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Dr. Jenneke Visser and her research team won a global competition for designing Louisiana’s coast

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CO2 levels now higher than any time in the last 23 million years

One of the most pressing messages that climate scientists attempt to convey to the public is how today’s CO2 levels compare to those of the Geologic past. Such comparisons can provide public context for current CO2 rise, as well as important information on the response of global temperatures to rising CO2. A new study published in Geology suggests that present-day CO2 levels (412 ppmv) are now likely higher than at any time in at least the last 23 million years!

In this newly published study, a team led by Brian Schubert, Associate Professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, used the remains of dead plants to produce a new record of atmospheric CO2 that spans 23 million years of uninterrupted Earth history. Their findings relied on the nearly continuous record of terrestrial photosynthesis provided by organic matter accumulated from partially decomposed plants.

“When plants grow, the relative amount of the two stable isotopes of carbon, carbon-12 and carbon-13, changes in response to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere,” says Schubert. “One can therefore measure the relative amount of these two isotopes and calculate the CO2 concentration under which the plants grew.”

The remains of land plants can be used to calculate the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere. Photo credit: A. Hope Jahren

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Two Graduate Students win the GSA Graduate Research Grant

Please join us in congratulating two of our graduate students who recently won a GSA Graduate Research Grant for 202

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The School of Geosciences wins prestigious Field Camp Award

As our 2020 virtual field camp is kicking off today, our School has just been informed that we are this year's recip

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Dr. Jenneke Visser was a member of STUDIO MISI-ZIIBI one of the three design teams named as winners of the international changing course competition ( Changing Course is one of the largest global design competitions ever conducted to find solutions to the most vexing problems facing coastal communities threatened by violent storms, rapid land loss and rising seas. It has brought together 21 teams of top engineers, planners, designers, scientists and coastal experts from around the world to create innovative visions for one of America’s greatest, and most threatened natural resources.  From the initial 21, eight teams were selected to develop proposals for how to approach the problem. From these, three teams were selected as finalists to develop ideas and concepts and these teams were ultimately declared the winners of the competition.  The state of Louisiana already has agreed to consider the technical innovations of the three winning Changing Course teams in its coastal planning. Changing Course is mentioned specifically in the RESTORE Council's draft Funded Priorities List—as a source of solutions and ideas for the $9.3 million study of the Lower River by the State of Louisiana and Corps of Engineers.  While each of the winning teams offered a different vision, all three identified the same key requirements as critical to sustaining the Mississippi River Delta today and into the future:
• Reconnecting the Mississippi River to its wetlands to help restore southeast Louisiana’s first line of defense against powerful storms and rising sea levels.
• Planning for a smaller, more sustainable delta, including a gradual shift in population to create more protected and resilient communities.
• Protecting and maximizing the region’s port and maritime activities.
• Increasing economic opportunities in a future smaller delta through expanding shipping capacity, coastal restoration infrastructure, outdoor recreation and tourism and commercial fishing.