Bugged out by climate change

Warmer summer and fall seasons and fewer winter freeze-thaw events have led to changes in the relative numbers of different types of bugs in the Arctic, says Amanda Koltz, a postdoctoral fellow in Arts & Sciences. The study relies on the longest-standing, most comprehensive data set on arctic arthropods in the world today: a catalogue of almost 600,000 flies, wasps, spiders and other creepy-crawlies collected at the Zackenberg field station on the northeast coast of Greenland from 1996-2014.
Gateway Arch

Faculty, students participate in climate summit April 22-24

Washington University faculty and students will moderate panels at the Saint Louis Climate Summit, hosted by Saint Louis University. Students, faculty and staff can attend an evening with Bill Nye of “Science Guy” fame and environmentalist Carl Pope on April 23 for free by showing their IDs at the ticket booth.

Global warming focus of 2018 McDonnell lecture

S. George Philander, one of the world’s leading experts on climate and the interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, will deliver two talks March 28 and 29 as part of the McDonnell Distinguished Lecture Series, sponsored by Washington University in St. Louis’ McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences.

Death by volcano?

The discovery of anomalously high levels of mercury in rocks from the Ordivician geological period has led to a new interpretation of the ensuing mass extinction. A sequence of disturbances may have led to catastrophic cooling by reflective sulfate aerosols injected into the atmosphere by massive volcanism. The finding is important since aerosol cooling is under consideration as a way to temper global warming.

Smart cornfields of the future

Scientists attending a workshop at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory  slipped the leash of scientific caution and tried to imagine what they would do if they could redesign plants at will. The ideas they dreamed up may make the difference between full bellies and empty ones in the near future when population may outrun the ability of traditional plant breeding to increase yields.

Major Midwest flood risk underestimated by as much as 5 feet, study finds

As floodwaters surge along major rivers in the midwestern United States, a new study from Washington University in St. Louis suggests federal agencies are underestimating historic 100-year flood levels on these rivers by as much as five feet, a miscalculation that has serious implications for future flood risks, flood insurance, and business development in an expanding floodplain.

Their classroom is the desert

The hallmark of the 18-month Pathfinder Program in Environmental Sustainability at Washington University in St. Louis is the field trips to ecosystems, such as the Mojave Desert, that give students the chance to see and touch the land they have been studying. It’s hard to get the students back in the van, says Ray Arvidson, who leads the program.

Tyson designated an Earth Observatory

A 60-acre plot in Washington University in St. Louis’ Tyson Research Center has been named a Forest Global Earth Observatory, or ForestGEO. The oak-hickory forest in the rolling foothills of the Ozarks joins a network of 51 long-term forest study sites in 23 countries, including eight others in the United States. Together, the forests, containing roughly 8,500 species and 4.5 million individual trees, comprise the largest, systematically studied network of forest-ecology plots in the world.
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