Best time for better bulbs
A study from U-M researchers published in the fall recommends replacing all incandescent and halogen light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LED bulbs in households. But when it comes to existing CFLs and LEDs, it may be best to wait until LEDs use even less energy and are even lower in cost before making a swap, researchers said.
Previous studies had noted that LEDs reduce spending on energy over time and are a cost-effective alternative to other light bulbs but did not look at the best time to replace an existing bulb.
Offshoring pollution to poor countries
Manufacturing plants in the United States are creating less pollution as the production of more goods has shifted to low-wage countries, according to researchers from U-M and Shanghai Jiaotong University.
An analysis found that toxic emissions of major air pollutants by U.S. manufacturers fell more than half between 1992 and 2009, despite significant growth in real U.S. manufacturing output. The cost to comply with environmental standards in the U.S. costs hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Less-developed countries spend very little and avoid stricter policies that may slow economic growth.
Changing climate and parasite loss
Parasite species – tapeworms, ticks, and others pests – are one of the life groups most threatened by the Earth’s changing climate, according to a global analysis by researchers including U-M ecologist Nyeema Harris. In fact, up to a third of parasite species may be extinct by 2070, the analysis found.
Harris was part of a team of 17 researchers in eight countries that spent years tracking down the exact geographical source of tens of thousands of parasite specimens, including a flea she plucked from a black-footed ferret, one of the most endangered carnivores in North America.
Ann Arbor stormwater management smart technology
Autonomous “smart” technologies for aging stormwater systems are being developed at the U-M to lessen the impacts of flooding—potentially saving lives and billions of dollars in property damage. Through a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Branko Kerkez, an assistant professor in the U-M Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is leading a national team of researchers from three other institutions to investigate how “smart” stormwater systems — outfitted with autonomous sensors and valves — can reconfigure urban watersheds in real-time to reduce flooding and improve water quality.
The grant is one of three in the nation funded at this level and it’s among 38 projects just announced under NSF’s new, $19.5 million Smart & Connected Communities program.
Graham Institute’s emerging opportunities
The Graham Sustainability Institute awarded nearly $500,000 to support four sustainability-related and cross-disciplinary research projects that include U-M researchers, external partners, experts from other universities and colleges, tribal agencies and non-governmental organizations. The projects investigate sustainable diets in Kenya and Vietnam, climate adaptation strategies of indigenous tribes in the Great Lakes region, climate-related health disparities among marginalized communities, and climate adaptation strategies for vulnerable communities along the northern coast of Ecuador.
Larger-than-average summer ‘dead zone’ predicted for Chesapeake Bay
A U-M ecologist and colleges from several institutions forecasted a larger-than-average “dead zone” in Chesapeake Bay. Last summer’s Chesapeake Bay hypoxic or “dead zone,” an area of low to no oxygen that can kill fish and aquatic life, was expected to be approximately 1.89 cubic miles — nearly the volume of 3.2 million Olympic-size swimming pools.
Protecting the Great Lakes
A five-year, $20 million grant from the federal government will support research focused on sustainable management of the Great Lakes. The Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research will focus on four themes in line with research areas at NOAA’s Ann Arbor lab: observing systems and advanced technology, invasive species and food-web ecology, hydrometeorological and ecosystem forecasting, and protection and restoration of resources.
Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the institute represents a partnership between nine universities across the Great Lakes region, as well as multiple nongovernmental organizations and private businesses.
Mcity: leading the transformation to connected and automated mobility
Eleven companies are investing a total of $11 million in the second phase of industry funding for Mcity, the U-M-led public-private research and development initiative leading the transformation to connected and automated mobility. The industry’s continuing interest reflects Mcity’s success in building an ecosystem of companies committed to the center’s mission to accelerate the development and implementation of connected and automated vehicles to improve traffic safety, conserve energy and increase accessibility to transportation.
Rising sea levels
New findings from U-M explain an Ice Age paradox and add to the mounting evidence that climate change could bring higher seas than most models predict. The study shows how small spikes in the temperature of the ocean, rather than the air, likely drove the rapid disintegration cycles of the expansive ice sheet that once covered much of North America. Jeremy Bassis, U-M associate professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, developed a model to mathematically describe how ice breaks and flows which has led to a deeper understanding of how the Earth’s store of ice could react to changes in air or ocean temperatures, and how that might translate to sea level rise.