Featured Projects

Reconstruction of past climate provides clues about future climate change 

Scientists use sediment cores drilled from the ocean floor to create a timeline of Earth’s past temperatures. Professor Matthew Huber has combined these temperature reconstructions with climate model analysis to understand how ocean circulations and atmospheric gases influence climate changes throughout the Eocene, 56 million to 34 million years ago, providing insights for present-day climate shifts.

The growing risk to the U.S. electricity grid

Analysis by Professor Roshanak Nateghi shows the power industry is dramatically underestimating how climate-induced demand shifts, driven by changes in atmospheric moisture, could affect the reliability of electricity systems. Using an improved energy forecasting model, Nateghi conducts a case study in Ohio to demonstrate the added risks from a changing climate.

The ecology of peace: preparing Colombia for new political and planetary climates

Political and environmental factors, together, will shape the future of Colombia’s tropical forests. Recommendations for preventing future ecological degradation, which has global and local consequences, have been developed by a team of PCCRC affiliates and international researchers.

Pathways to smallholder adaptation to climate change

Smallholder farmers are critical to food security throughout Asia, and also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Professor Zhao Ma looks at strategies for coping with change, and the forces that determine whether these strategies will be successfully developed and implemented.

High‐resolution climate projections for the northeastern U.S.

Professor Matthew Huber and colleagues implemented a unique method for generating a dynamically downscaled, high-resolution climate data set for New Hampshire. This first-of-its-kind data will improve local planning, mitigation and adaptation efforts.

A rapid assessment of damaged residential buildings in the Florida Keys after Hurricane Irma

Effective post-hurricane response and recovery relies on damage assessments. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Professor Dan Chavas combined computer simulations of storm surge, satellite imagery, and direct observations to identify distinct factors governing damage patterns at two study locations.

Amazonian peatlands could shift from a carbon sink to a carbon source under a changing climate

Amazonian Peatlands store large amounts of carbon in the soil, but warming threatens this critical environmental service. A research team including Professor Qianlai Zhuang looked at the impact of warming temperatures on this carbon-dense landscape over the next century.

Understanding changes in soil organic carbon

Agricultural production has accelerated soil erosion and altered soil carbon processes. Professor Timothy Filley and colleagues are using a new 3-D computational model to better understand soil changes in space and time, with the goal of helping farmers improve soil management.

Climate change implications for tourism in the U.S. Great Lakes and Midwest

Winter tourism adds billions of dollars annually to the Midwestern U.S. economy, and is threatened by a warming climate. Professor Keith Cherkauer and colleagues analyzed wintertime shifts in future climate and hydrological variables and discuss implications for regional tourism.

Lake Evaporation in the Atmosphere Project (LEAP)

The Great Lakes system influences regional weather and climate patterns. However, the interconnections among the land, water, and atmosphere in and around the Lakes are poorly understood. Professors Lisa Welp and Mike Baldwin are working to change that with LEAP.

Impacts of Climate Change on Soil Erosion in the Great Lakes Region

Reduced water quality in the Great Lakes region is largely caused by agricultural runoff and soil erosion. Professor Keith Cherkauer and graduate student Lili Wang are looking at where and when to direct soil conservation efforts to minimize future soil loss and water quality impacts. 

Impacts of climate on the biodiversity-productivity relationship in natural forests

Does greater species richness indicate a more productive ecosystem? According to Professor Songlin Fei, it just depends on the location’s climate, and this finding has important implications for forest management and climate change adaptation.

Warming increases the sensitivity of seedling growth capacity to rainfall

Forest composition by the end of the century will depend on how tree seedlings respond to shifting climate patterns. Professor Jeff Dukes and colleagues conducted field experiments to measure seedling sensitivity to different combinations of temperature and rainfall.  

Making use of marginal lands for biofuels production

Is there enough land to produce renewable biofuels and to meet food demands? According to Professor Jeff Volenec, graduate student Qingyu Feng, and their colleagues, perennial grasses grown on marginal farmland is the key.

Managing agricultural water in a changing climate

Future climate projections show that farmers will increasingly need to deal with water surpluses and deficits, often in the same season. Professor Jane Frankenberger is testing the effects of retrofitting subsurface drainage systems for irrigation in times of water need.

Sustainable palm oil may not be so sustainable

Palm oil demand is surging, with negative impacts on tropical forests. Advocates and industry representatives have developed guidelines for certifying sustainable palm oil production, but are they effective? Research from Professor Jingjing Liang and colleagues suspect not.

Dry conditions helped C4 plants emerge during the mid-Oligocene

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were previously thought to be the driver behind the emergence of C4-type plants in the mid-Oligocene. However, new research from Professor Matthew Huber and co-authors implicate water availability as the primary factor instead.

Agriculture, trade, and climate change adaptation

Is removing or reducing trade barriers a feasible climate change adaptation strategy? Professor Wally Tyner looked at case studies for Morocco and Turkey for clues.

Understanding infrastructure resilience in hurricane-prone electric power distribution systems

Professor Roshanak Nateghi has developed a new framework to simulate the complex interplay between climate hazards, electrical system characteristics, and regional topography as a way to understand grid resilience.

Methane emissions from the Baltimore‐Washington area based on airborne observations

National and state-level greenhouse gas inventories are used to infer local emissions, but those inventories can dramatically underestimate reality. PCCRC graduate student fellow Olivia Salmon reports such discrepancies based on observations collected from the Purdue Airborne Laboratory for Atmospheric Research.

Using P-band signals of opportunity for biomass remote sensing

Forest biomass stores vast amounts of carbon, which are released if forests are burned or cleared. Monitoring biomass is, therefore, critical for climate mitigation programs, but current methods are highly inaccurate.  A team of PCCRC affiliates are testing a promising new approach to monitoring forest biomass using drone technology.

Building political support for carbon pricing

In a new policy brief, Professor Leigh Raymond looks at examples of carbon pricing policies and communication strategies as he examines the factors determining their success.

Assessing progress towards the Paris Agreement

Countries worldwide have made voluntary pledges to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and a system for periodically reviewing progress towards reductions is under development. Professor Manjana Milkoreit is developing a series of lessons for this evaluation based on other global review efforts. 

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