New study by Holly Gibbs et al. published in the journal Science highlights the contributions of the industry-led Soy Moratorium in reducing the amount of deforestation linked to soy production in the Brazilian Amazon. The study was led by a team of colleagues in the U.S. and Brazil. Brief summary of the findings: 
• Annual mapping of soy expansion shows that prior to the Soy Moratorium, about 30% of soy planted in the Amazon was directly replacing forests, but this fell to less than 1% by 2014.  Direct conversion continues in the Cerrado, where the Moratorium does not apply. 
• Brazil's environmental governance has been suggested to be effective enough to justify ending the Moratorium.  However, our results illustrate that the government policies are not an adequate replacement.  
• For example, 25-30% of Amazon deforestation occurs within CAR registered properties, with half of that occurring within designated Legal Reserves.  Less than half of illegal deforestation is penalized, and loopholes make it difficult to avoid those purchase properties that are embargoed. Less than 2% of soy farmers have intact Legal Reserves.
• Property-level analysis of soy farms across Mato Grosso demonstrates that soy farmers are 5x more likely to violate the Forest Code than the Soy Moratorium.  
• Current soy area could expand by 600% in the Amazon biome under the Moratorium restrictions.
(UW News Press Release, NWF blog)
(Jan 2015)

New article released in Landscape & Urban Planning
Annemarie Schneider's new research assessing the urban transformation in Western China has been published in this month's issue of Landscape & Urban Planning. The work, funded by a NASA Land Cover-Land Use Change grant, focuses on the post-reform period (1988–2009) in four major metropolitan areas: Chengdu, Xi’an, Kunming, and Urumqi. The analysis exploits recent land change maps, satellite images, socioeconomic data, and master planning documents, and draws on a variety of spatial and statistical measures to estimate urban patterns through space and time. Check out the full article here for more information. (Jan 2015)

New Remote Sensing of Environment publication available online
Annemarie Schneider's research Detecting change in urban areas at continental scales with MODIS data is now available in the January 2015 issue of of Remote Sensing of Environment (click here for more information).  This work demonstrates a new methodology for monitoring urban land expansion at continental to global scales using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. Schneider's research group tested the method in 15 countries in East-Southeast Asia experiencing different rates and manifestations of urban expansion, finding accuracies ranging from 70-95% at the country level.  A companion article describing the spatial and temporal trends in urban growth across the 15 countries, A new urban landscape in East-Southeast Asia, 2000-2010, has been accepted at Environmental Research Letters. (Jan 2015)

Holly Gibbs

Tyler Lark and Holly Gibbs were recently awarded a SIRE-ED grant for their proposal "Solutions for Food Waste Reduction: Integrating Teaching with Research on Sustainability". This will enable them to expand the food waste curriculum in Geog 309 "People, Land, and Food" for Spring 2015, and also develop a new Environmental Studies Capstone course focussed on Food Waste in Spring 2016!
(Jan 2015)

Caitlin Kontgis was selected to receive the prestigious Twin Cities Women's Philanthropy Council student travel grant. Caitlin is the very first recipient of this grant, and was selected based on the high ratings from peer reviewers she received on her Vilas Travel Award application. This spring, Caitlin will use the grant to spend 10 weeks in Vietnam working with collaborators at the Can Tho University Research Institute for Climate Change. This grant will enable her to collect data necessary to parameterize and validate an agricultural model that will help her understand how future climate fluctuations could impact rice paddy yields in the Mekong River Delta. (Jan 2015)

Holly Gibbs

New "Campus Food Map and Sustainable Dining Guide" now online. This was an undergrad project for course ES 600 "Consumer-Driven Sustainability" which was taught by Holly Gibbs and Tyler Spring 2014. This is a huge accomplishment and demonstrates student dedication to lead such a large project and ensure its completion even after the semester ends. Masrudy Omri, a recent Geography graduate, designed the sophisticated mapping platform that highlights their sustainable food metrics created by visiting all campus eateries.  Jill Sakai, from OS, worked closely with the team to ensure the product would have longevity and to host it on the OS website. (Jan 2015) 

Martina Gross was awarded a Professional Development Grant to attend NCURA pre-award conference in March 2015 (Dec 2014)

Chris Kucharik and colleagues publish paper in Nature, "Direct human influence on atmospheric CO2 seasonality from increased cropland productivity" (Nov 2014)

Chris Kucharik's lab group research of "Madison's Urban Heat Island" is highlighted in local media. Their paper published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology was aimed at helping the Madison region plan for the future, to think about the impacts of the structures and local environments it creates. (UW-News, Wi State Journal, Channel 3, Fox 47, WPR-The Larry Meiller Show (Oct 2014)


Weston Roundtable Lecture Series

The Weston Roundtable is a weekly lecture series with on- and off-campus leaders in sustainability science, engineering, and policy. The unique, discussion-heavy format aims to build a community around policy-relevant sustainability science and engineering topics. The weekly 4:15-5:15 PM meeting includes a 40-45 minute presentation, followed by 15-20 minutes of discussion. Each meeting is preceded by coffee, tea, cookies, and conversation. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Location: 1106 Mechanical Engineering, 1513 University Avenue, unless otherwise noted

Thursday, January 29, 2015

James J. Schauer
Professor, UW-Madison, College of Engineering
Director, Water Science and Engineering Laboratory

"Air Pollution and Sustainable Cities: Implications for Transportation, Energy, Buildings and Industry"

Throughout the world, air pollution is a leading contributor to the burden of disease and has large societal and economic costs. Although the effects of air pollution on health are well established, there is considerable need to better map how specific controls of air pollution sources can lead to improvements in public health. The seminar will address the impacts of air pollution, and how pathways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the livability of cities should be managed to assure reductions in air pollution and realize large co-benefits to human health.

View all Weston speakers

Contact Carol Barford for more information

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Updated: 1/23/15

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