This Graduate Fellowship Program of the National Academies—consisting of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council—is designed to engage its Fellows in the analytical process that informs U.S. science and technology policy. Fellows develop basic skills essential to working or participating in science policy at the federal, state, or local levels. Graduate and professional school students and those who have completed graduate studies (degree awarded) within the last five years are eligible to apply. A stipend grant award of $8,240 will be provided for the 12-week session to offset expenses. The program takes place in Washington, D.C. and is open to all U.S. and non-U.S. citizens who meet the criteria. Non-U.S. citizens who are not U.S. legal permanent residents must be currently enrolled in a U.S. university and have proof of holding valid J-1 or F-1 status or work authorization. Winter/Spring: January 23 through April 13, 2012. Fall: August 27 through November 16, 2012. Deadlines 1 Oct and 1 May. Questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read full announcement here
Despite encouragement by House and Senate leadership, appropriations conferees working on the first of the fiscal 2012 spending bills are still struggling to complete them before 14 Nov when the House returns from recess, and 18 Nov when the current continuing resolution expires. The conference is expected to include another stopgap spending measure that would run through mid-December. House and Senate conferees on that package (HR 2112) came together for a formal meeting last Thursday and now have little more than a week to negotiate a compromise on the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science and Transportation-HUD spending measures. Key disagreements include the budget cap on discretionary spending with the House stuck on $1.019 trillion and the Senate on $1.043 trillion agreed to in August as part of the debt limit compromise. As anticipated, conferees are sticking to Senate target numbers with $19.6 billion potentially slated for the Agriculture bill, $52.7 billion for the Commerce-Justice-Science bill and $55.6 billion for the Transportation-HUD measure. The Senate Ag spending bill also provides stronger support for USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture formula funding and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, as well as USDA’s intramural research arm, the Agricultural Research Service.
House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership have announced plans to revamp support programs to pay farmers only “when prices go down or when we have a bad crop,” Said House Agriculture Committee ranking member, Collin Peterson (D-MN), “If you have a good year and a good crop, you get no government payment. My big picture view of this is we do not pay people when they are doing well. In this fiscal climate, we cannot justify that.” Finding the right balance continues to be elusive, however, because farmers growing various crops in different regions face different risks, Peterson said. People “who are now getting this money” and those who say “that this is their money” are resisting change, he added. Committee staff continue to define the plan’s details and hope to present to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction by the end of the week. The Agriculture committees have signed off on recommending $23 billion in savings over 10 years, but have found it difficult to reach an agreement on the details of a package. The two authorizing committees missed a Nov. 1 goal of sending to the joint deficit panel a finished package detailing savings in agriculture, conservation, nutrition and other programs under their jurisdiction. Essentially, the committees are putting together a multi-year farm bill months ahead of schedule and without additional public hearings.
On 18 Oct, the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America, through membership in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Coalition, sent a letter to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) expressing our support for his efforts to craft the Preparing Students for Success in the Global Economy Act of 2011 (S. 1675) to improve how the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), otherwise known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), deals with the critical challenge of improving STEM education. The proposed legislation will encourage and inspire more of our best and brightest students – especially those from underrepresented or disadvantaged groups – to study in STEM fields, improve the content knowledge and professional skills of the STEM educator workforce, recruit and retain highly-skilled STEM educators, and improve the resources available for learning in STEM subjects. Read Merkley Support Letter
Last month, Robert L. Thompson, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois and Visiting Scholar, Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies gave this presentation on approaches for feeding a world population expected to top 9.5 billion by 2050. View this excellent presentation
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has announced the release of a plan, titled "A Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability",which proposes a series of concrete measures to:  Create a global blue carbon market as a means of creating direct economic gain through habitat protection  Fill governance gaps in the high seas, by reinforcing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea  Support the development of green economies in small island developing states  Promote research on ocean acidification- how to adapt to it and mitigate it  Increase institutional capacity for scientific monitoring of oceans and coastal areas  Reform and reinforce regional ocean management organisations  Promote responsible fisheries and aquaculture in a green economy  Strengthen legal frameworks to address aquatic invasive species  "Green" the nutrient economy (fertilizers for example)  Enhance coordination, coherence and effectiveness of the UN system on ocean issues. View Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability
At its meeting held in August 2010 in Brisbane, the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) Council adopted new procedures for the election of the President of the Union.The key change that was made by the Council at this meeting was to break the link between the role of the President of the Union and the organisation of the World Congress of Soil Science. The IUSS is now calling for nominations to the position of President. The person elected will take up the position as President-Elect in mid-2012, and will serve as a Senior Officer for a total period of six years. Persons nominated should be internationally-recognised, leading soil scientists who possess and exhibit first-rate interpersonal and communication skills. Further details of the selection criteria to be used and the nominations procedure are on the IUSS web site www.iuss.org Nominations should be made by 17th January 2012.
This week, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) released a paper, "Keeping Track of our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20," which found that of the world’s 7 billion inhabitants, urban residents have increased by 45 percent since 1992. Still, the number of "slum dwellers" around the world has dropped, down from 46 percent of the human population in 1990 to about a third in 2010. In addition, the paper points out that the number of megacities has jumped and is likely to continue going upward. In 1992, there were 10 megacities claiming populations of more than 10 million; last year, that number was 21. Regarding climate change, the papers finds that global carbon emissions are still rising because of fossil fuel use, with 80 percent of emissions coming from 19 countries. Consequently, "nearly all mountain glaciers" are retreating or getting thinner, the report says, threatening sea-level rise and about one-sixth of the world's population. Among other warnings the report states that "Unless concerted and rapid action is taken to curb and decouple resource depletion from economic growth, human activities may destroy the very environment that supports economies and sustains life." Read "Keeping Track of our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20"
The USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture has scheduled two webinar-format meetings for 14-15 Nov. The immediate work of the AC21 is to address the following two questions: (1) What types of compensation mechanisms, if any, would be appropriate to address economic losses by farmers in which the value of their crops is reduced by the unintended presence of GE material(s)? and (2) What would be necessary to implement such mechanisms? During the 14 Nov conference call, AC21 members will be briefed on, and have the opportunity to discuss, background information on USDA's crop insurance programs under the Risk Management Agency. During the 15 Nov conference call members will be briefed on, and have the opportunity to discuss, background information on the indemnification programs for perishable agricultural commodities under the Agricultural Marketing Service. Read Federal Register Notice
A new study just released by the U.S. Geological Survey found that no clear link exists between greenhouse gas levels and floods. These findings are a surprise to the much of the scientific community given that conventional wisdom anticipated that as greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere rise, so will the magnitude of floods. Of the four regions of the US studied, only the drought-prone southwestern US exhibited a significant relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and the size of floods; floods have become smaller as carbon dioxide has increased. Read journal article here
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has issued two Requests for Information (RFI) seeking recommendations on approaches for ensuring long-term stewardship and encouraging broad public access to unclassified digital data and peer-reviewed scholarly publications that result from federally funded scientific research. The public input will inform deliberations of the National Science and Technology Council's Interagency Working Group on Digital Data and the National Science and Technology Council's Task Force on Public Access to Scholarly Publications respectively. Comments due 12 Jan for digital data and 2 Jan for public access to peer-reviewed.Read notice on Public Access to Digital Data and Public Access to Scholarly Publications
On 4 Nov, Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Bobby Rush (D-IL) requested from their Republican counterparts of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Energy and Power Subcommittee (Subcommittee) a hearing to examine the impact of climate change on crop yields. In their letter requesting the hearing, Waxman and Rush stated that "The latest science indicates that crop yields, agricultural areas, and consumers are now experiencing the adverse effects of climate change and are expected to face more acute challenges as temperatures continue to rise." The letter was addressed to Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). This second hearing request follows a hearing request by Waxman and Rush on the Koch brothers-funded study led by climate skeptic Richard Muller, which concluded that "global warming is real". Both requests are to examine "important new developments in climate change science," Waxman and Rush wrote.
A study recently release by two Maryland universities found that pollution reduction efforts for the Chesapeake Bay have succeeded in reducing the average size of the dead zone that harms the estuary's fish and shellfish each summer. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science analyzed 60 years' worth of water quality measurements to find the first signs of success of conservation groups' 27-year effort to clean the bay. "It's a leading indicator of the kind of change we had hoped would occur," said UM research center President Donald Boesch, who has reviewed the study. "The gains aren't huge, obviously. We haven't gotten anywhere close to the targets we want to reach, but we're headed in the right direction." Published in the most recent issue of the scientific journal Estuaries and Coast, the study appears to dispute recent findings that the bay's summer dead zone -- created by algae decomposition, which causes oxygen levels to drop -- is growing larger, not smaller.
The SERDP and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) Partners in Environmental Technology Technical Symposium & Workshop, is scheduled for November 29 – December 1, 2011, in Washington, DC, where SERDP and ESTCP Director Dr. Jeffrey Marqusee will present a Funding Opportunities Briefing and Q&A session on Thursday, December 1, 2011, at 12:15 p.m. EST. This presentation will offer an overview of the Programs’ investment strategies, funding levels, and areas of emphasis; outline the proposal submittal processes; and discuss opportunities to conduct research and technology demonstrations. This session will offer valuable information about the SERDP and ESTCP funding opportunities while also enabling participants to ask questions and learn from questions posed by other participants. To learn more about the Symposium or to register for this event, visit www.serdp-estcp.org/symposium
A new approach for reconstructing glacier variability based on lake sediments recording input from more than one glacier
Publication year: 2011
Source: Quaternary Research, Available online 8 November 2011
Kristian Vasskog, Øyvind Paasche, Atle Nesje, John F. Boyle, H.J.B. Birks
We explore the possibility of building a continuous glacier reconstruction by analyzing the integrated sedimentary response of a large (440 km) glacierized catchment in western Norway, as recorded in the downstream lake Nerfloen (N61°56’, E6°52’). A multi-proxy numerical analysis demonstrates that it is possible to distinguish a glacier component in the ~ 8000-yr-long record, based on distinct changes in grain size, geochemistry, and magnetic composition. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) reveals a strong common signal in the 15 investigated sedimentary parameters, with the first principal component explaining 77% of the total variability. This signal is interpreted to reflect glacier activity in the upstream catchment, an interpretation that is independently tested through a mineral magnetic provenance analysis of catchment samples. Minimum glacier input is indicated between 6700–5700 cal yr BP, probably reflecting a situation when most glaciers in the catchment had melted away, whereas the highest glacier activity is observed around 600 and 200 cal yr BP. During the local Neoglacial interval (~ 4200 cal yr BP until present), five individual periods of significantly reduced glacier extent are identified at ~ 3400, 3000–2700, 2100–2000, 1700–1500, and ~ 900 cal yr BP.
Last glacial–interglacial environments in the southern Rocky Mountains, USA and implications for Younger Dryas-age human occupation
Publication year: 2011
Source: Quaternary Research, Available online 8 November 2011
Christy E. Briles, Cathy Whitlock, David J. Meltzer
The last glacial-interglacial transition (LGIT; 19–9 ka) was characterized by rapid climate changes and significant ecosystem reorganizations worldwide. In western Colorado, one of the coldest locations in the continental US today, mountain environments during the late-glacial period are poorly known. Yet, archaeological evidence from the Mountaineer site (2625 m elev.) indicates that Folsom-age Paleoindians were over-wintering in the Gunnison Basin during the Younger Dryas Chronozone (YDC; 12.9–11.7 ka). To determine the vegetation and fire history during the LGIT, and possible explanations for occupation during a period thought to be harsher than today, a 17-ka-old sediment core from Lily Pond (3208 m elev.) was analyzed for pollen and charcoal and compared with other high-resolution records from the southern Rocky Mountains. Widespread tundra andPiceaparkland and low fire activity in the cold wet late-glacial period transitioned to open subalpine forest and increased fire activity in the Bølling–Allerød period as conditions became warmer and drier. During the YDC, greater winter snowpack than today and prolonged wet springs likely expanded subalpine forest to lower elevations than today, providing construction material and fuel for the early inhabitants. In the early to middle Holocene, arid conditions resulted in xerophytic vegetation and frequent fire.
Every PostGIS version I try to make up a little cheatsheet of functions and uses. People seemed fond of these and I enjoyed doing them. One person suggested we need the function arguments listed. There was no way I was going to do that by hand. PostGIS 2.0.0 is much bigger unfortunately so if I were to do it by hand I would not do any parts justice, so this time I decided to add to the PostGIS code base a cheatsheet generator. which is called withmake cheatsheets
uses xsltproc and xsl style sheets to navigate the PostGIS documentation. One side effect is that its a bit easier to spot glaring errors in the documentations. I've been playing with css styling and xsl a bit more. A bit too much playing probably.
Here is what it generates so far. The postgis core one I cheated a bit because I wanted the columns sort of balanced and really wanted 2 columns. I will work on having this autogenerate probably by doing something crazy like having my xsl script count how many functions have been output and then start a new column in the middle. The only one I configured to output examples from the docs was the Tiger geocoder one, because the other added a significant number of pages. Will probably have to add flags to examples to have it selectively output some exampels and not others.
Categories: GIS and Cartography
Strategies to rebuild the soil are essential to ensure that agricultural lands impacted by the floods are productive again
The impact of African aridity on the isotopic signature of Atlantic deep waters across the Middle Pleistocene Transition
Publication year: 2011
Source: Quaternary Research, Available online 1 November 2011
Bruno Malaizé, Elsa Jullien, Amandine Tisserand, Charlotte Skonieczny, E. Francis Grousset, ...
A high resolution analysis of benthic foraminifera as well as of aeolian terrigenous proxies extracted from a 37 m-long marine core located off the Mauritanian margin spanning the last ~ 1.2 Ma, documents the possible link between major continental environmental changes with a shift in the isotopic signature of deep waters around 1.0–0.9 Ma, within the so-called Mid-Pleistocene Transition (MPT) time period. The increase in the oxygen isotopic composition of deep waters, as seen through the benthic foraminiferaδO values, is consistent with the growth of larger ice sheets known to have occurred during this transition. Deep-water massδC changes, also estimated from benthic foraminifera, show a strong depletion for the same time interval. This drastic change inδC values is concomitant with a worldwide 0.3‰ decrease observed in the major deep oceanic waters for the MPT time period. The phase relationship between aeolian terrigeneous signal increase and thisδC decrease in our record, as well as in other paleorecords, supports the hypothesis of a global aridification amongst others processes to explain the deep-water masses isotopic signature changes during the MPT. In any case, the isotopic shifts imply major changes in the end-memberδO andδC values of deep waters.