2001 Seed Grant Awards

In 2001, CGRER awarded eight seed grants totaling $149,874.

High-Resolution Stable Isotope Analysis of the Last Deglaciation as found in the Sediments of Glovers Pond, New Jersey

If we are to develop a critical perspective on modern human-generated climatic alterations, we must understand the timing, rate, and intensity of ancient global climate change. However, creating a high-resolution picture of ancient climates is not easy. Scott Carpenter has identified one window to the past through his studies of Glovers Pond, a small lake in New Jersey, whose sediment cores present a unique record of Earth's last deglaciation or past 20,000 years. His CGRER grant defrayed the cost of dating these cores. Because of the lake's proximity to the North Atlantic Ocean, these data helps us better understand the relationship between ocean circulation and continental climate change.

Use of Environmental Isotopes to Determine the Predominant Sources of Moisture that Drive the Precipitation Events in Northeast Iowa

The hydrologic cycle, which traces water’s flow around the globe, is integral to the climate system. It also is a crucially important determinant of life on Earth as well as the success of human activities. However the details of the hydrologic cycle require clarification. Mohammad Iqbal investigated one facet of this cycle: evaporation-precipitation processes in Northeast Iowa. He analyzed rainwater isotopes to determine what portion of our precipitation is derived from local sources (e.g. evaporation from nearby lakes and streams) rather than distant sources such as the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. This analysis also provided a mechanism for tracing shifts in regional precipitation patterns through time.

Conceptual Network Design Studies for Iowa Hydrologic and Environmental Validation Site

Satellite, radar, and other remote sensing data, as well as results of numerical models of land and atmospheric processes, need to be validated against high quality in-situ data before they become credible bases for operational, management, and policy decisions. Witold KrajewskiWilliam Eichinger, and Keri Hornbuckle created a hydrologic and environmental validation site, to run jointly with the University of Iowa's IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering. The permanent, 400-square-kilometer “natural laboratory” houses numerous measuring devices that record precipitation, soil moisture, stream flow, water quality, energy balance, and other hydrometeorologic and biochemical variables over long time periods. CGRER's seed grant provided planning funds so that detailed proposals for this national site could be submitted to other funding agencies.

Magnetically Modified Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries for Reduced Environmental Emissions

The environmental impacts of automobiles could be greatly reduced if automobiles were powered by electricity rather than by internal combustion engines. Given current technologies, the first commercially viable zero-emission vehicles will be battery-based, and nickel-metal hydride batteries have fewer environmental repercussions and less toxicity than other batteries. Johna Leddy increased the performance of this type of battery through magnetic modification, a process that enhances rates of electron transfer and interfacial reactions.

Grass-type Controls over Carbon Fluxes from Grasslands

The U.S. government currently pays farmers to remove nearly 34 million acres of cropland from production. This Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provides numerous benefits, including the promotion of carbon sequestration in soil. James Raich compared the soil carbon dynamics (sequestration and turnover) of non-native, cool-season (C3) grasses to those native, warm-season (C4) prairie grasses. His investigations and large field experiments helped determine how landscape carbon budgets can be influenced by the types of grasses that are planted.

Measuring Net Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Wetlands

Growing plants can be used to capture and store carbon dioxide, thus decreasing atmospheric concentrations of this greenhouse gas. Reconstructed wetlands could serve this end, but their decomposing plant material also release the greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. Jerry Schnoor and Richard Ney investigated the overall balance of greenhouse gases emitted from wetland systems. They reviewed literature and investigated models for these greenhouse gas flows, and developed a verification protocol for wetland greenhouse gases that is suitable for field testing.

Basin Scale Water Quality Change and Uncertainty under Global Climate Change

Predictions of the effects of climate change are based largely on numerical, computerized global climate models (GCMs) and on regional climate models (RCMs) that cover a smaller area but have a finer resolution than GCMs. Gene Takle and Zaito Pan evaluated the differences between GCM and RCM predictions of future water quality accompanying climate change. They quantified uncertainties in these water quality models, and specifically explored water quality problems associated with Gulf of Mexico hypoxia and Upper Mississippi River basin erosion.

Mass Spectrometric Probes of Photochemistry in Natural and Model Water Samples

Solar irradiation of surface waters that contain inorganic and biological materials can result in complex photochemical reactions. The resulting product species can have enormous consequences for the greenhouse gas effect and global carbon cycle. Mark Young developed a mass spectrometry apparatus that allows researchers to better understand, quantify, and monitor these photochemical reactions.


Monday, January 1, 2001