July 12, 2013 Whether farmers believe in climate change or not – 66 percent do – their actions show that they are adapting to global warming, according to panelists at a July 8 discussion on campus.
“Farmers are already being affected by the changing climate, and the pace of change is likely to accelerate in the future,” said panelist Bill Hohenstein, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Climate Change Program Office. “Agriculture is an important contributor to climate change as a source of greenhouse gases, but it is also one of the sectors that is most affected by climate change.”
He continued: “It will be important to communicate to farmers about these risks and opportunities to improve resilience. We’re recognizing that farmers are now getting their information from a variety of sources – not simply extension anymore.”
Panelist Mike Hoffmann, director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, believes that one option that would help farmers cope with the effects of climate change on agriculture is to build an open communication network.
“The idea here is to develop a system – through social media – where farmers and extension educators can readily and quickly communicate with each other across a large region such as the northeastern United States and eastern Canada” and share observations and other information, Hoffmann said.
[Cornell Chronicle 2013-07-11] Read the whole article.
July 3, 2013
To further promote energy conservation, Cornell has been switching all of its approximately 120 campus-safety “blue lights” this summer from energy-hogging incandescent to a light-emitting diode (LED) technology, which sips power at one-tenth the rate.
With incandescent technology – as ancient as inventor Thomas Edison – the metal halide bulbs enjoyed a typical lifespan of two years at best, and the bulb usually dimmed significantly the second year. LED technology is brighter and can be seen in daylight. In addition the new lights are easier to maintain and have a 100,000-hour lifespan.
“The new fixtures are expected to last over 10 years before needing maintenance, and the light level will be nearly ‘new’ the whole time,” said Lanny Joyce, director of energy management in Facilities Services. “Being that these light fixtures provide a beacon to safety phones directly connected to Cornell Police for any campus emergency, the added visibility and reliability the LED provides – along with the huge reduction in electricity usage – are quite amazing.
[Cornell Chronicle 2013-07-02] Read the whole article.
May 28, 2013
May 15, 2013 With unpredictable annual rainfall and drought once every five years, climate change presents challenges to feeding Ethiopia. Adapting to a warming world, the potato is becoming a more important crop there – with the potential to feed much of Africa.
Semagn-Asredie Kolech, a Cornell doctoral candidate in the field of horticulture, studies the potato and bridges the tradition of Ethiopian farming with the modernity of agricultural science.
He shuttles between Ethiopia and Ithaca to examine and research efficient agricultural practices in the shadow of climate change. “The potato is a good strategy crop for global warming. It has a short growing season, it offers higher yields, it’s less susceptible to hail damage, and you can grow 40 tons per hectare. With wheat and corn, you don’t get more than 10 tons a hectare,” Kolech says.
[Cornell Chronicle 2013-05-14] Read the whole article.
May 15, 2013 A new tool helps farmers feed crops only as much as they really need.
The free Web-based tool, Adapt-N, draws on local soil, crop and weather data – including high resolution climate data stored at the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell – to provide better estimates of nitrogen fertilizer needs for corn, in real time, throughout the season.
About $5 billion is spent every year on nitrogen fertilizer for corn crops. About half of the nitrogen, however, is lost to the atmosphere as nitrous oxide or leached through the soil where it can pollute groundwater or cause “dead zones” where the water has too little oxygen to sustain marine life. A greenhouse gas that is 300 times better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide emissions from nitrogen fertilizer use rival the global warming impact of the entire U.S. aviation industry.
[Cornell Chronicle 2013-05-13] Read the whole article.
May 15, 2013
A team of scientists from seven universities – including three from Cornell – has joined forces with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on a five-year, $9.9 million project to study the environmental impact of dairy production systems in the Great Lakes region and develop best management practices for producers to implement on farms.
Emissions of greenhouse gases and ammonia, soil carbon sequestration, and soil and forage quality will be measured during ongoing dairy forage production field experiments in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New York, with the goal of understanding how various management practices and regional climate differences affect carbon, nitrogen, water and energy fluxes across the dairy production system.
[Cornell Chronicle 2013-05-09] Read the whole article.
May 15, 2013
If the carnivorous U.S. population – as a whole – ate a more-vegetarian diet that included egg and milk products, the environment would be greatly relieved, says a preliminary Cornell study.
Far fewer acres of land would be needed to support the diet, and much less nitrogen would pour into the environment, says life-cycle engineer Christine Costello, a postdoctoral researcher in the field of ecology and evolutionary biology. She will soon be a faculty member at the University of Missouri.
“Before, we knew that our diets were connected to the environment and our land use. Now, we have explicit links, as we can calculate and corroborate inputs like fertilizers, nitrous oxide and we can obtain more accurate numbers. It is important to demonstrate how consumption choices drive environmental impacts, and this project is explicitly defining those connections,” says Costello.
[Cornell Chronicle 2013-05-09] Read the whole article.
May 15, 2013 No longer an abstract concept, climate change is affecting the air, sea and land. To comprehend the effects on New York and the Northeast region, scientists begin collaborating this summer on the New York Climate-Change Science Clearinghouse, a Web-based, map-enabled reference library and climate database to be headquartered at Cornell.
A team of academic, nongovernmental, state and federal scientists will develop the project. At Cornell, Art DeGaetano, professor of climatology and director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Regional Climate Center, will lead the effort.
Climate change affects all sectors of the New York economy. “This project will provide the information necessary for policy- and decision-makers to reach scientifically sound decisions regarding climate change,” said DeGaetano. The public also will have access to the data.
[Cornell Chronicle 2013-05-07] Read the whole article.
April 10, 2013
Changes in Arctic vegetation due to climate change have probably been underestimated, according to a new computer analysis which shows that tree and shrub cover in the region will increase more than previously expected, accelerating climate change and possible adverse effects on wildlife.
“Such widespread redistribution of Arctic vegetation would have impacts that reverberate through the global ecosystem,” said Richard Pearson, a research scientist at the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation and lead author of the study.
Pearson, working with scientists at Woods Hole Research Center in Malmouth, Mass., called in computer scientists with access to the high-performance computing facilities at Cornell’s Institute for Computational Sustainability (ICS) and AT&T Labs to conduct the analysis. The results appeared March 31 in the journal Nature Climate Change. [Cornell Chronicle 2013-04-09] Read the whole article.
April 5, 2013
Natalie Mahowald, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is part of an international scientific effort to assess the current state of climate change as a lead author on the fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report, due out by 2014. Her group is responsible for the crucial first chapter on the report’s philosophy and new developments in the physical science of climate change. Read more at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future blog.