What happens when a hurricane makes landfall and brings with it a deluge of deadly water? The storm surge in a hurricane is arguably the greatest threat to lives and one that is often ignored. Brent Yarnal, professor of geography in Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, researches the vulnerability of coastal communities to contemporary hurricane storm surge and the role of our rising sea level in increasingly destructive storms.
The 2016 Undergraduate Exhibition took place on April 6, highlighting the participation of undergraduate students from across the University in research and creative endeavors. Students from all Penn State campuses were invited to enter research posters in the exhibition.
See the list of award recipients.
On Tuesday, April 26th, our final Colloquium Speaker for the Spring Semester, Pedro Marenco, Associate Professor, Department of Geology, Bryn Mawr College, presents "Increasing Oxygenation of the Oceans During the Great Ordovician Biodiversity Event: Insights From the Ordovician of Utah" at 4 PM in 022 Deike. A pre-talk Coffee & Cookies Speaker Reception takes place at 3:45 PM in the EMS Museum on the ground floor of Deike. All are welcome. more
On Tuesday, April 19th, Dr. Peter LaFemina presents the Geosciences Colloquium talk "Up, Up and Away: Interactions Between Magmatism, Tectonics and Climate" at 4 PM in 022 Deike. A pre-talk Coffee & Cookies Speaker Reception takes place at 3:45 PM in the EMS Museum on the ground floor of Deike. All are welcome.More
On Tuesday, April 5th, Colloquium Speaker John Leeman, National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow in Geosciences at Penn State, presents "Taking It Slow - Frictional Dynamics of Slow Earthquakes" at 4 PM in 022 Deike. A pre-talk Coffee & Cookies Speaker Reception takes place at 3:45 PM in the EMS Museum on the ground floor of Deike. All are welcome. More
The Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology Student Symposium will take place April 8-9, 2016 in the Forest Resources Building
Key-Note Speaker - Dr. Marc Edwards, Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Environmental and Water Resources Engineering, Virginia Tech, will be speaking in the Forest Resources Building on Saturday, April 9 at 11:40 a.m.
"How Jonathan Baldwin Turner Saved Flint, Mich.: Public-Inspired Science and the Modern Land-Grant University"
Schedule of events: http://sites.psu.edu/saese/ecmss/schedule
On Thursday, March 31st, Geosciences Faculty Candidate for Geochemistry, Dr. Julie Cosmidis, Research Associate, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, presents "The Geochemical Message of Microbe-Made Minerals" at 4 PM in 022 Deike. A pre-talk Coffee & Cookies Speaker Reception takes place at 3:45 PM in the EMS Museum on the ground floor of Deike. All are welcome. More
Our third faculty candidate in Geochemistry, Dr. Benjamin Tutolo, Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Oxford, presents "Serpentinization: Reactive Transport Processes and Hydrothermal Fluxes" on Tuesday, March 29th, at 4 PM in 022 Deike. A Speaker's Coffee & Cookies Reception will immediately precede the talk at 3:45 PM. All are welcome.
Colloquium Speaker Michele Koppes, Assistant Professor & Canada Research Chair Tier II, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, presents "Climatic Change Moves Mountains: Climatic Controls on the Pace of Glacial Erosion" at 4 PM in 022 Deike. A pre-talk Coffee & Cookies Speaker Reception takes place at 3:45 PM in the EMS Museum on the ground floor of Deike. All are welcome.
Ph.D., University of Washington
M.S., University of Washington
B.A., Williams College
Research Interests, Activities, and Awards
Michele's research focuses on landscape response to climate change, over the long term and over the recent past. Some of her current research projects focus on quantifying glacier change in response to warming climate and warming oceans, the landscape response to changing glacier dynamics, and the effects of climate change on meltwater resources in British Columbia, Patagonia, Antarctica, Greenland and the Himalayas. Her specific interest is with all rates of geomorphic change, particularly the effects of humans on the landscape and how we compare to other natural geomorphic agents such as glaciers and rivers.
In addition to her academic and scientific pursuits, Michele has become interested in local and international political and policy debates surrounding climate change. So much so that she took a break from academia and went to work in the U.S. Congress as a legislative consultant on climate change policy for Congressman Jay Inslee of Washington State (currently the State's Governor). Likewise, Michele has also been a scientific advisor and presenter on several radio and television documentaries about glaciers and climate change, including Operation Iceberg, a BBC documentary on the factors that drive glacier change and iceberg production in Greenland, a stint explaining ice tsunamis for the BBC series Nature's Weirdest Events, and the Discovery Channel's Expedition Alaska, a documentary about the impact of climate change on the state of Alaska
Michele's five-year study published in Nature compared glaciers in Patagonia and in the Antarctic Peninsula and found that glaciers in warmer Patagonia moved faster and caused more erosion than those in Antarctica as warmer temperatures and melting ice helped lubricate the bed of the glaciers.
Michele is a TED Fellow which has provided her an additional platform to talk about the importance of glaciers and glacier change in the Himalayas at the TEDIndia conference. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a global set of conferences run by the private, non-profit Sapling Foundation under the slogan "Ideas Worth Spreading." Although its origin was in Silicon Valley, TED has broadened its scope to include talks on many scientific, cultural and academic topics. In January 2011, TED blogger Alana Herro conducted a live interactive interview with Michele (full interview: http://blog.ted.com/fellows-friday-with-michele-koppes/). An excerpt of that interview follows.
Tell us about your glacial research project in the Himalayas.
All of these major rivers in the region — the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra — are fed by glaciers, in their upper watersheds. But there have been very few studies on changes in water resources in the upper parts of the Himalayas. One group, however, has monitored a glacier on the monsoon side of the Himalayas for the past two decades.
So in 2009, we went out and found a similar type of glacier on the back side of the Himalayas, which is not affected by the monsoon. We set up the instrumentation and did the preliminary base study. We began to measure the relationship between temperature, air, solar radiation, and melting of the ice.
We’re trying to see how much change we’ve already encountered in terms of these glaciers. We can do this by using the sediment record, or the geomorphology, around the glaciers. We can see where the glacier was recently, how much it has pulled back, and how much it has thinned. We also have satellite imagery that goes back to 1979, and we can estimate the change with that. We’re trying to model what’s happening to these glaciers in terms of the climate.
How will your work directly affect the people of the Himalayan region?
We’re trying to establish a process and a network in which we include local stakeholders. For instance, I was also working in the Miyar Valley in the Himalayas. Theirs is an agrarian culture, and they have been there for several hundred years. The people live on big mountains with lots of steep slopes, so they built these open water systems, or irrigation ditches — some of which are hundreds of years old — that they pull straight out of the glacial mountain streams. There’s very little precipitation in this part of the world, so the glaciers provide much of the water for irrigation, particularly in the non-monsoon months. This is the major potato growing region of India, and potatoes require a lot of water, particularly close to harvest time.
People are seeing a change in the total amount of water coming out of the glaciers, and the timing of that. It’s getting very hard to determine, at the beginning of your growing season, what’s going to happen later in the season, when the snowmelt is going to occur, or when you should start your planting. Imagine what a failed aloo crop would do to Indian cuisine!
So we have been coordinating with some colleagues in India, trying to talk to the people in these valleys who have the first-hand accounts of what changes they’re seeing, and trying to record that, so we can create a history of climate change in the area. We’re also helping set up a system where we go and get information about what’s happening to the glaciers and how they’re melting, and make these anticipations. And then we relay that back to these communities so they can work with that information.