News & Events

The latest climate change news from Cornell and beyond.

 

Alumni learn about effects of extreme weather on farming

 

An exhibit at Mann Library features stories of numerous farms across New York state and how they are adapting to climate change. The exhibit can be viewed in the Mann Gallery through August 2016. (Photo: Matt Hayes, CALS Communications.)

An exhibit at Mann Library features stories of numerous farms across New York state and how they are adapting to climate change. The exhibit can be viewed in the Mann Gallery through August 2016. (Photo: Matt Hayes, CALS Communications.)

Cornell Chronicle [2016-06-17]:

Thor Oechsner ’87 spent years cultivating a rich layer of topsoil essential to growing lush fields of organic wheat, rye and buckwheat. But it took just a few minutes for those years of hard work to be washed away when more than 5 inches of rain fell on his Newfield, New York, farm last summer.

Extreme weather events like the one experienced at Oechsner Farms are becoming more frequent and devastating, warned Toby Ault, assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

On June 10, he presented a Reunion Weekend lecture on extreme weather and its impacts on agriculture, held in conjunction with a Mann Library exhibit showcasing collaborations between the Cornell Climate Smart Farming program and New York state farmers.

In New York, warming temperatures will alter the growing seasons and the type of crops that can be farmed, with increased risks for flash floods, Ault said. In the southwestern U.S., the problems are likely to manifest as a severe and persistent lack of rainfall or prolonged drought spanning decades, known as megadrought.

“When we’re talking climate, we are talking averages and long-term trends,” Ault said. ”By the end of this year, we will have had five of the warmest years on record in just the last decade,” a consequence, he said, of using the atmosphere as a dumping ground for excess carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels.

Ault pointed out that humans have long burned plant material for heat. Our modern world does the same, burning fossil fuels such as coal in order to spin turbines to produce electricity. The waste carbon dioxide produces during burning is then released into the atmosphere, and humans are now facing the consequences in the form of extreme weather events, Ault said.

Read the whole article.


Atkinson Center announces 2016 Academic Venture Fund selections

project thumbnailsCornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future has announced its 2016 Academic Venture Fund selections.

Fourteen proposals were selected, for total funding of $1.5 million. The multidisciplinary researchers come from 26 departments and eight Cornell colleges/schools.

The grants will seed new approaches to some of the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Several projects explore market-based solutions to sustainability problems, with benefits for people and the environment. Many proposals combine on-the-ground research with computational sustainability, using big data sets to create models to guide human behavior toward more sustainable oceans, forests, and energy resource management.

Learn more.


Sustainability Events at Cornell Reunion

Hot with a Chance of Megadrought: Anticipating the Extremes of a Changing Climate
Friday, June 10: 10:00, 160 Mann Library

Dr. Toby Ault, assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences,  will discuss his work with climate model projections and paleoclimate data.  Prof. Ault’s findings suggest a significant risk of megadrought—drought conditions lasting more than 10, 25, even 50 years. His talk is presented in conjunction with the exhibit  ”Climate Smart Farming: New York State Farmers in Their Own Words” showcasing recent collaborations between the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture (CICCA) and New York State farmers to encourage climate-smart farming strategies in the region. 

A Recipe for Restoring Earth—Just Add Water: Regenerating Grasslands in China and the US Great Plains
Friday, June 10: 11:00, Ives Hall – Pepsico Auditorium

The Class of ’61 Forum features Rebecca Schneider and Stephen Morreale in a discussion about their research and field experiments in Northern China involving restoration of degraded and desertified soils critical for food and water security. Schneider and Morreale are married colleagues in the Department of Natural Resources at CALS, and both are Fellows in the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Their research has centered on jump-starting the restoration of highly degraded agricultural grasslands along the Yellow River in the Ningxia Autonomous Region, near Inner Mongolia.

Genomics and the Future of Agriculture
Friday, June 10, 2016 at 1:00pm to 2:30pm – Kennedy Hall, David L. Call Alumni Auditorium

This year’s Liberty Hyde Bailey Lecture is presented in honor of professor emeritus Steve Tanksley, winner of the 2016 Japan Prize, three former lab members – Greg MartinJim Giovannoni, and Susan McCouch – will celebrate his contributions to plant breeding and genetics and the spirit of genomic discovery in the School of Integrative Plant Science with a panel discussion on genomics and the future of agriculture.

Cornell Sustainability/Energy Facilities Tours
Friday, June 10: 9-11:00, various locations (tours every half hour – must provide own transportation)

  • Cornell Snyder Road Solar Farm 800 Snyder Road, Lansing NY
  • Human Ecology Building 37 Forest Home Drive
  • Hydroelectric Plant 319 Fall Creek Drive
  • Lake Source Cooling 961 East Shore Drive
  • Water Filtration Plant 101 Caldwell Road

Sustainability at Cornell Plantations Tour
Friday, June 10: 2-3:00, Cornell Plantations – Nevin Welcome Center

Take a tour with environmental education specialist Donna Levy to visit and learn about three areas that demonstrate sustainable practices and concepts at Cornell Plantations: the LEED Gold-certified Nevin Welcome Center, the Bioswale Garden, and the Climate Change Demonstration Garden. Free parking is available at the Nevin Welcome Center, or you can ride a Reunion shuttle to the Dairy Bar/Stocking Hall on Tower Road and walk down the footpath from there. We are also an easy to moderate walk from most points on campus.


Design exhibit offers N.Y. town climate change defense

Cornell Chronicle [2016-06-07]:

As Hudson, New York faces a rising river because of climate change, master's students in landscape architecture provided ideas for the waterfront. The exhibit runs now through July 4 at the Hudson Opera House.

As Hudson, New York faces a rising river because of climate change, master’s students in landscape architecture provided ideas for the waterfront. The exhibit runs now through July 4 at the Hudson Opera House.

To keep riverfront communities intact in the face of rising waters due to climate change, landscape architecture master’s students at Cornell’s Climate-Adaptive Design (CAD) studio are sketching sturdy, flexible concepts for a city along New York’s Hudson River while factoring in the tide’s swell.

Concepts for the south bay riverfront in Hudson, New York, are collected in an exhibition, “Waterfront Futures: Designing Resilience for an Epoch of Rising Tides,” on display through July 4 at the Hudson Opera House. Hudson is about 38 miles south of Albany on the eastern side of the Hudson River.

The spring semester design process began with students examining the community’s watershed context, deciphering New York state projections for climate change, and designing solutions for floodable parks and flood-adapted buildings. Other problems to solve included ground-level train tracks, an industrial port and marshes that may migrate with rising sea levels. By conducting site visits and interviewing stakeholders, the students infused their designs with opportunities for Hudson.

Read the whole article.


Reunion seminar June 10: Hot with a Chance of Megadrought

 

Toby Ault

Toby Ault

Hot with a Chance of Megadrought: Anticipating the Extremes of a Changing Climate

Speaker: Toby R. AultDepartment of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
Friday, June 10, 2016 at 10:00am to 11:00am
Mann Library, Room 160
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Following years of unprecedented scarcity in snow and rain fall, California had a nice, wet winter this year…but when it comes to dry weather, the American West is not out of the woods. As part of Mann Library’s reunion program this year, please join us for a discussion with Dr. Toby Ault, assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, whose work with climate model projections and paleoclimate data has recently captured the attention of U.S. scientists and policy makers.

Prof. Ault’s findings suggest a significant risk of megadrought—drought conditions lasting more than 10, 25, even 50 years — in certain areas of the United States, which will have major implications for food production across the country. As Prof. Ault will point out, these findings are important to consider as agricultural adaptation and mitigation strategies are developed to cope with regional impacts of climate change in the coming decades.

Prof. Ault’s talk is presented in conjunction with the exhibit Climate Smart Farming: New York State Farmers in Their Own Words showcasing recent collaborations between the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture (CICCA) and New York State farmers to encourage climate-smart farming strategies in the region. Following the talk, please join us in the Mann Gallery for an exhibit reception with Allison Chatrychan of CICCA as well as Mark Doyle (Fishkill Farms) and Thor Oechsner (Oechsner Farms), practicing NYS farmers whose climate-smart initiatives are featured in the exhibit.

This lecture and exhibit are presented as capstone events in Mann Library’s year of special programming on climate change. For more information, please call 607-255-5460 or visit mannlib.cornell.edu.


Howarth alerts White House of growing methane danger

Cornell Chronicle [2016-06-02]:

Howarth

Howarth

As methane intensifies greenhouse gas in the atmosphere – propelling average global temperatures higher toward the brink of no return – Cornell’s Robert briefed the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy May 27 on its dangers and solutions.

“In Paris at the COP21 [the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties] last December, the nations of the world came together to recognize that we need to keep our planet well below a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise – compared to the pre-industrial baseline temperature for the Earth – and that anything above 1.5 degrees Celsius is dangerous,” said Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology. “If we don’t, we’re at an increased risk of hitting tipping points in the climate system that will lead to runaway global warming.”

The 90-minute briefing, “Natural Gas and Methane After COP21,” was given to senior staff and scientists.

Howarth told the group Earth’s atmosphere is on target to raise the average atmospheric temperature by 1.5 degrees C in the next 10 to 15 years and by 2 degrees C within the next 35 to 40 years. “The only way to slow this rate of warming and meet the COP21 target is to reduce methane emissions,” he said. “Although we should reduce carbon dioxide emissions, reducing carbon dioxide alone will not slow global warming on the time scale of the next few decades. The climate system responds much more quickly to reducing methane emissions.”

Read the whole article.


Climate Justice Economics and Philosophy conference May 24-25

Climate Justice Economics and Philosophy
Tuesday-Wednesday, May 24-25: 401 Warren Hall

Climate justice requires sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its resolution equitably and fairly. It brings together justice between generations and justice within generations. In particular it requires that attempts to address justice between generations through various interventions designed to curb greenhouse emissions today, do not end up creating injustice in our time by hurting the currently poor and vulnerable. More generally, issues of distribution and justice are of paramount importance in any discourse on climate change.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) summit in September 2015, and the Conference of Parties (COP) in December 2015, brought climate change and its development impact, including climate justice, center stage in global discussions. This conference builds on the momentum of these meetings to take stock of and advance the analysis of climate change from a distributional and justice perspective in an interdisciplinary interaction among economists, philosophers and policy makers.

View schedule

Registration: Contact Sue Snyder (sms237@cornell.edu)
Organized by: Ravi Kanbur, Cornell University, and Henry Shue, University of Oxford
Supported by: Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF) through a Faculty Fellowship for Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts; by the T.H. Professorship Program at Cornell University; and by the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice.


In the news

Art DeGaetano, director of the Northeast Regional Climate Center, is co-principal investigator for the New York Climate Change Science Clearinghouse. (Photo: Lindsay France/University Photography)

Art DeGaetano, director of the Northeast Regional Climate Center, is co-principal investigator for the New York Climate Change Science Clearinghouse. (Photo: Lindsay France/University Photography)

Latest climate change information housed on new website [Cornell Chronicle 2016-05-06] - A Cornell partnership at the frontier of climate and information science is making the search for relevant climate information easier and faster. The New York Climate Change Science Clearinghouse features New York-specific climate data curated by Cornell librarians to provide the public and policymakers access to the most recent and credible information available to inform decisions.

Cornell and Iceland team to model geothermal energy [Cornell Chronicle 2016-05-13] - With an aim to create clean, renewable geothermal energy projects, and to cooperate in research and education, Cornell and Geothermal Resource Park (GRP) Iceland have signed a memorandum of agreement that mirrors the successful Icelandic model for integrating energy solutions.

Humanists offer critical perspective on climate change [Cornell Chronicle 2016-05-05] - Climate change and other 21st-century environmental dangers put us all at risk, and technology alone does not hold the answers. Humanists at Cornell offer a critical perspective in the search for solutions.

Lund debate focuses on nuclear power, climate change [Cornell Chronicle 2016-05-12] - The question under consideration was not, “Is nuclear power good or bad?” but “Is nuclear power the answer to climate change?” And on that participant views were very different.

Farmers try to find ways to deal with more severe weather [WRVO 2016-05-02] – “We have more extreme weather, longer growing seasons that are warmer, warmer winters. All of these things have implications and direct impacts on farming. We have more pests than we used to have in the past, because they can survive over winter. So lots of challenges,” says Michael Hoffman, executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture.

CALS leaders named to food security commission [Cornell Chronicle 2016-05-12] - Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS; Michael Hoffman, executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture; and Per Pinstrup-Andersen, professor emeritus in nutrition and economics, will provide critical insights as part of the new commission convened by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).


Cornell’s Sutton Road solar farm opens in Geneva

Cornell Chronicle [2013-05-03]

The completed Sutton Road Solar Farm became operational April 13. (Photo: Rob Way/NYSAES)

The completed Sutton Road Solar Farm became operational April 13. (Photo: Rob Way/NYSAES)

Bring on the sunshine: Cornell University’s new Sutton Road Solar Farm, a 2-megawatt energy facility that will offset nearly 40 percent of the annual electricity demand at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, New York, became fully operational April 13.

“Our researchers are conducting basic and applied research to improve crops and make them more resilient to disease, drought and the worst effects of an uncertain climate as we chart a more sustainable agricultural future,” said Susan Brown, the Goichman Family Director of NYSAES. “Within our fruit and vegetable programs we’re studying the best way to harvest the sun, so it is only fitting that the energy powering our labs and greenhouses will do the same.”

Construction of the solar farm, a 17-acre facility featuring 9,120 photovoltaic panels located off Sutton Road in Seneca, New York, started last spring and is Cornell’s second megawatt-scale solar project. In September 2014, the university opened the Cornell Snyder Road Solar Farm with 6,778 photovoltaic panels on an 11-acre plot that adjoins the Tompkins County Regional Airport in Lansing, New York. Adding the new Geneva array to the Lansing facility’s output, the university will produce about 5,700 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.

Read the whole article.


Climate Smart Farming exhibit opening May 5 in Mann Library

mann climate smartFrom Jonathan Lambert, Program Assistant, Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture

Climate Smart Farming: New York State Farmers in Their Own Words
Opening reception, Thursday, May 5, 4:00 – 5:30 pm
Mann Gallery, Mann Library (2nd Floor), Cornell University

Please join us for a reception with Dale Stein (Stein Farms), Paul King (Six Mile Creek Vineyards), Glenn Evans (Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station) and Allison Chatrchyan of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture (CICCA) as we open a new exhibit in the Mann Library Gallery.

CICCA works with Cornell researchers, extension specialists, and New York State farmers to co-develop tools that increase resiliency, reduce risk, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector. This exhibit showcases this unique collaboration, highlighting stories of farmers’ experiences with extreme weather and climate change and the important adaptations they are making through new cropping systems and varieties, improved water and waste management, and the installation of renewable energy systems.

This is a multimedia exhibit, with both photos and video footage from our new Cornell climate smart farming program: climatesmartfarming.org

For more information about the climate smart farming program of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture at the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, please visit climatesmartfarming.org.

The “Climate Smart Farming” exhibit is part of Mann Library’s year-long special programming series on climate change launched in fall 2015. For more information about current and upcoming events, please visit mannlib.cornell.edu/events-exhibits. The exhibit will be up from May-August 2016, and there will be a second event with the exhibit and a special talk with Dr. Toby Ault on Friday, June 10, 2016 at 10:00am.