From the Director
Rust Never Sleeps
Harlan Spence
Harlan Spence

AS I WRITE THIS, summer 2012 wanes and the next fiscal year has already begun. While many of us consider January 1st to be the top of the calendar year, administrators often tie their calendar to the fiscal year, as do I. That makes summer the perfect season to reflect on last year's annual performance, even as we start a new fiscal year and prepare for the next academic year as well.

And what a fiscal year it was! Our quantitative measures of success continue to soar. For the third straight year, our external awards have led to indirect cost revenues (the revenues that run EOS operations) of greater than $8.2 million. Of course, the same awards that generated those indirect costs generated far greater direct costs to support our science. And for that, I wish to thank the entire EOS team–faculty, research scientists, administrative and technical staff, engineers, technicians, managers, and graduate and undergraduate students. It takes a collective effort to accomplish all that we do, and do it well.

Beyond the bottom line, a truer measure of our value to the university, and to the nation, is through our publications and citations. On this count, we continue to rank highly in objective measures of scientific output in the disciplines that define EOS. In the past year, we amassed an impressive array of number one and top-five publication and citation ratings according to independent analysis conducted by organizations such as ScienceWatch (ESI).

And, indeed, we continue to ascend. As of mid-July, EOS scientists are on pace to publish more papers and receive more citations than we did last year and the year before. This is all the more impressive given that we have six fewer faculty today than we did two years ago, a 10 percent reduction.

At EOS, each new fiscal year brings new challenges that force us to constantly reinvent and reimagine who we are, what we do, and how we do it. When thinking about individual people and their stories within EOS, or when thinking about EOS the institute responding to pressures from state and federal budget cuts, the phrase "rust never sleeps" often springs to mind.

The phrase is perhaps best remembered as the trademark slogan of Rust-oleum. The slogan went out of usage for a time but was brought back into popular consciousness in 1979 by Neil Young and Crazy Horse who collaborated on an album of the same name. "Rust Never Sleeps" was Young's rallying cry, resurrecting his career and renewing his musical relevance.

EOS researchers and the institute itself possess that same rust-never-sleeps attitude. If the agents of decline are at work day and night, so then must our resolve double and redouble to not just hold our own, but to grow. The rewards of that growth are not always measured in dollars or publications but, at a deeper level, in the amazing scientific advances we make on projects both large and small. In a world where oxidation operates incessantly, EOS researchers work hard at buffing and polishing to bring shine and luster to human knowledge, and most often that increased understanding isn't purely "academic"–it helps to benefit mankind and the world around us.

In this issue of EOS Spheres, you'll find leading-edge Amazonian paleoecological studies that are creating a buzz and glow within the scientific community. Closer to home, you will read about the ongoing efforts led by EOS faculty and staff to establish a new graduate certificate program in geospatial sciences–a reinvention of what we do at EOS. And you will also read about projects both big (the Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission) and small (FIREBIRD) that define upcoming future opportunities to further advance our realms of science.

Through these snapshots of the past, present, and future of EOS, I hope we convey a sense of dynamism, energy, resilience, resolve, and ingenuity of the science we do and how we do it. Rust never sleeps, and neither do we!
– Harlan Spence

Welcome to
Spheres Online

the University of New Hampshire Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space electronic newsletter.

Subscribe to Spheres Online

Spheres Archives

Summer 2012
In this Issue of Spheres

Seeing the Forest
for the Trees

Tightening the Scientific
Understanding of the Belts

Big Science in a
Pintsize Package

Rock of Ages

Geospatial Science Gets
a Space of its own

News and Notes
Faculty, Staff, and Student News
From the Director

Institute for the Study of Earth,
Oceans, and Space
EOS Director: Harlan Spence
Editor: David Sims
Designer: Kristi Donahue
Circulation: Laurie Pinciak

Morse Hall, 8 College Road,
Durham, NH 03824












Summer 2012

Faculty, Staff, and Student News
Earth Systems Research Center

Jingfeng Xiao gave an invited talk titled 'Finding your niche in ecology" at the 3rd International Young Ecologist Forum in Kaifeng, Henan, China, June 12-14. Xiao also attended the 9th US-China Carbon Consortium (USCCC) Annual Meeting in Changsha, China, June 16-18 and introduced the progress, challenges, and opportunities of USCCC flux synthesis work. In addition, he gave an invited talk at the Center for Earth System Science, Tsinghua University on June 29th.

Gopal Mulukutla and Alex Prusevich received a small NSF grant to explore the capabilities of the new UNH wind tunnel (Flow Physics Facility) to understand the transportation properties of fine volcanic ash. The project will involve a multi-disciplinary team that includes Joe Klewicki and Chris White from the UNH mechanical engineering department and Dork Sahagian and Kim Genareau from Lehigh University.


Sarah Sallade (formerly Silverberg) reports that the UNH GLOBE Carbon Cycle team recently completed its six years of educational development work and all of their materials are now freely available on the program's new website The work is one of four Earth System Science Projects funded by NASA and NSF to develop hands-on, secondary school-based science activities for GLOBE - the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment program. Project authors and contributors include ESRC's Sallade, Scott Ollinger, Mary Martin, Lara Gengarelly, Annette Schloss, Jennifer Bourgeault, Rita Freuder, and Haley Wicklein.

benchmark rept

New Hampshire's Energy, Environmental, and Economic Development Benchmark Report was released in June by the NH Energy and Climate Collaborative. Published under the leadership of Cameron Wake, the report noted that New Hampshire reduced its energy use and emissions of heat-trapping gasses between 2005 and 2009 but is still challenged by rising energy expenditures and continued dependence on out-of-state energy sources. The benchmark report evaluates baseline conditions and recent trends based on the broad, overarching goals recommended in the 2009 NH Climate Action Plan.

michael palace

Michael Palace is a co-investigator on a newly funded NASA Terrestrial Ecology Program project with collaborators from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The project is looking at tropical forests using a new satellite radar sensor and airborne lidar data, with Palace focusing on the forest in three dimensions using the lidar data. In addition, Palace's archeological work (see "Seeing the Forest for the Trees" in this issue of Spheres) in remote sensing and geospatial science continues to expand with a new jointly funded project through NSF's Archaeology-High Risk and Geography and Geospatial Sciences programs. Palace is a co-investigator with lead by UNH assistant professor of archaeology Meghan Howey. The project will look for Early Iron Age sites in Uganda and attempt to examine landscape features that indicate site location as well as develop models that look at resource extraction and exploitation.

Ph.D. candidate Eric Kelsey has taken a position at the Mount Washington Observatory (MWO) and Plymouth State University's (PSU) Judd Gregg Meteorology Institute as director of research at MWO and research assistant professor at PSU. The first person to fill this newly created joint position, Kelsey will serve as the leader of MWO research efforts, participating in and expanding an active collaborative research program among MWO, PSU and outside partners. Kelsey will complete his dissertation by early fall.

Doctoral student Danielle Grogan presented a poster on her research on sustainable irrigation water use and crop yields in China at the International Water for Food Conference held in Lincoln NE, June 2012.

Master's student Sofyan Kurnianto is spending the summer collecting field samples of peat in peat swamp forests in Tanjung Puting National Park in the southern part of Indonesian Borneo. (See "Building Capacity Brick by Brick" for more on Kurnianto's work.)

Recent UNH graduate Jacqueline Amante will remain in the ESRC as a master's student working with Jack Dibb looking at differences in albedo (the reflectivity of an object) of snow that has just fallen, aged several days, or begun to melt. Amante is particularly interested in looking at the relationship between black carbon (soot) and snow albedo. For the last two years Amante has worked closely with Ruth Varner and Michael Palace on Varner's northern peatland methane ebullition project.

Master's student Calvin Diessner recently attended the Canada Aquaculture 2012 Conference on Prince Edward Island. He presented a poster outlining the effectiveness of using the Landsat Thematic Mapper to map pond aquaculture. The trip was supported by his Research & Discover fellowship. Diessner is also investigating alternative forms of aquaculture, including aquaponics–an innovative method of fish and plant farming where fish are grown in conjunction with plants in a closed recirculating system.

Master's student Kevin Hanley received an Outstanding Student Paper Award on behalf of the Hydrology Section of the American Geophysical Union for his presentation at the 2011 Fall Meeting in San Francisco, California. The award notice was published in Eos, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union in July. Hanley's paper was titled "Understanding controls on dissolved organic carbon flux and lability in United States watersheds" and his presentation was recognized as among the best of a strong group of student presenters. Hanley's advisor is Wil Wollheim of the Water Systems Analysis Group.

Graduate student Nathaniel Morse was awarded $1,000 from the Endowment Fund for the Society for Freshwater Science to support his research investigating how suburbanization impacts nutrient uptake in small New England streams. The research has larger implications for how suburbanization affects the magnitude and timing of nutrient delivery to downstream ecosystems. A fourth-year doctoral student, Morse's work is part of the Plum Island Ecosystems LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) site with the Water Systems Analysis Group. Morse's advisors are William McDowell of the UNH department of natural resources and the environment and Wil Wollheim of WSAG.

Ocean Process Analysis Laboratory

Joe Salisbury was invited to serve on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute's Ocean Carbon and Biochemistry Ocean Acidification Subcommittee. The far-reaching effects of ocean acidification on marine biogeochemical cycles and biology, combined with the increasing interest in the topic both nationally and internationally, prompted formation of the subcommittee. Comprised of U.S. oceanographers, subcommittee members track current research and make recommendations regarding future research needs.

Lina Maria Saavedra-Díaz received her doctorate in May and has returned to her native Colombia to continue work on traditional or "artisanal" fishing communities on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. "We want to propose a baseline for a small-scale fisheries management plan and, in order to do that, we needed to understand how the fisheries have changed in these communities over time. And since we haven't had the scientific knowledge to construct that plan, I've had to glean this information through their local knowledge." Fishermen, leaders, and fisheries experts will validate the results of her dissertation at a national hearing being held in October at the University of Magdalena, where she holds a teaching position. At the same time, Saavedra-Díaz says, "this hearing will be used to discuss the management baseline plan that will come out of this work and eventually be proposed to the new Autoridad Nacional de Acuicultura y Pesca – the National Authority of Aquaculture and Fisheries."

amanda plagge

Amanda Plagge defended her Ph.D. dissertation in late March and graduated in May. Her latest work on satellite scatterometer ocean wind investigations was also presented at both the International Ocean Vector Wind Science Team meeting in Utrecht, Netherlands in June, and the 19th American Meteorological Society Air-Sea Interaction Symposium in Boston in July. Plagge also had her first child, Sylvie, in June.

Ph.D. student Shivanesh Rao will defend his dissertation on August 16. Rao's research concerns the interaction between coupled coastal ocean and the estuarine systems. Because studies have generally idealized the system so that it becomes decoupled, Rao is working towards using numerical models and field observations to understand the interaction between the idealized wind-driven coastal ocean and an idealized estuary. OPAL's James Pringle is Rao's advisor.

amanda hyde

Master's student Amanda Hyde graduated in May after working on ocean carbon cycle studies in the offshore Gulf of Maine. Hyde's advisor, OPAL director Doug Vandemark, reports she is now employed with the city of Manchester, NH working in the water quality monitoring department.

Jamie Cournane provided several presentations on river herring (alewife and blueback herring) distribution at sea and available Canadian information for the two species at the NOAA Protected Species Workshop on River Herring and Climate Change July 18-19 in Gloucester, MA. The workshop was the final in a series of three that brought together experts from many disciplines to help NOAA Protected Species determine if either species should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Ken LaValley of NH Sea Grant facilitated the two-day workshop.

Space Science Center

Fatima Ebrahimi is the principal investigator on a recently funded Department of Energy fusion theory proposal titled "Extended MHD studies of Flow-Driven and Reconnection Instabilities in Toroidal Plasmas." She has just begun work on the three-year, $300K grant, which is on magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) modeling of fusion plasma experiments with the goal of optimization to gain better energy confinement. The experiments hope to produce fusion energy like the Sun's but confined by a magnetic field, not gravity.

Li-Jen Chen was awarded a three-year, $525K grant from NSF/DOE for her proposal "Structure and dynamics of the diffusion region during asymmetric magnetic reconnection." The funding, which will support Chen and three graduate students, comes from the NSF Division for Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, Magnetospheric Physics programs. Students being supported in part by the grant are, Guanlai Li, Matt Argall, and Jason Shuster.

nefaf flier

The UNH department of physics is partnering with the New Hampshire Astronomical Society (NHAS) to host the second annual New England Fall Astronomy Festival (NEFAF) at the UNH Observatory on Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22, 2012. NEFAF 2012 will focus on making astronomy and outer space accessible and fun for children and their families.

NH Space Grant Consortium (NHSGC) director Toni Galvin reports the 2012-2013 UNH/NHSGC Fellows are Stephanie Coster, of the department of natural resources and the environment, Camden Ertley, of physics and the Space Science Center, and Justin Williams, natural resources and ESRC. Coster studies landscape genetics and uses genetic and spatial approaches to identify landscape features (natural or anthropogenic) that influence the movement of animals. Ertley will be analyzing flight data from the Gamma RAy Polarimeter Experiment (GRAPE) balloon experiment, which flew in September 2011. Williams will work closely with entomologists at the U.S. Forest Service Lab on wooly adelgid infestation of hemlock stands using Landsat and airborne hyperspectral data.

smart balloon

This year's Project SMART July 23rd balloon flight made history when the payload was recovered successfully after the student-built reentry vehicle drifted back to Earth from 105,700 feet without aid of a parachute–a first for the small-ballooning community. Onboard video cameras caught spectacular imagery of a cloud-speckled Earth curving against the blackness of outer space and of the weather balloon bursting at the apex of its flight. The story and the video garnered extensive coverage in regional and national press.

More challenges arose, and were successfully conquered, as work on the critical Spin-plane Double Probe (SDP) instrument for the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission presses on (see "From Drawing Board to Onboard" in the Winter 2011 issue of Spheres). Vibration testing on SDP Flight Model #1 uncovered a problem that prevented the instrument from doing the job it was designed to do–gently spool out 192 feet of spaghetti-like, high-tech cable to deploy orange-sized metallic spheres that will measure electric potential in the vacuum of space. Since there will be a total of 16 SDPs on four MMS spacecraft, this was a potential showstopper. So it was back to the drawing board to redesign a special clamp that has to hold the coil of cable in place during the stresses of launch but let go in outer space and allow probe deployment. Says SSC senior research project engineer Brian King, "We have now assembled updated versions of SDP flight models three and four to include the redesigned clamp, tested successfully, and delivered the instruments."

Research scientist Noé Lugaz, a former assistant astronomer at the University of Hawaii, is now working with Harlan Spence, Nathan Schwadron, and Charlie Farrugia performing numerical simulations and analyzing remote-sensing observations of coronal mass ejections made by the STEREO spacecraft. With his arrival, Lugaz transfers two NSF grants and is in the process of transferring a third from NASA for a total of about $900,000 over three years, including sub-awards. Outside co-investigators and collaborators are from the Naval Research Laboratory, Predictive Science, Inc., and the University of Hawaii.

brendan bickford

Brendan Bickford graduated in the spring with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. Since May 2011, he has been working at the Space Science Center designing a proof-of-concept prototype space-flight instrument that doubled as his senior design project. The prototype, dubbed PICAP, short for Positron Identification by Coincident Annihilation Photons, is an instrument concept proposed by SSC's James Connell and Clifford Lopate. Bickford has focused primarily on designing a mechanical assembly to house PICAP's various components–including a system of multiple silicon solid-state detectors, scintillation materials, and photomultiplier tubes (along with electronics required for operation) housed in a compact, light-tight, and electromagnetically shielded telescope. Ph.D. student Dan Tran has been working with Bickford on the project to ensure the mechanical design of the instrument does not significantly interfere with its intended scientific use.

by David Sims, Science Writer, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space.