While Death Valley’s  Mesquite Flat Dunes are popular with tourists, Christie-Blick prefers to take his students to a set of smaller, less-traveled dunes nearby. Here, Meara Hayden (right), Tina Liu and Xin Xu examine variations in sand grain size associated with wind ripples.

The Long Life of Death Valley

Geologist Nicholas Christie-Blick has studied the Death Valley region for more than four decades. Each spring, he leads a group of Columbia University undergraduates there on a fieldtrip. Check out highlights from this year’s trip.

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Bineta Diop, International Conference on Sustainable Development Practice

Conference on Sustainable Development Practice Sept. 17-18

The Global MDP Association and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network are hosting the 2nd Annual International Conference on Sustainable Development Practice at Columbia University.

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Cobscook Bay State Park, Maine. Photo: W. Menke

What Geology Has to Say About Global Warming

The most important lessons drawn from geology are that the earth’s climate can change radically, and rapidly. We can’t say precisely at what CO2 level we’re in danger of melting Antarctica, but that threshold could be reached in 150-300 years, if CO2 levels keep rising at the current rate.

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El Niño: The Basics

Forecasts suggest we’re looking ahead to an El Niño event this year—a warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean around the equator that can affect weather patterns around the globe. But what exactly is an El Niño event, how strong do forecasters think it’s likely to be, and just how will it affect our weather?

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The Amazon rainforest. Photo: CIFOR

Making Progress on Deforestation

In 2005, Brazil was losing more forest each year than any other country. Today, Brazil has reduced deforestation in the Amazon by 70 percent. Seventeen countries across four continents have also shown progress in reducing tropical deforestation. But there is still a long way to go.

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Earth Institute Fall 2014 Internships

by | 8.19.2014 at 3:23pm

This fall, the Earth Institute is offering Columbia students opportunities to intern within various departments and research centers at the institute. All full-time Columbia and Barnard students are eligible to apply. These internships are funded at a rate of $15 an hour for 10 hours per week and up to a maximum of 120 hours for the fall 2014 semester.

Beneath an Icelandic Glacier, Another Eruption Brewing

by | 8.19.2014 at 3:14pm
An eruption pierces the glaciers at the Bárðarbunga volcano. Photo: Oddur Sigurdsson, Iceland Geological Survey

The 2,000-meter tall Bárðarbunga volcano in Iceland is at risk of eruption, an event that could send a cloud of ash and steam high into the atmosphere and cause extensive disruptions in air travel, among other effects, according to media reports. Earth Institute scientist Ben Orlove looks into it on the Glacier Hub blog.

Student Explores Energy Resources in Chile

by | 8.18.2014 at 2:15pm
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Grant Gutierrez’ passion for energy resources has led him to further explore the relationship between its application, development and consumption. He is hoping that his studies in anthropology and sustainable development will help him reshape the way people think about energy and the resources available. As a recipient of the Undergraduate Sustainable Development Global Fellows Grant lived in Chile over the summer and conducted ethnographic research on energy development in the country.

Earth Institute Offers Funding for Student Initiatives

by | 8.18.2014 at 10:00am

In an effort to better support students in their efforts to raise awareness about sustainability on campus, the Earth Institute is making available funding for the new Student Initiatives Support Program, offering grants of up to $250 each semester to support students who wish to host conferences, panels and other events at Columbia University that relate to the work of the Earth Institute.

Major Gift Will Expand Center for Climate Change Law

by | 8.18.2014 at 9:40am
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Columbia Law School’s Center for Climate Change Law will be newly expanded with a major gift from the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation. The center, an affiliate of the Earth Institute, has been renamed the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

Internship Opportunities with the Earth Institute Director’s Office

by | 8.15.2014 at 4:33pm

The Office of the Director of the Earth Institute is offering two internship opportunities: the Administration, Communications, and Research, Director’s Office (DO) internship; and the Communications, Research, Writing and Event-Planning Internship. Both will work with the Office of the Director.

Reframing the Conversation on Industrial Energy Efficiency

by | 8.15.2014 at 3:45pm
Photo: mypokcik © madpixblue/Crystal Graphics

A graduate student team from Columbia University including Mark Wolf of the M.S. in Sustainability Management program was tasked by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to research more effective ways of increasing the scope of energy efficiency improvements in the U.S. industrial sector. Their aim: to significantly capitalize on the $180 billion opportunity and reduce associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a business-as-usual approach.