Along with students from UB’s Paleoclimate Lab housed within the Department of Geology, Jason Briner, an associate professor in geology, engage in global climate change research funded by the National Science Foundation. The group focuses their work on the processes and timing of alpine glacier and ice sheet change. Briner’s recent findings included the discovery with a team of researchers that Arctic ice sheets don’t just shrink in response to abrupt warming, but can also expand in response to abrupt cooling. Briner’s team has also revealed that glaciers in deep ocean water can undergo periods of rapid retreat, shrinking more quickly than has recently been observed.
A professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering and the principal investigator for the Ecosystem Restoration through Interdisciplinary Exchange Program, Alan Rabideau focuses his research on mathematical modeling of flow and reactive contaminant transport in groundwater, subsurface remediation, environmental ethics and decision and risk analysis for environmental systems. Rabideau helped develop a large permeable treatment wall that removes radioactive strontium-90 from groundwater at the West Valley Demonstration Project, located 30 miles south of Buffalo. The project won the UB team and AMEC Geomatrix of Amherst, N.Y., the 2011 Ground Water Remediation Award from the National Ground Water Association.
Sean Bennett, a geographer in the Department of Geography is modeling erosion in hopes of being able to predict it and hopefully, prevent it. Dead zones in critical waterways, accelerated loss of arable land and massive famines. They're all caused by the 24 billion tons of soil that are lost every year to erosion, a phenomenon that costs the world as much as $40 billion annually.
The purpose of Bennett’s work is both exceedingly practical — geared toward helping farmers learn how to best prevent erosion — and fundamental, to better understand how planetary surfaces evolve over time.
The Ecosystem Restoration through Interdisciplinary Exchange (ERIE) program is a collection of existing academic programs and research projects designed to advance the science, engineering, and policy of ecosystem restoration, and contribute to the ecological recovery of the Great Lakes and Western New York. Funded through the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program.
Chris Lowry from the Department of Geology is leading a study with researchers from three universities to create a new, high-tech tool for mapping changing plant patterns at Tuolumne Meadows, a mountain meadow in Yosemite National Park.
The tool is a model that stitches together years of data from the study area, including meteorological observations, stream gage measurements, water levels at 55 wells, and vegetation surveys that the National Park Service conducted at 222 locations.
By combining these and other factors, the model successfully simulated how past groundwater levels influenced the type of plants growing in the meadow. The next step is to use the model to predict how future climate change could affect vegetation patterns, and to test the effectiveness of potential, future restoration strategies.