Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Climate Change

Group of Remote Sensing

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Climate change alters the radiation, temperature, sea surface pressure, and precipitation distributions, and also forces terrestrial vegetation and ecological systems to adapt. Great attention has being paid to potential aerosol impacts on cloud microphysical and radiative properties, as the indirect effect of aerosols currently produces the greatest uncertainty in climate predictions among all known climate forcing mechanisms. Large climate feedback uncertainties limit the accuracy in predicting the response of Earth's climate to the atmospheric CO2 increase. Also, key physical and dynamical processes associated with severe weather (e.g., hurricanes and tornados) are neither fully understood nor characterized, and so high priority is placed on measurements that will contribute to successful forecasts of such events. To address several key issues, our research group works on the problems of atmospheric physics ranging from the ionosphere to the earth's surface by using numerical models and active and passive remote sensing from multiple platforms (satellite, airborne, and surface-based).

Kleppel Lab

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We are broadly interested in the effects of land use patterns on ecosystems. Among the issues being addressed are: The use of livestock for restoration and management of early successional stage ecosystems, alternative urban typologies (development styles) and their effects on ecosystem structure and function, the use of economic, planning and policy tools to promote landscape scale conservation and sustainable agriculture, and synergies between climate change and land cover patterns of ecosystem structure and function.

Robinson Lab

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Forest ecology, wildlife conservation, and ecological restoration: Field studies are mixed with laboratory and greenhouse experiments, computer mapping and statistical analyses. Two current topics are (1) mapping and designing control programs for invasive species that threaten natural habitats in nearby forested areas, and (2) exploring responses of forests to ongoing climate changes, with emphasis on tracking effects of lengthening growing periods on trees.