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Spring
2015
In This Issue

 > Climate

 > Ecosystem Services &
Conservation

 > Food Security

 > Freshwater

 > Oceans

 > Public Health

 > Sustainable Development

 

Exceeding Expectations

Of the 2.5 billion people who lack access to adequate sanitation, about 750 million live in cities. They must choose among crowded public toilets that close at night, open defecation or expensive private pit latrines. A first-of-its-kind study has found that portable, affordable waterless household toilets, in combination with a waste removal service, greatly reduced the amount of unmanaged feces in Haitian slum. It also nearly eliminated open defecation and "flying toilets" – a common practice in which people throw plastic bags full of feces into waterways – among service users. The study was co-authored by Sebastien Tilmans and Kory Russell, then doctoral students in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and by Higgins-Magid Senior Fellow Jenna Davis (Civil and Environmental Engineering). Such "container-based services" could provide short- or long-term solutions in urban slums where conventional sewerage is not feasible.

Read more...

"Container-Based Sanitation: Assessing Costs and Effectiveness of Excreta Management in Cap Haitien, Haiti," Environment & Urbanization, April 2015

Read on to explore other insights and discoveries on environmental challenges and solutions published by Stanford Woods Institute fellows and affiliated researchers.

 

 
 
 
Climate

Connecting Drought to Warming Temperatures

California's more frequent drought years are primarily the result of record high temperatures driven by climate change, according to a study led by Woods Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth System Science). The findings suggest that California could be entering an era when nearly every year that has low precipitation also has temperatures similar to or higher than 2013-14, when the statewide average annual temperature was the warmest on record.

Photo credit: Florence Low

Read more...

"Anthropogenic Warming Has Increased Drought Risk in California," PNAS, March 2, 2015

 

Other Climate Research

"Soil Carbon Responses to Past and Future CO2 in Three Texas Prairie Soils," Soil Biology and Biochemistry, April 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Robert Jackson (Earth System Science)

"Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Infrastructure and Use in the Urban Region of Boston, Massachusetts," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Jan. 23, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Robert Jackson (Earth System Science)

 

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute climate research
 
Ecosystem Services

A New Approach to Restoration

How can an ecosystem be restored when there is limited ecological information, or no baseline historical data? What if there are economic, logistical or ecological obstacles? In such cases, it may be preferable to focus on restoring site functionality, according to a study co-authored by Senior Fellow Peter Vitousek (Biology). The paper explains the logic behind this approach, presents a case study that illustrates its feasibility, and outlines ways to apply it to a wide variety of ecological systems. Using this method, managers can develop species mixtures with desired properties.

Read more...

"Using Plant Functional Traits to Restore Hawaiian Rainforest," Journal of Applied Ecology, March 13, 2015

 

Other Ecosystem Services and Conservation Research

"Genetics-Based Interactions Among Plants, Pathogens and Herbivores Define Community Structure," Ecology, April 2015, co-authored Senior Fellow Rodolfo Dirzo (Biology)

"Model Development for the Assessment of Terrestrial and Aquatic Habitat Quality in Conservation Planning," Science of the Total Environment, March 30, 2015, co-authored by Research Associate Becky Chaplin-Kramer (Natural Capital Project) and Woods-affiliated postdoctoral scholar Lisa Mandle (Natural Capital Project)

"Assessing the Effects of Multiple Stressors on the Recruitment of Fruit Harvested Trees in a Tropical Dry Forest, Western Ghates, India," PLOS ONE, March 17, 2015, co-authored by Woods-affiliated postdoctoral scholar Lisa Mandle (Natural Capital Project)

"Which Baseflow Metrics Should Be Used in Assessing Flow Regimes of Urban Streams?," PLOS ONE, March 17, 2015, co-authored by Woods-affiliated postdoctoral scholar Perrine Hamel (Natural Capital Project)

"Systems Integration for Global Sustainability," Science, Feb. 27, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow, emeritus, Hal Mooney (Biology)

"Towards a Famework for Assessment and Management of Cumulative Human Impacts on Food Webs,"Conservation Biology, Feb 20, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Fiorenza Micheli (Biology)

"Woody Plant-Cover Dynamics in Argentine Savannas from the 1880s to 2000s: The Interplay of Encroachment and Agriculture Conversion at Varying Scales" Ecosystems, Jan. 27, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Robert Jackson (Earth System Science)

"Plant Community Change Mediates the Response of Foliar δ15N to CO2 Enrichment in Mesic Grasslands," Oecologia, Jan. 22, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Robert Jackson (Earth System Science)

 

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute ecosystem services research
 
Food Security

Climate Change Could Expand U.S. Crop Potential

While current climate change is expanding the amount of land suitable for harvesting two crops per growing season, future climate change impacts on yields could negate any gains, according to research co-authored by William Wrigley Senior Fellow David Lobell (Earth System Science). The researchers used a combination of government data, future climate change scenarios and a first-of-its-kind model to measure the expansion of farmland that has become theoretically suitable to double cropping.

Read more...

"Response of Double Cropping Suitability to Climate Change in the United States," Environmental Research Letters, Jan. 26, 2015

 

Other Food Security Research

"A Global Perspective on Food Systems," Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development, March 19, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Rosamond Naylor (Earth System Science)

"The Fingerprints of Climate Trends on European Crop Yields," PNAS, March 3, 2015, co-authored by William Wrigley Senior Fellow David Lobell (Earth System Science)

"Long-Term Effects of Compost and Cover Crops on Soil Phosphorus in Two California Agroecosystems," Soil Science Society of America Journal, Feb. 27, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Peter Vitousek (Biology)

"Impacts of Precipitation and Temperature on Crop Yields in the Pampas," Climatic Change, Feb. 21, 2015, co-authored by William Wrigley Senior Fellow David Lobell (Earth System Science)

 

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute food security research
 
Fresh Water

Funding Water Projects in Times of Financial Uncertainty

California can effectively and efficiently overhaul water infrastructure and innovation funding with a relatively small per-usage fee, according to an analysis by Stanford's Water in the West Program. The fee, known as a public goods charge, could be a powerful tool for funding water needs despite obstacles such as the state's restrictive fiscal regulations and a lack of dedicated funding for "orphan" water projects such as household efficiency initiatives and new technology investments.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Read more...

"Funding Water in Times of Financial Uncertainty" (REPORT), co-authored by Woods-affiliated graduate student Kim Quesnel (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Senior Research Scientist Newsha Ajami (Water in the West)

 

Other Freshwater Research

"Noble Gases: A New Technique for Fugitive Gas Investigation in Groundwater," Groundwater, January / February, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Robert Jackson (Earth System Science)

"Modeling Uptake of Hydrophobic Organic Contaminants into Polyethylene Passive Samplers," Environmental Science & Technology, Jan. 21, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Richard Luthy (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

"Improvement of Urban Lake Water Quality by Removal of Escherichia Coli Through the Action of the Bivalve Anodonta Californiensis," Environmental Science & Technology, Jan. 14, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Richard Luthy (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

"In Situ Sediment Treatment Using Activated Carbon: A Demonstrated Sediment Cleanup Technology," Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, Jan. 6, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Richard Luthy (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

"Relating Relative Hydraulic and Electrical Conductivity in the Unsaturated Zone," Water Resources Research, Jan. 28, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Rosemary Knight (Geophysics)

 

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute freshwater research
 
Oceans

Ocean Industrialization Could Lead to Mass Extinctions

As the Industrial Revolution spelled the end for many terrestrial species, supertrawlers and other industrialized fishing methods could wipe out marine species, according to a wide-reaching study co-authored by Senior Fellow Steve Palumbi (Biology). It is not too late, the authors suggest, to reverse trends toward extinction with fish farms and other alternatives.

Read more...

"Marine Defaunation: Animal Loss in the Global Ocean," Science, Jan. 16, 2015

 

Other Oceans Research

"Managing Small-Scale Commercial Fisheries For Adaptive Capacity: Insights from Dynamic Social-Ecological Drivers of Change in Monterey Bay," PLOS ONE, March 19, 2015, co-authored by Woods-affiliated postdoctoral scholars Elena Finkbeiner (Center for Ocean Solutions) and Christina Hicks (Center for Ocean Solutions), research analyst Elodie Le Cornu (Center for Ocean Solutions), Senior Fellow Larry Crowder (Biology) and Research Associate Rebecca Martone (Center for Ocean Solutions)

"Identification of Frequent La Niña Events During the Early 1800s in the East Equatorial Pacific," March 13, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Rob Dunbar (Earth System Science)

"Dynamic Ocean Management: Identifying the Critical Ingredients of Dynamic Approaches to Ocean Resource Management," BioScience, March 11, 2015, co-authored by visiting scholar Elliot Hazen (Center for Ocean Solutions), research analyst Lucie Hazen (Center for Ocean Solutions) and Senior Fellow Larry Crowder (Biology)

"The Marine Life Management Act: A Preliminary Policy Assessment of Six California Fisheries" (REPORT), March 2015, co-authored by Center for Ocean Solutions Policy and Education Manager Ashley Erickson and Research Associate Rebecca Martone (Center for Ocean Solutions)

"Heat Balances and Thermally Driven Lagoon-Ocean Exchanges on a Tropical Coral Reef System (Moorea, French Polynesia)," Feb. 25, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Stephen Monismith (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

"A Simple and Practical Model for Combined Wave-Current Canopy Flows," Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Feb. 24, 2015, co-authored by Woods-affiliated postdoctoral scholar Joel Weitzman and Senior Fellow Jeff Koseff (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

"Electronic Tagging of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus, L.) Reveals Habitat Use and Behaviors in the Mediterranean Sea," PLOS ONE, Feb. 11, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Barbara Block (Biology)

"Cardiac Function in an Endothermic Fish: Cellular Mechanisms for Overcoming Acute Thermal Challenges During Diving," Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Feb. 7, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Barbara Block (Biology)

"A Roadmap for Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science for the Next Two Decades and Beyond," Antarctic Science, February 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Rob Dunbar (Earth System Science)

"Recommendations for Improving Recovery Criteria Under the US Endangered Species Act," BioScience, February 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Larry Crowder (Biology)

"Field Observations of Wave-Driven Circulation Over Spur and Groove Formations on a Coral Reef," Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, Jan. 21, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellows Stephen Monismith (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Rob Dunbar (Earth System Science)

"Thresholds in Caribbean Coral Reefs: Implications for Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management," Journal of Applied Ecology, Jan. 14, 2015, co-authored by visiting scholar Rod Fujita (Center for Ocean Solutions) and Senior Fellow Larry Crowder (Biology)

 

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute oceans research
 
Public Health

Agriculture Expansion's Connection to Plague Risks

The push to boost food production in East Africa that is accelerating the conversion of natural lands into croplands may be significantly increasing the risk of plague according to a study co-authored by Senior Fellows Rodolfo Dirzo (Biology), Eric Lambin (Earth System Science) and Michele Barry (Medicine). In areas of northern Tanzania where croplands have expanded by 70 percent and maize production has been introduced, the number of rodents infested with plague-carrying fleas that can cause human infections nearly doubled compared to numbers in neighboring wilderness areas, the researchers found. The study grew out of a 2010 Environmental Venture Project.

Photo credit: National Institutes of Health

Read more...

"Effects of Land Use on Plague (Yersinia pestis) Activity in Rodents in Tanzania," The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Feb. 23, 2015

 

Other Public Health Research

"Differences in Field Effectiveness and Adoption between a Novel Automated Chlorination System and Household Manual Chlorination of Drinking Water in Dhaka, Bangladesh: A Randomized Controlled Trial," PLOS, March 3, 2015, co-authored by Woods Research Associate Amy Pickering (Water, Health & Development), Higgins-Magid Senior Fellow Senior Fellow Jenna Davis (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Senior Fellow Stephen Luby (Medicine)

"Hand-to-Mouth Contacts Result in Greater Ingestion of Feces Than Dietary Water Consumption in Tanzania: A Quantitative Fecal Exposure Assessment Model," Environmental Science & Technology, Feb. 3, 2015, co-authored by Senior Fellow Alexandria Boehm (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Higgins-Magid Senior Fellow Senior Fellow Jenna Davis (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

 

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute public health research
 
Sustainable Development

Solar Solution to California Energy Demand

A study co-authored by Senior Fellow Chris Field (Biology, Earth System Science) finds solar equipment constructed on and around existing infrastructure could generate enough electricity to exceed California's demand by up to five times. Although practical obstacles, such as solar energy storage limitations, remain to be surmounted, the team's work shows it is possible to substantially increase California's solar energy supply without converting natural habitat and causing adverse environmental impacts.

Photo credit: Rebecca R. Hernandez

Read more...

"Efficient Use of Land to Meet Sustainable Energy Needs," Nature Climate Change, March 16, 2015

 

Other Sustainable Development Research

"Nature-Based Tourism's Impact on Environmental Knowledge, Attitudes and Behavior: a Review and Analysis of the Literature and Potential Future Research," Journal of Sustainable Tourism, April 7, 2015, co-authored by Center Fellow Nicole Ardoin (Education) and Senior Fellow William Durham (Anthropology)

"Punch Card Programmable Microfluidics," PLOS ONE, March 4, 2015, co-authored by Woods-affiliated Assistant Professor of Bioengineering Manu Prakash

"Use of Low Cost and Easily Regenerated Prussian Blue Cathodes for Efficient Electrical Energy Recovery in a Microbial Battery," Energy & Environmental Science, Dec. 18, 2014, co-authored by Senior Fellow Craig Criddle (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

 

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute sustainable development research
 
 
 
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The Stanford Woods Institute Research Digest is a quarterly report of findings by Woods fellows and affiliated faculty, as well as fellows with the Institute's Leopold Leadership Program. Current and past issues are online.

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