Climate Change Deniers’ Anthem

Love this. Funny or Die has a new take on climate change and the Koch brothers. Not much more to say except that if you want to learn more about climate change I highly recommend Climate Truth and Skeptical Science.

Oklahoma Climate Center Receives Major Award

A climate science center at the University of Oklahoma was recently given a major award by the Department of Interior.

The South Central Climate Science Center is on OU’s Research Campus. It was named a recipient of Dept. of Interior’s 2015 Environmental Achievement Award for “Climate Science and Partnerships—Increasing the Tribal Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation.”

The University of Oklahoma says the SCCSC received the award because of, “… its partnerships with other agencies to develop programs for building tribal capabilities and conducting climate science research.  The Center is a consortium codirected by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Oklahoma.  Consortium members include OU, the Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab, Louisiana State University, Oklahoma State University and Texas Tech University.”

I asked Kim Winton, the director of the South Central Climate Science Center, what this award means. She says, “This award recognizes a Departmental individual or team that has shown consistent leadership in identifying the impacts climate change will have on the Department, acting to integrate that information into their work, and sharing their experience to help others prepare.”

The award recognizes what’s being done to work with Oklahoma tribes to spread awareness and prepare for climate change. Winton says the SCCSC provides training for tribes, “…Vulnerability Assessments, and Adaptation Planning. We also do lots of things for school age children such as classroom activities, festivals etc. and provide hands-on demonstrations of how CO2 makes things warmer, and how tree rings tell us about the climate history.”

Winton says Oklahoma’s native tribes can help with climate change by doing what everyone needs to do such as, “…decrease fossil fuel use, build using sustainable materials, etc.”

Adventures on Turkey Mountain

Turkey Mountain is a popular place to hike, walk, or ride a bike. Thousands of people go there every year but I wonder how many have stopped to think about the science that’s all around them.

Dr. Stanley Rice recently gave me a personal science tour of Turkey Mountain. He showed me tree fossils and explained that Turkey Mountain is the only place in Oklahoma where a certain oak tree grows. This just shows that science is everywhere. It’s also why you’ll often find me checking out rocks, I’m looking for fossils and evidence of ancient Earth.

This is important-If you find fossils on Turkey Mountain please do not remove them.

(Dr. Rice has been featured before on SIO…click here to see his impersonation of Charles Darwin.)

 

How Dust can help control Climate Change

Research by a University of Oklahoma scientist could lead to novel way to fight climate change. It has to do with dust.

Dr. Gerilyn Soreghan, courtesy University of Oklahoma

Dr. Gerilyn Soreghan, courtesy University of Oklahoma

Dr. Gerilyn Soreghan and a team of researchers from the University of California Riverside, Florida State University, University of Leeds, Hampton University, and Cornell University have been looking at some really old, iron-rich dust deposits. Like 300-million year old dust from the late Paleozoic period.

(I’ve talked with Dr. Soreghan before, click here and here to learn more about her.)

Dr. Soreghan says Earth’s atmosphere was as dusty as it has ever been 300 million years ago. She says it’s important to study those dust deposits because of the impact they had back then on Earth’s climate.

Here’s why: dust carries iron- iron is a fertilizer for plants- plants use photosynthesis-photosynthesis removes carbon from the atmosphere and replaces it with oxygen.

Dr. Soreghan says deep-time dust contained a lot of iron which means it “…should have even larger consequences for burial of carbon.” As for the modern day, there’s talk of iron fertilization as a geoengineering scheme to control the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Dr. Soreghan says her study on deep-time events shines a light on how those types of geoengineering endeavors may work in the present day but, she says, more research is needed.

You can read more on the study in this brief write-up by Dr. Soreghan or here where the Geological Society of America has published an article. The National Science Foundation and American Chemical Society funded the research.

 

 

La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits

So it’s not Oklahoma but this is still cool. See that pic above? That’s the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. I had the chance to visit there a few years back and I would highly recommend you stop by the next time you’re in L.A.

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Below is a handy guide to how the tar pits were formed courtesy of Corkboard of Curiosities. It does a great job explaining where the tar (not tar) comes from and what kinds of animals have been found.

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One animal is the Ground Sloth, that’s the bones in the pic above. At the museum next to the tar pits you can watch volunteers and researchers clean the bones that are found in the tar pits. Check this out, it’s a fun read!!

http://corkboardofcuriosities.tumblr.com/post/132612639959/tar-pits

 

Agriculture and Technology Scholarships

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation is offering scholarships to students in southern Oklahoma to help them pursue careers in agriculture or technology.

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The Noble Foundation conducts plant science research to help farmers and ranchers. See here for a past story about the foundation.

The Sam Noble Scholarship Program helps students looking for degrees from technical institutes or agriculture-related bachelor’s or graduate degrees. The foundation says the agriculture students study everything from economics, communication, agribusiness, and agricultural engineering. As for the technology students, they study computer information systems, photography, and high-voltage electricity.

Here are the details of the scholarship program…

Scholarships for students seeking undergraduate degrees in agriculture-related fields provide $2,500 of support per semester for up to nine semesters, while scholarships for graduate students offer $3,125 per semester for up to five semesters. Applicants must pursue their education at a university awarding baccalaureate or higher degrees through a division or college of agriculture, such as Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Texas Tech University (Lubbock campus) or Texas A&M University (College Station campus).

 Scholarships for those seeking degrees or certifications from technical institutes are for $3,750 per year for up to two years. The applicant must pursue this degree or certification at Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma City or Okmulgee campus.

 To be eligible to receive a scholarship, a student must plan to attend or be attending a qualifying university or technology training institution during the 2016-2017 academic year. The student must also be a resident of one of the following southern Oklahoma counties: Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Choctaw, Coal, Garvin, Jefferson, Johnston, Love, Marshall, McCurtain, Murray, Pontotoc, Pushmataha or Stephens.

To apply for a scholarship go to this website, www.noble.org/sam-noble-scholarship or send an email to scholarships@noble.org.

The applications must be completed by Feb. 15, 2016.

 

Science Café

 

Here’s a great chance to learn about Oklahoma’s amazing raptors. Oklahoma State University and the Stillwater Public Library are teaming up for what they’re calling Science Café OSU.

They have two programs planned for the coming weeks, both will be talking about red-tailed hawks and golden eagles.

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle  

 

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

OSU associate professor Jim Lish and doctorate candidate Megan Judkins will be giving the presentations. They’ll also be bringing along birds as guests.

Lish has been researching red-tail hawks for more than 40 years. He holds three degrees in wildlife ecology including a Master of Science and a doctorate degree from OSU. Judkins is a Choctaw tribal member and assistant manager at the Grey Snow Eagle House. She is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in integrative biology at OSU. Her research focuses on the genomics of bald and golden eagles.

“The Payne County Audubon Society will have copies of Dr. Lish’s new book ‘Winter’s Hawk: Red-tails on the Southern Plains’ available for purchase and signing at both programs,” said Karen Neurohr, OSU Library professor and Science Café coordinator. “Ms. Judkins is bringing Ann, a red-tail hawk and RB, a golden eagle to the programs.”

The first program is Nov. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Stillwater Public Library Auditorium. The program will be repeated Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peggy V. Helmerich Browsing Room of the Oklahoma State University Library.

Everyone is welcome, you don’t need to have a science background to attend.

Remembering Dr. Marvin Stone

The state of Oklahoma has lost a talented scientist and researcher. Dr. Marvin Stone and his wife, Bonnie, were killed when a car crashed into the crowd at the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade on October 24th.

Dr. Stone served on the faculty at OSU for 24 years. He worked in the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources’ Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. His wife also worked at OSU as coordinator of Student Information Systems operations and training for OSU Institutional Research and Information Management.

Dr. Stone’s research focused on “…international equipment communication and diagnostic protocol standards and high-speed, selective, point-specific field application of chemicals.”

The university has a published a wonderful web page dedicated to Dr. Stone and his wife.

You can also click here to donate to the Marvin and Bonnie Stone Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Two others died in the tragedy and dozens more were injured. You can click here to learn more about the victims and ways to help their families and the Stillwater community.

Someone has to love bugs

Dr. Katrina Menard is an entomologist, so she studies bugs (someone has to, right??). She was in Black Mesa this summer as part of the ExplorOlogy program. She was teaching the students how to develop a scientific study by taking a census of the local insect population.

So why entomology and why insects? Well at the 1:10 mark she explains what led her to a career studying the tiniest of creatures. At the 1:48 mark she talks about the importance of funding for scientific research and why the decision makers need to look at the long term results.

(For more on ExplorOlogy click here, here, here, and here.)

This Scientist is OK- Dr. Nick Czaplewski

Dr. Nick Czaplewski is a vertebrate paleontologist at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (see here, here, here, here, and here for stories from the museum).

I spoke with him in Black Mesa. He was one of the instructors with the ExplorOlogy program. They took high school students on a scientific road trip across Oklahoma. In Black Mesa they dug for dinosaurs (see here and here), took a census of the local insect population, and learned how to conduct scientific experiments in the field.

He’s a mellow guy who enjoys teaching kids about science and that makes him an OK Scientist.