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News & Events

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Tents at the Delta Campsite in Alaska
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Dr. Michelle Mack will be discussing the future vulnerabilities to Alaskan ecosystems and tools for permafrost assessment during the next resource conservation and resiliency webinar that will be hosted on Thursday, June 29! The webinar is part of the SERDP and ESTCP webinar series, which was launched to promote the transfer of innovative, cost-effective and sustainable solutions developed through projects funded in five program areas. The webinar series targets Department of Defense and Department of Energy practitioners, the regulatory community and environmental researchers with the goal of providing cutting edge and practical information that is easily accessible at no cost. Learn more about the webinar and register on this  website: https://serdp-estcp.org/Tools-and…/Webinar-Series/06-29-2017
View from an airplane of the smoke and blackened land in the Anaktuvuk River area in Alaska due to a wildfire.
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How healthy will Earth's ecosystems be in 2027, 2067 and beyond? It's an important question to ask, especially on World Environment Day, June 5. To find answers, scientists affiliated with the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network came together this spring at an NSF LTER mini-symposium. "Arctic ecosystems are undergoing rapid and surprising changes," said Michelle Mack of Alaska's Bonanza Creek and Arctic LTER sites. "Our job is to try to understand when ecosystems will recover, and when they will shift to new states." Mack studies ecosystem resilience to the wildfires that have recently swept through parts of the Bonanza Creek and Arctic sites. "With warmer and drier weather in the Arctic, wildfires are becoming more frequent," Mack said. "At Bonanza Creek, fires have been common for the past 10,000 years, but fires at the Arctic site...

The latest Ecoss artistic product, "The Ascent of Sap Rap", by George Koch and students from his "Plants and Climate" class. View the full video here. See lyrics below: For plants on terra firma it’s a struggle to stay wet We’ve talked a bit about it, but you may not get it yet. Transport in the xylem is because of upward tension caused by capillary forces in the leaves, did I mention? The liquid water’s drawn into tiny cell wall spaces and pulls on the water column like you do with your shoe laces. If it’s dry things get tense, the plant must close its stoma, ‘else the water column breaks and sends the leaves into a coma. But protection from this fate, slams a door, shuts a gate So carbon gas, it cannot pass, barred from making sweet synthate...
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Biochar illustration by Victor O. Leshyk Scientists believe that biochar, the partially burned remains of plants, has been used as fertilizer for at least 2,000 years in the Amazon Basin. Since initial studies published several years ago promoted biochar, farmers around the world have been using it as a soil additive to increase fertility and crop yields. But a new study casts doubt on biochar’s efficacy, finding that using it only improves crop growth in the tropics, with no yield benefit at all in the temperate zone. "We saw a huge boost for crops grown in the tropics, but zero results for crops in the temperate zone," said Dr. Bruce Hungate, Director of the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society at Northern Arizona University and co-author on the study. "Given all the talk about the benefits of biochar, we were...
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Permafrost landscape, Yamal peninsula, Northwest Siberia (credit C. Schädel) Edward A. G. Schuur, a permafrost expert at Northern Arizona University, said the study was “an important and interesting calculation of where permafrost will be at some distant point in the future as we undergo climate warming.” “What’s really important is this is based on totally different assumptions,” Dr. Schuur said. “It’s useful because it gives us a different perspective.” Dr. Chadburn said her study did not delve into the details of how different permafrost areas might be affected. Dr. Schuur said that as the planet warms, more southerly regions, where the permafrost occurs in discontinuous patches, would be expected to thaw first. But there will still be changes even in areas of extensive permafrost in the far north, Dr. Schuur said. “There will be surface changes that affect everyone who...
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Illustration by Victor Leshyk Wildflowers splashed across a meadow in different sizes, shapes and colors offer more than just beauty. The natural mix of plant species in an ecosystem—its biodiversity—helps it grow faster and cycle nutrients more efficiently. These ecosystem functions also deliver life-sustaining services on which humans rely, such as purifying water and providing food, fuel and oxygen. Illustration by Victor Leshyk Biodiversity is declining around the world due to a variety of causes, including changes in land use, pollution and climate change, so it is more important than ever that land managers and other policymakers are better informed when making decisions that affect biodiversity in their regions. But how do you measure the value of biodiversity? Northern Arizona University ecologist and Regents’ Professor Bruce Hungate led a team of scientists who developed one of the first models to...
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A future is depicted in which rhizobacteria sourced from stressful areas around the world may be used as a metaphorical “prescription for drought.” (Illustration by Victor Leshyk 2016) ECOSS researchers recently published findings in the scientific journal Plant and Soil showing that rhizosphere bacteria could help reduce crop losses due to drought. See the full article Listen to an interview by Knau with Rachel Rubin Watch an interview with Rachel Rubin for Arizona PBS
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Scientific American Well known among the global scientific community for his research on the vast amounts of carbon stored in rapidly thawing permafrost soil – and its potential threat to the environment – Ted Schuur, professor of NAU’s Center for Ecosystem Science and Society, has spent nearly 20 years working to bring awareness to the issues revealed by his scientific findings. But a new article published in the December 2016 issue of Scientific American magazine, a popular science publication that reaches 9 million readers worldwide, is likely to have a much broader impact on the public’s understanding of this environmental challenge. Read the full NAU news article here

Dr. Natasja van Gestel Dr. Natasja van Gestel presents research regarding the effects of climate change on the Antarctic ecosystem at the Sinagua Middle School. This presentation was part of the “Scientists in the Classroom” program, founded by Jillian Worrssam. The partnership between Sinagua Middle School teacher Kathryn Wertz and Ecoss will add authentic scientific research to the regular curriculum.  Ecoss’s outreach to the school is facilitated by Kathryn Wertz, Jillian Worssam, and Mindy Bell from STEM City.  
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Bi-annual report Ecoss Jan-Jun 2016 Members of the Center of Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss) have been very productive in the first half of 2016. Download this Bi-annual report to find out about grants, invited talks, books, publications, and promotions that happened between January and June of 2016 within Ecoss.
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