Category Archives: Earth & Environment

Probing Question: How can we prepare for storm surge?

What happens when a hurricane makes landfall and brings with it a deluge of deadly water? The storm surge in a hurricane is arguably the greatest threat to lives and one that is often ignored.

Brent Yarnal, professor of geography in Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, researches the vulnerability of coastal communities to contemporary hurricane storm surge and the role of our rising sea level in increasingly destructive storms. Are there ways to rebuild the shoreline’s natural defenses against hurricanes and flooding? Can coastal communities prevent catastrophic damage to people and property?

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Sea level will rise as Antarctica melts

An ice sheet model that includes previously under-appreciated processes indicates that sea level may rise almost 50 feet by the year 2500 due to Antarctic ice sheet melting if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated. Penn State senior scientist David Pollard and colleagues reported the model in the journal Nature earlier this year.

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New issue of Research|Penn State is now online

For those of you who haven’t seen our magazine, Research|Penn State, and those who receive the print magazine but would like to read an e-version, our Spring 2016 issue is now available online in flipbook and downloadable PDF formats. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find.


Continue reading New issue of Research|Penn State is now online

Focus on research: Does climate change affect genders differently?

By Nancy Tuana

There is increasing agreement that human activities are resulting in significant changes in the global climate. The NASA website on climate change provides a snapshot of these changes.

Global temperatures have gone up an average of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880. The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998, with last year, 2015, ranked as the warmest on record. These temperatures have contributed to rising sea levels due both to increasing ocean temperatures and the accelerated melting of glaciers and ice sheets. These changes are fueling altered weather patterns such as precipitation changes resulting in droughts in some regions and flooding in others, as well as increasing the intensity of extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise unchecked, the effects could result in serious disruptions to agriculture, flooding of the world’s coastal cities, changes in species migrations, and even extinction of some plants and animals.  Continue reading Focus on research: Does climate change affect genders differently?

Keeping farmers in the field


The infographic above illustrates findings from a study by The Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development at Penn State on the effects of public investment in Land Grant University programs. Agricultural economists Stephan Goetz and Meri Davlasheridze found that agricultural research and Cooperative Extension programs helped more than 137,000 farmers stay on the farm between 1984 and 2010.

Goetz is director of the Northeast Center, as well as professor of agricultural and regional economics. Davlasheridze is assistant professor of marine sciences at Texas A&M at Galveston.

This graphic originally appeared on the Center’s site.  You can view a larger version of it here.

Members of the news media interested in talking to Goetz should contact Kristen Devlin at