Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences



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Free Online Course: Water in the Western US

Free Online Course: Water in the Western US

Learn more and register here: https://www.coursera.org/course/waterwestus

Why is there so much conflict over water in the American West? How do major cities and industrial agricultural systems thrive in semi-arid environments and deserts? How will tens of millions of people in the region cope with a warming climate? 

Join us on April 1, 2015 for the University of Colorado Boulder’s newest Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “Water in the Western US.” The course will run 4.5 weeks, accommodates flexible schedules, and requires a total of 20-25 hours to complete.

Over a dozen experts in water management, policy, and research are contributing to the course, exploring the scientific, legal, political, and cultural issues impacting water and climate in the Western US. Building on this foundational understanding of climate and water in the West will allow students to examine the Colorado River Basin as a case study, and ultimately conclude the class with a deeper understanding of some controversial water issues faced in the American West.

Educators can earn graduate level credit by signing up for a parallel two-credit hour course through The University of Colorado Boulder’s Division of Continuing Education ($140). Additional information on this opportunity will be provided once the course begins.

There are no prerequisites and no requirements for the course. We hope you join us!

Anne Gold, Associate Scientist and Science Educator, CIRES, University of Colorado Boulder

Eric Gordon, Managing Director, Western Water Assessment, CIRES, University of Colorado Boulder

2015-04-01
 
 
Distinguished Lecture Series: Dr. Steve Amstrup

Distinguished Lecture Series: Dr. Steve Amstrup

Please Note: The location for this event has been moved to the Old Main Auditorium

Why should we care about polar bears?

The polar bear is the world’s largest non-aquatic carnivore. It is the most mobile of all four-legged creatures, with activity areas larger than Montana. Polar bears hunt marine mammals from the surface of the sea ice. When ice-absence means they are unable to feed, they can endure a more prolonged fast than any other large mammal. But, there is a limit to how long they can be food deprived, and global warming-induced sea ice declines have been linked to reduced body condition, poorer survival, and declining abundance. Their dependence on habitat that melts as temperature rises, makes polar bears the best early indicator of threats to the Arctic from anthropogenic global warming. More importantly, they are sentinels of global health, providing advanced warning of challenges coming to all of the species and environments about which we care. Prompt and aggressive greenhouse gas mitigation still can save polar bears over much of their range. We should care about polar bears because if we act in time to save them, we also will save most of the rest of life on earth, and maximize opportunity to leave our children a world similar to that in which humans have flourished.

About the lecturer

Dr. Steven C. Amstrup is Chief scientist for Polar Bears International. He also is an adjunct professor at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. He earned a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Washington (1972), a M.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of Idaho (1975), and a Ph.D. in Wildlife Management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (1995). Prior to joining PBI, he led polar bear ecology research in Alaska for 30 years. He is a past chairman of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group and has been an active member of the group for 32 years. Dr. Amstrup has authored or coauthored over 130 peer-reviewed articles on movements, distribution and population dynamics of large mammals. He is the senior editor of a recent text on population estimation methods. In 2007, he led a USGS research team in production of 9 reports that were instrumental in convincing the US Secretary of Interior polar bears should be declared threatened. More recently Dr. Amstrup led an effort showing polar bears are not unavoidably doomed. In the December 2010 issue of Nature, he and his coauthors showed that preserving polar bears is all about controlling man-caused temperature rise. In 2012, Amstrup was selected as recipient of the Indianapolis Prize, and a Bambi Award for his efforts in animal conservation.

Steven C. Amstrup led polar bear research efforts for the U.S. federal government for 30 years. During that time, he successfully fought to maintain long-term collection of data necessary to assess population trends and understand changes over time. Dr. Amstrup has authored or coauthored more than 130 scientific papers, most covering major aspects of polar bear ecology. His papers have received quality awards from the Wildlife Society and provide essential information for conservation and management. Much of what we now know about polar bears, and the threats they now face, we know because of Amstrup’s long-term and pioneering research. 

Amstrup was the first to successfully use radio telemetry to follow the movements of polar bears. The methods he developed in the 1980’s have been emulated by other polar bear researchers and are now being used around the world.

He solved the decades old mystery of where Alaskan polar bears go to give birth to their young. Through continued monitoring, he has shown that deteriorating sea ice is now altering historical patterns. 

Amstrup’s long-term database now provides the insights necessary to understand the future challenges polar bears face because of global warming. In 2007, Amstrup led an international team of scientists in efforts to assess the likely future impacts of global warming on polar bears. Those efforts culminated in the projection that 2/3 of the world’s polar bears could disappear by midcentury, and all could be lost by the end of the century, if greenhouse gas emissions continue on the present course. Based principally on those findings, the U.S. Secretary of Interior listed polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. 

The dire 2007 polar bear projections, along with fear that the Arctic sea ice was about to disappear beyond an irreversible tipping point, led many to believe nothing could be done to save polar bears from extinction. Amstrup assembled a research team to test that hypothesis, and to examine whether greenhouse gas mitigation could improve the future outlook. That work, published in the journal Nature, demonstrated that there are not tipping points in the summer sea ice, and confirmed that the key to preserving polar bears is reducing temperature rise through greenhouse gas mitigation. The mitigation efforts Amstrup proposes to save polar bears will benefit all species worldwide, including humans. 

Recognizing that there is no future for polar bears without greenhouse gas mitigation, Amstrup retired from the U.S. Geological Survey and became the chief scientist with the nonprofit Polar Bears International. There, he can speak openly about what needs to be done. His mission at PBI is to use the wisdom garnered during his 30 years of polar bear studies to stimulate actions necessary to save the climate in which polar bears, and the rest of life on earth as we know it, have flourished.

date

Friday, April 3, 2015
4:00pm

location

Old Main Auditorium - Boulder, CO

resources

Event Type

DLS

Amenities

Refreshments provided

2015-04-03
 
 
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Analytical Chemistry Seminar: Facundo M. Fernández

Analytical Chemistry Seminar: Facundo M. Fernández

Jointly sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CIRES, and the Environmental Program

Forensics, Metabolomics and Molecular Imaging by Mass Spectrometry

Facundo M. Fernández - Professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology

Mass Spectrometry (MS) is one of the key analytical methods used to identify and characterize small quantities of biological molecules embedded in complex matrices.  Although MS has found widespread use, technical improvements in its instrumentation are needed to extend its application to the grand challenges that face the environmental, chemical and biomedical sciences. In this talk I will present insights into new approaches for generating ions under atmospheric pressure in an “open air” format followed by mass spectrometric detection.  That research has enabled our group to perform a series of experiments in the fields of forensics, imaging and metabolomics.   I will describe how “open air” MS has helped us detect the components in and track the sources of counterfeit drugs in developing countries, perform high throughput metabolic fingerprinting of patients with cancer, and image a variety of surfaces. I will also describe more fundamental work involving finite element simulations and Schlieren imaging of ion transport processes at the atmospheric pressure interface of the mass spectrometer. Finally, I will describe new results where plasma ion sources are used for better coupling of LC to MS.

location

CIRES Fellows Room, Ekeley S274
2015-04-06
 
CSTPR Noontime Seminar: Jordan Kincaid

CSTPR Noontime Seminar: Jordan Kincaid

Fracking In Denton, Texas: Who Benefits and Why Was it Banned?

by Jordan Kincaid, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research and Environmental Studies, CU Boulder

Abstract: Located in North Texas, the City of Denton has ~275 active gas wells and over a decade of SGD.  Here we use an environmental justice framework to analyze the distribution of the costs and benefits of SGD within Denton.  Using data on mineral property values from 2002-2013 and gas well location data, we ask: who owns Denton’s mineral rights (i.e. the greatest financial beneficiaries of drilling) and how does this pattern of ownership relate to who lives near gas wells (i.e. those who shoulder the nuisances and health impacts of SGD)?  Our results show that Denton’s mineral wealth is widely distributed around the United States, residents own 1% of the total value extracted, and the city government is one of the largest financial beneficiaries of drilling.  In addition to distributional inequities, our analysis demonstrates that split estate doctrine, legal deference to mineral owners, and the uniqueness of SGD in urban centers create disparities in municipal SGD decision-making procedures. The environmental justice issues associated with fracking in Denton also provide an explanation for the November 2014 vote to ban fracking in the city.

Biography: Jordan M. Kincaid, M.S., is a Ph.D. student in the Environmental Studies Program focusing on environmental ethics and policy. His research focuses on questions of justice pertaining to shale gas development, climate change adaptation, and material resource consumption.

location

CSTPR Conference Room, 1333 Grandview Avenue

resources

Event Type

CSTPR
2015-04-06
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Analytical Chemistry Seminar: Rebecca Washenfelder

Analytical Chemistry Seminar: Rebecca Washenfelder

Jointly sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CIRES, and the Environmental Program

Optical properties of brown carbon aerosol in the near-ultraviolet spectral region

by Rebecca Washenfelder - NOAA Chemical Sciences Division

Aerosol scattering and absorption are among the largest uncertainties in radiative forcing.  Black carbon is a strong radiative forcing agent, and absorbs strongly throughout the ultraviolet and visible spectral regions.  In contrast, brown carbon has a wavelength-dependent absorption that increases sharply in the ultraviolet spectral region and its importance in radiative forcing is more unknown.  Part of this uncertainty arises from the need to characterize potential sources of brown carbon aerosol, which include fossil fuel combustion, biomass burning, and secondary organic aerosol aging processes.

We have developed a new method to measure aerosol optical extinction as a function of wavelength for in situ aerosol, using cavity enhanced spectroscopy.  We have demonstrated this method over the 360-420 nm spectral region, and plan to extend it to 300 nm.  We retrieve complex refractive indices as a function of wavelength from the measured extinction cross sections.  In the laboratory, this technique has allowed us to examine a proposed mechanism to produce brown carbon aerosol from the reaction of ammonia or amino acids with carbonyl products in secondary organic aerosol.   

During the Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study in summer 2013, we acquired field measurements of aerosol optical extinction at 360-420 nm. We combined these data with direct absorption measurements of water-soluble organic carbon obtained from a UV/VIS-WSOC instrument, and with aerosol composition measurements.  I will present the magnitude of brown and black carbon absorption and the relative contributions of biomass burning, anthropogenic, and secondary organic aerosol contributions to brown carbon absorption in the Southeast U.S. during the summer.

location

CIRES Fellows Room, Ekeley S274
2015-04-13
 
CSTPR Noontime Seminar: Steven Vanderheiden

CSTPR Noontime Seminar: Steven Vanderheiden

Mobilizing Individual Responsibility Through Personal Carbon Budgeting

by Steven Vanderheiden, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, Political Science, and Environmental Studies, CU Boulder

Abstract: In this talk, I consider proposals for personal carbon trading (PCT), through which individuals are placed on carbon budgets through the granting of personal emissions allowances with the requirement that they purchase additional carbon credits to account for their emissions in excess of such allowances.  Such downstream rationing schemes, I shall suggest, have two important merits.  First, they increase the visibility of carbon embedded in goods and services while encouraging personal carbon budgeting, which alternative policy mechanisms fail to do, which harnesses the benefits of information in encouraging social decarbonization.  Second, they allow for the fairer allocation of climate change mitigation burdens among sub-state actors than alternatives like a carbon tax.  PCT schemes, I shall further argue, are less vulnerable to three common objections to carbon trading, while realizing the advantages associated with trading systems.  In combination, I shall argue, they more effective mobilize responsibility norms and model responsibility principles than can carbon pricing alternatives (including taxes and upstream rationing schemes), warranting further consideration as domestic policy tools despite their greater implementation costs.

Bio: Steve Vanderheiden is Associate Professor of political science and environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and member of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR).  He is also Professorial Fellow with the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) in Australia.  Vanderheiden specializes in political theory and environmental politics, with a current interest in issues at the intersection of informational governance and climate policy.
 

location

CSTPR Conference Room, 1333 Grandview Avenue

resources

Event Type

CSTPR
2015-04-13
 
CSTPR Special Seminar: Jack Stilgoe

CSTPR Special Seminar: Jack Stilgoe

Geoengineering as a Collective Experiment

by Dr. Jack Stilgoe - Science and Technology Studies, University College London.

Abstract: Geoengineering is defined as the ‘deliberate and large-scale intervention in the Earth's climatic system with the aim of reducing global warming’. The technological proposals for doing this are highly speculative. Research is at an early stage, but there is a strong consensus that technologies would, if realisable, have profound and surprising ramifications. Geoengineering would seem to be an archetype of technology as social experiment, blurring lines that separate research from deployment and scientific knowledge from technological artefacts. Looking into the experimental systems of geoengineering, we can see the negotiation of what is known and unknown. In renegotiating such systems, we can approach a new mode of governance – collective experimentation. This has important implications not just for how we imagine future geoengineering technologies, but also for how we govern in situ as well as in silico geoengineering experiments.

Biography: Dr Jack Stilgoe is a Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies at University College London. He has spent his professional life in the overlap between science policy research and science policy practice, at the think tank Demos, the Royal Society and at UCL, where he teaches courses on science policy, responsible science and innovation and the governance of emerging technologies. A full list of his publications is on Google Scholar.

He has worked with a range of organisations at the interface of science and policymaking, including EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC, Practical Action, the Environment Agency, the European Space Agency, Unilever and Pfizer. At the Royal Society, he ran the study that produced the influential report The Scientific Century. He is a member of the Government’s Sciencewise steering group and the Research Councils UK Public Engagement Advisory Panel and he is on the editorial board of Public Understanding of Science.

location

CSTPR Conference Room, 1333 Grandview Avenue

Event Type

CSTPR
2015-04-14
 
 
 
 
 
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Tribe's Eye Gallery Exhibition

Tribe's Eye Gallery Exhibition

The Tribe’s Eye Project engaged Navajo Nation youth in documenting regional climate, environmental, and land-use change issues on the Navajo Nation lands using photography. Mentored by CIRES graduate students and a professional photographer, 27 tribal college students have been exploring a relevant topic on the reservation. The students from Diné College and the Southwestern Conservation Corps will present their photographs in person in Boulder.

 
We hope you can attend the event, meet the students, and see their wonderful images. The event is free and open to the public. The gallery will be open for the entire two hours. CIRES director Waleed Abdalati will welcome everyone at the beginning of the event. Please email your RSVP to david.oonk@colorado.edu.

Please contact Anne Gold with questions about this event: anne.u.gold@colorado.edu

location

CIRES Atrium
2015-04-24
 
Distinguished Lecture Series: Dr. Dan Kahan

Distinguished Lecture Series: Dr. Dan Kahan

Culture, Rationality, and Risk Perception: the Tragedy of the Science-Communication Commons

AbstractFrom climate change to the HPV vaccine to gun control, public controversy over the nature of policy-relevant science is today a conspicuous feature of democratic politics in America. A common view attributes this phenomenon to the public’s limited comprehension of science, and to its resulting vulnerability to manipulation by economically motivated purveyors of misinformation. In my talk, I will offer an alternative account. The problem, I will suggest, is not a deficit in rationality but a conflict between what’s rational at the individual and collective levels: ordinary members of the public face strong incentives – social, psychological, and economic – to conform their personal beliefs about societal risk to the positions that predominate within their cultural groups; yet when members of diverse cultural groups all form their perceptions of risk in this fashion, democratic institutions are less likely to converge on scientifically informed policies essential to the welfare of all. I will discuss empirical evidence that supports this analysis--and that suggests potential strategies for securing the collective good associated with a science communication environment free of the conflict between knowing what is known and being who we are.

BioDan Kahan is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at Yale Law School. He is a member of the Cultural Cognition Project, an interdisciplinary team of scholars who use empirical methods to examine the impact of group values on perceptions of risk and science communication. In studies funded by the National Science Foundation, Professor Kahan and his collaborators have investigated public dissensus over climate change, public reactions to emerging technologies, and public understandings of scientific consensus across disputed issues. Articles featuring the Project’s studies have appeared in a variety of peer-reviewed scholarly journals including the Journal of Risk Research, Judgment and Decision Making, Nature Climate Change, Science, and Nature. The Project is currently engaged in a field research that features using evidence-based strategies to promote public engagement with climate science in Southeast Florida.

date

Friday, April 24, 2015
4:00pm

location

CIRES Auditorium

resources

Event Type

DLS

Amenities

Refreshments provided

2015-04-24
 
 
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