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A satellite view of Antarctica is seen in this undated NASA handout photo obtained by Reuters on Feb. 6, 2012. (NASA handout via Reuters)

A satellite view of Antarctica is seen in this undated NASA handout photo obtained by Reuters on Feb. 6, 2012. (NASA handout via Reuters)

A hundred years from now, humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise.

Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy — when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again. Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity.

The findings about East Antarctica emerge from a new paper just out in Nature Geoscience by an international team of scientists representing the United States, Britain, France and Australia. They flew a number of research flights over the Totten Glacier of East Antarctica — the fastest-thinning sector of the world’s largest ice sheet — and took a variety of measurements to try to figure out the reasons behind its retreat. And the news wasn’t good: It appears that Totten, too, is losing ice because warm ocean water is getting underneath it.

The Washington Post, March 16, 2015

NASA, March 16, 2015

Nature Geoscience | News and Views, March 16, 2015

The International Business Times, March 16, 2015

SciGuru, March 16, 2015

NPR, March 17, 2015

The Telegraph, March 17. 2015

Delhi Daily News, March 17, 2015

Yahoo News, March 17, 2015

NBC News, March 17, 2015

RawStory, March 17, 2015

CNN International, March 18, 2015

The Atlantic, March 20, 2015

The Austin American-Statesman, July 6, 2015

Featuring: Jamin Greenbaum, Ph.D candidate, University of Texas Institute for Geophysics,  Jackson School of Geosciences




In the penguin exhibit at the London Zoo, there is a small V.I.P. section, cordoned off with low boulders, where paying guests can meet the birds and pose for selfies. On a recent chilly Friday morning, John Hutchinson, of London’s Royal Veterinary College, and James Proffitt, of the University of Texas at Austin, ventured into the area with other plans. The biologists set up a kind of corridor, a long wooden platform with Lucite walls, and began fitting it with metal force plates—two small, about the width and length of a shoebox, and one large, about three times bigger. “They’re like fancy 3-D bathroom scales,” Hutchinson told me, designed to measure force side to side, front to back, and downward.



The New Yorker, March 12, 2015

BBC, March 16, 2015

Featuring: James Proffitt, Ph.D student, The Jackson School of Geosciences

C_Frohlich-Portrait.Apr2014.smallFor more than 100 years, people have questioned whether taking oil and gas from the depths of the earth can cause tremors.

When an earthquake shook Austin in 1902, some thought an explosion in the oilfields of Spindletop, in southern Beaumont, might be to blame.

The 1902 earthquake was naturally occurring. But the link between human activity and earthquakes is very real and well established, said Cliff Frohlich, associate director and senior research scientist with UT’s Institute for Geophysics.

“When people make the statement that it hasn’t been established that humans can cause earthquakes, they’re either woefully uninformed about the research by myself and hundreds of others over the last 70 years or they’re trying to mislead you,” he said. “That’s like people saying the world is flat; that evolution hasn’t been proven or that humans can’t cause climate change.”

Victoria Advocate, March 7, 2015

Featuring: Cliff Frohlich, associate director and senior research scientist with UT’ Institute for Geophysics.

UT-Geology-TalkUniversity of Texas at Austin researcher Todd Caldwell will give a talk about a new project to provide vital information for determining the chances of droughts and dangerous floods in Texas at The Grace Museum on Thursday, March 19, at 6 p.m.

Caldwell is a research associate at the Bureau of Economic Geology, a unit of The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences. He has headed up a project to create a new network of underground sensors in the Texas Hill Country called the Texas Soil Observation Network (TxSON). The network is linked to a NASA satellite and will provide information that will help throughout Texas and beyond.

TxSON is connected to NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite launched in January. For Texas, a big payoff will be a solid estimate of how much water is stored in the soil. For NASA and the scientific community, the payoff will be the ability to predict weather on a global scale days or weeks ahead of time. NASA hopes to use the data to foretell drought and the potential for floods, wildfires and severe weather.

The Grace Museum, Feb. 15, 2015

Big Country Homepage March 6, 2015

Abilene Reporter-News, March 20, 2015

KTSX, April 10, 2015

Featuring: Todd Caldwell, research associate at the Bureau of Economic Geology

DeanMosher_SH2013_0036Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of Q-and-A’s with UT’s deans. This interview has been edited and condensed. Sharon Mosher has been dean of the Jackson School of Geosciences since 2009.

The Daily Texan: Can you tell us a little bit about the school and some of the interesting projects going on right now?

Sharon Mosher: A little bit about the school:  We have one academic department and two major research units. Two-thirds of our school are research scientists. One-third are faculty and students. We are the largest academic geoscience program in the country. We graduate the most geoscience students at every level. We work on everything from the core to the atmosphere and also the planet. We work to increase students’ knowledge. We get them involved in internships so they can see what practicing geoscientists do. We even involve undergraduate students in research projects. By doing research, they learn how to solve problems and think quickly. We have a lot different projects going on. A lot of people working on the Texas drought. Everything from soil, soil moisture, interaction between land surface and atmosphere, rivers and river flow. We have large programs in Antarctica and also in Greenland.

The Daily Texan, Feb. 25, 2015

Featuring: Sharon Mosher, Dean, Jackson School of Geosciences

With a focus on building future professionals in the energy sector and continuing academic research in earth sciences and engineering, The University of Texas at Austin (UT) Jackson School of Geosciences and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) have strengthened collaborations with each other in the fields of energy, environment and sustainability.

The agreement, which is one of three new agreements recently signed in Mexico City by UT Austin Provost Gregory L. Fenves, will focus on academic research in the earth sciences and engineering. The new partnership will enhance the mutual academic opportunities created by Mexico’s recent energy reform.

Rigzone, Feb. 23, 2015

Featuring: Jorge Piñon, Director, Latin America and Caribbean Energy Program


todd-caldwell_jpg_312x1000_q100With each issue, Trib+Water brings you an interview with experts on water-related issues. Here is this week’s subject:

Todd Caldwell is a hydrologist and geoscientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin. He specializes in field investigations and numerical modeling associated with soil and vadose zone processes and its application to remote sensing of water resources. His current research focuses on soil moisture monitoring, modeling and scaling, as well as soil-plant interactions, near-surface geophysics and evapotranspiration. Caldwell is currently the principal investigator at the bureau for NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite project, or SMAP, to measure and model soil moisture.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Trib+Water: How did you get involved in this satellite project to measure the state’s soil condition?

Todd Caldwell: Soil moisture is one piece of the whole water cycle, and it has kind of always been the overlooked one, which is why SMAP came about. The measurements weren’t there. There is not very much water in the ground right now to use for this data. Until now, everything has come out of a numerical model for the last decade or so, and there are a lot of flaws in that. We showed some flaws in a 2013 paper that showed in Texas during the 2011 drought, we lost somewhere around 62 cubic kilometers of water total, which is a ton.

Texas Tribune, Feb. 10, 2015

Featuring Todd Caldwell, research associate at the Bureau of Economic Geology

Image courtesy of NASA

AUSTIN — The University of Texas and the Lower Colorado River Authority will be utilizing data from a new NASA satellite to better forecast droughts and floods.

NASA launched the $900 million Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite Jan. 31. The satellite orbits the earth approximately every 90 minutes and is capable of measuring the moisture of soil in the ground. Its mission is to vastly improve forecasting for droughts and floods.

UT and LCRA will be working with NASA by working to confirm what the satellite records. The new information comes with a few obstacles.

“It’s challenging on a whole bunch of different levels. It’s challenging from the fact, this data set, that is going to be the first of its kind, and it’s at a fairly large scale and a lot of times we need these estimates, even at a finer scale, say for drought. We need to know if farmer A’s field is more prone than farmer B’s field,” said Dr. Todd Caldwell at the University of Texas.

KVUE, Feb. 6, 2015

NPR’s StateImpact Texas, Feb. 2, 2015

Nature, Jan. 27, 2015

El Paso Times, Jan. 31, 2015

Featuring Todd Caldwell, research associate at the Bureau of Economic Geology

greenlandWant to know what the inside of an ice sheet looks like?

A new 3D map and animation of the Greenland ice sheet lets researchers peer into the layers of ice laid down over millennia and see how they have been warped as they flow over time and are put under pressure as newer layers accumulate above. This will help them better understand how Greenland—which holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by 20 feet—will respond to current climate change by showing how it responded to similar changes in the past.

The map will “give people that gut-level feel of what an ice sheet looks like on the inside,” said Joe MacGregor, a glaciologist at the University of Texas and one of the leaders of the mapping effort.

Scientific American, Feb. 3, 2015

Alcalde, Feb. 3, 2015

Lice Science, Jan. 30, 2015

Nature World News, Jan. 26, 2015

Featuring Joe MacGregor, Research Associate, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences.

UP9A3252_jpg_312x1000_q100State lawmakers are considering a nearly $2.5 million plan to help answer a pressing question in some Texas communities: Why does the ground keep shaking?

An item hidden in House Speaker Joe Straus991-page budget proposal would fund a “TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program,” at the University of Texas at Austin, aimed at helping Texans understand the unexpected surge of earthquakes underneath their feet.

“TexNet would create an improved statewide seismic monitoring network capable of detecting and locating earthquakes more precisely than can currently be done,” said Scott Tinker, director of the university’s Bureau of Economic Geology, which would manage the project. The program “would also improve our ability to respond to earthquakes quickly, if such a response were deemed appropriate,” he added.

Texas Tribune, Jan. 23, 2015

Featuring, Scott Tinker, Director, Bureau of Economic Geology

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