White knights, Darth Vader and evaluating risk in our drilling boom

December 17, 2014

White knights of purest motives or black-hearted Darth Vaders? Oil and gas drillers have been cast in both roles in Colorado and elsewhere. But a panel of four speakers in Denver this week mostly found gray area, which was fitting in that they were speaking at the annual conference of the Society of Risk Analysis. The session had a broad umbrella: “Technological Advances, Risk Tradeoffs and Societal Concerns Associated with Hydraulic Fracking.” What three of the four said overtly was that drillers had badly wounded themselves at the outset of the boom when stubbornly resisting calls for public disclosure of... Read more »

Policy Learning and Community Recovery: Analyzing Responses to Colorado’s Extreme Flood Events of 2013

December 15, 2014

Natural Hazards Center Quick Response Research Report #248 Deserai A. Crow University of Colorado, Boulder Elizabeth A. Albright Duke University By examining the policy response to extreme flooding events, this study seeks to illuminate the important factors explaining variation in local level policy learning in response to the extreme floods in Colorado in September 2013. This research examines the factors that are associated with observed variations in policy change in flood mitigation and prevention at the local level. Understanding the factors that encourage adaptation in local policy contexts may prove critical, since this can mean the difference between ongoing flood... Read more »

Surprising findings in Greenland’s melt dynamics

December 15, 2014

San Francisco, California —A combination of new tools and old photographs are giving scientists a better view of Greenland’s ice, and recent discoveries promise to improve forecasts of the region’s future in a warmer world. Overall, the findings show Greenland's ice is vulnerable to periods of rapid change including vicious cycles of warming promoting further warming. “In the next century, Greenland melt may raise global sea level by one to three feet,” said Mike MacFerrin, a researcher with CIRES, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. “As melting increases in Greenland, we’re discovering... Read more »

CU eco-tip: Green the holidays

December 11, 2014

By the Environmental Center Did you know? Americans create 25 percent more trash during the holidays? Holiday lights use more than 2.2 million MWh of electricity, enough to provide for over 173,000 homes for a year. If every American family wrapped just three presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. What can you do? Here are 10 ideas for things you can do at work and at home to reduce waste while you eat, drink and make merry this season: Use LED holiday lights BYOB(ag) and skip the other fluff Re-charge it Make... Read more »

Four CU-Boulder faculty named prestigious AAAS fellows

December 5, 2014

Four faculty members from the University of Colorado Boulder have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The honor recognizes their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. This year, 401 members of AAAS were named fellows. The four CU-Boulder fellows, all faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, are David Jonas, professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Lise Menn, professor emerita of linguistics; Jim White, professor of geological sciences and director of the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research; and Mark Winey, professor and chair of molecular, cellular and... Read more »

SEEC Details

December 5, 2014

SEEC will bring together under a single roof some of the best minds in environmental and sustainability research at CU and in federal labs. A new, LEED-certified building will house shared labs featuring a new generation of analytical instruments and synthesis capabilities not available elsewhere on CU’s campus. An adjoining 290,000 square-foot space will be refurbished for teaching, programs, collaborative work, and community connections. The complex is designed to generate interaction and collaboration, fostering chance encounters that can generate sparks of discovery. SEEC will be a flagship for CU’s environmental cluster, bringing together a community of undergraduate and graduate students,... Read more »

CU-Boulder study: Inhalable measles vaccine safe in early human testing

December 1, 2014

Powdered vaccine produces less waste, does not require needles By Sarah Kuta Camera Staff Writer Robert Sievers, a fellow at CU's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Studies, demonstrates how to administer a powdered vaccine. In a new paper published this month, Sievers and his colleagues showed that a measles vaccine delivered as an inhalable powder triggered no adverse health effects in people. ( Glenn Asakawa/ University of Colorado ) A powdered measles vaccine created by University of Colorado researchers is showing promising results in early human testing. The vaccine, taken with a puff of air, triggered no negative side... Read more »

Measuring sunlight on the cheap: Open source electronics for datalogging

November 26, 2014

PARduino was a bit of a side project for hydrologist Holly Barnard . Her question, which PARduino was built to answer, was, can a hobbyist-grade microcontroller be used for research-grade field programs? Barnard’s research focuses on ecohydrology : investigating how trees affect water flow and pathways in soil and streams, and conversely, how water flow affects vegetation function. Her ultimate goal is to better understand how changes in land use and climate will affect water resources and ecosystems. A big driver in these systems is photosynthetically active radiation (PAR)—the sunlight, mostly in the visible spectrum, that plants respond to. Commercial... Read more »

Here's Why People Don't Believe In Climate Change

November 26, 2014

Natasha Bertrand, Business Insider More than one-quarter of Americans are climate change skeptics, according to a new report released by the Public Religion Research Institute. These deniers don't believe that the planet Earth's climate is changing, even though 97% of scientists believe it is . When asked why they don't believe, the skeptics' most common response was that they had not noticed a change in the weather around them, and that the weather was actually getting colder where they lived . The second most common response was that temperatures are not rising because of human actions, instead they are just... Read more »

CU Board of Regents approves new CU-Boulder degrees, $55 million in renovations to campus buildings

November 24, 2014

The University of Colorado Board of Regents this week voted to approve two new degrees on the CU-Boulder campus, in addition to a name change for two other degrees. The board also voted to approve $55 million worth of improvements to the CU-Boulder Engineering Center and the Carlson Gymnasium, and named four Boulder faculty University of Colorado Distinguished Professors. New degree: Master of Studies in Law The Masters of Studies in Law (MSL) degree will be a one-year program requiring twenty-eight credits of coursework that enables students who hold at least an undergraduate degree to obtain legal training short of... Read more »