IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Rachel Passmore (B.S. ’14) recently completed her nine-month Fulbright-Nehru English Teaching Assistantship (New Delhi, India) and on June 12, 2015, she will be departing for the Eastern Caribbean for 27 months to work on a literacy project with the United States Peace Corps.
Congratulations to our colleague Melissa Wright! She has been appointed as Head of the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State.
Dispatch from Peru: GEOG 493: Sustainability Issues Across the Americas
By Morgane Lemire
May 21, 2015—Hello everybody! I’m happy to say that we as a class have safely made it to the town of Ocongate where we will be staying at a hotel called Hotel Ausangate Lodge for a total of four nights. This morning we left the city of Cusco and started our trek on the InterOceanic Highway across Peru. We visited an Inca ruins site at Tipon where the Inca’s specialized in a spring fed water irrigation system which irrigated several different terraces. This was an important Incan experimental system for farming different types of crops. After we left Tipon we stopped at a small restaurant where everyone tried roasted guinea pig and the class had mixed feelings about the taste. Next on our journey for the day we visited the Cuyuni Community which is located approximately 13000 feet in elevation. Here we were able to witness how these people lived and farmed in the high Andes Mountain Range. Afterwards the Cuyuni people served us a tasty lunch which was enjoyed by all. This was a great cultural experience. Tomorrow and the day after we will begin to do field work and research on the wetlands called Bofedales. This wetland system is high in the Andes Mountains where we will be at an elevation of 15,502 feet the highest point of the trip. We will be measuring the amount of methane released from the soil (peat) in this wetland system. This is going to be a great opportunity as a class to gain knowledge about the wetlands and also obtain experience in field work study. On an end note everybody here is having a great time getting to know each other and working together as a group.
Faculty, student excellence celebrated at annual awards banquet
The College of Earth and Mineral Science (EMS) hosted its annual Wilson Awards Banquet on April 26. Dean William Easterling presented more than 50 awards to students and fellow faculty.
Penn State, NCAR researchers aim to better predict renewable energy production
During the summer of 2015, Penn State researchers are partnering with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to investigate a major obstacle facing renewable energy — uncertainty in energy production due to atmospheric conditions like cloud cover or wind speed. The team, led by Guido Cervone, associate professor of geography and associate director of the Penn State Institute for CyberScience, seeks to develop new algorithms that better predict the amount of energy produced by solar and wind sources. Their goal is to increase the use of renewable energy on a daily basis and reduce costs.
Recently (or soon to be) published
Robert E. Keane, Donald McKenzie, Donald A. Falk, Erica A.H. Smithwick, Carol Miller, Lara-Karena B. Kellogg, “Representing climate, disturbance, and vegetation interactions in landscape models,” Ecological Modelling, Volumes 309–310, 10–24 August 2015, Pages 33-47, ISSN 0304-3800, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2015.04.009.
The prospect of rapidly changing climates over the next century calls for methods to predict their effects on myriad, interactive ecosystem processes. Spatially explicit models that simulate ecosystem dynamics at fine (plant, stand) to coarse (regional, global) scales are indispensable tools for meeting this challenge under a variety of possible futures. A special class of these models, called landscape models (LMs), simulates dynamics at intermediate scales where many critical ecosystem processes interact. The complicated dependencies among climate, disturbance, and vegetation present a difficult challenge for LMs, however, because their simulation must reconcile processes and their interactions that occur at different spatial and temporal scales. In the absence of these interactions, key thresholds in ecosystem responses to changes in climate may go undetected or misrepresented.