Research & Center Fall/Winter 2009

Carol Peters ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute

Carbon Mitigation Initiative

Craig Arnold, associate professor of MAE, becomes acting co-director of CMI while Rob Socolow is on sabbatical during 2009–2010.

CMI announces new members of the CMI Advisory Council: Dallas Burtraw, Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future; Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Council on Foreign Relations.

Princeton faculty Catherine Peters, Michael Celia and George Scherer awarded $2M by DOE to develop a framework for examining carbon capture and storage investment decisions in light of uncertainty in CO2 leakage risks, potential subsurface liability, and the associated losses in carbon credits.

Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL)

GFDL hosted international scientists whose work advances our understanding of global aerosol and its impact on climate.
GFDL hosted international scientists whose work advances our understanding of global aerosol and its impact on climate, in October.

By Maria Selzer, Communications Officer, GFDL

International Meeting of Aerosol Scientists at GFDL AeroCom, an international initiative of scientists working to advance our understanding of global aerosol and its impact on climate, held its 8th annual Workshop at Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) from October 5th to 7th, 2009. The event brought together nearly 90 scientists from ten countries around the world, featuring seminars and posters related to aerosol research.

AeroCom has enabled scientists to assemble a large number of observations and results from a global model intercomparison, in order to obtain reliable estimates of the present and future aerosol impact on climate and air quality. GFDL scientist Paul Ginoux, also a Lecturer in Geosciences and Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, organized the workshop this year, with colleagues from Max Planck Institute, the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat and de l’Environment, and NASA.

This workshop featured new developments in aerosol modeling, reports on the progress of standing AeroCom working groups, and pressing topics in preparation of the fifth assessment report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Much of the discussion focused on the recently released emission inventories which will be used by climate models for AR5; model and satellite-based evaluation of the direct and indirect aerosol effects; and the state of understanding of aerosol microphysics.

Princeton University was well represented among the 32 posters and 41 seminars offered. Postdoctoral Research Fellow Brian Magi from the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program (AOS) opened the workshop with the very first talk. He also presented a poster, as did Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dilip Ganguly (AOS), and graduate student Fuyu Li (AOS). Associate Professor Denise Mauzerall (Woodrow Wilson) and graduate students Ilissa Ocko (AOS), Yang Zhang (CEE), also attended.

AeroCom is supported by Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (France), Max-Planck Institute (Germany), and NASA (USA). Their 9th annual workshop will be hosted by the University of Oxford, from September 28th to October 1st, 2010.

Center for BioComplexity

Ecological Society awards recipients
Miguel Fortuna (right) with recipients of other Ecological Society awards and the President of the Ecological Society., Dr. Volkmar Wolters (middle). (Photo: Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland)

Princeton Postdoc Miguel Fortuna Receives the Horst-Wiehe Award Dr. Miguel Fortuna, a postdoctoral research associate in the Center for BioComplexity, received the Horst-Wiehe Award from the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland for outstanding scientific work in the field of ecology. The Horst-Wiehe Award was presented to Fortuna at a formal ceremony held in Bayreuth, Germany on September 16, 2009. Fortuna’s research involves applying the framework of complex networks to identify the spatial scale of ecological processes.

Princeton University Hosts Conference on the Antigenic Evolution of New Pandemic Viruses On August 4, the Center hosted a conference entitled “Strategies to Predict the Antigenic Evolution of H1N1pdm,” sponsored by Princeton with the help of a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The meeting was a consultation that brought together a select group of leaders from the academic community and government agencies in the US and UK, to help shape strategies for dealing with the current pandemic, with an emphasis on the potential for change in the virus in the Fall and following years. Participants included high-level representatives of most of the agencies in the US charged with managing the response to H1N1. Presentations and discussions focused on the new and historical H1N1 strains; viral evolution in a pandemic; immunity, antigenic evolution, and vaccines; and experimental and theoretical strategies for predicting antigenic evolution.

DARPA Awards Princeton University New Grant to Explore Adaptability and Robustness The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Princeton University’s Center for BioComplexity $5.2 million to initiate a new grant, led by Simon Levin, and entitled “Predictive Biology: Adaptability, Robustness and the Fundamental Laws of Biology.” This will build on the results of an existing project, entitled ”Microstates to Macrodynamics: A New Mathematics of Biology,” which will be completed this year. In the new award, Levin and an interdisciplinary and multi-institutional team of biologists, mathematicians, physicists and computer scientists will concentrate on uncovering those principles that underlie the robustness and adaptability of biological systems in the face of stochastic perturbations.

The Cooperative Institute for Climate Science (CICS)

seismometer station

The sudden, catastrophic break-up of several ice shelves located along the Antarctic Peninsula have clearly demonstrated an important mechanism leading to an Antarctic impact on global sea level rise over the next century. Collapse of Larsen B Ice Shelf in early March 2002 resulted in the speed-up and thinning of glaciers previously buttressed by this ice shelf. Understanding of physical processes and triggering mechanisms of disintegration of the ice shelves is crucial for the sea-level rise prediction.

CICS scientist Olga Sergienko with colleagues, Peter Bromirski (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) and Douglas MacAyeal (University of Chicago), have proposed a triggering mechanism based on effects of infra-gravity ocean waves (long-period waves created by nonlinear interaction of wind waves in coastal regions). Analysis of satellite images and ocean storm data revealed large storms along the southern Patagonia coast prior disintegration of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in June 2009.

Spectral analyses of seismometer observations on the Ross Ice Shelf near its seaward edge (shown in photo) demonstrate that ice shelves are highly susceptible to effects of the long ocean waves. Using these data Olga Sergienko has developed a model simulating effects of ocean waves on ice shelves. This model is an important component of a developing GFDL/CICS large-scale ice sheet model that provides information about the ice-shelf stress regime and determines stability of the ice shelf. The GFDL/CICS large-scale ice-sheet model is aimed to simulate behavior of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet under changing climate conditions.