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Mining social media can help improve disaster response efforts

Leveraging publicly available social media posts could help disaster response agencies quickly identify impacted areas in need of assistance, according to a Penn State-led team of researchers. By analyzing the September 2013 Colorado floods, researchers showed that a combination of remote sensing, Twitter and Flickr data could be used to identify flooded areas.
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Scientists: Ocean warming has doubled in recent decades

Half of the global ocean temperature increase since 1865 has occurred over the last two decades, according to a new study.
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Taking the Pulse of the Earth's Surface Systems

College of EMS Headlines - Fri, 12/04/2015 - 08:20

As human activity alters the Earth's surface environment in unprecedented ways, a comprehensive survey campaign is necessary to predict future impacts. More


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Geosciences Colloquium Series - December 8, 2015

College of EMS Headlines - Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:46

The Department of Geosciences draws on one of our distinguished professors, Dr. James Kasting, to present the final Fall 2015 Colloquium Presentation. On Tuesday, December 8th, Dr. Kasting presents "Climatic Limit Cycling and the Distribution of Complex Life in the Galaxy: Is the Earth Rare?" 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 About Dr. James Kasting

 Evan Pugh Professor

Department of Geosciences

The Pennsylvania State University


B.A., Harvard University, Chemistry and Physics

M.S., University of Michigan, Physics

M.S., University of Michigan, Atmospheric Science

Ph.D., University of Michigan, Atmospheric Science

Research Interests, Activities, and Awards

Dr. James Kasting has as authored or co-authored two books and over 140 research papers, covering the geophysical history and status of the Earth, with a focus on the evolution of planetary atmospheres. In particular, he has addressed the question why the atmospheres of Mars and Venus are so different from that of Earth. He is, however, perhaps best known for his efforts to define the liquid water habitable zone around other stars using one-dimensional, globally averaged climate models, and is broadly considered the world leader in the field of planetary habitability. In their 2001 work Rare Earth, Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee note: "Although many scientists have been doggedly pursuing the various attributes necessary for a habitable name stands out in the scientific literature: James Kasting." 

Prior to coming to Penn State, Dr. Kasting spent seven years in the Space Science Division of the NASA Ames Research Center. Since then he has served on numerous NASA committees, most recently the Astrophysics Subcommittee to the NASA Advisory Council and the Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group (ExoPAG), which he chaired from 2009-2011. In 2005-06, he co-chaired the Science and Technology Definition Team for TPF-C (Terrestrial Planet Finder-Coronagraph), a mission, when it is finally built, that will be designed to find Earth-like planets around other stars, if they exist, and to characterize their atmospheres spectroscopically.

Dr. Kasting is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geochemical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSOL). In 2008, he received the Oparin Medal from ISSOL for “significant career contributions to the origin of life field.” He was also awarded the LExEN Award for his work "Collaborative Research: Methanogenesis and the Climate of Early Mars." He has been a visiting professor and lecturer at a number of academic institutions around the world.

Dr. Kasting’s teaching interests are in the field of planetary atmospheres and in modern global change, particularly climate change. The textbook, The Earth System, that he co-authored with Lee Kump and Robert Crane, explores past and future climate from an interdisciplinary standpoint. It is used in undergraduate courses at Penn State and elsewhere for both science and non-science majors.The search for other Earths is described in Kasting’s 2010 book, How to Find a Habitable Planet.

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Geosciences Colloquium Series - December 1, 2015

College of EMS Headlines - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 10:27

Please join us for Geomorphologist and Geophysicist Marin Clark, Associate Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan. Dr. Clark presents "Coseismic Landslides Associated with the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake Sequence in Nepal" at 4 PM in 022 Deike on December 1st.. 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., Geosciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

B.A., Cornell University

Research Interests, Activities, and Awards

Marin Clark explores how the Earth’s topographic surface changes through time and how these changes relate to dynamic processes deep within the Earth. She looks at the evolution of rivers and other landforms because these systems are a sensitive record of vertical movement of the Earth's surface caused by deformation. Sometimes this deformation occurs very deep in the Earth's crust or upper mantle, making direct observation an impossible task. In order to study these deep processes, she develops ways of using topography as a proxy for motion at great depths beneath the continents. Dr. Clark uses a variety of tools including field geology, GIS modeling, geodynamic modeling, and thermo chronology.

Clark’s work on the mechanisms behind the growth--and deceleration--of the Himalayan Mountains and Tibetan Plateau, including Mount Everest, has been published in the journal Nature. When the movement of tectonic plates caused India to collide with Eurasia, starting around 50 million years ago, the result was the biggest mountain range on our planet: the Himalaya and the Tibetan Plateau. Her research suggests that the plateau has grown smaller in north-south extent as it has grown higher, rather than expanding northward as it uplifted as previously thought. More excitingly, the speed of slowdown of India’s collision, and ultimately the demise of mountain building, relate directly to the strength of the continent as it deforms by plate motion.

Dr. Clark and two colleagues assessed the landslide hazard in Nepal following the 2015 magnitude-7.9 earthquake. They looked for locations where landslides likely occurred during the earthquake, as well as places that were at high risk in the following weeks and months. The analysis found tens of thousands of locations at high risk. Information from this study was used to help prioritize both satellite observations and the analysis of data from those satellites as well as to guide rescue and recovery efforts by the U.S. and international agencies.

Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Michigan, Dr. Clark was a geophysicist with Schlumberger Technologies, a field technician with the U.S. Geological Survey, and a Texaco Prize Postdoctoral Scholar at the California Institute of Technology. In addition, she was awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship while at Cornell and in 2003 was selected for Suburu of America's Outstanding Woman in Science Award.

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Cave-Dwelling "Slime Curtains" Cycle Nitrogen and Iron

College of EMS Headlines - Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:28

In a cave accessible only by daredevil divers, extraordinary microbial colonies metabolize nitrogen and iron nutrients and possibly remove pollutants from water. More

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