November 2011

Field and Berry Group

Nov. 7: Kelly McManus focused on “Governance of Geoengineering: Institutions, Ethics, and Economics.” We discussed some of the challenges of creating a governance regime for geoengineering research and deployment, including relevant existing regulatory frameworks and international environmental law. The need for a intergovernmental or non-governmental body to provide oversight and standards as geoengineering approaches move forward, perhaps akin to CERN or the IPCC is evident. A possible separation of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM) technologies within governance regimes could be beneficial, as the former is perceived as having fewer unintended consequences than the latter.
Tasting: Bill and Lee Anderegg provided a classification challenge in the form of two types of homemade cornbread, using fresh and frozen corn respectively. In the context of governance and transboundary issues, honey from three unique pollen sources (orange blossom, sage, and wildflower) were sampled in accompaniment to the cornbread. Participants were then asked to match the unlabelled honey and cornbread to their correct class. All participants failed to identify the fresh corn and frozen corn cornbreads, with an accuracy of 0%. Participants also largely misidentified all types of honey. Importantly, the failure to correctly classify both the honey and cornbread did not diminish the overall approval and enjoyment of the tasting.
Nov. 14: Jen Johnson, Bill Anderegg & Lena Perkins presented a summary of several ways to remove CO2 (CDR) from the atmosphere via direct capture from the air (DAC). Several suggestions involve using more energy to construct the equipment and service it than carbon saved. The best practice may be to aim to adsorb and remove 50% of the CO2 because removing the remainder is too costly. A report by the American Physical Society may be read at: >>
Tasting: Kyla Dahlin made two loaves of bread, one with "bread flour" and the other with "all-purpose" flour. We could tell the difference, but barely. Then we dipped the bread into 3 different balsamic vinegars ranging in price. For me the cheaper one from Trader Joe's was as good as the others.
Nov. 28: Rebecca Hernandez presented her study of Geoengineering Strategies for removing CO2 from the atmosphere. One possibility is to enhance chemical weathering. She listed a few procedures that have been suggested which involve extensive mining of silicate rocks or limestone. This would require pulverizing the rocks to increase their surface area. They could then be added to seawater or allowed to absorb CO2 from the air. The latter could be a very slow process and the former runs into adverse chemical effects. So far no efficient method has been tested.
Tasting: Marina Oster & Aaron Strong provided a most attractive & tasty feast to end this Quarter on a high note. Here is Aaron's description:
The savory tasting was a fully factorial cross of cherry tomatoes stuffed with three different types of soft french cheese, each derived from the milk of a different animal: Cow, Goat, and Sheep, blended with two different types of herbs from the Apiaceae family: parsley and cilantro.  Participants were asked to try to distinguish between the cheese and herb blends, and also to elect their favorite.
While the majority (6 out of 9) were able to distinguish parsley from cilantro across the cheeses, only one participant was correctly able to identify all three cheeses by their animal of origin.  It appeared that the confounding factor of a secondary mold in the cow cheese lent a strong taste that led a majority to mistake it for a goat cheese.  Similarly, the mild taste of the sheep brie may have led many to mistake it for cow cheese, while the factually goat cheese, was selected as the sheep cheese by the majority of participants.  Based on the percentage of total stuffed tomatoes consumed (total n=13 for each cheese-herb blend) by the participants, the favorite stuffed cherry tomato were those stuffed with sheep brie cheese blended with cilantro (12 of 13 consumed).  The least favorite was the secondary molded cow cheese, with only about 65% consumed across both herbs.
The sweet tasting comprised four different chocolate covered dried fruits.  Unlike the savory tasting, participants were given no a priori knowledge of the possible fruits, and were thus asked to guess the fruit on the basis of size and taste.  The results were: raisins covered in milk chocolate, raisins covered with dark chocolate, dried cranberries covered with chocolate, and dried cherries covered with chocolate.  The chocolate covered fruits were indeed delicious and enjoyed by all.

Nov. 30: A send-off party was held for Larry Giles. Over the past 11 years since he was lured away from a similar position at Duke University, Larry has run the mass spectrometer facility at the Department of Global Ecology.  In addition he has used his practical knowledge of electronics mechanical engineering and his ideas to design, maintain and use all manner of laboratory setups that were vital to research activities the lab.  He has been particularly helpful in working with graduate students to design and build unique tools for their research projects.  Larry also traveled to remote areas of Africa to setup CO2 monitoring packages that he designed and built.  Larry will move back to Durham, NC where he is setting up a business "Bryotronics" with his own mass spectrometer facility to run samples for researchers - continuing his love for getting good numbers.  We wish Larry the best of luck in his new venture and thank him for the good work he had done while at Carnegie.


Jan Brown, Editor, Email:
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Caldeira Group

The middle of October Ken and his crews started their annual visit to One Tree Island on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. More Videos on youtube:
Nov 1: #11. Narration by Julia Pongratz, Kenny Schneider & Ken Caldeira

Nov 5: Caldeira writes (from the GBR) We are still shooting some video most days, but nobody has time to edit it. Long Cao helped us post two video clips that I edited yesterday night. One focuses on Ben Kravitz and the other on Lilian Caldeira.
This year Kenny is keeping the sea cucumbers at high CO2 levels to see if the dissolution in their guts increases or whether the organisms control their internal chemistry; if so, then dissolution in such micro-environments would not increase with ocean acidification.
Our main experiment is a "first in the world" experiment to bring seawater chemistry back closer to what it was pre-industrially in the unconfined natural environment  to see whether the reef grows faster. Today, we got the first tantalizing evidence that our alkalinity enrichment experiment is producing more rapid coral growth.  We have only 7 more days of experiments, and it is a bit of a question whether we will have enough data to make a convincing case, but except for some initial technical and logistical difficulties, the experiment is now running smoothly. It is so nicely organized that watching everybody collect their samples is like looking like a ballet. All round, kudos go to Kenny Schneider for his excellent job organizing this expedition.
You can follow us to understand effects of ocean acidification on a coral reefs by watching our video research diary:
Nov 12: Caldeira reports: We got some nice shots of our laboratory operation on One Tree Island. The lab is the heart of the operation, where the chemistry of the water samples is measured.
I think this video is a good one. It shows real science at work: (with Emily Shaw, Tanya
Rivlin, Jack Silverman, and Kenny Schneider).
Here is another new one, showing us out at our experimental site. (with Julia Pongratz, Kate Ricke, Kenny Schneider and  Ken Caldeira)
Nov 19: Caldeira writes "Please find a nice new video, a tour of the One Tree Island Research Station by station manager Russell Graham.
I also encourage you to take a look at another of the good ones, a fly-on-the-wall look at the chem lab with Kenny Schneider, Tanya Rivlin, Jack Silverman, and Emily Shaw.
Lastly, I updated Ben's video with a higher resolution version (needed for the scenes involving walking).
Nov. 28: Kenny Schneider presented a summary of the Group's work on One Tree Island with great photos. They started with the following Projects: Determine the borders of the Lagoon & its profile, study sea cucumbers, map the Island & measure the sediments.

DGE Internal Seminars

Nov. 7: Abhishek Chatterjee, a graduate student working with Michalak spoke about his work estimating sources and sinks of CO2 using ensemble filters. His title was Ensemble-based data assimilation for CO2 source-sink inference. He is a PhD candidate at the Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Nov 14: Matt Colgan (grad student with Asner) presented his latest results on how to improve LiDAR biomass estimates using a tree-level, object oriented approach. This involves predicting harvested mass of individual trees using automatically generated tree crowns from LiDAR maps, which in turn improves the accuracy of linking biomass patterns to topographic and climatic gradients.

Visitor Seminars

Nov. 28: Prof. Paul Moorcroft from Harvard University's Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology described how he is developing a predictive Science of the Biosphere. He is modeling how Climate Change & CO2 will affect the composition, structure & functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. The HET Model is closer to the data than the AGG model.

Nov. 29: Scot Miller
, a PhD student from Harvard Univ. was introduced by Anna Michalak. Scot is studying the sources and locations of nitrous oxide (N2O) & methane emissions in the US. Both are potent green-house gasses. N2O is formed by the denitrification of manure and excess fertilizers and also from most wetlands during the warmer seasons. He showed maps of large areas of Canada and the US corn belt where emissions are greatest. Methane escapes during coal mining and from moist dumps or landfills. Scot is particularly interested in testing the best models for predicting & measuring both gases.