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Professors Graybill and Loranty Awarded Picker Grants

By Geography Department on March 4, 2016

The Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute (Picker ISI) recently announced the 2015-2016 grant awards supporting interdisciplinary approaches in innovative research. The grants bring together Colgate faculty and other researchers with complementary expertise to open new areas of study and to tackle existing problems in creative new ways.

Professor Jessica Graybill (Geography and Russian & Eurasian Studies) and her collaborators Andrey Petrov (University of Northern Iowa) and Gleb Kraev (Moscow State University) have received a one-year award of $37,430 for their project “Tundra Tracks: Mapping Community and Carbon Mobilities in the Russian Arctic”. Vehicle tracks have a long term impact on the tundra in Arctic Russia. Unused tracks remain recognizable from satellite images ~40 years after creation. The tracks damage plant cover, compact and disengage soil layers and change energy and matter fluxes. Their impact on large scale climate is unknown. They are also intertwined with human activity and community in these regions. This project will explore how carbon fluxes vary on or near tracks, how the tracks vary in density and distribution and how their presence interacts with nearby human communities.

Professor Michael Loranty and Heather Kropp (Geography) and their collaborators Nick Rutter (Northumbria University, UK) and Chris Fletcher (University of Waterloo, CA) have received a two-year award of $136,545 for their project “Impacts of boreal climate feedbacks on climate change”. Boreal forests represent approximately one-fifth of the Northern Hemisphere land surface and strongly influence global climate. Declines in the duration and extent of seasonal snow cover across the boreal region increases the absorption of solar radiation, which amplifies climate warming. The strength of this positive feedback varies widely between climate models because it is difficult to represent complex snow-forest-climate interactions. This project will confront climate model representations with field measurements and satellite observations of boreal forest-snow energy dynamics. The researchers aim to improve the understanding and climate model representation of interactions between boreal forest structure, snow cover, and climate dynamics.

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