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

Gulf of Mexico topography played key role in bacterial consumption of Deepwater Horizon spill
01/10/2012 -

Scientists document how geology, biology worked together after oil disaster

When scientist David Valentine and colleagues published results of a study in early 2011 reporting that bacterial blooms had consumed almost all the deepwater methane plumes after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill, some were skeptical. How, they asked the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) geochemist, could almost all the gas emitted disappear?

In new results published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Valentine; Igor Mezic, a mechanical engineer at UCSB; and coauthors report that they used an innovative computer model to demonstrate the respective roles of underwater topography, currents and bacteria in the Gulf of Mexico.

DENIN student initiative: DENIN establishes Student Programs Committee to help plan student-targeted environmental events
01/09/2012 -

The Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) at the University of Delaware has selected nine undergraduate and graduate students to serve on its Student Programs Committee, a team charged with facilitating student involvement in DENIN’s environmental mission.

The Student Programs Committee members will serve as ambassadors, representing DENIN at campus-wide events; a focus group, providing input to DENIN staff about what students are interested in and concerned about; and event planners, carrying out events for students that further the educational objectives of DENIN.

Bycatch-22: University scientists aiding fishermen in butterfish conundrum
01/09/2012 -

Butterfish may sound delicious, but local fishermen would rather keep them out of their nets. The small, silvery fish are protected by fishing limits yet frequently surface in tows when fishermen are trawling for squid. Too much of this unintended butterfish “bycatch” can get a fishery shut down by regulators for the year – before the squid allocation is caught.

The University of Delaware’s Matthew Oliver, assistant professor of oceanography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE), is helping to address the problem. Combining satellite data with radar information on ocean currents, he and others are developing a model to predict where butterfish populations are most likely to be on any given day. Their habitat model could assist fishermen in avoiding butterfish while fishing for squid.

01/05/2012 -


For more information, contact Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902. Photos available.

Delaware awarded nearly $1 million federal grant to protect critical coastal wetlands in Delaware Bayshore

PORT PENN (Jan. 5, 2012) A key coastal wetland property, part of the Thousand Acre Marsh near Port Penn, will be conserved thanks to a $829,400 federal grant awarded to DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife through the U.S. Department of the Interior’s 2012 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. The grant will be used, along with matching funds from the state Open Space Program and private contributions, to acquire a 194-acre property, bringing a total of 388 acres of the Thousand Acre Marsh under permanent protection. The conservation of the property protects and expands access to the globally significant wildlife habitat within the Delaware Bayshore and supports President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative by providing new recreational opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and learn about nature.

Sustainability Conference: "Sustainability in Higher Education: The Next Frontier" at West Chester University
01/04/2012 -

Paul Morgan, one of the attendees of the DENIN-sponsored University of Delaware Sustainability Task Force Regional Sustainability Institute, encourages UD presence at West Chester University's "Sustainability in Higher Education: The Next Frontier" February 9-10.

DENIN Symposium:  Environmental institute to hold second research symposium Jan. 12
01/04/2012 -

Faculty and students from across the University of Delaware are welcome to attend the second Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) Research Symposium on Thursday, Jan. 12, in Clayton Hall.

The symposium will introduce faculty with environmental interests who are new to the University of Delaware and to DENIN, with an emphasis on building a community that is truly interdisciplinary and University-wide.

“One thing we’ve realized in the first two years of DENIN’s existence is that environmental interest and expertise extends very broadly across the University,” said Don Sparks, director of DENIN. “At the same time, the agencies that typically fund scientific research are increasingly requiring the integration of social sciences, ethics, communication and education into research projects. DENIN’s symposium provides a forum for people to learn what others with environmental interests are doing right here at UD.” (full article)

Oceans Day: UD researchers highlight oceans at UN climate negotiations
12/28/2011 -

Oceans play a central role in climate--generating oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide and regulating climate and temperature. However, climate change is predicted to have adverse impacts on ocean resources and coastal communities, including ocean warming, sea-level rise and extreme weather events.

Coastal countries and small islands in particular stand to experience irreversible damage with severe socioeconomic implications. 

Delegates from around the world gathered in Durban, South Africa, earlier this month to work towards a global consensus to address climate change, and University of Delaware researchers played a lead role in discussions on the importance of oceans in climate issues.

Active environment: Art, outdoors come together for environmental studies student
12/27/2011 -

Jarret Katz is a youthful Renaissance man—artist, athlete and environmental activist. During summer 2011, all of these interests came together for the University of Delaware junior in an internship at the University of Rhode Island energy center.

An environmental studies major in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, Katz started out in biology. But after one semester, he felt that bio wasn’t a good fit for him, and he decided to explore other options.

“I came across a listing for environmental studies,” he says, “and it just clicked. I was raised to be an outdoor person—I grew up ten minutes from the beach, I’ve been skiing since I was three years old, and I love to hike. Protecting the environment for those kinds of activities is important to me.”

River otters: UD grad student researches river otters, 'class clowns' of the animal kingdom
12/22/2011 -

11:08 a.m., Dec. 20, 2011--If high school existed in the animal kingdom, the river otter would be voted “class clown.” These curious and playful creatures have been known to chase sticks, play hide-and-seek and roll around in the grass. They’re loud, too. While playing, they bark, whistle, squeal and growl.


“A few years ago, I went to Centennial Park in Milton one Saturday and saw three river otters splashing around. They kept diving into the water and popping back up,” recalls Jason Beale, manager of Abbott’s Mill Nature Center in Milford. “The otters were a lot of fun to watch and they didn’t care that people were around.”

The North American river otter is native to Delaware and at one point was found throughout North America. But their range has been greatly reduced due to habitat loss and their sensitivity to environmental pollution.

12/21/2011 -


Contact: Melanie Rapp, DNREC, 302-739-9902

Delmar’s new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility unveiled
Plant provides significant clean water benefits, protecting public health and the Chesapeake Bay

DELMAR, Del./Md. (Dec. 20, 2011) – Delmar’s new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility was unveiled today at a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included dignitaries from Delaware, Maryland, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They were joined by representatives from local construction and engineering companies who worked for more than a year to transform the outdated facility to an innovative, effective wastewater treatment plant that protects the health and safety of families and provides significant clean water benefits for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Delmar Mayor Michael Houlihan (Delaware) was joined by Governor Jack Markell, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del), Senator Chris Coons (D-Del), EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin, Maryland Department of the Environment Deputy Secretary for Planning and Policy David A. Costello, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara and other officials to announce the expansion and upgrades at the facility.