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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IGC IGEP participates in the Gilbert Linkous Elementary Science Fair

By Heather Govenor

It was a big night for little scientists at the Gilbert Linkous Elementary School Science Fair on March 16, 2016, where there was no shortage of creativity or enthusiasm! The annual science fair features the research of kindergarten through 5th graders, and is fast becoming a favorite IGC Spring outreach opportunity. Fellows Tamara Fetters, Kaan Kerman, and Julie Wiemerslage served as judges, evaluating the scientific thought process and presentation skills of the young participants. Nearby, Matt Aberle, ...

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Video: A stunning look at carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

An ultra-high-resolution NASA computer model has given scientists a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere travels around the globe.

Plumes of carbon dioxide in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres and distinct swings in global carbon dioxide concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with ...

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Warmer world, fewer vegetables

By Maryn McKenna at National Geographic

Concerns about climate change have caused researchers to warn that rising global temperatures will reduce crop yields and create food insecurity, the inability to get enough calories to survive. Now, scholars from the United Kingdom and the United States have revealed another possible result: an increase in deaths not just from hunger, but from chronic diseases that would be made worse as diets change.

Writing in the medical journal The Lancet, the researchers from Oxford University and the International ...

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Join us for an upcoming EEB Seminar featuring Dr. John Little

The Global Change Center at Virginia Tech is co-sponsoring a special EEB Seminar featuring Dr. John Little, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Assessing and Enhancing Environmental Sustainability:
A brief review and proposal for a common interdisciplinary framework
Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 3:30 pm
Fralin Hall Auditorium

 

Dr. John C. Little is the Charles E. Via Jr. Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. Little is a nationally and internationally recognized faculty member whose research focuses on two ...

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Global Change Fellows and Ecology graduate students meet with NSF Program Officer

Dr. Cayelan Carey recently hosted Dr. Michael Vanni, Professor of Zoology at the University of Miami-Ohio for an EEB seminar in Fralin Auditorium. Dr. Vanni’s presentation was titled “Farms, fish, phosphorus, and phytoplankton: Watershed subsidies and food webs regulate ecosystem dynamics in an agricultural reservoir.”

Dr. Vanni is a renowned freshwater ecology and fisheries expert; his lab studies the ecology of lakes and their surrounding landscapes, particularly focusing on how watersheds and lake food webs interact to regulate nutrient cycling ...

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Climate change a potent element in the deadly brew of disaster risk

From The Guardian

By tackling the environment we can also mitigate the impact of disasters, as heatwaves, droughts and floods threaten the lives of millions

March 3, 2016

The Hyogo framework for action (HFA), adopted in January 2005 by UN member states, was an unprecedented move to promote saving lives and livelihoods from disasters over a decade. Has there been progress?

The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters and major insurance companies ...

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Tony Timpano’s paper in Science: Mountaintop mining & crop irrigation can increase salinity in freshwater, impacting diversity

From VT News

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 2, 2016 – Aquatic life can suffer when high concentrations of dissolved salts enter freshwater ecosystems, a process known as salinization.

An international, multi-institutional team of researchers that includes a Virginia Tech graduate student recommends ways that humans can protect freshwater from salts in a recent article in the journal Science.

The recommendations include the use of less water for agricultural practices, less salt for road de-icing, less discharge or sequestering salts during ...

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Should Citrus Farmers Use Antibiotics to Combat Greening Disease?

By Maryn McKenna at National Geographic

When you hear about antibiotic use in agriculture it is almost always about the kind of routine everyday use in livestock that the Food and Drug Administration is trying to eliminate. But there’s another type of antibiotic use in agriculture. It may be less known, but it’s poised to generate just as much controversy: spraying the drugs on citrus trees.

Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has applied to the U.S. ...

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Climate change, dams, deforestation: vicious cycle in the Amazon

From VT News

Dams, mining, land-cover changes, and climate change are degrading the streams, rivers, lakes, and forests of the world’s largest river basin at unprecedented rates, according to scientists.

Most studies to date have focused on threats in streams and rivers, such as dams, or on land directly adjacent to them, such as deforestation. A new study by Virginia Tech and Woods Hole Research Center scientists evaluates the ...

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Brandon Semel will use drones to help save lemurs in Madagascar

Brandon Semel is a PhD student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech and a fellow in the Interfaces of Global Change IGEP.  This story was first published as a Student Spotlight at Fralin Life Science Institute.

Flying high for conservation: an Interfaces of Global Change fellow will use drones to help save lemurs

Brandon Semel’s doctoral research can be traced back to a picture book.

Within the book are images of bushy tailed lemurs, hand drawn ...

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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 human emissions, ...

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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 the College 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 detected elsewhere ...

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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 provide long-lasting and practical ...

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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 global temperatures ...

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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 can push ...

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