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Earth, Energy, and Environment Presentations

Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2009

Earth, Energy, and EnvironmentThe following list includes all presentations given at the Faculty Summit that relate to the theme of earth, energy, and environment. Topics range from carbon implications of land use to how IT can help manage and predict water availability.

From Farm to Forest: Carbon Implications of Land Use

Dennis Baldocchi, University of California, Berkeley; David Lobell, Stanford University; Catharine Van Ingen, Microsoft Research

Are agricultural carbon credits a sound investment, helping both sequester carbon and raise farmer income levels? Are forest-based offsets equally viable? At-risk forests can absorb 20 percent of the planet’s carbon emissions while agriculture accounts for approximately 10 percent of global emissions. Thus, land-use, whether in the form of deforestation or agriculture, directly affects nearly 30 percent of the exchange of greenhouse gases between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere. This session features presentations (and interactive discussion) by University of California, Berkeley Professor Dennis Baldocchi on the relationship between vegetation and the atmosphere and Stanford University Dr. David Lobell on how technology is critical to studying climactic impact on agriculture.
Webcast: From Farm to Forest: Carbon Implications of Land Use

Water for a Thirsty World: How Can Information Technology Help?

Jeff Dozier, University of California, Santa Barbara; Ilya Zaslavsky, University of California, San Diego

Water defines our environment. We are a water-dependent species in a world where water is the central actor, changing Earth’s surface and shaping where and how we live. At the same time that populations are growing and water demand is increasing, changes in climate and land use impose broad challenges for the future. In the study of the water environment—from the perspectives of natural, engineering, and social sciences—the overarching question is: How can we protect ecosystems and better manage and predict water availability and quality for future generations, given changes to the water cycle caused by human activities and climate trends? In this session, Professor Dozier and Dr. Zaslavsky lead an interactive discussion of the role of information technology in transforming water science and improving decisions about water management.
Webcast: Water for a Thirsty World: How Can Information Technology Help?Presentations:

Protecting Ocean Resources

Mark Abbott, Oregon State University; Ellen Prager, Earth2Ocean

Oceans play a crucial role in supporting life on earth. Oceans provide the primary source of protein for more than 1 billion people, are a leading source for pharmaceuticals, and supply multiple billions in economic wealth—not to mention the inherent visceral enjoyment of a day at the beach. Unfortunately, pollution, overfishing, and climate change threaten all of this. This session, led by marine scientist Dr. Ellen Prager and Mark Abbott, Dean and Professor of College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, focuses on climate change, in particular. Session attendees will participate in a rich discussion around how better technology—including modeling, visualization, translation skills, and decision tools—can help address the critical problems of sea level rise, ocean temperature increase, and ocean acidification.
Webcast: Protecting Ocean Resources

Toward Zero Carbon Energy Production

Mark Abbott, Oregon State University; Michael Jacobson, Stanford University; Michael Totten, Conservation International

While the administration of United States President Obama has committed US$1.2 billion to go toward green energy research and development, approximately one thirtieth of the U.S. Department of Energy’s annual budget, both climate change and energy security, remain critical problems to solve. How do we avoid investing in energy sources that yield unintended consequences? What if the energy sources that are getting the most attention are between 25 to 1,000 times more polluting than the best available options? The science community is assessing not only the potential for delivering energy for electricity and vehicles from different sources, but also how they affect global warming, human health, energy security, water supply, space requirements, wildlife, water pollution, reliability, and sustainability. Join Stanford University Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, Conservation International Chief Advisor Michael Totten, and Oregon State University Dean and Professor Mark Abbott for an interactive workshop dedicated to using technology to achieve a whole systems evaluation of competing alternative energy options.

Webcast: Toward Zero Carbon Energy Production