News & Events

The latest climate change news from Cornell and beyond.


NYS Climate Smart Communities Webinar Series starts Aug. 14

Topics include:

  • Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing
  • Climate Smart Community Certification
  • Community Energy Options: Combined Heat and Power Plants, and Distributed Generation
  • Community Energy Options: Microgrids and Community Choice Aggregation
  • Best Practices in LED Streetlight Conversions
  • Getting to Net-Zero Homes
  • New York State Department of Transportation’s Flooding Vulnerability Assessment
  • Mobilizing Regional Climate Action
  • Reducing Community Transportation Emissions
  • Implementing Environmental Purchasing Policies

More info.

Wolfe to deliver keynote talk at the University of Buffalo Oct. 10

David Wolfe

David Wolfe

From the University of Buffalo’s Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab:

David W. Wolfe, keynote speaker, presents Climate Change and the Future of Food on October 10th, 2014 at the University of Buffalo.

Dr. David W. Wolfe is Professor of Plant and Soil Ecology in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University, and a leading authority on climate change impacts on natural ecosystems and food security. He has co-authored several influential reports for policy-makers, such as the 2014 National Climate Assessment sponsored by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. He currently leads a $5 M USDA project focused on new tools for greenhouse gas management in agroecosystems, and contributes to several soil conservation and climate change adaptation projects in the Ethiopia, Malawi, and Tanzania. At Cornell he teaches “Climate Change and the Future of Food” and chairs the Atkinson Center Climate Change Focus Group. He has been featured on National Public Radio and other news media outlets, and is author of the award-winning book on soil ecology for general audiences, Tales From the Underground: A Natural History of Subterranean Life.

Please see details on his talk at UB on October 10th, 2014: Climate Change Flyer.

North Atlantic right whale’s prospects tied to climate

A North Atlantic right whale guides her calf. (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission/NOAA photo.)

A North Atlantic right whale guides her calf. (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission/NOAA photo.)

A pleasant scientific surprise: The North Atlantic right whale population – once projected for extinction – exhibited an unexpected increase in calf production and population size during the past decade.

This baby boom has been linked to a climate-induced shift in the oceanic ecosystem, one that has improved the feeding conditions for the whales in the northwest Atlantic and especially the Gulf of Maine during the decade of the 2000s, according to two Cornell oceanographic researchers.

Relative to the lean reproductive years right whales suffered during the 1990s, the population during the first decade of the 21st century has seen a significant increase in reproduction, report doctoral candidate Erin Meyer-Gutbrod and professor Charles H. Greene in the forthcoming issue of Oceanography (September 2014).

Read the whole article. [Cornell Chronicle 2014-06-22]

Global warming culprit-nations likely to change by 2030

Ward and Mahowald

Ward and Mahowald

While developed countries and regions have long been culprits for Earth’s rising greenhouse gas emissions, Cornell researchers – balancing the role of aerosols along with carbons in the equation – now predict a time when developing countries will contribute more to climate change than advanced societies: 2030.

Published in Environmental Research Letters (July 11), the new study was designed to inform international policymakers on the role of aerosols, as opposed to strictly greenhouse gases, when considering climate change mitigation.

“Historically, between 1850 and 2010, the United States and the European Union have contributed the most to Earth’s climate change. But the portion of global surface temperature change from human activities attributable to developing countries is increasing,” said Dan Ward, Cornell postdoctoral researcher and the study’s lead author. Natalie Mahowald, associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, is the senior author.

“In light of all factors, including our understanding of aerosols, we estimate that developing countries will surpass the contribution from developed countries around year 2030,” Ward said.

Read the whole article. [Cornell Chronicle 2014-07-16]

Cuomo: New normal of extreme weather is a challenge for government

Tornado damage in Smithfield, N.Y.

Tornado damage in Smithfield, N.Y.

From press release [2014-07-09] from the office of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today toured storm damage in Central New York following a tornado that touched down Tuesday in Smithfield. In response to the tornado and severe storms that struck the region last night and early this morning, a variety of state agencies are assisting local governments with their recovery efforts.

The Governor also held a briefing to discuss the storm and damage in the surrounding communities at the Smithfield Fire Department in Peterboro.

The Governor’s remarks included:

“… Unfortunately in my three and a half years as Governor I have seen too many disasters, and been in settings like this all too often. Eleven federally declared disasters in three and a half years. There is a pattern of extreme weather that is different. We are seeing things that we have never seen. We see floods where homes that have been dry for a hundred years get hit with floods and get totally destroyed. National Weather Service just confirmed that this was a tornado that went through Madison County. We don’t get tornados in New York, right? Anyone will tell you that. Well we do now.

“This new normal of extreme weather is a challenge for government. It is a challenge for first responders, and it is a challenge for every citizen in this state. We are doing now citizen preparation programs all across the state just for citizens to learn how to be prepared in case, God forbid, there is an emergency like we see all too often, with too much frequency.

“The property damage that we see in Madison County is explosive in its effect when it looks like literally a bomb went off in a house and you just see devastation everywhere. Again, that’s what tornadoes do but we’ve seen those pictures on TV we don’t usually see them in the State of New York. The property damage we can repair, and anything the state can do to be in partnership with the county and the families that have been damaged, we will work with them to rebuild and repair the property damage. Unfortunately there is damage that has been done that no one can repair and no one can replace a tragic loss of life in a wholly random event. … ”

Read Cuomo’s full remarks, listen to audio and view video and images.


Climate change and gardening, farming events

Climate Change and Gardening in New York State
Wednesday, July 30, 6:30-8:30 pm
Tompkins County Cooperative Extension, 615 Willow Ave, Ithaca NY

Wondering how climate change will affect life and gardening in upstate New York? This workshop will introduce you to the Cornell Climate Change website. We will discuss how gardeners can adapt by selecting different plants or varieties, and by devising means to control, store, and deliver water. Fee: $5-$10 self-determined sliding scale. Pre-registration requested to ensure enough handouts. Please call 272-2292 for more information or registration.

Cornell Climate Change Institute, Meteorologist to Present Weather and Farming at Empire Farm Days

What is the one thing people always talk about? The weather. Farmers may be weather watchers more than any other collective group. To accommodate their interest and provide them with a look at trends and how climate is impacting agriculture, Empire Farm Days will host presentations by Allison M. Chatrchyan, director of the new Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture, and WHEC News10NBC Meteorologist Josh Nichols, who also teaches weather and climate at Monroe Community College.

  • Tuesday, August 5 at 10:30am, Dr. Chatrchyan will speak on Farming in a More Extreme and Variable Climate.
  • Wednesday, August 6 at 10:30am, Nichols will present Weather from the Farmers’ Point of View.

Admission to Empire Farm Days and the weather presentations is free. Parking is $10. The event is held on 300 acres of the Rodman Lott and Son Farms in Seneca Falls, NY. Learn more at

Global Climate Change Conversation July 8

A Global Climate Change Conversation
Presentation and Panel Discussion
Observations, Perceptions, and the Reality of Climate Change from Around the World: A Focus on Agriculture and Food Systems

July 8th, 2014
G10 Biotech Building
Open to the Cornell Community

Panel members:

  • Dave Wolfe, Professor, Department of Horticulture, CALS, Cornell University
  • Allison Chatrchyan, Director, Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture
  • John Murphy, Vegetable and Wine Producer, New Zealand
  • Joseph Leonard, Dairy Farmer, Ireland
  • Paul Niven, Dairy Business Manager, Australia
  • Moderator: Mike Hoffmann, Associate Dean, Director, CALS, Cornell University

More information.

Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture welcomes interns

The Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture is pleased to have two interns working on our team for this summer, Jacob Sackett and Rachel Erlebacher. Our interns will be working on a number of projects this summer with some highlights being our Climate Smart Farm Stories project, dairy heat stress project, and a comprehensive survey of farmers in New York about climate change.

The interns are already compiling a list of agricultural stakeholders in New York who will be tapped for future outreach and surveys. Over the course of the summer, our interns plan to visit farms, county fairs, and Cornell Cooperative Extension or 4-H meetings for outreach and to collect firsthand information from farmers about how climate change is affecting them and what steps they are taking to adapt.

Jacob Sackett

jacob sackettJacob is a rising senior in Cornell’s Agricultural Sciences program, concentrating in sustainability and minoring in business. Jacob is from Delhi, N.Y., a small, rural town in Central New York. He hopes to attend law school upon graduating from Cornell and has been interested in environmental science and climate change throughout his academic career.

This summer Jacob will be based in Ithaca this summer, working with Cornell’s Pro-Dairy program on a dairy heat stress project, hopefully developing or laying the groundwork for development of a dairy cattle heat stress tool that will be used to help dairy farmers in a changing climate. Additionally, Jacob will be scheduling farm visits with local farmers in the Finger Lakes Region to discuss how climate change is affecting farming in the region and steps that farmers are taking to adapt to the changes that they are seeing.

Rachel Erlebacher

Rachel ErlebacherRachel is a rising junior in CALS, majoring in Environmental Science and Sustainability with a minor in Jewish Studies. Rachel is from Pleasant Valley, N.Y., a small town in Dutchess County. She is very excited to be working on climate change efforts in her hometown at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Dutchess County.

Rachel will be developing a statewide agricultural stakeholder list and preparing a survey about climate change perceptions and adaptation among farmers in New York State. The survey will be administered in Fall 2014. She also will be interviewing and filming farmers in the Hudson Valley regarding their beliefs and opinions on extreme weather and climate variability. The videos will be used for peer-to-peer outreach and education.


Solar Tompkins brown bag lunch at Mann Library June 30

Solar Tompkins is hosting brown bag lunches in conjunction with various organizations across Tompkins County starting June 30th and running through the end of July. If your organization is participating, learn about the Solar Tompkins program, how solar works, why it’s important, and how it’s become much more accessible and affordable!

Monday June 30, 2014 – Cornell University Mann Library
237 Mann Drive, Ithaca, NY 14853
Mann Library Conference Room 102
Noon – 1pm
Please note that this event is only for Cornell faculty, staff, and students.

We all lead busy lives. Is it difficult for you to attend evening meetings? Here’s an opportunity to attend a lunch time meeting on campus. Solar Tompkins has had a successful first 3 weeks of community solar meetings around the County. More than 450 families have enrolled in the program so far. Room 102 is located on the first floor just off the Lobby near the main entrance.

Visit the Solar Tompkins events page for a full schedule of brown bag lunches, community meetings and solar tours.

New York Legislature Passes Climate Change Bill

Via EESI Climate Change News [2014-06-23]

On June 19, the New York State Legislature passed the Community Risk Reduction and Resiliency Act, which would require all state-funded projects to factor climate change and extreme weather events into their planning and implementation. Earlier versions of the bill included climate change mitigation provisions, such as carbon pollution control, but these were opposed by business groups and later removed. The bill still needs to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, but if approved, would make New York one of the first states to mandate climate change preparation in state legislation. The bill was sponsored by Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney.

For more information see: Capital New York