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Scott HamlinDallas Morning News, July 25, 2013
Featuring: Scott Hamlin

Pioneer Natural Resources, one of the country’s largest independent oil and gas firms, is estimating the recoverable oil in a single field in West Texas’ Permian Basin at 50 billion barrels of oil and gas. At almost twice the estimated reserves in the Eagle Ford, that would make the field, named the Spraberry/Wolfcamp, the largest in the country and the second-largest in the world behind the Ghawar in Saudi Arabia.

Oil was first discovered in what was then known as the Spraberry in the 1940s but had always produced at “relatively low levels,” said Scott Hamlin, a researcher with the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas. “That’s changed in the last three years,” he said. “With the development of increasingly efficient techniques, they were able to produce rocks that were previously not producible, like the Eagle Ford.”

Antarctica’s Dry Valleys are home to the oldest ice on Earth. The first signs of the massive thaw disturbing the Arctic’s frozen ground have now appeared in one of these valleys, melting a glacier buried since the last Ice Age.

Time, Yahoo News-Live Science, Los Angeles TimesScience World Report, et al., July 24, 2013

Switch Movie PosterForbes, July 16, 2013
Featuring: Scott Tinker

Last night, I watched the documentary “Switch,” narrated by Scott Tinker, a University of Texas professor and head of the Bureau of Economic Geology. Unlike “Gasland Part II,” the sensationalist all-fossil-fuels-are-bad screed that you’re likely to hear more about this summer, “Switch” offers a scientific look at how we use energy and how difficult it’s going to be to move away from fossil fuel. It also drives home the point that weaning ourselves from oil and coal in the U.S. is essential.

While coal is cheap and abundant, it’s dirty, and “clean coal” technology simply isn’t economically viable. “We probably could make coal clean,” Tinker says, “but we probably can’t afford to.”

Cross section cartoon of the West Antarctic Ice SheetAustin American-Statesman, July 14, 2013
Featuring: Dusty Schroeder, Don Blankenship, Duncan Young, UTIG

A team of University of Texas researchers recently discovered a swamplike system of water under an Antarctic glacier the size of New Mexico — a finding that might hold the key to how quickly the polar ice will melt and the seas will rise. From a nondescript office at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus, sweltering in the midsummer heat like the rest of Central Texas, this research team has become renowned for its study of some of the coldest places on Earth — not to mention Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa.

Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2013
Featuring: Ian Dalziel

Ancient volcanoes discovered deep in the ocean off Antarctica may explain a climate mystery critical to predicting Earth’s fate as humans pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. University of Texas geologists dredging thousands of feet below the surface of the central Scotia Sea off the southeastern tip of South America hauled up volcanic rock after their sonar mapping showed formations that looked uncannily like a sunken island chain.

Jack SharpFox 7 Austin, July 10, 2013
Featuring: Jack Sharp

A road crew has discovered a large cave just a few feet below the surface along Highway 620, just west of Round Rock, Texas. Jack Sharp responds to a proposal that the highway department fill in the cave.

Cross section cartoon of the West Antarctic Ice SheetLiveScience, July 10, 2013
Featuring: Dusty Schroeder, Don Blankenship

A sprawling network of low-lying canals, similar to a swamp, hides under Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier, a new study finds. The fast-flowing Thwaites Glacier is one of the largest ice streams in West Antarctica. Scientists think Thwaites could significantly retreat in the next 20 years, adding to global sea level rise. Knowing the extent of the waterways underneath Thwaites will help researchers model the glacier’s ebb and flow, because the water lubricates the ice.

Spicewood, TexasUSA Today, July 9, 2013
Featuring: J.P. Nicot

Texas’ current drought is caused by changes in ocean circulation patterns such as La Nina, anthropogenic climate change, and other factors. One thing intensifying the drought’s impact is hydraulic fracturing. Water consumption for fracking in the state jumped 125% in three years and will continue to increase before leveling off in the 2020s, according to a University of Texas at Austin study this year by research scientist Jean-Phillippe Nicot. The UT study says oil and gas drilling accounts for less than 1% of water use statewide, and one-fifth of water used in fracking is recycled or brackish. But a similar 2011 study, also by Nicot, found it accounts for at least 20% of water in some counties where fracking is big business.

Pete Rose, Jackson School alumnus, will receive the Petroleum Group Silver Medal from the Geological Society of London Thursday at the group’s annual dinner. He is the first American ever to receive the award, said Jonathan Craig, chairman of the society’s petroleum group.
Austin American-Statesman, June 12, 2013
Featuring: Pete Rose

The Aletsch glacier in SwitzerlandWall Street Journal, June 2, 2013
Featuring: Clark Wilson

Accelerated melting of polar ice sheets and mountain glaciers was the driving factor behind a rise in the global sea level of 16.8 millimeters, or about two-thirds of an inch, between 2005 and 2011, according to a study published Sunday in Nature Geoscience. The study resolves long-standing discrepancies that arose from different methods of measuring sea levels. “There was an increase in the melting rate in Greenland starting in 2005 and that is probably the underlying story why” a larger quantity of melt water has poured into the oceans in recent years, said Clark R. Wilson, geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin and co-author of the study.

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