NASA and NOAA declare 2016 hottest on record

From The Washington Post

In a powerful testament to the warming of the planet, two leading U.S. science agencies Wednesday jointly declared 2016 the hottest year on record, surpassing the previous record set just last year — which itself had topped a record set in 2014.

Average surface temperatures in 2016, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, were 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than 2015 and featured eight successive months (January through August) that were individually the warmest since the agency’s records began ...

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Seminar Announcement: Dr. Kate Langwig- Ecology, Impacts, and Extinction in Emerging Infectious Diseases of Wildlife

Dr. Kate Langwig, is a postdoc at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research address questions on pathogen transmission and dynamics, heterogeneity in host susceptibility and infectiousness, the impacts of pathogens on ecological communities, and the conservation and policy implications of infectious disease.

Dr. Langwig will give a research seminar this Thursday, January 19th at 3:30 pm in Fralin Auditorium. Her talk will be titled, Ecology, Impacts, and Extinction in Emerging Infectious Diseases of Wildlife. 

The seminar will be followed by a reception in the Fralin Atrium, sponsored by ...

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Dr. Tyrone Hayes will give the 6th Annual Martin Luther King Seminar January 20th

In commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr., Virginia Tech has a weeklong schedule to remember and honor the man who drove out hate and darkness through love and light. This year’s celebration theme is “Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere: The Legacy Between Two Movements.”

The schedule of events includes a special research seminar hosted by the Diversity Committee of the Biological Sciences Department featuring Dr. Tyrone Hayes. The lecture may be of particular interest to the Global Change community at Virginia Tech. In ...

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Water is the latest battleground in Syria

From CNN

Nour, a housewife in Damascus, says the latest joke in the Syrian capital is also a prayer of sorts: “May the gold you hold become water.”

It is a half-hearted attempt to make light of a water crisis that is impacting millions in Damascus, a city that has been relatively sheltered from the violence raging elsewhere in the country.

Nour said that her family just got water on Tuesday morning, after four days without access. Her family quickly lined up ...

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Fighting the climate crisis with $150 homes in Africa

From CNN

Deforestation and climate change have triggered a housing crisis in West Africa

Millions of households in the Sahel region of West Africa live under a growing threat. Deforestation and climate change have decimated the available supply of wood that is used for traditional roof construction, forcing many to use imported sheet metal. This is both prohibitively expensive and unsuited to the climate, entrenching poverty and making homes that boil in summer and freeze in winter.

One creative enterprise is reaching ...

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Strickland: Scientists zero in on biological diversity in ‘poor man’s rainforest’

From VT News

The soil beneath our feet is not as biologically diverse as scientists previously thought, according to a research team that includes a Virginia Tech soil microbial ecologist.

Leftover DNA from dead organisms — known as “relic DNA” — has historically thrown a wrench into estimates, causing scientists to overestimate microbial diversity by as much as 55 percent. Understanding microbial diversity in soil is crucial for understanding how environmental processes like atmospheric nitrogen fixation and climate change occur.

But a ...

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The extinction crisis is far worse than you think

From CNN

The extinction crisis is far worse than you think. In all of Earth’s history, there have been five mass extinction events. You can see them charted here. Now, we’re on the verge of the sixth extinction. And three-quarters of all species could vanish. Imagine three out of four species that were common are gone. This is the first time humans have caused anything like this.

Experience this interactive report at CNN

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Tackling Nature’s Most Wicked Problems

From Virginia Tech Magazine

By Mason Adams

Virginia Tech’s new Global Systems Science Destination Area grows from roots that extend back to the university’s founding as a land-grant college, to branches that include the globe’s most urgent and complicated challenges.

One of five new Destination Areas — sites of interdisciplinary collaboration where experts are positioned to address the full complexities of pressing problems worldwide — Global Systems Science targets the interface between society and the environment.

“The heart of the ...

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Every relevant federal agency to be led by climate change skeptics

From The Guardian

December 12, 2016 | The heads of Donald Trump’s transition teams for Nasa, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy, as well as his nominees to lead the EPA and the Department of the Interior, all question the science of human-caused climate change, in a signal of the president-elect’s determination to embark upon an aggressively pro-fossil fuels agenda.

Trump has assembled a transition team in which at least nine ...

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Surge in methane emissions threatens efforts to slow climate change

Global Methane Budget Released

Global concentrations of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and cause of climate change, are now growing faster in the atmosphere than at any other time in the past two decades.

That is the message of a team of international scientists in an editorial to be published 12 December in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The group reports that methane concentrations in the air began to surge around 2007 and grew precipitously in 2014 and 2015. In that two-year period, ...

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General Mills, USDA & Xerces Society: $4 million effort aims to stop the death of honeybees

From The Guardian

On the 33-acre Prairie Drifter Farm in central Minnesota, farmers Joan and Nick Olson are cultivating more than just organic vegetables. Alongside their seven acres of crops – including tomatoes, cucumbers and onions – they’ve also planted flowering plants, dogwood and elderberry hedgerows to accommodate species of bees and butterflies essential for the health of the crops.

The Olsons are not beekeepers, but they are part of a movement to reconnect sustainable farming to a healthy environment. As ...

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Sterling Nesbitt sizes-up early dinosaurs

From VT News

Look out your window, and you may see people of all ages and sizes roaming the street: a 6-foot-5-inch man walking beside a 4-foot-6-inch boy, for example, or a sprouting teenager who is much taller than a full-grown adult.

Virginia Tech geoscientists Christopher Griffin and Sterling Nesbitt discovered that this sort of variation in growth patterns in people despite their ages also occurred among early dinosaurs, and ...

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Extreme rains could increase 400% by end of century

From The Guardian

When the skies open up and deluge an area, the results can be catastrophic, with roads washed out and homes destroyed by the resulting flash floods. Such extreme downpours are already occurring more often across the US, but a new study finds that as global temperatures rise, storms could dump considerably more rain and skyrocket in frequency.

The study, in the journal Nature Climate Change, suggests that storms that now occur ...

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Hotchkiss receives funding from Swedish Research Council Formas

Dr. Erin Hotchkiss, an Assistant Professor of Freshwater Ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences, recently received funding for two grants from the Swedish Research Council Formas.

  • Hotchkiss is a co-PI on the first grant: “Taking the pulse of Swedish rivers: Using metabolism to monitor ecosystem responses to environmental change”.
    • Project Goals: (1) determine how rates of ecosystem metabolism in Swedish rivers are shaped by regional climatic and anthropogenic gradients, (2) quantify the extent to which streams in the Swedish landscape degrade terrestrial organic carbon and contribute ...
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Laura Schoenle participates in Scientist in the Classroom

From the blog of the National Center for Science in the Classroom

By this point in the school year, I hope that you have heard of NCSE’s Scientist in the Classroom program. But if not, please check it out!

In designing the program, we wanted to be sure that scientists and teachers were able to work together to come up with a hands-on activity that fit in with what was going on in the classroom as opposed to a prescribed activity. ...

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NSF RET pays dividends through Sydney Hope’s high school outreach

Sydney Hope, a Ph.D. student in the Hopkins Lab, visited Franklin County High School on Friday, November 4, 2016 to speak about her research and experience as a scientist as part of the school’s “Moment of Science” program. The “Moment of Science” takes place during the activity period on select days and the school brings speakers in to talk about different aspects of science. All students from grades 9-12 are invited to attend.

Sydney spoke about her research on how incubation temperature ...

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