News & Events

The latest climate change news from Cornell and beyond.


Video: Cornell Takes on Climate Change

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From TWC Capital District News:

Climate change has become a huge topic of discussion lately, especially following an international agreement on how to combat the problem. But here in New York, Cornell University is taking a different approach. They’ve created the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture to help train and educate farmers on how to adapt to a changing climate and reduce their impact on the environment. Cornell’s Matt Ryan and Neil Mattson joined us to talk about the initiative. View video

Climate change topic at NYS Agricultural Society Forum


Art DeGaetano—Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Professor at Cornell University and director of the NE Regional Climate Center. (Jason Koski/University Photography)

Morning Ag Clips [2015-12-23].

Undoubtedly climate change is a hot topic globally for world powers, developing nations, major industry, and competing think tanks. But how does the issue impact New Yorkers and how food is produced, processed and sold in our communities? On January 7, 2015 at the Holiday Inn Liverpool, a broad cross section of over 500 producers and representatives of the Empire State food and agricultural system will consider this contested issue and what changes and opportunities are on the horizon for climate smart farming.

Keynote speakers include Dr. Art DeGaetano—Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Professor at Cornell University and director of the NE Regional Climate Center; and Dr. Laura Lengnick—Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at Warren Wilson College in NC, who is one of the primary authors of the USDA comprehensive report on climate change effects and adaption strategies for US agriculture. Three producers, ranging from a traditional dairy to a community supported mixed-vegetable farm will contribute their insights and experience, and respond to questions.

In addition to Commissioner Richard Ball of the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, Val Dolcini, Administrator of the Farm Service Agency , USDA, will be a special guest to present the inaugural Next Generation Farmer Award.

Read the whole article.

A changing climate means a changing menu


Mike Hoffmann

Mike Hoffmann

Michael Hoffmann in The Hill [2015-12-22]

Imagine that you and I are dining at a restaurant for a very special meal, where the choices are wide, the server is welcoming and knowledgeable, and the atmosphere is cozy — a perfect place for a crisp December evening. I order a Manhattan, three cherries, and you select a nice white wine. After a selection of raw oysters, we enjoy simple salads of mixed greens, avocado, cherry tomatoes and fresh parmesan. The conversation is warming up as we work our way to our main courses: lobster bisque for me, grilled shrimp and saffron rice for you. We end with coffee, chocolate mousse and panna cotta. Bon appétit!

But let’s take a few steps back. Our meal came to us from around the world thanks to a complex and interconnected global food system. It involves picking, packing, cleaning, hauling and shipping saffron from Kashmir, India; rice from Vietnam; fruit from Chile; wheat from Kansas; and other ingredients from thousands of points around the globe.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s “Climate Change, Global Food Security and the U.S. Food System” report released during the 2015 Paris Climate Conference earlier this month points to a new reality. All of these dots and their connections in this global system are under an intensifying threat: Climate change is fundamentally altering our menu. “Big Food” is taking notice of these changes, and so should we.

Read the whole article.

Michael Hoffmann is executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture, faculty fellow at Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, and a professor in the Department of Entomology.

Reporting from Paris: COP21 updates

The 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris brings the world together to address climate change. And Cornell’s delegation to COP21 continues to report from the center of the action.

This week’s updates:carbon circles

Read more about Cornell’s delegation to COP 21.

Report from Paris: COP21 at the Half-way Point

malting ice in ParisSunday, 6 December 2015
Robert Howarth
David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology & Environmental Biology at Cornell University
One of the four Cornell-appointed Observer Delegates to COP21

Read the full update.

New element tracking method a boon for geoscientists


Thea Whitman collects samples from experimental plots at Cornell’s Mount Pleasant research farm.

Thea Whitman collects samples from experimental plots at Cornell’s Mount Pleasant research farm.

Cornell Chronicle [2015-11-19]:

Geoscientists track how elements cycle across land, air and water to better understand climate change, ecological food webs and resources, plant nutrient cycling, water use and for forensics purposes.

But until now, they have only been able to parse inputs of such elements as carbon or nitrogen in a system when there are two sources. Yet many natural systems may have three or more interdependent sources, leaving researchers unable to separate inputs from one source to another, and hindering them from understanding how sources may interact with each other to affect overall carbon or nitrogen cycling in that system.

A Cornell study in the Nov. 4 issue of Nature Communications describes a new method that allows geoscientists to tease out the exact inputs from three different sources.

Read the whole article.

Cornellians travel to Paris for global climate summit

cop21 logoCornell Chronicle [2015-11-18]

Cornell researchers will travel to Paris in early December as part of the university’s delegation to the global climate change summit, COP. Even in the wake of the recent Parisian terrorist attacks, delegations from over 190 countries and more than 50,000 people from all over the world are expected to attend.

Participating in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference – or COP21, for the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties – will be Robert Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Johannes Lehmann, professor of soil science; Karen Pinkus, professor of romance studies and comparative literature; and Allison Chatrchyan, director of Cornell’s Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture. Chatrchyan, Howarth, Lehmann and Pinkus are fellows at Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

Also in Paris, Brian Davis, assistant professor of landscape architecture, will address the Water, Megacities and Global Change conference, a concurrent meeting.

“COP21 is critical. The world is on a trajectory to warm to a dangerously high 1.5  degrees Celsius within 15 years and to 2 degrees Celsius within 35 years, unless we take urgent action now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Howarth, who will focus on methane’s role in global warming.

Howarth will speak to international unions, as well as to Friends of the Earth Europe; Food and Water Watch; and

“The scientific community of the world is united on these points, and the world’s religious leaders – including the Pope and the Dalai Lama – have given this message their full moral authority. Now is the time to act. Paris is the place where this must happen,” Howarth said.

Pinkus will also attend workshops and meet with other humanities scholars at Paris West University Nanterre La Défense. Pinkus will reflect on the conference for several publications, as she is especially interested in geoengineering.

“I know this may sound strange coming from a literature professor,” she said. “Given that the shift to renewables will not happen fast enough, I believe we may be headed toward some combination of solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal. If we are going to further geoengineer the planet, we need philosophical reflection and critical thought to guide the technological aspects of our work.”

On Dec. 3, Cornell, along with the United Nations Development Programme, the French Institute of Research for Development, and the International Food Policy Research Institute, will host an official side event for world leaders, on “Climate Change, Agroecology, Nutrition and Food Security,” at which Lehmann will deliver a talk, “Food Security Interventions for Mitigating Climate Change in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Chatrchyan will moderate the panel.

Additionally, Chatrchyan and Lehmann will be available at the Cornell exhibit in the main United Nations conference area, showcasing the university’s breadth of research and outreach capacity on climate change and agriculture around the world.

On Dec. 1, Davis will present his research on water management in Brazil, in which his students – along with students from the University of São Paulo – have been developing environmental models and maps, river design and public space projects to study alternative scenarios for water detention structures in the city.

Nov. 20 Seminar: The Energy Science and Policy of the 2o Climate Target


Dan Kammen

The Energy Science and Policy of the 2<sup>o</sup> Climate Target Nov. 20
Dan Kammen
Friday, November 20, 2015 at 3:00 p.m.
Snee Hall, 2146

Dan Kammen (Cornell Physics, 1984) is the Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dan is the founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL), Co-Director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment, and Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center. He has served the State of California and US federal government in numerous expert and advisory capacities, including being appointed as the first Environment and Climate Partnership for the Americas Fellow by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in April 2010.

Dan has served as a contributing or lead author on reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 1999, sharing in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He also serves on the Advisory Committee for Energy and Environment for the X-Prize Foundation.

Move toward greater sustainability a priority, says Garrett


President Elizabeth Garrett addresses the fifth annual President’s Sustainable Campus Committee fall summit Nov. 12. (Robert Barker/University Photography)

President Elizabeth Garrett addresses the fifth annual President’s Sustainable Campus Committee fall summit Nov. 12. (Robert Barker/University Photography)

Cornell Chronicle [2015-11-12]:

In her remarks at the President’s Sustainable Campus Committee fall summit Nov. 12, President Elizabeth Garrett underscored the university’s commitment to addressing climate change by announcing formation of the Senior Leaders Climate Action Group.

The group – chaired by KyuJung Whang, vice president for infrastructure, planning and properties; and Lance Collins, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering – will be composed of deans, vice presidents and other campus leaders to focus on improving current climate trends by advancing public policy on climate change and spurring innovative, cross-disciplinary solutions.

“Meeting the energy, environmental, economic and social needs of the present – without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same – is one of the critical challenges of our time, not only for New York and the country, but for the world,” Garrett said. …

Cornell should use its strength in education to reduce global warming and climate change, she said: “We should be focused on having global impact in addressing this problem through our teaching and our research in a way that changes the world.”

Garrett mentioned an increase in the types of sustainability classes and programs the university will offer. “We will be highlighting our outstanding educational programs in this arena as we go around the world seeking the best students for Cornell,” she said. “This focus appeals to some of the very best students in the country who need to understand that if they can come to Cornell they can make a difference they cannot make anywhere else.”

Read the whole article

Read more about Cornell’s Climate Change Minor.

Business leaders will bring politicians to the table on climate change

David Wolfe in The Hill [2015-11-02]:

David Wolfe

David Wolfe

“… Farmers are on the front lines of climate change, and while they may not all call it by that name or agree about the causes, the vast majority recognize they are the first generation of farmers, ever, who cannot rely on historical weather patterns to tell them when to plant, what to plant or how to grow it.

“Many farmers have told me that if the changes were as straightforward as a few more days of heat stress or drought each year, they could plan around that. But the changes are all over the map. One year, farmers may face record-breaking spring rain that delays planting. The next year could bring a record-breaking drought near harvest. Another year, their fruit crops bloom weeks early and get blasted by a spring frost. As a result of this unpredictability, many are hedging their bets, staggering planting dates, planting a wider range of crops and considering investments such as irrigation or drainage systems.”

Read the whole article.