Career Corner: Read Me

By Katie Lickteig, Assistant Director of Outreach & Events

stack of books image-AWsUWhat’s on your reading list? I’ll be honest and say that when I can find a few free minutes to read, I tend to stay in the world of fiction. Nonfiction books just aren’t my thing. However, I’ve recently realized that I’ve become a bit of a “professional development” book junkie. Because of an informal book group our office has had in the past, I’ve racked up my fair share of books in this genre, and I have found that I actually enjoy them. Here’s a list, that by no means is complete, of some book suggestions for your reading pleasure.

Global Climate Change 101

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Climate scientist Bill Gutowski, ISU professor of geological and atmospheric science, has heard it all: That, sure, the climate is changing, but it has nothing to do with humans. That meteorologists can’t accurately predict the weather more than a week ahead – so how in the world can they predict what the climate will do decades in the future? That the government is raising an alarm so it can get more money.

Gutowski knows it’s hard for people to understand the science behind the change.

“Anything science tells us can be controversial,” he says. “People believe what they want. But it’s best not to get politics involved with the science.”

Gutowski has studied the science of global climate change for more than 30 years. He teaches a 400/500-level course on global climate change at Iowa State. So he’s familiar with what science tells us about our changing planet – and what we don’t yet know.

With the help of his colleagues, Gutowski has created a presentation titled “Our changing climate: What we know, where we are heading.” He was also a lead author for the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The following information is taken from that report.

WHAT THE SCIENCE TELLS US

  • Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent emissions of greenhouse gases originating from human activity are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.
  • Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen.
  • Anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the pre-industrial era, driven largely by economic and population growth, and are now higher than ever. This has led to atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide that are unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Their effects have been detected throughout the climate system and are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans. Impacts are due to observed climate change, irrespective of its cause, indicating the sensitivity of natural and human systems to changing climate.
  • Changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950. Some of these changes have been linked to human influences, including a decrease in cold temperature extremes, an increase in warm temperature extremes, an increase in extreme high sea levels, and an increase in the number of heavy precipitation events in a number of regions.
  • Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.
  • Surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century under all assessed emission scenarios. It is very likely that heat waves will occur more often and last longer, and that extreme precipitation events will become more intense and more frequent in many regions. The ocean will continue to warm and acidify, and global mean sea level will rise.
  • Climate change will amplify existing risks and create new risks for natural and human ecosystems. Risks are unevenly distributed and are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development.
  • Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reduction in greenhouse emissions, which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks.
  • Many aspects of climate change and associated impacts will continue for centuries, even if human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases are stopped. The risks of abrupt or irreversible changes increase as the magnitude of the warming increases.

CLIMATE CHANGE IN BRIEF
Fact: Humans are increasing greenhouse gases.
Fact: This is causing more energy to accumulate in earth’s climate system.
Fact: We are changing our climate.

What has happened?
• Our planet is heating up

How do we know this?
• Global temperature is rising
• Most glaciers are melting
• Arctic Ocean ice is shrinking
• Sea level is rising
• The growing season is lengthening across North America

What does the future hold?
• Global average surface temperature will continue to increase
• Global sea level will continue to rise

Riding the Storm Out

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Your family picnic is scheduled for 1 o’clock this afternoon, and the sky looks ominous. Will it rain? Should you cancel? Or will that weather system move to the north?

Answers to these questions are just a click away at www.weather.gov – the website for the National Weather Service.

The Johnston weather forecast office in central Iowa is one of 122 locations nationwide governed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Johnston office provides the weather outlook for 51 of Iowa’s 99 counties, providing forecasts for winter storms, tornado watches and warnings, flood watches, and seven-day forecasts.

Six Iowa State meteorology graduates work at the Johnston office, including Ken Harding (A)(’86), meteorologist in charge.

“Most meteorologists have wanted to do this since they were little kids,” Harding says. “Some had a severe weather event in their past – a tornado or a flood. Then they’re hooked.”

Meteorologists staff the Johnston office 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They have access to Doppler weather surveillance radar equipment with a 250-mile range.

“We can look at thunderstorms, measure wind, see precipitation…it’s wonderful,” Harding says. “It’s sensitive enough to see a bumblebee at 40 miles.”

There’s pressure to be accurate, and there’s especially pressure to predict severe storms accurately in order to give people time to take cover or avoid the threat.

“You’re protecting lives,” Harding says. “We take the ‘service’ part of National Weather Service very seriously.”

Flood Forecasting

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Squaw Creek meanders quietly through Ames, Iowa, often with so little flow that you couldn’t launch a toy boat from its shores. And then there are the summers when Squaw Creek has barreled through campus, dumping as much as 14 feet of water into Hilton Coliseum and flooding the surrounding land.

Kristie Franz is working to understand how water moves over land and through stream channels to shed light on flooding. Franz is associate professor of geological and atmospheric sciences and professor in charge of Iowa State’s meteorology program. Here in Squaw Creek, Franz measures the river discharge – its rate of flow through a section of the stream channel. She’s interested in discharge because it tells a story about how water travels in a watershed. The discharge data helps her and her research team build models of this behavior.

“In this area, flooding is economically very costly,” she says. “It can shut down the city. Our modeling efforts are geared toward improving our ability to predict floods – to get people out of the way and protect buildings and businesses.”

Water has always played a big role in Franz’s life. A river was a prominent feature of her Wisconsin hometown, and the citizens hold an annual Pure Water Days Festival. Franz holds degrees in geology, hydrology and water resources, and civil engineering.She’s been on the faculty at Iowa State since 2006.

Career Corner: Time to Clean Your Office?

By Katie Lickteig, Assistant Director of Outreach & Events

When you look at your workspace right now, what do you see? Stacks of papers and magazines (from several months ago)? Empty soda bottles from the previous week? Or maybe your desk is actually free of “stuff,” but upon closer inspection you notice a layer of dust coating everything and files so thick you can barely close your filing cabinet drawer?

In our office, we have scheduled a few half days devoted to cleaning out our files during the summer. As a staff, we know it’s too easy to get sucked into your inbox or start your next project if the person in the office next to you isn’t sorting through their files as well.

The next time you think you might need to go through your files or clean your office, just do it. There will always be an excuse to not do it, but you’ll feel a lot more productive, organized, and energized after it’s done. And you’ll probably end up with some extra space that you can use to start collecting more files!

Alumni Profile: Dr. Hong Sik (Peter) Park ’62 ’64

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Half a century’s worth of changes evaporated as Hong Sik (Peter) Park (BS ’62 dairy industry, MS ’64 dairy industry) climbed the stairs of Iowa State’s Food Science Building. Here was the place he had called home for five years, a familiar façade amidst a transformed campus.

Originally from South Korea, Park’s path to Iowa State and the dairy industry seemed like a long shot. He grew up poor, the eldest son of eight children in his family. Park was just 13 years old during the Korean War and spent three months under communist control in Seoul. “There was no food, no freedom,” Park said. “Men were hiding, literally hiding underground because they knew if found they would be sent to the front lines.”

When General Douglas MacArthur and the United States soldiers marched though and liberated the city, Park recalled people pouring into the streets, crying and thanking them. “That’s why I did everything in my life,” Park explained, “To give back, to pay back everything the United States did for Korea.”

By 1959, Park was well on his way to giving back. He had completed two years of study in agricultural chemistry at Seoul University as well as a year of military service and qualified to study in the United States.

A heartfelt discussion with one of his professors convinced Park that he needed to study dairy industry. Korea’s dairy industry at that time consisted of less than 1000 head of cattle in the entire country. Park recognized that boosting dairy production could help bolster the Korean economy while also providing better nutrition to the county’s citizens. Iowa State’s dairy industry major, which ranked as one of the top programs nationally, was where Park landed.

“When I came to the US I hardly had any money,” Park said. He spent his first quarter as a student at ISU living on eggs, peanut butter and bread that he kept in his room. Those who knew him insisted that he needed to eat at least one hot meal a day and becoming a bus boy in Friley Hall made that possible. Park recalls sitting down to his first hot breakfast in months and feeling overwhelmed by the kindness of others.

Over the next four years Park threw himself into his studies and activities. He worked hard to improve his English skills and vocabulary. He completed internships and learned more about the production of milk, cheese and ice cream. He created a program called Calves for Korea in hopes of raising enough money to purchase a dairy herd for his home country.

Park agreed to add one additional activity to his already full plate when in March of 1963 he became the instructor for Iowa State’s newly formed judo club. He assumed he would have one student and was shocked when more than 200 students turned up for the club’s first meeting. Rather than turning students away, Park led three classes each day Monday through Saturday to meet the demand.

In the years after he left Iowa State, Park pursued his career in the dairy industry, ultimately becoming the vice president of research and development and quality control at Marigold Foods, the largest dairy company in the Midwest. After retirement, Park served as a technical advisor to the Seoul Dairy Coop where he was able to advance Korea’s dairy industry as he had always hoped. “That success was from my education, industry-wide,” Park said. “I was very lucky, the Iowa State campus did that for me; the foundation was here.”

This summer, more than five decades later, Park revisited campus for the first time. As a student, Park lived for five years in the basement of the Dairy Industry Building (now known as the Food Science Building) free-of-charge while providing security for the space. As he explored the building today, much has changed beyond that familiar façade. The rooms are different, the building has expanded, but Park’s emotions remain steadfast. “My main memory is people’s kindness,” Park said. “I met so many nice people who helped me when I needed it. This place did that for me.”

— Coreen Robinson

The cold truth

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Over the last century, nearly all of the earth’s glaciers have shrunk, some of them dramatically. All of the glaciers in Glacier National Park, Mont., are expected to disappear in the next 15 years. New studies show that the Greenland ice sheet has lost 10 billion tons of ice per year since 2003 – 10 billion tons per year.

One professor at Iowa State has studied glaciers for more than 30 years. Neal Iverson (’83 geology), professor of geological & atmospheric sciences, is currently studying drumlins (streamlined hills that form beneath glaciers) and glacial movement. His fieldwork has taken him to the Alps, the Canadian Rockies, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland.

Iverson spent the spring semester as a Fulbright scholar in Trondheim, Norway. VISIONS spoke with him via email; the following is an edited transcript of the discussion.

VISIONS: Tell us about your current research projects.
iverson1IVERSON: We are studying the sediments that make up drumlins that have formed beneath the glacier Múlajökull in central Iceland. These drumlins are unusual because they have been shaped by a modern glacier over the last century, rather than having formed during a past ice age. We study the magnetic properties of the sediment, which tell us about the patterns of sediment movement under the glacier, and the degree of sediment compaction, which tells us about the stress at the bottom of the glacier that affected the sediment’s mobility.

We also do experiments in the laboratory that simulate the physics of glacier sliding – the process whereby glaciers slip over their beds and achieve high speeds, as high as 150 feet per day in extreme cases. The goal is to develop relationships that can be used in numerical models aimed at predicting increasing speeds of glaciers that terminate in the ocean – those rates of flow are a major factor affecting sea level rise.

What do you hope this research will tell us?
The fieldwork in Iceland is aimed at understanding how drumlins form. The work has been made possible by climate warming, which has caused the glacier to shrink and expose the drumlins for study. Results of the laboratory experiments, through their inclusion in numerical models of ice sheets, could help shed light on the extent of future glacier accelerations due to climate warming.

Why is the study of drumlins important?
Drumlins are elongate hills orientated in the direction of glacier flow. They occur in groups of as many as 10,000 individuals, hidden from view under glaciers. No one yet knows how they form, despite 150 years of study and more than 1,000 publications. Drumlins are also of interest these days because, by sticking up into the base of modern ice sheets and affecting resistance to glacier slip, they could affect how quickly parts of ice sheets move and shed ice into the oceans.

Do you include students in your research?
Many of my students have worked on glacial sediments in the Midwest because that is their interest, having grown up in the Midwest. Others have in interest in modern glacial environments, often stimulated by their love of hiking, climbing, etc. These students have worked on a glacier in northern Sweden called Storglaciären, studying its flow behavior; in tunnels beneath the Svartisen Ice Cap in Norway, studying its sliding mechanics; and most recently in Iceland studying drumlins and other landforms at Múlajökull. Students participate in all aspects of the research.

How long have you been studying glaciers?
Thirty-two years. In the spring of 1983 I graduated from Iowa State and joined a University of Minnesota field project for the summer – 80 days of camping in front of a glacier in northern Sweden, where we studied its mass balance (gain or loss of ice) and speed. I ended up doing my Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota and have been studying glaciers continuously since then.

How cold does it get where you’re working?
We work in August in Iceland, so it is not that cold. Temperatures have ranged in August from about freezing to 55 degrees F. The bigger problems are high winds (sometimes sustained winds of 60 mph) and rain, both of which are common and make working hard or sometimes impossible.

Describe your working conditions.
We camp in front of the glacier and have a cook tent that makes cooking and eating a lot easier than if we had only sleeping tents. Working consists of walking several miles each day to a particular drumlin, digging to expose fresh sediments not disturbed by slope processes, and then spending the day working in the resultant pit carefully collecting sediment samples. It is dirty work that is hard on aging knees and backs but quite enjoyable when the weather is good.

What do you wear for protection from the cold?
Most of us wear synthetic inner layers that retain most of their warmth when wet and an outer  shell that breaks the wind and is waterproof. On our feet we wear boots that are rigid to allow walking on loose stones and sufficiently waterproof to allow the many streams in the area to be crossed.

You got a B.S. at Iowa State – were you an Iowa kid? If so, how did you get interested in glaciers of all things?
I grew up in Ames until I was eight and thereafter in Sioux City, where my father worked for ISU Extension. My parents took us each year camping in the Rockies. It was seeing glaciers – and the spectacular Alpine landscapes they produce – on some of those trips, that got me interested in glaciers. Also, glaciology is rooted in basic physics (mechanics and thermodynamics), subjects that I really enjoyed as an undergraduate at ISU.