University of Delaware
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Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

11/15/2009 -


The extent of carbon recycling by the biosphere is vast, far beyond anything human-made technology could accomplish. The planet's natural carbon cycle allows for gigatons of this gas to be released without harm. For humans, the earth's expectation is that each of us annually emits not more than 3.3 tons of carbon dioxide.

Most of Africa, Asia and Latin America have observed this budget. Europe has not -- the continent releases more than 14 tons per person per year; Japan -- our most efficient industrial economy -- releases nearly 11 tons; and the U.S. overshoots its budget by more than any country on Earth -- we emit upward of 21 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year, and our per-capita amount is growing.

Milldams tell scientists about erosion, mercury contamination
11/13/2009 -

It's a picturesque early American image -- a gristmill complete with a water wheel perched on the banks of a swiftly flowing river or stream. Many of these mills are long gone today, but scientists are discovering that the dams associated with them can have lasting environmental effects.

“The dams may have played a role in trapping the mercury and their demise is key to getting it back into the river,” said Pizzuto, professor of geology.The University of Delaware's Jim Pizzuto and Michael O'Neal have documented those effects in Virginia, where they've been working to decrease the amount of mercury entering the South River. The College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) scientists are part of an interdisciplinary team that's trying to understand how mercury is still getting into the river even though a nearby former DuPont plant known to have caused the contamination stopped using the substance in 1950. The pair's research, published in Geology earlier this year, concluded that one of the mercury sources is related to milldams.

UD professor testifies about offshore wind for legislative hearing
11/05/2009 -

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works recently held three days of hearings on the “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act,” co-sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). The comprehensive climate change legislation includes a mandate to decrease the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, with an 83 percent reduction by 2050. It also outlines provisions for greenhouse gas trading.
The hearings dealt with a wide range of considerations related to the bill, including its effect on the American coal industry, public transportation, and the cost of food. On Thursday, Oct. 29, Willett Kempton, University of Delaware professor of marine policy, provided testimony on carbon-free energy technologies with a focus on offshore wind energy.

University hosts conference on ethics of climate change
11/03/2009 -

Climate scientists, philosophers, economists, ethicists and students gathered at the University of Delaware's Clayton Hall on Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 31 to discuss the ways in which humans should respond to climate change, as part of a conference titled, "The Ethics of Climate Change: Intergenerational Justice and the Global Challenge."

An audience of 100 listened to John Broome, White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford University, discuss the application of moral principles to climate change.

“Philosophers are interested in participating in the climate change discussion but are not sure how to get involved,” Broome said. “If we moral philosophers are going to have any effect on what happens, we're going to have to use a little strategy.”
Broome suggested that one strategic way for philosophers to enter the discussion of climate change is to approach it from the topic of economics.

Solar panels latest in green technology at UD dairy farm
11/03/2009 -

The University of Delaware's dairy farm serves as a model for farmers in the region and leads the way in utilizing the latest green methods of farming and green technology.

“We developed a master plan five years ago to modernize the farm and as funding has become available, we are putting the plan into practice,” said Tom Sims, deputy dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and T.A. Baker Professor of Soil and Environmental Chemistry.

The most recent farm project has been the installation of 44 solar panels on the roof of the manure recycling facility at the dairy farm as a green initiative to provide clean electrical power. UD had already installed solar panels in Southern Delaware on a poultry house project on a Laurel Farm owned by Allen Family Foods.

10/29/2009 -

Before kicking off the Delaware Environmental Institute Oct. 23, DENIN Director Donald L. Sparks, the S. Hallock du Pont Chair of plant and soil sciences at the University of Delaware, traveled around the globe to speak at two international environmental science meetings in Germany and China.

Sparks was the keynote speaker at the German Research Foundation (DFG)/International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) symposium in Jena, Germany, Oct. 6-7.

His talk was entitled “The Value of a Multi-Scale, Multi-Tool Approach in Elucidating Metal(loid) Biogeochemistry in the Environment.”

“My talk stressed the importance of using macroscopic approaches and molecular and atomic resolution techniques, along with computational modeling and kinetics, to better understand complex environmental reactions and mechanisms,” said Sparks.

USDA awards grant to study hormones, antibiotics in runoff
10/27/2009 -

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a University of Delaware researcher a $400,000 grant to study the fate and transport of hormones and antibiotics in runoff from agricultural watersheds.

The grant was awarded to Shreeram Inamdar, an associate professor of bioresources engineering in UD's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, through the competitive 2009 Agricultural and Food Research Initiative program on water and watersheds. Diana Aga, who is an associate professor with the Department of Chemistry at the University at Buffalo (N.Y.) is a co-principal investigator on the project.

UD start-up company prepares to commercialize novel detector for medical, military applications
10/27/2009 -

PAIR Technologies, a start-up company established by University of Delaware researchers and a former DuPont scientist, is preparing to commercialize a high-precision detector -- a planar array infrared spectrograph -- that can identify biological and chemical agents in solids, liquids, and gases, present at low levels, and in less than a second.

The revolutionary technology holds promise in multiple applications, ranging from the early detection of diseases, to monitoring for chemical weapons and environmental pollutants, to enhancing quality-control efforts in manufacturing processes.

John Rabolt, the Karl W. and Renate Böer Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UD, and his students invented and patented the technology in 2001.

UD launches Delaware Environmental Institute
10/22/2009 -

More than 200 people attended the official debut of the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) on Friday, Oct. 23, including a cadre of elementary and high school students who contributed posters on topics ranging from the benefits of trees to the problems associated with invasive species.

The event featured remarks by Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, UD President Patrick Harker, Provost Tom Apple, DENIN Director Donald Sparks, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O'Mara, and Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator William Early.

Sustainability Day features workshops, sustainable lunch
10/21/2009 -

The University of Delaware marked National Sustainability Day on Wednesday, Oct. 21, with a series of workshops and a challenge by Provost Tom Apple to members of the campus community to help the University achieve its environmental initiatives.

Apple made his remarks to about 150 members of the UD community during a sustainable lunch held in the Trabant University Center.

The program also showcased stories of successful sustainability efforts by University individuals, departments and organizations that reflect the motto of “think globally, act locally,” Apple said.