University of Delaware
delware environmental institute


Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

Communicating science:  July 21 workshop to help scientists, engineers become better communicators
06/27/2011 -

“So, what do you do?”

It’s one of the most common questions posed in everyday life, but for scientists and engineers, answering can be problematic, requiring a quick assessment of the technological savvy of the questioner, whether that person is a relative, a colleague, a reporter or perhaps even a politician. Replying in an engaging way in language the listener can understand often takes forethought and practice. A National Science Foundation-sponsored workshop, “Science: Becoming the Messenger,” aims to help academic scientists and engineers learn to craft responses to this ubiquitous question that are effective in reaching a broad range of audiences through a variety of media.

NSF Highlight: Fastest sea-level rise in two millennia linked to increasing global temperatures
06/21/2011 -

The rate of sea-level rise along the U.S. Atlantic coast is greater now than at any time in the past 2,000 years--and has shown a consistent link between changes in global mean surface temperature and sea level. The findings are published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

NSF Highlight: Where have all the flowers gone?
06/20/2011 -

It's summer wildflower season in the Rocky Mountains, a time when high-peaks meadows are dotted with riotous color. But for how long? Once, wildflower season in montane meadow ecosystems extended throughout the summer months. But now scientists have found a fall-off in wildflowers at mid-season. They published their results, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), in the current issue of the Journal of Ecology.

Tracking water pollutants:  Study evaluates engineered nanoparticles in wastewater
06/17/2011 -

Have you ever wondered what happens to sunscreen after it swirls down the drain with your soap? Probably not, but it is a question that makes Prof. Chin-Pao Huang curious. Sunscreen contains titanium dioxide, an engineered nanoparticle (ENP) that improves the product’s performance, reducing your sunburn risk while outdoors. But if titanium dioxide doesn’t dissolve, where does it go once you wash it off? Huang, Donald C. Phillips Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Delaware, is principal investigator (PI) of a new grant exploring whether ENP are present in ground wastewater. Murray Johnston, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, serves as co-PI on the project.

06/08/2011 -

DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship is now accepting proposals for grants for community water quality improvements projects from state and municipal governments, agencies and programs, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, community organizations, and homeowner associations within Delaware. Proposals must be received by 4:30 p.m., August 1.

NSF Highlight: How climate change is impacting marshes
06/07/2011 -

It is a very muddy trek from the small boat to the field site along Raccoon Creek near Bridgeport, N.J. Villanova University marine scientist Nathaniel Weston and his team are all carrying ladders and equipment as they slosh through ankle deep mud toward their experiments. "The whole reason I got into this line of research is because I like being outside, I like coastal estuaries and marsh systems, I like getting muddy, so I have fun with it," says Weston enthusiastically.

NSF Highlight: Air quality worsened by paved surfaces
06/07/2011 -

New research focusing on the Houston area suggests that widespread urban development alters weather patterns in a way that can make it easier for pollutants to accumulate during warm summer weather instead of being blown out to sea. The international study, led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), could have implications for the air quality of fast-growing coastal cities in the United States and other mid-latitude regions overseas. The reason: the proliferation of strip malls, subdivisions and other paved areas may interfere with breezes needed to clear away smog and other pollution.

Roof goes green:  University's first green roof takes root at Colburn Laboratory
06/07/2011 -

The University of Delaware’s first green roof, partially installed on Colburn Laboratory two weeks ago, came about because Annette Shine and her students were too hot to concentrate. Shine, an associate professor of chemical engineering, used to teach in Room 102, in an older section of Colburn with an HVAC system that’s switched between heat and air conditioning twice a year. Invariably, there were unseasonably warm days in fall and early spring when Shine and her students sweltered. It made it hard to focus on chemical engineering problems on the blackboard but one day it got Shine and her teaching assistant, Kathy Phillips, thinking about a different kind of engineering problem – would it be possible to put a green roof over their heads?

Estuary is $10 billion asset:  In economic drought, impact study shows Delaware Estuary is a major asset
06/03/2011 -

In the first economic impact study of the Delaware Estuary in 20 years, researchers from the University of Delaware’s Water Resources Agency (WRA) have found the watershed—which covers 0.2 percent of the continental U.S., yet supplies drinking water to 2 percent of the U.S. population—contributes over $10 billion annually to the region’s economy. Calling the figure “a conservative estimate,” the researchers measured the value of the tidal Delaware River, Delaware Bay and tributaries in three different ways.

06/02/2011 -

At the Kent County Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility today, Governor Jack Markell proposed taking advantage of a partnership opportunity with the federal government to invest in clean water projects that create local jobs, provide long-term water quality benefits, and protect public health and the environment. "You can’t grow a healthy family without clean water.  You also can’t grow a healthy community or a healthy company – whether you're a small or large employer – without a clean, reliable water supply," said Markell.  "Investing in clean water infrastructure will pay significant dividends for Delaware’s economic growth, our environment and the safety of our families, while creating jobs now."