Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment View this newsletter in your browser. November 2012
Research Highlights Research Highlights
People Spotlights People Spotlights
Program Updates Program Updates
In the News In the News

Calendar of Upcoming Events


Energy Seminar
"Renewable Electricity Futures"

Doug Arent, Executive Director, Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis at National Renewable Energy Laboratory
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Environmental Forum
"Aboriginal Australians as Trophic Regulators: Fire, Hunting and Small Mammal Extinctions in the Western Desert of Australia"

Rebecca Bird, Associate Professor of Anthropology, and Douglas Bird, Senior Research Scientist in Anthropology and Director of Comparative Wests Project at The Bill Lane Center for the American West
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The Next Four Years

The question of who will lead the United States through 2016 has been settled. Now, speculation about the next four years begins in earnest. What environmental legacy will President Obama leave? Millions of Americans continue to deal with the damages - estimated to climb as high as $50 billion in economic losses alone - wrought by Superstorm Sandy. Following his election night references to the "dangerous warming" of our planet, the president addressed media questions about his plans for climate action by calling for a "national conversation" on the issue. Dialogue on climate, energy and other key sustainability issues is well under way at Stanford, following a recent campus visit from the nation's top environmental official, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson. In this issue you can read about her visit, as well as that of U.N. Development Program Administrator Helen Clark, who visited Stanford to discuss climate change, poverty and priorities for upcoming climate talks in Doha, Qatar.



Debbie Drake Dunne
Executive Director

Jeffrey R. Koseff
Perry L. McCarty Director

Barton H. Thompson, Jr.
Perry L. McCarty Director

Research Highlights

Snowpack - Global Freshwater Source - to Shrink

Snowpack, an essential source of drinking water and agricultural irrigation for billions of people, could shrink significantly within the next 30 years, according to a study led by Stanford Woods Institute Center Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, forecasts climate change's effect on Northern Hemisphere snowpack through the 21st century, with particularly bad news for the Western U.S. and California's massive farm industry.

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Finding Common Threads in Global Water Crises

What does drought in Kansas have to do with underutilized groundwater in sub-Saharan Africa? Potentially a lot, according to a new study by researchers with the Global Freshwater Initiative (GFI), a program of the Stanford Woods Institute. The study, published in the journal Water Resources Research, is the first to systematically analyze and classify water crises around the world. It finds that water systems have a limited set of patterns or "syndromes" which can be classified into one of four categories: unsustainability, vulnerability, chronic scarcity or adaptation. These syndromes have their root causes in just a few factors that influence demand, supply, infrastructure and governance - a finding that challenges long-held views that freshwater issues require highly individualized solutions.

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People Spotlights

EPA Administrator Meets With Young Scholars

It's not every day that Stanford researchers get career advice from the top environmental official in the United States. In a recent closed meeting with 13 graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson urged them to challenge convention and look at their environment and sustainability research through policymakers' eyes. The small gathering, organized by the Stanford Woods Institute, was part of Jackson's larger effort to reach out to academic scientists around the country. The Stanford Woods Institute hosted the conversation with participants in its Rising Environmental Leaders Program as part of the Institute's focus on connecting researchers with environmental decision-makers and increasing the role of science in policy-making.

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Top U.N. Official Discusses Climate Change at Stanford Ahead of Global Talks

"Until recently, climate change seemed like a science fiction scenario," Helen Clark told a Stanford audience recently. Ahead of global climate negotiations set to begin in Doha, Qatar, later this month, Clark, the administrator of the U.N. Development Program, visited campus Nov. 8 to discuss climate change and poverty alleviation. In her Environmental Forum talk, cosponsored by the Stanford Woods Institute and Stanford's Program in Human Biology, Clark argued that a lack of coordinated global action on climate change is undermining efforts to alleviate extreme poverty by damaging agriculture, driving up food prices, creating water insecurity, destroying coral reef fishing grounds and exposing millions to diseases such as diarrhea, dengue fever and malaria.

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Stephen Luby Gives Keynote Health Talk in New Zealand

Stephen Luby, a new senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute, gave the keynote address at the 2012 University of Otago International Health Research Network Annual Conference in New Zealand on Nov. 7. In Luby's talk, "Global Water Shortages and Health: Agenda for the Coming Decades," he discussed how growing population pressures on freshwater supplies will lead to worsening malnutrition, famine and an increase in waterborne diseases in large urban areas. To address this "incipient crisis," Luby outlined strategies including water management institutions reform, cooperative management of international river basins and research aimed at more efficient agricultural water use. Luby also discussed these issues in an interview with Radio New Zealand.

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Stephen Palumbi a 'Science Superhero'

At the recent Bay Area Science Festival, Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Stephen Palumbi took part in "Science Superheroes," a TED-style event showcasing five local scientists who are changing the way we understand the world. As the Harold A. Miller Professor in Marine Sciences and director of Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station, Palumbi researches evolution and marine biology, has lectured extensively on human-induced evolutionary change, has used genetic detective work to identify whales for sale in retail markets and is working on new methods to help design marine parks for conservation. Palumbi was also featured recently in a segment for the KQED program "Why I Do Science."

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Gretchen Daily and Chuck Katz Team Up on Book

Gretchen Daily, Stanford Woods Institute senior fellow and director of the Natural Capital Project, and Chuck Katz, a Woods advisory council member, recently published a book about the evolution, impact and natural wonder of trees. The Power of Trees, published by Trinity University Press, brings science and art together with 26 black-and-white photographs by Katz that illustrate Daily's observations of trees: how they evolved, how they live, how they have influenced the history of humanity and how they define our future.

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Program Updates

EEAP Conference Explores Future of Energy Storage

Batteries hold the promise of making electric vehicles mainstream and capturing excess energy from renewable energy sources. At the recent Fall 2012 Conference of the Energy & Environment Affiliates Program (EEAP), Stanford researchers in the fields of chemical and mechanical engineering, as well as materials science and photon science, among other disciplines, met with industry experts to discuss innovative research that could lead to higher-performance, lower-cost batteries. Conference topics included batteries, supercapacitors, chemical fuel synthesis, novel materials and fuel cells. In addition to talks by Stanford professors, the conference included a panel discussion of industry experts from corporations such as Intel, Chevron and IBM; a tutorial on the physics and chemistry of batteries; and related student research posters. An overview of the conference will be available soon on the conference website. In the meantime, contact EEAP Executive Director Steve Eglash for more information.

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Climate Change and Monterey Bay

The Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) has launched an interactive web page that explores sea-level rise and its impacts on the Monterey Bay region. Coastal and ocean professionals can use the page to access research papers, review funding opportunities and explore an interactive map of climate change responses of regional governments and NGOs. The site was inspired by an Oct. 25 COS-hosted workshop covering sea-level rise, coastal erosion and adaptation approaches, as well as findings of focus groups held with ocean-facing homeowners in the Monterey Bay region.

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Preparing the Next Generation of First Nations' Leaders

The First Nations' Futures Institute, a two-week program that prepares young indigenous leaders to tackle social, economic, environmental and cultural challenges in their communities, took place recently at the Stanford Woods Institute. Sixteen fellows from Hawaii, Alaska and New Zealand flew in for the unique opportunity. Through lectures, presentations and unique learning experiences such as outdoor leadership training with horses, they learned how to develop and meld values-based leadership and resource management solutions. The annual institute is part of the First Nations' Futures Program, a one-year fellowship program codirected by Stanford Woods Senior Fellow Peter Vitousek.

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Finding a Better Way to Finance Watershed Management

The Natural Capital Project is working with Latin American partners to develop a science-based software tool that will standardize the design of a new conservation financing mechanism for improving watershed management in Latin America. The software, called RIOS, is a free tool that can provide a standardized approach to design and investment prioritization in contexts throughout the world. The latest development version of RIOS was showcased recently in Lima, Peru, at a technical workshop attended by water fund managers and stakeholders from across Latin America. A RIOS feedback / development workshop with resource managers is scheduled for Nov. 28-30 in Quito, Ecuador. The tool is scheduled for public release next spring.

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In the News
Selected media coverage of the Stanford Woods Institute and its
fellows, affiliated scholars and supported research.

Water Supply in a Warming World

The New York Times, Nov. 13
Noah Diffenbaugh, Stanford Woods Institute center fellow, discusses snowpack study's implications for global freshwater access.


West Coast at Risk for Hybrid Storms, Too

San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 3
Stanford Woods Institute fellows Chris Field and Noah Diffenbaugh comment on extreme weather risk and planning.


N.Y.'s Cuomo Links Storm, Climate Change

San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 31, 2012
Stanford Woods fellows Chris Field and Noah Diffenbaugh provide context on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's linkage of Hurricane Sandy and climate change.


Sandy: Chronicle of a Storm Foretold

The Progressive, Oct. 29
Cites testimony by Stanford Woods Senior Fellow Chris Field before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works on Aug. 1, 2012.


Bowhead Whales Lost Genetic Diversity, Study Shows

The Washington Post, October 18, 2012
Quotes Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Stephen Palumbi.


Great Whites' Diets Shown to Vary Widely 

San Francisco Chronicle, October 16, 2012
Article mentions shark-monitoring program led by Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Barbara Block.


Palm Oil Seen Clearing Tropical Forest in Borneo Yale Study

Bloomberg Businessweek, October 8, 2012
Lisa Curran, Stanford Woods Institute senior fellow, comments on study she co-authored.

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