Coffee Hour with Peter La Femina | ChoroPhronesis open house | Baka and the ethane cracker plant


view across the Rhine River

Meg Boyle sent this view back across the Rhine River to the venue on a typically gray, rainy day at the UN Climate Negotiations in Bonn (“COP23”). She says, “In general, the landscape and weather remind me a lot of State College, but I thought I would send an especially watery update home to landlocked friends! The responsibility of the shipping industry and the coal industry for climate action have both been big topics of discussion here over the past two weeks, emphasized by the coal barges that periodically float right by the conference center. On this particular day I was taking a brief break from the negotiations action to head across the river to a meeting hosted by a new platform for funders (The so-called”F20″ or “Foundations 20,” a catchy reference to the G20) convened in support of sustainable development.

Other links of interest:


TODAY ChroroPhronesis Open House on the second floor of Walker Building, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., with roughly a dozen immersive demos. Free event, no registration necessary.

November 29  informal networking session with alumna Kaitlin Walsh (’09) who is visiting campus as a judge for the EMS Poster Competition. Event is 3:45-4:30 p.m. in 229 Walker Building. Light refreshments will be served.

December 2 is the “Thinking Within Symposium” with keynote speakers from Penn State, Vanderbilt, and Johns Hopkins. It will be in Stuckeman, Jury Space, starting at 9 am. Registration is required:

Jenn Baka spoke on a panel at a League of Women Voters event in Pittsburgh on November 13. The topic was on her work on the Pittsburgh ethane cracker plant, which is sponsored by PSIEE and Ryan Faculty Fellow research grants. The panel has gotten a bit of press coverage as well, additional news links:

Call for grad rep nominations
As the semester comes to an end, so does Lauren Fritsche’s time as a grad rep. We are soliciting nominations for her replacement. The new grad rep will join Megan, Eden, and Carolynne. The position runs from Jan – Dec 2018. Send nominations to Lauren Fritsche  by December 1.


Coffee Hour: Peter La Femina
Up, Up, and Away: Interactions between Magmatism, Tectonics, and Climate in Iceland
Iceland provides a unique and dynamic environment to investigate the geodynamics of a mid-ocean ridge, including ridge-transform and magma-tectonic interactions and the role of central volcano – fissure swarm systems in accommodating divergent plate motion. We have been studying the deformation of the Hekla central volcano to investigate magmatic processes and the interaction between central volcanoes and the mid-ocean ridge system. In addition to magmatic and tectonic systems, Iceland is home to Europe’s largest icecap, Vatnajökull, as well as several smaller ice caps. Significant historical mass loss from these ice caps has resulted in extensive uplift across Iceland. We present a new horizontal and vertical velocity field based on GPS data from 1994 to the present. This velocity field indicates, 1) North America – Eurasia plate motion dominates the horizontal signal; 2) broad uplift across all of Iceland, except in the northwest fjords where there is subsidence; 3) up to 3 cm/yr, but on average 2 cm/yr, uplift west and southwest of Vatnajökull; and 4) a decrease in uplift with distance away from Vatnajökull.

SWIG sponsors a CCWRC Family
For the last few years, the Penn State chapter of Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG) has committed to sponsoring a family through the Centre County Women’s Resource Center (CCWRC) Holiday Sponsorship Program. The program provides gift baskets to women and children who have experienced domestic violence. These families are often living in the shelter or temporary housing in Centre County. Our responsibility is to purchase gift cards for each family member and a small basket of gift items for the holidays!

This year SWIG is sponsoring a family of five, and will need to raise $250 to fulfill our commitment to CCWRC. Last year we raised over $300! Cary Anderson will collect money through Tues, December 5. Her office is in 210 Walker Building, or feel free to also leave donations in the envelope in her mailbox in 304 Walker Building.

Centred Outdoors, interdisciplinary project benefits environment, community
Rob Brooks is a project collaborator
This past summer, nine outdoor locations around Centre County were teeming with residents ready to experience nature firsthand. Responsible for this increased activity in Centre County parks and natural areas was Centred Outdoors, a project implemented by Clearwater Conservancy and the Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC) and funded by a Centre Foundation grant.


Politics of presence: women’s safety and respectability at night in Mumbai, India
By Aparna Parikh
In Gender, Place and Culture
This article focuses on women’s mobility in urban public space in Mumbai, India while working night shifts in outsourced call centres. The outsourced call centre industry is heralded as the beacon of modernity, and its entry was facilitated under a neoliberal political economy. This industry disproportionately employs women relative to India’s broader Information Technology sector, resulting in high numbers of women commuting at night. The state has reworked safety-centred policies for women working night shifts in call centres, which have been differentially implemented by companies. Expanding on this variegation, I sketch out the nightscape of transportation and mobility around outsourced call centres. This article analyses how women conceive of safety, as well as its interplay with convenience and considerations of respectability while making decisions about navigating urban public space at night. Women working in call centres find themselves in the crosshairs of narratives that demonize them as ‘bad women’ for being out on the street at night, while working in industries that specifically seek women willing to work in night shifts. Their navigation of this paradox exposes contradictions within the neoliberal modernization of Mumbai and the meaning of public safety for women who make this modernization possible through their labour.

Visualizing a country without a future: Posters for Ayotzinapa, Mexico and struggles against state terror
By Melissa W. Wright
In Geoforum
On September 26, 2014, Mexico police forces ambushed several student buses from a rural teachers college in southwestern Mexico, killed several and abducted forty-three others. These forty-three have not been seen since and now pertain to the country’s bulging numbers of the forcibly disappeared. All of the students were young men studying at a rural teaching college, called a Normal School, and they are typically referred to as “normalistas” (student-teachers). Within a week of this massacre/disappearance, protests erupted across the country to demand their “live return” and to inspire international support of a growing social justice movement. In support of the activism, Mexican artist-activists organized an exhibition and catalog of political posters submitted from around the world. In this paper, I use a critical geographic lens to frame a discussion of these posters, and of the political poster as an activist artform more generally, as I examine these them within the many paradoxes that activists navigate in their struggles at the nexus of racism, misogyny, and neoliberal terror.

A Comparison of Daily Temperature Averaging Methods: Spatial Variability and Recent Change for the CONUS
By Bernhardt, J., A.M. Carleton, and C. LaMagna
In Journal of Climate. Published Online: 20 November 2017
Traditionally, the daily average air temperature at a weather station is computed by taking the mean of two values, the maximum temperature (Tmax) and the minimum temperature (Tmin) over a 24-hour period. These values form the basis for numerous studies of long-term climatologies (e.g., 30-year normals) and recent temperature trends and changes. However, many first-order weather stations– such as those at airports– also record hourly temperature data. Using an average of the 24 hourly temperature readings to compute daily average temperature has been shown to provide a more precise and representative estimate of a given day’s temperature. This study assesses the spatial variability of the differences in these two methods of daily temperature averaging (i.e., [Tmax + Tmin]/2, average of 24 hourly temperature values) for 215 first-order weather stations across the conterminous United States (CONUS) the 30-year period 1981-2010. A statistically significant difference is shown between the two methods, as well as consistent overestimation of temperature by the traditional method ([Tmax + Tmin]/2), particularly in southern and coastal portions of the CONUS. The explanation for the long-term difference between the two methods is the underlying assumption for the twice- daily method that the diurnal curve of temperature is symmetrical. Moreover, this paper demonstrates a spatially-coherent pattern in the difference compared to the most recent part of the temperature record (2001-2015). The spatial and temporal differences shown have implications for assessments of the physical factors influencing the diurnal temperature curve, as well as the exact magnitude of contemporary climate change.

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