‘Dead Zone’ is largest ever in Gulf of Mexico

From National Geographic

A record-breaking, New Jersey-sized dead zone was measured by scientists in the Gulf of Mexico this week—a sign that water quality in U.S. waterways is worse than expected.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today that this summer’s dead zone is the largest ever recorded, measuring 8,776 miles. This is more expansive than the nearly 8,200 square-mile area that was forecast in July. Since monitoring began 32 years ago, the average ...

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Hotchkiss awarded NSF funding to examine the consequences of warming in streams

Congratulations to Dr. Erin Hotchkiss in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech.  Dr. Hotchkiss and her colleagues recently received research funding from the National Science Foundation. Their project will examine the consequences of warming for organic matter cycling in streams.

Title: “Headwater stream networks in a warming world: Predicting heterotrophic ecosystem function using theory, multi-scale temperature manipulations, and modeling”

Principal Investigators: J.P. Benstead (Alabama), V. Gulis (Coastal Carolina), A.M. Helton (University of Connecticut), A.D. Rosemond (UGA), E.R. Hotchkiss (Virginia Tech).

Summary: This project will ...

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Top 10 most endangered rivers in the US

From National Geographic

Water is life, yet climate change and certain public policies may be endangering its future in America, a nonprofit group warns in a new report. The stakes are high, with the current presidential administration having proposed budget cuts that may eliminate some safeguards for clean drinking water and rivers nationwide.

That’s according to American Rivers, a Washington, D.C.-based conservation group, which released its annual list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers ...

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Jon Doubek, GLEON Fellow, publishes in PNAS

Jon Doubek, a PH.D. candidate in Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech, is a fellow in the Interfaces of Global Change Program and the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON).

Jon’s GLEON Fellowship Program trains small cohorts of graduate students from around the world to analyze large and diverse data sets, operate effectively in diverse international teams, and communicate science to researchers, the public, and managers. In addition to taking part in three international workshops, Jon ...

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Global water expert, Brian Richter to give GCC Distinguished Lecture April 7th

From VT News:

Brian Richter, the chief scientist for the Global Water Program of The Nature Conservancy, will visit Virginia Tech on April 7. He will give a 4 p.m. distinguished lecture entitled “Chasing Water in a Rapidly Changing World” at the Lyric Theatre, followed by a question and answer period and book signing.

The event, coordinated by the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech and the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, is free and open to the public.

Richter has been a global ...

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Global Change Researchers help Water Authority maintain water quality

From VT NEWS

Pumping oxygen into the bottom waters of Southwest Virginia’s drinking water reservoirs can reduce treatment costs and help fish and other aquatic life, according to an interdisciplinary research team with the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech.

The team has installed oxygenation systems in three reservoirs that serve Roanoke and surrounding county residents — Carvins Cove, Falling Creek, and Spring Hollow — and are monitoring them to see how increased oxygen levels ...

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Distinguished Lecture Series: Brian Richter- Chasing Water in a Dynamically Changing World

The Global Change Center Distinguished Lecture Series welcomes
BRIAN RICHTER
Chief Scientist, Global Water Program of The Nature Conservancy
President, Sustainable Waters

Chasing Water in a Dynamically Changing World
Friday, April 7, 2017, 4:00-5:00 p.m.
The Lyric Theatre

Brian Richter has been a global leader in water science and conservation for more than 25 years.  He is the Chief ...

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Toxic algae blooms are spreading

From National Geographic

When sea lions suffered seizures and birds and porpoises started dying on the California coast last year, scientists weren’t entirely surprised. Toxic algae is known to harm marine mammals.

But when researchers found enormous amounts of toxin in a pelican that had been slurping anchovies, they decided to sample fresh-caught fish. To their surprise, they found toxins at such dangerous levels in anchovy meat that the state urged people to immediately stop eating them.

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Tony Timpano’s work in water quality research is at the interface of science and policy

Story by Cassandra Hockman
Fralin Life Science Institute

Along the Mississippi River there is one species many people who live there know well. Mayflies. These long, dragonfly-looking creatures live on the bottom of the river and burrow in the muck and sand. They grow and develop there before they come to the surface to fly away and mate.

When they fly away, they do it en masse.

“They come out in huge swarms so big they show up on Doppler radar,” said Tony ...

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Watershed flood-control strategies aided by new mapping approach

From VT News

It should come as no surprise that urban areas, with impenetrable rooftops and parking lots, contribute to flooding. But natural and manmade structures within the watersheds that serve urban and rural areas can influence the path and speed of water, for better or worse.

Landscape features, such as vegetative cover, soil type, and the steepness of hillsides, affect the magnitude and duration of only small floods, according to research by Beatriz “Tiz” Mogollón of Bogota, Colombia, who ...

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Water professor Stephen Schoenholtz attends White House Water Summit

From VT News

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday is World Water Day, and the White House is bringing the issues of water to the public forefront at a special Water SummitStephen Schoenholtz, coordinator of Virginia Tech’s new bachelor’s degree in water: resources, policy, and management, will present the university’s commitment to water sustainability and security at the summit.

The event will be live-streamed beginning at 9 a.m. ET on March 22.

The White House Office of Science and Technology selected Virginia Tech ...

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Jon Doubek receives NSF Doctoral Dissertation Grant

We are pleased to announce that IGC Fellow, Jonathan Doubek, has been awarded a prestigious NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant!

The grant will support Jon’s work in the Carey lab on zooplankton in freshwater lakes and reservoirs.  These organisms play a critical role in the food web and overall water quality in these ecosystems and a major factor in the negative impact of human activities.  The project is part of ...

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Castello, et al.: Hydro dams threaten a third of the world’s freshwater fish

A new paper, published today in Science by Dr. Leandro Castello and his colleagues, was featured in the Guardian and at VT News.

Winemiller, K., McIntyre, P., Castello, L., and 29 other authors. 2016. Balancing hydropower and biodiversity in the Amazon, Congo and Mekong. Science 351: 128-129

From VT News:

BLACKSBURG — Advocates of huge hydroelectric dam projects on the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong rivers often overestimate economic benefits and underestimate far-reaching effects on biodiversity, according to an article published ...

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Castello & Macedo: Large-scale degradation of Amazonian freshwater ecosystems

Castello, L., Macedo, N.M. 2015. Large-scale degradation of Amazonian freshwater ecosystems. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.13173 pdf

From the Washington Post

When it comes to conservation efforts, few regions of the Earth have garnered as much attention as the Amazon. Considering that it’s home to the world’s largest remaining rain forest and some of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet, halting deforestation in the Amazon basin has been a major priority of environmentalists around the globe. But while ...

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Peter Vikesland explores new methods for detecting pollutants in the environment

From VT News

Rapid pollutant detection can prevent widespread outbreaks. While there are many existing techniques for detecting such contamination, they generally require highly specific instruments for each contaminant.

Peter Vikesland, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and Haoran Wei of Zaozhuang in Shandong, China, a doctoral student in environmental engineering, describe challenges related to deploying surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) used for detection in their paper published by Scientific Reports, “pH-Triggered Molecular Alignment for Reproducible SERS ...

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GCC Seed Grant gains roots, bears fruits

Last fall, the Global Change Center released its first call for proposals to support interdisciplinary research. A team of VT researchers led by Dr. Cayelan Carey received ~$18,000 for their project titled, “Managing human needs and ecosystem services in drinking water reservoirs confronted with global change.” Dr. Carey’s team includes Dr. John LittleDr. Madeline Schreiber, and Dr. Quinn Thomas

This interdisciplinary group is currently examining the effects of altered climate on nutrient cycling and food web dynamics in four drinking-water reservoirs that supply Roanoke. Southeastern U.S. reservoirs are ...

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VT researchers review the ecology and epidemiology of “opportunistic plumbing pathogens”

The following article from Environmental Health Perspectives reviews a new paper published by Virginia Tech researchers Joseph Falkingham, Amy Pruden, and Marc Edwards.

Plumbing pathogens: a fixture in hospitals and homes
By Carol Potera

Practicing good hygiene is supposed to make you healthier, not sicker. However, a growing body of research shows that certain bacteria can thrive in household and hospital plumbing systems and may cause life-threatening infections among susceptible individuals after inhalation or ingestion. In this issue of EHP, Joseph Falkinham ...

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Tony Timpano’s proposal funded by OSM: stream ecosystem responses to surface mining

A project proposal submitted by IGC graduate student, Tony Timpano, to the Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining has been successful! This funding will support one full-time research associate for 12 months and one graduate student for two semesters to continue research on salt pollution (salinization) and selenium in headwater streams affected by coal mining in VA and WVA. Congratulations, Tony!

TITLE:
Stream Ecosystem Response to Mining-Induced Salinization in Appalachia

 

PROJECT GOALS

  • Assess long-term temporal patterns of chemical and biological changes in salinized Appalachian headwater ...
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Texas: a history of flooding is compounded by development and warming impacts

From the New York Times

The holiday and the type of hazard have changed, but once again fast-growing Texas is seeing outsize (and tragic) impacts from extreme weather events. On Labor Day weekend in 2011, the disaster was heat- and drought-fueled fires that whipped through the exurbs east of Austin, most of which didn’t exist just a few decades earlier. Now, Houston is flooded and Hays County, west of Austin, is still in search and rescue mode after Memorial Day weekend flash flooding ...

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