February 2011

Feb. 1: Chris Field announced the outstanding news that Anna Michalak has decided to join DGE as a faculty member, beginning around June 1.  Anna will bring an exciting program focused on spatial analysis of carbon and water resources.  She joins us from the University of Michigan, where she is Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Field & Berry Groups

Feb. 7: Matt Colgan led the discussion of these two early papers about the movement of water through plants: Sap Pressure in Vascular Plants. Negative hydrostatic pressure can be measured in plants. P.F. Scholander et al, Science,16 April 1965 pg. 339 and The Measurement of the Turgor Pressure and the Water Relations of Plants by the Pressure-bomb Technique by M.T. Tyree & H.T. Hammel in the J. Exp. Botany, 23, pp. 267, 1972. Terms clarified were water potential, pressure plates, turgor pressure, & the pressure bomb.
Tasting: Matt brought five brands of Coconut Water & a fresh coconut from Whole Foods plus some watermelon slices. We compared the flavor of the five commercial products with the fresh water extracted from the coconut. None were as good, and the coconut was a better buy also ($2.67).
Feb. 8, Chris Field and Joe Berry gave a lecture on plants, water and soil relations followed by a Field Trip to Jasper Ridge.
Feb. 14: Olle Bjorkman (Emeritus Faculty in the Dept. Plant Biology) told us about the beginnings of Plant Physiological Ecology starting with his PhD Thesis work at the Univ. Uppsala, Sweden that was published in Physiologia Plantarum, 16, 1963. The title was Adaptability of the Photosynthetic Apparatus to Light Intensity in Ecotypes from Exposed and Shaded Habitats by Bjorkman & Paul Holmgren. Soon after that Olle moved here to head the Group previously led by Bill Hiesey and including Malcolm Nobs, Joe Berry and later Chris Field.
Feb. 28: Rebecca Hernandez led the discussion of a 1977 paper by I.R. Cowan & G.D. Farquhar titled Stomatal Function in Relation to Leaf Metabolism and Environment reprinted from the Society for Experimental Biology Symposium No. XXXI, Cambridge Univ. Press. Both Chris Field & Joe Berry contributed to the discussion from their personal knowledge of the authors and development of plant science at the time. It was the beginning of the important realization of the roles that stomata play in controlling the movement of water based on economic principles.
Tasting:  Becca’s title for this event was Dark Organic Chocolate Tasting: across a cost and sustainability gradient. She had purchased (online or at Whole Foods Market) seven different brands of chocolate bars including six organic, half Fair Trade, and varying in price from $1.184/oz to $2.152/oz. The Tasting was carried out much as it is with wine; paying attention to appearance, smell & touch in addition to taste. I personally liked the Theo brand best. It is medium in price, 70% Cacao with a rich, dark chocolate flavor (all were slightly sweetened). As Chris pointed out “Chocolate has been a favorite item to taste over the years.” But I don’t recall one that was so professionally done.








Caldeira Group

Feb. 2: Julia Pongratz had almost 5 minutes on BBC World Service on Jan 27, 2011, and was quoted on several websites, one of which was:
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,14788216,00.html  This was in response to her paper with Ken Caldeira, Christian Reick & Martin Claussen in which they modeled the effects of wars & epidemics on atmospheric CO2 between AD 800 & 1850. It has been suggested that the deaths of so many people would lead to agricultural lands being reforested with the subsequent uptake of CO2. However, these new studies showed that none of the four historic events studied would have changed the CO2 (< 1%) concentration enough to be detected by ice core records.

Asner Group

Feb. 7:  Greg Asner and the Carnegie Airborne Observatory program play an increasingly central role in Colombia's approach to environmental management. Check it our at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lieHjEOK0vs
Congratulations to Greg and his team!
Feb. 21: Publication of a paper led by Scott Loarie showing that land cover and water cover changes can cause continental-scale changes in albedo.  These processes are often hard to quantify, and yet they play an important role in determining land-surface feedbacks to climate. Ref. Earth Interactions Vol. 15 (2011), No. 7, pg. 1-16. Work done in South American by Loarie, Scott, David Lobell, Gregory Asner & Christopher Field.

Feb. 16: Kate Dreher (DPB) forwarded the following: Greetings everyone,
The Ecumenical Hunger Program, the recipient of our charitable holiday donations, sent us this nice thank you certificate. I'd like to add my thanks to everyone who contributed to the collection and who helped to facilitate it. We can be proud of our efforts to make the holidays brighter for our neighbors in need.

Jan Brown, Editor, Email: jbrown1@stanford.edu
Click on Photos to Enlarge