Blair Stuhlmuller, High School Science Teacher and Science Communicator

Blair standing in front of the Grand Canyon in Arizona on a family vacation.

I am a high school science teacher and love sharing my knowledge and passion about the natural world with my students and anyone who will listen. I specifically love marine science and geologic history. I currently teach a marine biology course and another course on the big 5 mass extinctions. Both of which I designed myself. I am hoping to branch out beyond just the four walls of my classroom and share the weird and wonderful world of science with others as a science communicator.

I dreamed of being a teacher for a very long time. I loved the idea of being a forever learner and working with the future generations. But I had no intention of being a science teacher until the end of my freshman year of college. I wanted to be a history teacher and was well on my way to getting all my prerequisites done when I took a freshman writing seminar on the History of the Earth. This class expanded my perception of what was history and left me fascinated with deep time, the evolution of life and landforms. I was hooked and set off to get a Bachelors of Science in Geology and Environmental Science. After undergrad, I got a Masters of Education and my Virginia teaching license and then proceeded to move clear across the country to the west coast to explore some of the tidepool studded coasts and more geologically active rocks of California and Oregon.

Blair looking cool while diving along a reef near South Caicos in the Caribbean and conducting coral health and biodiversity surveys.

Now I help inspire the next generation of scientists and planetary stewards. I believe that science is for everyone and do everything in my power to encourage others to give it a chance. You never know what class, lab or cool fact can send you spinning down a different path. The world needs more passionate scientists to answer the next level of questions and help solve the problems of tomorrow. 

When I’m not teaching, I’m typically nerding out on the latest Marvel movie, excessively reading for fun or exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I’m always down for a good hike especially if it ends in a waterfall. I’m also PADI SCUBA certified and love exploring the world under the waves despite how cold the water gets. I do all of these things with my identical twin sister who has stuck with me through every step of my life so far.

Michael Hallinan, Undergraduate Student

Tell us a bit about yourself. 
My name is Michael Hallinan, and I am currently an undergraduate student at Colorado School of Mines studying for a B.S. in Quantitative Bioscience and Engineering. Although I love science, I am also super passionate about painting, music, and esports! I have a huge fixation on international music and love to analyze the relationships between globalization and culture the same way I enjoy analyzing ecological relationships.

Person wearing a grey cap and yellow jacket in the foreground. In the background, there are tan rocks and mountains in the distance.
Hiking through the arches of Arches National Park, within Moab, Utah.

What kind of scientist are you, what do you do, and how does it benefit society?
My current focus in science is predominantly in biology, with an emphasis on computational methods to model and analyze biological data. While I’m still learning and progressing through my bachelor’s, my goal is to enter research regarding biotechnology and sustainability, with an emphasis on communication and making science more accessible to policy-makers and the general public. Information is one of the most powerful and freeing tools we can have as people, and my work will encourage solutions to our rapidly expanding sustainability issues as well encourage more people to engage with science. My most recent work was centered around investigating the power insecurity in Puerto Rico as a result of the hurricanes across the last decade, including educating and communicating the geopolitical landscape and data through various presentations.

What is your favorite part about being a scientist, and how did you get interested in science?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do for the longest. I’ve had so many passions and was originally lined up to pursue a degree in the arts after winning an art award through the United States Congress. However, throughout secondary school, I was introduced to the concept of genetic modification and was completely fascinated by the potential of humans to understand and improve the world around us through genome editing. Soon after, I heard about the brand new Quantitative Bioscience program at Colorado School of Mines and just knew it was the perfect fit as I entered college.

As for my favorite part of being a scientist, it’s simply how what you learn begins to explain so much of the world around you. Whether it’s something as simple as the basics of plant growth or as complicated as the inner workings of recombinant DNA, all the information you learn helps you better engage with, understand, and appreciate the world around you.

A self-portrait, with a person with dark hair, red lips, and gold eyes against a background of varying shades of grey.
“Fragmentum” – The award-winning piece mentioned, a self-portrait investigating identity and how we present ourselves to the world.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming scientists?
My best advice is to not be afraid of not knowing. So often I used to be scared of what people would think about me asking certain questions or I wouldn’t want to do things because I wasn’t fully comfortable. I wouldn’t ask questions in lecture or I wouldn’t take a guess if I was not totally certain. Asking questions and engaging with what is uncomfortable is some of the best ways to learn and develop your capabilities both as a scientist, but also as a person. In my own experience, I have learned so much more from situations where I was uncomfortable. Taking the time to talk to those who know more than you lets you learn, grow, and even build up your network. So, take that opportunity you’re unsure of, ask your “dumb” question, be unafraid!

 

 

Makayla Palm, Science Communicator

Young woman with long, braided hair in a black jacket, black ball cap with a backpack stands in front of a large fish skull in a display case. She is holding up two fingers, representing her second year at the event where the photo was taken.Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am currently a junior in college. I am a transfer student; this summer, I am getting ready to transfer to Augustana College  as a geology major from community college. While in community college, I published a couple of pieces in a literary magazine. The first is a creative work called Cole Hollow Road, and the other is a personal reflection piece called Est. 2001, Discovered 2021. Est. 2001, Discovered 2021 reflects on my mental health and growing into who I am. I work about 30 hours a week at a retail store called Blain’s Farm and Fleet. I have been working there since October of 2020. I work in Men’s Clothing, and I mainly sell denim jeans and work boots. With the little free time I have, I explore the outdoors with Noah, my boyfriend, work on my unpublished novel, The Gamemaker,  read books on science communication, and write articles while participating in the Time Scavengers VIP SciComm Internship.

What kind of scientist are you, and what do you do?
Since I am a junior in college, I am still figuring out what my role is within the scientific community. I love to read and write, and I aspire to be a science communicator, but I’m still figuring out what role best fits me. What I do know is there is a distinctive difference between an intelligent person and a good teacher, and I want to teach others about science in an engaging way. 

One of my favorite things about being a scientist is seeing so many cool rocks and learning their stories! I’ve been collecting rocks and fossils since I was seven or eight years old! I enjoy showing others what fossils I have bought or found and telling the stories that accompany them. I also love public speaking and can see myself being successful in either an in-person capacity or creating videos/content online. I also think being a tour guide or research scientist for a National Park would be awesome! I am looking forward to exploring my options as I continue my education. 

What is your favorite part about being a scientist, and how did you get interested in science?
My beginning journey into the scientific community is a little bit unusual. I was first introduced to fossils in a Worldview, Logic, and Apologetics class (which is about advocating for the Christian Faith). I worked on an extensive project that asked the students to study a field of science of their choice in order to find evidence in support of the Christian faith. It was a very intriguing and motivating project that has led me down a now six-year philosophical and scientific journey to figure out how these two pieces of my life, religion and science, can coexist. Because of this class, I wanted to be a geologist because I wanted to know as much about our origins as humans, but also what has happened to our planet in geologic time. I also want to know how to learn from nature about our history, but also what we can do to maximize our future. 

I grew up with a stigma that in order to be a scientist, you needed to be an expert in math, lab activities, and memorization. I grew up attending a college prep school where STEM majors usually were pre-med or engineer inclined. I knew I was not interested in studying those fields (even though they are awesome in their own right!), and felt it was hard to keep up with kids in my classes because my focus was different.  It was a very competitive environment, especially because I lacked confidence in my ability in the skills I thought were necessary. However, after learning what geology was about in college, I knew I had found my place. Geology integrated my love for weird creatures, writing, and being outside! Combined with my natural inclination to write, I quickly fell in love with the idea of becoming a science communicator.

oung woman wearing a blue shirt and denim skinny jeans sits in a navy blue wooden lawn chair. She sits in front of a college campus with a hill in the background. The building behind her, on top of the stairs which climb the hill, is an old academic building with dolomite (a hard, sand-colored mineral) walls and arched windows.How does your work contribute to the betterment of society in general?
I once had a classmate tell me he used to be interested in paleontology, but they thought it was a “dead” science and became readily disinterested. The more I delved into the literature, the more I knew he was far from the truth! My goal as a scientist  is to advocate for the amazing things we can learn about our world through science (but especially paleontology!), and to hopefully encourage aspiring scientists that they can find their place in the scientific community. One way I have begun to do so is by starting my blog called Perusing the Primeval. My blog currently has a Book Review Section that includes the latest books in science communication. I have a review template that shares how technical the book is to help the reader get a sense for who the book’s intended audience is. There are a wide variety of books available, and my goal is to help someone looking for new recommendations to find something they will enjoy. I am currently working on a Species Spotlight section that will highlight a certain extinct species represented in the fossil record.

What advice do you have for up and coming scientists?
As I said before, I grew up in a competitive academic environment. I often felt like I was in academic “no man’s land”; I was bored in regular classes, but I was crawling to keep up in the advanced classes. I enjoyed school and wanted to challenge myself, so I was often comparing myself to kids who were more academically inclined in subjects that did not come naturally to me. I felt like I needed to compete against them in order to get a spot in a good college. Rather than focus on my strengths when applying to colleges, I pushed myself to do things I didn’t really like because I thought I needed to compete for my spot. I thought “being amazing at everything” was my ticket to a good school, but I found out very quickly that wasn’t true. If you are interested in going to college (or trade school or an apprenticeship), I would encourage you to lean on your strengths. If you have strong passions or interests, fuel the fire! Continue to hone in on those skills. If you aren’t quite sure of what you want, try different things and see what you like – but maybe not all at once. Your physical and mental health will thank you. If we as individuals were all “amazing” at everything, we wouldn’t need each other!

 

Tessa Peixoto, Scientist at heart and Educator in the world

Time Scavengers is collaborating with the International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 390/393 to showcase the scientists recovering sediment and rock cores, and conducting science at sea! Click here to learn more about IODP, and visit the Research Vessel JOIDES Resolution website here to read more about the drillship. To learn more about IODP Expeditions 390 and 393, click here!

You can follow the JOIDES Resolution on Twitter @TheJR, on Facebook @joidesresolution, and on Instagram @joides_resolution!


Person holding up a skeleton of a shark's mouth framing their face, smiling.Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
My name is Tessa Peixoto and when I was younger I was referred to as shark girl. I was super obsessed with sharks, which is what got me into science. Outside of science though I am a fan of doing art, specifically painting and building things, and I like baking for friends and family. Movies are a go to past time for me, and I am one of those people that really like b-rated sci fi movies. For instance, Tremors, highly suggest watching it. I am a science enthusiast so when I go out for walks on the beach, hikes in nature, or anywhere else I am still observing what kind of life I see. It is a way of connecting with the planet for me. However, my friends just give me a pat on the head when I yell excitedly about finding Codium fragile on the beach. One time, I found a carcass of a skate on a beach and I ran to anyone who saw me holding it so I could show them.

What do you do?
So I studied marine biology as an undergraduate student. During my studies and soon after I was able to conduct or participate in research on intertidal blue mussels, describing freshwater stingrays, and describing the morphology and function of the armor for a family of fish called Poachers. Soon after I was able to be a seasonal aide for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and got exposed to doing trawling surveys in river tributaries.

Person on a boat with a bright orange life jacket on in the foreground, with calm lake waters in the background and a low mountain range in the distance. After graduating and my bopping around the US for a variety of temporary science positions, I found myself working as a museum educator. It was the funnest thing to be around so many specimens for every kind of field of natural sciences. Plus, I was able to use a lot of those specimens as part of my teaching practice during classes that field trips could sign up for. Unfortunately, as the position was part time, life demanded I find a position that could provide me benefits that would support me more efficiently. I now work as a science instructor for an Adult Education program in Boston, MA. It is truly a rewarding position because as I get to share my love and fascination of science with my students, I know I am helping them get closer to obtaining a high school diploma, which only improves their job prospects.

What is your favorite part about being a scientist, and how did you get interested in science?
When I was younger, I remember my brother was always doing something with his hands. I remember always seeing him carve up soap bars and for some reason I understood it to be science, or rather an experiment. I also was really into ocean documentaries, anything on Discovery Channel that highlighted the ocean or environment would be something I would pay attention to. And yes my attention was even more peaked if sharks were in it. At one point during our youth my brother told me that if I wanted to keep learning about sharks that I would have to be someone who studies marine biology. And thus began my stubborn journey in declaring I will become a marine biologist.

Fast forward to college, I entered Northeastern University to study marine science, as I had stated repeatedly since I was younger. Interestingly enough, the more science classes I took the more I realized I just liked science, all of it. It took a bit of time for my fisheries teacher to get me to let go of my stubborn obsession with sharks, but I would say once I did, my understanding of marine biology as a whole was improved. Bachelors of science is where my formal education ends, therefore I have not yet become a marine biologist. Nevertheless, my enthusiasm for science has not dwindled away. It is still very present and of course with a slight favoring of anything ocean.

I have enjoyed the opportunities I had in college and since college because I kept getting to learn from the people around me. Especially, in the two science conferences I participated in. I love being able to see other people’s posters and discuss with them their thoughts and their research.

Person wearing a black jacket and black pants in a poster hall, standing in front of a poster with scientific results. How does your work contribute to the betterment of society? 
As much as I did not for-see myself as being an educator, I am happy I am in it. Mainly for the reason that I can finally share science with adults that avoid science because they had horrible experiences from their last time in education or didn’t really get a chance to do formal education in their youth. So when I teach I aim to be open and caring of their learning journey, and to never dismiss their questions. It benefits society as they become great learners and more confident in their skills. Being an adult educator is very important  because it can help disseminate science in a way that helps the world presently. Essentially, I work with individuals that have the current and immediate ability to be stewards of the planet as their understanding of the world improves. As much as education of children is very much needed, I want to improve the science literacy of the adult population. A future goal of mine is to help increase options that are free, supportive, and open to questions that adults have about science, and the inner workings of the planet.

Person standing on a dirt path, in the woods, with thin trees behind them, low shrubs in the foreground. Person is looking up towards the sky. What advice do you have for up and coming scientists and educators?
Something I want everyone to know is to not judge yourself on your performance in classes. Just because you might have gotten a lower grade in a science class does not mean you would be a bad scientist. I also want to say the science or career you might think you want to do might be a completely different field of science or career by the time you graduate, finish a PhD or look for private corporation positions. If you are reading this as someone in high school or college, try out different internships. I know when I was younger I would only look for internships with sharks, and that stubbornness sometimes prevented me from just learning about different fields. Therefore be open to options that come your way. If you are reading this as someone that is mid career, I would say to talk to people in the field that you are interested in. Find others interested in a similar field and hang out with them. For example, there are many groups of mycology fans that meet up every now and then to go foraging and talk mycology. Science in its purest form is about curiosity and asking questions, so keep asking questions and explore our wonderful world.

What is something exciting you are doing at the moment?
I currently am the outreach officer for the JOIDES Resolution that falls under the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). This position provides a great view into the world of science communication that is different from the that of the communication done in a formal education position. The outreach officer has the chance to reach out to anyone in the world and share the life of living on the ship and doing research on the ship. This is just a temporary position for the summer, but offer the chance to learn about geosciences, and other ways to explore the Earth. If you are reading this know that you can call into the ship during an expedition and get a tour of your own, it might not be with me but it will be an outreach officer that has the same excitement as I do. (https://joidesresolution.org/about-the-jr/live-video-events-with-the-joides-resolution/)

 

 

The Scope of Agricultural Climate Change Mitigation Goes Beyond Production Stages

Climate change mitigation beyond agriculture: a review of food system opportunities and implications

Meredith T. Niles, Richie Ahuja, Todd Barker, Jimena Esquivel, Sophie Gutterman, Martin C. Heller, Nelson Mango, Diana Portner, Rex Raimond, Cristina Tirado, Sonja Vermeulen

Summarized by Taylor Dickson, who is a senior currently majoring in Environmental Science at Binghamton University. They are an environmentally conscious and dedicated student with a hunger for knowledge. Taylor plans on pursuing field experience prior to the continuation of their education. Outside of the realm of education, they enjoy immersing themselves in nature as well as participating in and appreciating the arts.

What data were used? The data utilized in this article are derived from other research articles and compounded to create a bigger picture encompassing all aspects of the food system. This article incorporates important information regarding areas beyond the direct scope of food production. Such areas included are transportation and refrigeration methods, which have greenhouse gas emission consequences.

Methods: Combining and integrating recent research and expanding the exploration of mitigation opportunities by reviewing the relevance and effectiveness of these opportunities in several areas throughout the food system including pre-production and post-production. This study goes below the surface issue to expose the root areas that need to be addressed to create a more sustainable food system.

Results: The results incorporate all aspects of the food system while considering agricultural climate change mitigation. Included in these results are aspects of food production many people may often forget about including the transportation and storage of the food produced. Certain foods have higher emissions associated with them due to the necessary storage required for these food products as well as the circumstances surrounding the growing and harvesting of such products.

Food loss is experienced at all levels of consumption within the food system, including the pre- and post-consumer levels. Annually, about one third of all food products produced on a global scale result in being wasted or lost throughout the production process. At the production level of the food system, a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions is related to the production of synthetic fertilizers used for agricultural practices. This information demonstrates how vast the scope is of the food system discussed.

Greenhouse gas emissions are significantly higher regarding diets rich in animal derived products. This article utilizes other works which provide information and insight that shifting toward a more plant based diet will be beneficial to the environment in lowering greenhouse gas emissions as well as leading to a decrease in human mortality rate accompanied with an increase in health benefits.

Circular diagram separated laterally with 10 driving forces above and 5 categories of production and consumption of the food system below. Within the diagram is an inner circle of outcomes.
This figure visually portrays the different social, economic, and physical forces (i.e. politics, demographics, and infrastructure) that affect the several varying areas of production within the food system. This system is one that ranges from pre-production and production to the disposal of waste and lost food. From Niles et al. (2018).

 

Generally, refrigeration is necessary for around half of all food produced. Lower income countries often lose crops at the production stage due to a lack of technologies related to refrigeration and drying methods. Inadequate drying technologies lead to the development of mold and eventual spoiling of food products such as grains. Almost one fifth of the energy utilized by the food system in the United States is from household refrigeration. Transportation related emissions can be reduced primarily by shifting to more efficient modes of transportation. With many food products requiring refrigeration throughout the transportation process, greenhouse gas emissions of refrigerated transportation can reach up to 140% when compared to the emissions associated with non-refrigerated transportation vehicles.

Why is this study important? This study brings together results from previous studies in a cohesive paper which encapsulates information from several areas within the food system. Incorporating the many aspects of the food system in this study provides the reader with a broader understanding of the depth of each component within the system. A single issue of agriculture is broken down into multiple specific and more manageable subcategories where mitigation strategies are indulged. This study goes a step further and provides possible outcomes to the proposed mitigations and discusses potential consequences of these mitigation strategies.

The bigger picture: Climate change is an inevitable universal issue that everyone will face at some point in their lives, and one that demands immediate attention and mitigation. This study exposes the underlying issues of the food system that are significant contributors to climate change. It draws attention to the root causes of greenhouse gas emissions within the food system. The food system is much more than agricultural production. It includes often overlooked aspects related to pre-production and post-production such as packaging, transportation, and storage of the food produced. Although these issues begin at the production level with corporations, consumers hold some power and have the ability to aid mitigation strategies in their success. Some opportunities for these consumers to participate in as described in this article are to adopt a more plant based diet, refraining from over consumption, and understanding that perfection is an illusion and food does not have to be pleasing to look at for it to be nutritious and serve its purpose.

Citation: Niles, M. T. et al. Climate change mitigation beyond agriculture: a review of food system opportunities and implications. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 33, 297–308 (2018).

Gail Christeson, Marine Geophysicist

Time Scavengers is collaborating with the International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 390/393 to showcase the scientists recovering sediment and rock cores, and conducting science at sea! Click here to learn more about IODP, and visit the Research Vessel JOIDES Resolution website here to read more about the drillship. To learn more about IODP Expeditions 390 and 393, click here!

You can follow the JOIDES Resolution on Twitter @TheJR, on Facebook @joidesresolution, and on Instagram @joides_resolution!


I am a marine geophysicist that studies crustal structure. I use techniques that allow us to image the subsurface to study topics such as how ocean crust is formed or what an impact crater looks like in three dimensions. My favorite instruments are ocean bottom seismometers – we drop these off the side of a ship and they record sound waves that travel through the earth. Later we send a signal to each instrument and it lifts off the seafloor for recovery.

I was part of a team that acquired site survey data in the South Atlantic for IODP expeditions 390 and 393. These data allowed us to choose the best sites to recover both sediments and basement rocks. It is very exciting to see the drill cores from the sites we picked! The cores provide the ground-truth that allows us to better interpret our geophysical data over the South Atlantic region.

Image of a woman in slacks and a green shirt standing between rows of ocean equipment- bright yellow seisomemters with red flags sticking out of the top.
Gail with her favorite instruments – ocean bottom seismometers.

A previous project I was involved in was studying the Chicxulub impact crater which formed 66 million years ago when a meteorite struck at the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico; effects from the impact led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. When I first started out as a research scientist I was part of a team that acquired geophysical data over the Chicxulub structure and confirmed that it was an impact crater. More recently I was in the scientific party that drilled into the structure and recovered rocks from the impact crater!

Growing up I was always interested in science but didn’t know much about earth science. In high school I received information about applying for a scholarship to study geophysics – which I learned was studying the physics of the earth. Once I took my first geophysics course and discovered plate tectonics I was hooked! After graduate school I became a research scientist at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) where I worked for almost 28 years. I recently took a position as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation in the marine geology and geophysics program. I now get to manage the review process for proposals to conduct cool science all over the world’s oceans!

My biggest hobby is soccer. I love going to see Austin’s new soccer team Austin FC, and my favorite way to spend a Saturday morning is to grab a breakfast taco and watch Premier League soccer matches. I also enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy and watching movies.

Gail is currently a Program Director at the National Science Foundation in the Division of Ocean Sciences; she is also a Research Affiliate at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics. You can follow Gail on Twitter @glchristeson.

How machine learning techniques can be used in the reduction and removal of greenhouse gases

Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning 

David Rolnick, Priya L. Donti, Lynn H. Kaack, Kelly Kochanski, Alexandre Lacoste, Kris Sankaran, Andrew Slavin Ross, Nikola Milojevic-Dupont, Natasha Jaques, Anna Waldman-Brown, Alexandra Luccioni, Tegan Maharaj, Evan D. Sherwin, S. Karthik Mukkavilli, Konrad P. Kording, Carla Gomes, Andrew Y. Ng, Demis Hassabis, John C. Platt, Felix Creutzig, Jennifer Chayes, Yoshua Bengio

Summarized by Samir, a first year masters’ student at Binghamton University State University of New York majoring in geosciences. He has experiences in designing and delivering effective solutions using programming skills and knowledge in geosciences, physics, and mathematics. Also, he is planning to dive into machine learning since he believes it is one of the most effective methods to tackle global issues! By the way, he is a big fan of basketball.

What data were used? One of the many datasets used in the study is a large-scale climate dataset for detecting, localizing, and analyzing extreme weather occurrences in a semi-supervised manner. The discoveries, assumptions, significantly important results, and models present in this study wouldn’t be possible without historical climate dataset, high-resolution satellite images, video, CO2 emissions, remote sensing data.

Methods: The methods that were already used or might be potentially used in the future include but are not limited to remote sensing of emissions, precision agriculture, monitoring peatlands, managing forests, and carbon dioxide removal. It should be mentioned that there were more domains discussed in the original study, however this particular summary mainly focuses on implementation of machine learning on farms, forests, and carbon dioxide removal techniques to tackle climate change. Figure below provides the summary of methods and areas of implication mentioned above. The most impactful and interesting methods will be discussed in detail.

Figure 1. Selected strategies to mitigate greenhouse gases emissions from lands Simple sketch of areas of interests and selected machine learning techniques that can be potentially applied in the farmlands: precision agriculture (left side of the figure), peatlands: monitoring peatlands (middle side), and forests: estimating carbon stock, automating afforestation, managing forests fires (right side) while controlling emissions using remote sensing of emission (top side). Image from Rolnick et al., 2023.

 

It might sound as a surprise; however, agriculture is responsible for 14% of the greenhouse gas emissions. Modern methods used result in massive, sequestered carbon release, such as in particular: tilling, which basically exposes topsoil to the air which is the reason behind release of locked carbon that was bound to soil. Also, as some agricultural techniques deplete soil nutrients, nitrogen-based fertilizers must be reintroduced. However, while some nitrogen is up taken by plants, the rest is being transform to nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas 300 times more powerful than CO2

Precision agriculture, which is the combination of tools and machine learning methods, can be used to make it possible for farmers to work on a large scale and not diminishing production as it happens when conventional methods are used. For instance, the hyperspectral camera-equipped robot can undertake mechanical weeding, targeted pesticide application, and insect vacuuming. Monitoring peatlands, one of the main sequestered carbon sources in the world, is essential. It is not only releasing carbon while decomposing but also is susceptible to fire. Therefore, identification and estimation of these carbon “stocks” through machine learning techniques plays an important role in potential fire risk assessment. 

One of the main points made in the study is even if all the emissions stop today, because of the carbon that is already in the atmosphere, the planet will still experience consequences of global warming. Direct CO2 capture and consequent sequestration is a most reliable and promising solution. The main concept underlying direct air capture (DAC) is to blast air over CO2 sorbents, and then employ heat-powered chemical processes to purify the CO2 for sequestration. To optimize sorbent reusability and CO2 absorption while reducing energy consumption, machine learning might be utilized to speed up materials discovery, process engineering operations, such as corrosion-resistant components. 

Consequent step is to sequestrate carbon dioxide. Direct injection into geologic formations such as saline aquifers, which are analogous to oil and gas reservoirs, is the best-understood method of CO2 sequestration. Machine learning can be utilized to find potential storage locations. Also, machine learning can contribute to the maintenance of active sequestration sites and monitor them in order to detect potential leaks CO2 leaks.

Results: As for the results of the study, such as precision agriculture discussed in the previous section there was an actual implementation of camera equipped robots that can cover 5 acres each day and collect big datasets for continuous development using solar energy. It works for specific types of crops now, however there is a room for improvement to adapt machine learning algorithms to make them work in any kind of environment. 

In addition to this, to quantify the thickness of peat and measure the carbon store of tropical peatlands, machine learning was applied to characteristics collected from remote sensing data. Maps that are going to predict the risk of fire are expected to be developed in the nearest future using advanced machine learning techniques.

Regarding CO2 sequestration, for more than two decades, a Norwegian oil firm has effectively sequestered CO2 from an offshore natural gas field in a saline aquifer. Recently, machine learning approaches, as well as computer vision systems for emissions detection, have been utilized to monitor potential CO2 leakage from wells and finding most reliable sites for the sequestration.

Why is this study important? This study gives an overview of how machine learning can be used to make a meaningful contribution in the fight against climate change, whether through effective engineering or research. Therefore, it provides valuable information and potential ideas for data scientists, machine learning enthusiast, investors, researchers that can be used to prevent catastrophic consequences.

The big picture: Climate change is a complex issue that requires a multidisciplinary approach to be solved. Greenhouse gases emissions are one of the main reasons behind global changes in temperatures, precipitation, ice glacier masses loss, and frequent fires. Mitigation of those gases requires fundamental changes in the number of sectors that includes transportation, construction, electricity systems, and industries. Unfortunately, the majority of the solutions are computationally expensive to be implemented due to big amounts of data, such as for example some climate models, where conventional statistical methods don’t work. Machine learning methods and techniques can be used to address those issues since they are less computationally expensive and more accurate. 

Citation: Rolnick, D., Bengio, Y., Chayes, J., Creutzig, F., Platt, J., Hassabis, D., Ng, A., Gomes, C., Kording, K., Mukkavilli, K., Sherwin, E., Maharaj, T., Luccioni, A., Brown, A. W., Jaques, N., Dupont, N., Ross, A. S., Sankaran, K., Lacoste, A., … Donti, P. L. (2019, November 5). Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning. https://arxiv.org/. Retrieved December 15, 2021, from https://arxiv.org/pdf/1906.05433

Jeffrey G. Ryan, Petrologist/Geochemist (“Hard rock” geologist)

Time Scavengers is collaborating with the International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 390/393 to showcase the scientists recovering sediment and rock cores, and conducting science at sea! Click here to learn more about IODP, and visit the Research Vessel JOIDES Resolution website here to read more about the drillship. To learn more about IODP Expeditions 390 and 393, click here!

You can follow the JOIDES Resolution on Twitter @TheJR, on Facebook @joidesresolution, and on Instagram @joides_resolution!


I’m Jeff Ryan, a Professor of Geology in the University of South Florida’s School of Geoscience.  On IODP Expedition 393, I’ll be sailing as an Inorganic Geochemist.  It’s my third IODP research drilling cruise, all sailing this role.

Dr. Jeff Ryan on the JOIDES Resolution during Expedition 366, which drilled rocks and sediments from the northwest Pacific Ocean.

In terms of geology subspecialty I’m a “hard-rock” geologist, as I mostly work on igneous and metamorphic rocks.  My research primarily focuses on subduction zones, where Earth’s tectonic plates head down deep-sea trenches and cycle back deep into the Earth’s mantle. I study subduction chemically, using key trace elements and isotopic ratios to understand how the old, cold, wet ocean crust reaching deep sea trenches changes as it subducts, and how fluids and melts driven off subducting plates change nearby mantle rocks and lead to volcanism at island arcs, and even at oceanic hotspots like Hawaii or Iceland.  My interest in Expeditions 390-393, which will drill sites in the south Atlantic, nowhere near a subduction zone (!!), is to better understand how the composition of ocean crust changes as it ages, and so what the differences are between the young seafloor subducting beneath the Cascades, and the very old crust going down beneath the Lesser Antilles, or the Mariana Islands in the Pacific.

In my courses at USF I use the ocean drilling research I’m doing directly in teaching our Geology students. My Junior-level Mineralogy/Petrology course has for the past six years examined unusual volcanic rocks from the Izu-Bonin subduction zone that I helped recover as a Shipboard Scientist on IODP Expedition 352.  The students made some very cool discoveries about the minerals and textures in those samples, which led to a recent student-authored scientific paper in the journal American Mineralogist (Scholpp et al 2022).   I hope to do something similar for my future students with Expedition 390-393 basaltic samples.

People come to geology a bunch of different ways, I’ve found.  In my case it was a childhood interest in rocks and minerals, combined with a penchant for creative writing.  Geology is at its core a storytelling science: we divine and tell the “stories” behind the places in the Earth that we examine.  When I encountered the science fully for the first time, as a Freshman in my first undergraduate college course at Western Carolina University, it was a perfect fit.  I’m looking forward to helping tell the story of how the south Atlantic Ocean crust formed and evolved as part of IODP Expedition 393.

Aerosols are Controlled by the Same Processes that Modulate Stable Isotope Ratios of Ice

Concomitant variability in high-latitude aerosols, water isotopes and the hydrologic cycle

Bradley R. Markle, Eric J. Steig, Gerard H. Roe, Gisela Winckler,  Joseph R. McConnell

Summarized by Mauricio Hollis, who is an Environmental Geology major that is also minoring in Environmental Studies at Binghamton University in New York.  He is currently a senior who will graduate in Spring 2022.  At the moment he is applying to graduate schools and plans to do research on paleoclimate.  In the future he plans to work in academia and become a professor.  Some of his hobbies aside from geology are hiking, skiing, and fitness.

What data were used?  There were three ice cores used in this article that interpreted the relationship between high latitude aerosols and water isotopes.  They were from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide ice core (WDC), the Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP), and the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) from Dome Concordia (EDC).  There were also marine sediment cores used to compare with Antarctic dust records, two being from the South Atlantic downwind of South American dust sources, and more marine sediment cores that were located just north of the WDC in the South Pacific. 

Methods:  Concentrations of δ18O, non-sea-salt calcium (nssCa), and sea-salt sodium (ssNa) were collected and analyzed from the WDC.  They were first compared on a time scale ranging from 6 thousand years ago to 67 thousand years ago comparing water isotopes with aerosol records.  Temperature, saturated mixing, δ18O, and relative atmospheric aerosol concentrations were then plotted against Southern Hemisphere latitudes.  On these figures there are three different lines representing the different trends between the Last Glacial Maxima (LGM), modern temperature, and modern temperature cooled by 3°C.  The models for the relation between high-latitude water isotopes and sea-salt amplification were then compared.  Using data from GRIP and WDC, there was a comparison of their amplifications of nssCa against δ18O concentrations.  Dust aerosol records are then compared from the WDC and EDC with marine sediment records to plot the amplification factors against the past 40 thousand years.  Lastly, dust amplification against all latitudes is predicted through the use of a rainout model.

Figure 1a. Graph comparing ssNa, nssCa, and water isotope values vs time. Shows a negative exponential correlation between aerosols and δ18O. From Markle et al. (2018), Nature Geoscience.

Results:  It was found using these data that the hydrological cycle is the primary modulator of variability for dust, sea salt, and water isotopes.  Based on Figure 1A (right) there is evidence of a negative exponential relationship between water isotopes and aerosol concentrations for ssNa and nssCa.  This is indicative that as mean global temperatures decrease and more ice is formed, δ18O water isotope values see a decrease in concentration while dusts see an increase.  It is observed that there is overall less nssCa than ssNa.  This is explained by the terrigenous source of nssCa being 20°N of the marine source for ssNa resulting in lower concentrations of nssCa from 60°S-90°S due to a longer path of travel.

It is also observed that during the LGM there were higher concentrations of dust than during warmer periods of climate.  The data indicate there is evidence of smaller glacial-interglacial change for ssNa than nssCa. This is again a result of a shorter rainout pathway for marine aerosols than terrestrial aerosols.  It was also observed that δ18O isotope values from Greenland and Antarctica are very similar as they both show a negative exponential relationship with nssCa concentration amplification factor.  This is significant because they are on opposite sides of the globe with different dust sources and different regional conditions.  The data displayed for WDC and EDC show at some times, 10-100-fold amplification in dust than that collected for marine dust, which shows an amplification of 2-3-fold.  Lastly, fthe data indicate that amplification factors at the poles and higher latitudes is exponentially higher than at lower latitudes.

Why is this study important?  This study carries a lot of significance because it concludes that dust and water isotopes are both controlled by the same process, the hydrological cycle.  This has importance because it is necessary to understand the patterns of aerosol changes to further understand past radiative forcing.  

The Bigger Picture: This study disproves the theory that dust source emissions were a primary driver in ice-core records of aerosol, but rather changes in aerosol concentration at different latitudes is a result of the rainout effect.  It provides us with relevant results that can be further used to interpret how climate has changed since the LGM. 

Citation: Markle, B.R., Steig, E.J., Roe, G.H. et al. Concomitant variability in high-latitude aerosols, water isotopes and the hydrologic cycle. Nature Geoscience, 11,853–859 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-018-0210-9

Reconstructing the Eocene’s Climate System

Reconstructing Eocene Eastern Indian Ocean Dynamics Using Ocean-Drilling Stratigraphic Records

Ke Xu, David De Vleeschouwer, Maximilian Vahlenkamp, Renchao Yang, and Honghan Chen

Summarized by Olivia Cashimere, who is pursuing her Masters in Geology at Binghamton University. She is currently in her first year, and after graduation would like to work at a research museum. When she is not studying she enjoys hiking, traveling, and a variety of art mediums.

What data were used: This study focuses on two ocean drill hole archives, Ocean Drilling Program Sites 762C and U1514, located within the Eastern Indian Ocean. This study is concentrating on a 22 million year time span within the Eocene Epoch. This time period was leading up to a transition from a greenhouse to ice house climate conditions during the Cenozoic. During this time not much continental ice is seen around the globe, so not many ice related positive feedbacks are seen throughout the Eocene however, strong correlation is found between Milankovitch cycles and the climate changes. This study also uses previous studies on paleomagnetism and biostratigraphy to determine ages, and to check for ambiguity within the record.

Methods: This data collected from ODP Sites 762C and U1514 was applied to orbital scale dynamics using existing sedimentary sequences with biostratigraphy, radio-isotope dating, and magnetostratigraphy. Then stratigraphic interpretation from Site 762C is combined with an existing age depth model from Site U1514 to create a high resolution timescale for the Eocene. Downhole wireline logging with a natural gamma radiation spectrometer was also used to provide elemental data of potassium, thorium, and uranium. These help determine mineral composition, humid vs. dry environments, and astronomically forced climate signals. Using the log10 (Th/K) data a time series analysis was developed, omitting any gaps from poorly recovered core in the data. Previous studies done on Hole 762C provides data and analysis on the magnetostratigraphic record and calcareous nannofossil biostratigraphy. This data was combined to create a reconstruction of the Eocene timescale.

Results from the study showing the analyses in six panels.
Interpretation of ODP Site 762C 180-289.75 meters below sea floor in the core. The solid purple line at 249.41 mbsf, is a paleo magnetic anchor point at the Chron boundary. The blue sawtooth line (a) is the log10(Th/K) and the green line (b) is a 100 kyr filter, while the red is a 405 kyr filter. (c) Next is the FFT spectrogram of the log10(Th/K) depth series and (d) the power spectrum of the log10(Th/K) depth series. (e) The black sawtooth line is the tuned log10(Th/K) time series while (f) the green line is the 100kyr filter and red is the 405 kyr filter. (H) Next is the evolutionary FFT spectrogram of log10(Th/K) time series and (i) the power spectrum of the log10(Th/K) time series.

Results: The log10 (Th/K) analysis variability is found in cyclic patterns that roughly match with age depth, with an important note that there are four major gaps found in core recovery. Spectral analysis and depth-series provides sufficient data that sediment accumulation is steady, and power spectrum analysis identifies time series, prominent cycles, and peak frequencies exceeding 99% confidence level. Using the biostratigraphic markers previously found, the orbital tuning for Site 762C, correlated with a 405 kyr eccentricity cycle, and the paleomagnetic data was revamped to match boundaries, however, because of poor core recovery much of this data is still ambiguous and will require further studies. However with this record it reduced the number of gaps from six to four. This allowed for a supported hypothesis overall, and the combined research created an Eocene astronomical timescale that has correlated collected data across various other research methods.

Why is this study important? This study is focusing on key forcing factors that could have changed the climate dramatically during the Eocene. During this time period it is believed that there was very little continental ice across the globe, so any positive feedback from these ice sheets would be mostly nonexistent. However, we must have forcing factors that effect the environment. This study is theorizing on the possibility of astronomical forcing in deep-water circulation in the western North Atlantic. This study also identifies obliquity as the driver of Eocene climate conditions. This can be applied to current day climate systems to theorize about the current global climate warming and its effects of the planet. 

The big picture: The obliquity of Earth’s rational axis plays an important role in the deep water circulation and the movement of sediment supply. Low obliquity can be found to coincide with the cooling of ocean temperatures, and high obliquity with its warming. This idea can be used throughout may areas of study to increase our knowledge of how the Earth’s rotation changes our climate systems, and how sediments have been transported through ocean systems in the past. 

Citation: Xu, K., De Vleeschouwer, D., Vahlenkamp, M., Yang, R., & Chen, H. (2021). Reconstructing Eocene Eastern Indian Ocean Dynamics using ocean‐drilling stratigraphic records. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology36(2). https://doi.org/10.1029/2020pa004116