IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Faculty, advisers and students—one participating virtually via robot—in the online geospatial programs celebrate commencement at a reception held by the Dutton e-Education Institute on Sunday, May 6. Pictured from left: Anthony Robinson, Justine Blanford, Jim Detwiler, Anthony Scavone, Ric Stamm, Jessica Story Noonan (robot), Ryan Baxter, Danielle Groff, Dan Steiner, Todd Bacastow, Greg Thomas.
- Erica Smithwick has been promoted to professor.
- Chris Fowler has been promoted to associate professor.
- New grad reps elected for next year: Mark Simpson and Peter Backhaus
- Julie Sanchez won the best student paper award of the Polar Geography Specialty Group at the 2018 AAG annual meeting in New Orleans.
- Jiayan Zhao came in first place in the Saarinen Student Paper Competition awarded by Environmental Perception and Behavioral Geography (EPBG) Specialty Group at 2018 AAG annual meeting for his paper, “Walking and Learning in a Large-Scale Mediated Space: Impacts of viewpoint transition and proprioceptive feedback on spatial learning in virtual reality.”
Ancient Mayan civilization in Central America, which collapsed around 1,000 years ago, is being brought to life in a new Penn State project. Two doctoral students in geography, Jiawei Huang and Arif Masrur, have recreated the Mayan ruins of Cahal Pech, in Belize, using virtual reality.
This project is through ChoroPhronensis, a research unit in Penn State’s Department of Geography founded by Alexander Klippel, professor of geography. Klippel’s research focuses on immersive technologies and spatial information theory.
Five women graduated from New York City’s Fire Academy on April 18, bringing the number of women serving in the Fire Department of New York to 72 – the highest in its history.
The FDNY’s 2018 graduating class also includes the first son to follow his mother into the profession. She was one of the 41 women hired in 1982 after the department lost a gender discrimination lawsuit and was ordered to add qualified women to the force.
The following is a list of academic promotions for tenured and tenure-line faculty members at Penn State, effective July 1.
Climate Change and Food: Challenges and Opportunities in Tropical Mountains and Agrobiodiversity Hotspots
The rains had just begun in Huánuco in central Peru when we arrived in early February 2016. This time of year is usually midway through the roughly six-month rainy season that stretches from October to May. Instead, the unseasonal heat and months of drought that year were a shock to people in Huánuco—and to us. Only a week or two earlier, we were told, the landscape of the Húanuco valley had resembled the drab brown of the height of the dry season. We had just begun a project focused on biodiversity (agrobiodiversity) in the food landscapes of indigenous small landholders, as well as on their dietary patterns amid dynamic changes in the environment and society. We’re a diverse team of faculty, scientists, field practitioners and students from multiple institutions.
Comparing Daily Temperature Averaging Methods: The Role of Surface and Atmosphere Variables in Determining Spatial and Seasonal Variability
Jase Bernhardt and Andrew M. Carleton
Theoretical and Applied Climatology
The two main methods for determining the average daily near-surface air temperature, twice-daily averaging (i.e., [Tmax+Tmin]/2) and hourly averaging (i.e., the average of 24 hourly temperature measurements), typically show differences associated with the asymmetry of the daily temperature curve. To quantify the relative influence of several land surface and atmosphere variables on the two temperature averaging methods, we correlate data for 215 weather stations across the Contiguous United States (CONUS) for the period 1981–2010 with the differences between the two temperature-averaging methods. The variables are land use-land cover (LULC) type, soil moisture, snow cover, cloud cover, atmospheric moisture (i.e., specific humidity, dew point temperature), and precipitation. Multiple linear regression models explain the spatial and monthly variations in the difference between the two temperature-averaging methods. We find statistically significant correlations between both the land surface and atmosphere variables studied with the difference between temperature-averaging methods, especially for the extreme (i.e., summer, winter) seasons (adjusted R² > 0.50). Models considering stations with certain LULC types, particularly forest and developed land, have adjusted R² values > 0.70, indicating that both surface and atmosphere variables control the daily temperature curve and its asymmetry. This study improves our understanding of the role of surface and near-surface conditions in modifying thermal climates of the CONUS for a wide range of environments, and their likely importance as anthropogenic forcings—notably LULC changes and greenhouse gas emissions— continues.
Spillover systems in a telecoupled Anthropocene: typology, methods, and governance for global sustainability
Jianguo Liu, Yue Dou, Mateus Batistella, Edward Challies, Thomas Connor,Cecilie Friis, James DA Millington, Esther Parish, Chelsie L Romulo, Ramon Felipe Bicudo Silva, Heather Triezenberg, Hongbo Yang, Zhiqiang Zhao, Karl S Zimmerer, Falk Huettmann, Michael L Treglia, Zeenatul Basher, Min Gon Chung, … Jing Sun.
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
The world has become increasingly telecoupled through distant flows of information, energy, people, organisms, goods, and matter. Recent advances suggest that telecouplings such as trade and species invasion often generate spillover systems with profound effects. To untangle spillover complexity, we make the first attempt to develop a typology of spillover systems based on six criteria: flows from and to sending and receiving systems, distances from sending and receiving systems, types of spillover effects, sizes of spillover systems, roles of agents in spillover systems, and the origin of spillover systems. Furthermore, we highlight a portfolio of qualitative and quantitative methods for detecting the often-overlooked spillover systems. To effectively govern spillover systems for global sustainability, we propose an overall goal (minimize negative and maximize positive spillover effects) and three general principles (fairness, responsibility, and capability).
Exploring invasibility with species distribution modeling: How does fire promote cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) invasion within lower montane forests?
Peeler, J.L. and Smithwick, E.A.H.
Diversity and Distributions
Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is notorious for creating positive feedbacks that facilitate vegetation type conversion within sagebrush steppe ecosystems in the western United States. Similar dynamics may exist in adjacent lower montane forest. However, fire‐forest‐cheatgrass dynamics have not been examined. We used species distribution modeling to answer three questions about fire and invasibility in lower montane forests: (Q1) Does fire create more suitable habitat for cheatgrass? (Q2) If so, which site attributes are altered to increase site suitability? (Q3) Does fire increase connectivity among suitable habitat and enhance spread?
Decentralization, healthcare access, and inequality in Mpumalanga, South Africa
Margaret S. Winchester and Brian King
Health & Place
Healthcare access and utilization remain key challenges in the Global South. South Africa represents this given that more than twenty years after the advent of democratic elections, the national government continues to confront historical systems of spatial manipulation that generated inequities in healthcare access. While the country has made significant advancements, governmental agencies have mirrored international strategies of healthcare decentralization and focused on local provision of primary care to increase healthcare access. In this paper, we show the significance of place in shaping access and health experiences for rural populations. Using data from a structured household survey, focus group discussions, qualitative interviews, and clinic data conducted in northeast South Africa from 2013 to 2016, we argue that decentralization fails to resolve the uneven landscapes of healthcare in the contemporary period. This is evidenced by the continued variability across the study area in terms of government-sponsored healthcare, and constraints in the clinics in terms of staffing, privacy, and patient loads, all of which challenge the access-related assumptions of healthcare decentralization.