon, in collaboration with PI Brian Magi (UNC-Charlotte) and PI Patrick Bartlein (University of Oregon)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $114,291

Summary: Fire is a fundamental process in the Earth system. In recent centuries, human use and suppression of fire and both natural and anthropogenic climate change have altered the types and spatio-temporal patterns of fires globally. In the future, as global temperatures continue to increase, fire activity is projected to increase in much of the world. While the fire projections are vital for managing physical and human systems, they are highly uncertain. To reduce the uncertainty, a better understanding of how fires interact with humans, climate, and vegetation is required - not only under current conditions, which have been extensively studied - but also in the past, when conditions were very different from today.

The proposed work will address three timely research objectives designed to use observed patterns of fire activity in the past to inform global fire modeling of the past, present and future.  The project’s data and tools include a unique global charcoal database containing detailed records of biomass burning over the past 1000 years, multiple sources of paleoclimate data and simulations from the Palaeoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project (PMIP3), two different global land-cover reconstructions, and a global fire model. To achieve the objectives, an established paleofire database (the Global Charcoal Database) will be expanded to include over 50% more records, and an existing global fire model based on present-day conditions will be adapted for simulations of the past millennium by testing individual fire model dependencies against observations of climate and fire over the past millennium.
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Seminar Synopsis | Peter Madden: Innovating for Cities

Peter Madden, Chief Executive of the Future Cities Catapult, discussed the challenges our cities face in an increasingly urbanized world, and the innovations needed to tackle these challenges in his seminar on September 10, 2014 at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Cities are extremely complex systems, and with rapid growth of the urban middle class, there is a global increase in consumption putting resource pressure on cities. Cities across the world are facing an efficiency challenge: how can they provide more for less?

Madden said that the biggest challenge for cities today is that “our cities have 19th century institutions, 20th century budgets, and they are trying to solve 21st century problems.” The way cities were built makes them vulnerable in a few important ways. They were often built along water, making them vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels. They were also built on infrastructure that was not designed to handle rapid urbanization, but many cities grew so fast that it is now impossible to build completely new infrastructure. Instead, innovative methods need to be employed to tackle these and other modern urban challenges.

Future Cities Catapult brings together academia, businesses and city decision-makers to find innovative solutions to the challenges that cities face today. The world is more interconnected than ever before, making it possible to gather large amounts of data. Using big data, they are able to build complex models to better understand how cities function and to design innovative solutions to the issues at hand. Although every city is different, Peter Madden sees London and the United Kingdom as a global urban innovation center using big data and advanced modelling to better understand our cities. ~Enni Kallio

New Project Funding: Eli Fenichel

Coastal SEES Collaborative Research: Adaptations of fish and fishing communities to rapid climate velocities
Yale PI: Eli Fenichel, in collaboration with PI Malin Pinsky (Rutgers) and PI Simon Levin (Princeton)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $150,514

Summary: Climate change presents a profound challenge to the sustainability of coastal systems, but most research has ignored the important coupling between human responses to climate effects and the cumulative impacts of these responses on ecosystems. Fisheries are a prime example of this feedback: climate drives shifts in species distributions and abundances, and fisheries adapt to these shifts. However, changes in the location and intensity of fishing also have major ecosystem impacts. This project’s goal is to understand how climate and fishing interact to affect the long-term sustainability of marine populations and the ecosystem services they support. The project focuses on fisheries for summer flounder and hake on the northeast U.S. continental shelf, which target some of the most rapidly shifting species in North America. The project addresses three questions: 1) How do the interacting impacts of fishing and climate velocities affect the persistence, abundance, and distribution of marine fishes? 2) How do fishers and fishing communities adapt to species range shifts and related changes in abundance? and 3) Which institutions create incentives that sustain or maximize the value of natural capital and comprehensive social wealth in the face of rapid climate velocities?

New Project Funding: Alex Felson, James Axley, & Graeme Berlyn

The transformation of existing green wall technology to provide urban heat rejection infrastructure
PI: Alex Felson
Co-PIs: James Axley, and Graeme Berlyn
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $299,960

Summary: Green walls provide benefits that have fostered the growth of a new industry as they can passively moderate exterior wall surface temperatures and thereby reduce building heating and cooling loads, attenuate surface temperature variations and solar exposure that degrade exterior wall finishes, and provide ecosystem service benefits including air pollution and particulate removal, mitigation of urban heat island effects, and urban wildlife habitats. To date, these benefits do not offset the costs of green walls, and therefore, the market for green walls remains limited. This research will address problems that must be resolved to transform existing green wall technology into an active technology for process heat rejection (i.e., principally, here, for chilled water generation), and thereby expand the market to a wide range of applications from households to institutions and industry. The objective is to provide a sustainable alternative to wet cooling tower technology that maintains the benefits of existing green walls, employing their methods of construction and operation, while avoiding the shortcomings of wet cooling tower technologies (i.e., single use and contamination of cooling water).

New Project Funding: Ben Cashore

Small Scale Funding Agreement Relating to Regional Delivery of the REDD+ Academy
PI: Ben Cashore
Sponsor: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) $199,942

Summary: The overall objective of the project is to ensure the development and delivery of a strong process for capacity building in which the needs of participants are tied to the delivery of on-the-ground REDD+ readiness activities through a long-term and sustainable learning experience.  The partnership is intended to produce pre-course material and complete learning modules as well as quality control for the 'REDD+ Academy'. The materials and framework required for launching a massive open online course (MOOC) on REDD+ and Land-use Planning will also be developed.

Karen Seto Succeeds David Skelly as Associate Dean & Doctoral Studies Director

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Karen Seto, a professor of geography and urbanization at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), has been named the School’s next Associate Dean for Research and Director of Doctoral Studies.
She succeeds David Skelly, an F&ES professor of ecology who was appointed as the new director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History beginning July 1.
For Seto, who has been at Yale for six years, the new position offers a chance to reassess how the School prepares its students for a changing academic world — and to continue the work started by Skelly to integrate the realms of research and doctoral studies at F&ES.

New Project Funding: Kris Covey (Advisor: Mark Bradford)

Dissertation Research: Quantification and Characterization of the Production of Methane in Living Trees
PI: Mark Bradford (Faculty Advisor), Doctoral Candidate: Kris Covey
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant) $21,645

Summary: Dissertation research undertaken thus far demonstrates the prevalence of elevated methane concentrations in upland hardwood dominated eastern forests, illuminates distinct species level patterns in production potential, and suggests that the highest methane production rates drive substantial through bark emission. Initial estimates indicate the magnitude of this unrecognized source could be on the same order as the upland forest methane sink. The PIs propose expanding their current work to achieve three primary objectives: 1. Determine the extent to which methane production observed in the trunks of eastern hardwood trees also occurs in conifer-dominated western forests. 2. Assess the contribution of methane production in dead wood and debris to overall forest methane flux. 3. Associate measured methane production with microbial community dynamics in wood. This work is transformative because it asks whether methane production from understudied methane sources changes forests from net methane sinks to sources. We know that heart rot is ubiquitous in forests but its part in global CH4 budgets has not been considered until publication of our preliminary data. Initial estimates from our paper suggest that heart-rot methane emissions are equivalent in global warming potential to about 18% of the carbon dioxide likely sequestered by the stand in which we worked. The studies proposed here will allow for the expansion of our current work by providing the data necessary build our initial CH4 rate estimates beyond the individual forest stand to a robust estimate of continental emissions of methane originating in living trees. Furthermore, these data will help to disentangle the contribution of in situ microbial-born methane from the other confirmed plant-methane pathways.

New Project Funding: Thomas Graedel

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Anthropogenic Life Cycles of Scarce Metals
PI: Thomas Graedel
Sponsor: U.S. Geological Survey $48,469

Summary: Material flow analysis approaches have been used widely over the past decade to characterize the life cycles of the major metals. A similar situation has not occurred for the scarce metals, many of which are uniquely useful constituents of new technological development. This is partly due to the fact that information regarding those cycles is less readily available. However, as part of a larger criticality of metals project, we have developed information on the extraction, use, discard, and loss of a number of the scarce metals. We will use this information to construct global and U.S. life cycles for year 2008 for four scarce metals: gallium, indium, germanium, and rhenium; these are the first U.S. cycles ever to be characterized in detail for these metals. The results of this study will help to build further knowledge on the less common (“scarcer”) metals, many of which have been identified by the USGS Minerals Research Program to be of increasing importance to the U.S. national economy. Understanding the whole system of material flows can help to quantify potential primary and secondary source strengths, manage metal use more wisely, and protect the environment.

New Project Funding: Shimon Anisfeld

The Future of Long Island Sound Tidal Marshes: Understanding Marsh Migration into Different Upland Types
PI: Shimon Anisfeld; Co-PI: Andrew Kemp (Tufts University)
Sponsor: Connecticut Sea Grant $129,994

Summary: Shimon Anisfeld and his colleague Andrew Kemp will investigate the ability of salt marshes to migrate upland as sea levels rise. Healthy marshes protect shorelines from storm impacts and serve as nursery habitat for many animals. Their successful migration will depend on many factors such as elevation, hydrology, soils, plants, and animals.
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Recent Publications

  • Chung, Y., Y.-H. Lim, Y. Honda, Y.-L. L. Guo, M. Hashizume, M. L. Bell, B.-Y. Chen, and H. Kim. “Mortality related to extreme temperature for 15 cities in northeast Asia.” Epidemiology 26.2 (2015): 255-262. DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000229
  • Strickland, M.S., A.D. Keiser, and M.A. Bradford. “Climate history shapes contemporary leaf litter decomposition.” Biogeochemistry 122.2-3 (2015): 165-174. DOI: 10.1007/s10533-014-0065-0
  • Wang, R. and J.B. Zimmerman. “Economic and Environmental Assessment of Office Building Rainwater Harvesting Systems in Various U.S. Cities.” Environmental Science & Technology 49.3 (2015): 1768-1778. DOI: 10.1021/es5046887
  • Kuebbing, S.E. and M.A. Nunez. “Negative, neutral, and positive interactions among nonnative plants: patterns, processes, and management implications.” Global Change Biology 21.2 (2015): 926-934. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12711
  • Choat, B., C.R. Brodersen, and A.J. McElrone. “Synchrotron X-ray microtomography of xylem embolism in Sequoia sempervirens saplings during cycles of drought and recovery.” New Phytologist 205.3 (2015): 1095-1105. DOI: 10.1111/nph.13110
  • Liu, J.C., G. Pereira, S.A. Uhl, M.A. Bravo, and M.L. Bell. “A systematic review of the physical health impacts from non-occupational exposure to wildfire smoke.” Environmental Research 136 (2015): 120-132. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2014.10.015
  • Springborn, M., G. Chowell, M. MacLachlan, and E.P. Fenichel. “Accounting for behavioral responses during a flu epidemic using home television.” BMC Infectious Diseases 15 (2015): 21. DOI: 10.1186/s12879-014-0691-0
  • Strickland, M.S., Z.H. Leggett, E.B. Sucre, and M.A. Bradford. “Biofuel intercropping effects on soil carbon and microbial activity.” Ecological Applications 25.1 (2015): 140-150. DOI: 10.1890/14-0285.1
  • Covey, K., C.J.W. Carroll, M.C. Duguid, K. Dorji, T. Dorji, S. Tashi, T. Wangdi, and M. Ashton. “Developmental dynamics following selective logging of an evergreen oak forest in the Eastern Himalaya, Bhutan: Structure, composition, and spatial pattern.” Forest Ecology and Management 336 (2015): 163-173. DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2014.10.006
  • Torres-Ruiz, J.M., S. Jansen, B. Choat, A. J. McElrone, H. Cochard, T.J. Brodribb, E. Badel, R. Burlett, P.S. Bouche, C.R. Brodersen, S. Li, H. Morris, and S. Delzon. . “Direct X-Ray Microtomography Observation Confirms the Induction of Embolism upon Xylem Cutting under Tension.” Plant Physiology 167.1 (2015): 40-43. DOI: 10.1104/pp.114.249706
  • Rabinowtiz, P.M., I.B. Slizovskiy, V. Lamers, S.J. Trufan, T.R. Holford, J.D. Dziura, P.N. Peduzzi, M.J. Kane, J.S. Reif, T.R. Weiss, and M.H. Stowe. “Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania.” Environmental Health Perspectives 123.1 (2015): 21-26. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1307732
  • Zimmerman, J.B. and P.T. Anastas. “Toward designing safer chemicals.” Science 347.6219 (2015): 215. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa6736
  • Pandey, B. and K.C. Seto. “Urbanization and agricultural land loss in India: Comparing satellite estimates with census data.” Journal of Environmental Management 148.SI (2015): 53-66. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2014.05.014
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