September 2010

Field & Berry Groups

Joe Berry attended the 15th International Congress on Photosynthesis held in Beijing from August 22 to 27. In Session V: Physiological Perspectives II of the SYMPOSIUM ON C4 PHOTOSYNTHESIS, Joe’s presentation was titled The CO2 concentrating mechanism--the discovery of C4. In a Session called Marine Photosynthesis and Global Impact, Joe gave another paper titled Marine and Terrestrial Photosynthesis: rationalizing the differences.

Sept. 27: Alex Nees led a discussion of Carnegie's Mountain Experimental Field Stations, first established at Camp Mather and Timberline off the Tioga Pass Rd in the early 20th Century, and where the Lab Group plans to visit over next weekend (Oct 2-3). Chris Field explained how Jens Clausen, David Keck, & Bill Hiesey established experimental gardens at these two alpine elevations plus a third at Stanford (sea level). They planted clones of several plant species in each garden to study the effects of the environment on speciation. Two monumental volumes of their results published in 1940-41 are still important references. We also welcomed two new Grad Students, Rebecca Hernandez & Kelly McManus.
: Alex brought cutup, fresh figs to use as a base to spread on three different goat cheeses; American, two French (one Brie). The French Goat was voted the best, but all were good, especially mixed with the figs.
Sept. 28-29: Chris Field & Lena Perkins participated in the GCEP Research Symposium 2010 titled Creating a Sustainable Energy System for the 21st Century & Beyond. Chris was Moderator for the Biofuels and Bioenergy Conversion Symposium and also led an Energy Tutorial called Biofuels 101. Lena presented a Poster labeled Energy Analysis of Biofuel Plantation.

Asner Group

Sept. 7: By integrating satellite mapping, airborne-laser technology, and ground-based plot surveys, Shaun Levick, Greg Asner, Ty Kennedy-Bowdoin & David Knapp, with colleagues from the World Wildlife Fund and in coordination with the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), have revealed the first high-resolution maps of carbon locked up in tropical forest vegetation and emitted by land-use practices. The study was published in Nature Communications 1:65, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1066 with some coverage in USA Today.
Another paper out in the PNAS (1004875107) today reports on carbon stocks and emissions in the southern Peruvian Amazon.  The work is interesting in three ways: (i) it demonstrates a new high-resolution monitoring approach for proposed UN programs such as REDD, (ii) it uncovers previously unknown geologic and ecological sources of variation in forest carbon stocks, and it links land-use to the underlying environmental controls, and (iii) it was done in collaboration with the Peruvian Ministry of Environment in a training and capacity building mode.  We are expanding the work now to three western Amazon countries. DGE authors are Asner, Knapp, John Clark, James Jacobson, Kennedy Bowdoin, Aravindh Balaji, & Guayana Paez-Acosta.
Sept. 29 is Shaun Levick's last day of employment. He is leaving for a faculty job in New Zealand.
Sept. 30: Asner announces a new paper by Maoyi Huang & himself using high-resolution satellite mapping with 3-D forest carbon modeling to estimate carbon losses and recovery in the Brazilian Amazon following selective logging.  It is the first such geographically and biogeochemically detailed estimates of their kind.
Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 24, GB3028, doi:10.1029/2009GB003727, 2010.














Sept. 15: Dr. Xiujun (Wendy) Wang, Research Scientist at Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), Univ. Maryland, College Park, & Adjunct Professor at Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Her talk was titled The carbon cycle in the changing world: the known tropical ocean and the unknown arid land. Her Group is collecting a large amount of data from both ocean sediments and arid soils and modeling these data to study the impact of temperature and pH on diurnal cycles and climate.

Caldeira Group

Sept. 9: Steven J. Davis, Ken Caldeira, & H. Damon Matthews calculated cumulative future emissions of 496 (average) gigatonnes of CO2 from combustion of fossil fuels by existing infrastructure between 2010 and 2060, forcing mean warming of 1.3°C (1.1° to 1.4°C) above the pre-industrial era and atmospheric concentrations of CO2 less than 430 parts per million. Because these conditions would likely avoid many key impacts of climate change, we conclude that sources of the most threatening emissions have yet to be built. However, CO2-emitting infrastructure will expand unless extraordinary efforts are undertaken to develop alternatives. Published in the Sept.10 Issue of Science (AAAS).
Sept.. 13: An interview with Ken Caldeira was published in Discover Magazine online together with an Impressionist photo by Andrea Ventura. You may view the print edition in the October 2010 issue, or go to :


Sept. 21: Kim Cahill writes, Greetings from Sweden! I've been at my job here for three weeks, and so far am really enjoying teaching and advising (my students come from over 40 countries), field trips to learn about the local ecology and energy systems (I went to a decommissioned nuclear power plant yesterday!), getting new research projects started, and the daily potluck lunch with my colleagues (gotta love the European work/life balance). 
Kim is now an Assistant Professor of Sustainability Science at the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies. See for more info or E-mail:
Sept. 28: David Lobell (now Stanford Faculty) recently received the James B. Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union for significant contributions to the geophysical sciences before the age of 36, Congratulations! Dave also spoke about Non-carbon Effects of Bioenergy on Climate at the GCEP Symposium.

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