News: CEE

Flowchart depicting the research field of multi-sector dynamics.

Reed awarded $1.4M grant to advance human-natural system modeling

By: Syl Kacapyr

A Cornell engineer is advancing the field of ‘multi-sector dynamics’ with a new $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy that will focus on techniques for better projecting the outcomes of human interactions with the natural world. Patrick Reed, the Joseph C. Ford Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, received the grant in collaboration with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Integrated Multisector Multiscale Modeling project. As scientists and policy makers increasingly turn toward mathematical modeling to help inform their decision making, the... Read more

Dr. Zall in Alaska in 1973. provided to the NY Times by Linda Zall

Inside the C.I.A., She Became a Spy for Planet Earth

By: By William J. Broad

CEE Alumni Dr. Linda Zall's work is featured in this New York Times article. Linda Zall played a starring role in American science that led to decades of major advances. But she never described her breakthroughs on television, or had books written about her, or received high scientific honors. One database of scientific publications lists her contributions as consisting of just three papers, with a conspicuous gap running from 1980 to 2020. The reason is that Dr. Zall’s decades of service to science were done in the secretive warrens of the Central Intelligence Agency. Now, at 70, she’s... Read more

city skyline with graph overplayed over illustration by Elizabeth Nelson

Evaluating Weather-Related Risks for Cities

By: Cornell Research

Cities significantly alter local and regional weather patterns. Pavement and brick raise surface temperatures, skyscrapers generate air turbulence, and heat from cars and other forms of energy consumption affect air currents. Collectively, these factors interact with the lower atmosphere to change the likelihood of floods, droughts, and extreme weather generally. In effect, urbanization is concentrating populations and economies in the crosshairs of weather-related hazards. John D. Albertson and Qi Li, Civil and Environmental Engineering, are developing a predictive framework to understand the... Read more

Colorado Forest with water/lake

Different Models, Different Answers in Water Resource Planning

By: Terri Cook  - American Geophysical Union Eos Research Spotlight

The experimental design used in climate vulnerability assessments can strongly influence the assessments’ findings and skew decisions about which factors are most important for informing adaptation. Effective management of water resources depends on accurately predicting future water supplies and demands that regularly fluctuate because of population growth, climate change, and many other factors. To deal with large uncertainties in these considerations, water resource planners often use what is known as a scenario-neutral approach in their projections. In contrast to scenario-driven methods... Read more

Image from a 3D simulation of a grocery store used in an experiment conducted by Ricardo Daziano, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, to gauge New York City residents’ perceptions of social distancing.

In 3D simulation, shoppers prefer stores with more distancing

By: Melanie Lefkowitz

New York City residents are four times more likely to choose a store where shoppers respect 6 feet of distancing as opposed to one where no one is social distancing, according to an experiment Cornell researchers conducted in May using a 3D simulation. Ricardo Daziano, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, is principal investigator on a one-year, $102,700 RAPID grant from the National Science Foundation to use immersive virtual reality (VR) to continue assessing New Yorkers’ perceptions of social distancing as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. “We want to understand how... Read more

Image of crops in desert like area, The Roza Irrigation District within the Yakima River Basin in Washington state.

Climate change forces farmers to pick low yields or instability

By: Syl Kacapyr

Climate change will leave some farmers with a difficult conundrum, according to a new study by researchers from Cornell and Washington State University: either risk more revenue volatility or live with a more predictable decrease in crop yields. As water shortages and higher temperatures drive down crop yields in regions that depend heavily on seasonal snow, the choice to use more drought-tolerant crop varieties comes at a cost, according to model projections detailed in the paper “Water Rights Shape Crop Yield and Revenue Volatility Tradeoff for Adaptation in Snow Dependent Systems,”... Read more

Todd cowen, photo below of healthcare worker with mask on, April Gu, below glass of water, Sriramya Nair with photo of smokestack below

Three CEE professors receive funding from the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability

Congratulations to three of our professors who received funding from the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability Academic Venture Fund. Professor April Gu is one of the investigators on a project titled "Antibacterial Resistance in Drinking Water." Recent research reveals that disinfectants can increase antimicrobial resistance in drinking water systems. This project will investigate antimicrobial resistance in municipal drinking water supplies. Professor Todd Cowen is working on the research project "Reducing Health Care Workers’ Risk From Disease Spread." Researchers will develop, monitor... Read more

Windmills, design of car overlayed with grid  Environmentally friendly or no? Ricardo Daziano models the economic variables that influence whether consumers choose energy-efficient technology. Illustration by Elizabeth Nelson

How Consumers View Energy Efficiency

By: Jackie Swift

Cutting back on energy use in the face of climate change means we need to make some important choices in the marketplace: Do we buy a gasoline-powered car or an electric one? Do we replace our old furnace with a gas furnace or an electric heat pump? Do we opt to get our energy from solar panels or coal-fired power plants? “Environmentally friendly products like electric cars and solar panels have benefits not only for the user, who saves money because the products are energy efficient, but also for society because they produce less emissions,” says Ricardo A. Daziano, Civil and Environmental... Read more