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UL Research Team Calculates the Stress on Louisiana’s Water Supply

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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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In work recently published in Environmental Research Letters, a team of scientists and engineers at UL Lafayette have developed a new framework for understanding the balance of water demand and water availability throughout Louisiana. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation. Lead author, Hisham Eldardiry, a recent graduate of UL’s Systems Engineering PhD program, says “This work is important for water managers and policy makers because it is the first time we’ve been able to look at all of our water needs on a very fine scale to see where we stress the system to meet demand”. Coauthors Emad Habib, a Professor of Civil Engineering, and David Borrok, a Professor of Geology supported the effort. “The water stress analysis springs from a long-term collaboration between science and engineering” indicated Habib. “The long-term goal of this work is to identify strategies for building sustainable water systems in Louisiana and in the Southeastern U.S.”. Borrok recently presented the team’s water stress calculations at the 9 th regular meeting of the state’s Water Resources Commission. “Our research shows that much of Louisiana’s groundwater is highly stressed, while most of our surface water is in great shape, adds Borrok, “These findings can help to identify opportunities to alleviate stress on the overall system.” The research team plans to follow up this initial work by examining how water stress in Louisiana is impacted by water quality. They will also run climate and water demand simulations that can help to predict future water stress conditions for the state.