Cornell university

CORNELL uNIVERSITY, AN Ivy League school and land-grant college located in the scenic Finger Lakes region of central New York, has seven small to midsized undergraduate colleges. The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences offers undergraduate and graduate courses of study in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Engineering. The Science of Earth Systems major is offered in all three colleges, while the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences also offers the Atmospheric Science major.

Established in 1983, the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) is located in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. It serves the 12-state region that includes: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia. Major funding is provided by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The NRCC's staff works cooperatively with the National Climatic Data Center, state climate offices, and other scientists in the northeast to acquire and disseminate climate data. The NRCC conducts research studies that focus on the development of new climate information products, data analysis techniques, and applications of climate data. Researchers also seek to understand and characterize regional climate and variability as it may affect the economic or societal well-being of the northeastern United States.

Examples of research include: the development of methods to estimate soil frost depths, monitor water resources, predict agricultural crop development, and characterize extremes of snow-pack water equivalent in the northeast. Arthur DeGaetano, associate professor and director of NRCC research, focuses on weather and climate extremes by enhancing the use and utility of climate data and information in weather-sensitive decisions. Observed climate variability investigates the interannual variability of such meteorological phenomena as East Coast winter storms and extreme temperature occurrences.

Such studies look at trends in these data through time, as well as causal mechanisms associated with year-to-year variations. The accuracy of the climate data archive is important for documenting observed climate variability, as well as the use of these data by decision-makers. Work in this area involves detecting nonclimatic changes in the data record due to changes in observing practices, and time-dependent shifts in the environment of the observing site.

The Center for the Environment is a Cornell University-sponsored unit that specializes in crafting interdisciplinary collaborations among scientists and professors from Cornell and partnering institutions, and applying new knowledge to environmental problems and needs around the world. The center plans and organizes lectures, seminars, conferences, student grants, and scholars' visits, and publishes a weekly electronic newsletter. It brings a prominent environmental leader to Cornell through the endowed Jill and Ken Iscol Distinguished Environmental Lecture Series every spring. The center also awards student research grants to Cornell University graduate students researching environmental topics. With its own ongoing research efforts, the center serves the Cornell academic community and partnering institutions with grant applications, team development, and administrative support. Current projects address pollution mitigation, marine and coastal environments, environmental complexity, and sustainability on local, state, and international levels.

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) Climate Change Initiative is a five-year, $100 million program, launched in 2007 to help build a clean-energy economy. Many research projects at Cornell are funded through this initiative. The DDCF awards funding for research performed in three areas: pricing policies for greenhouse gases, technology deployment and development policies, and adaptation strategies. The DDCF will support the development of optimal domestic and international pricing policies for carbon and other greenhouse gases becoming competitive in the marketplace. It will also promote the development of policies that bring available technologies to market more quickly, particularly technologies related to energy efficiency. The foundation supports efforts to assess the likely effects of climate change and identify adjustments that can be made to reduce their impact. Given the DDCF Environment Program's mission to preserve wildlife through habitat protection, the foundation may focus on examining the impact of climate change on biodiversity conservation.

Cornell University, as well as performing research and promotion of climate change on a global scale, acts locally with student-run programs. The Cornell Sustainability Hub is a student-run organization dedicated to promoting and furthering sustainability on campus. The Hub is a coordinating body for a number of students and pre-existing organizations and seeks to aid them in the development of their goals and campaigns. It serves as a meeting place for various efforts, and an outreach committee focuses on publicizing their achievements to the Cornell community. Through the Hub, students have a chance to realize their visions of what Cornell could do to make itself more sustainable.

SEE ALSO: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); New York.

BIBLIOGRApHY. Cornell University, www.cornell.edu (cited September 2007); Cornell University Center for the Environment, www.environment.cornell.edu (cited September 2007); Northeast Regional Climate Center, www.nrcc.cor-nell.edu (cited September 2007).

Fernando Herrera University of California, San Diego

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