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IN THE NEWS

Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

Threat from the sea:  Symposium examines likely consequences, responses to sea level rise
03/20/2013 -

Superstorm Sandy could be a tipping point for coastal states and municipalities in the Northeast, according to Cynthia Rosenzweig, keynote speaker at the DENIN Research Symposium and Delaware EPSCoR Annual Meeting held at Clayton Hall on March 12.

Speaking to about 130 participants at the symposium, which was titled “Coastal Consequences: Sea Level Rise in Delaware,” Rosenzweig said that for the first time, recovery efforts following the storm are incorporating plans for retreat from the coastline or other adaptations to rising sea levels, rather than just rebuilding.

Microbe quest:  Geologist investigates microbial communities at underwater volcano near Hawaii
03/20/2013 -

Hawaii was created by underwater volcanoes that gradually built upwards during eruptions until they popped out above the ocean. The next island to form is waiting 3,000 feet underwater as a seamount named Loihi, which occasionally rumbles out earthquakes and should surface hundreds of thousands of years from now.

Until then, Loihi’s inhabitants are not hula girls and hibiscus flowers, but rather bacteria and other microbes. The University of Delaware’s Clara Chan, assistant professor of geological sciences in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, and graduate student Sean McAllister are on a 17-day research cruise there to study these microbial communities and their roles in this unusual setting.

03/13/2013 -

Cash-strapped state officials facing the long-term expense of climate change’s effects on vulnerable beach communities should consider a coastal security tax, some shore residents suggested Tuesday during a symposium on climate change.

Although no specifics were provided, the concept would tax some residents to cover the costs of maintaining beach communities.

During the forum at the University of Delaware, Prime Hook resident Richard Allan noted the inequities between how ocean beach and Delaware Bay communities were treated. While ocean beaches have been replenished with new sand, bay beaches have been further eroded by coastal storms, he said.

Interdisciplinary research centers focus on energy and the environment
03/08/2013 -

The Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory (ISE Lab) will become the new home of these University of Delaware interdisciplinary research centers. Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation, University of Delaware Energy Institute and Delaware Environmental Institute.

DENIN Research Symposium:  Third DENIN Research Symposium to focus on sea level rise in Delaware
03/01/2013 -

The Delaware Environmental Institute’s (DENIN) third research symposium, titled “Coastal Consequences: Sea Level Rise in Delaware,” will take place on Tuesday, March 12, from 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at the University of Delaware’s Clayton Hall Conference Center in Newark.

The keynote speaker for the event will be Cynthia Rosenzweig, senior research scientist at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University. At Goddard, she leads the Climate Impacts Group, whose mission is to investigate the interactions of climate (both variability and change) on systems and sectors important to human well-being.

Isotope fingerprints:  Jaisi laboratory tracks chemicals in water, farmland throughout Mid-Atlantic
02/28/2013 -

University of Delaware researcher Deb Jaisi is using his newly established stable isotope facility in the Environmental Biogeochemistry Laboratory (EBL) to find the fingerprints of isotopes in chemical elements — specifically phosphorus — in order to track sources of nutrients in the environmentally-sensitive Chesapeake Bay, other bodies of water and farmland throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

Jaisi, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, explained that he and his research team are currently working on many projects in the EBL, including two that are funded through seed grants, one focusing on terrestrial phosphorus sources and the other on marine phosphorus sources in the Chesapeake. One of those grants is from the UD Research Foundation (UDRF) and is titled “Role of Non-terrestrial Phosphorus Sources in Eutrophication in the Chesapeake Bay.”

EPSCoR national meeting:  Leaders of the 31 state EPSCoR programs gathered in Newark for annual meeting
02/08/2013 -

More than 100 participants from around the country gathered in Newark for the annual meeting of directors and administrators of the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR program, Jan. 23-25.

EPSCoR stands for Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. The program strengthens research and education in science and engineering throughout the United States and seeks to avoid undue concentration of those resources.

Through awards known as Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) grants, NSF invests in multi-institutional and interdisciplinary projects that develop physical, human and cyber infrastructure aimed at improving research competitiveness.

01/24/2013 -

Like humans, with their complement of microbes that aid in everything from immune responses to nutrition, plants rely on a vast array of bacteria and fungi for health and defense. Over the last decade, research has revealed many new functional aspects of the crosstalk between human-associated microbes and human cells, but plant biologists are only beginning to scratch the surface of the often surprising ways that soil microbiota impact plants, from underground fungus-wired alarm systems to soil bacteria that can trigger defensive plant behavior or even act as a sort of vaccine. But despite these benefits, microbes are still primarily thought of as harbingers of disease.

Coons visits STAR:  Sen. Coons visits UD for update on vehicle-to-grid technology
01/23/2013 -

All-electric Mini Coopers at the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus may soon be referred to as mini power plants as they become sources of distributed energy and demonstrate the potential that innovative vehicle-to-grid technology has to change the fundamental design of the delivery of energy in the United States.

Willett Kempton, director of the Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration (CCPI) and professor at UD, is the visionary and inventor behind the patented grid integration technology. Working with Kempton, UD’s Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP) helped form a joint venture between UD and major energy producer, NRG Energy Inc. called “eV2g” to determine the technical and commercial feasibility of grid integrated vehicles.

Keeping a float:  UD researchers gather data from high-tech float launched near Antarctica
01/18/2013 -

Off the coast of Antarctica, a 4-foot-long, bright yellow tube is drifting through the Southern Ocean and collecting scientific data on the frigid surrounding water.

The recently launched device, called a float, will provide researchers at the University of Delaware — and around the world — with valuable information on ocean conditions in this little-monitored region.

“It’s hard to get down there,” explained Matthew Oliver, assistant professor of oceanography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE). “It’s remote, and ice can be a problem.”