Tea Time | Climate change research | Alumni news


color wheel cheesecake

Cindy Brewer gave a Tea Talk on “Systematizing Cartographic Design” on May 9 at the University of Oregon, Department of Geography, hosted by alumni Carolyn Fish (’08,’18g) and Bill Limpisathian (’15,’17g). As part of the refreshments, a color wheel cheesecake was served.


Rachel Passmore (’14) graduated last month from Columbia University with her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. She is the incoming Project Director for a two-year NIH funded study on developmental disabilities in the Bronx at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Captain Katherine Meckler (’14), USAF,  is the winner of the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award in Geospatial Intelligence.

The Centre County Planning & Community Development Office is seeking applicants for a position of Senior Planner 1 – Agricultural Preservation Coordinator.

Marie Louise Ryan received the Society of Woman Geographers Evelyn L. Pruitt National Fellowship for Dissertation Research.


Marching for climate change may sway people’s beliefs and actions

Americans have a long tradition of taking to the streets to protest or to advocate for things they believe in. New research suggests that when it comes to climate change, these marches may indeed have a positive effect on the public.

Eastern forests shaped more by Native Americans’ burning than climate change

Native Americans’ use of fire to manage vegetation in what is now the Eastern United States was more profound than previously believed, according to a Penn State researcher who determined that forest composition change in the region was caused more by land use than climate change.


Carbon stocks and biodiversity of coastal lowland forests in South Africa: implications for aligning sustainable development and carbon mitigation initiatives

Erica A.H. Smithwick
Carbon Management
DOI: 10.1080/17583004.2019.1620035
Indigenous forests represent South Africa’s smallest biome, yet they are critical spaces for aligning sustainable development goals with carbon mitigation activities and conservation. The objectives of this study were to quantify the productivity and biodiversity of coastal lowland forests in the Dwesa Cwebe nature reserve in the Eastern Cape Province and characterize how estimates differed among alternative allometric equations. Using a complete tree census across six plots in the reserve, a total of 1489 trees were inventoried in 2011 and again in 2016. Aboveground tree carbon averaged 99.8 Mg C ha−1 (range 77.2–126.9 Mg C ha−1) using locally derived equations and 214.6 Mg C ha−1 using generalized equations. Tree aboveground net primary productivity averaged 1041.8 g C m−2 y−1. Forty-eight tree species were identified, including many species important to the livelihoods of local communities for medicinal, ceremonial, and other provisioning services. Overall, this study shows that current conservation activities are concomitant with high tree productivity and high levels of C stocks and biodiversity, including species of local and regional significance. Sustaining forest productivity and biodiversity in the future will be critical for maintaining ecosystem services and enhancing stewardship of forest resources in the region.

2000 years of North Atlantic-Arctic climate

Jeffrey D. Auger, Paul A. Mayewski, Kirk A. Maasch, Keah C. Schuenemann, Andrew M. Carleton,
Sean D. Birkel, Jasmine E. Saros
Quaternary Science Reviews
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.05.020
The North Atlantic-Arctic boundary is highly variable due to the transports of heat and moisture through the Gulf Stream and polar jet stream. The North Atlantic storm track generally follows the Gulf Stream and terminates near southeast Greenland and Iceland as the Icelandic Low. The Icelandic Low is the main driver of the North Atlantic Oscillation, particularly during winter months as the baroclinic zone expands to lower latitudes, correlating with temperature and precipitation in many areas around the North Atlantic. Understanding how atmospheric circulation, temperature, and precipitation changes in this region is important to build robust projections of how these variables will change, especially under natural and anthropogenic forcings. Here, climate proxies correlating to the Icelandic Low, summer air temperature, and annual precipitation build an understanding of how these variables changed over the last 2000 years. Through the natural climate shifts of this period — Roman Warm Period, Dark Ages Cold Period, Medieval Climate Anomaly, and Little Ice Age — it is shown that storm frequency decreases as temperature increases and the Icelandic Low increases in pressure (i.e., becomes weaker). However, these climate changes are not simultaneous, and their amplitudes are not similar across the region. Keeping regionality rather than a pan-Arctic average better explains natural variability of each sub-region and how each sub-region has evolved climatically due to anthropogenic forcings of greenhouse gases.

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