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Taylor to serve as interim director of Earth and Environmental Systems Institute

Alan Taylor, professor of geography and ecology, will serve as interim director of the Penn State Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI) while director Susan Brantley is on sabbatical. His appointment began July 1.

Underground fiber optic sensors record sounds of COVID lockdown, reopening 3

In March 2020, daily life in the United States changed in an instant as the country locked down to deal with the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. New research reveals how residents in one community returned to their routines as the restrictions lifted, according to a team of Penn State scientists.

Researchers awarded grant to advance geothermal energy science

Over the last decade, geothermal energy has progressed throughout the world as an environmentally friendly, sustainable source of energy. Using the heat from the Earth’s crust, geothermal power plants harvest and store energy in massive underground reservoirs carved out of stone. Once built, the reservoirs are inaccessible and monitored remotely — but not infallible. Earthquakes and more can fracture the subsurface rock, risking the integrity of the reservoir and endangering energy production. 

Global pollen samples reveal vegetation rate of change

Ancient pollen samples and a new statistical approach may shed light on the global rate of change of vegetation and eventually on how much climate change and humans  have played a part in altering landscapes, according to an international team of researchers.

"We know that climate and people interact with natural ecosystems and change them," said Sarah Ivory, assistant professor of geosciences and associate in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Penn State. "Typically, we go to some particular location and study this by teasing apart these influences. In particular, we know that the impact people have goes back much earlier than what is typically accepted as the case. However, we haven't been able to observe the patterns created by these processes globally or long-term."

Brantley elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Susan L. Brantley, distinguished professor of geosciences and director of the Earth Environmental Systems Institute at Penn State, has been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The 2021 class of members contains 252 new members who join the more than 13,500 members who have been elected since the Academy was founded in 1780 by the country's founders.

New Penn State laboratory to perform mineral dating method key to Earth research

What does research about the early Earth, the tectonics of the Alps and the collapse of ancient mountains have in common? Understanding of all these important Earth processes can benefit from an advanced mineral dating technique conducted in a new Penn State facility for the first time.

Antarctic ice model shows unstoppable sea level rise if Paris target is not met

AMHERST, Mass. — The world is currently on track to exceed 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) of global warming by the year 2100, and new research shows that such a scenario would drastically accelerate the pace of sea-level rise. If the rate of global warming continues on its current trajectory, we will reach a tipping point by 2060, past which these consequences would be "irreversible on multi-century timescales," according to researchers.

Landscape shows earliest effects of modern humans using fire to shape ecosystem

Humans have used fire for millennia to lure out game when hunting and to convert woodland to agricultural land, leaving their mark on the landscape. New archaeological and paleoenvironmental evidence from Lake Malawi, Africa, shows that the effects on the landscape of humans’ use of fire is tens of thousands of years older than previously thought, according to an international team of researchers.

'Dead clades walking': Fossil record provides new insights into mass extinctions

Mass extinctions are known as times of global upheaval, causing rapid losses in biodiversity that wipe out entire animal groups. Some of the doomed groups linger on before going extinct, and a team of scientists found these “dead clades walking” (DCW) are more common and long-lasting than expected.

Penn State undergraduate digs into the past through fossil leaves

Edward Spagnuolo has always been stuck in the past.

As a child, he dreamed of dinosaurs and hunting for fossils buried in the ground. He never outgrew the phase, and he eventually chased his dream to Penn State. Now a junior majoring in geobiology, Spagnuolo has found a new avenue for pursuing his passion – fossil leaves.