News & Events

The latest climate change news from Cornell and beyond.

 

Sept. 10 ag resiliency summit takes on severe-weather planning

flooded farmVia Cornell Chronicle [2015-08-14]:

A summit meeting to identify resources and opportunities to improve agricultural resiliency to severe weather across New York state will explore current initiatives and link researchers and extension members.

Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, will host the New York State Agricultural Resiliency Summit, Thursday, Sept. 10, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Jordan Hall. The summit aims to increase individual and collective capacity to prepare for, respond to and recover from weather-related events.

Participants will analyze the status of agricultural resiliency and emergency engagement and outline steps to improve how all stakeholders interact during a disaster. Breakout sessions will cover working with new weather patterns, improving communication before and after a severe weather event, and strategies to improve community preparedness.

The event is free, but preregistration is required. Direct questions about the summit to Trevor Partridge, 315-558–2815, tfp23@cornell.edu.

The summit is funded by Empire State Development through a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration.


News roundup

A  flock of about 40 sheep cut the grass at Cornell's Snyder Road Solar Farm. (Caleb Scott photo.)

A flock of about 40 sheep cut the grass at Cornell’s Snyder Road Solar Farm. (Caleb Scott photo.)

Cornell scientists: More study needed on Owasco Lake blue-green algae incidences [Auburn Citizen 2015-07-29] – Climate change, the trends affecting weather events and rising temperatures, is likely a contributing factor to the incidence of cyanobacteria in this Finger Lake.

Before the Time of Global Warming, Data Shows Spring Sprung Later [Inside Climate News 2015-07-29] – Records of the flowering of plants, the arrival of migrating birds, and the onset of frog mating calls collected at more than 90 scientific academies across New York State between 1832 and 1862 show spring is arriving as much as 14 days sooner. “As far as we can tell it’s the largest [historical] data set from North America,” said Conrad Vispo, who recently uncovered the long-forgotten documents and heads the group’s Progress of the Seasons project.

Did climate change rock the cradle of civilisation? [DailyMail 2015-07-23] – Last year, tree ring samples found in an ancient Egyptian coffin revealed the Akkadian civilisation came to its knees following changes to its food resources and infrastructure. Researchers at Cornell University said was just enough change in the climate to upset food resources and other infrastructure.

Ewes’ chews keep solar farm in tip-top shape [Cornell Chronicle 2015-07-22] – In lieu of running gas-powered, carbon-dumping mowers to maneuver around 6,778 solar panels at  Cornell’s Snyder Road Solar Farm, a flock of about 40 sheep cut the grass. “Using sheep to mow the field is not only cost-effective, but this reduces greenhouse gases and utilizes the agricultural potential of the site,” said Sarah Zemanick, director, Cornell Sustainability Office.

The science and morality of climate change [The Hill 2015-07-21] – Despite years of scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activities and will have dire social and environmental consequences — some of which we are already experiencing — we’ve been stymied at the policy level by counterarguments built almost exclusively around exaggerations of “scientific uncertainty” about the causes of climate change and the exact level of problems we will face, writes Amanda Rodewald, director of Conservation Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, faculty fellow at Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University and a Robert F. Schumann Faculty Fellow.


Presentation July 29: International issues with agriculture and climate change

Hans Jöhr

Hans Jöhr

The keynote address for the Dairy Environmental Systems & Climate Adaptation Conference is free and open to the public, and will feature Hans Jöhr corporate head of Agriculture at Nestle in Switzerland. Jöhr  is responsible for providing technical and strategic leadership in the groups’ world-wide agricultural raw material supply chain. He will discuss the role of climate change with respect to global agricultural policy decision making, and will highlight the importance of planning for and adapting to, perceived changes in climate and their impact on production agriculture.

Wednesday July 29th, 7:00-9:00 PM
Alice Statler Auditorium, Cornell University, 7 East Ave, Ithaca, NY
Ice Cream Social to Follow

Conference details and registration.

 

 


Climate Smart Farming Team helps farmers reduce risks

cicca-logo-sq-transp-bg-1couy99ITHACA, N.Y. – New York farmers coping with extreme weather and climate variability now have a new resource at their disposal: Cornell University’s Climate Smart Farming Extension Team. Organized by Cornell University’s Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture (CICCA), in cooperation with Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), the cross-state team will provide growers with assistance and access to the latest in management practices that improve farm resiliency.

“The Climate Smart Farming Team pulls together top farm specialists from Cornell and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) to provide new research and decision-making tools that can help farmers reduce the risks climate change presents to their operations,” says Dr. Allison Chatrchyan, CICCA director.

“We will offer solid research-based information on climate change that farmers can use to manage risks to their farms and to take advantage of new opportunities. Our ultimate goal is to strengthen New York agriculture’s capacity to face a changing climate.”

Quicker access to new research findings will come through new extension materials, increased outreach efforts, guidance and training programs, Chatrchyan said.

“The pilot team is the first in the nation devoted to climate change resiliency, and can serve as a model for extension across the United States,” said Chris Watkins, Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension. “The specialists on the team cover many key sectors in New York agriculture, and many regions of the state, from western and northern New York, to the Hudson Valley, helping it reach a broad audience of farmers.”

Read the whole article.

flooded-farm


News roundup

In one ACSF-funded project, researchers will develop an accounting tool to assess the net climate benefits of land management plans that take into account the land's surface reflectivity, or “albedo” -- an important but complex climate effect that may counterbalance biofuels’ benefits.

In one ACSF-funded project, researchers will develop an accounting tool to assess the net climate benefits of land management plans that take into account the land’s surface reflectivity, or “albedo” — an important but complex climate effect that may counterbalance biofuels’ benefits.

Atkinson Center grants $1.2 million to sustainable ideas [Cornell Chronicle 2015-06-18] - Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF) has given $1.2 million from its Academic Venture Fund to 11 new university projects selected from 37 proposals. This year marks the second straight year where more than $1 million has been granted. “We make seed grants to multidisciplinary teams with exciting ideas that address sustainability problems and opportunities. The process is very competitive and usually brings together faculty who have not previously worked together,” says Frank DiSalvo, Atkinson Center director and the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science.

Cornell Tech to build first passive house residential high-rise [Cornell Chronicle 2015-06-17] - The first residential building on Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island campus will become the first high-rise residential building in the world built to passive house (PH) standards, a rigorous building standard for energy consumption. The building will become the beacon of the Cornell Tech campus and a symbol of the school’s commitment to sustainability. Construction is set to begin this month on the 26-story building; it will comprise 350 residential units and open as part of the campus’s first phase in 2017. “Constructing the first passive house residential high-rise in the world is the latest and most exciting example of our effort to set new benchmarks in sustainability and innovation,” said Cornell Tech Dean Dan Huttenlocher. “We hope this will serve as a model for how passive house standards can be brought to scale in the United States and create a new template for green design here in New York City.”

How will climate change affect gardening? [Ithaca Journal 2015-06-11] – Tips for Upstate New York gardeners to respond to a changing climage.

Polls produced by students reveal shifting attitudes [Cornell Chronicle 2015-06-18] -  According to a Cornell University poll, young adults are much more likely to report that they will be politically active over the next few years, compared with everyone over 25. This and related polls show that younger citizens are taking more liberal positions. More of them want action on climate change; most are accepting of gay marriage; and they consider alcohol a more dangerous drug than marijuana. When a question about climate change was preceded by “scientists have predicted irreversible changes to Earth’s climate by 2030…” a little more than 50 percent favored government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But when the year was changed to 2100 at least 60 percent got on board. The pollsters speculated that if the cutoff date was too soon, people would think that the government couldn’t do anything about it anyway.


In the news

Round up of recent news …

Cornell’s Hydroelectric Plant in Fall Creek gorge generates 2 percent of the university’s electricity. Jason Koski/University Photography

Cornell’s Hydroelectric Plant in Fall Creek gorge generates 2 percent of the university’s electricity. Jason Koski/University Photography

Book details how biofuel policies affect food prices [Cornell Chronicle 2015-05-14] – Since their inception in 2006, biofuel policies have created turmoil in the world grains and oilseeds markets and made a more profound impact on society than any other topic in food policy and agricultural economics, according to a new book.

Restored turbines to churn once more [Cornell Chronicle 2015-05-13] – Crews used a heavy crane May 12 to lift the second reconditioned Ossberger crossflow turbine into Cornell’s Hydroelectric Plant in Fall Creek gorge. The plant generates 2 percent of the university’s electricity.

Northern Birds Invade The Southern US In Huge Numbers When Climate Shifts [Tech Times 2014-05-12] – Until recently ornithologists were unsure what was leading birds such as pine siskins to migrate south some years but not others. But a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences May 11 provides evidence for the prevalent hypothesis that these fluctuations are linked with climate shifts that result in changes in seed production in these species’ boreal forest habitat in northern Canada. ”It was clear that climate plays a role, but it’s never been clear whether its effects are direct or indirect,” senior study author Walt Koenig of Cornell University said in an interview.


Cornell climate change experts share insight with Albany leaders

 

Climate Change‬ and agriculture experts presented a forum in Albany on Tuesday to bring their research to lawmakers and staff in order to help inform potential policy. Pictured are (L-R): Professor Mike Hoffmann, director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station; Allison Chatrchyan, director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change in Agriculture; David Wolfe, Horticulture professor and co-author of New York’s ClimAID report. New York State Sen. Tom O'Mara; Toby Ault, assistant professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; and Julie Suarez, associate dean of government and community relations for CALS.

Climate Change‬ and agriculture experts presented a forum in Albany on Tuesday to bring their research to lawmakers and staff in order to help inform potential policy. Pictured are (L-R): Professor Mike Hoffmann, director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station; Allison Chatrchyan, director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change in Agriculture; David Wolfe, Horticulture professor and co-author of New York’s ClimAID report. New York State Sen. Tom O’Mara; Toby Ault, assistant professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; and Julie Suarez, associate dean of government and community relations for CALS.

Via CALS Notes [2015-05-13]:

Floods, droughts, pests and pathogens were among the weighty topics considered at the New York State Capitol on Tuesday.

In the middle of a busy legislative session day, Sen. Tom O’Mara and Assembly member Steve Englebright, chairs of the Senate and Assembly environmental conservation committees, hosted a Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences educational forum designed to provide insight into how extreme weather variations are impacting New York’s farm community. O’Mara and Englebright opened the forum, which also saw attendance by Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee, Assembly members Barbara Lifton and Cliff Crouch – along with a packed house of legislative and executive staff, and agricultural and environmental stakeholders.

Assistant Professor Toby Ault from Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences entertained and sobered the crowd by explaining radiant heat. Taking a page from famous Cornell alum Bill Nye the Science Guy, Ault walked attendees through a demonstration of radiant heat with an infrared camera, a metal globe and a blowtorch. Explaining how greenhouse gases interact with earth’s surface for good and for bad, Ault pointed out the extremes in weather fluctuations have become far greater over time, how his recent work has predicted a “megadrought” in the US Southwest, and that over time the United States will become progressively drier.

Horticulture Professor David Wolfe, a contributing author to the 2011 New York State ClimAID report, told the audience how increased “growing degree days,” changes in plant hardiness zones and fluctuations in extreme rainfall events are hitting New York’s farmers. With ecosystems changing as direct result of changing weather patterns and more extreme weather events, farmers will face greater challenges in dealing with invasive species, increased overwintering pests, early warming and unseasonable frost events, intensified rainfall and difficulty in predicting what types of crops to plant.  Wolfe emphasized the need to focus resources towards Cornell’s New York State Integrated Pest Management program, noting the prevalence of new and different pests will bring more challenges to farmers that should be met with by environmentally sensitive strategies for control.

California farmers have faced severe hardships weathering the impacts of a four-year drought, and Entomology Professor Mike Hoffmann, associate dean of CALS and director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, showcased recent research documenting the price increases for consumers nationally as a result of California’s difficult farm economy. Hoffman said price increases, but also an inability to grow certain crops such as red wine grapes and other water-thirsty varieties may create a demand for farmers in New York and the Northeast to supply more fresh market fruits and vegetables.

Allison Chatrchyan, the director the Cornell Institute for Climate Change in Agriculture, spoke about farmer adaptation and mitigation needs for the future. Citing a yet-to-be-published poll that found that 82 percent of New York’s farmers believe that climate change is occurring, Allison’s work has found that farmers are already facing losses from severe weather events. Chatrchyan said the institute is working to create a set of online decision-making tools for New York farmers to better understand and minimize their risk. Using historical data and climate modeling, tools such as a frost free calculator, a growing-degree yield prediction tool, and eventually a carbon-assessment tool will give farmers in New York specific data by which to make better farming decisions.

See also: Water-rich farms win, Cornell claims [Albany Times-Union 2015-05-13]


News round-up

Actor and activist Ted Danson speaks about his passion for protecting the oceans during the Jill and Ken Iscol Distinguished Environmental Lecture April 20.

Actor and activist Ted Danson speaks about his passion for protecting the oceans during the Jill and Ken Iscol Distinguished Environmental Lecture April 20.

Recent climate change related news from the Cornell Chronicle:

Scientists expect more coral disease under climate change [Cornell Chronicle 2015-05-04] - As greater atmospheric carbon dioxide boosts sea temperatures, tropical corals face a bleak future. New climate model projections show that conditions are likely to increase the frequency and severity of coral disease outbreaks, reports a team of researchers led by Cornell scientists, published today (May 4) in Nature Climate Change.

Better batteries to break dependence on fossil fuels [Cornell Chronicle 2015-04-28] – Cornell researchers are developing fuel cell and battery technologies to help power cars, consumer electronics and industry.

Ted Danson uses celebrity to fight for healthy oceans [Cornell Chronicle 2015-04-28] - On April 20, delivering the Jill and Ken Iscol Distinguished Environmental Lecture on campus, actor and activist Ted Danson spoke on his passionate activism to protect, conserve and heal oceans. The event was sponsored by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

Professors gaze toward a secure, sustainable future [Cornell Chronicle 2015-04-26] - On California’s current drought, Susan Christopherson, chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning, said: “California has always underpriced the cost of water and particularly for the farmers. So there were never any incentives … to go toward – for example – Israeli methods of drip irrigation.”She continued: “There have always been droughts in California, because that’s … [the] kind of climate. It’s worse this time. The question now is going to be moving toward a situation where agriculture is paying for the true cost of water.”

$18.5M grant aims to boost staple crop breeding worldwide  [Cornell Chronicle 2015-04-09] - To streamline the breeding of five staple crops – wheat, rice, maize, sorghum and chickpea – the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded Cornell $18.5 million for a project that will put modular, open-source breeding software resources into the hands of plant breeders in the developing world. The databases will include information about drought tolerance, disease resistance and yield.


Registration open for Dairy Environmental Systems & Climate Adaptation Conference

dairy_environmental_systems600July 29 – 31, 2015
The Statler Hotel, Ithaca, NY

This 2-day regional conference on July 29 – 20, 2015  will feature a unique opportunity to learn about emerging dairy housing and manure management systems in conjunction with regional climate trends and national and international drivers, along with adaptation strategies for the Northeast and upper mid-west U.S, and to visit the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York.  Registration is now open!

The conference will feature an optional day of tours on July 31, 2015 featuring multiple options that showcase on-farm integrated waste handling/treatment systems, on-farm climate adaptation strategies, unique agricultural enterprises, artisanal cheese makers and much more.  More information can be found on the tours page.

Visit the conference website.


Ted Danson to deliver Iscol Lecture

Ted Danson[Cornell Chronicle 2015-04-08]

Actor and environmental activist Ted Danson will deliver the Jill and Ken Iscol Distinguished Environmental Lecture, “Fish Tales: How Ocean Conservation Became My Passion,” Monday, April 20, at 5 p.m. in Call Alumni Auditorium, Kennedy Hall.

Danson’s recent book is “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them.” Danson will share his personal transformation from actor to activist and his passion for oceans. He will explore the threats to our oceans and celebrate recent success stories, including more than a million square miles of ocean protected and the recovery of important commercial fisheries. The next big initiative targets the countries that control 40 percent of the world’s fish catch. Policy changes can make the oceans so abundant that seafood could potentially feed one billion people a healthy meal each day.

Danson founded the American Oceans Campaign (AOC) in 1987 to alert Americans to ocean abuses. In 2001, AOC merged with Oceana, which works to show citizens how they can participate in protecting and restoring marine resources.

The Jill and Ken Iscol Distinguished Environmental Lecture brings eminent scholars, scientists, newsmakers and opinion leaders to Cornell to address environmental issues of paramount importance to our planet. Hosted by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, the Iscol Lecture recognizes interdisciplinary scholarship on the frontier of scientific inquiry and provides opportunities for Cornell students, faculty, staff and the public to gain new knowledge about pressing environmental issues.