delware environmental institute


Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

Want to understand drought? Follow the water!
11/07/2011 -

Lifecycle of water in the Susquehanna River Basin may reveal answers for drought prone areas

Water is a precious resource many take for granted until there is too little or too much. Scientists and engineers have positioned instruments at the Susquehanna Shale Hills Observatory at Pennsylvania State University to learn much more about the water cycle there. It is one of six Critical Zone Observatories in the United States.

"What we're trying to do is build experimental test beds across the United States and we're also working with several European Critical Zone Observatory test beds, to understand the cycle of water in detail," says Chris Duffy, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Penn State.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Duffy and his team are documenting the flow of water at the forested Shale Hills watershed from rain and snow through plants, soil and rock--from "bedrock to boundary layer."

From tropics to poles: study reveals diversity of life in soils
11/03/2011 -

Microscopic animals that live in soils are as diverse in the tropical forests of Costa Rica as they are in the arid grasslands of Kenya, or the tundra and boreal forests of Alaska and Sweden.That conclusion is found in research results published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Scientists have generally accepted that a wider range of species can be found above ground at the equator than at the Earth's poles. But this study proves for the first time that the same rules don't apply to the nematodes, mites and springtails living underground.

Funding a sustainable campus:  UD community invited to apply for environmental project grants
11/03/2011 -

The University of Delaware Sustainability Task Force invites the UD community to submit grant applications for projects that address sustainability issues.

The task force will be awarding $9,500 in grants to selected projects, with preference given to projects that are consistent with the goals of the University Climate Action Plan and the mission of the task force.

Faculty and staff created the University of Delaware Sustainability Fund (UDSF) to stimulate innovative opportunities to develop a more sustainable campus.

“The goal is to fund solid, well-thought-out projects that make the University community more sustainable,” said Jenny McDermott, chair of the UDSF working group. “Collaboration is strongly encouraged, and we like to see projects initiated by students.” (full article)

U.S. rivers and streams saturated with carbon
11/02/2011 -

Rivers and streams in the United States are releasing substantially more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than previously thought. This according to researchers publishing their results in the current issue of the journal Nature Geoscience. Their findings could change the way scientists model the movement of carbon among land, water and the atmosphere.

Bat decline: UD grads research white-nose syndrome in bats
11/02/2011 -

Erin Adams devotes “99 percent” of her work hours to bats -- in particular, to white-nose syndrome in bats -- as a research assistant in the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. But her interest in these creatures of the night was sparked many years ago. A 2007 graduate of the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Adams was required, as a wildlife conservation major, to take a course in mammalogy. She quickly discovered that her favorite taxonomic group didn’t win any popularity contests with her fellow classmates. “Everyone loves the cuddly creatures or the big, attractive mammals – the polar bears and the wolves,” says Adams. “Me, I’ve always liked the underdog; I think that’s why I was drawn to bats.”

An honored professor:  Sparks travels 16 days, 18,621 miles to promote scientific collaboration
11/02/2011 -

Donald L. Sparks, the S. Hallock du Pont Chair of Soil and Environmental Chemistry and director of the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) at the University of Delaware, spent 16 days traveling and lecturing in China last month.

The trip was sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which awarded Sparks a 2011 Einstein Professorship that is presented to 20 distinguished scientists from around the world each year. The program seeks to strengthen science and technology links between CAS scientists and Einstein Professorship recipients, with an overarching goal of enhancing training for future generations of scientists in China.

“There are exciting opportunities to form collaborations, and there are so many young Chinese scientists excited about what the future in scientific research holds in solving global environmental challenges,” Sparks said. “The trip was highly exciting and enjoyable — a lifetime experience that I will always remember.”  (full article)

Ocean of opportunity:  UD-led network takes ocean's pulse for public benefit
10/31/2011 -

A University of Delaware-led network in the Mid-Atlantic has its finger on the ocean’s “pulse” and is putting that data to use -- to save lives, improve flood warnings, protect fish stocks from overfishing while enhancing the fishing experience, save shipping time and fuel costs, and even spawn new businesses.

These are just a few of the applications, both real and potential, for the extensive data being gathered by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observing System (MARACOOS), according to its new executive director, Gerhard Kuska.

Kuska, who holds both a bachelor’s degree in political science and a doctorate in marine policy from UD, is providing day-to-day management of MARACOOS working with Carolyn Thoroughgood, professor of marine biosciences in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE). (full article)

'Go green' : The College School helps UD celebrate Sustainability Day
10/30/2011 -

“Don’t be mean.  Go green.” That’s the slogan Nathaniel, a fourth grader from The College School (TCS) used for his poster at UD’s Campus Sustainability Day

Held Oct. 26 on The Green, Sustainability Day showcased the efforts underway at UD to create a sustainable environment, while demonstrating how others could get involved. For the second year in a row, children from TCS were asked to provide artwork to support the event.

This year, the TCS students focused their art on a theme of recycling. Students in first to sixth grade created posters reflecting their thoughts on why recycling is important, how we can recycle, and what things are actually recyclable. Resourceful sculptures were constructed by the students in seventh and eighth grade utilizing items cast aside for recycling. (full article)

Fueling a sustainable future: Recycled cooking oil powers UD bus fleet
10/28/2011 -

Transportation at the University of Delaware became more environmentally friendly recently, when the campus bus fleet began using biodiesel produced by undergraduate engineering students to, in part, fuel its travel. The project is a collaborative effort between transportation and engineering, inspired by the donation of a biodiesel processor last spring by UD chemical engineering alumnus James Seferis, who received a doctorate in 1977. Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from renewable resources such as vegetable oil or soy oil. Biodegradable and less toxic than table salt, it has lower emissions compared to petroleum diesel and it can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modification.

10/28/2011 -

Delaware residents are invited to attend public engagement sessions on sea level rise and the potential impacts to Delaware. Five sessions are scheduled at locations throughout the state – Nov. 9 in Middletown; Nov. 15 in Georgetown; Nov. 17 in New Castle; Nov. 21 in Dover; and Nov. 29 in Lewes. At each session, the work of the Delaware Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee will be presented.