CONCORD, N.H. – Population and land use changes in the Granite State in recent decades make research into what those changes mean vitally important to ensuring future generations will enjoy the same quality of life New Hampshire residents do today.
Thanks to a five-year $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the University of New Hampshire will lead a statewide research and education project that will bring together researchers from around the state to better understand the environment and the complex interactions of the climate-ecological-human system as well as provide critical information for state decision makers. The project also provides new education and training opportunities in science, engineering, mathematics and technology that is necessary for a highly skilled State workforce that advances economic development and employment.
The award was announced today (Monday, March 26, 2012) by Gov. John Lynch and UNH President Mark Huddleston in a joint news conference, where the focus was on continuing to develop cutting-edge technologies and training a workforce to propel the state forward in technology-based economic development.
Ecosystems in New Hampshire and the surrounding northern forest region provide a wide range of services that are critical to the region's inhabitants. Forests and aquatic ecosystems provide clean water, biomass for timber and energy production, carbon storage, climate regulation, nutrient regulation, and opportunities for recreation and aesthetic renewal. Ensuring that these benefits can be sustained into the future will require improved understanding of basic ecosystem processes and their interactions with changes in climate and land management and a new generation of engineers and scientists educated and trained in this field. Technologies developed as a result of research conducted will be commercialized to spur innovation.
A team of researchers from UNH, Dartmouth College, St. Anselm College and Plymouth State University will bring together expertise from the physical, biological and social sciences. Environmental data will be collected from a statewide network of land-based and aquatic sensors, an aircraft remote sensing system to measure changes in the forest cover, and measurements made by citizen scientists and students monitoring water quantity and quality. Environmental data will be combined with data about housing and demographics; models based on this information will help policy makers determine the tradeoffs among different land uses, and will inform the development of strategies to adapt to the challenges of changes in land use and climate variability. Partnerships with industry will focus on research and development of new technologies in the areas of energy, biomass, and sensor development.
The project, administered by the NH Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) at UNH and advised by the statewide EPSCoR Committee, includes a substantive workforce development effort with partners at Keene State College, White Mountains Community College, and Great Bay Community College, with science education and research experiences for K-12 teachers and students, and community college faculty and students. Students will receive scholarships to science camp, internships for undergraduate research and transfer incentives to complete a four-year college degree.