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Carbon Mitigation Initiative News - Winter 2014


Book cover of "Paleoclimate" authored by Michael Bender, professor of geoscience at Princeton University

In his new book “Paleoclimate”, Michael Bender, professor of geosciences at Princeton University and a lead-member of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI), produced a concise and comprehensive history of the Earth’s climate and how it has changed over time. The field of Paleoclimatology is the study of such changes and their causes. In particular, the study of the Earth's long-term climate history can provide scientists with vital clues about anthropogenic global warming and how climate is affected by human activity.

Bender provides geologic context by briefly describing the modern climate system and how the record of past climate is determined. He then recounts the major climate events, such as the ice ages, that have taken place over the 4.5 billion years of Earth history, the physical evidence for these events, and the leading explanations. Bender concludes with a discussion of the Holocene (the past 10,000 years) and places anthropogenic climate change in the context of paleoclimate. The book is geared toward undergraduates, non-specialist scientists, and general readers with a scientific background. “Paleoclimate” was published in August 2013 by Princeton University Press as part of its series, Princeton Primers in Climate.

Civil and environmental engineering graduate student Mary Kang received the prestigious “Outstanding Student Paper Award” from the American Geophysical Union (AGU).  Kang’s paper, titled “Significant Methane Emissions from Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells in Northwest Pennsylvania,” was presented in December 2013 at the annual meeting of the AGU.  In her presentation, Kang described methane flux measurements she has performed at a number of abandoned wells in northwest Pennsylvania.  Those measurements show significant levels of methane emissions from these abandoned wells.  While additional measurements are needed, these emissions appear to be significant relative to reported overall methane emissions in the state.  These emissions from abandoned wells do not appear in any current methane accounting methods and, therefore, can represent an important missing source of methane emissions.

The Carbon Science Group continues to improve estimates of past and future terrestrial and oceanic carbon sinks to assess impacts of climate change.  In support of these initiatives, two new postdoctoral students have been added to the team, Dan Li *13 and Monika Barcikowska.  Li, advised by civil and environmental engineering assistant professor Elie Bou-Zeid, earned his Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering at Princeton University with a focus on the impact of urbanization on local and regional climate as well as the water cycle. His research focuses on understanding how climate changes, including variability and extremes, are manifested in the urban and other anthropogenically-modified environments.  Barcikowska earned her Ph.D. in mathematics, informatics, and natural sciences at Hamburg University.  She will participate in research efforts toward distinguishing natural variability from anthropogenic climate change, and assessing historical trends in extreme precipitation. 

Wenying Li, chemical engineering faculty member from Taiyuan University of Technology, joined the Low-Carbon Energy Group as a senior visiting scholar during the fall continuing CMI’s long-term collaboration with Chinese colleagues. She conducts research on coal science and technology. In October Bob Williams, CMI Low-Carbon Energy Project lead, delivered a paper at the 7th  Sino-US Joint Conference of Chemical Engineering in Beijing, China, entitled “CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery Opportunity for Early CCS Projects.”

CMI website