The United Nations Climate Change Conference currently being held in Paris is our best and last chance for a binding global agreement to cut emissions and help our planet.
The Paris talks hope to achieve a legally binding agreement among all nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and thereby limit an expected global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with that of the pre-industry era, or late 1800s. This represents a compromise of sorts between reducing the risk of dangerous climate change and the political challenges we face in controlling carbon dioxide, or CO2, emissions.
Corpus Christi Caller Times, Dec. 4 2015
The Monitor, Dec. 1, 2015
Featuring: Rong Fu, Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences
The flag of Cuba. Wikipedia
It may not be Nixon’s trip to China, but Gov. Greg Abbott will lead a trade mission to Cuba next week.
It will be Abbott’s second foreign trade trip — he visited Mexico in September — and the second trip to Cuba by a governor since President Barack Obama initiated a thaw in relations with Cuba and opened up embassy relations in August.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson led a trade mission of Arkansas agricultural business interests to Cuba in September.
But the political symbolism of the conservative Republican governor of Texas visiting the island nation still in the grips of the Castro brothers is stunning.
The Austin American-Statesman, Nov. 24, 2015
Featuring: Jorge R. Piñon, Director, Latin America and Caribbean Energy Program, Jackson School of Geosciences
The Bering Glacier is one reason why the St. Elias Mountains in Alaska are eroding faster than they are being built. Robert Simmon/NASA; Data Source: LANDSAT 7 Science Team
The St. Elias Mountains in Alaska are more than 5000 meters tall, testament to a tectonic plate wedged underneath the region that is driving them up like a snowplow. But the St. Elias range also contains some of the world’s largest glaciers, which inexhaustibly scour the mountains and dump sediment in the sea. Now, a new study finds that the glaciers are winning, eroding the mountains faster than they are being built. Moreover, a jump in the region’s erosion rates about a million years ago coincides with a transition to more powerful ice ages—a sign that climate change can have a larger than expected effect in tearing down mountains.
Science, Nov.23, 2015
The Daily Mail, Nov.24, 2015
Featuring: Sean Gulick, research professor, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences
A view of the Marianas fault from the Earth mantle and crust model.
We’re on the cusp of a new era for science and computer science. People are able to measure natural phenomena more precisely thanks to all the new sensors and the Internet of Things. We can handle immense amounts of data thanks to new data management technologies. And we’re producing ever more sophisticated algorithms and computer simulations. Wrap it all together and it means we are on the path to understanding nature more deeply than was ever possible before.
A group of scientists from the University of Texas at Austin, IBM Research, New York University and the California Institute of Technology that I’m a part of pushed the needle of progress forward with our realistic simulations of the dynamics of the earth’s mantle and crust. For our work, we just yesterday received the Gordon Bell Prize, one of the top honors in the computer science field.
The group—spearheaded by Omar Ghattas of the University of Texas—created a technology tool that geologists and seismologists can use to improve their understanding of the forces that are behind the origin of earthquakes and volcanoes.
IBM, Nov.20, 2015
Featuring: Omar Ghattas, professor and John A. and Katherine G. Jackson Chair in Computational Geosciences, Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences; director,Center for Computational Geosciences and Optimization, Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences; research professor, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences; professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Cockrell School of Engineering
Surprisingly, scientists know very little about the water that’s located beneath the Earth’s surface. To overcome this knowledge gap, an international team of researchers has put together a new global map showing where and in what quantities this precious resource is located.
To put this map together, the University of Victoria’s Tom Gleeson, along with colleagues from the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Gottingen, and the University of Calgary, analyzed a host of datasets, including data from nearly a million watersheds and more than 40,000 groundwater models.
Gizmodo, Nov.16, 2015
The Daily Mail, Nov.16, 2015
Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 16, 2015
BBC, Nov.17, 2015
Featuring: Kevin Befus, PhD student (now alum), Department of Geological Sciences
Leon Long, professor emeritus of geology at the University of Texas, holds a volcanic rock sample from the ancient volcano known as Pilot Knob seen in the background in Southeast Austin
Driving down McKinney Falls Parkway today, you wouldn’t think to look twice. It’s a small hill, about 100 feet to 150 feet high, that resembles a typical Hill Country view. But it’s the material underneath that makes it unique: volcanic igneous rock.
It’s hard to imagine Austin 80 million years ago, when the volcano, now called Pilot Knob, was active. Back then, the climate was tropical, the area covered by a very shallow sea with an abundant sea life. There were all kinds of dinosaurs roaming around, so tall that they could walk from present-day Fort Worth to San Antonio without getting their heads under water. There were earthquakes from volcanic eruptions. But most imposing of all were the violent explosions.
“There was quite a lot of activity, just here in Central Texas,” says Leon Long, professor emeritus of geology at the University of Texas.
The Austin-American Statesman, Oct.30, 2015
Featuring: Leon Long, professor emeritus, Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences
SALT LAKE CITY — A strange pig-snouted turtle that lived alongside tyrannosaurs and duck-billed dinosaurs has been discovered in Utah.
The University of Utah announced the finding in a news release Wednesday. A team from the Natural History Museum of Utah discovered fossils of strange-looking turtle in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.
Joshua Lively of the University of Texas at Austin called it one of the weirdest turtles that ever lived. He studied the fossils for his master’s thesis.
The New York Times, Oct. 21, 2015
Forbes, Oct. 22, 2015
National Geographic, Oct.23, 2015
CNN, Oct. 23, 2015
Huffington Post, Oct. 23, 2015
Featuring: Joshua Lively, Ph.D. student, Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences
An iceberg from the first Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914.
Two new studies are adding to concerns about one of the most troubling scenarios for future climate change: the possibility that global warming could slow or shut down the Atlantic’s great ocean circulation systems, with dramatic implications for North America and Europe.
One study, by three scientists from Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute, uses computers to model how Greenland’s rapid thawing could affect the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, the system that pushes cold, dense saltwater into the deep ocean and helps transport warm water northward, helping to warm Europe’s climate
A second paper, by a team of Texas scientists, sheds new light on how the Earth’s climate responded during a similar thaw from the planet’s geological past. About 12,000 years ago, rising temperatures at the end of the last ice age released huge volumes of cold freshwater, disrupting the ocean’s circulation systems and sending parts of the Northern Hemisphere back in to the freezer. Scientists refer to the era as the Younger Dryas period.
The Washington Post, Sept. 7, 2015
MSNBC, Sept. 10, 2015
Featuring: Jud Partin, research scientist, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences
MEXICO CITY — Now that Mexico’s potential oil and gas riches are open to outside investment, how does the industry figure out what’s there?
North of an east-west line across the Gulf of Mexico are United States waters, where the bedrock deep below the ocean floor has proved to hold vast reservoirs of oil and gas. But south of that line, there is very little information.
Geologists suspect that Mexico’s Gulf waters hold similar resources, but they lack the crucial first step in oil exploration, the seismic data that allows them to develop a picture of what lies beneath.
Until now, whatever seismic data existed was closely held by Pemex, the state-owned oil company, which commissioned the studies for itself. But that is all starting to change.
Oct. 7, 2015, New York Times
Featuring: John Snedden, a senior research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics.