delware environmental institute


Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

Carbon sequestration:  UD students plant trees to sequester carbon in Milford Neck
04/22/2011 -

University of Delaware Professor Kent Messer and his students went to the state's Milford Neck region on Saturday, April 16, to start a project that aims to plant more than 55,000 trees over a 60-acre plot of land -- work that will result in the sequestration of an estimated 17,500 tons of carbon.

The team planted 5,000 trees in the initial weekend and, in addition to carbon sequestration, Messer said the trees will provide direct benefits for biodiversity and water quality in the region.

Messer, assistant professor of food and resource economics in UD's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, jumped at the opportunity to have his students gain valuable hands-on sustainable development experience while also providing a beneficial service to the environment.

“I want my students to not only learn in the classroom, but also to get involved with environmental projects in the local community and region," he said. (full article)

04/19/2011 -

The Science, Ethics and Public Policy Program (SEPP) at the University of Delaware will continue its Science Café program with a presentation on Tuesday, April 19, entitled “What Happens in the Forest When It Rains, and Why Is It Important?”

The event will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Deer Park Tavern, 108 W. Main St., in Newark.

Del Levia, associate professor of geography and plant and soil sciences, as well as the director of the Environmental Science and Studies Program, will be the guest speaker. (full article)

Focus on UD’s footprint: Green construction diverts 75 tons from landfill
04/19/2011 -

Rebar juts from concrete and stretches toward the sky at the corner of Academy Street and Lovett Avenue like crocuses in springtime, signaling new growth at the University of Delaware.

The East Campus Utility Plant (ECUP) is taking shape, part of a larger project that also includes the new Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Laboratory (ISE-Lab).

With UD’s green construction efforts, these projects have diverted 82 percent, or 75 tons of waste from landfills, according to Whiting Turner, the company leading construction.

“That’s 150,000 pounds of bricks and mortar,” explained Larry McGuire, senior project manager for UD’s Facilities Planning and Construction. (full article)

04/15/2011 -


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

New rain gardens open for view at Blackbird State Forest and St. Jones Reserve

DOVER, (April 15, 2011) – Rain gardens are sprouting up throughout Delaware – courtesy of the “Rain Gardens for the Bays” campaign that encourages citizens to create rain gardens where they work, live and play. Two rain garden demonstration sites for the public to view and enjoy were recently created at the Blackbird State Forest, 502 Blackbird Forest Road near Smyrna and the St. Jones Reserve, 818 Kitts Hummock Road near Dover. The rain gardens are open daily, from dawn until dusk.

A rain garden is a garden located in a shallow depression near a runoff source – a downspout, driveway or paved surface – with soil that drains quickly and deep-rooted native plants and grasses that naturally absorb water and filter pollutants.

Rain gardens are sustainable, affordable and particularly effective in capturing rain water, preventing flooding, creating habitat for local wildlife, and reducing up to 80 percent of pollutants in stormwater runoff. According to the Center for Watershed Protection, typically about 30 percent more water from a rain soaks into the ground in a rain garden than the same size area of lawn.

The key to sustainability: Climate expert looks to knowledge institutions for solutions to climate change
04/14/2011 -

Knowledge institutions are the key to a sustainable future, according to Rajendra K. Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), who spoke to more than 350 people in Mitchell Hall on the evening of April 6.

Pachauri spoke as part of the DENIN Dialogue Series, a semiannual lecture series sponsored by the Delaware Environmental Institute, which brings experts of international renown in environmental research and policy to address the public at UD’s Newark campus. His visit was co-sponsored by the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, the Center for Political Communication and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Along with former Vice President Al Gore, the IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its work in reviewing and synthesizing the most current research on global climate change. In his talk, Pachauri described the process through which the IPCC arrives at its conclusions, which it publishes in periodic assessment reports.

Pachauri’s presentation can be viewed via podcast. (full article)

Our toxic world:  UD professor examines everyday exposure to harmful materials
04/14/2011 -

Ever browse the aisles of a big-box store to check out the ingredients in that paint you’re going to use to decorate your child’s bedroom walls? Or in the lotion you’ll be applying directly to your face?

McKay Jenkins has, and the results weren’t pretty.

The Cornelius A. Tilghman Professor of English and director of the journalism program at the University of Delaware details his “field trip” to the discount store in his new book, What’s Gotten Into Us: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World. It’s just one chapter in a book that explores the prevalence of chemicals in common consumer products and the extent to which those substances make their way into our bodies.

An experienced journalist and nonfiction author, Jenkins based the new book on his examination of numerous scientific studies and on interviews with experts, including some colleagues at UD, on a variety of subjects. (ful article)

04/12/2011 -

The University of Delaware will mark Earth Week 2011 with a variety of activites scheduled April 17-30.

Earth Week serves to generate action through recognition and celebration of the planet by bringing it to the forefront of people’s minds. Activities on campus are designed to engage UD students, faculty and the community in environmental awareness.

A highlight will be a presentation by McKay Jenkins, Cornelius A. Tilghman Professor of English, who will discuss his new book What’s Gotten Into Us? Staying Healthy in a Toxic World at 1 p.m., Wednesday, April 20, in Multipurpose Room C of the Trabant University Center.
(full article)

Rising sea levels threaten birds in salt marshes
04/11/2011 -

Greg Shriver, assistant professor of entomology and wildlife ecology, has received a $300,000 collaborative grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct research on salt marsh birds from Maine to Virginia as part of the Saltmarsh Habitat and Avian Research Project (SHARP).

The project’s short-term goal is to provide the information necessary for all states in the bird conservation region stretching from New England through the Mid-Atlantic coast to protect regionally important habitats for tidal marsh birds. Of particular interest is the salt marsh sparrow, which is listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and has a limited breeding range from Virginia to Maine.

Because the sparrow spends its entire life in salt marsh habitats, Shriver says, “The species is extremely vulnerable to extinction over the next 50-100 years, given even modest estimates of sea-level rise during the same time period.” (full article)

Solar cell research to benefit Pakistan’s remote villages
04/11/2011 -

A University scientist is helping researchers in Pakistan study solar energy as an alternative to fossil fuels.

S. Ismat Shah, a professor with joint appointments in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Physics and Astronomy, estimates that 40 to 45 percent of villages in his native Pakistan do not have electricity.

Pakistan currently depends on fossil fuels for more than 80 percent of its energy requirements. Solar power, particularly photovoltaics, is considered an untapped resource due to the country’s geographical location in a region that receives abundant sunshine throughout much of the year.

“The great thing about solar cell technology is that it brings electricity without wires,” Shah says. “You take a panel, put it up on your hut or shanty, and you’ve got power.” (full article)

More ships, more pollution as Arctic warms
04/11/2011 -

As the ice-capped Arctic Ocean warms, ship traffic will increase at the top of the world. And if the sea ice continues to decline, a new route connecting international trading partners may emerge—but not without significant repercussions to climate.

Those are the findings of a U.S. and Canadian research team that includes a UD scientist.

Growing Arctic ship traffic will bring with it air pollution that has the potential to accelerate climate change in the world’s northern reaches, according to the researchers. And, they say, it’s more than a greenhouse gas problem, as engine exhaust particles could increase warming by some 17-78 percent.

James J. Corbett, professor of marine science and policy at UD, is a lead author of the first geospatial approach to evaluating the potential impacts of shipping on Arctic climate. The study, “Arctic Shipping Emissions Inventories and Future Scenarios,” was published recently in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. (full article)