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  • richardmitnick 7:08 pm on June 1, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Robots to the Rescue", "TideRider", A/R "CUREE", A/S/V "Alvin", A/S/V "ChemYak", A/S/V "wave glider", A/U/V "Sentry", A/U/V's "Orpheus" and "Eurydice", A/V "Clio", Any individual robot can only do so much., , , Carbon capture and storage, , Fleets of long-lived inexpensive robots can fill in the gaps and in some cases already are., , Having access to so much data is changing the game., NOAA "Argo" floats, Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator consortium, Ocean robots have grown into new roles., Ocean Vital Signs Network, , OceanX’s M/V "Alucia", One of the major limiting factors for today’s ocean robots is power., One possibility is to allow robots to recharge at underwater docking stations., R/O/V ”Jason”, , Robots are a vital tool for ocean science and their role has only grown over time., Robots of the future will be integral parts of understanding and helping to address some of the biggest challenges facing the ocean., Scientists will never stop wanting a vehicle that can take people to the deep sea to do science in a real 3D space., The technological innovations needed to make this future a reality are not insignificant., , There is a lot of potential for artificial intelligence to make breakthroughs., WHOI "Slocum glider"   

    From The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “Robots to the Rescue” 

    From The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    Laura Castanon

    A/R CUREE uses outstretched hydrophones to listen to the sounds of coral reefs in St. John of the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Photo by Austin Greene, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

    To monitor changes in a rapidly warming Arctic, scientists deploy A/S/V ChemYak in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, where it uses an array of sensors to measure the rapid release of greenhouse gases in the spring thaw. (Photos by William Pardis, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

    Victoria Preston watched as ChemYak, a robotic kayak rigged with sensors, navigated the shallow, ice-filled waters of Cambridge Bay in Nunavut, Canada. Preston, a doctoral student at the time, was working with a team of researchers looking into the release of greenhouse gases in the Arctic during the annual spring thaw. ChemYak allowed the team to take thousands of in situ measurements, instead of needing to bring water samples back to the lab.

    When we think about the power of putting instruments on robotic machines that can place those instruments optimally, it’s so different than the oceanography of just a few decades ago,” says Preston, who is now a postdoctoral investigator at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “Having access to so much data is changing the game in many fields.”

    Robots are a vital tool for ocean science and their role has only grown over time. The first videos of deep-sea hydrothermal vents and the unexpected plethora of life they support were taken in 1977 by A/S/V Alvin, WHOI’s crewed submersible.

    Since then, researchers have been able to explore details of the seafloor through remotely operated vehicles (R/O/V’s) like Jason, which are tethered to a ship, or map areas of it with autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) like Sentry, sent out on preprogrammed missions.

    With improved longevity, battery life, processing power, and intelligence, ocean robots have grown into new roles. Some are jacks-of-all trades, with swappable sensor packages for different missions, and others are specialists designed for under-ice exploration or other harsh environments. They act as scouts, explorers, warning systems, monitors, and, increasingly, scientific partners.

    “I don’t think we’ll ever stop wanting a vehicle that can take people to the deep sea to do science in a real, 3D space, but there are a lot of ways that we want to take measurements in the ocean that don’t require us to go out there,” says Anna Michel, chief scientist of WHOI’s National Deep Submergence Facility. “Because of big problems like climate change, there’s a lot of need for technology to monitor the oceans. We’re nowhere near having too many robots.”

    As designs and technology continue to evolve, robots of the future will be integral parts of understanding and helping to address some of the biggest challenges facing the ocean, including the climate crisis, dying coral reefs, and other damages caused by human activity.

    To monitor changes in a rapidly warming Arctic, scientists deploy A/S/VChemYak in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, where it uses an array of sensors to measure the rapid release of greenhouse gases in the spring thaw. (Photos by William Pardis, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

    But the technological innovations needed to make this future a reality are not insignificant. We need ocean robots that are affordable, independent, long-lasting, networked, and loaded with sensors. We need the capacity to store, process, and transmit vast amounts of data. We need long-lasting batteries and charging stations powered by renewable energy sources. And we need all of this at an unprecedented scale.

    Monitoring a changing ocean

    Robotic platforms like ChemYak provide valuable access to hard-to-reach places and are great for investigating specific events or areas. But their deployments are measured in hours, not weeks or months—researchers have to make sure they’re in the right place at the right time. To make accurate predictions for the ocean and our planet as the climate continues to change, we need to combine these local observations with consistent, long-term data sets to reveal both ongoing changes and sporadic or seasonal events.

    [Hint: Engage ESA’s Copernicus mission.
    The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganization](EU) Copernicus mission


    Researchers and research vessels can’t be everywhere at once, but fleets of long-lived, inexpensive robots can fill in the gaps and, in some cases, already are. Around 4,000 Argo floats drift through the world’s oceans, recording temperature and salinity profiles through the water column, which help us predict and track extreme weather.

    Argo float. Credit: NOAA

    Scientific buoys, moored and drifting, collect data on the air-sea interactions that produce El Niño events and alert us to everything from tsunami waves to endangered marine mammals. Torpedo-shaped gliders loaded with sensors coast through different layers of the ocean for months at a time, improving predictions of tropical storm and hurricane intensity, while helping us understand the ocean’s currents, which play a critical role in our climate system.

    Ocean robots are heading towards longer endurances, shore launch, and autonomous recovery capabilities, at-sea maintenance—these trends have been going on for a long time, but some of them are finally maturing,” says Mike Jakuba, a senior engineer at WHOI. “I don’t see research ships or ship-launched A/U/V’s ever going away, but operations are going to become more autonomous and less people-intensive at sea.”

    One of the major limiting factors for today’s ocean robots is power. Engineers often have to make trade-offs between a robot’s capabilities—which sensors it uses, how quickly it travels, what information it can process on board—and how long it can operate independently.

    Jakuba is collaborating with researchers at WHOI and the University of Washington on a low-power system to improve undersea navigation for ocean gliders, autonomous robots that use changes in their buoyancy to cruise slowly through the ocean.

    Slocum glider. Credit: WHOI.

    Typically, underwater navigation systems use a lot of power. To avoid that, ocean gliders only get an accurate location when they surface and connect to satellites. Underwater, they navigate by dead reckoning—estimating their position based on where they started and the speed and direction they have traveled. This type of navigation doesn’t account for ocean currents, so a glider’s estimated location can be off by several kilometers.

    WHOI engineers Mike Jakuba and Victor Naklicki inspect a battery pack while working on A/V Clio, a robot designed for deep-ocean mapping and biochemical sampling. (Photo by Daniel Hentz, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

    “Gliders have been a very successful platform for collecting profiles of salinity, temperature, and other things in the water column,” Jakuba says. “But if we had more precision navigation, it would open up new possibilities.”

    Gliders could, for example, be sent out to survey the seafloor to identify the locations of methane seeps or hydrothermal vents. Researchers are still studying how these seafloor phenomena and the unique ecosystems around them affect ocean chemistry and circulation, and understanding their quantity and locations could help improve ocean models and climate predictions.

    The researchers have created an extremely low-power navigation system for ocean gliders by pairing them with an A/S/V called a “wave glider”. The wave glider, which is powered by wave and solar energy, broadcasts a simple acoustic signal under the water and the ocean gliders use that to determine where they are in the water column.

    “If you want to move the ocean glider on the bottom, you would move the wave glider—it follows like a dog on a leash,” Jakuba says. “It speaks to this vision of longer-term robots working in parallel with one another in a scalable system, getting away from the model of needing a ship.”

    Empowering communities

    Closer to shore, volunteers often lead water quality monitoring efforts, collecting samples by hand. As robotic technologies become less expensive and more commercially available, coastal communities may be able to build simple ocean robots to get a better idea of what’s going on in their own backyard. Over the past four years, Jakuba has been working with a local high school student, Patrick McGuire, to design and build an inexpensive coastal profiling float known as the TideRider that can monitor changing ocean conditions.

    Climate change is warming the waters of Cape Cod Bay, shifting seasonal patterns and allowing new species of phytoplankton to bloom and decompose, potentially causing deadly low-oxygen zones along the bottom. One such event occurred in September of 2019, when fishermen in southern Cape Cod Bay started hauling up trap after trap of dead lobsters. A blob of hypoxic water—water with very little oxygen—had formed along the bottom of the bay and any animal that couldn’t escape it had suffocated. If the fishermen had known about the hypoxic water, they could have placed their traps in other areas.

    The TideRider [no image available] was originally designed to help aid in the public understanding of the coastal ocean and to foster a sense of stewardship, but a small fleet of them could also provide continuous data throughout the bay, forming the basis of an alert system for changing conditions. They can be programmed over cell networks to move between the seafloor and the surface, using favorable tides to drift to new locations. And, the instrument costs less than $1,000 to build and can carry sensors to detect dissolved oxygen levels or other water quality data.

    “What we’re imagining is a hypoxia alert system where the TideRider would sit on the seafloor and if the oxygen dips below the level where it’s going to cause fish kills, for example, then it would come to the surface and at least warn you,” Jakuba says.

    Robots as emergency responders

    When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April of 2010, millions of gallons of oil began gushing out of a damaged seafloor well in the Gulf of Mexico. In the months that followed, as cleanup workers tried to contain and disperse the spill, robots were sent down to survey the damage and help track the currents that would spread the plume of oil. Although they were the best available instruments for the job, none of them had been designed with this sort of emergency in mind. In the years that followed, government agencies and researchers started considering better tools to respond to oil spills.

    WHOI research engineer Amy Kukulya (left in grouping) braces with members of the United States Coast Guard as a USCG Jayhawk prepares to transport a Long-Range AUV (LRAUV) off its cradle during a test deployment in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. (Photo by Daniel Hentz, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

    WHOI engineer Kevin Nikolaus stands in between two Long-Range AUV (LRAUV) robots being modified with different sensors in the Scibotics Lab inside the George and Wendy David Center for Ocean Innovation. (Photo by Daniel Hentz, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

    The importance of this has only grown as shipping traffic expands in the Arctic and melting ice opens potential new routes for commercial vessels. An oil spill in the Arctic, where resources are scarce and oil may be moving under ice, could be disastrous.

    “Previously, if we got a call that there was a ship that hit an iceberg in northern Alaska waters, we wouldn’t get there quickly,” says Amy Kukulya, a research engineer at WHOI. “There were no assets around to be able to respond to the oil spill.” Kukulya is working with collaborators at WHOI and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) to address this issue. They have been designing and testing a Long-Range AUV, or LRAUV [above], that can be deployed quickly—via helicopter, if necessary—to track and collect data on oil spills or other environmental hazards. The propeller-driven cylindrical robot can sniff out dissolved hydrocarbons (evidence of an oil spill) and other environmental anomalies under ice and stay out for more than two weeks at a time, helping emergency responders determine where a hazard is headed and how cleanup efforts should be deployed.


    “We’ve been working on reliability, software, intelligence, and endurance,” Kukulya says. “And the idea of being able to recharge once you get your robot to the Arctic.”

    One possibility is to allow robots to recharge at underwater docking stations, either on a mooring in the ice or something anchored to the seafloor. After a mission, an A/U/V could return to its dock and attach itself to recharge before heading out again. A dock could even hold multiple LRAUVs intended to work together as a survey fleet. The researchers have already developed docks that allow the robots to wait for retrieval or further instructions, but current versions do not include the ability to recharge the robots yet. Kukulya says that capability will be a critical addition down the line.

    Kukulya and her colleagues are also investigating the possibility of using multiple types of robots in tandem. An A/U/V could survey under the water while a drone spots oil slicks from the air, with a sea-surface robot facilitating communication between the two.

    The LRAUV is already an impressively flexible platform. It has several modes of movement, including hovering in place, swimming through the water column like a glider, and conducting lawnmower-style surveys. The researchers can turn various sensors on and off to save battery life. When searching for a sunken ship leaking oil, for example, the vehicle might start with only its hydrocarbon sensor on. Once it picks up a trail, it might turn on a sensor that could take samples or turn on a camera to collect images.

    By building these options into a rapid-response tool, the researchers have made it simple to change mission parameters on-the-fly. When a nor’easter rolled in while the LRAUV was surveying a shipwreck, instead of packing up and going home, Kukulya and her team switched on a new set of sensors and collected a storms-worth of data about air-sea interactions instead. It’s a platform that could be used to track harmful algal blooms—which contain toxins that can make people and animals sick—map undersea salinity fronts that affect commercial fisheries, or study any number of other ocean anomalies.

    “I’m really excited to have some measurable impact and collect the kind of baseline data that people can learn from and then directly apply,” Kukulya says. “If we can prove that vehicles are reliable and we can run them without much overhead, and we can use the data they send back to shore to make informed decisions, then we can start to get more and more people interested in and investing in ocean technology.”

    Working smarter, not harder

    Hovering above the fragile and complex terrain of a coral reef, CUREE (Curious Underwater Robot for Ecosystem Exploration) focuses its front-facing cameras on a barracuda. The fish glides easily through the water, crossing a sandy patch and touring another group of corals before returning to float, mouth open, at a cleaning station where small fish will pick parasites and dead tissue from its teeth. Throughout the route, CUREE follows, occasionally losing track of the silvery shape but always finding it again.

    “We have been able to follow things like barracudas, stingrays, and some other smaller animals like triggerfish and jacks visually, without any tags,” says Yogi Girdhar, an associate scientist at WHOI. “We can’t follow everything, yet—it’s a very difficult problem to follow things around, especially in a coral reef.”

    Girdhar wants to use this technology, which was developed in his lab by MIT-WHOI Joint Program student Levi Cai, to guide reef restoration efforts. Changes in animal behavior could be an early indicator that a reef is damaged or stressed. Or, if species return to their usual patterns, it could show that coral planting efforts have successfully restored an ecosystem’s function, not just its appearance.

    “The goal should be to restore a reef to something like a rich, old-growth forest environment,” Girdhar says. “We can use artificial intelligence to discover patterns in how these species are interacting with the environment, and identify how these patterns change with external influences like climate change or pollution or invasive species.”

    But teaching a robot to follow fish around is tricky. The robot has to be able to think on its own—avoiding obstacles, finding the right angle to approach without spooking an animal, deciding how close is too close, and keeping track of a moving shape through a dynamic environment. It’s a task that requires the kind of artificial intelligence that most ocean robots don’t have.

    “If we can nail this technology, it’ll be a game changer for how we understand not just marine animals and their behavior, but also the ecosystem they’re in,” Girdhar says.

    Tracking individual animals is just one aspect of Girdhar’s work to turn CUREE into a full-fledged scientific partner. He is also training the robot to identify and monitor biodiversity hotspots on a reef for more accurate surveys and to seek out rare phenomena, the kinds of unexpected discoveries that researchers sometimes stumble on, and investigate them the way any curious scientist would.

    “There is a lot of potential for artificial intelligence to make breakthroughs, helping ocean scientists model and understand these ecosystems in different ways,” Girdhar says. “And that can help us with restoration efforts.”

    While a fully intelligent, curious, autonomous robot would be the ultimate scientific partner, even small amounts of intelligent decision-making could make robots more effective explorers. Orpheus, the first of a new class of A/U/V’s at WHOI that can land and take samples in the deepest parts of the ocean, isn’t currently doing much thinking on its own. But the researchers have plans to make the robot increasingly independent. The first steps in that process will be to program Orpheus to change its behavior when its sensors detect whatever the researchers are interested in (akin to the LRAUV following the scent of hydrocarbons), but eventually Orpheus will be able to make simple judgement calls based on what it sees.

    “The five-to-ten-year vision is to start working on image processing,” says Casey Machado, a research engineer at WHOI and one of Orpheus’ designers. “Since we already have all of the computer smarts and the data pipelines in the vehicle to look at images and be able to analyze them, we can start to teach Orpheus to be smarter about how it uses that information.”

    A/U/V Orpheus sits on the deck of OceanX’s M/V Alucia during a mission in 2018. (Photo by Luis Lamar, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

    If Orpheus was sent to take a sediment core sample of the seafloor, for example, the robot could use the images it recorded to determine whether the sediment was too rocky to take a core where it was originally sent. The robot could move slightly and try again, saving a trip to the surface with an empty core barrel.

    Orpheus was built to be a portable, affordable, and flexible platform. The robot can be flown where it’s needed and launched from a small research vessel. Right now, there are two Orpheus A/U/V’s (named Orpheus and Eurydice), but the hope is to have a small fleet of them that can be chartered for deep-sea scientific missions or helping small countries explore and understand their own waters. Adding levels of autonomy will only make it more capable.

    Of course, it’s always good to have an analog backup plan, Machado says. On one of Orpheus’ test dives, the vehicle ran through its battery life faster than expected and stopped responding. Fortunately, the engineers simply had to wait—weights on the bottom of Orpheus were secured with metal clips intended to corrode away in salt water. After a few hours, the weights dropped and Orpheus bobbed cheerfully backed to the surface for recovery.

    “Literally everything else had gone wrong,” Machado says. “But you can always count on the laws of physics applying and corrosion working.”

    An internet of the ocean

    Any individual robot can only do so much. Like any individual scientist, it can only be in one place at a time, but when it shares information and collaborates, it can achieve much more. As we confront the climate crisis, we will need the combined power of all the robotic technologies researchers have been developing.

    The ocean stores a large portion of the excess carbon dioxide we have produced by the burning of fossil fuels, and it may be able to hold more, helping to slow the effects of climate change while we transition to renewable energies. WHOI is working to design a large-scale, full-depth, high-resolution network of robots and sensors in the North Atlantic to monitor ocean changes and track carbon in the ocean and atmosphere. The Ocean Vital Signs Network (OSVN), which would cover roughly one million square kilometers of ocean, would function as a test-bed to study the potential efficacy and impacts of ocean-based carbon dioxide removal (CDR) efforts.

    “It makes no sense at all to pursue CDR if you can’t prove that it works,” said Peter de Menocal, president and director of WHOI, during a TEDx talk in Boston. “This Ocean Vital Signs Network, this internet of the ocean, allows us to do that.”

    Many of the technologies necessary to find, evaluate, and deploy climate solutions already exist, or are in development. But refining and implementing them at the necessary scale will require partnerships between governments, industry, philanthropy, and multiple research organizations. The Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator (OCIA) consortium, launched by WHOI and Analog Devices, Inc. in 2021, is laying out a roadmap for what these cross-industry partnerships could look like.

    “We recognized the collective combination of Analog Devices, Inc., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and other like-minded industry players can help us all accelerate the pace of innovation necessary for finding climate solutions,” says Dan Leibholz, chief technology officer for Analog Devices, Inc. “We are on a mission to create a ‘solutions engine’ that leverages people, projects, and places to respond to a wide range of urgent climate challenges, and mobilizes science and engineering brainpower to solve them.”

    The consortium is supporting projects that will advance ocean sensing, optimize technology development, tackle large-scale data processing and lead to real-world impacts—all the developments that ocean robots need to effectively tackle climate change.

    “We live on an ocean planet, so it should come as no surprise that understanding the ocean is going to be key for climate solutions,” de Menocal said. “We have a responsibility and an opportunity to revolutionize our understanding of the oceans and to drive new understanding that’s going to help us lead these solutions.”

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.

    The Institution is organized into six departments, the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research, and a marine policy center. Its shore-based facilities are located in the village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts and a mile and a half away on the Quissett Campus. The bulk of the Institution’s funding comes from grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation and other government agencies, augmented by foundations and private donations.

    WHOI scientists, engineers, and students collaborate to develop theories, test ideas, build seagoing instruments, and collect data in diverse marine environments. Ships operated by WHOI carry research scientists throughout the world’s oceans. The WHOI fleet includes two large research vessels (R/V Atlantis and R/V Neil Armstrong); the coastal craft Tioga; small research craft such as the dive-operation work boat Echo; the deep-diving human-occupied submersible Alvin; the tethered, remotely operated vehicle Jason/Medea; and autonomous underwater vehicles such as the REMUS and SeaBED.

    WHOI offers graduate and post-doctoral studies in marine science. There are several fellowship and training programs, and graduate degrees are awarded through a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. WHOI is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges . WHOI also offers public outreach programs and informal education through its Exhibit Center and summer tours. The Institution has a volunteer program and a membership program, WHOI Associate.

    On October 1, 2020, Peter B. de Menocal became the institution’s eleventh president and director.


    In 1927, a National Academy of Sciences committee concluded that it was time to “consider the share of the United States of America in a worldwide program of oceanographic research.” The committee’s recommendation for establishing a permanent independent research laboratory on the East Coast to “prosecute oceanography in all its branches” led to the founding in 1930 of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    A $2.5 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation supported the summer work of a dozen scientists, construction of a laboratory building and commissioning of a research vessel, the 142-foot (43 m) ketch R/V Atlantis, whose profile still forms the Institution’s logo.

    WHOI grew substantially to support significant defense-related research during World War II, and later began a steady growth in staff, research fleet, and scientific stature. From 1950 to 1956, the director was Dr. Edward “Iceberg” Smith, an Arctic explorer, oceanographer and retired Coast Guard rear admiral.

    In 1977 the institution appointed the influential oceanographer John Steele as director, and he served until his retirement in 1989.

    On 1 September 1985, a joint French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution identified the location of the wreck of the RMS Titanic which sank off the coast of Newfoundland 15 April 1912.

    On 3 April 2011, within a week of resuming of the search operation for Air France Flight 447, a team led by WHOI, operating full ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) owned by the Waitt Institute discovered, by means of sidescan sonar, a large portion of debris field from flight AF447.

    In March 2017 the institution effected an open-access policy to make its research publicly accessible online.

    The Institution has maintained a long and controversial business collaboration with the treasure hunter company Odyssey Marine. Likewise, WHOI has participated in the location of the San José galleon in Colombia for the commercial exploitation of the shipwreck by the Government of President Santos and a private company.

    In 2019, iDefense reported that China’s hackers had launched cyberattacks on dozens of academic institutions in an attempt to gain information on technology being developed for the United States Navy. Some of the targets included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The attacks have been underway since at least April 2017.

  • richardmitnick 11:11 am on May 29, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The Trillion-Dollar Auction to Save the World", A tiny fraction of the ocean floor—the 0.5 percent stores more than half of the carbon found in ocean sediments., Another seagrass biomass growing off the coast of Western Australia is the world’s largest plant., , , , Carbon capture and storage, Chami fell into conversation with his hosts who told him the unhappy tale of the seas. The ocean they explained has been left to fend for itself., Chami’s hosts sent him scientific papers from which he learned about the whale’s role in the carbon cycle. She stored as much as 33 tons of carbon in her prodigious body., Chami’s numbers never failed to elicit a reaction good or bad. He was interviewed widely and asked to value plants and animals all over the world. He gave a TED Talk., , , , Every wild organism is touched by the carbon cycle and could therefore be protected with a price tag., , In a world economy striving to be greener the ability to offset greenhouse-gas emissions had a clearly defined value., It seemed to Chami that by saying a blue whale must remain priceless his detractors were ensuring that it would remain worthless., Lot 475: Adult blue whale female- What is the right price for this masterwork of biology?, , Massive networks of rhizomes buried beneath a few inches of sediment are the key to the seagrasses’ survival., More than a third of fisheries are overexploited. Three-quarters of coral reefs are under threat of collapse., , One patch of Mediterranean seagrass is a contender to be the world’s oldest organism having cloned itself continuously for up to 200000 years., Ralph Chami has a suggested starting bid for Lot 475. He performed the appraisal six years ago after what amounted to a religious experience on the deck of a research vessel in the Gulf of California., Scientists had recently mapped what was believed to be 40 percent of the world’s seagrass all in one place: the Bahamas., Seagrass has a long history of being ignored. Though it grows in tufted carpets off the coast of every continent but Antartica it is a background character rarely drawing human attention., Seagrass- a humble ocean plant worth trillions, Seagrasses are receding at an average of 1.5 percent per year killed off by marine heat waves and pollution and development., Seagrasses are the only flowering plants on Earth that spend their entire lives underwater. They rely on ocean currents and animals to spread their seeds ., Seagrasses not only put down roots in the seabed but also grow horizontal rhizomes through it lashing themselves together into vast living networks., The ocean water is warming and acidifying., The whale’s value to humanity on the basis of the emissions she helped sequester over her 60-year lifetime was $2 million.,   

    From “WIRED” : “The Trillion-Dollar Auction to Save the World” 

    From “WIRED”
    Gregory Barber


    Seagrass- a humble ocean plant worth trillions

    Ocean creatures soak up huge amounts of humanity’s carbon mess. Should we value them like financial assets?

    You are seated in an auction room at Christie’s, where all evening you have watched people in suits put prices on priceless wonders. A parade of Dutch oils and Ming vases has gone to financiers and shipping magnates and oil funds. You have made a few unsuccessful bids, but the market is obscene, and you are getting bored. You consider calling it an early night and setting down the paddle. But then an item appears that causes you to tighten your grip. Lot 475: Adult blue whale, female.

    What is the right price for this masterwork of biology? Unlike a Ming vase, Lot 475 has never been appraised. It’s safe to say that she is worth more than the 300,000 pounds of meat, bone, baleen, and blubber she’s made of. But where does her premium come from? She has biological value, surely—a big fish supports the littler ones—but you wouldn’t know how to quantify it. The same goes for her cultural value, the reverence and awe she elicits in people: immeasurable. You might conclude that this exercise is futile. Lot 475 is priceless. You brace for the bidding war, fearful of what the people in suits might do with their acquisition. But no paddles go up.

    Ralph Chami has a suggested starting bid for Lot 475. He performed the appraisal six years ago, after what amounted to a religious experience on the deck of a research vessel in the Gulf of California. One morning, a blue whale surfaced so close to the ship that Chami could feel its misty breath on his cheeks. “I was like, ‘Where have you been all my life?’” he recalls. “‘Where have I been all my life?’”

    Chami was 50 at the time, taking a break from his job at the International Monetary Fund, where he had spent the better part of a decade steadying markets in fragile places such as Libya and Sudan. “You become fragile yourself,” he says. When he saw the whale, he sensed her intelligence. He thought: “She has a life. She has a family. She has a history.” The moment brought him to tears, which he hid from the others on board.

    That evening, Chami fell into conversation with his hosts, who told him the unhappy tale of the seas. The ocean, they explained, has been left to fend for itself. Trapped between borders, largely out of reach of law and order, its abundance is eroding at an alarming rate. The water is warming and acidifying. More than a third of fisheries are overexploited, and three-quarters of coral reefs are under threat of collapse. As for whales, people might love them, might pass laws to ban their slaughter and protect their mating grounds, but people also love all the things that threaten whales most—oil drilled from offshore platforms that pollute their habitat, goods carried by cargo ships that collide with them, pinging sonar signals that disrupt their songs.

    Chami had always loved the water. Growing up in Lebanon, he toyed with the idea of becoming an oceanographer before his father told him “in your dreams.” As he heard the researchers’ story, something awakened in him. He sensed that the same tools he had used to repair broken economies might help restore the oceans. Were they not a crisis zone too?

    Featured Video:

    How Drones Catch Whale Snot for Biology Research | WIRED
    Biologist Explains How Drones Catching Whale “Snot” Helps Research

    Chami’s hosts sent him scientific papers, from which he learned about the whale’s role in the carbon cycle. She stored as much as 33 tons of carbon in her prodigious body, he calculated, and fertilized the ocean with her iron-rich poop, providing fuel to trillions of carbon-dismantling phytoplankton. This piqued Chami’s interest. In a world economy striving to be greener, the ability to offset greenhouse-gas emissions had a clearly defined value. It was measured in carbon credits, representing tons of carbon removed from the atmosphere. While the whale herself couldn’t—shouldn’t—be bought and sold, the premium generated by her ecological role could. She was less like an old painting, in other words, than an old-growth forest.

    So what was the whale worth in carbon? It appeared no one had done the calculation. Chami loaded up his actuarial software and started crunching the numbers over and over, until he could say with confidence that the whale would pay dividends with every breath she took and every calf she bore. He concluded that the whale’s value to humanity, on the basis of the emissions she helped sequester over her 60-year lifetime, was $2 million. A starting bid.

    For Chami, this number represented more than a burned-out economist’s thought experiment. It would allow for a kind of capitalistic alchemy: By putting a price on the whale’s services, he believed he could transform her from a liability—a charity case for a few guilt-ridden philanthropists—into an asset. The money the whale raised in carbon credits would go to conservationists or to the governments in whose waters she swam. They, in turn, could fund efforts that would ensure the whale and her kin kept right on sequestering CO2. Any new threat to the whale’s environment—a shipping lane, a deepwater rig—would be seen as a threat to her economic productivity. Even people who didn’t really care about her would be forced to account for her well-being.

    Before he went into finance, Ralph Chami toyed with the idea of becoming an oceanographer.

    It was a “win-win-win,” Chami believed: Carbon emitters would get help meeting their obligations to avert global collapse; conservationists would get much-needed funds; and the whale would swim blissfully on, protected by the invisible hand of the market.

    What’s more, Chami realized, every wild organism is touched by the carbon cycle and could therefore be protected with a price tag. A forest elephant, for example, fertilizes soil and clears underbrush, allowing trees to thrive. He calculated the value of those services at $1.75 million, far more than the elephant was worth as a captive tourist attraction or a poached pair of tusks. “Same thing for the rhinos, and same thing for the apes,” Chami says. “What would it be if they could speak and say, ‘Hey, pay me, man?’”

    Chami’s numbers never failed to elicit a reaction, good or bad. He was interviewed widely and asked to value plants and animals all over the world. He gave a TED Talk. Some people accused him of cheapening nature, debasing it by affixing a price tag. Cetacean experts pointed to vast gaps in their understanding of how, exactly, whales sequester carbon. But it seemed to Chami that by saying a blue whale must remain priceless, his detractors were ensuring that it would remain worthless.

    In 2020, Chami was invited to participate in a task force about nature-based solutions to climate change whose participants included Carlos Duarte, a Spanish marine biologist at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Duarte was widely known in conservation circles as the father of “blue carbon,” a field of climate science that emphasizes the role of the oceans in cleaning up humanity’s mess. In 2009, he had coauthored a United Nations report that publicized two key findings. First, the majority of anthropogenic carbon emissions are absorbed into the sea. Second, a tiny fraction of the ocean floor—the 0.5 percent that’s home to most of the planet’s mangrove forests, salt marshes, and seagrass meadows—stores more than half of the carbon found in ocean sediments.

    After the task force, the two men got to talking. Duarte told Chami that scientists had recently mapped what he believed to be 40 percent of the world’s seagrass, all in one place: the Bahamas. The plant was a sequestration power house, Duarte explained. And around the world, it was under threat. Seagrasses are receding at an average of 1.5 percent per year, killed off by marine heat waves, pollution, development.

    Chami was intrigued. Then he did a rough estimate for the worth of all the carbon sequestered by seagrass around the world, and he got more excited. It put every other number to shame. The value, he calculated, was $1 trillion.


    Seagrass has a long history of being ignored. Though it grows in tufted carpets off the coast of every continent but Antartica, it is a background character, rarely drawing human attention except when it clings to an anchor line or fouls up a propeller or mars the aesthetics of a resort beach. Divers don’t visit a seagrass meadow to bask in its undulating blades of green. They come to see the more charismatic creatures that spend time there, like turtles and sharks. If the seagrass recedes in any particular cove or inlet from one decade to the next, few people would be expected to notice.

    When Duarte began studying seagrasses in the 1980s, “not even the NGOs cared” about what was going on in the meadows, he recalls. But he had a unique perspective on unloved environments, having tramped around bogs and swamps since graduate school and gone on dives in the submerged meadows off Majorca. The more he studied the plants, the more he understood how valuable they could be in the fight against climate change.

    Seagrasses are the only flowering plants on Earth that spend their entire lives underwater. They rely on ocean currents and animals to spread their seeds (which are, by the way, pretty tasty). Unlike seaweeds, seagrasses not only put down roots in the seabed but also grow horizontal rhizomes through it, lashing themselves together into vast living networks. One patch of Mediterranean seagrass is a contender to be the world’s oldest organism, having cloned itself continuously for up to 200,000 years. Another growing off the coast of Western Australia is the world’s largest plant.

    Those massive networks of rhizomes, buried beneath a few inches of sediment, are the key to the seagrasses’ survival. They’re also how the plants are able to put away carbon so quickly—as much as 10 times as fast, Duarte eventually calculated, as a mature tropical rainforest. And yet, no one could be convinced to care. “I nicknamed seagrass the ugly duckling of conservation,” he told me.

    Then one day in 2020, Duarte connected with a marine biologist named Austin Gallagher, the head of an American NGO called “Beneath the Waves”. Gallagher was a shark guy, and the seagrass was largely a backdrop to his work. But his team of volunteers and scientists had spent years studying tiger sharks with satellite tags and GoPro cameras, and they had noticed something in the creatures’ great solo arcs around the Bahamas: The sharks went wherever they could find sea turtles to eat, and wherever the sea turtles went, there were meadows of seagrass. From the glimpses the team was getting on camera, there was a lot of it.

    Gallagher knew about Duarte’s work on seagrass carbon through his wife, a fellow marine scientist. Together, the two men came up with a plan to map the Bahamian seagrass by fitting sharks with 360-degree cameras. Once they verified the extent of the meadows, Chami would help them value the carbon and organize a sale of credits with the Bahamian government. The project would be unique in the world. While some groups have sought carbon credits for replanting degraded seagrass meadows—a painstaking process that is expensive, uncertain, and generally limited in scale—this would be the first attempt to claim credits for conserving an existing ecosystem. The scale would dwarf all other ocean-based carbon efforts.

    The government was eager to listen. The Bahamas, like other small island nations, is under threat from sea-level rise and worsening natural disasters—problems largely caused by the historical carbon emissions of large industrialized nations. In 2019, Hurricane Dorian swept through the islands, causing more than $3 billion in damage and killing at least 74 people; more than 200 are still listed as missing. For the government, the idea of global carbon emitters redirecting some of their enormous wealth into the local economy was only logical. “We have been collecting the garbage out of the air,” Prime Minister Philip Davis said to a summit audience last year, “but we have not been paid for it.”

    The government formalized its carbon credit market last spring, in legislation that envisions the Bahamas as an international trading hub for blue carbon. Carbon Management Limited, a partnership between Beneath the Waves and local financiers, will handle everything from the carbon science to monetization. (The partnership, which is co-owned by the Bahamian government, will collect 15 percent of revenue.) The plans at first intersected with the booming crypto scene in the Bahamas, involving talks to have the cryptocurrency exchange FTX set up a service for trading carbon credits. But after FTX collapsed and its CEO was extradited to face charges in the US, the organizers changed tack. They project that the Bahamian seagrass could generate credits for between 14 and 18 million metric tons of carbon each year, translating to between $500 million and more than $1 billion in revenue. Over 30 years, the meadows could bring in tens of billions of dollars. Far from being an ugly duckling, the seagrass would be a golden goose.

    Seagrass is the “ugly duckling of conservation,” Carlos Duarte says. He calculated that the plant may put away carbon at 10 times the rate of a mature rainforest.

    Duarte sees the project in the Bahamas as a blueprint (pun intended, he says) for a much grander idea that has animated his work for the past two decades: He wants to restore all aquatic habitats and creatures to their preindustrial bounty. He speaks in terms of “blue natural capital,” imagining a future in which the value of nature is priced into how nations calculate their economic productivity.

    This is different from past efforts to financialize nature, he emphasizes. Since the 19th century, conservationists have argued that protecting bison or lions or forests is a sound investment because extinct animals and razed trees can no longer provide trophies or timber. More recently, ecologists have tried to demonstrate that less popular habitats, such as wetlands, can serve humanity better as flood protectors or water purifiers than as sites for strip malls. But while these efforts may appeal to hunters or conservationists, they are far from recasting nature as a “global portfolio of assets,” as a Cambridge economist described natural capital in a 2021 report commissioned by the UK government.

    Duarte and I first met in the halls of a crowded expo at the 2022 UN Climate Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. He had traveled a short distance from his home in Jeddah, where he oversees a wide array of projects, from restoring corals and advising on regenerative tourism projects along Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast to a global effort to scale up seaweed farming (using, yes, revenue from carbon credits). In Egypt, Duarte was scheduled to appear on 22 panels, serving as the scientific face of the kingdom’s plan for a so-called circular carbon economy, in which carbon is treated as a commodity to be managed more responsibly, often with the help of nature.

    Chami was there too, wearing a trim suit and a pendant in the shape of a whale’s tail around his neck. He was participating as a member of the Bahamian delegation, which included Prime Minister Davis and various conservationists from Beneath the Waves. They had arrived with a pitch for how to include biodiversity in global discussions about climate change. The seagrass was their template, one that could be replicated across the world, ideally with the Bahamas as a hub for natural markets.

    The UN meeting was a good place to spread the gospel of seagrass. The theme of the conference was how to get wealthy polluters to pay for the damage they cause in poorer nations that experience disasters such as Hurricane Dorian. The hope was to eventually hammer out a UN agreement, but in the meantime, other approaches for moving money around were in the ether. Since the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries had been forced to start accounting for carbon emissions in their balance sheets. Big emitters were lining up deals with cash-poor, biodiversity-rich nations to make investments in nature that would potentially help the polluters hit their climate commitments. Chami’s boss at the IMF had suggested that nations in debt could start to think about using their natural assets, valued in carbon, to pay it off. “All of these poor countries today are going to find out that they’re very, very rich,” Chami told me.

    At a conference where the main message often seemed to be doom, the project in the Bahamas was a story of hope, Chami said. When he gave a talk about the seagrass, he spoke with the vigor of a tent revivalist. With the time humanity had left to fix the climate, he told the audience, “cute projects” weren’t going to cut it anymore. A few million dollars for seagrass replanting here, a handful of carbon credits for protecting a stand of mangroves there—no, people needed to be thinking a thousand times bigger. Chami wanted to know what everyone gathered in Egypt was waiting for. “Why are we dilly-dallying?” he asked the crowd. “So much talk. So little action.”

    One day this past winter, a former real estate developer from Chattanooga, Tennessee, named David Harris piloted his personal jet over the Little Bahama Bank. From his cockpit window, the water below looked like the palette of a melancholic painter. Harris was bound for a weed-cracked landing strip in West End, Grand Bahama, where he would board a fishing boat called the Tigress. Harris and his crew—which included his 10-year-old daughter—would spend the rest of the week surveying seagrass meadows for Beneath the Waves.

    They were tackling a great expanse. While the total land area of the Bahamas is a mere 4,000 square miles, the islands are surrounded by shallow undersea platforms roughly 10 times that size. These banks are the work of corals, which build towering carbonate civilizations that pile atop one another like the empires of Rome. When the first seagrasses arrived here about 30 million years ago, they found a perfect landscape. The plants do best in the shallows, closest to the light.

    Harris, who speaks with a warm twang and has the encouraging air of a youth baseball coach, had been traveling to the Bahamas for years in pursuit of dives, fish, and the occasional real estate deal. He met Gallagher on a fishing trip and soon began helping with his tiger shark advocacy. That work was an exciting mix of scientific research—including dives alongside the notoriously aggressive animals—and playing host to crews for Shark Week TV programs and their celebrity guests. Eventually, Harris sold his company, retired, and threw himself into volunteering full-time.

    He had not expected to spend his days looking at seagrass. But here he was, leading a blue carbon expedition. With help from Duarte, Beneath the Waves had created its shark-enabled seagrass map. The group pulled in a Swedish firm to scan the region using lidar cameras affixed to a small plane, allowing them to peer through the water and, using machine learning, infer from the pixels how dense the meadows were.

    Now Harris and his crew were validating the aerial data, a painstaking process that required filming dozens of hours of footage of the seafloor and taking hundreds of sediment cores. The footage was meant to verify the lidar-based predictions that separated the seagrasses from beds of empty sand and algae. The cores would be sent to a lab in a prep school outside Boston, Gallagher’s alma mater, where they would be tested for their organic carbon content. When all the data was combined, it would reveal how much carbon the meadows contained.

    The Tigress was set to autopilot along a straight line, hauling GoPro cameras off the starboard side. From this vantage, the scale of the task was easy to appreciate. At a lazy 5 knots, each line took about an hour. This patch of sea—one of 30 that Beneath the Waves planned to survey around the banks—would require about 20 lines to cover. Harris’s daughter counted sea stars and sketched them in a journal to justify a few days off from school. Her father surveyed the banks in hopeful search of a shark. At the end of each line, the crew retrieved the cameras, dripping with strands of sargassum, and swapped out the memory cards.

    Harris’ crew would eventually present their protocol for assessing the carbon storage potential of seagrass to Verra, a nonprofit carbon registry. Verra develops standards to ensure there’s real value there before the credits are sold. To meet the organization’s requirements, Beneath the Waves must prove two things: first, that the seagrass is actually sequestering carbon at the rates it estimates; second, that the meadows would put away more carbon if they were protected. No one is going to pay to protect a carbon sink that would do fine on its own, the thinking goes. A billion-dollar opportunity requires a commensurate threat.

    Harris told me that Beneath the Waves was still in “the exploratory phase” when it came to quantifying threats. They had various ideas—mining near shore, illegal trawl fishing, anchoring, water quality issues. As far as the carbon calculations went, though, Harris and his team felt confident in their approach. Prior to the outing on the Tigress, Beneath the Waves had already set up a for-profit company to bring its tools and methods to other blue carbon projects. It was in talks with government officials from across the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. (Gallagher told me the company would pass the profits back to the nonprofit to continue its advocacy and research.)

    Meanwhile, the head of Carbon Management, the scientific and financial partnership behind the project, told me he was pitching the investment to his clients, mostly “high-net-worth individuals” looking to diversify their portfolios while fighting climate change. Oil companies and commodities traders are interested too, he told me, as well as cruise lines and hotels that do business in the Bahamas. The Bahamian government has not yet said how it will allocate the money from the seagrass project. Hurricane recovery and preparedness could be on the list, as could seagrass conservation.

    The Tigress crew worked until the light began to fade, then headed back to port. Harris said he was happy to be doing his part out on the water. All that money would be a good thing for the Bahamas, he thought, especially as the country planned for a future of bigger storms. In the days after Hurricane Dorian, which hit Grand Bahama with 185-mph winds and heaved the shallow waters of the Banks over the land, Harris had flown to the island to help a friend who had survived by clinging to a tree along with his children. The storm’s legacy is still apparent in ways small and large. At a restaurant near the Tigress’ berth, there was no fresh bread—“not since Dorian,” when the ovens were flooded, the waitress told me with a laugh. Then she stopped laughing. The recovery had been slow. The young people and tourists had not come back. The airport had not been repaired. She wondered where her tax dollars were going.

    That night, over dinner in the ovenless restaurant, Harris showed me a photo of his vintage Chevy Blazer. He said he hoped the seagrass project would generate enough carbon carbon credits to offset the old gas-guzzler. This was a joke, obviously, but it expressed a deeper wish. The promise of carbon credits is that, wielded in their most ideal form, they will quietly subtract the emissions humans keep adding to the atmospheric bill. Every stroke of a piston, every turn of a jet engine, every cattle ranch and petrochemical plant—every addiction that people can’t give up, or won’t, or haven’t had a chance to yet—could be zeroed out.


    For governments, assigning nature a concrete value could take many forms. They could encourage the development of sustainable ecotourism and aquaculture, where the value of the ecosystem is in the revenue it creates. Or they could confer legal rights on nature, effectively giving ecosystems the right to sue for damages—and incentivizing polluters to not damage them. But in Duarte’s 30 years of advocating for creatures and plants like seagrasses, politics have gotten in the way of biodiversity protections. Only carbon trading has “made nature investable,” he says, at a speed and scale that could make a difference.

    That is not to say he loves the system. Carbon credits arose from a “failure to control greed,” Duarte says. Beyond that, they are not designed for the protection of nature; rather, they use it as a means to an end. Any plant or creature that packs away carbon, like a tree or a seagrass meadow—and perhaps an elephant or a whale—is a tool for hitting climate goals. It’s worth something. Any creature that doesn’t, including those that Duarte loves, like coral reefs, is on its own.

    Duarte also worries about “carbon cowboys” trying to make a buck through sequestration projects that have no real scientific basis or end up privatizing what should be public natural resources. Even projects that seem to adhere closely to the market’s rules may fall apart with closer scrutiny. Earlier this year, a few weeks after the Tigress sailed, The Guardian published an analysis of Verra’s methodologies that called into question 94 percent of the registry’s rainforest projects. Reporters found that some developers had obtained “phantom credits” for forest protection that ended up pushing destruction one valley over, or used improper references to measure how much deforestation their projects avoided. (Verra disputes the findings.)

    When it comes to carbon arithmetic, trees should be a relatively simple case: addition by burning fossil fuels, subtraction by photosynthesis. The forestry industry has honed tools that can measure the carbon stored in trunks and branches. And yet the math still broke, because people took advantage of imperfect methods.

    Seagrass is also more complex than it might seem. After an initial wave of enthusiasm about its carbon-packing powers, increasing numbers of marine biologists expressed concerns when the discussion turned to carbon credits. For one thing, they argue, the fact that seagrass removes CO2 through water, rather than air, makes the sequestration value of any particular meadow difficult to appraise. In South Florida, a biogeochemist named Bryce Van Dam measured the flow of CO2 in the air above seagrass meadows. He found that in the afternoons, when photosynthesis should have been roaring and more CO2 being sucked into the plants, the water was releasing CO2 instead. This was the result, Van Dam suggested, of seagrass and other creatures that live in the meadows altering the chemistry of the water. (Duarte contends that Van Dam’s premise was flawed.)

    Another issue is that, unlike a rainforest, which stores most of its carbon in its trunks and canopies, a seagrass meadow earns most of its keep belowground. When Sophia Johannessen, a geochemical oceanographer at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, took a look at common assessments of carbon storage in seagrass, she concluded that many were based on samples that were far too shallow. Though this carbon was considered permanently locked away, the sediment could easily be disturbed by animals or currents. When Johannessen saw the ways that nonprofits and governments were picking up the science as though it were gospel, she was stunned. “I hadn’t known about ‘blue carbon,’ so perhaps it’s not surprising they didn’t know about sediment geochemistry,” she told me.

    Chami’s solution to these niggling scientific uncertainties is to focus instead on the global picture: Earth’s seagrass meadows sit atop vast stores of carbon, and destruction has the potential to visit all of them. He likens natural capital to the mortgage market. When a prospective homeowner gets a loan from a bank, the bank then sells the loan, which is swapped and bundled with other loans. Each loan contains unique risks, but the bundled asset controls for that uncertainty. Financiers have no problem with uncertainty, Chami notes; it is the locus of profit. The money they invest gets poured back into the mortgage market, allowing banks to issue more loans. The characteristics of the individual homes and borrowers don’t matter that much. “You can’t scale up when every case is a unique case,” he says. “You need to homogenize the product in order to make a market.” Scale is the bulwark against destruction. One seagrass meadow can be ignored; a seagrass market, which encompasses many meadows and represents a major investment, cannot.

    When each ecosystem is treated the same—based on how much carbon it has socked away—the issue of quantifying threats becomes simpler. Chami cites the example of Gabon, which last year announced the sale of 90 million carbon credits based on recent rainforest protections. Skeptics have pointed out that nobody has plans to fell the trees. The government has replied that if it can’t find a buyer for the credits, that may change. In the Bahamas, Prime Minister Davis has invoked a similar idea. Seagrass protection, he has said, could be reframed as a payment to prevent oil companies from drilling in the banks for the next 30 years. Seen one way, these are not-so-veiled threats. Seen another, they reveal a fundamental unfairness in the carbon markets: Why can’t those who are already good stewards of nature’s carbon sinks get their credits, too?

    The numerous seagrass scientists I spoke with expressed a common wish that Chami’s simplified carbon math could be true. Seagrass desperately requires protection. But instead they kept coming back to the uncertainty. Van Dam compares the standard methods for assessing seagrass carbon to judging a business based only on its revenue. To understand the full picture, you also need a full accounting of the money flowing out. You need to trouble yourself with all of the details. This is why the rush to monetize the meadows—and offer justification for additional carbon emissions—worried him. “Now that there’s money attached to it,” he told me, “there’s little incentive for people to say ‘stop.’”

    A few months after the Tigress outing, members of the Bahamian conservation community received invitations to a meeting in Nassau. The invitees included scientists from the local chapter of the Nature Conservancy and the Bahamas National Trust, a nonprofit that oversees the country’s 32 national parks, as well as smaller groups. Gallagher kicked off the meeting with a review of what Beneath the Waves had achieved with its mapping effort. Then he came to the problem: He needed data about what might be killing Bahamian seagrass.

    This problem wasn’t trivial. The government’s blue carbon legislation required that the project adhere to standards like Verra’s, which meant figuring out how conservation efforts would increase the amount of carbon stored. Beneath the Waves was drawing a meticulous map of the seagrass and its carbon as they exist today, but the group didn’t have a meticulous map from five years ago, or 30 years ago, that would show whether the meadows were growing or shrinking and whether humans were the cause.

    Gallagher told me he is confident that the multibillion-dollar valuation of the seagrass reflects conservative assumptions. But the plan itself is in the hands of the Bahamian government, he said. Officials have not spoken much about this part of the process, despite early excitement about eye-popping valuations and rapid timelines for generating revenue. (Government officials declined multiple interview requests, referring WIRED back to Beneath the Waves, and did not respond to additional questions.)

    Some of the local conservation groups had received the meeting invitation with surprise. Among many Bahamians I spoke with, frustration had been simmering since Beneath the Waves first proclaimed its seagrass “discovery,” which it described as a “lost ecosystem that was hiding in plain sight.” Many locals found this language laughable, if not insulting. Fishers knew the seagrass intimately. Conservationists had mapped swaths of it and drawn up protection plans. “You’ve had a lot of white, foreign researchers come in and say this is good for the Bahamas without having a dialog,” Marjahn Finlayson, a Bahamian climate scientist, told me. (Gallagher said that as a well-resourced group that had brought the seagrass findings to the government, it only made sense that they would be chosen to do the work.)


    It was not clear that any of the groups could offer what Beneath the Waves needed. For one thing, most locals believe the seagrass to be in relatively good condition. There are threats, surely, and interventions to be done, but as Nick Higgs, a Bahamian marine biologist, told me, they likely vary with the immense diversity of the country’s 3,100 islands, rocks, and cays. Higgs gave the example of lobster fisheries—an industry that many people mentioned to me as among the more potentially significant threats to seagrass. His own research found little impact in the areas he studied. But if the fisheries are harming seagrass elsewhere, who will decide their fate from one community to the next? Protecting seagrass is a noble goal, Adelle Thomas, a climate scientist at the University of the Bahamas, told me. The question for Bahamians, she said, is “Do we have the capacity to maintain these things that we’re claiming to protect?” Money alone won’t solve the seagrass’s problems, whatever they might turn out to be.

    The creature at the heart of this debate appears to be in a sort of limbo. The prospect of a price has showered attention on seagrass, putting it in the mouths of prime ministers and sparking an overdue discussion about its well-being. Perhaps, if you ask Chami, it has helped people value the plant in other ways too—for how it breaks the force of storms hitting the islands, for the habitat it provides other animals, maybe even for its intrinsic right to go on growing for another 30 million years.

    But can the math of the carbon market get it there? On one side of the equation, where carbon is added to the atmosphere, the numbers couldn’t be clearer: They’re tabulated in barrels and odometers and frequent flier accounts. On the other side, where carbon is subtracted, there is uncertainty. Uncertainty about how carbon moves through a seagrass meadow, or a whale, or an elephant, and how money moves to protect those species. What happens when the equation doesn’t balance? More carbon, more heat, more Hurricane Dorians. A gift to polluters. As Finlayson put it, “You’re taking something from us, throwing a couple dollars at it, and then you’re still putting us at risk.”

    Chami has faith that the math will balance out in the end. He wants people to care about nature intrinsically, of course. But caring needs a catalyst. And for now, that catalyst is our addiction to carbon. “I’m conning, I’m bribing, I’m seducing the current generation to leave nature alone,” he told me. Perhaps then, he said, the next generation will grow up to value nature for itself.

    This story was reported with support from the University of California-Berkeley-11th Hour Food and Farming Fellowship.

    Source imagery courtesy of Cristina Mittermeier, Guimoar Duarte (Portrait), Ralph Chami (Portrait), Drew McDougall, Wilson Hayes, Beneath the Waves, Getty Images, and Alamy.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


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  • richardmitnick 4:42 pm on May 24, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Microbes key to sequestering carbon in soil", , A novel approach to understanding soil carbon dynamics by combining a microbial computer model with data assimilation and machine learning to analyze big data related to the carbon cycle., , , Carbon capture and storage, , , , Earth’s soils hold three times more carbon than the atmosphere., , Microbes are by far the most important factor in determining how much carbon is stored in the soil., , The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The new insights point agricultural researchers toward studying farm management practices that may influence microbial carbon use efficiency to improve soil health, The scientists made a breakthrough and developed a method to integrate big data into an earth system computer model by using data assimilation and machine learning., The scientists’ study method measured microbial carbon use efficiency which tells how much carbon was used by microbes for growth versus how much was used for metabolism., The study’s authors found that the role microbes play in storing carbon in the soil is at least four times more important than any other process including decomposition of biomatter., This work opens the possibility for applying the method to analyze other types of big data sets., When used for metabolism carbon is released as a side product in the air as carbon dioxide where it acts as a greenhouse gas.   

    From The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences At Cornell University Via “The Chronicle”: “Microbes key to sequestering carbon in soil” 

    From The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


    Cornell University


    “The Chronicle”

    Krishna Ramanujan | Cornell Chronicle

    Microbes are by far the most important factor in determining how much carbon is stored in the soil, according to a new study with implications for mitigating climate change and improving soil health for agriculture and food production.

    The research is the first to measure the relative importance of microbial processes in the soil carbon cycle. The study’s authors found that the role microbes play in storing carbon in the soil is at least four times more important than any other process, including decomposition of biomatter.

    That’s important information: Earth’s soils hold three times more carbon than the atmosphere, creating a vital carbon sink in the fight against climate change.

    The study, published May 24 in Nature [below], describes a novel approach to better understanding soil carbon dynamics by combining a microbial computer model with data assimilation and machine learning, to analyze big data related to the carbon cycle.

    The method measured microbial carbon use efficiency which tells how much carbon was used by microbes for growth versus how much was used for metabolism. When used for growth, carbon becomes sequestered by microbes in cells and ultimately in the soil, and when used for metabolism, carbon is released as a side product in the air as carbon dioxide, where it acts as a greenhouse gas. Ultimately, growth of microbes is more important than metabolism in determining how much carbon is stored in the soil.

    “This work reveals that microbial carbon use efficiency is more important than any other factor in determining soil carbon storage,” said Yiqi Luo, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the paper’s senior author.

    The new insights point agricultural researchers toward studying farm management practices that may influence microbial carbon use efficiency to improve soil health, which also helps ensure greater food security. Future studies may investigate steps to increase overall soil carbon sequestration by microbes. Researchers may also study how different types of microbes and substrates (such as those high in sugars) may influence soil carbon storage.

    Soil carbon dynamics have been studied for the last two centuries, but those studies were mainly concerned with how much carbon gets into the soil from leaf litter and roots, and how much is lost to the air in the form of CO2 when organic matter decomposes.

    “But we are the first group that can evaluate the relative importance of microbial processes versus other processes,” Luo said.

    In an example of cutting-edge digital agriculture, Luo and colleagues made a breakthrough and developed a method to integrate big data into an earth system computer model by using data assimilation and machine learning.

    The model revealed that overall carbon use efficiency of microbe colonies was at least four times as important as any of the other components that were evaluated, including decomposition and carbon inputs.

    The new process-based model, machine learning approach, which made this result possible for the first time, opens the possibility for applying the method to analyze other types of big data sets.

    Feng Tao, a researcher at Tsinghua University, Beijing, is the paper’s first author. Xiaomeng Huang, a professor at Tsinghua University, is a corresponding author, along with Luo. Benjamin Houlton, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS and professor in the departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and of Global Development; and Johannes Lehmann, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science in CALS, are both co-authors.

    The study was funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Key Research and Development Program of China and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, among others.


    Fig. 1: Two contrasting pathways in determining the relationship between microbial CUE and SOC storage.
    a) The first pathway indicates that a high CUE favours the accumulation of SOC storage through increased microbial biomass and by-products. b) The second pathway emphasizes that a high CUE stimulates SOC losses via increased microbial biomass and subsequent extracellular enzyme production that enhances SOC decomposition.

    Fig. 2: CUE–SOC relationship.
    a)b) The CUE–SOC relationship that emerged from the meta-analysis of 132 measurements (a) and data assimilation using the microbial model with 57,267 globally distributed vertical SOC profiles (b). The black lines and statistics shown are the partial coefficients from mixed-effects model regressions (see Extended Data Tables 1 and 2 for details).

    More instructive images are available in the science paper.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The New York State SUNY-College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University is a statutory college and one of the four New York State contract colleges on the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York. With enrollment of approximately 3,100 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students, CALS is the third-largest college of its kind in the United States and the second-largest undergraduate college on the Cornell campus.

    Established as a Land-grant college, CALS administrates New York’s cooperative extension program jointly with the College of Human Ecology. CALS runs the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, and the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, as well as other research facilities in New York.

    In 2007-08, CALS total budget (excluding the Geneva Station) is $283 million, with $96 million coming from tuition and $52 million coming from state appropriations. The Geneva Station budget was an additional $25 million.

    Academic programs

    CALS offers more than 20 majors, each with a focus on Life Sciences, Applied Social Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Agriculture and Food. CALS undergraduate programs lead to a Bachelor of Science degree in one of 23 different majors. The Applied Economics and Management program, for example, was ranked 3rd nationally in BusinessWeek’s Best Undergraduate Business Programs, 2012, edition. CALS also offers graduate degrees in various fields of study, including the M.A.T., M.L.A., M.P.S., M.S., and Ph.D.

    Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is the most renowned institution in its field. In 2019, it is ranked 1st in the “Food and Nutrition” and “Agricultural Sciences” sectors of Niche.com

    With an admission rate of 11.5% for the fall of 2018, admission into the college is extremely competitive and in the middle relative to the other colleges at Cornell.

    Once called “the first American university” by educational historian Frederick Rudolph, Cornell University represents a distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. Adding practical subjects to the classics and admitting qualified students regardless of nationality, race, social circumstance, gender, or religion was quite a departure when Cornell was founded in 1865.

    Today’s Cornell reflects this heritage of egalitarian excellence. It is home to the nation’s first colleges devoted to hotel administration, industrial and labor relations, and veterinary medicine. Both a private university and the land-grant institution of New York State, Cornell University is the most educationally diverse member of the Ivy League.

    On the Ithaca campus alone nearly 20,000 students representing every state and 120 countries choose from among 4,000 courses in 11 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Many undergraduates participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, play meaningful roles in original research, and study in Cornell programs in Washington, New York City, and the world over.

    Cornell University is a private, statutory, Ivy League and land-grant research university in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, the university was intended to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge—from the classics to the sciences, and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals, unconventional for the time, are captured in Cornell’s founding principle, a popular 1868 quotation from founder Ezra Cornell: “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.”

    The university is broadly organized into seven undergraduate colleges and seven graduate divisions at its main Ithaca campus, with each college and division defining its specific admission standards and academic programs in near autonomy. The university also administers two satellite medical campuses, one in New York City and one in Education City, Qatar, and The Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute in New York City, a graduate program that incorporates technology, business, and creative thinking. The program moved from Google’s Chelsea Building in New York City to its permanent campus on Roosevelt Island in September 2017.

    Cornell is one of the few private land grant universities in the United States. Of its seven undergraduate colleges, three are state-supported statutory or contract colleges through The State University of New York (SUNY) system, including its Agricultural and Human Ecology colleges as well as its Industrial Labor Relations school. Of Cornell’s graduate schools, only the veterinary college is state-supported. As a land grant college, Cornell operates a cooperative extension outreach program in every county of New York and receives annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions. The Cornell University Ithaca Campus comprises 745 acres, but is much larger when the Cornell Botanic Gardens (more than 4,300 acres) and the numerous university-owned lands in New York City are considered.

    Alumni and affiliates of Cornell have reached many notable and influential positions in politics, media, and science. As of January 2021, 61 Nobel laureates, four Turing Award winners and one Fields Medalist have been affiliated with Cornell. Cornell counts more than 250,000 living alumni, and its former and present faculty and alumni include 34 Marshall Scholars, 33 Rhodes Scholars, 29 Truman Scholars, 7 Gates Scholars, 55 Olympic Medalists, 10 current Fortune 500 CEOs, and 35 billionaire alumni. Since its founding, Cornell has been a co-educational, non-sectarian institution where admission has not been restricted by religion or race. The student body consists of more than 15,000 undergraduate and 9,000 graduate students from all 50 American states and 119 countries.


    Cornell University was founded on April 27, 1865; the New York State (NYS) Senate authorized the university as the state’s land grant institution. Senator Ezra Cornell offered his farm in Ithaca, New York, as a site and $500,000 of his personal fortune as an initial endowment. Fellow senator and educator Andrew Dickson White agreed to be the first president. During the next three years, White oversaw the construction of the first two buildings and traveled to attract students and faculty. The university was inaugurated on October 7, 1868, and 412 men were enrolled the next day.

    Cornell developed as a technologically innovative institution, applying its research to its own campus and to outreach efforts. For example, in 1883 it was one of the first university campuses to use electricity from a water-powered dynamo to light the grounds. Since 1894, Cornell has included colleges that are state funded and fulfill statutory requirements; it has also administered research and extension activities that have been jointly funded by state and federal matching programs.

    Cornell has had active alumni since its earliest classes. It was one of the first universities to include alumni-elected representatives on its Board of Trustees. Cornell was also among the Ivies that had heightened student activism during the 1960s related to cultural issues; civil rights; and opposition to the Vietnam War, with protests and occupations resulting in the resignation of Cornell’s president and the restructuring of university governance. Today the university has more than 4,000 courses. Cornell is also known for the Residential Club Fire of 1967, a fire in the Residential Club building that killed eight students and one professor.

    Since 2000, Cornell has been expanding its international programs. In 2004, the university opened the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. It has partnerships with institutions in India, Singapore, and the People’s Republic of China. Former president Jeffrey S. Lehman described the university, with its high international profile, a “transnational university”. On March 9, 2004, Cornell and Stanford University laid the cornerstone for a new ‘Bridging the Rift Center’ to be built and jointly operated for education on the Israel–Jordan border.


    Cornell, a research university, is ranked fourth in the world in producing the largest number of graduates who go on to pursue PhDs in engineering or the natural sciences at American institutions, and fifth in the world in producing graduates who pursue PhDs at American institutions in any field. Research is a central element of the university’s mission; in 2009 Cornell spent $671 million on science and engineering research and development, the 16th highest in the United States.

    Cornell is a member of the Association of American Universities and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”.

    For the 2016–17 fiscal year, the university spent $984.5 million on research. Federal sources constitute the largest source of research funding, with total federal investment of $438.2 million. The agencies contributing the largest share of that investment are The Department of Health and Human Services and the National Science Foundation , accounting for 49.6% and 24.4% of all federal investment, respectively. Cornell was on the top-ten list of U.S. universities receiving the most patents in 2003, and was one of the nation’s top five institutions in forming start-up companies. In 2004–05, Cornell received 200 invention disclosures; filed 203 U.S. patent applications; completed 77 commercial license agreements; and distributed royalties of more than $4.1 million to Cornell units and inventors.

    Since 1962, Cornell has been involved in unmanned missions to Mars. In the 21st century, Cornell had a hand in the Mars Exploration Rover Mission. Cornell’s Steve Squyres, Principal Investigator for the Athena Science Payload, led the selection of the landing zones and requested data collection features for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. NASA-JPL/Caltech engineers took those requests and designed the rovers to meet them. The rovers, both of which have operated long past their original life expectancies, are responsible for the discoveries that were awarded 2004 Breakthrough of the Year honors by Science. Control of the Mars rovers has shifted between National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and Cornell’s Space Sciences Building.

    Further, Cornell researchers discovered the rings around the planet Uranus, and Cornell built and operated the telescope at Arecibo Observatory located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico(US) until 2011, when they transferred the operations to SRI International, the Universities Space Research Association and the Metropolitan University of Puerto Rico [Universidad Metropolitana de Puerto Rico].

    The Automotive Crash Injury Research Project was begun in 1952. It pioneered the use of crash testing, originally using corpses rather than dummies. The project discovered that improved door locks; energy-absorbing steering wheels; padded dashboards; and seat belts could prevent an extraordinary percentage of injuries.

    In the early 1980s, Cornell deployed the first IBM 3090-400VF and coupled two IBM 3090-600E systems to investigate coarse-grained parallel computing. In 1984, the National Science Foundation began work on establishing five new supercomputer centers, including the Cornell Center for Advanced Computing, to provide high-speed computing resources for research within the United States. As a National Science Foundation center, Cornell deployed the first IBM Scalable Parallel supercomputer.

    In the 1990s, Cornell developed scheduling software and deployed the first supercomputer built by Dell. Most recently, Cornell deployed Red Cloud, one of the first cloud computing services designed specifically for research. Today, the center is a partner on the National Science Foundation XSEDE-Extreme Science Engineering Discovery Environment supercomputing program, providing coordination for XSEDE architecture and design, systems reliability testing, and online training using the Cornell Virtual Workshop learning platform.

    Cornell scientists have researched the fundamental particles of nature for more than 70 years. Cornell physicists, such as Hans Bethe, contributed not only to the foundations of nuclear physics but also participated in the Manhattan Project. In the 1930s, Cornell built the second cyclotron in the United States. In the 1950s, Cornell physicists became the first to study synchrotron radiation.

    During the 1990s, the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, located beneath Alumni Field, was the world’s highest-luminosity electron-positron collider. After building the synchrotron at Cornell, Robert R. Wilson took a leave of absence to become the founding director of DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, which involved designing and building the largest accelerator in the United States.

    Cornell’s accelerator and high-energy physics groups are involved in the design of the proposed ILC-International Linear Collider (JP) and plan to participate in its construction and operation. The International Linear Collider (JP), to be completed in the late 2010s, will complement the The European Organization for Nuclear Research [La Organización Europea para la Investigación Nuclear][Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire] [Europäische Organisation für Kernforschung](CH)[CERN] Large Hadron Collider(CH) and shed light on questions such as the identity of dark matter and the existence of extra dimensions.

    As part of its research work, Cornell has established several research collaborations with universities around the globe. For example, a partnership with the University of Sussex(UK) (including the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex) allows research and teaching collaboration between the two institutions.

  • richardmitnick 4:26 pm on May 19, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Mapping Africa's trees", , Carbon capture and storage, , , , ,   

    From The Michigan State University: “Mapping Africa’s trees” 

    Michigan State Bloc

    From The Michigan State University


    Africa’s trees are located outside areas classified as forest

    MSU Department of Forestry professor David Skole, in partnership with NASA and European collaborators, led a team of researchers on a quest to count and map every tree in Africa using precise satellite imaging captured over the course of a year. New results from this research were recently published in the journal Nature Communications [below].

    Researchers ultimately discovered that 29 percent of tree cover in Africa is found outside areas previously classified as woodlands or forests — such as in croplands and grassland.

    Such precise mapping of tree cover, down to the level of individual trees, has the potential to redefine land-use impacts, build a basis for natural climate solutions through novel land-use practices, and provide a new scientific basis for elevating tree-based analysis to support climate change mitigation policies and actions, and enhance local livelihoods at the same time.

    Previous monitoring systems were unable to account for trees outside of forests and other mapping efforts are too costly to reproduce on a consistent basis. Skole and his team partnered with NASA to use high-resolution images from PlanetScope nanosattelites, allowing precise tree counting to rectify previous errors in tree calculations.

    Trees outside of forests in Malawi, Africa.

    The first leg of Skole’s research began in Malawi, with the goal of counting trees outside of forests in the southeast African nation. Precision imaging allowed researchers to account for trees in areas as small as 0.1 hectare (1/4 acre), when previous tree-cover mapping was done on a scale of 1 hectare (2.5 acres). Next the team developed the means to use very high-resolution satellite data to detect and map individual tree crowns in Senegal at the resolution half-a-meter (5 square feet, 0.0001 acres), which is “smaller than my kitchen table,” says Skole.

    The project in Senegal proved the concept that a full accounting of tree cover down to the individual tree level was possible on a countrywide scale, and Skole’s team and collaborators began to scale up the project.

    Next, the team attempted to account for tree cover on a national scale in Rwanda, but in addition attempted to detect tree-level carbon stocks. A carbon stock is a system in which carbon can be stored or released. The Rwanda project allowed researchers to account for a complete picture of the nation’s carbon stock.

    “Scaling up to the entire continent of Africa, we can now specifically measure trees to inform us on what needs to be done for moving forward to improve carbon mitigation efforts,” said Skole, whose MSU AgBioResearch funded research focuses on land-use change, the global carbon cycle, and identifying mitigation and adaptation solutions.

    Trees outside of forests in Senegal, Africa

    Mapping trees on a more precise scale allows land managers to adjust their mitigation and planning efforts for their unique tree cover and land-use needs.

    “Tree cover has no meaning,” Skole said. “Yes, you can detect it, you can say ‘this 30-by-30 meter area probably has trees,’ but you need to plant individual trees and monitor the success of tree planting at the individual scale. This way you can monitor progress over time as they grow and sequester.”

    The research team now hopes to use the data gathered through satellite imaging to model potential carbon storage and mitigation options in these previously unaccounted for areas of tree cover in Africa.

    In addition to having new very high-resolution earth observation satellite data in massive amounts, detection of individual tree “objects” is achieved using new machine learning, which involves computerized programs that train themselves to detect and “draw” complex patterns and spatial objects such as trees and tree crowns. MSU forest carbon experts can then build new models that relate these tree attributes to the weight of the tree, which in turn can be numerically converted to the tree’s stock of carbon, because we know that half of all living tree mass is comprised of carbon.

    Using MSU’s high performance computing center, the Institute for Cyber-Enabled Research Center, as well as collaborating computing centers in Copenhagen and NASA, these algorithms can be applied to tens of thousands of high-resolution satellite images, more data and information in bytes than twice the amount in the MSU library. A combination of massive data, new algorithms, new forestry models and new computational infrastructure produce billions of trees and their assigned carbon stocks.

    Mapping and monitoring tree systems outside of forests will allow for better carbon sequestration efforts on a local, national and eventually global scale. Mapping and monitoring carbon stocks is one of the most important factors of climate change mitigation, and demand for accurate tree accounting is high.

    “The next step is taking science out of the lab, and putting it into practice,” Skole said. “We can put the science of monitoring in the hands of people that can use it.” For that, the team is now funded by the World Resources Institute, the Bezos Earth Fund, and the African Union Development Agency to enable advanced continent-wide measurements of carbon stocks in tree-planting, agroforestry and other natural climate solutions projects across all of Africa.

    Nature Communications

    Fig. 1: Mapped tree cover across areas of different tree densities.
    a) Percentage tree cover, at 1 km spatial resolution; (b–h) examples of predicted tree cover overlaid on Google Maps satellite imagery (Imagery © 2022 CNES / Airbus, Landsat / Copernicus, Maxar Technologies, Map data ©2022), in: b) a village in Senegal; c) agricultural fields in Burkina Faso; d) an urban environment in Khartoum, Sudan; e) Miombo woodlands in Angola; f) deforestation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); g) Eucalyptus plantations in South Africa; h) terrace farming in Zimbabwe. The ocean basemaps in a are from http://www.naturalearth.com.

    Fig. 2: Distribution of tree cover by rainfall and percent cover.
    a) Total tree cover area by rainfall. Tree cover is classified into forest at different heights [21*], and into two groups of trees outside forest (TOF) with canopy cover <10% and 10–25%, respectively. A current state-of-the-art global map is added for comparison [12]. This figure highlights the regions below 1200 mm rainfall and the full map is shown in Supplementary Fig. 2a. b) Tree cover vs. rainfall at 100 m resolution using a random sample of 10 million grids, with hue as the forest height [21], and isolines overlaid for MODIS tree cover [49] from 100 000 samples at 250 m, with isoline units as relative probability per rainfall and cover grid cell. c) Contribution of trees outside forests (TOF) to total tree cover at country scale. We group trees in 30 × 30 m grids and define a cell as non-forest if the canopy cover is below 25%, and as forest, if it exceeded 25%. Tree cover is subsequently accumulated for each country. The ocean basemaps are from http://www.naturalearth.com.
    *References in the science paper

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Michigan State Campus

    The Michigan State University is a public research university located in East Lansing, Michigan, United States. Michigan State University was founded in 1855 and became the nation’s first land-grant institution under the Morrill Act of 1862, serving as a model for future land-grant universities.

    The university was founded as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, one of the country’s first institutions of higher education to teach scientific agriculture. After the introduction of the Morrill Act, the college became coeducational and expanded its curriculum beyond agriculture. Today, Michigan State University is one of the largest universities in the United States (in terms of enrollment) and has approximately 634,300 living alumni worldwide.

    U.S. News & World Report ranks its graduate programs the best in the U.S. in elementary teacher’s education, secondary teacher’s education, industrial and organizational psychology, rehabilitation counseling, African history (tied), supply chain logistics and nuclear physics in 2019. Michigan State University pioneered the studies of packaging, hospitality business, supply chain management, and communication sciences. Michigan State University is a member of the Association of American Universities and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. The university’s campus houses the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden, the Abrams Planetarium, the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, and the country’s largest residence hall system.


    The university has a long history of academic research and innovation. In 1877, botany professor William J. Beal performed the first documented genetic crosses to produce hybrid corn, which led to increased yields. Michigan State University dairy professor G. Malcolm Trout improved the process for the homogenization of milk in the 1930s, making it more commercially viable. In the 1960s, Michigan State University scientists developed cisplatin, a leading cancer fighting drug, and followed that work with the derivative, carboplatin. Albert Fert, an Adjunct professor at Michigan State University, was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics together with Peter Grünberg.

    Today Michigan State University continues its research with facilities such as the Department of Energy -sponsored Plant Research Laboratory and a particle accelerator called the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory [below]. The Department of Energy Office of Science named Michigan State University as the site for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). The $730 million facility will attract top researchers from around the world to conduct experiments in basic nuclear science, astrophysics, and applications of isotopes to other fields.

    Michigan State University FRIB [Facility for Rare Isotope Beams] .

    In 2004, scientists at the Cyclotron produced and observed a new isotope of the element germanium, called Ge-60 In that same year, Michigan State University, in consortium with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the government of Brazil, broke ground on the 4.1-meter Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR) in the Andes Mountains of Chile.

    The consortium telescope will allow the Physics & Astronomy department to study galaxy formation and origins. Since 1999, Michigan State University has been part of a consortium called the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor, which aims to develop biotechnology research in the State of Michigan. Finally, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences’ Quello Center researches issues of information and communication management.

    The Michigan State University Spartans compete in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference. Michigan State Spartans football won the Rose Bowl Game in 1954, 1956, 1988 and 2014, and the university claims a total of six national football championships. Spartans men’s basketball won the NCAA National Championship in 1979 and 2000 and has attained the Final Four eight times since the 1998–1999 season. Spartans ice hockey won NCAA national titles in 1966, 1986 and 2007. The women’s cross country team was named Big Ten champions in 2019. In the fall of 2019, MSU student-athletes posted all-time highs for graduation success rates and federal graduation rates, according to NCAA statistics.

  • richardmitnick 1:03 pm on May 19, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New Research from The University of California-San Diego Sheds Light on the Possible Origins of Life", , Carbon capture and storage, Currently there is no consensus in the origins-of-life community as to how the first metabolic networks emerged and operated on the early Earth and how they evolved into networks., , Metabolic pathways are the series of chemical reactions that cells use to convert nutrients into energy and other molecules., One such metabolic pathway is carbon fixation which is the process by which carbon dioxide is converted into complex carbon-based molecules that could be used by living cells., Submarine alkaline vents, Submarine alkaline vents are areas on the ocean floor where hydrothermal vents release hot mineral-rich fluids., ,   

    From The Jacobs School of Engineering At The University of California-San Diego: “New Research from The University of California-San Diego Sheds Light on the Possible Origins of Life” 

    From The Jacobs School of Engineering


    The University of California-San Diego


    Emerson Dameron

    Liezel Labios

    Media Contact:
    Daniel Kane

    Researchers at the University of California San Diego have identified the conditions for cell metabolism to emerge on the early Earth, shedding new light on the origins of life itself, along with the fundamental nature of biological carbon fixation.

    “Notably, this advance can be used to design and develop novel carbon capture methods,” said UC San Diego bioengineering professor Bernhard Palsson, the Principal Investigator on the study.

    “Moving toward a circular carbon economy, the mathematical models and computational tools that resulted from this study will be useful for the development of future C1-carbon technologies, paving the way for the design of economical biomanufacturing systems with a minimal carbon footprint,” said Amir Akbari, the lead scientist of the study and a data scientist in the Shu Chien-Gene Lay Department of Bioengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

    The paper appears in the May 1, 2023 issue of the PNAS [below].

    Submarine alkaline vents are areas on the ocean floor where hydrothermal vents release hot, mineral-rich fluids. Photo credit: D. Kelley/ M. Elend/UW/URI-IAO/NOAA/The Lost City Science Team.

    Background: The pathways to the origins of life

    Metabolic pathways are the series of chemical reactions that cells use to convert nutrients into energy and other molecules. These pathways are thought to have played an important role in the emergence of life on earth, as they allow cells to utilize energy efficiently and create complex molecules, which are essential for life.

    One such metabolic pathway is carbon fixation, which is the process by which carbon dioxide is converted into complex carbon-based molecules that could be used by living cells. Researchers have long studied the origins of this process in search of fundamental insights into improving carbon capture technologies.

    But how did such a process emerge? To find answers, UC San Diego researchers looked to one of the places on Earth where the first carbon fixing cycles are thought to have occurred: submarine alkaline vents.

    Submarine alkaline vents are areas on the ocean floor where hydrothermal vents release hot, mineral-rich fluids. These vents provide an environment that is conducive to the formation of complex molecules, such as proteins and lipids. This is thought to have been an important factor in the origin of life, as it provided an environment that was rich in the necessary ingredients for life to emerge.

    In this study, researchers examined the possibility that the first carbon fixing cycles emerged in alkaline hydrothermal vent environments.

    “Currently, there is no consensus in the origins-of-life community as to how the first metabolic networks emerged and operated on the early Earth and how they evolved into more complex, self-sustaining chemical reaction networks,” Akbari said. “In the metabolism-first paradigm, which our paper falls into, the assumption is that early metabolic pathways operated nonenzymatically, only relying on inorganic catalyst/energy source/reducing agents and simple carbon sources that were likely available on the early Earth.”

    The birth of a new theory

    Discovery of functional prebiotic metabolism shows promise for improving carbon-capture technologies.

    Research conducted over the last decade has provided clues as to what first metabolic pathways might have looked like, demonstrating that some metabolic-like reactions can proceed nonenzymatically under plausible prebiotic conditions. However, it remains unknown whether all these reactions can spontaneously occur under the same conditions and using the same reagents, or if they necessarily cooperate in a confined environment. Thus, there remains a significant gap between showing the feasibility of individual steps and demonstrating the possibility that different steps can self-organize into self-sustaining chemical reaction networks.

    “One of the main results of the paper is demonstrating that the underlying mechanism for why first carbon fixing cycles could only work in a narrow parameter range from first principles, linking it to energy requirement constraints and difficulty of selectively concentrating the organic products of these cycles, which were necessary for the evolution of complex metabolic pathways in abiotic compartments available on the early Earth,” Akbari said. “We also demonstrated that both these issues were linked to the membrane potential, implying that the membrane potential was as essential to the emergence of life at its origin as it is to all modern living systems.

    Next steps

    The cycles presented in the team’s research are both “self-sustaining,” meaning they can continue to operate and consistently reproduce their chemical products using nutrients and energy sources that are available in their environments without outside intervention, and “self-amplifying,” meaning they strengthen themselves as they progress. This opens avenues of research that are of particular interest within the origins-of-life field.

    “With regard to the specific topic of this paper, the next step is to demonstrate that carbon fixing cycles such as these can be reproduced in the lab non-enzymatically using purely inorganic catalysts, energy sources and reducing agents, which could have existed on the early Earth,” said Akbari. “I believe there are several research groups in the origins-of-life field who are currently pursuing this line of research.”

    In the bigger picture, one of the long-term objectives of the origins-of-life field is to create artificial life in the lab. More specifically, the goal is to recreate all the steps required to transition from a simple inorganic reaction system to a complex biochemical reaction network capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution. The researchers say that this study may prove to be a step in that direction.

    Authors of the science paper: Amir Akbari, Department of Bioengineering, University of California-San Diego; and Bernhard O. Palsson, Department of Bioengineering, UC-San Diego, and Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, Technical University of Denmark.

    This work was funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation (Grant Number NNF10CC1016517) and the National Institutes of Health (Grant Number GM057089)

    See the science paper for further instructive material with images.

    Fig. 1.
    Emergence of first metabolic cycles from abiotic geochemical processes. (A) Deep-sea alkaline hydrothermal vents in the Hadean ocean were ideal environments from which metabolic pathways could spontaneously arise (5*, 7). Hydrothermal fluids formed by serpentinization would have been alkaline and rich in naturally occurring catalysts (e.g., metal ions, minerals) and reducing compounds (e.g., H2, H2S, FeS), providing the necessary ingredients for the emergence of metabolic networks. Thin-walled micropores made of iron sulfides forming along vent conduits, such as those shown in the inset (SI Appendix, Fig. S2**), provide an interface between alkaline hydrothermal fluids and acidic ocean (8). Redox and pH gradients across such inorganic barriers could have powered the synthesis of first organic molecules. (B) Protocell model with an iron-sulfide membrane simulates the formation of first metabolic cycles in vent micropores. All metabolic reactions beside carbon-fixing steps are catalyzed by transition metals in aqueous or solid phase dispersed inside the protocell in an acidic environment. Carbon-fixation reactions are catalyzed by protoferredoxins on the inner surface of the membrane. Protoferredoxins could have formed in the presence of iron and sulfur ions under hydrothermal conditions (8, 9). Reduced (FDrd) and oxidized (FDox) protoferredoxins would have had similar crystal structures to hydrothermal mineral redox couples (e.g., mackinawite/greigite), providing a sufficiently large redox potential to drive carbon fixation (8). Reduced protoferredoxins consumed by carbon-fixation steps are regenerated on the outer surface of the membrane in an alkaline environment using H2 as a reducing agent. (C) Phosphate-free protometabolic network examined in this work comprising a nonenzymatic version of the rTCA cycle, containing all its intermediates except oxalosuccinate (highlighted in red). Dashed arrows indicate the corresponding enzymatic steps that are not included in the network. Thioesterification steps are driven by a simple hydrothermal thiol HS–R that could have been synthesized in sulfide-rich environments (8) with R a hypothetical substituent. (D) Fundumental constraints of the protocell model (see SI Appendix for details).
    *All such are References in the science paper.
    **See the science paper

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    About the Jacobs School of Engineering
    Innovation Happens Here

    The University of California-San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering is a premier research school set apart by our entrepreneurial culture and integrative engineering approach.

    The Jacobs School’s Mission:

    Educate Tomorrow’s Technology Leaders
    Conduct Leading Edge Research and Drive Innovation
    Transfer Discoveries for the Benefit of Society

    The Jacobs School’s Values:

    Engineering for the global good
    Exponential impact through entrepreneurism
    Collaboration to enrich relevance
    Our education models focus on deep and broad engineering fundamentals, enhanced by real-world design and research, often in partnership with industry. Through our Team Internship Program and GlobalTeams in Engineering Service program, for example, we encourage students to develop their communications and leadership skills while working in the kind of multi-disciplinary team environment experienced by real-world engineers.

    We are home to exciting research centers, such as the San Diego Supercomputer Center, a national resource for data-intensive computing; our Powell Structural Research Laboratories, the largest and most active in the world for full-scale structural testing; and the Qualcomm Institute, which is the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), which is forging new ground in multi-disciplinary applications for information technology.

    Located at the hub of San Diego’s thriving information technology, biotechnology, clean technology, and nanotechnology sectors, the Jacobs School proactively seeks corporate partners to collaborate with us in research, education and innovation.

    The University of California- San Diego is a public research university located in the La Jolla area of San Diego, California, in the United States. The university occupies 2,141 acres (866 ha) near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres (466 ha). Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, The University of California-San Diego is the seventh oldest of the 10 University of California campuses and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling about 22,700 undergraduate and 6,300 graduate students. The University of California-San Diego is one of America’s “Public Ivy” universities, which recognizes top public research universities in the United States. The University of California-San Diego was ranked 8th among public universities and 37th among all universities in the United States, and rated the 18th Top World University by U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 rankings.

    The University of California-San Diego is organized into seven undergraduate residential colleges (Revelle; John Muir; Thurgood Marshall; Earl Warren; Eleanor Roosevelt; Sixth; and Seventh), four academic divisions (Arts and Humanities; Biological Sciences; Physical Sciences; and Social Sciences), and seven graduate and professional schools (Jacobs School of Engineering; Rady School of Management; Scripps Institution of Oceanography; School of Global Policy and Strategy; School of Medicine; Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and the newly established Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science). University of California-San Diego Health, the region’s only academic health system, provides patient care; conducts medical research; and educates future health care professionals at the University of California-San Diego Medical Center, Hillcrest; Jacobs Medical Center; Moores Cancer Center; Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center; Shiley Eye Institute; Institute for Genomic Medicine; Koman Family Outpatient Pavilion and various express care and urgent care clinics throughout San Diego.

    The university operates 19 organized research units (ORUs), including the Center for Energy Research; Qualcomm Institute (a branch of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology); San Diego Supercomputer Center; and the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind, as well as eight School of Medicine research units, six research centers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and two multi-campus initiatives, including the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation. The University of California-San Diego is also closely affiliated with several regional research centers, such as the Salk Institute; the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute; the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine; and the Scripps Research Institute. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation, UC San Diego spent $1.265 billion on research and development in fiscal year 2018, ranking it 7th in the nation.

    The University of California-San Diego is considered one of the country’s “Public Ivies”. As of February 2021, The University of California-San Diego faculty, researchers and alumni have won 27 Nobel Prizes and three Fields Medals, eight National Medals of Science, eight MacArthur Fellowships, and three Pulitzer Prizes. Additionally, of the current faculty, 29 have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, 70 to the National Academy of Sciences, 45 to the National Academy of Medicine and 110 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


    When the Regents of the University of California originally authorized the San Diego campus in 1956, it was planned to be a graduate and research institution, providing instruction in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Local citizens supported the idea, voting the same year to transfer to the university 59 acres (24 ha) of mesa land on the coast near the preexisting Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The Regents requested an additional gift of 550 acres (220 ha) of undeveloped mesa land northeast of Scripps, as well as 500 acres (200 ha) on the former site of Camp Matthews from the federal government, but Roger Revelle, then director of Scripps Institution and main advocate for establishing the new campus, jeopardized the site selection by exposing the La Jolla community’s exclusive real estate business practices, which were antagonistic to minority racial and religious groups. This outraged local conservatives, as well as Regent Edwin W. Pauley.

    University of California President Clark Kerr satisfied San Diego city donors by changing the proposed name from University of California, La Jolla, to University of California-San Diego. The city voted in agreement to its part in 1958, and the University of California approved construction of the new campus in 1960. Because of the clash with Pauley, Revelle was not made chancellor. Herbert York, first director of The DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, was designated instead. York planned the main campus according to the “Oxbridge” model, relying on many of Revelle’s ideas.

    According to Kerr, “San Diego always asked for the best,” though this created much friction throughout the University of California system, including with Kerr himself, because University of California-San Diego often seemed to be “asking for too much and too fast.” Kerr attributed University of California-San Diego’s “special personality” to Scripps, which for over five decades had been the most isolated University of California unit in every sense: geographically, financially, and institutionally. It was a great shock to the Scripps community to learn that Scripps was now expected to become the nucleus of a new University of California campus and would now be the object of far more attention from both the university administration in Berkeley and the state government in Sacramento.

    The University of California-San Diego was the first general campus of the University of California to be designed “from the top down” in terms of research emphasis. Local leaders disagreed on whether the new school should be a technical research institute or a more broadly based school that included undergraduates as well. John Jay Hopkins of General Dynamics Corporation pledged one million dollars for the former while the City Council offered free land for the latter. The original authorization for the University of California-San Diego campus given by the University of California Regents in 1956 approved a “graduate program in science and technology” that included undergraduate programs, a compromise that won both the support of General Dynamics and the city voters’ approval.

    Nobel laureate Harold Urey, a physicist from the University of Chicago, and Hans Suess, who had published the first paper on the greenhouse effect with Revelle in the previous year, were early recruits to the faculty in 1958. Maria Goeppert-Mayer, later the second female Nobel laureate in physics, was appointed professor of physics in 1960. The graduate division of the school opened in 1960 with 20 faculty in residence, with instruction offered in the fields of physics, biology, chemistry, and earth science. Before the main campus completed construction, classes were held in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

    By 1963, new facilities on the mesa had been finished for the School of Science and Engineering, and new buildings were under construction for Social Sciences and Humanities. Ten additional faculty in those disciplines were hired, and the whole site was designated the First College, later renamed after Roger Revelle, of the new campus. York resigned as chancellor that year and was replaced by John Semple Galbraith. The undergraduate program accepted its first class of 181 freshman at Revelle College in 1964. Second College was founded in 1964, on the land deeded by the federal government, and named after environmentalist John Muir two years later. The University of California-San Diego School of Medicine also accepted its first students in 1966.

    Political theorist Herbert Marcuse joined the faculty in 1965. A champion of the New Left, he reportedly was the first protester to occupy the administration building in a demonstration organized by his student, political activist Angela Davis. The American Legion offered to buy out the remainder of Marcuse’s contract for $20,000; the Regents censured Chancellor William J. McGill for defending Marcuse on the basis of academic freedom, but further action was averted after local leaders expressed support for Marcuse. Further student unrest was felt at the university, as the United States increased its involvement in the Vietnam War during the mid-1960s, when a student raised a Viet Minh flag over the campus. Protests escalated as the war continued and were only exacerbated after the National Guard fired on student protesters at Kent State University in 1970. Over 200 students occupied Urey Hall, with one student setting himself on fire in protest of the war.

    Early research activity and faculty quality, notably in the sciences, was integral to shaping the focus and culture of the university. Even before The University of California-San Diego had its own campus, faculty recruits had already made significant research breakthroughs, such as the Keeling Curve, a graph that plots rapidly increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and was the first significant evidence for global climate change; the Kohn–Sham equations, used to investigate particular atoms and molecules in quantum chemistry; and the Miller–Urey experiment, which gave birth to the field of prebiotic chemistry.

    Engineering, particularly computer science, became an important part of the university’s academics as it matured. University researchers helped develop The University of California-San Diego Pascal, an early machine-independent programming language that later heavily influenced Java; the National Science Foundation Network, a precursor to the Internet; and the Network News Transfer Protocol during the late 1970s to 1980s. In economics, the methods for analyzing economic time series with time-varying volatility (ARCH), and with common trends (cointegration) were developed. The University of California-San Diego maintained its research intense character after its founding, racking up 25 Nobel Laureates affiliated within 50 years of history; a rate of five per decade.

    Under Richard C. Atkinson’s leadership as chancellor from 1980 to 1995, the university strengthened its ties with the city of San Diego by encouraging technology transfer with developing companies, transforming San Diego into a world leader in technology-based industries. He oversaw a rapid expansion of the School of Engineering, later renamed after Qualcomm founder Irwin M. Jacobs, with the construction of the San Diego Supercomputer Center and establishment of the computer science, electrical engineering, and bioengineering departments. Private donations increased from $15 million to nearly $50 million annually, faculty expanded by nearly 50%, and enrollment doubled to about 18,000 students during his administration. By the end of his chancellorship, the quality of The University of California-San Diego graduate programs was ranked 10th in the nation by the National Research Council.

    The university continued to undergo further expansion during the first decade of the new millennium with the establishment and construction of two new professional schools — the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Rady School of Management—and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, a research institute run jointly with University of California Irvine. The University of California-San Diego also reached two financial milestones during this time, becoming the first university in the western region to raise over $1 billion in its eight-year fundraising campaign in 2007 and also obtaining an additional $1 billion through research contracts and grants in a single fiscal year for the first time in 2010. Despite this, due to the California budget crisis, the university loaned $40 million against its own assets in 2009 to offset a significant reduction in state educational appropriations. The salary of Pradeep Khosla, who became chancellor in 2012, has been the subject of controversy amidst continued budget cuts and tuition increases.

    On November 27, 2017, the university announced it would leave its longtime athletic home of the California Collegiate Athletic Association, an NCAA Division II league, to begin a transition to Division I in 2020. At that time, it will join the Big West Conference, already home to four other UC campuses (Davis, Irvine, Riverside, Santa Barbara). The transition period will run through the 2023–24 school year. The university prepares to transition to NCAA Division I competition on July 1, 2020.


    Applied Physics and Mathematics

    The Nature Index lists The University of California-San Diego as 6th in the United States for research output by article count in 2019. In 2017, The University of California-San Diego spent $1.13 billion on research, the 7th highest expenditure among academic institutions in the U.S. The university operates several organized research units, including the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences (CASS), the Center for Drug Discovery Innovation, and the Institute for Neural Computation. The University of California-San Diego also maintains close ties to the nearby Scripps Research Institute and Salk Institute for Biological Studies. In 1977, The University of California-San Diego developed and released The University of California-San Diego Pascal programming language. The university was designated as one of the original national Alzheimer’s disease research centers in 1984 by the National Institute on Aging. In 2018, The University of California-San Diego received $10.5 million from the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration to establish the Center for Matters under Extreme Pressure (CMEC).

    The university founded the San Diego Supercomputer Center in 1985, which provides high performance computing for research in various scientific disciplines. In 2000, The University of California-San Diego partnered with The University of California-Irvine to create the Qualcomm Institute , which integrates research in photonics, nanotechnology, and wireless telecommunication to develop solutions to problems in energy, health, and the environment.

    The University of California-San Diego also operates the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, one of the largest centers of research in earth science in the world, which predates the university itself. Together, SDSC and SIO, along with funding partner universities California Institute of Technology, San Diego State University, and The University of California-Santa Barbara, manage the High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network.

  • richardmitnick 4:07 pm on May 18, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Firsthand fieldwork - ORNL scientists establish monitoring in at-risk coastal ecosystem" Matthew J Berens - Photo Essay", "Porewater"- the water present in the open spaces beneath the soil surface., As a biogeochemist at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory Matthew Berens studies how carbon and nutrients and minerals move through water and soil., “Sippers” extract water from multiple depths below the soil surface., Beth Herndon- “Biogeochemical Controls on Phosphorus Cycling in Urban-Influenced Coastal Ecosystems”, , , Carbon capture and storage, , , , , Environmental change & sea level rise> coastal degradation, Evaluating how climate change and human activities shape the biogeochemistry of coastal wetlands and influence the amount of nutrients flowing into the ocean., Gulf Intercoastal Waterway-1050-mile-long shipping canal that spans the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida. From 1949 the Intercoastal Waterway is the nation’s third busiest waterway., New knowledge can be used to improve predictive modeling capabilities and potentially inform future coastal restoration projects., One peculiar challenge of installing the sensors was protecting the hundreds of feet of cable from the gnawing teeth of nutria- a 20-pound cross between a beaver and a rat with giant orange teeth., ORNL’s Environmental Sciences Division, Plastic pipe was used to make 1-meter-deep wells that place the sensors in direct contact with the groundwater while keeping them separate from the surrounding soil., Porewater interacts with different soil minerals and variable oxygen levels to create unique patterns of belowground water chemistry., Setting up monitoring equipment that will take continuous measurements of the temperature and pH and salinity and reduction-oxidation potential of the groundwater over the next several years., Studing ecosystems that could potentially develop in response to current and future restoration projects., The belowground patterns [from the porewater] play perhaps the biggest role in influencing the overall biogeochemistry of the coastal environment., , The portion of the Waterway through Louisiana alone supports five of the top 15 busiest shipping ports in the United States., The Wax Lake Delta is one of the only actively growing areas of the Louisiana coast., The Wax Lake Delta-a nutrient rich freshwater delta that began forming in the 1940s after a canal was dug directing flow from the Atchafalaya flood-prone areas to the Gulf of Mexico.   

    From The DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory: “Firsthand fieldwork – ORNL scientists establish monitoring in at-risk coastal ecosystem” Matthew J Berens – Photo Essay” 

    From The DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory

    Eizabeth M Herndon
    Geoff W Schwaner
    Matthew J Berens, Writer
    Corey M Jones

    The research team poses in front of the airboat after a long day of research. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

    Topic: Biology and Environment
    May 18, 2023

    As a biogeochemist at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Matthew Berens studies how carbon, nutrients and minerals move through water and soil. In this firsthand account, Berens describes recent fieldwork in Louisiana with colleagues. Their research focuses on advancing understanding of key processes in coastal ecosystems with the aim of improving models that predict the future of coastal environments in a warming climate.

    Touchdown in Morgan City

    “The day began with a hot and humid sunrise along the Atchafalaya River in Morgan City, Louisiana. Team lead Beth Herndon and technician Geoff Schwaner woke up first and were immediately out the door to go for a run. Michael Jones, our other technical team member, went to find geocaches and pick up any missing supplies for the day. Because I was recovering from a running injury, I opted for a morning walk. I walked along the waterway and took note of the tall concrete levees that lined either side of the Atchafalaya, a poignant yet important reminder of the power of nature. As I passed through the city center, I came across a parking lot full of floats used in the Mardi Gras parade just days before we arrived. Everything from the local wildlife to the countless restaurants claiming to have the best crawfish boils in Louisiana was new to me.

    We came to the Louisiana Gulf Coast to perform research in support of Beth’s DOE Early Career Research award, titled, “Biogeochemical Controls on Phosphorus Cycling in Urban-Influenced Coastal Ecosystems.” The goal of the project is to evaluate how climate change and human activities shape the biogeochemistry of coastal wetlands and influence the amount of nutrients flowing into the ocean. This information is vital for understanding how the functioning of healthy ecosystems will be impacted by environmental change in parts of the country that are experiencing the compounding effects of sea level rise and coastal degradation. The knowledge can be used to improve predictive modeling capabilities and potentially inform future coastal restoration projects.

    Airboats, alligators and aquatic ecosystems

    Our 45-minute commute by boat was the perfect opportunity to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the Louisiana Gulf Coast — the lush hardwood swamps, the numerous species of migratory birds and the steady hum of barge traffic. Our boat ride took us first along the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway, a 1,050-mile-long artificial shipping canal that spans the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida. Completed in 1949, the Intercoastal Waterway is the nation’s third busiest waterway; the portion through Louisiana alone supports five of the top 15 busiest shipping ports in the United States.

    Daily commute to the study site. Credit: Matthew Berens/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

    It was fun, yet daunting, to be directly alongside barges over 200 feet long. Our boat then turned south down the Wax Lake Outlet into an area teeming with wildlife. We frequently spotted double-crested cormorants, roseate spoonbills, bald eagles and American alligators.

    When we arrived at our study site, we put on our waders and got to work unloading our gear. The site is located in the Wax Lake Delta, a nutrient-rich freshwater delta that began forming in the 1940s after a canal was dug to direct flow from the Atchafalaya away from flood-prone areas of the Louisiana coast and into the Gulf of Mexico. The sediments carried in the river began depositing where the land meets the ocean, forming islands that are part of what is now the Wax Lake Delta.

    At a time when much of the Gulf Coast is deteriorating from the widespread impacts of sea level rise, the Wax Lake Delta is one of the only actively growing areas of the Louisiana coast. This gives our team a unique perspective to study ecosystems that could potentially develop in response to current and future restoration projects.

    When viewed on a map, our field site looks like a well-defined island in the the delta. In reality, it is a complex array of tree-lined berms, tidal wetlands and open water that can transform dramatically in a matter of hours due to tidal fluctuations and changes in weather. This meant that our working locations were often partially or completely flooded. Thankfully, our airboat could drive over water, mud, vegetation and even dry land to transport our gear safely to the more challenging spots.

    Typical view from the interior of the “island.” Credit: Matthew Berens/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

    As a Minnesotan, I was unfamiliar with the concept of an airboat. I am more accustomed to small motorboats, canoes or even the occasional snow machine. Riding on the airboat was one of the favorite activities shared by our team.

    Geoff Schwaner rides in the airboat with a local driver. Credit: Matthew Berens/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

    Establishing long-term, nutria-resistant monitoring.

    Our first task was setting up monitoring equipment that will take continuous measurements of the temperature, pH, salinity and reduction-oxidation potential of the groundwater over the next several years. Because the sensors need to be installed in the soil, plastic pipe was used to make 1-meter-deep wells that place the sensors in direct contact with the groundwater while keeping them separate from the surrounding soil.

    One peculiar challenge of installing the sensors was protecting the hundreds of feet of cable from the gnawing teeth of nutria. If, like me, you are unfamiliar with nutria, think of a 20-pound cross between a beaver and a rat, with giant orange teeth and a long, hairless tail. To deter these creatures, we put all cables inside thick plastic conduit. This was a surprisingly difficult and frustrating process, but Michael turned out to be extremely skilled and efficient at this task.

    While Beth and I finished installing sensors, Geoff and Michael began constructing elevated platforms to hold the data storage devices and solar panels to power the equipment. The platforms were built by attaching wooden boards to long metal poles inserted into the ground, similar to putting in a dock. It was not easy to build a structure on the soft, mucky ground, but Geoff and Michael did an excellent job creating a sturdy foundation. Once the platforms were installed, we connected our equipment and could finally make sure everything worked — and then breathe a sigh of relief. The frogs nearby seemed to narrate our progress as we worked each day.

    Geoff Schwaner and Michael Jones construct research platforms. Credit: Elizabeth Herndon/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

    “Sipping” the soil water

    Our final main task for the week was collecting samples of “porewater”, the water present in the open spaces beneath the soil surface. Throughout a complex network of solid soil particles and open flow paths, this porewater interacts with different soil minerals and variable oxygen levels to create unique patterns of belowground water chemistry. These belowground patterns play perhaps the biggest role in influencing the overall biogeochemistry of the coastal environment. To capture these trends, we used “sippers” to extract water from multiple depths below the soil surface.

    Sippers are long plastic tubes with a small opening at one end and a syringe connected to the other. By inserting the sippers into the soil, we were able to measure how the water chemistry changes from the surface down to 50 centimeters below ground, about 20 inches. These sippers were all homemade. In the weeks leading up to the trip, Geoff spent countless hours constructing more than 30 sippers, each of which was carefully crafted to ensure that its length was accurate and the openings were big enough to allow water through without it filling up with sediment and debris.

    Matthew Berens collects porewater through sippers. Credit: Elizabeth Herndon/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

    Future research

    After each day of work, we packed up our equipment and began the 45-minute boat ride back to the car. Tomorrow would be another hot and humid day, bringing with it the excitement of new adventures in science! This trip was only our first of many planned visits to the Wax Lake Delta in the coming years.

    Evening commute back from the study site. Credit: Matthew Berens/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

    In collaboration with our partners at Louisiana State University, we plan to visit the site several times throughout the year to check on our monitoring equipment, download data and collect more porewater and sediment samples. I am fortunate that my postdoctoral appointment began around the same time as the project, meaning that I will get to see it through almost from beginning to end. I have so far learned an incredible amount from Beth and the rest of the team, and I am grateful and excited to continue working on this project as a member of ORNL’s Environmental Sciences Division.”

    This research is supported by the Biological and Environmental Research program in DOE’s Office of Science.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Established in 1942, The DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the largest science and energy national laboratory in the Department of Energy system (by size) and third largest by annual budget. It is located in the Roane County section of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Its scientific programs focus on materials, neutron science, energy, high-performance computing, systems biology and national security, sometimes in partnership with the state of Tennessee, universities and other industries.

    ORNL has several of the world’s top supercomputers, including Summit, ranked by the TOP500 as Earth’s second-most powerful.

    ORNL OLCF IBM Q AC922 SUMMIT supercomputer, No. 5 on the TOP500. .

    The lab is a leading neutron and nuclear power research facility that includes the Spallation Neutron Source and High Flux Isotope Reactor.

    ORNL Spallation Neutron Source annotated.

    It hosts the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, the BioEnergy Science Center, and the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Nuclear Reactors.

    ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

    Areas of research

    ORNL conducts research and development activities that span a wide range of scientific disciplines. Many research areas have a significant overlap with each other; researchers often work in two or more of the fields listed here. The laboratory’s major research areas are described briefly below.

    Chemical sciences – ORNL conducts both fundamental and applied research in a number of areas, including catalysis, surface science and interfacial chemistry; molecular transformations and fuel chemistry; heavy element chemistry and radioactive materials characterization; aqueous solution chemistry and geochemistry; mass spectrometry and laser spectroscopy; separations chemistry; materials chemistry including synthesis and characterization of polymers and other soft materials; chemical biosciences; and neutron science.
    Electron microscopy – ORNL’s electron microscopy program investigates key issues in condensed matter, materials, chemical and nanosciences.
    Nuclear medicine – The laboratory’s nuclear medicine research is focused on the development of improved reactor production and processing methods to provide medical radioisotopes, the development of new radionuclide generator systems, the design and evaluation of new radiopharmaceuticals for applications in nuclear medicine and oncology.
    Physics – Physics research at ORNL is focused primarily on studies of the fundamental properties of matter at the atomic, nuclear, and subnuclear levels and the development of experimental devices in support of these studies.
    Population – ORNL provides federal, state and international organizations with a gridded population database, called Landscan, for estimating ambient population. LandScan is a raster image, or grid, of population counts, which provides human population estimates every 30 x 30 arc seconds, which translates roughly to population estimates for 1 kilometer square windows or grid cells at the equator, with cell width decreasing at higher latitudes. Though many population datasets exist, LandScan is the best spatial population dataset, which also covers the globe. Updated annually (although data releases are generally one year behind the current year) offers continuous, updated values of population, based on the most recent information. Landscan data are accessible through GIS applications and a USAID public domain application called Population Explorer.

  • richardmitnick 7:54 am on May 15, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The Dungeness crab is losing its sense of smell putting it at risk – and climate change may be to blame", , Carbon capture and storage, , Dungeness crabs are one of the most popular crabs to eat and their fishery was valued at more than US$250 million in 2019., , , Ocean acidification is a direct consequence of burning fossil fuels and carbon pollution., Reduced food detection could have implications for other economically important species such as Alaskan king crabs and snow crabs., The Earth’s oceans are becoming more acidic because they are absorbing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere., The University of Toronto-Scarborough (CA)   

    From The University of Toronto-Scarborough (CA): “The Dungeness crab is losing its sense of smell putting it at risk – and climate change may be to blame” 


    From The University of Toronto-Scarborough (CA)

    Don Campbell

    U of T Scarborough researchers found that the Dungeness crab, popular among diners, is losing its sense of smell due to ocean acidification, which may explain why its numbers are thinning (photo by San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst via Getty Images)

    A new study by researchers at the University of Toronto finds that climate change is causing a commercially significant marine crab to lose its sense of smell, which could partially explain why their populations are thinning.

    The research was done on Dungeness crabs and found that ocean acidification causes them to physically sniff less, impacts their ability to detect food odors and even decreases activity in the sensory nerves responsible for smell.

    “This is the first study to look at the physiological effects of ocean acidification on the sense of smell in crabs,” says Cosima Porteus, an assistant professor in the department of biological sciences at U of T Scarborough and co-author of the study along with post-doctoral researcher Andrea Durant.

    The Earth’s oceans are becoming more acidic because they are absorbing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Such ocean acidification is a direct consequence of burning fossil fuels and carbon pollution – and several studies have shown it’s having an impact on the behaviour of marine wildlife.

    Dungeness crabs are an economically important species found along the Pacific coast, stretching from California to Alaska. They are one of the most popular crabs to eat and their fishery was valued at more than US$250 million in 2019.

    Like most crabs, they have poor vision, so their sense of smell is crucial in finding food, mates, suitable habitats and avoiding predators, explains Porteus. They sniff through a process known as flicking, where they flick their antennules (small antenna) through the water to detect odours. Tiny neurons responsible for smell are located inside these antennules, which send electrical signals to the brain.

    The researchers discovered two things when the crabs were exposed to ocean acidification: they were flicking less and their sensory neurons were 50 per cent less responsive to odours.

    “Crabs increase their flicking rate when they detect an odour they are interested in, but in crabs that were exposed to ocean acidification, the odour had to be 10 times more concentrated before we saw an increase in flicking,” says Porteus.

    There are a few potential reasons why ocean acidification may be impacting sense of smell in crabs. Porteus points to other research done at the University of Hull that showed ocean acidification disrupts odour molecules, which can impact how they bind to smell receptors in marine animals such as crabs.

    For this study, published in the journal Global Change Biology [below], Porteus and Durant were able to test the electrical activity in the crabs’ sensory neurons to determine they were less responsive to odours. They also discovered that they had fewer receptors and their sensory neurons were physically shrinking by as much as 25 per cent in volume.

    “These are active cells and if they aren’t detecting odours as much, they might be shrinking to conserve energy. It’s like a muscle that will shrink if you don’t use it,” Porteus says.

    Porteus says reduced food detection could have implications for other economically important species such as Alaskan king crabs and snow crabs because their sense of smell functions the same way.

    “Losing their sense of smell seems to be climate related, so this might partially explain some of the decline in their numbers,” Porteus says.

    “If crabs are having trouble finding food, it stands to reason females won’t have as much energy to produce eggs.”

    The research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Some of the analysis was performed at U of T’s Centre for the Neurobiology of Stress.

    Global Change Biology
    See the science paper for instructive material with images.

    See the full article here.

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Toronto-Scarborough, is one of the three campuses that make up the tri-campus system of the University of Toronto. Located in the Scarborough district, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the campus is set upon suburban parkland next to Highland Creek. It was established in 1964 as Scarborough College, a constituent college of the Faculty of Arts and Science. The college expanded following its designation as an autonomic division of the university in 1972 and gradually became an independent institution. It ranks last in area and enrollment size among the three University of Toronto campuses, the other two being the St. George campus in Downtown Toronto and the University of Toronto Mississauga.

    Academics of the campus are centered on a variety of undergraduate studies in the disciplines of management, arts and sciences, whilst also hosting limited postgraduate research programs. Its neuroscience program was the first to be offered in the nation. The campus is noted for being the university’s sole provider of cooperative education programs, as well as the Bachelor of Business Administration degree. Through affiliation with the adjacent Centennial Science and Technology Centre of Centennial College, it also offers enrollment in joint programs.

    The campus has traditionally held the annual F. B. Watts Memorial Lectures, which has hosted internationally renowned scholars since 1970. Its nuclear magnetic resonance laboratory was the first of its kind in Canada, allowing the campus to conduct influential research in the environmental sciences. The original building of the campus was internationally acclaimed for its architectural design. The Dan Lang Field, home to the baseball team of the Toronto Varsity Blues, is also situated at the campus.

    The 152-hectare (380-acre) land along the valley of the Highland Creek was purchased in 1911 by Toronto-based businessman Miller Lash, who developed the site into his summer estate with a mansion, today known as the Miller Lash House. The mansion included 17 rooms, a barn, a coach house, and three houses for his staff to dwell. Over the following years, over 100 acres of the estate was also used as farmland. Following the death of Miller Lash in 1941, the estate was acquired by E. L. McLean, an insurance broker, in 1944 for $59,000. He made new additions to the estate, including a swimming pool and change room, and a retaining wall made in stone.

    About 82 hectares (200 acres) of property was later purchased from McLean, just before his death, by the University of Toronto for about $650,000 in 1963, as part of the university’s regional expansion. The groundskeeper of the land would continue to reside in the Highland Creek valley for the next 29 years. McLean’s additions to the Miller Lash House, which would eventually become the residence of the campus’s principal, were modernized and 28 hectares (70 acres) of surrounding land north of the estate were also acquired. The University of Toronto established the Scarborough College as part of the institution’s collegiate university system and declared the campus a branch of the Faculty of Arts and Science. D. C. Williams was appointed as the principal of Scarborough College and the planned Erindale College, as well as vice-president of the university. The college’s faculty, consisting of 16 members, was also established and headquartered at the main campus in Downtown Toronto. First classes were held at Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute and Old Biology Building at the St. George campus. Designed by John Andrews, the first building of the campus began construction the following year. Due to delays in construction after a strike among workers, the Scarborough College opened in temporary classes at the main campus to 191 full-time students in 1965. The first building was completed in time for the following academic year.

    The college included a 6,000-square-foot (560 m^2) television production studio. This was for a unique video lecturing system the college was initially planned to have, that relies on the use of closed circuit television for teaching purposes. The system grabbed international media attention, and was complimented in the 1967 edition of Time. However, the video lecturing system was abandoned after it was condemned for the lack of communicability of students with instructors. In 1972, the campus was reorganized as a separately governed division of the university’s Faculty of Arts and Science, developing its own curriculum. In 1973, it became the first post-secondary institution to adopt a course credit system in Ontario and the first cooperative education program was established. The campus adopted its present official name in 2006 after being renamed University of Toronto Scarborough Campus in 1983 and University of Toronto at Scarborough in 1996. The initials UTSC comes from the former name and continue to be used by the university to distinguish the campus from University of Toronto Schools (UTS).

    The University of Toronto (CA) is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, located on the grounds that surround Queen’s Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King’s College, the oldest university in the province of Ontario.

    Originally controlled by the Church of England, the university assumed its present name in 1850 upon becoming a secular institution.

    As a collegiate university, it comprises eleven colleges each with substantial autonomy on financial and institutional affairs and significant differences in character and history. The university also operates two satellite campuses located in Scarborough and Mississauga.

    University of Toronto has evolved into Canada’s leading institution of learning, discovery and knowledge creation. We are proud to be one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, driven to invent and innovate.

    Our students have the opportunity to learn from and work with preeminent thought leaders through our multidisciplinary network of teaching and research faculty, alumni and partners.

    The ideas, innovations and actions of more than 560,000 graduates continue to have a positive impact on the world.

    Academically, the University of Toronto is noted for movements and curricula in literary criticism and communication theory, known collectively as the Toronto School.

    The university was the birthplace of insulin and stem cell research, and was the site of the first electron microscope in North America; the identification of the first black hole Cygnus X-1; multi-touch technology, and the development of the theory of NP-completeness.

    The university was one of several universities involved in early research of deep learning. It receives the most annual scientific research funding of any Canadian university and is one of two members of the Association of American Universities outside the United States, the other being McGill(CA).

    The Varsity Blues are the athletic teams that represent the university in intercollegiate league matches, with ties to gridiron football, rowing and ice hockey. The earliest recorded instance of gridiron football occurred at University of Toronto’s University College in November 1861.

    The university’s Hart House is an early example of the North American student centre, simultaneously serving cultural, intellectual, and recreational interests within its large Gothic-revival complex.

    The University of Toronto has educated three Governors General of Canada, four Prime Ministers of Canada, three foreign leaders, and fourteen Justices of the Supreme Court. As of March 2019, ten Nobel laureates, five Turing Award winners, 94 Rhodes Scholars, and one Fields Medalist have been affiliated with the university.

    Early history

    The founding of a colonial college had long been the desire of John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada and founder of York, the colonial capital. As an University of Oxford (UK)-educated military commander who had fought in the American Revolutionary War, Simcoe believed a college was needed to counter the spread of republicanism from the United States. The Upper Canada Executive Committee recommended in 1798 that a college be established in York.

    On March 15, 1827, a royal charter was formally issued by King George IV, proclaiming “from this time one College, with the style and privileges of a University … for the education of youth in the principles of the Christian Religion, and for their instruction in the various branches of Science and Literature … to continue for ever, to be called King’s College.” The granting of the charter was largely the result of intense lobbying by John Strachan, the influential Anglican Bishop of Toronto who took office as the college’s first president. The original three-storey Greek Revival school building was built on the present site of Queen’s Park.

    Under Strachan’s stewardship, King’s College was a religious institution closely aligned with the Church of England and the British colonial elite, known as the Family Compact. Reformist politicians opposed the clergy’s control over colonial institutions and fought to have the college secularized. In 1849, after a lengthy and heated debate, the newly elected responsible government of the Province of Canada voted to rename King’s College as the University of Toronto and severed the school’s ties with the church. Having anticipated this decision, the enraged Strachan had resigned a year earlier to open Trinity College as a private Anglican seminary. University College was created as the nondenominational teaching branch of the University of Toronto. During the American Civil War the threat of Union blockade on British North America prompted the creation of the University Rifle Corps which saw battle in resisting the Fenian raids on the Niagara border in 1866. The Corps was part of the Reserve Militia lead by Professor Henry Croft.

    Established in 1878, the School of Practical Science was the precursor to the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering which has been nicknamed Skule since its earliest days. While the Faculty of Medicine opened in 1843 medical teaching was conducted by proprietary schools from 1853 until 1887 when the faculty absorbed the Toronto School of Medicine. Meanwhile the university continued to set examinations and confer medical degrees. The university opened the Faculty of Law in 1887, followed by the Faculty of Dentistry in 1888 when the Royal College of Dental Surgeons became an affiliate. Women were first admitted to the university in 1884.

    A devastating fire in 1890 gutted the interior of University College and destroyed 33,000 volumes from the library but the university restored the building and replenished its library within two years. Over the next two decades a collegiate system took shape as the university arranged federation with several ecclesiastical colleges including Strachan’s Trinity College in 1904. The university operated the Royal Conservatory of Music from 1896 to 1991 and the Royal Ontario Museum from 1912 to 1968; both still retain close ties with the university as independent institutions. The University of Toronto Press was founded in 1901 as Canada’s first academic publishing house. The Faculty of Forestry founded in 1907 with Bernhard Fernow as dean was Canada’s first university faculty devoted to forest science. In 1910, the Faculty of Education opened its laboratory school, the University of Toronto Schools.

    World wars and post-war years

    The First and Second World Wars curtailed some university activities as undergraduate and graduate men eagerly enlisted. Intercollegiate athletic competitions and the Hart House Debates were suspended although exhibition and interfaculty games were still held. The David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill opened in 1935 followed by the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies in 1949. The university opened satellite campuses in Scarborough in 1964 and in Mississauga in 1967. The university’s former affiliated schools at the Ontario Agricultural College and Glendon Hall became fully independent of the University of Toronto and became part of University of Guelph (CA) in 1964 and York University (CA) in 1965 respectively. Beginning in the 1980s reductions in government funding prompted more rigorous fundraising efforts.

    Since 2000

    In 2000 Kin-Yip Chun was reinstated as a professor of the university after he launched an unsuccessful lawsuit against the university alleging racial discrimination. In 2017 a human rights application was filed against the University by one of its students for allegedly delaying the investigation of sexual assault and being dismissive of their concerns. In 2018 the university cleared one of its professors of allegations of discrimination and antisemitism in an internal investigation after a complaint was filed by one of its students.

    The University of Toronto was the first Canadian university to amass a financial endowment greater than c. $1 billion in 2007. On September 24, 2020 the university announced a $250 million gift to the Faculty of Medicine from businessman and philanthropist James C. Temerty- the largest single philanthropic donation in Canadian history. This broke the previous record for the school set in 2019 when Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman jointly donated $100 million for the creation of a 750,000-square foot innovation and artificial intelligence centre.


    Since 1926 the University of Toronto has been a member of the Association of American Universities a consortium of the leading North American research universities. The university manages by far the largest annual research budget of any university in Canada with sponsored direct-cost expenditures of $878 million in 2010. In 2018 the University of Toronto was named the top research university in Canada by Research Infosource with a sponsored research income (external sources of funding) of $1,147.584 million in 2017. In the same year the university’s faculty averaged a sponsored research income of $428,200 while graduate students averaged a sponsored research income of $63,700. The federal government was the largest source of funding with grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council amounting to about one-third of the research budget. About eight percent of research funding came from corporations- mostly in the healthcare industry.

    The first practical electron microscope was built by the physics department in 1938. During World War II the university developed the G-suit- a life-saving garment worn by Allied fighter plane pilots later adopted for use by astronauts.Development of the infrared chemiluminescence technique improved analyses of energy behaviours in chemical reactions. In 1963 the asteroid 2104 Toronto was discovered in the David Dunlap Observatory (CA) in Richmond Hill and is named after the university. In 1972 studies on Cygnus X-1 led to the publication of the first observational evidence proving the existence of black holes. Toronto astronomers have also discovered the Uranian moons of Caliban and Sycorax; the dwarf galaxies of Andromeda I, II and III; and the supernova SN 1987A. A pioneer in computing technology the university designed and built UTEC- one of the world’s first operational computers- and later purchased Ferut- the second commercial computer after UNIVAC I. Multi-touch technology was developed at Toronto with applications ranging from handheld devices to collaboration walls. The AeroVelo Atlas which won the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition in 2013 was developed by the university’s team of students and graduates and was tested in Vaughan.

    The discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto in 1921 is considered among the most significant events in the history of medicine. The stem cell was discovered at the university in 1963 forming the basis for bone marrow transplantation and all subsequent research on adult and embryonic stem cells. This was the first of many findings at Toronto relating to stem cells including the identification of pancreatic and retinal stem cells. The cancer stem cell was first identified in 1997 by Toronto researchers who have since found stem cell associations in leukemia; brain tumors; and colorectal cancer. Medical inventions developed at Toronto include the glycaemic index; the infant cereal Pablum; the use of protective hypothermia in open heart surgery; and the first artificial cardiac pacemaker. The first successful single-lung transplant was performed at Toronto in 1981 followed by the first nerve transplant in 1988; and the first double-lung transplant in 1989. Researchers identified the maturation promoting factor that regulates cell division and discovered the T-cell receptor which triggers responses of the immune system. The university is credited with isolating the genes that cause Fanconi anemia; cystic fibrosis; and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease among numerous other diseases. Between 1914 and 1972 the university operated the Connaught Medical Research Laboratories- now part of the pharmaceutical corporation Sanofi-Aventis. Among the research conducted at the laboratory was the development of gel electrophoresis.

    The University of Toronto is the primary research presence that supports one of the world’s largest concentrations of biotechnology firms. More than 5,000 principal investigators reside within 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the university grounds in Toronto’s Discovery District conducting $1 billion of medical research annually. MaRS Discovery District is a research park that serves commercial enterprises and the university’s technology transfer ventures. In 2008, the university disclosed 159 inventions and had 114 active start-up companies. Its SciNet Consortium operates the most powerful supercomputer in Canada.

  • richardmitnick 6:16 am on May 10, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "University of Arizona engineers lead $70M project to turn desert shrub into rubber", , , , , Carbon capture and storage, , , , , , , Guayule has a resin content of 7% to 9% which could be used to make natural adhesives and insect repellents., Guayule has natural properties that deter insects so no insecticides are needed once the plants reach early maturity., Guayule is a perennial., Guayule is a sustainable crop with the potential to provide a reliable domestic rubber source., Synthetic rubber – a material derived from petroleum – is suitable only for limited uses. It does not have the resilience of natural rubber and cannot be used in the most demanding products., , The rest of the plant is woody biomass that could be converted into biofuel or used to make particle board.,   

    From The College of Engineering At The University of Arizona : “University ofArizona engineers lead $70M project to turn desert shrub into rubber”University of Arizona engineers lead $70M project to turn desert shrub into rubber” 

    From The College of Engineering


    The University of Arizona

    Chris Quirk | College of Engineering

    Media contact
    Katy Smith
    College of Engineering

    Guayule is a sustainable crop with the potential to provide a reliable domestic rubber source.

    Researcher Kim Ogden holds up branches from a guayule shrub, a plant with the potential to provide a reliable domestic rubber source. Credit: Julius Schlosburg/Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering.

    University of Arizona researchers are teaming up with Bridgestone Americas Inc. to develop a new variety of natural rubber from a source that is more sustainable and can be grown in the forbidding conditions of the arid Southwest.

    Kim Ogden, head of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, is principal investigator on a $70 million, five-year project focused on growing and processing guayule (pronounced why-OO-lee), a hardy, perennial shrub that could be an alternative source of natural rubber.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture granted $35 million for the project, with an equal match from Bridgestone, the tire and rubber company, to help growers transition to guayule crops from their traditional rotations of hay, cotton and wheat.

    Additional partners on the project include the Colorado River Indian Tribes, Colorado State University, regional growers and OpenET, a public-private partnership that facilitates responsible water management.

    Bridgestone has been working with guayule in Arizona since 2012 at the company’s 280-acre farm in Eloy, about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. Bridgestone plans to expand the farm to 20,000 acres in the next several years by working with Native American farmers to grow guayule on tribal lands, and with other area farmers.

    “Eventually, we hope to have plantings of around 100,000 acres, spread out across 15 or 20 facilities across the Southwest,” said David Dierig, section manager for agro operations at Bridgestone.

    Why guayule?

    Rubber is currently sourced from a single species – Hevea brasilensis, or the para rubber tree –grown almost exclusively in Southeast Asia.

    Having a single source for rubber globally means the supply of this critical material can be precarious and subject to market volatility. The para rubber tree crop is susceptible to disease, particularly leaf fall disease. In addition, the price of rubber is affected by increasing labor costs, and there is the potential for geopolitical disorder, Ogden said.

    “There is a big risk, as well as supply chain problems, when you have all the natural rubber coming from one region of the world,” Ogden said. “The goal for Bridgestone and for the other tire companies is to find reliable, domestic sources of rubber.”

    Scientists have had their eyes on guayule as a rubber producer for over a century, Dierig said. The shrub, which matures in just two years, is native to the Chihuahuan Desert in northern Mexico and southern New Mexico.

    “People had looked at this plant as far back as World War I, and during World War II there was a ton of research because our rubber supply got cut off,” Dierig said.

    The Emergency Rubber Act, passed by Congress in 1942, directed scientists to find alternative sources for rubber, and guayule was in the mix.

    “They probably had around 30,000 acres of it planted here in Arizona, and they found a lot of facets to it that were advantageous,” Dierig said.

    Interest in guayule eventually faded, and the para rubber tree remained the sole source of industrial rubber. While synthetic rubber – a material derived from petroleum – is suitable for limited uses, it does not have the resilience of natural rubber and cannot be used in the most demanding products, such as airplane tires or tires for large agricultural vehicles, so the need for a new rubber source has become increasingly pressing.

    “Reducing the amount of rubber we are importing from Southeast Asia is also going to help with biodiversity and climate change,” Dierig said.

    Climate- and market-smart solution

    The grant will fund the development and refinement of growing guayule with climate-smart practices, Ogden said.

    “We want to use less water, install irrigation systems to avoid flood irrigation, use less fertilizer and educate the growers,” she said. “If you’re looking at a big system life-cycle assessment, this is going to cut down on greenhouse gases.”

    Unlike annual crops, which require tilling the land every time the crops are planted or harvested, guayule is a perennial. That makes no-till and low-till farming a viable practice, and it’s one method of storing carbon dioxide in the soil rather than the air, which is known as carbon sequestration. In addition, guayule has natural properties that deter insects, so no insecticides are needed once the plants reach early maturity.

    As promising as guayule is as a source of natural rubber, producing the rubber alone is not economically viable, so Ogden is working to find additional products that could be derived from guayule and marketed to supplement the revenues from manufacturing rubber products. In addition to a rubber content of about 5%, guayule also has a resin content of 7% to 9%, which could be used to make natural adhesives and insect repellents. The rest of the plant is woody biomass that could be converted into biofuel or used to make particle board.

    “Finding research-based solutions that have a global impact is an ideal expression of the University of Arizona’s mission,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “I am grateful to our partners at Bridgestone and the USDA for their investment in Dr. Ogden’s expertise. I look forward to seeing new, sustainable tires on the road soon, knowing the University of Arizona helped get them there.”

    Though the guayule industry is still in its infancy, the domestic rubber is already popping up in some interesting places. Bridgestone recently released a new Firestone racing tire, Firehawk, that contains guayule rubber. The tires, sporting distinctive lime green accents on the sidewalls, debuted as part of the IndyCar circuit races during the Pit Stop Challenge last year, as well as the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville. After last year’s successful run, the tires are being used in IndyCar’s five street-circuit races this season.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    At The University of Arizona College of Engineering:

    A Close-Knit Community

    If you seek a great engineering education in a diverse, supportive environment on a beautiful campus, where everything – from Pac-12 sports to life-changing research – is done on a grand scale, you’ll feel right at home in the College of Engineering.

    100 Percent Student Engagement

    Join a university ranked among the best in the world for its research and development, a place where the entrepreneurial spirit reigns and where graduate and undergraduate students alike roll up their sleeves and work alongside world-renowned faculty and industry partners. Engineering experts in areas ranging from water and energy sustainability to cybersecurity to medical sensors and artificial body parts will be in your classrooms and labs from your very first day at the University of Arizona.

    Workforce-Ready Graduates

    The College’s 16 undergraduate degree programs prepare some of the University of Arizona’s best students for successful careers in engineering. Nearly every undergraduate student participates in one or more internships, a senior design project or research. And, if you crave even more campus life, join one of the College’s 50+ student clubs, many of which have won numerous student and professional awards.

    Infinite Possibilities

    Strong industry ties help our students and alumni land jobs with top companies around the world. Some students go on to become astronauts, CEOs, professors, mine site managers and city administrators. Others start their own high-tech companies to create robots, computer software, wireless medical devices and solar power systems.

    So get ready to Bear Down!

    As of 2019, the The University of Arizona enrolled 45,918 students in 19 separate colleges/schools, including The University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix and the James E. Rogers College of Law, and is affiliated with two academic medical centers (Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix). The University of Arizona is one of three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents. The university is part of the Association of American Universities and is the only member from Arizona, and also part of the Universities Research Association. The university is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.

    Known as the Arizona Wildcats (often shortened to “Cats”), The University of Arizona’s intercollegiate athletic teams are members of the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA. The University of Arizona athletes have won national titles in several sports, most notably men’s basketball, baseball, and softball. The official colors of the university and its athletic teams are cardinal red and navy blue.

    After the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the push for a university in Arizona grew. The Arizona Territory’s “Thieving Thirteenth” Legislature approved The University of Arizona in 1885 and selected the city of Tucson to receive the appropriation to build the university. Tucson hoped to receive the appropriation for the territory’s mental hospital, which carried a $100,000 allocation instead of the $25,000 allotted to the territory’s only university (Arizona State University was also chartered in 1885, but it was created as Arizona’s normal school, and not a university). Flooding on the Salt River delayed Tucson’s legislators, and by the time they reached Prescott, back-room deals allocating the most desirable territorial institutions had been made. Tucson was largely disappointed with receiving what was viewed as an inferior prize.

    With no parties willing to provide land for the new institution, the citizens of Tucson prepared to return the money to the Territorial Legislature until two gamblers and a saloon keeper decided to donate the land to build the school. Construction of Old Main, the first building on campus, began on October 27, 1887, and classes met for the first time in 1891 with 32 students in Old Main, which is still in use today. Because there were no high schools in Arizona Territory, the university maintained separate preparatory classes for the first 23 years of operation.


    The University of Arizona is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. UArizona is the fourth most awarded public university by National Aeronautics and Space Administration for research. The University of Arizona was awarded over $325 million for its Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) to lead NASA’s 2007–08 mission to Mars to explore the Martian Arctic, and $800 million for its OSIRIS-REx mission, the first in U.S. history to sample an asteroid.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft.

    The LPL’s work in the Cassini spacecraft orbit around Saturn is larger than any other university globally.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration/European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea][Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganization](EU)/ASI Italian Space Agency [Agenzia Spaziale Italiana](IT) Cassini Spacecraft.

    The University of Arizona laboratory designed and operated the atmospheric radiation investigations and imaging on the probe. The University of Arizona operates the HiRISE camera, a part of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    U Arizona NASA Mars Reconnaisance HiRISE Camera.

    NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    While using the HiRISE camera in 2011, University of Arizona alumnus Lujendra Ojha and his team discovered proof of liquid water on the surface of Mars—a discovery confirmed by NASA in 2015. The University of Arizona receives more NASA grants annually than the next nine top NASA/JPL-Caltech-funded universities combined. As of March 2016, The University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is actively involved in ten spacecraft missions: Cassini VIMS; Grail; the HiRISE camera orbiting Mars; the Juno mission orbiting Jupiter; Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO); Maven, which will explore Mars’ upper atmosphere and interactions with the sun; Solar Probe Plus, a historic mission into the Sun’s atmosphere for the first time; Rosetta’s VIRTIS; WISE; and OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S. sample-return mission to a near-earth asteroid, which launched on September 8, 2016.

    NASA – GRAIL Flying in Formation. Artist’s Concept. Credit: NASA.
    National Aeronautics Space Agency Juno at Jupiter.

    NASA/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.


    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration Wise/NEOWISE Telescope.

    The University of Arizona students have been selected as Truman, Rhodes, Goldwater, and Fulbright Scholars. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, UArizona is among the top 25 producers of Fulbright awards in the U.S.

    The University of Arizona is a member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, a consortium of institutions pursuing research in astronomy. The association operates observatories and telescopes, notably Kitt Peak National Observatory just outside Tucson.

    National Science Foundation NOIRLab National Optical Astronomy Observatory Kitt Peak National Observatory on Kitt Peak of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 88 kilometers (55 mi) west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona, Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft). annotated.

    Led by Roger Angel, researchers in the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at The University of Arizona are working in concert to build the world’s most advanced telescope. Known as the Giant Magellan Telescope (CL), it will produce images 10 times sharper than those from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Telescope.

    GMT Giant Magellan Telescope(CL) 21 meters, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s(US) NOIRLab NOAO Las Campanas Observatory(CL), some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high.

    GMT will ultimately cost $1 billion. Researchers from at least nine institutions are working to secure the funding for the project. The telescope will include seven 18-ton mirrors capable of providing clear images of volcanoes and riverbeds on Mars and mountains on the moon at a rate 40 times faster than the world’s current large telescopes. The mirrors of the Giant Magellan Telescope will be built at The University of Arizona and transported to a permanent mountaintop site in the Chilean Andes where the telescope will be constructed.

    Reaching Mars in March 2006, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter contained the HiRISE camera, with Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen as the lead on the project. This National Aeronautics and Space Agency mission to Mars carrying the UArizona-designed camera is capturing the highest-resolution images of the planet ever seen. The journey of the orbiter was 300 million miles. In August 2007, The University of Arizona, under the charge of Scientist Peter Smith, led the Phoenix Mars Mission, the first mission completely controlled by a university. Reaching the planet’s surface in May 2008, the mission’s purpose was to improve knowledge of the Martian Arctic. The Arizona Radio Observatory, a part of The University of Arizona Department of Astronomy Steward Observatory, operates the Submillimeter Telescope on Mount Graham.

    University of Arizona Radio Observatory at NOAO Kitt Peak National Observatory, AZ , U Arizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory at altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft).

    U Arizona Steward Observatory at NSF’s NOIRLab NOAO Kitt Peak National Observatory in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert 88 kilometers 55 mi west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona in the Quinlan Mountains of the Tohono O’odham Nation, altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft).

    The National Science Foundation funded the iPlant Collaborative in 2008 with a $50 million grant. In 2013, iPlant Collaborative received a $50 million renewal grant. Rebranded in late 2015 as “CyVerse”, the collaborative cloud-based data management platform is moving beyond life sciences to provide cloud-computing access across all scientific disciplines.

    In June 2011, the university announced it would assume full ownership of the Biosphere 2 scientific research facility in Oracle, Arizona, north of Tucson, effective July 1. Biosphere 2 was constructed by private developers (funded mainly by Texas businessman and philanthropist Ed Bass) with its first closed system experiment commencing in 1991. The university had been the official management partner of the facility for research purposes since 2007.

    U Arizona mirror lab-Where else in the world can you find an astronomical observatory mirror lab under a football stadium?

    University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, located in the Sonoran desert. An entire ecosystem under a glass dome? Visit our campus, just once, and you’ll quickly understand why The University of Arizona is a university unlike any other.

    University of Arizona Landscape Evolution Observatory at Biosphere 2.

  • richardmitnick 10:24 am on May 4, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "5 Questions With a Scientist and Student Researching Carbon Storage", , “Carbon mineralization” : CO2 is dissolved in water and pumped into reactive rocks such as basalts where the CO2 is then converted to solid carbonate minerals., , Carbon capture and storage, , , , , , , Environmental scientist Martin Stute and Barnard student Grace Brown discuss their project studying the potential for a rock formation in Oman to store carbon dioxide., , , , Many commercial carbon capture and storage plants are now operating worldwide., , , The capture and storage of large CO2 sources are well understood and economically feasible., ,   

    From The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory In The Earth Institute At Columbia University: “5 Questions With a Scientist and Student Researching Carbon Storage” 


    From The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory


    The Earth Institute


    Columbia U bloc

    Columbia University

    Marie DeNoia Aronsohn

    Environmental scientist Martin Stute and Barnard student Grace Brown discuss their project studying the potential for a rock formation in Oman to store carbon dioxide.

    Mountains of mantle rocks that are usually many kilometers belowground are exposed across Oman and interact with the air, turning carbon dioxide into stone. Credit: Juerg M. Matter.

    Martin Stute and Grace Brown are studying the process of turning CO2 to stone.

    Climate science was not on Grace Brown’s mind when she decided to attend Barnard. Brown, who grew up in Westfield, New Jersey, had always gravitated toward outdoor conservation activities. When she came to Barnard, she was considering majoring in political science. But her environmental studies courses and Barnard’s access to cutting-edge science at the Columbia Climate School drew Brown into a new area of exploration.

    Last spring, Brown, who is now a senior and an environmental studies major, was looking for a project for her senior thesis. She asked for suggestions from environmental sciences professor Martin Stute, a leader in the area of hydrology and groundwater studies. As an adjunct senior research scientist at the Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Stute has also been advancing a pivotal climate science research and development area: carbon capture and storage.

    Stute needed help with an ongoing, high-profile project in Oman. Brown would only need to go as far as Palisades, New York, and Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to be part of groundbreaking science. Once an elusive goal, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) — using science to remove CO2 from the air and then stow it safely away — is now considered an important, emerging technology, critical for helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, in this way, is helping to solve the greater climate change crisis.

    In the Q&A below, Stute and Brown talk about the Oman project and the promise of carbon capture.

    What’s involved with carbon capture and sequestration?

    MS: In order to limit the effects of climate change, we need to not only cut back on our greenhouse gas emissions (mostly CO2 and methane) but also take some of these gases that we have put into the atmosphere back out. Carbon (in the form of CO2 and methane) can be captured at the source — for example, at a power plant — or directly from the air and then stored in plants, industrial materials, or in subsurface pores and cavities. I am working on one of the safest ways to store CO2 in the subsurface using a process called ‘carbon mineralization,’ in which CO2 is dissolved in water, pumped into reactive rocks such as basalts, where the CO2 is then converted to solid carbonate minerals (similar to limestone). I was part of an international team that demonstrated this process in a field application in Iceland.

    What’s happening in Oman?

    MS: This project is part of a large international research program that explores the geochemistry and microbiology of an ancient uplifted seafloor in the desert of Oman. Besides being used to study basic biogeochemical processes, this formation could also store vast quantities of CO2, similar to the basalts in Iceland. A key question of the study is how fast water circulates in this formation. Our study — funded by the US National Science Foundation in collaboration with California State University-Sacramento, and the Oman Drilling Project — uses substances naturally occurring in groundwater at very low concentrations (so-called ‘tracers’ such as radiocarbon, tritium, and noble gases) to determine how long the water has been underground and how fast it moves. This information is crucial for determining chemical reaction rates and how this formation could be used for CO2 storage.

    How far are we from realizing the goal of removing carbon dioxide from the air and storing it away safely?

    MS: The capture and storage of large CO2 sources are well understood and economically feasible. Free-air capture is still expensive; large-scale demonstrations must be developed and deployed. However, many commercial carbon capture and storage plants are now operating worldwide. In fact, a startup company called 44.01, which received last year’s Earthshot Prize, has begun experimental CO2 injections in Oman. All this is not to say that carbon capture and storage is the silver bullet that will solve our greenhouse gas problem. It is just one approach that needs to be taken if we want to limit the worst effects of climate change. We still need to move to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible and transition to a sustainable economy.

    What surprised you most about the Oman project and your work in support of it?

    GB: I was surprised by the amount of technical, hands-on work I’ve gotten in methods development and instrumentation. Last summer, we spent a lot of time in the lab modifying our different analytical instruments to enable us to develop techniques specific to measuring samples and collecting data for the project. While this kind of method development is a large part of the research process, I was surprised to get this kind of behind-the-scenes look at the more technical aspects of scientific instrumentation. Something else that surprised me, I hadn’t realized how students can get involved with and contribute directly to groundbreaking projects. I’ve found that through the senior thesis and other opportunities available to us, students are really able to make an impact and contribute to extremely relevant research. It’s been very exciting and rewarding.

    Does being so involved with emerging research make you more hopeful about the future in light of what we know about the threat of climate change?

    GB: Being involved with emerging research definitely makes me more hopeful about the future. I think a major factor contributing to pessimism about climate change is the feeling that there’s nothing we can do about it, so I feel much more optimistic when I can take action. Spending time at places like the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, I can’t help but feel hopeful when surrounded by so many scientists at the top of their field working very hard to understand the Earth and its changing climate better.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory is the scientific research center of the Columbia Climate School, and a unit of The Earth Institute at Columbia University.

    It focuses on climate and earth sciences and is located on a 189-acre (64 ha) campus in Palisades, New York, 18 miles (29 km) north of Manhattan on the Hudson River.

    The Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory was established in 1949 as the Lamont Geological Observatory on the weekend estate of Thomas W. and Florence Haskell Corliss Lamont, which was donated to the university for that purpose. The Observatory’s founder and first director was Maurice “Doc” Ewing, a seismologist who is credited with advancing efforts to study the solid Earth, particularly in areas related to using sound waves to image rock and sediments beneath the ocean floor. He was also the first to collect sediment core samples from the bottom of the ocean, a common practice today that helps scientists study changes in the planet’s climate and the ocean’s thermohaline circulation.

    In 1969, the Observatory was renamed Lamont–Doherty in honor of a major gift from the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation; in 1993, it was renamed the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory in recognition of its expertise in the broad range of Earth sciences. Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory is Columbia University’s Earth sciences research center and is a core component of the Earth Institute, a collection of academic and research units within the university that together address complex environmental issues facing the planet and its inhabitants, with particular focus on advancing scientific research to support sustainable development and the needs of the world’s poor.

    The Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University is one of the world’s leading research centers developing fundamental knowledge about the origin, evolution and future of the natural world. More than 300 research scientists and students study the planet from its deepest interior to the outer reaches of its atmosphere, on every continent and in every ocean. From global climate change to earthquakes, volcanoes, nonrenewable resources, environmental hazards and beyond, Observatory scientists provide a rational basis for the difficult choices facing humankind in the planet’s stewardship.

    To support its research and the work of the broader scientific community, Lamont–Doherty operates the 235-foot (72 m) research vessel, the R/V Marcus Langseth, which is equipped to undertake a wide range of geological, seismological, oceanographic and biological studies.

    The Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory R/V Marcus Langseth.

    Lamont–Doherty also houses the world’s largest collection of deep-sea and ocean-sediment cores as well as many specialized research laboratories.

    Columbia U Campus
    Columbia University was founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of King George II of England. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States.

    University Mission Statement

    Columbia University is one of the world’s most important centers of research and at the same time a distinctive and distinguished learning environment for undergraduates and graduate students in many scholarly and professional fields. The University recognizes the importance of its location in New York City and seeks to link its research and teaching to the vast resources of a great metropolis. It seeks to attract a diverse and international faculty and student body, to support research and teaching on global issues, and to create academic relationships with many countries and regions. It expects all areas of the University to advance knowledge and learning at the highest level and to convey the products of its efforts to the world.

    Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754 on the grounds of Trinity Church in Manhattan Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. Columbia is ranked among the top universities in the world by major education publications.

    Columbia was established as King’s College by royal charter from King George II of Great Britain in reaction to the founding of Princeton College. It was renamed Columbia College in 1784 following the American Revolution, and in 1787 was placed under a private board of trustees headed by former students Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. In 1896, the campus was moved to its current location in Morningside Heights and renamed Columbia University.

    Columbia scientists and scholars have played an important role in scientific breakthroughs including brain-computer interface; the laser and maser; nuclear magnetic resonance; the first nuclear pile; the first nuclear fission reaction in the Americas; the first evidence for plate tectonics and continental drift; and much of the initial research and planning for the Manhattan Project during World War II. Columbia is organized into twenty schools, including four undergraduate schools and 15 graduate schools. The university’s research efforts include the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and accelerator laboratories with major technology firms such as IBM. Columbia is a founding member of the Association of American Universities and was the first school in the United States to grant the M.D. degree. With over 14 million volumes, Columbia University Library is the third largest private research library in the United States.

    The university’s endowment stands at $11.26 billion in 2020, among the largest of any academic institution. As of October 2020, Columbia’s alumni, faculty, and staff have included: five Founding Fathers of the United States—among them a co-author of the United States Constitution and a co-author of the Declaration of Independence; three U.S. presidents; 29 foreign heads of state; ten justices of the United States Supreme Court, one of whom currently serves; 96 Nobel laureates; five Fields Medalists; 122 National Academy of Sciences members; 53 living billionaires; eleven Olympic medalists; 33 Academy Award winners; and 125 Pulitzer Prize recipients.

  • richardmitnick 3:19 pm on May 1, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Kelp forests - a multi-billion-dollar ecosystem in our waters", , , Carbon capture and storage, , For the first time there are figures to demonstrate the considerable commercial value of global kelp forests., Living in shallow ocean waters off a third of the world’s coastlines are vibrant jungles of brown seaweed called kelp forests., , , New research suggests these underwater kelp canopies provide hundreds of billions of dollars in value to society., Our understanding of the economic value of kelp forests has been lagging behind other ecosystems competing for conservation funding., ,   

    From The University of New South Wales (AU) : “Kelp forests – a multi-billion-dollar ecosystem in our waters” 

    UNSW bloc

    From The University of New South Wales (AU)

    Ben Knight

    New research suggests these underwater kelp canopies provide hundreds of billions of dollars in value to society.

    New estimates suggest global kelp forests have considerable commercial value. Photo: Shutterstock.

    Living in shallow ocean waters off a third of the world’s coastlines are vibrant jungles of brown seaweed called kelp forests. These underwater canopies support a wealth of biodiversity and, according to new estimates, could be worth quite a bit themselves.

    Map of kelp distribution, total economic value per m^2 per year (k), regional value (B). Lighter shade colours are for regions where distribution estimates were not available and therefore these values were not included in the regional value calculation. Image credit: Tim Carruthers, Integration and Application Network (ian.umces.edu/media-library) for the Ecklonia, Laminaria, Lessonia, Macrocystis, Nereocystis images and map provided by http://www.FreeVectorMaps.com.

    A new study led by UNSW Sydney suggests kelp forests are worth hundreds of billions to society through fisheries, nutrient cycling, and carbon removal. While the exact amount varied between regions and kelp type, the findings, published in Nature Communications [below], suggest they collectively provide an average of $US500 billion through ecosystem services – the benefits provided by ecosystems to humans – each year.

    Dr Aaron Eger is the lead author of the study from UNSW Science. The marine ecologist is the founder and director of the Kelp Forest Alliance – a research-driven not-for-profit dedicated to accelerating the protection and restoration of kelp forests worldwide.

    “We have a deep cultural connection to this ecosystem. But our understanding of the economic value has been lagging behind other ecosystems competing for conservation funding,” Dr Eger says.

    “Now, with this study, for the first time, we have the figures to demonstrate the considerable commercial value of our global kelp forests and the financial impetus for advancing kelp conservation and restoration efforts.”

    Lead author of the study, Dr Aaron Eger. Photo: Danielle Holmes.

    Despite their commercial value, kelp forests are disappearing worldwide at an alarming rate from sea urchin overgrazing and climate change-related threats. In some places, such as Tasmania, up to 95 per cent of the canopy has already disappeared. Vital restoration projects and management strategies may go unfunded without work to understand the return on investment.

    “Multiple drivers increasingly threaten kelp forests, so we must understand their economic contribution if we hope to accelerate efforts to save them and the more than 1800 species that rely on them,” Dr Eger says.

    “These findings are also highly relevant as we have just launched the Kelp Forest Challenge, a global call to protect and restore four million hectares of kelp forest by 2040.

    “By strengthening our understanding of their value, we can hopefully motivate governments, businesses, and society to reach these target values.”

    Kelp forests support a wealth of biodiversity but are disappearing at an alarming rate. Photo: Unsplash.

    The holistic value of kelp forests

    For the study, the researchers analyzed the contribution of kelp forests to ecosystem services using fish and invertebrate surveys and measures of annual net primary production – or growth. This growth requires elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus to be pulled out of the seawater, effectively cleaning the water and contributing to carbon sequestration – the storage of captured carbon in environmental reservoirs.

    They found the most significant economic value of kelp forests in fisheries production and uptake of nitrogen, contributing an average of $29,000 and $73,000 per hectare, respectively, annually. While the estimation for carbon sequestration was low ($163 per hectare annually) ecologically, it was comparable to seagrass meadows and terrestrial forests. Collectively, they could remove 4.91 megatons of carbon from the atmosphere per year – a number likely to increase further as more kelp forests are mapped.

    “This is just a baseline study, so we expect the approximations will get more accurate as the field advances,” Dr Eger says. “There were also many other services we didn’t assess, including tourism, educational and learning experiences, and kelp as a source of food, so we anticipate the actual value of kelp forests in the world to be higher.”

    Around 740 million people live within 50 km of a kelp forest. Photo: Ralph Pace.

    The findings could open new opportunities for marine management and conservation strategies, such as a credit system for offsetting emissions. Furthermore, Dr Eger says it can also encourage governments to develop new industries around restoring and managing kelp forests.

    “Through the study, we found 740 million people live within 50 km of a kelp forest. So these systems have a significant role to play in supporting these people’s livelihoods and vice-versa,” Dr Eger says. “The more the public appreciates these high-value ecosystems living in their blue backyards, the easier it becomes for policymakers to support their protection.”

    While the research is not intended to commodify kelp forests, Dr Eger says it ultimately helps draw attention to the need for more investment in kelp forest conservation.

    “Putting the dollar value on these systems is an exercise to help us understand one measure of their immense value,” Dr Eger says. “It’s important to remember these forests also have an intrinsic, historical, cultural and social value in their own right.”

    “Hopefully, it helps start more conversation about the role of these ecosystems in maintaining healthy oceans and ultimately healthy coastal communities and cultures.”

    Nature Communications

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct.

    U NSW Campus

    The University of New South Wales is an Australian public university with its largest campus in the Sydney suburb of Kensington.

    Established in 1949, UNSW is a research university, ranked 44th in the world in the 2021 QS World University Rankings and 67th in the world in the 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. UNSW is one of the founding members of the Group of Eight, a coalition of Australian research-intensive universities, and of Universitas 21, a global network of research universities. It has international exchange and research partnerships with over 200 universities around the world.

    According to the 2021 QS World University Rankings by Subject, UNSW is ranked top 20 in the world for Law, Accounting and Finance, and 1st in Australia for Mathematics, Engineering and Technology. UNSW also leads Australia in Medicine, where the median ATAR (Australian university entrance examination results) of its Medical School students is higher than any other Australian medical school. UNSW enrolls the highest number of Australia’s top 500 high school students academically, and produces more millionaire graduates than any other Australian university.

    The university comprises seven faculties, through which it offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The main campus is in the Sydney suburb of Kensington, 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) from the Sydney CBD. The creative arts faculty, UNSW Art & Design, is located in Paddington, and subcampuses are located in the Sydney CBD as well as several other suburbs, including Randwick and Coogee. Research stations are located throughout the state of New South Wales.

    The university’s second largest campus, known as UNSW Canberra at ADFA (formerly known as UNSW at ADFA), is situated in Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). ADFA is the military academy of the Australian Defense Force, and UNSW Canberra is the only national academic institution with a defense focus.

    Research centres

    The university has a number of purpose-built research facilities, including:

    UNSW Lowy Cancer Research Centre is Australia’s first facility bringing together researchers in childhood and adult cancers, as well as one of the country’s largest cancer-research facilities, housing up to 400 researchers.
    The Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre is a centre for the faculties of science, medicine, and engineering. It is used to study the structure and composition of biological, chemical, and physical materials.
    UNSW Canberra Cyber is a cyber-security research and teaching centre.
    The Sino-Australian Research Centre for Coastal Management (SARCCM) has a multidisciplinary focus, and works collaboratively with the Ocean University of China [中國海洋大學](CN) in coastal management research.

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