PEI Research Center News

Pascale Poussart ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute

Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI)

Members of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative program gathered at Princeton for the CMI 11th Annual Meeting on April 17 and 18, 2012. Over 80 participants attended the two-day event including Princeton faculty and students, colleagues from BP, Harvard’s Energy Technology Innovation Policy Program (ETIP), Tsinghua BP Clean Energy Research and Education Center, and members of the CMI Advisory Council.

At the meeting, CMI members presented research advances made in 2011 in the fields of climate science, low-carbon energy technology, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and climate policy.

At a reception on April 17, Ellen Williams, chief scientist at BP, announced Claudie Beaulieu, a postdoctoral research associate in professor Jorge Sarmiento’s group, as the recipient of the 2012 CMI Best Paper Award for Postdoctoral Fellows. The paper, “Identification and Characterization of Abrupt Changes in the Land Uptake of Carbon,” contributed to an improved understanding of temporal changes in Earth’s carbon cycle and demonstrated the possibility for abrupt changes in terrestrial systems. It was published in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles in January of 2012.

In May of 2012, CMI faculty and professor of chemical engineering, Pablo Debenedetti was elected as member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Center for BioComplexity (CBC)

On May 24 and 25, the Center for Bio- Complexity hosted an investigator meeting for the “Dimensions of Biodiversity: Biological Controls on the Ocean C:N:P Ratios” project funded by the National Science Foundation. The project seeks to understand the contribution of the microbial community and abiotic components of the oceans to the ratios of the most important elements (such as carbon, nitrogen or phosphorus) — a key question for the comprehension of the different biogeochemical cycles in the planet. The workshop focused on the integration of data from ocean cruises (Michael Lomas, Bermuda Biological Station; Adam Martiny, UC Irvine) with laboratory work (Adam Martiny, Steve Allison, UCI), as well as comprehensive modeling (Simon Levin, Juan Bonachela, Princeton; John Dunne, GFDL; and Steve Allison) to produce a new picture of patterns of oceanic nutrient ratios and ecological and evolutionary explanations.

<img alt=” src=” http:=”””” uploads=”” 273=”” image=”” cbc_fisherman.jpg”=”” style=”width: 203px; height: 138px;padding-bottom:10px;”>
Henningsvaer, a fishing village in the Lofoten Islands, Norway. Cod fishing is crucial for these small northern communities. (Photo: Jan Gunnarsen)

The same week the Center also hosted Arizona State University postdoctoral researcher Ben Morin, who works with Professors Charles Perrings and Ann Kinzig (Princeton EEB postdoc, 1994-98 and former Assistant Director of PEI) of ASU, and with Simon Levin on an NIH-funded project.

For the past six months the Center has hosted Anne Maria Eikeset, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Oslo, who has been working with Juan Bonachela on developing an evolving network model that describes a food web for the Barents Sea ecosystem and fishermen in this area.

The Cooperative Institute for Climate Science (CICS)

Changes in winter temperatures can lead to large, systematic effects on the springtime carbon uptake of deciduous temperate forests, according to a new study led by Su-Jong Jeong and David Medvigy from CICS. Jeong, Medvigy, and colleagues from Princeton and NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) developed a new model for springtime budburst by comparing existing measurements to the predictions of different candidate models. They found that a model that includes dependences on wintertime and springtime temperatures was required to explain the observations.

According to the study’s authors, there has been debate in the literature as to exactly what controls the timing of springtime budburst in deciduous forests. While practically all models state that a warmer spring will lead to earlier budburst, there is disagreement as to the role of winter temperatures. This study tests the hypothesis that cold winters can lead to a small but significant advance in budburst date. The results are published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences. This work provides a new framework for understanding springtime fluxes of CO2 between the land and atmosphere in temperate forests.