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

Sparks appointment:  UD's Sparks to chair national soil science committee
04/20/2013 -

Donald L. Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair in Soil and Environmental Chemistry at the University of Delaware, has been appointed to a three-year term as chair of the U.S. National Committee for Soil Science (USNC/SS).

From 1999 to 2008, he was an ex-officio member of the USNC/SS and has served as a full member of the committee since 2010.

The USNC/SS advises the National Academies on issues related to soil science and is also the formal representative of the U.S. soil science community to the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS). It provides input to the union on behalf of U.S. soil scientists, arranges for scientific meetings in the United States in consonance with the union’s objectives, and directs attention to soil science research needs.

Protecting tidal wetlands:  UD scientists study tidal flow, sediment movement in Kent salt marsh
04/18/2013 -

According to a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global sea level is expected to increase one half meter or more over the next century. Along the Mid-Atlantic coast of the United States, relative sea-level rise is about two times higher than the global rise.

In Delaware, nearly 371,000 acres of contiguous tidal wetlands surround the Delaware Bay. Studies indicate that the proportion of wetlands that were degraded increased from 25 percent in 1984 to an alarming 54 percent in 1993.

Three University of Delaware scientists are studying tidal water flow and sediment movement in a Kent County salt marsh to better understand changes to the marsh ecosystem due to a rising sea level.

Hillel dialogue:  World Food Prize laureate calls for sustainable soil, water management practices
04/16/2013 -

As the population of the world soars toward 9 billion by midcentury, sustainable agriculture pioneer Daniel Hillel is “conditionally optimistic” that humanity will find a way to feed up to two billion more people in the coming decades.

Hillel addressed the audience gathered for the most recent DENIN Dialogue talk, sponsored by the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN), on April 4. Robin Morgan, professor and former dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, hosted the discussion in the University of Delaware’s Mitchell Hall.

Green infrastructure:  UD students, faculty and staff aim to improve stormwater runoff
04/03/2013 -

In a hydrology class last fall, University of Delaware students saw firsthand the lasting impact of storm runoff: deep gullies carved into the ground by rainfall over several decades. These gullies start at drainpipes that open into the woods near Laird Campus, and during storms they collect water and flush sediment into White Clay Creek.

Luc Claessens, assistant professor of geography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment who studies human effects on watersheds, used the field trip to connect classroom material with real-world experiences. Now he is working with UD staff and students to develop a comprehensive plan that would improve stormwater drainage at the site, supported by a UD Sustainability Fund grant.

April 12: DENIN field trip:  Join DENIN, partners in guided trip to St. Jones Reserve in Kent County
03/23/2013 -

Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) at the University of Delaware,Delaware Wild Lands, the state’s oldest land conservation organization, and theDelaware National Estuarine Research Reserve are sponsoring a free field trip to the St. Jones Reserve, in Kent County, Del., on Friday, April 12.

A component of the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR), the St. Jones Reserve includes about 3,750 acres of tidal brackish-water and salt marshes, wooded fringe habitat, farmlands and meadows distributed along the lower St. Jones River. The St. Jones watershed drains a portion of central Kent County, including the city of Dover, and empties into Delaware Bay.

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.