November 2010

Field & Berry Groups

Nov. 8: Bill Anderegg presented a summary of his on-going Thesis research titled "Tales of Aspen Mortality." Bill and his crew have been studying why whole groves of Aspen trees are dying in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. In particular, is it caused by water (drought) and/or temperature stress (climate change)? He illustrated how they have moved a number of young trees to pots where where the amount of water around the roots can be controlled. Also trenches were dug through groves of mature trees, again to measure the moisture around the roots. The data are still being analyzed.
Tasting: Bill brought several lemon breads made with the juice of different lemons. Most people preferred and could identify the local organic lemons in the bread.

Nov. 15: Lena Perkins described her ongoing research on Biomass, Energy & Carbon in some remote, small islands of American Samoa. She has investigated the pluses and minuses of using coconuts for biofuel. One problem is to get rid of the potassium when the nuts are processed because it causes clogging of the equipment. In spite of several drawbacks, coconut husks and oil offer one source of fuel for electricity generation to these island people.
Tasting: Lena brought several packages of wild & farmed salmon, soft cheeses and French bread. All delicious.

Asner Group

Nov. 11: Greg Asner announces a paper on the ways that wood harvesting -- a primary source of biofuel for millions of people -- affects the structure (and therefore the biodiversity) of African savannas. The study is unique in its treatment of geological and land management interactions, and the relation of the findings to elephant and fire impacts.  It is the first in a series of increasingly complex studies using the CAO as the main source of ecological data at the landscape scale. Refer to: Forest Ecology and Management 261 (2011) 19-29 by K.J.Wessels et al. Besides Asner, other DGE authors are T. Kennedy-Bowdoin, D.E.Knapp, R. Emerson & J. Jacobson.

Jan Brown, Editor, Email:
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Nov. 4: Bradley Opdyke, Senior Lecturer at Australian National University in Canberra spoke to the title: Sedimentary response to anthropogenically driven pH change in the surface ocean on the southern Great Barrier Reef. It's predicted that even a relative small drop in pH caused by an increase in CO2 will reduce calcification with subsequent loss of corals and other marine animals.

Nov. 16: Purnamita Dasgupta, an Economist from the Univ. Delhi, India, & currently a Visiting Professor at The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, Baltimore, MD. She spoke to the title: Socio Economic Scenarios for India: Impacts of Climate Change through Agriculture. Half of India’s population is dependent upon agriculture for their livelihood as well as food. Therefore, it is very important to attempt to predict how Climate Change may affect their water supply and various crops.

Caldeira Group

Nov. 9: There is a good photo/audio/text spread of Ken's comments on future trends in climate science in the New York Times.  You can check it out at


Nov. 18: Luis Fernandez writes about a recently published article in the Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR) that profiles some of his recent work on deforestation and large- scale mercury releases from artisanal mining in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon. Deforestation rates in this region have been greatly increasing because of a rise in illegal logging, and particularly in illegal gold mining which has been driven by the rise in world gold prices (currently  ~$1400/oz  up from ~$250/oz 8 years ago). Both of these activities have being facilitated by increased transportation access resulting from the completion of massive road projects in the region - and are projected to increase significantly in the future. The article also gives a good overview of the environmental and social dynamics in the region. It was published in a special issue on the environmental impacts of a paperless economy and the increased reliance on mined minerals.