Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment View this newsletter in your browser.
October 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
"Disappearing ice in New Zealand: Are the temperatures rising?"

Michael James "Jim" Salinger, Lorry Lokey Visiting Professor, Program in Human Biology, Stanford
» Read more …
"Progress Towards Preparing for the Future: Climate Change and the Monterey Bay Shoreline"

The Center for Ocean Solutions co-hosts event re: progress in preparing the Monterey Bay shoreline community for climate change impacts.
» Read more …
Energy Seminar
"Investigation of Injection-induced Seismicity Using a Coupled Fluid Flow and Rate/State Friction Model"

Mark McClure, Assistant Professor at University of Texas
» Read more …
Environmental Forum
"Climate Change and Poverty Alleviation"

Rt Hon. Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and former Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999 - 2008)
» Read more …
Young Environmental Scholars Seminar Series
"Roundtable on Sustainable Development: Conservation with Communities"

Dialogue and collaboration on environmental issues by and for Stanford postdoctoral scholars and graduate students
» Read more …
Energy Seminar
"Hydrogen Energy in California"

Mark Lerdal, Hydrogen California and MP2 California
» Read more …
Environmental Forum
"Why Developing Renewable Energy Is Even More Important Than You Think; A Biological Perspective"

Tony Barnosky, Cox Visiting Professor in Environmental Earth System Science
» Read more …

Early Returns on Research Investment

What if all plastic products were made by safely containing methane - a waste gas - and would eventually break down with no harmful effects? Stanford alumna Molly Morse recently won $630,000 for advancing this "cradle-to-cradle" solution for cutting greenhouse gasses and landfill waste. The research driving her bioplastics start-up - like four other projects featured this month - took off with initial investment from our Environmental Venture Projects (EVP) program, which provides seed grants for transformative environment and sustainability research. Since 2004, the Stanford Woods Institute has awarded more than $7.2 million in EVP grants to interdisciplinary research teams from all of Stanford's seven schools. By incubating breakthrough research, EVPs pave the way to greater investment - $2.18 million in the past month alone - in promising ideas. On Nov. 11, Woods will begin accepting letters of intent for 2013 EVP grants. We're looking forward to seeing the latest research proposals for breakthrough environmental solutions from Stanford's research community.



Debbie Drake Dunne
Executive Director

Jeffrey R. Koseff
Perry L. McCarty Director

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

Research Highlights

Researchers Wire Kelp Forests off California Coast

A technological initiative that started as a Stanford Woods Institute Environmental Venture Projects initiative will provide the power and real-time data access scientists need to monitor the effects of climate change on California's delicate coastal ecosystems. Spearheaded by Center for Ocean Solutions researcher Brock Woodson, the Kelp Forest Array, located just offshore of Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, will enable a wide variety of oceanographic instruments to deliver data to researchers in real-time via a broadband cable. Unlike the array, many underwater instruments run on batteries and store their data underwater - and researchers can't know if they fail until it's too late. The original EVP team included Woods Senior Fellow Stephen Monismith and Woods-affiliated faculty Fiorenza Micheli and Mark Denny.

Read More ...


Oil Palm Plantations Displacing Tropical Forest Carbon Sinks

Expanding production of palm oil, a common ingredient in processed foods, soaps and personal care products, is driving rainforest destruction and releasing massive amounts of excess Co2 into the atmosphere, according to a new study co-authored by Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Lisa Curran. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that deforestation for the development of oil palm plantations in Indonesian Borneo is becoming a globally significant source of the Co2 emissions fueling global climate change. Plantation expansion is projected to contribute more than 558 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2020 - an amount greater than all of Canada's current fossil fuel emissions.

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Scientists Predict Major Shifts in Location of Pacific Ecosystems by 2100

Results of scientific modeling could help manage potentially significant commercial and conservation impacts of marine habitat shifts due to climate change, according to a new study led by Center for Ocean Solutions-affiliated researcher Elliott Hazen. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change examines the distribution of various open-ocean animals in the North Pacific and explores how that could change over the next 100 years as global ocean temperatures increase and productivity levels shift. The researchers conclude that some critical ocean habitats could undergo significant changes in location, moving more than 1,000 km (600 miles) from where they are now.

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Tropical Rain May Have Formed Utah's Great Salt Lake

New research by scientists including Stanford Woods Institute Center Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh suggests the Great Basin -- stretching across the North American west from southern Oregon down to Reno and across dry, desert plains to Salt Lake City -- was flooded during the last glacial period by storms moving up from the tropics. The study could answer the question of how enormous lakes came to cover the deserts of the American Southwest between 20,000 and 14,000 years ago and why those lakes dried out at the end of the glacial period.

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Large Predators Connect Ecosystems

Sharks and other large predators play an important role in connecting and potentially stabilizing different ecosystems, according to a new study by researchers including Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Rob Dunbar, Woods-affiliated faculty Fiorenza Micheli and Stanford graduate students Douglas McCauley and Hillary Young. The study, funded by an Environmental Venture Projects grant, investigates how these animals' mobility determines important ecosystem processes. Reef-frequenting sharks, for example, may feed mostly away from the reef, using resources from different habitats and creating important linkages among them. These findings contain important implications for the management of large-predator populations - threatened throughout the world - and the design of conservation measures.

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People Spotlights

Chris Field Named to Lane Professorship

Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Chris Field was recently named the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies. Field, a professor of Biology and Environmental Earth System Science, is the founding director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology and faculty director of the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. For nearly 20 years, he has studied the response of California grassland to multiple environmental influences, looking at the impact of climate change from the molecular to global scale. He is also an influential spokesperson who has testified before Congress and was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change delegation that received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. The professorship was previously held by Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Stephen Schneider, who died in 2010.



Researchers Awarded National Science Foundation Grants

Fiorenza Micheli, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment-affiliated professor of biological sciences at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station, and Rebecca Bird, an ecological anthropologist, recently were awarded National Science Foundation grants of $1.3 million and $250,000, respectively, for research projects initiated with funding from the Stanford Woods Institute's Environmental Venture Projects program. Micheli's project - to be carried out with co-principal investigator and Wood Senior Fellow Stephen Monismith - studies the capacity of natural systems and human communities to adapt to environmental change, specifically investigating the impacts of oceanographic variability on coastal marine ecosystems and human communities of the Pacific coast of Baja California, Mexico. Bird's project, carried out with co-principal investigator and Woods senior fellow Lisa Curran, measures direct effects of indigenous burning practices on woodlands and low-elevation, mixed forests in the Central Valley, Klamath Mountains and Sierra Nevada.

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David Lobell on Climate Adaptation Lessons From 2012

David Lobell, a fellow with the Stanford Woods Institute and the Center on Food Security and the Environment, writes about climate change adaptation in a recent post for The Chicago Council's Global Agricultural Development Initiative Global Food For Thought blog. "For all of the talk about the need to adapt to climate change, we still know fairly little about what works best, and how much adaptation can deliver," Lobell writes. He goes on to elucidate important lessons we can learn from the past year's widespread drought.

Read More ...

Program Updates

Environmental Venture Projects to Accept Proposals

On Nov. 11, the Stanford Woods Institute will begin accepting letters of intent (LOI) for the 2013 Environmental Venture Projects (EVP) Program. The program provides seed funding for interdisciplinary research that yields solutions to global environment and sustainability challenges. Woods will consider projects with budgets up to $100,000 per year for up to two years. LOIs will be evaluated for quality, intellectual merit, potential for solving environmental problems and likelihood of attracting ongoing funding.

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Green Bioplastics Closer to Reality

Imagine if all the plastic you used - from grocery bags to water bottles - were not only biodegradable but reduced our dependence on oil and cut greenhouse gas emissions. A project to make uniquely sustainable biodegradable plastics - started with funding from the Stanford Woods Institute and the involvement of Woods Senior Fellow Craig Criddle and Woods-affiliated faculty Sarah Billington and Perry McCarty - recently won the Dutch Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, a $630,000 international prize for sustainable entrepreneurship. The award was presented in conjunction with the Clinton Global Initiative (watch video).

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Mel Lane Student Grants Program Accepting Proposals

The Stanford Woods Institute invites Stanford students to submit environmental project proposals for the Mel Lane Student Grants Program. The program provides funding for student-driven-and-managed environmental projects that make a measureable impact on an issue through action or applied research. Preference is given to projects that focus on environmental sustainability within one of the following topic areas: climate, ecosystem services and conservation, food security, freshwater, oceans, public health or sustainable development. The next proposal submission deadlines are Nov. 5, 2012 and Jan. 28, 2013.

Read More ...


INOGO Study: Airport Effects on Southern Costa Rica

Researchers with the Stanford Woods Institute's INOGO program in southern Costa Rica are helping the region's stakeholders assess the pros and cons of building an international airport in a new case study (Spanish) released this month. The $42 million airport project - supported by the government and planned in one of the country's most ecologically valuable regions - has been controversial in an area where ecotourism drives the local economy. The Osa-Golfito region's serpentine waterways and wetlands are home to 3 percent of the world's known biodiversity. A recognized Wetland of International Importance lies three miles from the proposed airport site. The report looks at various scenarios for building the airport and analyzes how they might affect development, jobs and the region’s high-value, small-scale ecotourism model.

Read More ...

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

Is Climate Change the Sleeper Issue of the 2012 Election?

The Atlantic, Oct. 3
Study by Jon Krosnick, Stanford Woods Institute senior fellow, cited in discussion of voters and climate change. Krosnick was also interviewed about this topic by the PBS NewsHour on Sept. 17.


Higher Temperatures Bring New Struggles to California Grape and Cherry Growers

KQED, Sept. 28
David Lobell, Stanford Woods Institute center fellow, weighs in on climate impacts on California's cherry crop - the canary in the climate coal mine.


The Coming Plague: How Humans are Changing the Landscape of Disease

Grist, Sept. 26
James Holland Jones, a Stanford Woods Institute senior fellow, says climate change will be a "mixed bag" for infectious disease.


Oysters May Foreshadow Acidic Oceans Effects

KQED, Sept. 25
Steve Palumbi, Stanford Woods Institute senior fellow, discusses adaptation to ocean acidification.


Climate Change Will Shift Marine Predators' Habitat, Study Says

Washington Post, Sept. 23
Top ocean predators in the North Pacific could lose as much as 35 percent of their habitat by the end of the century, according to Center for Ocean Solutions researchers.


Great White Sharks Back in Red Triangle

San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 22
Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Barbara Block discusses robotic shark-tracking technology.

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