Recent stories about climate-related MSU projects. Read more environmental news.

Politicians urged to consider moral perspectives on climate change
University Relations
Michael Nelson (Fisheries and Wildlife, Lyman Briggs, Philosophy) delivered a message in Washington, D.C., Nov. 30, urging the nation's leaders to address the moral issues surrounding climate change. Nelson is part of the Climate Ethics Campaign, a team of representatives from government agencies, business and environmental organizations delivering a national climate ethics statement to leaders. Climate change arguments are usually framed in economic terms, said Nelson, while the moral perspective, is not addressed. The CEC's goal is to help organizations around the country tackle climate change issues from a moral perspective. EcoWatch has the story. More»


Researchers help African farmers cope with climate change
University Relations
A team of MSU researchers secured a $700,000 grant to help farmers in Zambia and Kenya overcome the challenges faced from changes in climate. The project, which will link climate change to coping strategies and impacts on food production, food security and incomes for farm families in those areas, is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Eric Crawford (Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics) coordinates the project with Jennifer Olson (Telecommunications). Additional MSU team members are Jeff Andresen (Geography), Gopalsamy Alagarswamy (Center for Global Change and Earth Observations), Steven Haggblade (Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics) and Nathan Moore (Geography). More>>


The American 'allergy' to global warming: Why?
Associated Press
The study's authors, Aaron McCright (Sociology and Lyman Briggs) and Riley E. Dunlap (Oklahoma State), suggested climate had joined abortion and other explosive, intractable issues as a mainstay of America's hardening left-right gap. More»


Team will help Extension educators integrate climate change into programs
MSUE Spotlight
Increasingly, stakeholders look to MSU Extension as a trusted source of information on how to slow down, adapt to and communicate about the changing climate. The new Climate Variability and Change Action Team (CV-CAT) will help meet those needs. The project was initiated by Julie Doll (Kellogg Biological Station) and Claire Layman (MSU Extension) and includes MSU faculty and Extension affiliates. More»


MSU scientists suggest how countries can cooperate on climate
University Relations
When countries try to work together to limit the effects of climate change, the fear of being the only nation reducing greenhouse gas emissions – while the others enjoy the benefits with no sacrifice – can bring cooperation to a grinding halt. In a commentary in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Thomas Dietz (Sociology, ESPP) and Jinhua Zhao (ESPP, Economics, and Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics) suggest using a scalable method of rewards and punishments to help develop strategies that encourage all nations to participate fully in greenhouse gas mitigation programs. More»


Grant will develop tools to help farmers deal with climate change
University Relations
Climate and growing seasons are changing, and an MSU professor is helping farmers adapt to those changes. Jeff Andresen (Geography) is part of a team of researchers who want to give farmers the necessary tools to help navigate these climate changes, cope with climate variability, and lessen their negative impact on agriculture. The five-year project will be funded by a $5 million grant from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, part of the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. More»


MSU professor launches new field of water research
University Relations
Lakes, streams and wetlands are not isolated ecosystems, and MSU researchers are pioneering a new field of research to show just how connected they are to their surroundings. Patricia Soranno and Kendra Cheruvelil (Fisheries and Wildlife) and Pang-Ning Tan (Computer Science and Engineering) are part of a team that landed a $2.2 million NSF grant to gauge land use and climate change's impact on freshwater ecosystems, and in the process, pioneer the research field of landscape limnology. Landscape limnology is the study of bodies of water as they interact with one another as well as with natural and manmade features. NSF had the story. More»


Calling for climate change research
Environment Magazine
A group of MSU sociologists examines how increased confidence among scientists concerning anthropogenic climate change is not translating into public consensus within the United States. "Understanding Public Opinion on Climate Change: A call for research," with contributions from Sandra Marquart-Pyatt, Thomas Dietz, Stan Kaplowitz and Aaron McCright (Sociology), appears in the latest issue of Environment Magazine. More»


Climate change evidence is growing stronger (column)
The scientific evidence that we are creating dangerous climate change becomes stronger with each passing year, Stephen Hamilton (Zoology, Kellogg Biological Station) writes in an opinion piece. More»


Preparing Extension educators to help state’s field crop industry address realities of climate change
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
“How can we help Michigan field crop farmers adapt to and help mitigate a changing climate?” Finding an answer to this question was what brought Claire Layman (Extension) and Julie Doll (Kellogg Biological Station) together on a research project intent on finding ways to engage the producer, scientist and decision maker communities in discussions about the relationship between climate change and agriculture. Phil Robertson (Crop and Soil Science) and Cheryl Peters (Extension) are also partners on the research project, which received funding from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) education grant and Project GREEEN. More»


Researchers display work to Congress
College of Natural Science
The Coalition for National Science Funding’s annual exhibition brings science to Capitol Hill. MSU research presented this year included work on climate literacy, presented by Julie Libarkin (Geological Sciences) and graduate students Bob Drost (Geological Sciences, ESPP) and Sheldon Turner (Geological Sciences, ESPP); and work on efficient energy conversion in nanoscale networks, presented by Keith Promislow (Mathematics) and Andrew Christlieb (Mathematics). More»


Democrats and Republicans increasingly divided over global warming
University Relations
graph of results, image courtesy of Aaron McCright and Riley DunlapDespite the growing scientific consensus that global warming is real, Americans have become increasingly polarized on the environmental problem, according to a first-of-its-kind study led by Aaron McCright (Sociology). The gap between Democrats and Republicans who believe global warming is happening increased 30 percent between 2001 and 2010 – a “depressing” trend that’s essentially keeping meaningful national energy policies from being considered, argues McCright. The study is featured in the spring issue of Sociological Quarterly, online now. More»


GLISA awards annual research funding to MSU climate change projects
The Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA), was created to help integrate climate change information into adaptation planning. The center is supported by a five-year grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and headed by researchers from MSU and University of Michigan. GLISA provides annual funding for projects on climate change in the Great Lakes basin which involve researchers and decision-makers. This spring, GLISA made five awards, four of which went to MSU-led projects. Below, we list MSU researchers involved:

  • A modeling framework for informing decision maker response to extreme heat events in Michigan under climate change. Laura Schmitt Olabisi (Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, ESPP) (lead), Ralph Levine (CARRS), and Stuart Blythe (Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures).
  • An assessment of the implications of climate variability and change for Michigan's tourism industry. Sarah Nicholls (CARRS, Geography) (lead), Donald Holecek (CARRS, Hospitality Business)
  • Designing a decision support system for harvest management of Great Lakes Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) in a changing climate. Abigail Lynch (Fisheries and Wildlife, ESPP), William Taylor (Fisheries and Wildlife). The Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability has more on the project.
  • Predicting the impacts of climate change on agricultural yields and water resources in the Maumee River watershed. David Hyndman and Anthony Kendall (Geological Sciences) (leads), Bruno Basso (Kellogg Biological Station).


MSU prof calls for carbon labeling of consumer goods
University Relations
Labeling products with information on the size of the carbon footprint they leave behind could help both consumers and manufacturers make better, environmentally friendly choices. Tom Dietz (Sociology and ESPP) writes in Nature Climate Change that labeling products, much like food products contain labels with nutritional information, could reduce carbon emissions by influencing consumer choices and by encouraging firms to identify efficiencies throughout the supply chain.


Michigan scientists say the EPA should regulate greenhouse gases
Scientists at many of Michigan's colleges and universities say a proposal to prevent federal regulation of "greenhouse gasses" is a bad idea….Stephen Hamilton (Zoology) says: “Generally speaking, environmental protection has proven to be a net producer of jobs…We need to consider the long-term risks that climate change poses to our economy.”


Climate change affecting food safety
University Relations
Climate change is already having an effect on the safety of the world’s food supplies and unless action is taken it’s only going to get worse, Ewen Todd (Advertising, Public Relations and Retailing) told a symposium.


College students do not understand carbon cycle, study finds
University Relations
Most college students in the United States do not grasp the scientific basis of the carbon cycle – an essential skill in understanding the causes and consequences of climate change -- according to research published in the January issue of BioScience. The study calls for a new way of teaching fundamental scientific principles. MSU authors of the study include Charles “Andy” Anderson (Teacher Education), Brook Wilke (Teacher Education), Jonathon Schramm (Teacher Education) and Joyce Parker (Science and Mathematics Education).


Waterways contribute to growth of potent greenhouse gas
University Relations
Nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, has increased by more than 20 percent over the last century, and nitrogen in waterways is fueling part of that growth, according to a MSU study. Based on this new study, the role of rivers and streams as a source of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere now appears to be three times as high as estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Stephen Hamilton (Zoology and Kellogg Biological Station) was involved in the study, which appeared in the Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences.


Luo awarded for collaborative research on droughts, floods
Department of Geography
Lifeng Luo (Geography) recently received two awards to forward his research. The Chinese Academy of Sciences awarded Luo the KC Wong Fellowship to facilitate his collaboration with an Academy scientist; they will work on a system to predict droughts and floods in China. The other award comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Program Office, which has provided funding to support Luo’s work with collaborators at Princeton University and the University of Washington on drought monitoring and prediction.


Michigan climate change initiative nets $4.2 million federal grant
University Relations
A joint initiative between MSU and the University of Michigan to improve the region’s ability to adapt to climate variability and change earned a $4.2 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The grant will support the new Great Lakes Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center. MSU affiliates include Tom Dietz, Jeff Andresen, Julie Winkler, Charles Pistis, and Michael Staton.


MSU partnership to develop African ecosystem services
MSU has partnered with Pennsylvania's Lincoln University and the University of Malawi to tackle the environmental challenges Africa faces due to population growth and climate change.  Anne Ferguson is an MSU lead on the initiative, funded by USAID and Higher Education for Development.


Environmental ethicist co-edits book calling for action
It's not enough to simply know the environmental impacts of climate change, according to Michael Nelson. Instead, we must do something, and getting from knowing to acting is the challenge. That's the crux of "Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril," a book Nelson co-edited, released Sept. 1.


Climate change education partnership strengthens connections in the Great Lakes
A grant from the National Science Foundation will enable scholars at MSU and other institutions in the Great Lakes to build a network that supports adoption of high quality educational resources related to climate change. Climate scientists, learning scientists, and educational practitioners will work together to assess what resources are available and what’s needed. MSU investigators are Julie Libarkin, Dave Poulson, Ken Frank, and Rochelle Sturtevant


Carbon2Markets program honored for five years of outstanding research
A carbon accounting system aimed at helping some of the world's poorest people grow trees that will boost their standards of living and slow climate change has been deemed outstanding for the last five years by one of its international funders.  David Skole is leader of the Carbon2Markets project.


MSU researchers study climate change, food production in East Africa
For the first time, crop breeders and agricultural specialists in East Africa will have regionally specific climate data to research and manage crops in an effort to improve food production, say MSU researchers. Using a $430,000 Rockefeller Foundation grant, researchers will study the impact of climate change on the drought-stricken area, including Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, said lead researcher Jennifer Olson.   Nathan Moore is co-investigator.


Climate change and the Great Lakes hydrologic cycle
David Hyndman is using a $243,532 NSF grant to model the impacts of climate change and land use on the hydrologic cycle and ecosystem health in the Great Lakes basin. The project will explore the dynamics of interaction between plants and water across land cover types, and will have implications for climate models, biofuel crop development, land use policy and other topics.


Climate’s effects on global industries
A team of international researchers led by climatologist Julie Winkler will conduct a first-of-its-kind study to measure the effects of climate change on global industries. Using the tart-cherry industry as an example, researchers will develop a system for conducting climate-impact assessments for international market systems, particularly those with long-term investments such as orchards. The new project could have applications for agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and other industries, Winkler said. MSU researchers involved include Scott Loveridge,  Jinhua Zhao, Jeff Andresen, and Sharon Zhong (Geography). The project is supported by a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.


'Genetic arms race' between bacteria, viruses subject of stimulus grant
The oceans teem with microscopic bacteria that produce much of Earth's oxygen as they absorb carbon dioxide greenhouse gas. But fast-mutating viruses also populate the seas, attacking marine bacteria in an ages-old evolutionary arms race. Jay Lennon has received an NSF grant to examine that ancient dynamic against the backdrop of environmental and climate change.


Pileus Project studies what a changing climate will do to agriculture and tourism in Michigan
In 2003, a group of Michigan State University researchers formed the Pileus Project, a group of agricultural experts, economists, climate scientists and others, funded mainly by the Environmental Protection Agency and charged with giving cherry growers and other stakeholders useful climate data to help them make better decisions. Co-directors were Julie Winkler and Jeff Andresen.


Litchman lands award for algae bloom research
Elena Litchman has won a prestigious grant awarded by the National Science Foundation to young researchers who also excel at teaching. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award will fund a five-year project in which Litchman will investigate how factors like climate change and nutrient levels affect toxic algae blooms in lakes.


Journalism workshop in Alaska heats up climate coverage
A group of 12 journalists from around the country ventured to Alaska this summer to delve into the biggest story on the planet: climate change. Sponsored by MSU's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, the group visited Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to witness pine bark beetle infestation and drying wetlands, went on a boat tour to see the receding glaciers of Harding Ice Field and talked with scientists at the forefront of climate change research.

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