May 2010












May 5: Stanford Assistant Professor David Lobell, Dept. Environmental Earth System Science presented a lecture during the Wed. Noon Energy Series titled Prospects for Global Crop Yields and the Earth System. He showed us how the yields of grain crops in the USA increased after 1950 with the use of fertilizers but then slowed down again when pathogens such as wheat rust became adapted to pesticides. Currently Federal support for agriculture is declining. Climate models may help to predict how climate will change and what this will mean for various crops. Dave's talk was based on several research papers that he has co-authored with DGE
May 26: Claudia Tebaldi, Research Scientist, Climate Central, Adjunct Professor, Department of Statistics, University of British Columbia – Vancouver returned to speak at a Stanford Energy Seminar about her work on Uncertainties in projections of Climate Change and its impacts, and the role of multi-model ensembles. Such statistical modeling may help elucidate the characteristics of the problem and the data.


May 11: Kirk Emerson, PhD, University Research Associate, School of Government and Public Policy;
Environmental Policy Faculty Associate, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, Univ. Arizona at Tucson. Her title was Making Collaboration Work for Climate Change
and she spoke about frameworks for getting people together to work towards a common goal. One very important element is to find competent leaders.

Caldeira Group

May 5: For a mini autobio written by Ken Caldeira see <> Note the picture of Kenny Schneider, and congratulations to DGE researcher Long Cao for his publication out today in PNAS titled Importance of carbon dioxide physiological forcing to future climate change.
May 21: Julia Pongratz attended the AIMES Open Science Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, last week. This 4-day conference provided a forum for presentations and discussions on recent advances in the understanding of Earth system dynamics and highlighted new directions for analyzing the interactions between humans and our environment. She gave a talk entitled "The climate effects of global and local anthropogenic land cover change." In April, Julia was also awarded the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society for her work on the effects of historical land use on climate and the carbon cycle. The medal goes to "young scientists and researchers for outstanding scientific achievements" and is awarded each year to less than 1% of the PhD students of the Max Planck Society.

Asner Group

May 23: Greg Asner writes “We continue to operate heavily in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, South Africa, Madagascar and Hawaii.  Most of the work involves a combination of carbon and biodiversity science and conservation, on the ground and in the air."









Our Wildflower Garden










Field & Berry Groups

May 7: Bill Anderegg brought us up to date with his study of Aspens in the Colorado Rocky Mts with his title "Returning to the Land of Trembling Trees." A grove of these trees is essentially a single clone because of a shared root system. Thus studying water stress or carbohydrate reserves in a very few trees can be extrapolated to the entire grove of trees. One line of experimentation he intends to carry out this year is to measure the effects of defoliation and recovery at different times during the growing season.
Tasting: Bill brought two large plates of chocolate brownies. He told us the ingredients were identical on both plates except for one added to one of the plates and asked if we could tell the difference. Naturally, it was necessary to taste a lot of these delicious bars to be sure, but we finally were able to guess correctly that one batch contained powdered coffee (two tablespoons Bill admitted).
May 14: Lena Perkins spoke to the title "Energy Analysis of Torrefied (Charred) Woods: Copra plantations in American Samoa." She plans to study how coconut palms may add to the energy sustainability of South Sea Islanders. These ubiquitous trees with a useful lifecycle of 30-36 years can be processed in situ to provide both fuel & food.
Tasting: Lena brought about seven bottled drinks made from apples (one pear). These included three draft ciders with 5% alcohol and one Hard Cider with 6%, and two juices (filtered & unfiltered). All were purchased at Trader Joe's.
May 21: Carolyn Snyder gave a practice run of her PhD Thesis defense talk. (The actual defense will be on May 27.) "Key uncertainties in the risks of future climate change: Insights from a probabilistic analysis of climate change over the past million years."
Tasting, Carolyn provided six varieties of popcorn all from the same brand: 94% fat free, 50% fat free, Butter, Movie Butter, Extra Butter, Kettle Corn. There were several conversations about how the different varieties varied in the oils and other ingredients.  People liked the 94% fat free as a snack, some really liked the Kettle Corn (but others found it boring), some liked the Extra Butter, and some liked the Movie Butter (which had a different consistency, yet similar ingredients). There appeared to be no consensus.  People ended up taking a variety of kinds home.
May 27: Carolyn Snyder defended her Dissertation to her parents, faculty, & many friends. She has collected a large amount of data about temperature and precipitation using different proxies over the past million years and organized it in such a way that useful estimates of future changes may be anticipated.

May 28: Lee Anderegg presented his ideas for summer research. Lee is a Stanford Undergraduate and will be working with his brother, Bill on the Aspen Project in Colorado. He is particularly focused on the water relations of these trees and hopes to measure the influence of drought on sudden Aspen decline (SAD). Tasting: Lee brought several differently flavored containers of humus (ground garbanzo beans).

Editor: Click on photos to enlarge them.
Jan Brown,