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

Calendar of Upcoming Events


Environmental Forum
"Climate Extremes and Climate Change: The Russian Heat Wave and other Climate Extremes of 2010"

Kevin Trenberth, Distinguished Senior Scientist Climate Analysis Section, USA National Center for Atmospheric Research.
» Read more …
Center for Food Security and the Environment Symposium
"Linkages between food systems and human health in Africa"

Speakers include Per Pinstrup-Andersen, H.E. Babcock Professor of Food, Nutrition and Public Policy and J. Thomas Clark Professor of Entrepreneurship at Cornell University; and Eran Bendavid, assistant professor of medicine (infectious diseases) and CHP/PCOR associate.
» Read more …
Environmental Forum
"Using Immersive Virtual Reality to Foster Conservation and Environmental Learn"

Jeremy Bailenson, Associate Professor of Communication and Director, Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab
» Read more …
Panel Discussion
"Campaign 2012: Energy Matters"

Co-moderated by Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Pamela Matson with panelists including Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Sally Benson and Stanford Woods Institute-affiliated professor Mark Zoback.
» Read more …
Environmental Forum
"Disappearing ice in New Zealand: Are the temperatures rising?"

Michael James "Jim" Salinger, Lorry Lokey Visiting Professor, Program in Human Biology, Stanford
» Read more …

Sharing Discoveries

The Stanford Woods Institute is committed to translating research into action by ensuring the solutions we develop are shared with those who can implement them. With this in mind, we redesigned our website over the summer and launched a new quarterly Research Digest to make research in our focal areas more accessible to stakeholders in the NGO, business, philanthropic and government sectors. These improvements were guided by our 2012-15 Strategic Plan, which we developed through extensive interviews and analysis of our role as the hub for interdisciplinary research on the environment and sustainability at Stanford. We invite you to download an Executive Summary of the plan and learn more about how the Stanford Woods Institute is collaborating across sectors and disciplines to tackle critical environmental challenges through research, convening global experts, developing leaders and linking knowledge to action. To request a print copy, email us.



Debbie Drake Dunne
Executive Director

Jeffrey R. Koseff
Perry L. McCarty Director

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

Research Highlights

The State of Our Oceans

A new comprehensive assessment - the first of its kind - provides a valuable look at the current state of the world's oceans and marine ecosystems. Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Larry Crowder, the science director of the Center for Ocean Solutions, was part of an international team of scientists that conducted the Ocean Health Index. Overall, the global average score for countries was 60 out of 100, with individual scores ranging from 36 to 86. Instead of thinking of the average score as a failing grade, we should look at it like a stock portfolio, Crowder says. Some countries, for example, are doing well with biodiversity issues, but not so well with food provision. Others are doing well with tourism, but poorly when it comes to protecting iconic species. The study was published Aug. 15 in the journal Nature.

Read More ...


Wind Could Meet Global Power Demand by 2030

Adapting a sophisticated climate model, researchers including Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Mark Jacobson show that there is plenty of wind available to supply half to several times the world's total energy needs within the next two decades. The model - the most sophisticated of its kind available - calculates the theoretical maximum wind power potential on the planet, taking into account wind reduction by turbines. It contradicts two earlier studies that said wind potential falls far short of the aggressive goal because each turbine steals too much wind energy from other turbines, and that turbines introduce harmful climate consequences that would negate some of the positive aspects of renewable wind energy. Jacobson and co-author Cristina Archer, an associate professor of geography and physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware, published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read More ...


What's On Your Plate - and How Did It Get There?

Is the red snapper on your favorite restaurant's menu actually tilapia? Seafood fraud - mislabeling fish for financial gain - is widespread and can result in the sale of illegally caught fish, among other problems. When it was planning a campaign against such fraud, the international marine conservation nonprofit Oceana turned to Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Stephen Palumbi for help. Palumbi, a marine biologist and director of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, is a pioneer in genetic sequencing for animal identification. He helped shape Oceana's seafood testing strategy and, in a related Monterrey County Weekly article, offered tips to consumers. Among them: trust tuna labeling and most fish labeling at the biggest and smallest retailers, but be wary of sushi shops, processed seafood dishes and imported fish.

Read More ...

People Spotlights

Gretchen Daily Wins Swedish Award for Ecosystem Valuation Work

Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow and Natural Capital Project Co-Director Gretchen Daily recently won the 2012 Volvo Environment Prize, a prestigious $226,000 (1.5 million Swedish krona) award. The prize, awarded by the Volvo Environment Prize Foundation, an independent foundation in Sweden, recognized Daily's “pioneering research on quantifying the production and value of ecosystem services; on harmonizing biodiversity conservation and agriculture, and on policies for integrating conservation and human development in major societal decisions.”

Read More ...


Stephen Luby Joins Stanford Woods Institute

Stephen Luby, former research director at the International Center for Diarrheal Diseases and Research in Bangladesh, recently came onboard as a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute. Luby is a well-known researcher in waterborne disease prevention and emerging infectious diseases. He will take a leadership role, with Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Jenna Davis, in developing the Program on Water, Health & Development. The Program identifies ways to improve and increase the sustainability of water supply and sanitation service delivery, while also enhancing capacity for sustainable water and wastewater management in developing countries. It is an extremely visible and important part of the Woods Institute's water sector work and represents a natural bridge for collaboration with Stanford's School of Medicine, where Luby also holds an appointment. Additionally, Luby is interested in landscape epidemiology and understanding the underlying forces that drive land change and bring people into contact with vectors or other sources of transmission - an important and growing area of focus at the Stanford Woods Institute.


Field Notes From an Iowa Farm

From his small farm outside Cedar Rapids, Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Wally Falcon reflected on a summer of intense heat and prolonged drought. Falcon's corn, soybean and cow / calf operation is a microcosm of American agricultural operations reeling from the summer's extreme weather and the price volatility that came with it.

Read More ...


New Face at Global Freshwater Initiative

Julie Padowski has joined GFI as a postdoctoral researcher. Padowski completed her PhD at the University of Florida's Soil and Water Science Department in 2011. Her doctoral work focused on urban water availability and vulnerability issues in U.S. cities. Padowski analyzed metrics of hydrologic scarcity and urban water management strategies for adapting to water stress for 225 urban areas. As a member of the GFI team, she will focus on water resource problems in coupled human-water systems and contribute to research on urban water vulnerability issues on a global scale.


FSE Postdoctoral Scholar Receives Fulbright Award

Sharon Gourdji, postdoctoral scholar at the Center on Food Security and the Environment, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to assess climate change adaptation strategies for maize-bean smallholder farmers in Central America during the 2012-2013 academic year.

Read More ...


MUIR Student-Athlete Achieves Off Field

When he wasn't sweating though two-a-day football practices, Stanford wide receiver Jordan Pratt spent his summer studying solar energy with Stanford Woods Institute Center Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh as a student in the Mentoring Undergraduates in Interdisciplinary Research Program (MUIR). Pratt's research went so well he and his co-authors Diffenbaugh and Deepti Singh submitted an abstract, “Effects of Large-Scale Solar Installations on Dust Mobilization and Air Quality,” to the 2012 fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Stanford Athletics recently posted a video about Jordan's work as the first of its "How I Spent My Summer" series about Stanford student-athletes.

Watch Video ...

Program Updates

Y2E2 Building a Candidate for Prestigious LEED Certification

The Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building (Y2E2), home to the Stanford Woods Institute's administrative offices, is in the running for performance-based certification under the United States Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (EBOM). During the course of the year, evaluators will look at a variety of factors including efficiency of electrical use and adherence to building waste disposal policies and university guidelines and policies for purchasing environmentally preferable products. As the first LEED-EBOM certification project on campus, the Y2E2 experience will allow Stanford to evaluate the benefits of pursing formal certification as well as investigate further opportunities in the design and operation of high-performance buildings.

Read More ...


InVEST 2.3.0

The Natural Capital Project recently released a new version of its Integrated Valuation of Environmental Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) tool. The free and open-source software suite maps and values the goods and services from nature that contribute to sustaining and fulfilling human well-being. InVEST version 2.3.0 includes updates and new models. Overall, it runs significantly faster than before and can be used with free and open-source software.

Watch a video about InVEST's role on the Vancouver Island coast ...

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

Studies: Wind Potentially Could Power the World

Boston Globe, and KQED Sept. 13; U.S. News & World Report, Sept. 10
"Right now, wind accounts for just a tiny fraction of the energy the world consumes. So to get to the levels these studies say is possible, wind production would have to increase dramatically. If there were 100 new wind turbines for every existing one, that could do the trick, says Mark Jacobson, a Stanford University professor of civil and environmental engineering."


Robot Tracks White Sharks, App Lets You Follow Them

ABC News, Aug. 20
"A team of marine biologists, led by Prof. Barbara Block at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station, has deployed a self-propelled Wave Glider robot off the coast of San Francisco that listens for and follows white sharks. But the robot is only one piece of the high-tech puzzle: an app for the iPhone or iPad lets everyone, non-marine biologists and marine biologists alike, see the information the robot is collecting about the sharks."


Scientists Poke Holes in Carbon Dioxide Sequestration

Physics Today, August
"Stanford University geophysicists Mark Zoback and Steven Gorelick write in a 26 June article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that "there is a high probability that earthquakes will be triggered by injection of large volumes of CO2 into the brittle rocks commonly found in continental interiors."


MIA on Climate Change

National Journal, Aug. 3
"The prevailing wisdom is that neither candidate could benefit politically from addressing global warming; Obama and Romney probably won't talk about it much at all until or unless they're explicitly asked. But that conventional wisdom is challenged in a new study… It finds that a presidential candidate could benefit politically by talking about the issue. The study, conducted in part by Stanford social psychology professor Jon Krosnick, finds that Obama in particular could gain by touting his position on global warming."


Why the U.S. Drought May Be Felt Around the Globe

PRI, Aug. 1; ABC News, July 25
"...other countries that depend on corn exports from the US could be in an even more precarious position, because the US is the world's biggest exporter of corn and one of the biggest exporters of soy and wheat. David Lobell, of Stanford University's Center on Food Security and the Environment, says the US is crucial to global production of food. ‘It's almost twice as important for food as Saudi Arabia is for oil,' Lobell says."

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