Climate Change and Environmental Experts Offer Insight this Earth Day

Contacts: Robbin Ray
UNH Media Relations, (603) 862-4864

April 4, 2017

Climate Change and Environmental Experts Offer Insight this Earth Day

DURHAM, N.H. – As momentum grows for the March For Science being held on Earth Day, April 22, and in light of President Trump’s executive order that rolls back progress made in areas related to climate change, the University of New Hampshire has a wealth of experts who can comment on a variety of topics ranging from greenhouse gases to ocean acidification, as well as the role ideology plays in the distrust of scientists.

Climate Change

Cameron Wake, research professor in climatology and glaciology; (603) 862-2329

Wake leads a research program investigating climate and environmental change through the analysis of ice cores, instrumental data, and phenological records, with a focus on the northeast United States, the Arctic, and central Asia. His collaborative research on regional climate assessments, such as flooding, in the northeast United States has been shared with state and federal agencies and covered widely in the media.

Cameron Wake on climate change:

Climate Change, Ideology and Education

Lawrence Hamilton, professor of sociology; (603) 862-1859

Hamilton’s recent research explores what the general public knows and believes about the environment, climate change, and science, and how their perceptions relate to education and are shaped by political orientation. His body of work involves research that integrates data from social and natural-science domains.

Larry Hamilton speaking about climate change and ideology:

Climate Change and Longer Spring

Alexandra Contosta, research assistant professor in Earth Systems Research Center; (603) 862-4204

Contosta was recently in the headlines for her research that looked at the lengthening of the spring vernal window, the transition from winter to the growing season. Her study showed that spring may be arriving earlier and lasting longer. This type of changing timetable for spring may have potential ecological, social, and economic consequences that Contosta and her team are currently investigating.

Ocean Acidification

Joseph Salisbury, research assistant professor of oceanography; (603) 862-0849

Each year 25 percent of the carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is absorbed by the ocean. Called ocean acidification (OA) it turns carbon dioxide into carbonic acid which can dissolve the outer shells of shellfish, like oyster and clams. Salisbury’s research is the development of a “Black Box” that helps local hatcheries monitor the carbon dioxide in the ocean water brought into hatcheries. In addition, he is developing methods for understanding community productivity dynamics and plume detection using satellite ocean color and salinity data.

Global Warming and Mammalian Dwarfing

Abigail D’Ambrosia, doctoral student in Earth Sciences

More than 50 million years ago, when the Earth experienced a series of extreme global warming events known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), early mammals responded by shrinking in size by 30 percent over time. Research led by D’Ambrosia found that this evolutionary process also happened in a smaller warming event (ETM2), where mammals shrank by up to 15 percent, indicating an important pattern that could shape an understanding of effects of current human-caused climate change.

Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Ruth Varner, associate professor in biogeochemistry; (603) 862-0322

Varner’s research looks at wetlands and freshwater lakes and ponds at high northern latitudes as large natural sources of methane, an effective, or potent, greenhouse gas. A recent study estimated that annual emissions from the over 700 northern bodies of water included in the study were a dominant source of methane and will increase by 20 to 54 percent before the end of the century if ice-free seasons are extended by 20 days.

General Sustainability and UNH’s “Green” Efforts

Miriam Nelson, deputy chief sustainability officer; (603) 862-8564

Nelson can address the sustainability leadership role UNH has taken in higher education. Her background in public health and nutrition gives her a unique perspective on sustainability and draws from her experience in the sciences, humanities and academic world. Nelson is the author of 10 books, including the New York Times bestselling “Strong Women Stay Young.” She served on the 2010 and 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committees for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture.