Studying Places Where Climate Change and Society Overlap

When a farmer and a climate scientist talk about the weather, they’re not just passing time—it’s serious business.

Climate change, including shifts in average temperature and precipitation as well as the probability of extreme events such as drought, floods, and heat waves, are not abstract political questions to the farmer; they are matters of economic life and death.

This is a reality climate scientist Jonathan Winter knows well. He did his post-doctoral work in hydroclimatology at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University with agronomist Cynthia Rosenzweig, a pioneer in the study of climate change and agriculture. The Department of Geography hired Winter this month as an assistant professor.

“We’re thrilled that Jonathan Winter will be joining the geography department,” says department chair Susanne Freidberg. “Besides working at the cutting edge of one of the key areas of climate change modeling, he’ll be teaching courses related to agriculture, which are in high demand at Dartmouth.”

Who Will Take Chavez’s Place? (Al Jazeera)

In an opinion piece published by Al Jazeera, Dartmouth’s Sharlene Mollett writes that Venezuelans saw the late President Hugo Chavez as a “living victory for the indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples of Venezuela and the region as a whole.”

Mollett, an assistant professor of geography, writes that the country needs someone to take Chavez’s place in representing the rights of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples.

She continues, “Chavez’s shoes need to be filled soon to keep indigenous and Afro-descendant human rights on national and international political agendas, particularly in Latin America.”

Read the full story, published 3/21/13 by Al Jazeera.

Dartmouth Researchers Studying Vermont Stream Recovery (The Boston Globe)

With support from a National Science Foundation grant, two Dartmouth researchers are studying the long-term effects of Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont, The Boston Globe reports. They are focusing on stream channel erosion both during the storm and during post-Irene reconstruction efforts.

Frank Magilligan, a professor in the Department of Geography, and Carl Renshaw, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences and an adjunct professor at the Thayer School of Engineering, hope the work will help communities predict and prepare for future natural disasters like Irene, which struck the region in August 2011. “Using a combination of their own observations, aerial photography, and data from remote sensors, the researchers are developing faster and more accurate assessment techniques that can be used to pinpoint potential trouble spots along streams,” the newspaper writes.

Published 1/14/13 in The Boston Globe via the Associated Press.

Scientists Study Irene’s Impact to Predict Flood Hazards

The devastation recently wrought by Superstorm Sandy reawakens memories of Tropical Storm Irene, still fresh in the minds of many Vermonters. Irene’s legacy is evident in ruined rivers, shattered homes, and historic covered bridges washed away. Perhaps more unsettling is the prospect of more to come, say a pair of Dartmouth professors who are studying the damage Irene left behind.

“There is no smoking gun here that directly associates Irene with global warming, but all the climate models suggest that storms like Irene and Sandy are going to increase in intensity, magnitude, and frequency,” says Frank Magilligan, a professor in the Department of Geography at Dartmouth.

Magilligan is collaborating with Carl Renshaw, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences and an adjunct professor in the Thayer School of Engineering, to understand the effects of Irene on stream channel erosion and its repercussions on the land and the people. Given the probability of destruction from major storms in the future, information derived from Irene can serve as a basis for both predicting storm-related hazards and preparing for them.

American Cities Segregate, Even As They Diversify (The Atlantic)

According to new research by Richard Wright, professor of geography and the Orvil E. Dryfoos Professor of Public Affairs, both integrated and segregated neighborhoods exist in cities across America, reports The Atlantic.

Wright and his colleagues used data from the 1990, 2000, and 2010 censuses to create maps representing demographic change in 53 American cities over a 20-year period, The Atlantic explains.  As Wright points out, the research shows that both diversity and segregation exist simultaneously in U.S. cities. “Rather than thinking of segregation and diversity as being on a continuum from segregated to diverse, moving linearly between those two points, our research admits to the possibility of folds in that continuum. You can have segregation and diversity in the same place, at the same time.”

Read the full story, published on 6/25/12 by The Atlantic.

Racial Diversity Increases, But Segregation Persists Says Geography Professor

While census data shows racial diversity is increasing in major cities across the United States, highly diverse neighborhoods are still rare, newly arrived immigrants continue to settle in concentrated residential patterns, and many African Americans remain concentrated in segregated neighborhoods, according to recent research by Richard Wright, professor of geography and the Orvil E. Dryfoos Professor of Public Affairs.

Wright and two colleagues—Steven R. Holloway of the University of Georgia and Mark Ellis of the University of Washington—examined neighborhood tract data from the 1990, 2000, and 2010 U.S. censuses and created “cartographic visualizations” of 53 large metropolitan areas and every state in the United States. Their maps showing the changes in neighborhood racial configuration in these cities can be viewed here.

Talk about Climate Change at the Science Café

Dartmouth’s Science Cafés, providing a chance to learn about a serious issue relevant in today’s world, premiere on Thursday, November 17, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Join friends and neighbors to consider “Stormy Weather: Is Climate Change Here?” in the company of experts on the topic. The first Science Café discussion takes place at Salt Hill Pub in Lebanon, N.H. Science Cafés are free and open to all.

Experts at the event will include climatologist Erich Osterberg, research assistant professor of earth sciences, and river expert Frank Magilligan, professor of geography, both from Dartmouth, and Lori Hirshfield, planning and development director for Hartford, Vt.