Purdue at AGU 2017

The American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) annual fall meeting is the world’s largest and most prestigious gathering of Earth and space scientists and professionals. Running from 11-15 December in New Orleans, Louisiana, the meeting is expected to draw 24,000 attendees. This year, 76 PCCRC affiliated faculty, staff and students will be at AGU to share what we are learning about climate change and to learn from others about the most recent scientific advances. Our researchers are co-convening 13 sessions covering topics ranging from land management to the connections between climate and extreme weather, from soil carbon dynamics to the physics of shales and mudstones; from research that explores agricultural expansion and forest loss in tropical regions to the study of linked energy, land, water and climate systems.

In all, 87 PCCRC-affiliated scientific presentations will be delivered this year. Researchers will discuss their latest findings on dozens of climate and climate change-related projects from an array of disciplines throughout the physical sciences, biological sciences, social sciences, and humanities. For example, an international collaboration between artists and permafrost scientists is exploring how cartoons can be used to communicate complex science. New technology developed at Purdue is dramatically expanding remote sensing capabilities. Rare isotope measurements conducted at Purdue’s PRIME Lab are improving understanding of glacier dynamics, and airborne measurements of water vapor using stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen are providing important information about the water cycle around urban areas.

Finally, a noteworthy addition to the scientific program at AGU is Tuesday’s Special Keynote Panel — Why We Are Still In, featuring Indiana’s own, the Honorable James Brainard, Mayor of Carmel, Indiana. The panel will consider how organizations are maintaining their commitment to the objectives of the Paris Accord and what might be holding other organizations back from signing on to the wearestillin.com initiatives. Panelists will also discuss perspectives on the challenges and opportunities this movement presents with respect to meaningful emissions reductions and symbolic showings of unity to make up for the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord by the US federal government.

If you are interested in learning more about PCCRC-related research at AGU, please email us at pccrc@purdue.edu. Center director Jeff Dukes (jsdukes@purdue.edu) and Rose Filley (rfilley@purdue.edu) will also be at the meeting.

Research Highlights

Remote sensing is the science of gathering information about the Earth's surface without actually being in contact with it. Remote sensors, typically mounted on aircraft or satellites, collect data by detecting energy reflected from the Earth. Currently, however, there are severe limitations on the frequencies that can be used for Earth remote sensing because they compete with pervasive and powerful communications signals. Fortunately, a new technology developed by Purdue’s Jim Garrison, enables the re-use of communication signals for remote sensing, allowing us to make measurements in any frequency that penetrates the Earth’s atmosphere. Stop by the NASA Hyperwall on Thursday the 14th at 2pm for Jim’s presentation, Signals of Opportunity (SoOp): Opening the Electromagnetic Spectrum for Earth Observation.

Communicating science about a phenomenon found under ground and defined by its thermal properties in an easy, fun, and engaging way, can be a challenge. Recently, a group of researchers from Canada, Europe, and the U.S. united to tackle this problem by combining arts and science to produce a series of outreach comic strips about permafrost (frozen ground) and the impacts of climate change in this rapidly chaining northern environment. Find the presentation, ED33A-0311: Frozen-Ground Cartoons: An international collaboration between artists and permafrost scientists, on Wednesday, 13 December 2017 from 13:40 - 18:00 in Poster Hall D-F.

The stability of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) is among the world’s most pressing problems—a melting GIS could raise sea level by 20 feet. But, our understanding of GIS stability remains limited, because we lack direct data and evidence about the sensitivity of the GIS to past and present warming. This is now changing, as new isotope approaches allow us to investigate the bedrock underneath the GIS for direct evidence of past periods of ice-free Greenland. In this talk we will present new cosmogenic isotope data from the first—and, so far only—bedrock sample collected under more than 9000 feet of ice from Greenland and discuss what this means for the future. Find the presentation, PP24A-02 on Tuesday, 12 December at 16:15 in Room 343.

Forest fires in boreal and temperate ecosystems are becoming more frequent, ostensibly because of a combination of disease, invasive species, and climate change; this is projected to have a profound impact on soil carbon chemistry and stability. Using an isotope label tracer experiment in soils from a Northern Michigan forest soil, we found that the incomplete burned residues of wood decayed 4 – 225 times slower than the original plant material and suppressed decomposition of the original soil carbon, which should result in enhanced soil C stabilization and accrual. For more details, see our presentation B41F-2042 on Thursday, December 14 from 8:00am to 12:00 noon.

The Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment (IN CCIA) is a stakeholder-informed, service-driven resource developed under the coordination of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center (PCCRC) and with involvement from a diverse mix of contributors throughout the state. This presentation will report on our efforts to bring together the best available climate change research to identify and project the climate-change related risks and impacts on people, communities, economic activities, infrastructure, ecosystems, and valued natural resources in the state of Indiana. Stop by poster GC33E-1121on Wednesday, 13 December from 13:40-18:00 in Poster Hall D-F.

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