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Greenhouse gas emissions from water reservoirs higher than previously expected

A new study in Global Biogeochemical Cycles shows per-area greenhouse gas emissions from the world’s water reservoirs are around 29% higher than suggested by previous studies, but that practical measures could be taken to help reduce that impact.

John Harrison.

Led by John Harrison, a professor in the WSU Vancouver School of the Environment, and co-authored by colleagues at the University of Quebec at Montreal, the study is the first to include methane degassing in its estimate of global greenhouse gas emissions from manmade reservoirs. The research team also factored in numerous other unaccounted for variables into their analysis such as water temperature, water depth and the amount of sediment entering into thousands of different reservoirs located around the world. Previous studies that calculated overall greenhouse gas emissions from reservoirs relied solely on average emission rates per reservoir surface area.

“While a number of papers have pointed out the importance of aquatic systems as sources of methane to the atmosphere, this is the first paper that I know of to look explicitly at which kinds of reservoirs are big sources and why,” Harrison said. “It gives us the ability to start working toward understanding what we could do about methane emissions from these types of systems.”

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The Shillong Times

WSU foresters urge readiness for a dry, early wildfire season

An abnormally dry spring has heralded an early start to what could be a prolonged fire season in 2021.

Forestry educators at Washington State University urge forest owners and residents to prepare.

Mark Swanson.

Since the era of effective fire suppression began around 1950, “we’ve seen a lot of trees grow into formerly open spaces,” said Mark Swanson, Forestry Program lead with WSU’s School of the Environment. “We have denser, more moisture-stressed stands that are going to burn at higher severity, where once they would have experienced low-severity, ground fires. These are the parts of our forest that would have burned frequently, keeping fuel low so that fire wouldn’t have jumped from crown to crown.”

For fire to start, timber, grasses, and other fuel must be dry. Green wood won’t burn, but given time, warm temperatures, and low relative humidity, all that’s needed is a spark, and wind to spread the blaze.

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Top Ten Senior Awards

For more than 80 years, Washington State University has recognized 10 of the top seniors in each graduating class. The WSU Alumni Association selects these women and men who represent the highest standards in specific aspects of the college experience, including academics, athletics, campus involvement, community service, and visual and performing arts.

Five CAS students were among the Top 10 of 2021.

Kyle Kopta.

Kyle Kopta


  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Digital Technology and Culture
  • WSU Tri-Cities
  • Hermiston, Oregon
Samantha King-Shaw.

Samantha King-Shaw


  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • WSU Pullman
  • Sparks, Nevada
Brandt Fisher.

Brandt Fisher


  • College of Arts and Sciences, Honors College
  • Music performance in saxophone with an emphasis in jazz
  • WSU Pullman
  • Edmonds, Washington
Dallas Hobbs.

Dallas Hobbs


  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Digital Technology & Culture, Fine Arts
  • WSU Pullman
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Ariel Medeiros.

Ariel Medeiros


  • College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science, Psychology
  • WSU Pullman
  • Reno, Nevada

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Washington State University

Social tensions preceded disruptions in ancient Pueblo societies

Climate problems alone were not enough to end periods of ancient Pueblo development in the southwestern United States.

The findings, detailed in an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that Pueblo farmers often persevered through droughts, but when social tensions were increasing, even modest droughts could spell the end of an era of development.

Tim Kohler

“Societies that are cohesive can often find ways to overcome climate challenges,” said Tim Kohler, a Washington State University archeologist and corresponding author on the study. “But societies that are riven by internal social dynamics of any sort—which could be wealth differences, racial disparities or other divisions—are fragile because of those factors. Then climate challenges can easily become very serious.”

Social fragility was not at play, however, at the end of the Pueblo III period in the late 1200s when Pueblo farmers left the Four Corners with most moving far south. This study supports the theory that it was a combination of drought and conflict with outside groups that spurred the Pueblo peoples to leave.

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Climate scientists debunk 13 myths about global warming

Deepti Singh.

I’m Deepti Singh. I’m an assistant professor in the School of the Environment at Washington State University. I’ve been studying climate change for about 11 years, and I study extreme weather events and how human activities are influencing them.

And today we’ll be debunking myths about global warming.

 “Carbon dioxide is the problem.”

So, CO2 isn’t the problem. It’s the increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere that is resulting in the rapid warming we’re seeing over the last century, which is the problem.

It’s easy for us to say, “Well, it’s too late to do anything about it. Let’s throw our hands up and not do anything about it.” But there is a lot we can do about it, both individually as well as at the international level. It doesn’t have to be a major change, but reducing our consumption of certain meat products that are extremely energy-intensive is one way in which we can affect greenhouse emissions.

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