News & Events

Research Theme: Human Dimensions

News

Pizza at the ends of the earth

Pizza at the ends of the earth

Last Month, Michael Gooseff, Principal Investigator for the McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER and his team had the opportunity to host TV personality Anthony Bourdain of CNN’s Parts Unknown. Boudain, most famous for his exotic culinary exploits, sat down with Gooseff and his team to share a pizza in one of the most remote places on earth - Antarctica.

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Recent storms recouped 37 percent of California’s five-year snow-water deficit

Recent storms recouped 37 percent of California’s five-year snow-water deficit

The recent “atmospheric river” weather pattern that pummeled California with storms from late December to late January may have recouped 37 percent of the state’s five-year snow-water deficit, according to new University of Colorado Boulder-led research.

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Arctic Arts invites us to “See things differently”

Arctic Arts invites us to “See things differently”

Photographer Kerry Koepping is an INSTAAR affiliate and project director of the Arctic Arts Project, an initiative to document environmental and cultural change in the periarctic region over three years.

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Check out INSTAAR’s most talked-about recent research

As part of the new year, we took a look at the most talked-about INSTAAR papers in recent months. An Altmetric search showed the top 10 papers with INSTAAR authors that have figured most prominently in the news and in social media conversations.

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Distinguished Speaker Series addresses diversity and inclusion in science

The new INSTAAR Distinguished Speaker Series kicks off today with a talk on inclusion in science by University of Alaska Fairbanks glaciologist Erin Pettit. The series features seven speakers, chosen for their quality research and for their "lift as they climb" approach to increasing diversity in science.

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Water and natural gas: Win some, lose less?

Natural gas has been touted as a “bridge fuel” which would allow us to transition towards cleaner alternatives in the future while leaning away from emission-heavy carbon based fuels. We looked at some of the atmospheric consequences for using natural gas last week, and this week we’re taking a closer look at water. Water lost to fracking may be mitigated by water savings during power generation.

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Coal vs. natural gas in the climate ring: Calling this fight is tricky

A look at the complex climate-related tradeoffs of coal-fired electricity vs. natural gas.

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When less is more: New study tracks down lingering source of carbon tetrachloride emissions

A new study pinpoints higher than reported emissions of carbon tetrachloride, an ozone-depleting chemical banned for uses that result in it escaping to the atmosphere.

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Ancient extinction of giant Australian bird points to humans

The first direct evidence that humans played a substantial role in the extinction of the huge, wondrous beasts inhabiting Australia some 50,000 years ago--in this case a 500-pound bird, Genyornis newtoni--has been discovered by a University of Colorado Boulder-led team.

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Less ice, more water: New research shows parts of Arctic Ocean rapidly shifting conditions

Less ice, more water: New research shows parts of Arctic Ocean rapidly shifting conditions

By the 2050s, parts of the Arctic Ocean once covered by sea ice much of the year will see at least 60 days a year of open water, according to a new modeling study led by Katy Barnhart of INSTAAR. Barnhart and her colleagues, including CIRES Fellow Jennifer Kay and INSTAAR Fellow Irina Overeem, set out to investigate the very local impacts of open water expansion patterns in the Arctic. Their work is published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. The researchers used climate model simulations from the National Center for Atmospheric Research-based Community Earth System Model to see how the number of open water, or sea-ice-free, days change from 1850 to 2100 in our planet’s northernmost ocean. They also wanted to understand when open water conditions in specific locations would be completely different from preindustrial conditions.

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Performance, Art and Music for a Resilient Boulder

Performance, Art and Music for a Resilient Boulder

The event Performance, Art and Music for a Resilient Boulder brought together two hundred citizens, students, scientists, and faculty to see creative works in which Boulder youth shared their visions for a resilient community.

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Investigating water and wine: Former postdoc returns to INSTAAR as biogeochemistry prof, researcher

Investigating water and wine: Former postdoc returns to INSTAAR as biogeochemistry prof, researcher

Biogeochemist Eve-Lyn Hinckley, who was a postdoctoral fellow at INSTAAR from 2009 to 2011, has returned to CU as an assistant professor for INSTAAR and the Environmental Studies program. Hinckley will teach three courses annually, conduct research on sulfur and nitrogen in ecosystems, and eventually take over as director of INSTAAR’s Kiowa Lab, an environmental chemistry laboratory for the Niwot Ridge Long-Term Ecological Research Program.

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Scientists headed to Nepal for post-quake assessments of potentially dangerous glacial lakes

Scientists headed to Nepal for post-quake assessments of potentially dangerous glacial lakes

A team of high altitude scientists, including INSTAAR affiliate Alton Byers, will deploy in Nepal to begin the process of assessing post-earthquake impacts on the country’s potentially dangerous glacial lakes.

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Mekelle University fosters climate change adaptation leaders in Africa

Mekelle University fosters climate change adaptation leaders in Africa

A unique partnership between Mekelle University, Ethiopia, and the Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), CU-Boulder, is fostering climate leaders in Africa. Mekelle University’s Institute for Climate and Society (ICS) opens multidisciplinary skills in climate change adaptation and resilience to graduate students from Ethiopia and elsewhere in the region.

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INSTAAR at AGU: Talks, posters, and sessions at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting

INSTAAR faculty and graduate students will share new research at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco, 15 to 19 December. They will present new research on abrupt climate change, air quality and fracking, polar climate change, atmospheric chemistry, flood impacts, forests and snow, plants and soils, and past climates.

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Measuring sunlight on the cheap: Open source electronics for datalogging

Measuring sunlight on the cheap: Open source electronics for datalogging

Ecohydrologist Holly Barnard and Matt Findley had a side project: could they build a research-grade field instrument from hobbyist-grade microcontrollers? After some tinkering and testing, PARduino meant the answer was yes.

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Sustainable Deltas 2015 launches in Rotterdam

Sustainable Deltas 2015 launches in Rotterdam

A unique initiative, Sustainable Deltas 2015 (SD2015), launched today at the Deltas in Times of Climate Change II International Conference in Rotterdam. The aim of the initiative is to focus attention and research on the value and vulnerability of deltas worldwide, and enhance international and regional cooperation among scientists, policymakers and other stakeholders.

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CWEST: A new partnership between CU and the USGS pushes collaboration, houses Hydro Sciences program

INSTAAR is pleased to announce the establishment of the Center for Water, Earth Science, and Technology (CWEST), which will promote increased collaboration between researchers at the University of Colorado–Boulder and the U.S. Geological Survey.

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“Wicked problems” to be subject of symposium on coupled human–natural systems

Patrick Bourgeron and Jelena Vukomanovic will convene a special symposium on “wicked problems” in coupled human and natural systems at the 2014 US-IALE Annual Symposium in Anchorage, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 21.

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Apples in Atebes: Cultivating climate resilience in an Ethiopian village

Apples in Atebes: Cultivating climate resilience in an Ethiopian village

Tsegay Wolde-Georgis, of the INSTAAR program Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), is leading a project to introduce the cultivation of apple trees irrigated by water-filled, buried clay pots to the mountainous, dry region of Atebes, a village of 4000 people in northern Ethiopia. Over the last 30 years, land degradation and climate change have exacerbated existing constraints of drought, soil erosion, deforestation, poor food supply consisting entirely of cereal grains, and lack of access to water. The goal of the clay pot project is to improve the resiliency of the community to climate-related hazards through demonstration and capacity building. So far, the project has led not only to the cultivation of high-value fruits and vegetables, but to erosion control and improved water supplies.

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Uintah Basin ozone study is ‘ACS Editor’s Choice’

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has selected a new study that looks at air quality impacts from fracking emissions as an “Editor’s Choice.” The paper, by the scientists of INSTAAR’s Atmospheric Research Lab, has been made available to the public for free as an open-access paper.

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Methane leaks from palm oil wastewater are a climate concern, INSTAAR lab team says

Methane leaks from palm oil wastewater are a climate concern, INSTAAR lab team says

An analysis published Feb. 26 in the journal Nature Climate Change shows that the wastewater produced during the processing of palm oil is a significant source of heat-trapping methane in the atmosphere. But the researchers also present a possible solution: capturing the methane and using it as a renewable energy source.

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INSTAAR-led study says Bering Land Bridge area likely a long-term refuge for early Americans

INSTAAR-led study says Bering Land Bridge area likely a long-term refuge for early Americans

A new study bolsters the theory that the first Americans, who are believed to have come over from northeast Asia during the last ice age, may have been isolated on the Bering Land Bridge for thousands of years before spreading throughout the Americas. The theory, now known as the “Beringia Standstill,” was first proposed in 1997, but gained little traction outside of the genetics community after it was proposed and has been seen by some scientists outside of the field as far-fetched. But the new paper by INSTAAR researcher John Hoffecker and co-authors Scott Elias of Royal Holloway, University of London, and Dennis O’Rourke of the University of Utah adds credence to the Beringia Standstill idea by further linking the genetics to the paleoecological evidence.

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Astrid Ogilvie awarded Nansen Professorship

Astrid Ogilvie awarded Nansen Professorship

Astrid Ogilvie is on her way to Iceland as the new Visiting Nansen Professor in Arctic Studies at the University of Akureyri. Ogilvie was awarded the twelve-month appointment by representatives from the University of Akureyri and the Icelandic and Norwegian ministries of foreign affairs.

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INSTAAR at AGU: Talks, posters, and sessions at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting

INSTAAR faculty and graduate students will share their research at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting (http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2013/) held in San Francisco, 9 to 13 December. They will present new research on abrupt climate change, atmospheric chemistry, geomorphology, rivers and oceans, forests and snow, plants and soils, past climates, flood monitoring, Antarctic volcanoes, coastal erosion, and emissions from energy production.

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New report calls for early warning system regarding abrupt climate change events

Both abrupt changes in the physical climate system and steady changes in climate that can trigger abrupt changes in other physical, biological, and human systems present potential threats to nature and society. Abrupt change is already underway in some systems, and large scientific uncertainties about the likelihood of other abrupt changes highlight the need for further research. However, with recent advances in understanding of the climate system, some potential abrupt changes once thought to be imminent threats are now considered unlikely to occur this century. This report summarizes the current state of knowledge on potential abrupt changes to the ocean, atmosphere, ecosystems, and high latitude areas, and identifies key research and monitoring needs. The report calls for action to develop an abrupt change early warning system to help anticipate future abrupt changes and reduce their impacts.

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Mountain Research Station and Niwot Ridge post-rain event update

Mountain Research Station and Niwot Ridge post-rain event update

Climate Technician Jennifer Morse reports from Niwot Ridge and the Mountain Research Station after the recent historic rains and flooding. Everyone is okay, and the research sites are relatively unaffected. The most direct route to the Station remains closed and will be for some time.

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Down to Earth: Meet an INSTAAR scientist and a renowned photographer on their home ground

Down to Earth: Meet an INSTAAR scientist and a renowned photographer on their home ground

Meet the people behind the science—and art—resulting from INSTAAR research, featured in two recent EARTH Magazine interviews.

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Fields of gold: Can camelina be a biofuel that high country farmers could grow and use themselves?

Fields of gold: Can camelina be a biofuel that high country farmers could grow and use themselves?

Using computer models, Keske and her colleagues are looking at a new crop that might help farmers in Colorado, Montana, and other high and dry regions earn extra income and achieve energy independence. Their new study asks if, and when, it would be profitable for farmers to grow Camelina sativa (camelina) as a biofuel and a high-protein meal for livestock feed. The new study evaluated costs, risks, and crop rotation to see if raising camelina can be profitable for farmers, using results from field trials at Colorado farms and agricultural experiment stations.

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INSTAAR-mentored high school student wins Regional Special Award at Intel Science Fair

INSTAAR-mentored high school student wins Regional Special Award at Intel Science Fair

High school junior Monro Obenauer won a special award from the Colorado Geological Survey at last month's prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Mentored by INSTAAR grad student Stephanie Higgins, Obenauer's research was on eroding islands in Bangladesh.

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Undergraduate Hana Fancher designs own research project melding environmental science, engineering

Undergraduate Hana Fancher designs own research project melding environmental science, engineering

Hana Fancher didn't wait for graduation to change the world. The undergraduate developed her own research project studying methane emissions from palm oil plantation wastewater ponds—a project that encouraged the plantation to build an anaerobic digester to power its processing and reduce greenhouse gases.

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Award-winning documentary Chasing Ice brings melting glaciers to theaters nationwide

Award-winning documentary Chasing Ice brings melting glaciers to theaters nationwide

Chasing Ice, a documentary by director Jeff Orlowski that has won awards at film festivals around the world, is being released nationally in U.S. theaters starting in mid-November. The film follows photographer and INSTAAR affiliate James Balog as he and his team in the Extreme Ice Survey capture stunning time-lapse footage of melting glaciers, despite balky equipment, sideways terrain, terrible weather, and personal injury.

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CU-Boulder-led team to study effects of natural gas development

CU-Boulder-led team to study effects of natural gas development

The NSF has awarded a $12 million grant to a CU-Boulder-led team, including the leaders of the CWERC research center, to explore ways to maximize the benefits of natural gas development while minimizing negative impacts on ecosystems and communities. The team will examine social, ecological and economic aspects of the development of natural gas resources, including fracking, and the protection of air and water resources. The project will focus on the Rocky Mountain region, where natural gas development, as well as objections to it, are increasing.

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CU-led mountain forest study shows vulnerability to climate change

CU-led mountain forest study shows vulnerability to climate change

A new University of Colorado Boulder-led study that ties forest “greenness” in the western United States to fluctuating year-to-year snowpack indicates mid-elevation mountain ecosystems are most sensitive to rising temperatures and changes in precipitation and snowmelt. Led by CU-Boulder researcher Ernesto Trujillo and Assistant Professor Noah Molotch, the study team identified the threshold where mid-level forests sustained primarily by moisture change to higher-elevation forests sustained primarily by sunlight and temperature. Being able to identify this “tipping point” is important because it is in the mid-level forests--at altitudes from roughly 6,500 to 8,000 feet--where many people live and play in the West and which are associated with increasing wildfires, beetle outbreaks and increased tree mortality.

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Increase in metal concentrations in Rocky Mountain watershed tied to warming temperatures

Increase in metal concentrations in Rocky Mountain watershed tied to warming temperatures

Warmer air temperatures since the 1980s may explain significant increases in zinc and other metal concentrations of ecological concern in a Rocky Mountain watershed, reports a new study led by CU-Boulder and the USGS. Rising concentrations of zinc and other metals in the upper Snake River just west of the Continental Divide near Keystone, Colo., may be the result of falling water tables, melting permafrost and accelerating mineral weathering rates, all driven by warmer air temperatures in the watershed. Researchers observed a fourfold increase in dissolved zinc over the last 30 years during the month of September.

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International conference draws experts in climate politics and culture

International conference draws experts in climate politics and culture

Global experts in climate change politics and policy will be in Boulder September 13-15 for the International Conference on Culture, Politics & Climate Change. Participants from over 20 countries will explore intersections between culture, politics and science in an effort to increase understanding of how public policy is (or is not) created to address climate change.

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Methane mystery resolved: Long-term atmospheric record shows likely cause of recent stabilization

Methane mystery resolved: Long-term atmospheric record shows likely cause of recent stabilization

Increased capture of natural gas from oil fields may account for up to 70 percent of the dramatic leveling off seen in atmospheric methane at the end of the 20th century, according to new research on a related gas, ethane. The study was published in Nature today by INSTAAR Fellow Detlev Helmig and colleagues from University of California, Irvine and NOAA.

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CU-Boulder scientists to give climate change programs at Rifle Public Library in August

In conjunction with the “Discover Earth: A Century of Change” exhibit, Jim White and Mark Williams will lead climate science-focused presentations at the Rifle Branch Library, 207 East Avenue, on Thursday, Aug. 9 and Thursday, Aug. 16.

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Too much of a good thing: Alpine plants under threat in Rocky Mountain National Park

Too much of a good thing: Alpine plants under threat in Rocky Mountain National Park

Nitrogen compounds from power plants, automobiles, and agriculture is creating air pollution that is changing the alpine vegetation in Rocky Mountain National Park, says a new study by INSTAAR Fellow William Bowman and colleagues.

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New monitoring system clears up murky questions about greenhouse gases

New monitoring system clears up murky questions about greenhouse gases

A team of researchers, led by INSTAAR Fellow Scott Lehman and CIRES Research Associate and NOAA scientist John Miller, has developed a new monitoring system to differentiate natural and man-made emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and trace gases in the atmosphere, a technique that likely could be used to monitor the effectiveness of measures regulating greenhouse gases.

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Diane McKnight elected to National Academy of Engineering

Diane McKnight elected to National Academy of Engineering

Diane M. McKnight has been elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), among the highest professional distinctions accorded an engineer, for elucidating the interrelationship between natural organic matter and heavy metals in streams and lakes.

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Mark Williams elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union

Mark Williams elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union

Mark W. Williams has been elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Fellowship is conferred on less than 0.1% of the 60,000 AGU members from 148 countries in any given year and recognizes scientists who have attained acknowledged eminence in the Earth and space sciences. The primary criteria for evaluation are major breakthroughs or discoveries and paradigm shifts. Williams was elected "for outstanding research that has made fundamental advances in mountain hydrology and biogeochemistry."

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John Hoffecker’s team unearths first prehistoric cast bronze artifact found in Alaska

John Hoffecker’s team unearths first prehistoric cast bronze artifact found in Alaska

A team of researchers led by John Hoffecker has discovered the first prehistoric bronze artifact made from a cast ever found in Alaska. The small, buckle-like object was found in an ancient Eskimo dwelling and likely originated in East Asia. It was found in August by a team excavating a 1,000-year-old house dug into the side of a beach ridge by early Inupiat Eskimos on the Seward Peninsula, within the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve.

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NSF awards INSTAAR largest environmental sciences award in CU-Boulder history

NSF awards INSTAAR largest environmental sciences award in CU-Boulder history

A $5.9 million grant for alpine ecosystem research will allow INSTAAR to continue for six years its intensive studies of long-term ecological changes in Colorado's high mountains, both natural and human-caused, over decades and centuries. The grant is the largest environmental sciences award in CU-Boulder history.

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Grad student greens INSTAAR labs

Grad student greens INSTAAR labs

INSTAAR biology labs are using less energy and water and recycling more than they used to, thanks to graduate student Samantha Weintraub and a new CU program.

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James Syvitski appointed Chair of International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme

James Syvitski appointed Chair of International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme

The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme has announced that James Syvitski will chair the Scientific Committee, IGBP's main decision-making body, beginning 1 January 2012. Sponsored by the International Council for Science, the IGBP is an international research program to study the phenomenon of global change and provide the scientific leadership to improve Earth's sustainability.

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New book reveals evolution of human ‘super-brain’

New book reveals evolution of human ‘super-brain’

A new book by John Hoffecker addresses the origin of the mind, arguing that its most significant feature is creativity. The source of this capacity, he suggests, lies in a rare ability to externalize complex thoughts or mental representations that evolved more than a million years ago.

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Fourmile Fire follows historical pattern of severe burns

Fire and forest ecologist Tania Schoennagel and her colleagues conducted studies of the forests west of Boulder before the devastating Fourmile Canyon Fire erupted on September 6th, 2010. By the time the Fourmile Fire was fully contained a week later, it had become the most destructive fire in Colorado history. Schoennagel discussed the fire, results from their studies, and ideas for future fire mitigation in an extended interview with Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio.

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10,000-year-old hunting weapon found in a melting ice patch of the Rocky Mountains

10,000-year-old hunting weapon found in a melting ice patch of the Rocky Mountains

To the untrained eye, Craig Lee's recent discovery of a wooden hunting weapon might look like a small branch that blew off a tree in a windstorm, but nothing could be further from the truth. Radiocarbon dating showed that the dart is 10,400-years-old, making it the oldest artifact ever discovered melting out of ancient ice. Its age and preservation provide a unique window into late Paleoindian society, including its technology, social protocols, and high-altitude subsistence practices.

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Link discovered between carbon, nitrogen may provide new ways to mitigate pollution problems

Phil Taylor and Alan Townsend have discovered that global ratios of nitrogen and carbon in the environment are inexorably linked, a finding that may lead to new strategies to help mitigate regional problems ranging from contaminated waterways to human health. Their new study focused on the growing worldwide problem of nitrogen pollution.

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INSTAAR helps develop new permanent human evolution exhibit at Smithsonian

INSTAAR helps develop new permanent human evolution exhibit at Smithsonian

INSTAAR will be officially acknowledged in a new permanent human evolution exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, scheduled to open in March 2010. The Smithsonian consulted with INSTAAR Fellow John Hoffecker during the development of the exhibit, primarily with regard to the spread of anatomically modern humans into Eastern Europe roughly 50,000 years ago.

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Surviving ancient Alaska

Craig Lee and James Dixon are featured in a National Geographic Series “Naked Science.” The episode is titled “Surviving Ancient Alaska" and includes Lee and Dixon's research into the archaeological potential of melting snow and ice in Denali and Lake Clark National Parks.

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World’s river deltas sinking due to human activity

James Syvitski, Albert Kettner, Irina Overeem, Eric Hutton and Mark Hannon, along with colleagues from six other institutions, have shown that most of the world's low-lying river deltas are sinking from human activity, making them increasingly vulnerable to flooding from rivers and ocean storms and putting tens of millions of people at risk.

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New solar panels power work at the Mountain Research Station

New solar panels power work at the Mountain Research Station

Steve Seibold and Kathy Clegg secured funding to install enough solar panel arrays at INSTAAR's Mountain Research Station (MRS) to supply about a third of the station's total electricity load.

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Recent warming reverses long-term Arctic cooling

An international team of scientists have reconstructed past climate in the Arctic over the past 2,000 years in unprecedented detail. The team found that Arctic temperatures have reversed from a long-term cooling trend and are now the warmest they have been in at least 2,000 years, bad news for the world’s coastal cities facing rising seas in the coming decades.

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Learn More About Climate gives Colorado answers

Learn More About Climate gives Colorado answers

Jim White is one of several CU-Boulder climate scientists featured in videos and other media for a new website called LearnMoreAboutClimate.colorado.edu. The site is designed to engage Colorado citizens in learning about climate and to encourage them to make lifestyle changes.

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Fire mitigation work in U.S. West is misplaced

Tania Schoennagel (Geography and INSTAAR), along with colleagues at CU-Boulder, University of Montana, and Colorado State, have found that federal wildfire treatments have been minimally effective at mitigating the threat of wildfire to homes and people in the western United States. The team studied 44,000 wildfire mitigation projects in 11 western states between 2004 and 2008.

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Gifford Miller elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union

Gifford Miller was elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union for his "pioneering work in dating methods as well as his insights into Quaternary climates and the role of humans in ecological change." Fellowship is bestowed on no more than 0.1 percent of the total AGU membership of about 45,000 in any given year and recognizes scientists who have attained acknowledged eminence in the geophysical sciences.

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New supercomputer for earth modeling research

New supercomputer for earth modeling research

James Syvitski led the effort to install a new supercomputer at INSTAAR that will vastly extend the ability of scientists across the globe to model and predict many important aspects of Earth's surface processes, from glacial melting and flooding to coastal erosion and tropical ocean storms. The new computer cluster is the heart of the NSF-funded Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS).

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Synthesis report on past climate variability in the Arctic and implications for the future

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Warming climate signals big changes for ski areas

Climate change will lead to substantially shorter ski seasons and less snow on lower slopes of the Rocky Mountains, greatly impacting Colorado's ski industry, INSTAAR scientists find.

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$1 million grant to help developing countries respond to climate change impacts

The Rockefeller Foundation has given CU-Boulder a $1 million grant to reestablish the Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), directed by Mickey Glantz, to equip scholars and practitioners in developing countries with the knowledge and networks to adapt to climate change.

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School of Sustainability?

Jim White, Alan Townsend, and CU colleagues argue for a more formal administrative structure for interdisciplinary environmental education and research at CU-Boulder.

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CU panel series highlights climate, energy, and sustainability

Bill Bowman, Diane McKnight, Alan Townsend, and Jim White are participating in "Meeting the Global Energy and Climate Challenge," a series of more than a dozen public lectures and panel discussions focusing on climate change, energy, and the environment.

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Climate experts tussle over details; public gets whiplash

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Humans continue to transform the global nitrogen cycle at a record pace, study finds

Alan Townsend and other members of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) North American Nitrogen Center have published a review of human influence on the global nitrogen cycle in Science.

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Conservation, restoration strategies must shift with global environmental change

Tim Seastedt and colleagues investigated ecosystem management studies from the past 12 years in an effort to determine best practices for the future. They propose that biologists and managers focus on making existing ecosystems resilient to further environmental change rather than on attempting to restore them to their original state.

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New book: Human Ecology of Beringia

John Hoffecker and Scott Elias have produced a synthesis of environment and human settlement in Beringia, published by Columbia University Press.

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Fireproofing homes dramatically reduces forest fire size

Patrick Bourgeron and colleagues modeled the spread of fires in forest ecosystems in several Western states. Their study is the first to systematically look at both houses and trees in forest fire scenarios.

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Niwot Ridge selected as a core site for the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)

NEON is the largest ecological project ever attempted by the National Science Foundation--the first national ecological measurement and observation system designed both to answer regional- to continental-scale scientific questions and to have the interdisciplinary participation necessary to achieve credible ecological forecasting and prediction.

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Earliest evidence of modern humans in Europe discovered by international team

An international team of researchers, including John Hoffecker, has reported evidence of modern humans in central Russia as early as anywhere in northern Eurasia. The finds were made at Kostenki on the Don River, approximately 250 miles south of Moscow.

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Global warming to change ski industry in Western USA

Mark Williams and Brian Lazar presented a study of the potential effects of global warming on Park City to more than 1,000 of the town's 8,500 residents, who crowded into the local auditorium to hear that temperatures are projected to rise 6 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit and that the snowpack will likely be substantially reduced by the end of the century.

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Chance encounter with seal leads to children’s book on Antarctica

Chance encounter with seal leads to children’s book on Antarctica

Diane McKnight has published a children's book, The Lost Seal, that describes an unexpected encounter with a seal pup in the Dry Valleys region of Antarctica, more than five miles inland from the sea.

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Ski moguls move uphill…really!

David Bahr (INSTAAR Affiliate) and Tad Pfeffer have used time-lapse photography to demonstrate that ski moguls move uphill, a counterintuitive result.

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Discovery of ancient human remains sparks partnership, documentary

James Dixon helped discover 10,300-year-old human remains in southeast Alaska in 1996 that have provided new insights into the lives of ancient people and helped cement a partnership between local tribes and scientists.

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Tropical forest CO2 emissions tied to nutrient increases

Cory Cleveland and Alan Townsend have completed a study of tropical forest soils showing that even small changes in nutrients could have a profound impact on the release of CO2.

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Cottonwoods studied at Sand Creek Massacre site

Jeff Lukas and Connie Woodhouse, assisted by Henry Adams, found evidence that "witness trees" are still present at the recently established Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site in southeastern Colorado.

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INSTAAR collaborates on local watershed curriculum: “MY H2O”

INSTAAR has created and distributed a teacher curriculum guide and resource kit promoting awareness of the Boulder and St. Vrain watersheds, blending Colorado state educational standards in science, language arts, geography and math into activities, educational games, story plots and community action tasks.

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Alan Townsend named director of North American Nitrogen Center

Alan Townsend was named director of the North American Nitrogen Center (NANC), one of five centers around the world that together comprise the core structure of the SCOPE and IGBP sanctioned International Nitrogen Initiative (INI).

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Artwork by CU-Boulder glaciologist to be on display at Boulder Public Library

Landscape paintings depicting high mountains and polar regions by internationally known University of Colorado at Boulder glaciologist Mark Meier will be on display at the Boulder Public Library and at his home studio from Sept. 30 to Oct. 9 as part of Open Studios.

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Methane gyrations in past 2,000 years show human influence on atmosphere

Humans have been tinkering with greenhouse gas levels in Earth's atmosphere for at least 2,000 years and probably longer, according to a surprising new study of methane trapped in Antarctic ice cores conducted by an international research team.

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Environmental engineers study pollution of Colorado mountain streams by mines

Diane McKnight (INSTAAR & CEAE) and Jeff Wong (CEAE) spoke with KUNC's Gavin McMeeking about the pervasive pollution of Colorado mountain streams by mining and the potential for remediation by environmental engineers.

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Ancient diets of Australian birds point to big ecosystem changes

Gifford Miller led an international team to discover that the diet of two flightless birds inhabiting Australia shifted soon after humans arrived ca. 50,000 years ago, coincident with a rapid and dramatic shift in the ecosystem's flora. Their discovery is the best evidence yet that early humans may have altered the continent's interior with fire, changing it from a mosaic of trees, shrubs, and grasses to the desert scrub evident today.

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Nitrogen fertilization of soil puts rare plant species at risk

Rare plant species are six times more likely than abundant species to be lost due to nitrogen fertilization of soil, researchers have found through experiments conducted across nine ecosystems in North America, including on Niwot Ridge.

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Humans have drastic effect on sediment transfer to world’s coasts, according to CU-Boulder study

A new analysis of data from more than 4,000 rivers around the world indicates humans are having profound and conflicting effects on the amount of sediment carried by rivers to coastal areas, with consequences for marine life and pollution control, according to INSTAAR scientist James Syvitski.

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The Ninth Circle: A Memoir of Life and Death in Antarctica, 1960-1962

John Behrendt has published an memoir of his work with the United States Antarctic Research Program in the early 1960s, when the Cold War was at its height and research on the ice sheet was risky.

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Arid Australian interior linked to landscape burning by ancient humans

Landscape burning by ancient hunters and gatherers may have triggered the failure of the annual Australian Monsoon some 12,000 years ago, resulting in the desertification of the country's interior that is evident today, according to a new study.

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A prehistory of the North: Human settlement of the higher latitudes

John Hoffecker has written a compelling account of how humans, who evolved in the tropics, came to inhabit some of the coldest places on earth over the span of nearly two million years.

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INSTAAR researchers featured in CU’s annual report on Sponsored Research

The LTER research on alpine lake ecosystems by Diane McKnight and Rose Cory were featured in the report on Sponsored Research for the University of Colorado at Boulder, fiscal year 2003-2004.

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Ecology for a crowded planet

Alan Townsend participated in a Policy Forum in Science magazine 28 May to describe changes that are required if we hope to meet the needs and aspirations of humans while improving the health of our planet's ecosystems.

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The West’s ever-changing landscape depicted in CU-Boulder photo exhibit

The beauty of weathered buildings and abandoned objects from areas throughout the American West will be on display in a photography exhibit created by INSTAAR researchers Tad Pfeffer and Bob Anderson.

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High-elevation climate change: A new model for ecosystems

Tim Seastedt, Bill Bowman, Nel Caine, Diane McKnight, Alan Towsend, and Mark Williams (Niwot Ridge LTER PIs) published a key conceptual paper, "The Landscape Continuum: A Model for High-Elevation Ecosystems," in volume 54, no. 2 of Bioscience. Their paper employs a new conceptual model that links terrestrial ecosystems to each other and to aquatic ecosystems.

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Science and technology policy is focus of new CU-Boulder graduate program

Society's growing need for expertise when faced with decisions involving science and technology has led to the creation of a new graduate certificate program at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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CU-Boulder scientists search for artifacts in melting glaciers

CU-Boulder scientists search for artifacts in melting glaciers

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder continued their search in southeast Alaska last summer to pinpoint rapidly melting glaciers and ice fields that hold prehistoric human artifacts before exposure triggers their decomposition.

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Contaminated water from abandoned mines threatens Colorado ski areas

The ability of several of Colorado's prime ski areas to respond to winter drought is threatened by acidic runoff from abandoned mines, according to researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. Contamination known as acid-rock drainage enters waterways, such as Summit County's Snake River, that are used for making artificial snow. When the snow melts, the water can run into streams not previously polluted, further spreading the contamination, said the research team.

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Changing global nitrogen cycle impacting human health, says study

Despite greatly increasing food production for humans, the growing use of nitrogen as a nutrient is affecting people's health far beyond just the benefits of growing more crops, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder-led study led by Alan Townsend

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America’s first inhabitants may have used the coastal road

E. James Dixon was interviewed for a Nature News Feature on the explosion of interest in studying the climatic, environmental and geological conditions that prevailed along the Pacific Coast during the past 35,000 years.

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Melting glaciers and permafrost disclose archaeological discoveries

E. James Dixon recorded an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) in January about the research that he and William Manley are conducting on the archaeological potential of snow and ice.

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Increasing nitrogen in soils may signal global changes, CU researchers say

The rapid increase of nitrogen falling from the sky as a result of fossil-fuel combustion and crop fertilization, combined with carbon stored in Earth's soils, could change the rate of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, rising into the atmosphere, according to a new study by Alan Townsend and others.

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Wildfire erosion effects will show in reservoirs, ecosystems

At least three reservoirs likely will be contaminated by erosion in areas burned by this season's record wildfires, according to INSTAAR research assistant and graduate student John Gartner.

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In The News

Water stress in the Naryn River Basin

INSTAAR grad student Alice Hill led a new study that analyzed water chemistry from the Naryn River Basin to find changes in the contribution of mountain headwaters to river discharges that flow downstream to agricultural areas in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Hill discusses some of the geologic, climatological, and historical context of the work.

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Scientist skis into the Rockies to collect flasks of air: Samples part of long-term carbon record

Each week, Jennifer Morse of the Mountain Research Station ventures high in the Colorado Rockies to Niwot Ridge. She often makes the trip on skis, and after the first few miles, it can get challenging. The conditions can be tough, but Morse has an important job. At Niwot Ridge, she pumps air into glass flasks, and then carefully brings them back down the slopes. Her samples add to a critical, long-term global record of atmospheric carbon pollution. The data helps scientists project future climate change.

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Boulder’s climate researchers wary of White House budget, Paris Accord exit

Colorado Public Radio: For decades, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has depended on a small but dedicated group of people to collect carbon dioxide data. Jen Morse is one of them: she heads up to Niwot Ridge on foot or skis each week to collect air samples. Long-term CO2 data is the scientific backbone for international climate change research. In a world where federal policy in the Trump administration can shift as quickly as the wind, she and other climate scientists are concerned about the future of the basic monitoring that lets us know what climate changes we have already committed to.

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Parts Unknown and Anthony Bourdain visit Antarctica

Anthony Bourdain and the Parts Unknown visit McMurdo Station and the Dry Valleys with CU and INSTAAR scientists and field crews. Episode aired 4 June 2017.

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Welcoming a celebrity chef to the bottom of the world

Cold-regions scientist Mike Gooseff talks about the experience of hosting Anthony Bourdain and the crew of CNN's Parts Unknown at their research site in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica.

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Over Colorado: A look at Niwot Ridge

9 NEWS joins INSTAAR researcher Jen Morse on Niwot Ridge, where we take climate and environmental measurements every day.

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Events

Ecological Society of America annual meeting

Sunday, August 6th at 12:00am

Portland, Oregon

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