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

UDaily: CEOE researchers update students from ship that is testing new Alvin submersible
03/28/2014 -

The deep-sea vehicle Alvin has been out of commission for three years as it underwent a major overhaul. The famous research submersible is now back in the water, and students in the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) were among the first to get to ask about the success of recent test dives.

CEOE faculty members George Luther and Jonathan Cohen dialed in via Skype from the research vessel Atlantis, the Alvin’s mother ship, to Robinson Hall to share updates with marine science majors. The class was made up of juniors eager to gain field experience of their own.

03/27/2014 -

Even though spring officially started a week ago, only two days after the largest snow accumulation in the Milford region all winter, the snow continued to fall this week, for Delaware’s 17th snow event of the season. Kevin Brinson, director of the University of Delaware’s Delaware Environmental Observing System and associate state climatologist, said it’s not necessarily the accumulations that are remarkable, but rather the number of storms and low temperatures this season. “I think the frequency of events combined with the below-normal temperatures has been what’s so notable this year,” Brinson said. Of the 17 snow events throughout Delaware this year, the Ellendale, Harrington and Milford areas were affected by 14 snow events, with three of those resulting in minimal accumulation or flurries that could not be measured.

03/24/2014 -

If there was ever a spring that needed a good cleaning, it’s this one, said Joe Spadafino. The Newark recreation superintendent said there was plenty of trash alongside roads and park trails from a crazy winter, in which the relentless weather blew debris even farther off the road. Volunteers arrived in force on a surprisingly brisk morning Saturday to help make that trash go away. Newark’s annual Spring Community Cleanup attracted 200 participants, who arrived at City Hall at 9 a.m. to get their trash bags, day-glo green T-shirts, and assignments. They spent two hours out in the field, then returned for hot dogs and other refreshments provided by the Newark Lions Club.

03/24/2014 -

Mention the phrase “land use” in Sussex County and it's sure to attract a crowd with varied opinions. That's exactly what occurred during the Sussex County League of Women Voters most recent forum on March 11. The standing-room crowd listened as Ed Lewandowski explained land-use planning using the real-life scenario of a plan created for Bridgeville and Greenwood. Lewandowski, former Center for Inland Bays director, is a development specialist with the University of Delaware's Sustainable Coastal Coastal Communities Initiative: Enhancing Citizen Engagement in Participatory Planning Process.

03/20/2014 -

Gov. Jack Markell on Tuesday proposed an $800 million program to clean Delaware waterways, curb stormwater runoff and flooding, and protect drinking water, suggesting a statewide tax that would cost most homeowners $45 a year, and more borrowing to pay for the effort.

"Somebody has to do this," Markell said. "We have a fundamental responsibility, I believe, to leave the next generation cleaner water – water you can fish in, water you can swim in, not as many problems with drinking water, not as many problems with stormwater and all that flooding. ... It's just not acceptable and it's embarrassing."

The governor's plan relies on the new tax charged to property owners, which would generate $30 million annually, and a $60 million each year in new state borrowing or state-assisted loans by others. That money would be added to the current $30 million set aside for state water projects.

03/20/2014 -

The Delaware Climate Change Impact Assessment, a comprehensive statewide report produced at the direction of DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara and DNREC’s Division of Energy and Climate, is now available on DNREC’s website. The Delaware Climate Change Impact Assessment provides a summary of the best available science on the potential impacts of climate change to people, places, and resources in Delaware. The purpose of the Climate Change Impact Assessment is to increase Delaware’s resiliency to climate change by understanding and communicating the current and future impacts of climate change.

03/20/2014 -

Before a crowd of 700, a deadlocked Newark board on Wednesday effectively upheld the city's decision to permit a gas-fired power plant at the former Chrysler site as part of a large data center. Following a three-hour hearing, the Board of Adjustment deliberated for more than 70 minutes on several issues related to the city staff's Jan. 17 zoning decision permitting the power plant. Members voted 3-1 to find that on-site generation would not impair the neighborhood. They split 2-2 on two other issues: Whether on-site generation is customary in the data-center industry, and whether the project would contradict Newark's future land-use plan by having negative effect on the local and regional environment.

UDaily: Worth its salt - Salt-tolerant crop shows promise as chicken bedding, helping farmers with flooded fields
03/19/2014 -

Jack Gallagher grew up on a farm, but he never cared much for the squawking chickens pecking around. The Pennsylvania farm boy gravitated toward the coastline, where he built a career studying salt marsh vegetation as a marine scientist in the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment(CEOE). 

Yet the professor emeritus of marine biosciences has returned to his agricultural roots, having found a potential new use for salt marsh plants: chicken bedding. 

03/18/2014 -

A 39-year study of wildflower blooms in a Colorado Rocky Mountain meadow shows that more than two-thirds of alpine flowers have changed their blooming patterns in response to climate change. Not only are half the flowers beginning to bloom weeks earlier, but more than a third are reaching their peak blooms earlier, and others are producing their last blooms later in the year. The blooming season, which used to run from late May through early September, now lasts from late April to late September, according to University of Maryland ecologist David Inouye.

The wildflower records, made up of more than two million blooms, suggest that flowering plants' responses to climate change are more complex than previously believed, with different species responding in unexpected ways. The combinations of flowering species that bloom together are changing, too, with potential effects on insects and birds.

UDaily: Alvin test - UD scientists assist field test of newly redesigned Alvin deep-sea submersible
03/14/2014 -

Plunging into the depths of the ocean in the research submersible Alvin is like descending into another world. The inside of the sub is very dim, letting occupants’ eyes adjust to darkness as daylight fades away. Bioluminescent fish and sea jellies flash their bluish lights outside the portholes. Scientists prepare their sampling equipment as the pilot maneuvers to the research site and then turns on the vehicle’s headlights to get to work. 

“It’s one of the most intense days of science,” said George Luther, Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Marine Studies in the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE). “You’re working the whole time, and you lose track of time a little bit. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting.”