Chain Reaction 7: People and Environment – Our Heat Habitat

Chain Reaction, is a science magazine/web site for students in grades 4-8, published by the Office of Research Communications at Arizona State University. Chain Reaction explores scientific concepts using real research explained by working scientists. Their goal is to spark interest in science and higher education and to provide teachers with a high-quality resource.

Each printed issue of Chain Reaction is built around a topic that the Arizona Science Standards require students to study, and the articles reflect Arizona’s standards for K-12 science education. Because students respond so well to it, teachers have found creative ways to incorporate Chain Reaction into other areas of their curriculum, such as language arts units.

Chain Reaction and its staff have earned national awards and recognition from education and communication associations as an outstanding publication for young readers.

Chain Reaction Volume 7 explores how many of the largest and fastest-growing cities on Earth are located in hot places. Big cities make temperatures even higher through the urban heat island effect. The “island” is made up of buildings and roads, houses and parking lots. These human-made materials absorb the sun’s warmth during the day. They keep temperatures high, even in the dark of night when surrounding areas cool off.

Scientists at Arizona State University, including lead scientists Sharon Harlan (principal investigator), Susanne Grossman-Clarke, Darrel Jenerette, Tim Lant, Chris Martin, William Stefanov (co-principal investigators) as well as DCDC researchers Anthony Brazel, Winston Chow, Ben Ruddell, Darren Ruddell and Education Manager Monica Elser, contributed to this Chain Reaction issue.

Download Volume 7 of Chain Reaction.

Colorado River High Flow Experiment

via USGS Science Features on November 14, 2012
By Jack Schmidt and Barbara Wilcox

More than 16 years of USGS science will come to fruition next week in the Grand Canyon and its surroundings when the U.S. Department of the Interior releases Colorado River water from Lake Powell reservoir under its new science-based protocol for adaptive management of Glen Canyon Dam.

The November 19 controlled release, called a high-flow experiment, simulates a natural small flood that might have occurred before the dam was completed in 1963. Scientists have shown that floods redistribute sand and mud, thereby creating sandbars that help maintain and restore camping beaches and create favorable conditions for nursery habitat for native fish, including the endangered humpback chub (Gila cypha) in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Grand Canyon National Park, and the Hualapai Indian Reservation. Newly created river deposits are also the substrate on which many components of the native ecosystem depend.

At noon Monday, November 19, the dam’s river outlet tubes will be opened. Typically, reservoir releases are routed through power-plant turbines and thereby produce hydroelectricity. However, the outlet tubes allow some reservoir water to bypass the power plant, thereby allowing for larger volumes of water to directly enter the river. Flow through these outlet tubes does not go through the turbines, and these waters do not produce hydroelectricity. The outlet tubes are only used in rare times of high inflow when additional water must be released from the reservoir, or when an environmental objective is served by creating a controlled flood.

Read more at USGS Science Features.

Dave White to speak at Carnegie Mellon University

On November 12, 2012, DCDC co-director Dave White will be traveling to the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making (CEDM) at Carnegie Mellon University to give a seminar on Boundary Work for Water Sustainability and Urban Climate Adaptation: Lessons from the Decision Center for a Desert City.

CEDM is one of four research centers including DCDC which receives funding from the National Science Foundation under the Decision Making Under Uncertainty program.

Under the direction of PI Morgan Granger, the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making develops and promulgates new and innovative, behaviorally and technically informed insights involving the intersection points between climate and energy. It also generates methods to frame, analyze, and assist key stakeholders in addressing important decisions regarding climate change and the necessary transformation of the world’s energy system.

NSF’s Decision Making Under Uncertainty Collaborative Groups

In 2004, the National Science Foundation funded a group of Decision Making Under Uncertainty (DMUU) collaborative groups for five years. The goal of DMUU collaborative groups have been to support research, education, and outreach that increase basic understanding of decision-making processes and of the information needed by decision makers; to develop tools to support decision makers and increase their ability to make sound decisions; and to facilitate interaction among researchers and decision makers. In addition, NSF’s Human and Social Dynamics priority area supported interdisciplinary groups that addressed questions related to change and dynamics in human systems more broadly.

In 2010, the DMUU collaborative groups competition drew upon both of these past experiences to address the need for larger-scale projects addressing decision making under uncertainty with respect to climate change and other long-term environmental change. With this funding, NSF seeks to stimulate societally beneficial research that will enhance basic theoretical understandings in the social and behavioral sciences as well as related fields of science and engineering.

In addition to ASU and Carnegie Mellon University, the following institutions were awarded NSF cooperative agreements for Decision Making Under Uncertainty:

Talk Abstract

Recent sustainability research has focused on the role of knowledge-action-systems as networks of actors and their future visions, institutions, and the practices and dynamics of knowledge production for environmental decision making. This work highlights the significance of active boundary work to construct, manage, and enhance the interfaces between stakeholders for the co-production of credible, salient, and legitimate knowledge for action. While there is increasing agreement on the broad principles of boundary work, developed through a growing body of case studies, there remains a need to develop a systematic and generalizable explanation of the determinants of effective boundary work and process for evaluating outcomes. In particular, the most likely to produce desired durable outcomes. In this seminar, Dr. White addresses this question with illustrations from the Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC), an NSF-funded trans-disciplinary collaborative group designed to bridge science and policy for water sustainability and urban climate adaptation in central Arizona. He will discuss challenges inherent in designing, managing, and reflexively evaluating knowledge-action-systems for sustainable development.