University of Delaware
delware environmental institute


Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

01/22/2014 -

Snow flurries rode a faint chemical breeze across Red Lion Creek marsh near Delaware City on Thursday as Environmental Protection Agency contractors maneuvered a sediment probe across cold muck and crackling reeds. The labor, science and mothball-like aromas were legacies of the Standard Chlorine/Metachem debacle, a 2002 chemical plant bankruptcy that followed years of spills, loose regulation and illegal operations that left state and federal taxpayers with a cleanup bill last estimated at $100 million. 

01/21/2014 -

Left to themselves, coastal wetlands can resist rapid sea level rise. But humans could be sabotaging some of wetlands' best defenses, according to results published in the journal Nature. Thanks to an intricate system of feedbacks, wetlands are remarkably good at building up soils to outpace sea level rise. The questions are: When do they reach their limit, and how have we lowered that point? Without human-caused climate change, "we wouldn't be worried about wetlands surviving the rates of sea level rise we're seeing today," says lead paper author Matthew Kirwan of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site.

UDaily: Blue carbon - World's mangroves, salt marshes hold potential for reducing carbon emissions
12/17/2013 -

Mangroves, the dense forests found along tropical and subtropical coastlines, have some specialized trees that can take in air through their roots at low tide and excrete salt right out of their leaves. The unusual ecosystems can also absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, making them a natural solution for controlling greenhouse gases.

Disrupt them, however, and they’ll put that carbon right back into the atmosphere.

Sunny Jardine, an assistant professor of marine policy who joined the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment earlier this year, studies the environmental benefits of mangroves and the economics behind their deforestation.

UDaily: Delaware's climate outlook - Katharine Hayhoe's lecture on the state's changing climate available online
12/14/2013 -

To get a sense of Delaware’s weather 75 years from now, check the conditions in Georgia today.

“Delaware will feel like a state much further south does,” said Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, at a lecture on the University of Delaware campus this week.

Hayhoe outlined the warming temperatures and precipitation trends that can be expected over the next century in her presentation, “Delaware’s Future Climate: Connecting Global Change to Local Impacts.”

UDaily: Green innovator - UD's Wool wins Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award
12/12/2013 -

The Environmental Protection Agency has honored the University of Delaware’s Richard Wool with its Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for his extensive work developing bio-based materials to support the green energy infrastructure.

Wool was recognized today during a presentation at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C

Now in its 18th year, the EPA awards program recognizes the design of safer and more sustainable chemicals, processes and products. Awards are conferred annually in five categories: Academic, Small Business, Greener Synthetic Pathways, Greener Reaction Conditions and Designing Greener Chemicals.

UDaily: Sustainable estuaries - NSF grant supports research on sustainable urban estuaries
12/12/2013 -

Altering waterways — from deepening rivers to paving over wetlands — has helped port cities thrive over the past century. Yet the changes can disrupt nature’s ways of dealing with coastal storms, as seen in New York last year after Hurricane Sandy.

“When you deepen an estuary, you basically reduce its capacity to buffer the impacts of extreme tides and storm surge,” said Chris Sommerfield, associate professor of oceanography in the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment(CEOE). “Some people think that Hurricane Sandy had more of an impact in New York City than it would have before the harbor was deepened and the wetlands filled.”

UDaily: AASC president  - Leathers elected president of state climatologists association
12/11/2013 -

Dan Leathers, Delaware state climatologist and professor of geography in the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, has been elected president of the American Association of State Climatologists (AASC). 

The national organization promotes cooperation between state climatologists and agencies that collect and analyze climate information. 

UDaily: Climate lecture  - Expert to discuss future of Delaware's climate amidst global changes
12/06/2013 -

Climate is changing throughout the state of Delaware, across the United States and for the planet as a whole. Scientists are documenting increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, and more frequent precipitation and heat waves. 

Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, will discuss those changes at a lecture titled “Delaware’s Future Climate: Connecting Global Change to Local Impacts” on Monday, Dec. 9. Hosted by the University of Delaware’sCollege of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, the lecture will be held at 2 p.m. in Room 222 of Gore Hall.

UDaily: V2G partnership - UD, Honda partner on vehicle-to-grid technology
12/06/2013 -

Honda has joined a demonstration project for experimental vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology aimed at providing a potentially valuable energy storage resource to the nation’s electrical grid while providing for more cost-effective ownership of plug-in electric vehicles. 

The Honda technology builds off of the research conducted by the University of Delaware and now supported by NRG Energy Inc.

UDaily: Coastal sea change - UD oceanographer reports on human-caused changes to carbon cycling
12/05/2013 -

Carbon dioxide pumped into the air since the Industrial Revolution appears to have changed the way the coastal ocean functions, according to a new analysis published this week in Nature.

A comprehensive review of research on carbon cycling in rivers, estuaries and continental shelves suggests that collectively this coastal zone now takes in more carbon dioxide than it releases. The shift could impact global models of carbon’s flow through the environment and future predictions related to climate change.