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DGE Newsletter, April 2007
Field & Berry Labs
April 4: Mark Gessner (visitor from Zurich) presented some data in a paper on which he is collaborating titled: Diel Temperature Oscillations and Effects of Global Warming on Litter Decomposition. The premise is whether or not climate change will affect the growth of organisms that may be limited by day and/or night time temperatures. His test material was a group of aquatic fungi that decompose the litter in forest streams. It was a very ingenious experimental setup, and three of the species tested did show an effect of warming.
Tasting: Mark provided five brands of Tapenade (olive spread) and French bread to taste them on. The base of all of them was chopped olives but the additions varied from various spices to chopped vegetables such as peppers, carrots or cauliflower. It was a delightful experience for the five of us who were there; the rest of the lab missed a real treat.
April 11: Chris Field gave a report of his experiences in Brussels working on the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. He also provided the Tasting of five kinds of nut butters from Trader Joe's. The nuts were peanut, cashew, cashew-macadamia, soybean, & almond. We enjoyed them all on crackers.
April 18: Eben Broadbent spoke about his ongoing thesis research concerning nutrient limitations of forest succession following slash-and-burn agriculture in the Bolivian Amazon. It was mainly about how phosphorus and nitrogen may limit secondary growth. The Tasting was postponed because Eben's talk ran into the scheduled seminar time.
April 25: Adam Wolf described a proposal that he (with Berry & Field) has submitted to the NSF— International Polar Year (IPY) Program to collaborate with Russian scientists in the use of Stable Isotopes Adding Knowledge to the Hydrology of the Arctic. Overall the project will provide data on the water cycle in the Arctic and allow for better predictions of the results of global warming and climate change.
Tasting: Adam provided some magical Sympetalum berries that make sour foods taste sweet. Following his instructions, we each put a tiny berry into our mouth, moving it around over the tongue to remove the skin from the seed which we discarded. Then we tasted a number of sour foods including lemons, sauerkraut, dill pickles & Kefir. Indeed, all of them tasted pleasantly sweet (to me at least). There was some talk about making these berries commercially available to help people with a weight problem overcome their desire for sweets.
April 4: The Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford is sponsoring a series of Energy Seminars during Spring Quarter. At the first one, Chris Somerville, Director of Carnegie's Plant Biology Dept. spoke about Technical Aspects of Biofuel Development.
April 11: The second Woods Institute Seminar featured a panel of five Stanford scientists discussing the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. They were Chris Field, Michael Mastrandrea, Terry Root, Steve Schneider & John Weyant.
April 18:Venkat Lakshmi from the Univ. South Carolina & Visiting Professor in the Stanford Dept. Geological Sciences spoke about The Influence of the Land Surface on Ecology. He is modeling satellite observational data with the role of vegetation in the freshwater cycle,
April 25: Ken Caldeira gave us a preview of the talk he is giving on May 2 during Carnegie's Annual Meeting in Washington. His topic is Oceans in Peril in which he will discuss how rising levels of CO2 may lead to ocean acidification resulting in major disturbances to marine life. One salient point that he illustrated is how when the variation in atmospheric CO2 in the distant past is plotted on a scale of 100 years rather than millions of years as it is usually presented, the peaks and valleys appear insignificant compared to the rapid rise we see now in the last century.
April 26: Alexander Georgiadi, Institute of Geography, Russian Acad. Sciences, Moscow spoke about Current and future river runoff changes in the Lena river basin. Adam Wolf hopes to collaborate with him on their IPY proposal.
April 6: Although we lament Robert (Bob) Haxo leaving us, we celebrated his career change and wished him well as a new DGE alumnus. Chris Field stopped by at the party on his way home, having just flown in from the IPCC Meeting in Brussels.
April 10: Ken Caldeira spoke for two-and-a-half minutes live on the BBC World TV program on the topic of the role of forests in climate change. This program goes out all over the world. The previous morning, he did a taped interview for BBC World Service radio on the same topic.
April 11: Caldeira gave an invited talk at a meeting in Paris on carbon dioxide in the surface ocean. The talk gave a geological perspective on ocean acidification.
April 16: Ken spoke at a lunchtime event in the Dirksen Senate Office Bldg along with two other speakers sponsored by the Amer. Meteorological Soc. titled Managing Climate Change: The Daunting Energy Challenge Ahead.
April 17: Chris Field talked before a US Senate subcommittee about the recent IPCC report. He was pleased that the committee members were more in tune with the scientific results than in previous years. On the same day,
Caldeira testified on ocean acidification and the effects of climate change on the ocean before the House Subcommittee on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Oceans.
New Post-Doc
Long Cao joined DGE as Ken Caldeira's newest post-doc, starting on April 16. Long got his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign working with his advisor, Atul Jain. Cao wrote a paper with Ken and Atul that was published this year in Geophysical Research Letters and selected for a highlight by Nature magazine.
April 25: The American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced this week that Carnegie’s Global Ecology Department building is among the top 10 buildings in the country that are “examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that promote and enhance the environment.
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Editor Jan Brown, e-mail: jbrown1@stanford.edu