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DGE Newsletter, November 2007
Field & Berry Lab Groups
Seminars
Nov. 6: Greg Asner brought us up to date on his Group's work with the Carnegie Airborn Observatory (CAO). They are collecting hugh amounts of data which will require increasing amounts of computing power here at home as well as in their well equipped lab in Hawaii. See the Group's Web site at <http://cao.stanford.edu/>
Following Greg, Christina Archer spoke about Wind Power. She suggested that the intermittence of wind power could be overcome by having about two million turbines attached to the grid so that the wind would always be blowing somewhere. This would create a smoothing effect.
Nov. 2: Chris Field was interviewed on NPR's Science Friday by Ira Plato. The general subject was New Climate Solutions Sought as CO2 Levels Rise.
Nov. 5: Kyla Dahlin talked about invasive plants and their potential use as biofuels. She gave a summary of invasive species impacts and concerns, and introduced us to arundo lomax, jatropha and kudzu, all of which have been proposed for use as biofuels.
Tasting: Kyla brought four varieties of commercial apples and two wild-type. Gala was the sweetest, but some preferred the more tart Granny Smith or Fuji
Nov. 12: Carolyn Snyder presented a review of papers relating to The Biophysical Consequences of Land Use Change on a Global Scale. She covered such subjects as deforestation, cloud cover and changes in albedo (reflectivity) and how these measurements may be modeled on a local or global scale
Tasting: We were back to that ever popular salsa and chips. This time Carolyn brought five jars containing mango, pineapple, peach or corn to compare with a picante control on either blue or white chips. To my taste, the very hot pepper overrode the fruit or corn flavors. However, the tomato (fruit) base is always a nutritious welcome.
Nov. 19: Kim Nicholas Cahill practiced her talk for her first job interview next week at Macalester College in Minnesota. She made an excellent connection between predicting climate change and growing wine grapes in the different areas of California with special reference to variety and flavor. Her special interaction with the growers adds to the value of her advice on climate change.
Nov. 26: Rob Genova led a discussion of a paper about Using a Meta-model to Perform a Cross-study Biofuels Comparison from the Energy Resource Group at Argonne National Laboratory. The amount of usable energy from biofuels was compared with petroleum, natural gas or coal. There was some question as to whether the energy needed to remove water from ethanol was calculated correctly. The model used at Argonne has the acronym GREET that stands for Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions/Energy-Transportation.
Tasting: Rob brought four different kinds of nut butters including Almond, Cashew, Macadamia, & Hazelnut. All were without salt which made them taste rather bland compared with peanut-butter that we're used to.
Nov. 6: Dr. Eric Hochberg from the Hawaii Inst. of Marine Biology spoke about Coral Reefs and Light. He is applying remote sensing and modeling to gain new knowledge of this complicated ecosystem.
Nov. 7: Dr. Jon Foley, Director of the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE), University of Wisconsin, Madison gave a talk titled Planet Against the Grain or in the sense of global agriculture, Food vs Energy. He described the extensive, recent studies his group has performed to document the real yields of crops such as corn or palms that may be grown
for biofuels. They turn out to be much lower than commonly thought. Over fertilization of corn or other crops in attempts to raise yields causes nitrogen to wash down the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico, creating enormous dead zones and fish kills. It was almost exactly two years ago (see Archives for Nov. 2005) that Jon spoke to us last, and it was encouraging to see how much data he has gathered since then.
Archives and PDF Archives of past Newsletters,
Click on photos for enlargement.
Editor Jan Brown, e-mail: jbrown1@stanford.edu