Environmental Science

  • 130-year-old brain coral reveals encouraging news for open ocean

    Monday, Oct 1, 2018
    by Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research

    When nitrogen-based fertilizers flow into water bodies, the result can be deadly for marine life near shore, but what is the effect of nitrogen pollution far out in the open ocean?

  • Andlinger Center conference tackles challenges of a changing climate

    Monday, Oct 1, 2018
    by Molly Seltzer, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

    Hurricane Sandy sent a clear message on climate change, Tammy Snyder Murphy, the first lady of New Jersey, told the audience in her keynote speech at a Princeton climate conference Friday, Sept. 21.

    “We’re not looking at Sandy as just some part of our history, but something that we know will happen again unless we take action,” said Murphy, who plays a key role in the governor’s administration on climate and environmental policy. “We are accepting the challenge that climate change has presented. We are committed to making this state the magnet for innovative solutions.”

  • From crystals to climate: New ‘gold standard’ timeline connects volcanic eruptions to climate change

    Wednesday, Sep 19, 2018
    by Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications

    Imagine an enormous volcano erupting in the Pacific Northwest, pouring lava across Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Imagine the lava flooding out until river valleys are filled in. Until bushes and shrubs are buried in liquid rock. Until the tallest trees are completely covered.

    About 16 million years ago, this happened.

    Lava erupted in pulses, ultimately burying the region to the height of a 30-story building. If the lava had been spread evenly over the lower 48 states instead of staying concentrated in the northwest, it would cover the country to a depth of about 80 feet.

  • China’s energy policies require integrated, strategic approach to balance air quality, carbon emissions and water scarcity goals

    Friday, Sep 14, 2018
    by B. Rose Kelly, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

    Committed to addressing the country’s severe air pollution, China is attempting a shift from coal to natural gas and is considering a variety of sources, including domestic and imported gas options as well as creating its own synthetic gas from coal.  

    A team of researchers led by Princeton University investigated the environmental impacts of transitioning from coal to natural gas in China, exploring implications on air quality, carbon mitigation and water stress by the year 2020.

  • Diving robots find that Antarctic seas release surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

    Tuesday, Aug 14, 2018
    by Princeton University

    The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica is regarded by scientists as a large and crucial absorber of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. New findings from autonomous floats deployed in the Southern Ocean, however, provide the first comprehensive data to suggest that, in winter, the open water nearest the sea ice surrounding Antarctica releases significantly more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than previously thought.

  • Foam could offer greener option for petroleum drillers

    Friday, Aug 10, 2018
    by John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications

    Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, provides critical energy for society, but also uses large amounts of fresh water while producing corresponding amounts of wastewater. Water-based foams, which use about 90 percent less water than fracking fluids, provide an alternative, but the mechanism for foam-driven fracture in such drilling is not well understood.

  • Carbon ‘leak’ may have warmed the planet for 11,000 years, encouraging human civilization

    Monday, Jul 30, 2018
    by Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications

    The oceans are the planet’s most important depository for atmospheric carbon dioxide on time scales of decades to millenia. But the process of locking away greenhouse gas is weakened by activity of the Southern Ocean, so an increase in its activity could explain the mysterious warmth of the past 11,000 years, an international team of researchers reports.


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