Rising Seas: fastest rate in 28 centuries

From the New York Times

by Justin Gillis

The worsening of tidal flooding in American coastal communities is largely a consequence of greenhouse gases from human activity, and the problem will grow far worse in coming decades, scientists reported Monday.

Those emissions, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, are causing the ocean to rise at the fastest rate since at least the founding of ancient Rome, the scientists said. They added that in the absence of ...

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Michelle Stocker finds fossils of worm-lizard from 40 million years ago

From VT News

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 29, 2016 – A new species of an extinct, tiny worm-like lizard – dating back some 40 million years ago when the world’s climate was far different – has been found in rural West Texas, and given a nickname befitting its one-time home: Solastella, Latin for Lone Star.

The description of the fossil was made by Michelle Stocker, now a research scientist with Virginia Tech’s Department of Geosciences, part of ...

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UN Biodiversity Panel: Decline of bees poses risks to major crops

From Apple News

Populations of bees, butterflies and other species important for agricultural pollination are declining, posing potential risks to major world crops, a UN body on biodiversity said Friday.

“Many wild bees and butterflies have been declining in abundance, occurrence and diversity at local and regional scales in Northwest Europe and North America,” said an assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

It said declines had also been ...

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Maya Wilson receives Rufford Small Grant for Nature Conservation

Maya Wilson, an IGC IGEP Fellow and Ph.D. student in Biological Sciences, was recently awarded a Rufford Foundation small grant to support her research on Bahama swallows.

Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation (RSGs) are intended to support small-scale or pilot projects with a nature, biodiversity, or conservation focus. The Foundation prefers to support projects which go beyond a species-specific focus to provide habitat protection at a wider scale. The overriding requirement is that the work must be structured to ...

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GCC Faculty Retreat a success

The Global Change Center (GCC) held a retreat for GCC-affiliated faculty on Friday, February 19, 2016. This strategic planning and visioning event was held at the Skelton Conference Center and 30 faculty members from across campus participated in a full day of activities.

Retreat highlights:

Dr. Dennis Dean, Director of the Fralin Life Science Institute, provided opening remarks regarding Virginia Tech’s plans to identify “Destination Areas”, or cross-university signature strengths. These proposed areas will be used to differentiate Virginia Tech in the ...

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World’s coral facing massive die-off

From The Guardian

Scientists have confirmed the third-ever global bleaching of coral reefs is under way and warned it could see the biggest coral die-off in history.

Since 2014, a massive underwater heatwave, driven by climate change, has caused corals to lose their brilliance and die in every ocean. By the end of this year 38% of the world’s reefs will have been affected. About 5% will have died forever.

But with a very strong El Niño driving record ...

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Jacob Barney briefs congressional staffers on the benefits and risks of biofuel crops

From VT News

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 19, 2016 – A Virginia Tech invasive plant expert will be briefing congressional staff members on Monday on the best ways to increase the use of plants for biofuels without sowing an environmental nightmare in the process.

While plants used for biofuels are a vital part of a growing need to create more forms of alternative energy, careless planting of them can lead to an unwanted invasion of exotic plants that ...

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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 ...

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Postcards from the field: David Millican in Namibia

By David Millican

It’s late January in central Namibia, the time of year when heavy rain showers become a regular source of relief for many animals. If the rains arrive, a green carpet spreads across the landscape and food becomes plentiful for all, providing the necessary resources for many species to reproduce. If the rains fail to show, dehydration and starvation sweep through the land like a plague. All individuals suffer, but the young and old, the weakest and most vulnerable, ...

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