University of Iowa alumnus receives BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award


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University of Iowa Alumnus, James Hansen (Columbia University)
Jenna Ladd | January 17, 2017

University of Iowa Alumnus James Hansen has been honored with the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Climate Change category.

The BBVA Foundation promotes, finances, and developments research projects in Biomedicine and Health, Environment, Economy and Society, Basic Sciences and Technology, and Arts and Humanities on behalf of the BBVA Group, a multinational banking group headquartered in Bilbao, Spain.

Hansen received the Frontiers of Knowledge Award along with Japanese climatologist Syukuro Manabe. The two men independently developed the first computation models with the ability to simulate climate behavior, and pioneered the “use of these models to understand and project how Earth’s climate responds to changing concentrations of atmospheric CO2,” said the BBVA’s prize jury.

Originally from Denison, Iowa, Hansen earned his Bachelors, Masters, and PhD from the University of Iowa in Physics. He studied under renowned physicist James VanAllen in the space studies program in the late 1960’s. In 1967, Hansen joined NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. While researching planetary atmospheres at the Institute, Hansen was instrumental in establishing that Venus’ extremely hot temperatures were due to a greenhouse gas effect.

As CO2 levels in Earth’s atmosphere continued to rise throughout the 1970’s, Hansen shifted his focus and began to study the effect of CO2 on climate. He developed a computational model independently from Manabe, and his conclusions were published in the Journal of Science in 1981. The BBVA prize jury points out that this research was important because it was the first ever to incorporate global temperature data and to predict how global warming would affect other earth processes such as oceanic circulation and flooding.

Manabe said, “I started working with models earlier, but Hansen was the first to use these models to make predictions.”

Hansen served as Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies from 1981-2013. He is now an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute where he has led the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program since 2013.

ISU researchers are working on new oil spill cleaning agent


Photo by U.S. Coast Guard, Flickr.
Photo by U.S. Coast Guard, Flickr.

Researchers at Iowa State University, Columbia University and Louisiana State University are working together to create an environmentally friendly substance for cleaning up oil spills.

Current chemicals used to clean oil spills are toxic to marine life.

This research is in its beginning stages. Those involved in the project don’t expect to see their work turned into a commercial project for at least a decade.

Read more about the research here.

CGRER’s Craig Just nets sustainability grant


From University of Iowa News Services:

A University of Iowa engineer is teaming up with Columbia University and the National Geographic Society to educate thousands of students in sustainability concepts by establishing living-learning communities at large, public universities across the country.

Craig Just, adjunct assistant professor in the UI College of Engineering Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and associate research scientist at IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering, received an $873,318 grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education program.

The project will design, implement, evaluate and disseminate a blueprint for dozens of campus living-learning communities that would be residential experiences for first-year students. The goal of the project — which aspires to include some 500 students on the UI campus in its third year — is to educate students in concepts of sustainability that can be implemented through the democratic process.

Read more about Just and his very cool mini-wetlands project. He’s using plants to filter contaminated water.