Professor James Smith writes how a trip to Nevada's Lake Mead in 2008 provided him a stark reminder of dramatically changing drought patterns and the importance of a broad-based effort to understand and manage water resources.
Tropical storms in the Atlantic are likely to increase as the Earth’s climate warms in the first half of this century, but not for the reason that many people think.
A decade ago, a shockwave raced through the world’s agricultural markets. China opened its borders to foreign-grown soy. Ranchers in Argentina plowed under their pastureland and Brazilian farmers opened new acreage for planting. Almost overnight, the economies of those countries changed. Why did this happen? And why does it make sense to grow food and ship it around the world rather than raise crops close to home? A Princeton-led research team has found that one of the primary
A massive expansion of hydropower planned for the Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia could have a catastrophic impact on the river’s fishery and millions of people who depend on it, according to a new study by researchers including scientists from Princeton University. The researchers analyzed a number of scenarios for dam construction along the river and its tributaries. In an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they found that, in the most extreme
Mark Zondlo and his research team frequently find themselves 45,000 feet above the Earth looking for water vapor in the upper reaches of the atmosphere. From a seat in a National Science Foundation (NSF) research jet, the engineers can search a slice of the sky for pollutants and gases that play a role in climate change. Zondlo, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, said that water plays a greater role in climate change than many people imagine. “If we want to un
Under a microscope, a tiny droplet slides between two fine hairs like a roller coaster on a set of rails until — poof — it suddenly spreads along them, a droplet no more. That instant of change, like the popping of a soap bubble, comes so suddenly that it seems almost magical. But describing it, and mapping out how droplets stretch into tiny columns, is key to understanding how liquids affect fibrous materials, from air filters to human hair. That knowledge could allow scientists
Pablo Debenedetti studies water at the smallest possible scales — zooming in on molecule-to-molecule interactions — but the implications for large industrial processes and many scientific fields could hardly be greater. Take water quality. Debenedetti and Sankaran Sundaresan, both Princeton engineers, are attempting to find a clean, new way to desalinate water by using hydrates, or crystalline solids in which hydrocarbon molecules are trapped in water cages. When hydrates form in
Drought is often the precursor to disaster, but getting leads on its stealthy approach through remote or war-torn areas can be so difficult that relief agencies sometimes have little time to react before a bad situation becomes a calamity. The problem is that there is often no easy way to get data about water supplies in these areas — water monitoring stations don’t exist, or they don’t work, or their locations are simply too dangerous. Groups such as AGRHYMET, an intergover
In the course of studying water and its impact on communities, Peter Jaffe and his students have waded through the marshes of New Jersey’s Meadowlands and worked with villagers in India to remove toxins from their drinking water. Their travels represent the wide range of interests that Jaffe, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, has pursued in water-related research. In India, fluoride contamination in well water is common in parts of the country. In small amounts, fluor
If recent Princeton graduate Ida Posner’s senior thesis project works the way she hopes, scientists could answer critical questions about how much water plants use without expensive, bulky laboratory equipment.
There is pressure, and there is pressure. Paul Hsieh (BSE ’77) mostly deals with the physical type, the stresses and forces of underground water and rock. Understanding that type of pressure is a daily task for Hsieh, a hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Menlo Park, Calif. But after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April 2010, Hsieh learned about pressure of an entirely different kind. Engineers worked for 87 days to cap the stricken well and staunch the oil fl
At least three Princeton Engineering alumni — all in the Seattle area — are engaged in exploring the mysteries of the deep sea. As a research scientist and senior engineer at the University of Washington, Andy Stewart (Ph.D. ’12) works on a variety of projects, such as basic research in dynamics and control of autonomous systems (typically underwater vehicles), and designing and building a high-definition video camera for streaming live footage from a hydrothermal vent