Cornell at COP24

CICSS and the Atkinson Center are again organizing the Cornell Delegation to the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference (COP24), which will be held in Katowice, Poland – December 3-14, 2018. A huge number of Faculty (14) and Students (86) applied to be part of the delegation, of which only 18 participants will likely receive a UN badge. Cornell’s delegation will feature an exhibit on Cornell research and engagement work, side events, and press conferences.

The COP is the annual meeting of all countries around the world that are parties to the UNFCCC and the Paris Accord – countries meet every year to negotiate their commitments, and university and NGOs participate as observers to share information – and press for global climate action (

Check back here to out what faculty and students are doing at this year’s conference, and follow our work at #CornellCOP24!

Weathering change: Cornell CALS helps New York farmers adapt

Changes to the climate have forced farmers across New York state and the Northeast to adapt to extreme weather and new threats to their crops. Cornell’s Climate Smart Farming program (CSF) supports these farmers through the use of advanced digital tools and best management practices. Through these mechanisms, CSF is able help them reduce emissions and boost resilience to extreme weather and climate variability. The end result is an increase in agricultural productivity and farming incomes.

Cornell CALS’s full news article on the Climate Smart Farming program can be found here:

Climate Smart Farming tools can be found here:

Haiti and the environment

Julie and Marta took part in the Cornell University Wind Symphony service-learning tour to Haiti and the Dominican Republic last month, starting in Port-au-Prince, traveling up to Jacmel, and eventually making our way over the border to the DR. We were there to collaborate with Port-au-Prince’s Holy Trinity Music School Orchestra, the national orchestra of Haiti. The partnership between Holy Trinity and Cornell is an ongoing project organized by our conductor, James Spinazzola, and the Holy Trinity Orchestra conductor, Father David Cesar.


We saw this as the perfect opportunity to learn a bit about climate change and environmental issues in Haiti, and as you’ll see, it also turned into a chance to make a few interviews on the topic. This podcast is split into two parts; first, a discussion of environmental, governmental, and international policy issues facing Haiti, and second, a more general discussion of approaches to human rights, dignity, and the environment.


Our journey through Haiti was an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the country and its people. We hope our podcast inspires you to learn more about Haiti, both in the context of environmental issues and otherwise. We are so grateful for the chance to make music with our talented friends at the Holy Trinity Music School and to interview all the wonderful people featured on this podcast.


Marta and Julie

Student Assembly Passes Climate Literacy Resolution

On January 31, 2019, the Cornell University Student Assembly passed a resolution promoting climate change literacy among undergraduate students. Entitled, “Expressing Student Assembly Support for Climate Change Literacy in Solidarity with the University and Employee Assemblies,” the document makes it clear that the group expects to play a larger role in furthering the University’s commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability. This comes after a 2016 analysis stating that that a crucial step in achieving a carbon neutral campus by 2035 is ensuring that all members of the community have a basic understanding of the topic, as well as its causes and effects. They also hope to keep undergraduate students involved in any climate change discussions.

CICSS in the news lately

A few media outlets have been mentioning CICSS lately and we are thrilled! We are so grateful to share information from researchers here at Cornell and hopefully help communities and farmers mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Read a recent post about our Local Climate Action Summit held in NYC during Climate Week in September.

Read an article in the Highlands Current on our CSF Extension Educator Sarah Ficken and her Climate Smart Farm in Munnsville, New York. Not only does Sarah educate local farmers on climate smart farming practices, but she and her husband implement several adaptation and mitigation strategies on their own farm.

CICSS Executive Director, Mike Hoffmann discusses how farmers can use our Climate Smart Farming Decision-Support tools to manage risks posed by a changing climate.

Cornell Delegation Attends COP24

For 2 weeks this December, Cornell faculty and students attended the United Nations Conference of Parties Climate Change Negotiations in Katowice, Poland. Students went as part of a newly developed course on Global Climate Change Science and Policy. The course was co-taught by CICSS Director, Dr. Allison Chatrchyan, Dr. Natalie Mahowald, Dr. Linda Shi, and Dr. Sharon Sassler.

The course introduces students to climate change science and policy, with a focus on how science is factored into the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and how negotiations take place at the annual Conference of the Parties (COP). Cornell was able to send 17 students to the COP this year, split over the two weeks.

Students engaged with global leaders and policymakers working to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius over the next century. Students were able to hear about cutting-edge science and strategies for addressing the impacts of climate change.

This COP was considered to be as important as the COP in Paris, given the parties were tasked with developing a rulebook for how each country will carry out their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Click here to read a comprehensive summary of the outcomes of COP24.





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National Climate Assessment

With all of the climate reports coming out in such a short amount of time, Danielle and I decided to sit down and discuss the implications of their findings. More specifically, we chose to focus on the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which was mandated by Congress and a collaboration between at least a dozen agencies. It also cited research done by a few Cornell professors, two of whom, Toby Ault and Mike Hoffman, have been on the pod before! When you see the information and statistics presented in these reports, it is always important to consider what it means for you, your family, and your community.


Thanks for listening! 


-Pam Wildstein


IPCC 1.5 degrees Warming Report:

Fourth National Climate Assessment:

Cornell Researchers Contribute to NCA4

The Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) Volume II focuses on the human welfare, societal, and environmental elements of climate change and variability for 10 regions and 18 national topics, with particular attention paid to observed and projected risks, impacts, consideration of risk reduction, and implications under different mitigation pathways. Where possible, NCA4 Volume II provides examples of actions underway in communities across the United States to reduce the risks associated with climate change, increase resilience, and improve livelihoods.  In summary, “without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.”  Cornell researchers Toby Ault, Patrick Reed, David Wolfe, and others contributed to the report.

Summary Findings Section:

  1. Communities: The impacts of climate change are already being felt in communities across the country. More frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems that provide essential benefits to communities.
  2. Economy: In the absence of significant global mitigation action and regional adaptation efforts, rising temperatures, sea level rise, and changes in extreme events are expected to increasingly disrupt and damage critical infrastructure and property, labor productivity, and the vitality of our communities.
  3. Interconnected Impacts: Joint planning with stakeholders across sectors, regions, and jurisdictions can help identify critical risks arising from interactions among systems ahead of time.
  4. Actions to Reduce Risks: Mitigation and adaptation actions also present opportunities for additional benefits that are often more immediate and localized, such as improving local air quality and economies through investments in infrastructure. Some benefits, such as restoring ecosystems and increasing community vitality, may be harder to quantify.
  5. Water: Changes in the relative amounts and timing of snow and rainfall are leading to mismatches between water availability and needs in some regions, posing threats to, for example, the future reliability of hydropower production in the Southwest and the Northwest. Groundwater depletion is exacerbating drought risk in many parts of the United States, particularly in the Southwest and Southern Great Plains. Dependable and safe water supplies for U.S. Caribbean, Hawaii, and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Island communities are threatened by drought, flooding, and saltwater contamination due to sea level rise.
  6. Health: Communities in the Southeast, for example, are particularly vulnerable to the combined health impacts of vector-borne disease, heat, and flooding. Extreme weather and climate-related events can have lasting mental health consequences in affected communities, particularly if they result in degradation of livelihoods or community relocation. Populations including older adults, children, low-income communities, and some communities of color are often disproportionately affected by and less resilient to, the health impacts of climate change. Adaptation and mitigation policies and programs that help individuals, communities, and states prepare for the risks of a changing climate reduce the number of injuries, illnesses, and deaths from climate-related health outcomes.
  7. Indigenous Peoples: Climate change increasingly threatens Indigenous communities’ livelihoods, economies, health, and cultural identities by disrupting interconnected social, physical, and ecological systems. Throughout the United States, climate-related impacts are causing some Indigenous peoples to consider or actively pursue community relocation as an adaptation strategy, presenting challenges associated with maintaining cultural and community continuity.
  8. Ecosystems & Services: Many benefits provided by ecosystems and the environment, such as clean air and water, protection from coastal flooding, wood and fiber, crop pollination, hunting and fishing, tourism, cultural identities, and more will continue to be degraded by the impacts of climate change.
  9. Agriculture: Climate change is also expected to lead to large-scale shifts in the availability and prices of many agricultural products across the world, with corresponding impacts on U.S. agricultural producers and the U.S. economy. These changes threaten future gains in commodity crop production and put rural livelihoods at risk. Numerous adaptation strategies are available to cope with adverse impacts of climate variability and change on agricultural production.
  10. Infrastructure: Expected increases in the severity and frequency of heavy precipitation events will affect inland infrastructure in every region, including access to roads, the viability of bridges, and the safety of pipelines. Flooding from heavy rainfall, storm surge, and rising high tides is expected to compound existing issues with aging infrastructure in the Northeast.
  11. Oceans & Coasts: Even in a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values. Lasting damage to coastal property and infrastructure driven by sea level rise and storm surge is expected to lead to financial losses for individuals, businesses, and communities, with the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts facing above-average risks. Impacts on coastal energy and transportation infrastructure driven by sea level rise and storm surge have the potential for cascading costs and disruptions across the country. More than half of the damages to coastal property are estimated to be avoidable through well-timed adaptation measures.
  12. Tourism and Recreation: Climate change poses risks to seasonal and outdoor economies in communities across the United States, including impacts on economies centered around coral reef-based recreation, winter recreation, and inland water-based recreation. In turn, this affects the well-being of the people who make their living supporting these economies, including rural, coastal, and Indigenous communities.climate-related impacts are expected to result in decreased tourism revenue in some places and, for some communities, loss of identity.

The fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), Volume II on “Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States” was released on November 23, 2018.  The full report can be accessed at

All excerpts from:

USGCRP, 2018: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II[Reidmiller, D.R., C.W. Avery, D.R. Easterling, K.E. Kunkel, K.L.M. Lewis, T.K. Maycock, and B.C. Stewart (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA. doi: 10.7930/NCA4.2018.


Losing Earth

Losing Earth

Somehow, against all odds (long lines at the bagel shop where I got breakfast before recording, a concerningly small amount of sleep, even for college students, and the first fifteen minutes of the interview not recording), we have a brand new episode for you about environmental governance, featuring Dr. Steven Wolf! After reading the New York Times article “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change” by Nathaniel Rich, Marta and I had one big overarching question: “Why haven’t we effectively responded to the science of climate change with policy?” Naturally, with an inquiry as big as that, we had to seek some help from experts in the subject. This led us to Professor Wolf, who teaches the Environmental Governance course here at Cornell. I was really excited to do this episode, not only because it is the concentration that I chose for my major, but also because it was interesting to expand upon some of the ideas that we had brought up in past episodes and apply them to new scenarios. As a side note, I got to ask Professor Wolf a question that was very similar to an essay question on my Environmental Governance final, which was a little humorous moment of poetic justice for me:) Anyways, we hope you enjoy, learn something new, and say hi to us on social media!


“Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change” can be found here:


Confused about any fancy, academic words we used? Here’s a cheat-sheet with definitions that is updated weekly →


Hey! Where can I find that recent IPCC report you guys talked about?: (this is the version for policymakers and is relatively short)


Thank for listening and have a great week!


Pam Wildstein

New Fact Sheet: CSF Practices

CICSS and the Climate Smart Farming Extension Team developed a new factsheet and guide  for farmers, educators and agriculture stakeholders in the Northeastern US, Climate Smart Farming in the Northeast: Six Key Strategies for Farmers (November 2018).

Climate-related risks such as extreme rainfall, drought, heat stress, changing disease and pest pressure, and unpredictable weather patterns pose serious threats to farmers’ livelihoods.  The new factsheet provides actions that farmers can take to reduce risks and improve the sustainability of their farm. Many of these priority best management practices may not be new to farmers, but taken together they can help increase resiliency on the farm over the short and long-term. The priority actions include a call for farmers to:

  1. Focus on Soil Health
  2. Efficiently Manage Water Resources and Risks
  3. Utilize Integrated Pest Management
  4. Diversify Farm Enterprises, Species, Crop Varieties, and Breeds
  5. Reduce Livestock Stress from Extreme Temperatures
  6. Engage in Farm Planning and Adaptive Management.

For more information, refer to the Cornell Climate Smart Farming Program.

Report: Local Climate Action Summit

The Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions hosted a Local Climate Action Summit in New York City during New York Climate Week. The event was held on September 28, 2018, and attended by over 100 individuals from government agencies, NGOs, municipalities, Cooperative Extension and universities that spanned the entire Northeastern US.

Read the Final Report from the Local Climate Action Summit.

The summit focused sharing success stories and challenges of local communities to address climate change, and to get stakeholder input on the development of a new Extension Climate Steward Volunteer program that would support climate-smart communities in the Northeast. The summit was an opportunity for communities and leaders working in climate resiliency to not only provide input on community needs but also share their experiences in fostering climate action and implementation at the local level.

Support for the summit was provided by the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable future at Cornell University, and the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture.


Talanoa Dialogue for COP24

The Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions  (CICSS) and the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI) organized a Talanoa Dialogue meeting in Ithaca, New York, USA in October 2018. Data and Stories that were shared at the dialogue were summarized in a final  report for submission to the COP24 climate change negotiations conference – taking place in Katowice, Poland from December 2-18, 2018.

Read the Final Submission Report of the Tompkins Ithaca Talanoa Dialogue.

Initiated by the Government of Fiji at COP23, the purpose of a Talanoa Dialogue is to share stories, build empathy, and make wise decisions for the collective good. The process involves the sharing of ideas, skills, and experience through storytelling, with the goal of humanizing local climate change impacts. By humanizing these impacts we can all put pressure on governments and NGOs to increase their commitment to climate change action.

The impetus to hold a local Talanoa Dialogue was largely driven by a newly developed course taught at Cornell University, entitled Global Climate Change Science and Policy. Students from the course organized the local Talanoa Dialogue, a public event, on the evening of October 3, 2018. A group of twenty community members, students and faculty members from Cornell attended the event. During the process, Ithaca and Tompkins County community residents shared stories of how climate change has affected them. The team recorded the participant responses and took notes during the meeting. Community members were asked to provide their personal thoughts on the following three Talanoa Dialogue questions in order to tell our local climate change story:

  1. Where are We?
  2. Where Do We Want to Go?
  3. How Do we Get There?

The Cornell students and faculty then analyzed the responses provided by community members, and drafted the final report for submission to the United Nations Talanoa Platform.

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Let’s Kill Halloween

In this episode, Marta, Pam and I talk about ways you can be more eco-friendly this Halloween. We discuss several ways in which current Halloween habits have negative implications for the environment, ranging from toxic plastics in costumes and decorations to food waste from pumpkin carving.  The tips we give are simple changes that will make your Halloween more eco-friendly and fun!


Before doing research for this episode, I had never questioned my Halloween habits or any other norms concerning Halloween or other holidays. Now that am I aware of how many traditional Halloween habits are bad for the environment and how easy it is to change my behavior to make my Halloween more eco-friendly, I am excited to share that information. All it takes is a little forethought about your decisions and the implications of them to ensure that you are more eco-friendly in your day-to-day lives, especially on holidays!


Listen to find out how you can green your Halloween and what we are all dressing up as this year!


Thanks for reading and have a spooky, fun and eco-friendly Halloween!

– Jake Brenner


Listen Here

New Climate Change Tool

Using data from 1950 to 2013, and climate models showing future trends, the tool presents useful information for farmers, educators, gardeners and community leaders.

“The tool allows you to zoom in on your particular county in the Northeast to see how global climate change is really happening in your own backyard,” said Art DeGaetano, professor of climatology in Cornell’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and director of the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) at Cornell.

In addition to DeGaetano, the tool was developed by Brian Belcher, senior developer at CICSS; Allison Chatrchyan, director of CICSS; Danielle Eiseman, postdoctoral associate, CICSS; and Mike Hoffmann, executive director of CICSS.



“We’ve talked to farmers and they’ve asked us for how the climate has changed in their specific location,” said Chatrchyan. “We know that people can relate more to climate change when the impacts are seen locally and personally.”

As a result, DeGaetano notes, “We developed the tool to show how the climate is changing, not just for this week or this month, but how things like growing degree days and average annual temperature are changing through time.”

The new tool is housed at the Cornell’s Climate Smart Farming program website, which has agricultural decision support tools and resources to help farmers better manage climate change.

The application’s map of Northeast counties uncovers a statistical treasure trove of information. Using data supplied by the NRCC, it tracks average annual temperatures, and high and low temperature trends. Farmers will likely use the tool’s growing season length statistics and annual growing degree days. Users will also find precipitation trends and climate projections.

If a user clicks on New York County – home to Manhattan, Harlem and Washington Heights – they will see that there were 19.9 days above 90 degrees in 1970 and 36.1 days in 2010. That number is projected to increase to 70.6 in 2073.

In an agricultural part of New York state, Delaware County, the new application shows that the growing season length has extended 11 days since 1980.

For Bucks County, Pennsylvania, there were 10.6 days above 90 degrees in 1970. The tool shows there were 30.1 days above 90 degrees were observed in 2010, and the climate models project that there will be almost 78 days in 2073 and nearly 96 days by 2099.

Throughout most counties in the Northeast, the annual average temperatures will rise, but there are outliers. Hardy and Mineral counties, West Virginia, near the border with the Virginia, have seen a cooling trend in their average annual temperatures.

In Queens County, New York, the average annual temperature in 1950 was 53.9 degrees. By the end of this century, the projected average annual temperature in Queens will be 64 degrees. The current climate model shows a rise from 19.7 days above 90 degrees in 2018 and to about 81 days by the end of the century.

DeGaetano explained that the team went through many prototypes in order to display data clearly. “This tool shows how widespread and consistent local climate change can be,” he said. “While variables can change across the region, you still get uniform, reliable patterns of a warming climate.”