Colorado & Oceans // Nitrogen & Snails

Feature #1 (time mark 5:30)  When people think of Colorado, they usually don’t think about “oceans”.  After all, Colorado doesn’t have much of a coastline these days, though it was definitely had oceanfront property a few hundred million years ago.   However, being in a landlocked state doesn’t mean that there isn’t any thing we can do to impact the health and ecology of the ocean and marine biology.  Co-host Joel Parker talks with  Vicki Goldstein, founder and president of the Colorado Ocean Coalition about the “Making Waves in Colorado” symposium and what all of us around the world (leaving near or far from oceans) do that impact and can help oceans.

Feature #2 (time mark 14:10)  Nitrogen – we can’t live without it, but you can have too much of a good thing. In its gaseous form nitrogen is harmless and makes up nearly 80 percent of the atmosphere. The worldwide population never would have reached 7 billion people without nitrogen, in the form of chemical fertilizer. But excess nitrogen –from fertilizer runoff, manure, human sewage and other sources is wreaking havoc on the environment.  Co-host Susan Moran talks with John Mischler, a PhD student at CU Boulder, who is researching worms and snails in Colorado and Africa. He talks about how excess nutrients in ponds, lakes and elsewhere can lead to the spread of parasitic disease from trematodes to snails to us.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Headlines: Breanna Draxler, Tom Yulsman, Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Producer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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Ocean Acidification // Citizen Science

 

 

Top Image: Ocean Acidification process. Bottom Image: New Horizons spacecraft flies by a Kuiper belt object.

 

Feature #1: Many problems plague the oceans and the fish and other species that inhabit them: overfishing, pollution, and much more. But perhaps the greatest threat to sea life – and possibly to humans – is ocean acidification.  That’s when the chemistry of the ocean changes and causes seawater to become more acidic because the ocean is absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This increase in ocean acidity makes it difficult for many plants and animals in the ocean to make or maintain their shells or skeletons.  The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Jane Lubchenco, recently said that the ocean is becoming more acidic at rates not seen for at least 20 million years, and that’s due mostly to increases in CO2 in the atmosphere.  The threat is so grave that NOAA recently created a distinct Ocean Acidification Program. In May, Dr. Libby Jewett was appointed the first director of the program. We talk with Dr. Jewett find out more about the problem and what she aims to do about it.

Feature #2: Some sciences have a tradition of fruitful interactions between professional researchers and amateurs, and this has been made even more accessible with data being able to be shared over the internet across the world.  Dr. Pamela Gay, an Astronomer at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, is the architect and participant in many such collaborations. In addition to her teaching and research, she does extensive public outreach to share the excitement of astronomy (such as her podcast AstronomyCast.com) and even finds ways to let anyone with an internet connection make new scientific discoveries and find new worlds that will be visited by spacecraft (IceHunters.org).  We talk with Dr. Gay about the Zooniverse and her hunt for of icy objects in the outer solar system.

Hosts: Susan Moran and Joel Parker
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Tom McKinnon

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Ocean thermal energy//Climate and drought in the Rockies

Ocean Thermal Energy Plant Schematic

Our live guests are consultant Dr. Robert Cohen and CU scientist Kristen Averyt.  Dr. Cohen discusses ocean thermal energy — a method to harvest some of the almost limitless solar energy captured daily by the oceans.  Dr. Averyt surveys the future of the Intermountain West as we increase temperature and put increasing population pressure on a dwindling water supply.

Producer: Tom McKinnon
Co-hosts: Tom McKinnon and Susan Moran
Engineer: Breanna Draxler
Headlines: Ted Burnham and Breanna Draxler

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STEM Research // Sex in the Sea

REMGROUP2-this

High school researchers in CU Boulder program observing photo-origami model. Photo credit: Stacey Forsyth

Today’s show offers two features:
High School STEM Stars (start time: 5:00): Developing polymers to reduce waste from biodiesel production. Using 3D printing to design ocean textures, such as fish gills and waves, that blind students can use in textbooks to better understand nature. These are the kind of vexing challenges of seasoned scientists. Well, a select group of high school students here on the Front Range are also diving into this research, through the University of Colorado’s Photo-Origami Research Project. It’s part of the Research Experience and Mentoring (REM) program. Our guests–Lindsey Welch, a sophomore at Centaurus High; and Tyco Mera Evans, a senior at Northglenn High– will give poster presentations at the Emerging Researchers National Conference in STEM, in Washington, D.C.  this week. Joining them in the studio is Kathryn Penzkover, who directs high school programs through CU Science Discovery.

book cover-Sex (this)Sex & Evolution Beneath the Waves (start time: 14:45) Ever wonder about the sex lives of gender-bending fish, desperately virgin elephant seals, and other creatures of the sea? Marine ecologist Marah Hardt has made a career out of it. She speaks with host Susan Moran about her newly published book, Sex in the Sea: Our Intimate Connections with Sex-changing Fish, Romantic Lobsters, Kinky Squid, and Other Salty Erotica of the Deep. Dr. Hardt, who works with the nonprofit Future of Fish, illuminates how sex in the sea is at the heart of healthy and sustainable oceans. The oceans, along with their inhabitants, are under many threats, including overfishing and climate change. She will speak tonight about her book at the Boulder Book Store. For more information on ocean conservation issues, and to get involved here in land-locked Colorado, check out the nonprofit Colorado Ocean Coalition. And listen to previous related interviews, in our series “The Ocean Is Us.”

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional contributors: Beth Bennett
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Geoengineering the Climate

Image credit: Daily Sun

Image credit: Daily Sun

Hacking the Planet (start time: 10:24):
It’s tough to wrap one’s mind around just how monumental and consequential the problem of climate change is. So dire that scientist and engineers for years have been exploring ways to “hack” the planet–to manipulate the global climate system enough to significantly reduce planet-warming gases or increase the Earth’s ability to reflect solar radiation. This audacious scheme, called geoengineering, only exists because many scientists think that human behavioral change, industry regulations, international treaties and national legislation, have not done enough — can not do enough – to keep us from careening toward climate catastrophe.
Our guests today have given this huge challenge a lot of thought and some research. 
Dr. Lisa Dilling is an associate professor of Environmental Studies at CU Boulder and a fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRESDr. David Fahey is a physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.  He directs the Chemical Sciences Division at NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab in Boulder.

Some relevant materials on geoengineering:
2017 study on public perception of climate change;
2015 National Research Council committee evaluation of proposed climate-intervention tchniques.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Contributor: Chip Grandits
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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The Unnatural World

the-unnatural-world-9781476743905_lgThe Unnatural World (start time: 6:58): It’s an audacious topic for a book: the planet, and audacious individuals who are working to save — actually, to remake — human civilization and our home on Earth. David Biello is the science curator at TED and a contributing editor at Scientific American. His debut book, The Unnatural World: The Race to Remake Civilization in Earth’s Newest Age (Scribner), will be out in paperback next month. It explores how we have altered “nature” in so many ways, from burning fossil fuels and warming the oceans and atmosphere, to tearing down tropical rain forests, to killing off so many species. In this newest epoch, dubbed by many the Anthropocene, humans are not just messing things up; they are also inventing solutions, as Biello notes. Daring optimists in his book include Elon Musk and his Tesla electric cars and trucks.

Hosts: Chip Grantis, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Chip Grantis
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Additional Contributions: Joel Parker

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Committed Warming

Committed warming as a function of transient climate response, courtesy of Nature Climate Change.

Committed warming as a function of transient climate response, courtesy of Nature Climate Change.

Much of current climate science research focuses on understanding how the climate is changing and what type of climate we will have in the near future. But to understand where the climate is going, we need to understand where the climate has been. It is especially important to understand how the climate has responded to the rise of the modern, industrial world, which has emitted greenhouse gases that warm the climate. Because many of these gases will last for a long time in the atmosphere, some of this warming has already been set in motion and will happen regardless of future greenhouse gas emissions. This change is known as “committed warming”.

Determining how much committed warming has occurred in the climate is important to understand the future path of our climate. How on Earth speaks with Dr. Robert Pincus, a co-author of a new study published in Nature Climate Change that provides an estimate of committed warming using a global database of surface temperatures. Dr. Pincus is a Research Scientist at the Earth System Research Laboratory at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hosts: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Alejandro Soto, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Additional Contributions:  Beth Bennett, Joel Parker
Executive Producer:  Alejandro Soto

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2017 Graduation Special (part 1)

diploma-and-graduation-hatWith graduation season is upon us, or in many cases in the rearview mirror, today’s edition of How on Earth is the first of a two-part “Graduation Special”. Our guests in the studio today are scientists who recently graduated with – or soon will receive – their Ph.D.  They talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next.

morganMorgan Rehnberg – CU Boulder, Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences
Topic: Small-Scade Structure in Saturn’s Rings

davidDavid Horvath – Colorado School of Mines, Department of Geophysics
Topic: Planetary Hydrology: Implications for the Past Martian Climate and Present Titan Lake Hydrology Using Numerical Models of the Hydrologic Cycles on Titan and Mars

josephJoseph Lee – CU Boulder, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Topic: Wind Energy and Interactions between Wind Turbines and the Atmosphere

Host / Producer / Engineer : Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Quantum Dot Antibiotics // Shrinking Ozone Hole

Quantum Dot Antibiotics (c Shelley Schlender)

Quantum Dot Antibiotics (c Shelley Schlender)

Quantum Dot Antibiotics (starts 1:00) This programmable antibiotic might keep pace with quickly evolving superbugs.  Unlike most drugs – it’s not derived from biological sources.  It’s a tiny version of the semiconductors in everything from TVs to iphones to solar panels.  This “antibiotic” is made of nanoparticles, known as quantum dots.  CU Biofrontiers scientists Prashant Nagpal and Anushree Chatterjee explain their new invention.

South Pole ozonesonde (balloon) launch. c NOAA

South Pole ozonesonde (balloon) launch. c noaa

Shrinking Ozone Hole – (starts 15:24) The ozone hole is finally growing smaller – we’ll find out why and how long it will take to completely “heal” the ozone hole from Birgit Hassler, a researcher with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Hosts: Shelley Schlender, Susan Moran
Producer:Shelley Schlender
Engineer:Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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2016 Graduation Special (part 2)

diploma-and-graduation-hatIn this follow-up episode of our “Graduation Special” we talk with three more guests graduating with science Ph.D.’s from the University of Colorado in Boulder.  They join us to talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next:

CarleighSamson_headshotCarleigh SamsonEnvironmental Engineering Program
Topic: Modeling Relationships between Climate, Source Water Quality and Disinfection Byproduct Formation and Speciation in Treated Drinking Water

 
View More: http://americanchemicalsociety.pass.us/headshotsPatrick BarbourDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Topic: Property-Guided Synthesis of Tricyclic Indolines to Confront Antibiotic Resistance in Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

94938Greg ThompsonDepartment of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Topic: Advances in a Microphysics Parameterization to Predict Supercooled Liquid Water and Application to Aircraft Icing

Host / Engineer : Shelley Schlender
Producer : Joel Parker
Executive Producer : Shelley Schlender

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