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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Global Change Center Science Policy Fellowships give undergrads experience in Washington, DC

From VT News

The Washington Semester program at Virginia Tech began offering undergraduate students the chance to spend summers learning the ins and outs of policymaking on Capitol Hill 20 years ago.

Today, the university’s School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), which houses the summer program, has partnered with the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech to ensure students are exposed to the role science plays in this process.

As part of the new collaboration, the Global Change Center has established an  Read More →

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Global deal limits the use of hydrofluorocarbons

From The Guardian

A global deal to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the battle to combat climate change is a “monumental step forward”, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has said.

The agreement, announced on Saturday morning after all-night negotiations in Kigali, Rwanda, caps and reduces the use of HFCs – a key contributor to greenhouse gases – in a gradual process beginning in 2019, with action by developed countries including the US, the world’s ...

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Michelle Stocker and team name a new species of extinct reptile

From VT News

Iconic dinosaur shapes were present in animals for at least 100 million years before dinosaurs themselves actually appeared.

A study published in Thursday’s issue of Current Biology describes how a multi-institutional team of paleontologists, including Virginia Tech College of Science researcher Michelle Stocker, identified and named a new species of extinct reptile estimated to be 230 million years old – predating dinosaurs.

Called Triopticus primus — meaning the “First of Three Eyes” because the large natural pit in ...

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Darwin’s Man in Brazil: Book Launch event in Fralin Sept. 30th

From VT News

The book “Darwin’s Man in Brazil: The Evolving Science of Fritz Müller,” by David A. West, associate professor emeritus of biological sciences (1962-1998) was published by the University Press of Florida in July 2016.

The book will be introduced to the Virginia Tech community from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on  Sept. 30, in the Fralin Life Science Institute auditorium and atrium. The book launch* will include a panel discussion to highlight the book and West’s story of how he ...

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Paul Angermeier co-edits new textbook on ‘reintroductions’

From VT News

Paul Angermeier, professor of fish conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, is co-editor of a new textbook on reintroducing fish and wildlife species into regions where they once thrived but now no longer live.

“The book synthesizes current scientific understanding of reintroduction of animal species,” Angermeier said. “The underlying theme is to meld societal goals, institutional capacity, and scientific knowledge . . . Our goal for ‘Reintroduction of Fish and Wildlife Populations’ was ...

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Bees dead after South Carolina sprays for Zika

From The Washington Post

September 1, 2016: On Sunday morning, the South Carolina honey bees began to die in massive numbers.

Death came suddenly to Dorchester County, S.C. Stressed insects tried to flee their nests, only to surrender in little clumps at hive entrances. The dead worker bees littering the farms suggested that colony collapse disorder was not the culprit — in that odd phenomenon, workers vanish as though raptured, leaving a living queen and young bees behind.

Instead, the dead heaps signaled the killer was less ...

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Ryan McClure receives the Leo Bourassa Award

IGC fellow, Ryan McClure, has received the Leo Bourassa Award from the Virginia Lakes and Watershed Association for his research on the effects of water quality management on water quality and greenhouse gas production in Virginia reservoirs. This award was chosen based on Ryan’s contributions to the field of water resources in the commonwealth of Virginia and goes to the top graduate student doing water research in Virginia.  

Ryan has been monitoring the water quality of several reservoirs in ...

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Study Abroad in the Dominican Republic: Climate Change Impacts

Climate change impacts and policy in the Dominican Republic

This Wintermester study abroad course uses the Dominican Republic as a case study to introduce students to the impacts of climate change on key ecosystems (e.g., coastal areas) and natural resources (e.g., forests, biodiversity) and related mitigation and adaptation strategies. Students will also learn about ongoing impacts on agricultural production and people’s livelihoods and strategies to decrease GHG emissions and reduce vulnerability to climate change. Students will meet with scientists, environmental NGOs, ...

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Fred Benfield honored for 45 years of service to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech professor Fred Benfield has spent the better part of the past 45 years pursuing a variety of interests, from freshwater ecology research to performing live music.

Raised in rural North Carolina near the Blue Ridge Mountains, he spent many hours roaming the woods and creeks as a child. As an undergraduate student at Appalachian State University, he took several ecology courses, but said that his interest in freshwater ecology specifically developed as a graduate student in Virginia Tech’s  Read More →

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Two sections of Communicating Science offered this fall on campus

For the first time, two fall sections of GRAD 5144, Communicating Science, are being offered, and currently there is space in both sections (CRN 84376 and CRN 88914). To accommodate the cycle of work in grad students’ lives at the beginning and end of the semester, the course is compressed into ten sessions, beginning the week of September 12 and wrapping up the week of November 14.

This 2-credit participatory course uses theatre improv games and writing exercises to help students ...

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Graduate course of interest to IGC: Modeling Infections Diseases

Dr. Kaja Abbas, an Assistant Professor in Population Health Sciences, is offering this graduate course in fall semester 2016:

Modeling Infectious Diseases

PHS 5354 /3 credits/ Fall 2016

Course description 

Mathematical modeling of infectious diseases in humans and animals. Topics include deterministic susceptibles-infectious-recovered (SIR) and related models, estimation of reproductive number, host heterogeneities, multi-pathogen/multi-host models, spatio-temporal models, stochastic dynamics, and modeling for public health policy.

Learning objectives 

• Gain knowledge and understanding of concepts and methods in

mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.

• Critically select the appropriate modeling methods ...

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Warmer winters, early springs…melting ice leads to more food insecurity

From NPR

Story by Clare Leschin-Hoar

There was a time when Sandra Gologergen’s freezer never ran out. Packed with traditional Inuit foods like whale, walrus, seal and fish, her freezer has been an essential lifeline, ensuring her husband, three kids and grandson make it through the long harsh winters of Savoonga, Alaska.

“Then that changed,” she says.

Warmer winters and changing ice conditions meant hunters were unable to bag the Pacific walrus the Savoonga residents traditionally relied on as a key food source. ...

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John Jelesko and David Haak are mapping the geolocation of Poison Ivy using the Appalachian Trail

From VT News

July 18, 2016

John Jelesko was hiking along the Appalachian Trail when he saw his quarry — one which other hikers would think of as their nemesis.

“Careful,” he said as he and David Haak stopped at a white blaze marker and pulled out his bag of scientific tricks. Though many people want to avoid poison ivy, the thick wall of poison ivy plants bordering the trail is just what the team of ...

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Global Change researchers Scott Davies and Kendra Sewall publish in Biology Letters

From VT News:

No need to head to the movie theater or download the video game app: Angry Birds can be found right in your backyard this summer — if you live in the suburbs, that is.

Virginia Tech researchers recently found in Southwest Virginia that birds that live in suburban areas exhibit significantly higher levels of territorial aggression than their country counterparts. The results were published in Biology Letters June ...

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Sterling Nesbitt: Fossils show ostrich relatives lived in North America 50 million years ago

From VT News:

Exceedingly well-preserved bird fossil specimens dating 50 million years represent a new species that is a previously unknown relative of the modern-day ostrich, according to a new paper co-authored by Sterling Nesbitt of Virginia Tech’s College of Science and part of the university’s Global Change Center.

The bird fossils were found more than a decade ago, completely intact with bones, feathers, and soft tissues, in a former lake bed in Wyoming. Nesbitt cannot hide a grin as ...

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VT faculty explore the “Resilient Earth” Destination Area

From VT News

May 5, 2016

When faculty members from different disciplines gather, they learn one another’s language.

So the process continued Wednesday as two groups of about 100 faculty members each joined at the Graduate Life Center to discuss the Adaptive Brain and Behavior Across the Lifespan destination area, and the Resilient Earth Systems destination area.

The sessions are part of a continuing process to identify difficult problems in society — areas that Virginia Tech can tackle with established, cross-disciplinary expertise ...

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New hook designs could reduce bycatch & reel in unsustainable fishing

From The Guardian

Within seconds of being hauled onto the Shen Lain Cheng, a 79-foot tuna fishing boat from China, the crew’s most senior member, whose deeply wrinkled face conveys more than his 58 years, is plunging a T-handled spike between the glistening eyes of a 100-lb yellowfin tuna. The hope is that the swift death has minimized the release of lactic acid, which degrades the flesh meat and reduces the crew’s chances of earning a grade-A for this ...

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Virginia Tech researchers say Flint-like water problems also present in Virginia wells

From the Roanoke Times

Article by Robby Korth

Flint, Michigan, is hardly the only place Virginia Tech researchers are looking for contaminants in drinking water.

In Virginia, one team that’s part of Virginia Tech’s Cooperative Extension has tested private well samples serving 16,000 people across the state since 2008.

Researchers discovered health-based contaminants above federal standards for municipal systems in almost 60 percent of the well samples — including Flint-like elevated lead levels in almost 20 percent of homes and coliform bacteria ...

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New sea level alarm not to be ignored

From National Geographic

There are days when even a born optimist starts to waver in his conviction. The release of a new study projecting that sea level could rise between five and six feet by 2100—when many children born today will still be alive and have been forced to move inland—made Thursday one of those days.

There have been lots of other studies, you might say. True: The last sea-level alarm (in what ...

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