#EESpublishes: Prof Coch with a Forensic Analysis of the 1893 NYC Hurricane: Implications for the Future.

Professor Coch of Queens College and EES has a new sole authored article out now in the Journal of Coastal Research entitled:

Forensic Analysis of the 1893 “New York City” Hurricane: Implications for the Future.


Examination of an offshore-replenished beach in New York City in 1995 revealed that it contained anthropogenic debris from the distant past. Dating of the debris determined that the archeological items were deposited from a category 1 hurricane that made landfall in New York City on the nights of 23–24 August 1893. This “midnight storm” caused great damage in spite of its relatively low category on the Saffir-Simpson scale. A detailed study of the storm was conducted because it was the first hurricane to hit a major metropolitan area with many high-rise buildings. Subsequent discovery of the original weather records from New York City allowed for the re-creation of meteorological conditions in 1893, and they account for the great destruction it caused. The meteorological data were also used to conduct a SLOSH analysis that provided additional information on the storm. These analyses helped to determine why the damage was so high. The results of this study have provided valuable information for damage mitigation in future northern hurricanes.

©Coastal Education and Research Foundation, Inc. 2019
Coch, N.K., 2019. Forensic analysis of the 1893 “New York City” hurricane: Implications for the future. Journal of Coastal Research, 35(4), 729–736. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.

#EESpublishes: Prof. John Marra has a new book on everyone’s favorite carbon isotope C14!

Congratulations to our very own Dr. John Marra (EES, Brooklyn College and GC) on the publication of his new book!
Marra, John F. 2019. Hot Carbon: Carbon-14 and a Revolution in Science (New York: Columbia University Press).  
“There are few fields of science that carbon-14 has not touched. A radioactive isotope of carbon, it stands out for its unusually long half-life. Best known for its application to estimating the age of artifacts—carbon dating—carbon-14 helped reveal new chronologies of human civilization and geological time. Everything containing carbon, the basis of all life, could be placed in time according to the clock of radioactive decay, with research applications ranging from archeology to oceanography to climatology.

In Hot Carbon, John F. Marra tells the untold story of this scientific revolution. He weaves together the workings of the many disciplines that employ carbon-14 with gripping tales of the individuals who pioneered its possibilities. He describes the concrete applications of carbon-14 to the study of all the stuff of life on earth, from climate science’s understanding of change over time to his own work on oceanic photosynthesis with microscopic phytoplankton. Marra’s engaging narrative encompasses nuclear testing, the peopling of the Americas, elephant poaching, and the flax plants used for the linen in the Shroud of Turin. Combining colorful narrative prose with accessible explanations of fundamental science, Hot Carbon is a thought-provoking exploration of how the power of carbon-14 informs our relationship to the past.”

The check out the review in Nature https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01895-z

#EESpublishes: Aaron Davitt and Kyle McDonald on using Soil Moisture & Freeze-Thaw Data to predict Spring-Melt Flood Conditions

EES PhD student Aaron Davitt has first authored a paper with Prof McDonald as a coauthor in the IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing entitled:

“The Utility of SMAP Soil Moisture and Freeze-Thaw Datasets as Precursors to Spring-Melt Flood Conditions: A Case Study in the Red River of the North Basin”



We evaluated NASA soil moisture active–passive (SMAP) soil moisture (SM) and freeze-thaw (FT) datasets for the utility to identify FT and SM conditions as precursors to a 2017 spring-melt flood event in the Red River of the North Basin. SMAP FT and SM datasets were analyzed at basin-scale and at specific North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Red River of the North U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stations prior to and during the observed flood. Results indicate that SMAP FT dataset had better agreement with NDAWN and NOAA air temperature measurements than with soil temperature. SMAP FT and SM were able to observe FT states and saturated soil conditions at basin-level and significant increases in SM content up to five days before USGS gauge height increase and the manifestation of the flood event. A Spearman’s rank ( $R_{s}$ ) cross-correlation coefficient lag function was applied to SMAP SM and USGS river gauge heights and the strength of the relationship varied by location and lead time. Downstream locations near and in the flood area (North Grand Forks, Oslo, North Drayton) displayed moderate to strong relationships at 1-, 3-, and 4-day lead times (R $_s$ = 0.67, 0.84, 0.71; p < .05), respectively. Pembina had the strongest relationship (4-day lead time; $R_{s}= 0.88; p&lt; .05$ ), well during the flood event recorded. This study suggests that SMAP SM and FT datasets can potentially provide useful information on surface state conditions to spring-melt floods in the Red River of the North Basin.

Dr. Celeste Winston’s Disseratation Now Available on CUNY Academic Works: Marronage and Anti Police Struggles

“How to Lose the Hounds”: Tracing the Relevance of Marronage for Contemporary Anti-Police Struggles  by Celeste Winston.

Advisor: Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Committee Members: Katherine McKittrick, Marianna Pavlovskaya, and Robyn Spencer.


This dissertation analyzes the interconnected practices of flight from slavery and flight from policing. Focusing on Black communities within Montgomery County, Maryland, I provide evidence for how local legacies of enslavement and flight from slavery have empowered later generations of residents, including people still living there today, to practice safety and security on their own terms, beyond policing. I draw on archival and ethnographic research in seven Black communities in Montgomery County to document historical and ongoing local Black life practices and organizing against and outside of policing. I center these communities’ past and present placemaking and collective strategies of valuing their own humanity as a model for police abolition—the end of policing and the building of something new.

As a guiding theory, I developed the concept “maroon geographies” to emphasize connections between slavery-era and more contemporary Black flight and placemaking beyond racial police violence. Marronage—which is the practice of flight from slavery—allowed slaves to assert their freedom and, at times, to create communities that were physically removed from the dominant slave society. Black people who escaped or were freed from slavery established several rural, urban, and suburban towns sustained as multi-generational Black communities in the present-day United States. Like maroon communities during slavery, these Black enclaves, across later generations, developed various levels of autonomy from the operations of dominant society. Together, Black communities and their slavery-era predecessors form “maroon geographies” defined by Black-led, place-based communal struggles against state and extralegal racial and economic violence.

My findings show how generations of residents in Montgomery County’s Black communities have lived and continue to live out abolitionist praxes in their daily lives—from fleeing slave catchers, some of the earliest policing efforts in this country, to not relying on police to resolve issues nor to ensure safety in their communities. I discuss the local history and folklore around marronage in Montgomery County and connect it to continued anti-police practices and organizing. I examine local acts of refusal of and flight from policing, and I outline a model of maroon restorative justice based in examples from local Black communities. Further, I highlight Black epistemologies and practices of community beyond policing, rooted in marronage and characterized by radical visions of places that fulfill human needs. These Black geographic visions, I contend, show that community safety and security are already operating outside of policing.

#EESpublishes: Profs Cheng, Groffman and Muth, Post Doc Deeb and Prithiviraj, and PhD student Paltseva on Green Infrastructure Design Influences Urban Soil Bacteria Communities

Another publication is forthcoming from our Urban Soils group headquartered at Brooklyn College.   Abstract below.

Green Infrastructure Design Influences Urban Soil Bacteria Communities by Joyner, Kerwin, Deeb, Lozefski, Paltseva, Prithiviraj, McLaughlin, Cheng, Groffman and Muth.

The importance of natural ecosystem processes is often overlooked in urban areas. Green Infrastructure (GI) features have been constructed in urban areas as elements to capture and treat excess urban runoff while providing a range of ancillary benefits, e.g., ecosystem processes mediated by microorganisms that improve air and water quality, in addition to the associations with plant and tree rhizospheres. The objective of this study was to characterize the bacterial community and diversity in engineered soils (Technosols) of five types of GI in New York City; vegetated swales, right of way bioswales (ROWB; including street-side infiltration systems and enhanced tree pits), and an urban forest. The design of ROWB GI features directly connects with the road to manage street runoff, which can increase the Technosol saturation and exposure to urban contaminants washed from the street and carried into the GI feature. This GI design specifically accommodates dramatic pulses of water that influences the bacterial community composition and diversity through the selective pressure of contaminants or by disturbance. The ROWB had the highest biodiversity, but no significant correlation with levels of soil organic matter and microbially-mediated biogeochemical functions. Another important biogeochemical parameter for soil bacterial communities is pH, which influenced the bacterial community composition, consistent with studies in non-urban soils. Bacterial community composition in GI features showed signs of anthropogenic disturbance, including exposure to animal feces and chemical contaminants, such as petroleum products. Results suggest the overall design and management of GI features with a channeled connection with street runoff, such as ROWB, has a comprehensive effect on soil parameters (particularly organic matter) and the bacterial community. One key consideration for future assessments of GI microbial community would be to determine the source of organic matter and elucidate the relationship between vegetation, Technosol, and bacteria in the designed GI features.

#EESPublishes: Profs. Norouzi and Khanbilvardi on A Global Analysis of Land Surface Temperature Diurnal Cycle Using MODIS Observations

Diurnal variations of land surface temperature (LST) play vital role in a wide range of applications such as climate change assessment, land-atmosphere interactions, and heat-related health issues in urban regions. This study uses fifteen years (2003–2017) of daily observations of LST Collection 6 from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments onboard the Aqua and the Terra satellites. A spline interpolation method is used to estimate half-hourly global LST from the MODIS measurements. A preliminary assessment of interpolated LST with hourly ground-based observations over selected stations of the North America shows bias and error of less than 1 K. Results suggest that the present interpolation method is capable in capturing the diurnal variations of LST reasonably well for different land cover types. The diurnal cycle of LST and time of occurrence of maximum temperature are computed from the spatially and temporally consistent interpolated diurnal LST data at a global scale. Regions with higher variability in the timing of maximum LST hours and diurnal amplitude are identified in this study. The global desert regions show generally small variability of monthly mean diurnal LST range, whereas larger areas of the global land exhibits rather higher variability in diurnal LST range during the study period. Moreover, the changes in diurnal temperature range for the study period are examined for distinct land cover types. Analysis of fifteen-year time series of diurnal LST record shows an overall decrease of 0.5 K in amplitude over the Northern hemisphere. However, the diurnal LST range shows variant changes in the Southern hemisphere.

Corresponding author’s email

#EESPublishes: Prof. Peter Groffman on Roots Mediate the Effects of Snowpack Decline on Soil Bacteria, Fungi, and Nitrogen Cycling in a Northern Hardwood Forest

Check out this new article co-authored by Prof Groffman in Frontiers in Microbiology | Terrestrial Microbiology !

Roots Mediate the Effects of Snowpack Decline on Soil Bacteria, Fungi, and Nitrogen Cycling in a Northern Hardwood Forest,

Abstract: Rising winter air temperature will reduce snow depth and duration over the next century in northern hardwood forests. Reductions in snow depth may affect soil bacteria and fungi directly, but also affect soil microbes indirectly through effects of snowpack loss on plant roots. We incubated root exclusion and root ingrowth cores across a winter climate-elevation gradient in a northern hardwood forest for 29 months to identify direct (i.e. winter snow-mediated) and indirect (i.e. root-mediated) effects of winter snowpack decline on soil bacterial and fungal communities, as well as on potential nitrification and net N mineralization rates. Both winter snowpack decline and root exclusion increased bacterial richness and phylogenetic diversity. Variation in bacterial community composition was best explained by differences in winter snow depth or soil frost across elevation. Root ingrowth had a positive effect on the relative abundance of several bacterial taxonomic orders (e.g. Acidobacterales and Actinomycetales). Nominally saprotrophic (e.g. Saccharomycetales and Mucorales) or mycorrhizal (e.g. Helotiales, Russalales, Thelephorales) fungal taxonomic orders were also affected by both root ingrowth and snow depth variation. However, when grouped together, the relative abundance of saprotrophic fungi, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and ectomycorrhizal fungi were not affected by root ingrowth or snow depth, suggesting that traits in addition to carbon acquisition strategy will mediate fungal community responses to snowpack decline in northern hardwood forests. Potential soil nitrification rates were positively related to ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and archaea abundance (e.g. Nitrospirales, Nitrosomondales, Nitrosphaerales). Rates of N mineralization were positively and negatively correlated with ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungi, respectively, and these relationships were mediated by root exclusion. The results from this study suggest that a declining winter snowpack and its effect on plant roots each have direct effects on the diversity and abundance of soil bacteria and fungal communities that interact to determine rates of soil N cycling in northern hardwood forests.

#EESpublishes: Prof PeterGroffman on Contribution of non-native plants to the phylogenetic homogenization of U.S. yard floras

Peter Groffman

Abstract. Cultivation and spread of non-native plant species may result in either phylogenetic homoge- nization (increasing similarity) or differentiation (decreasing similarity) of urban floras. However, it is unknown how non-native species influence homogenization of cultivated versus spontaneously occurring species in cities, and which traits are associated with species that promote homogenization versus differentia- tion. In this study, we compared homogenization effects of cultivated and spontaneous non-native species in yard floras across and within seven widely distributed U.S. cities. Additionally, we explored which traits explained their particular contribution to homogenization. We recorded plant presence/absence in 178 private yards distributed among seven metropolitan statistical areas in the United States. We compared phylogenetic homogenization effects of non-native species within both the cultivated and spontaneous species pools using phylogenetic dissimilarities and the homogenization index. Then, we expressed contributions of non-native species to the homogenization of each pool as a function of two different sets of plant functional traits using phylogenetic generalized least square (PGLS) models across and within cities. Across cities, spontaneous non-native species homogenized, and cultivated non-native species differentiated, yard floras. Within the spontaneous pool, short, small-seeded non-native plants and non-native grasses significantly homogenized yard floras. Within the cultivated pool, species contribution to homogenization was best predicted by plant height, presence of showy flowers, and growth form, with non-native grasses significantly homogenizing cultivated yard floras. Within cities, non-native species—whether they were cultivated or spontaneous—consistently homogenized yard floras of the three northern cities and differentiated yard floras of three of the four southern cities, suggesting that homogenization processes are context- and scale-dependent. Likewise, traits explaining homogenization differed substantially among cities. The inconsistent patterns among cities in the plant traits that promoted homogenization of both cultivated and spontaneous species suggest that local environmental and anthropogenic conditions of individual cities imposed strong constraints on trait selection. Linking plant functional traits that promote homogenization with residents’ preferences for vegetation may further enhance understanding of how yard plant communities assemble at regional and local scales.


#EESpublishes: SHRIMP U–Pb zircon evidence for age, provenance, and tectonic history of early Paleozoic Ganderian rocks, east-central Maine, USA

New first authored paper by Prof Allan Ludman in the journal of Atlantic Geology SHRIMP U–Pb zircon evidence for age, provenance, and tectonic history of early Paleozoic Ganderian rocks, east-central Maine, USA
SHRIMP U–Pb zircon ages from Ganderia in eastern Maine clarify the ages and provenance of basement units in the Miramichi and St. Croix terranes and of cover rocks in the Fredericton trough and Central Maine/Aroostook-Matapedia basin (CMAM). These new data constrain timing of orogenic events and help understand the origin of the cover rock depocenters.
Detrital zircon data generally confirm suggested ages of the formations sampled. Zircon grains with ages of ca. 430 Ma in both depocenters, only slightly older than their host rocks, were probably derived from the earliest volcanic eruptions in the Eastport-Mascarene belt. Their presence indicates that unnamed CMAM sandstone units may be as young as Pridoli and their absence from the Appleton Ridge and Digdeguash formations suggests that these formations are older than initial Eastport-Mascarene volcanism. Detrital and volcanic zircon ages confirm a Late Cambrian to Middle Ordovician age for the Miramichi succession and date Miramichi volcanism at 469.3 ± 4.6 Ma. In the St. Croix terrane, zircon grain with an age of 477.4 ± 3.7 Ma from an ashfall at the base of the Kendall Mountain Formation and age spectra and fossils from overlying quartz arenite suggest that the formation may span Floian to Sandbian time. The main source of CMAM and Fredericton sediment was recycled Ganderian basement from terranes emergent after Late Ordovician orogenesis, supplemented by Silurian tephra. Zircon barcodes and lithofacies and tectonic models suggest little, if any, input from Laurentia or Avalonia.
Zircon- and fossil-based ages indicate coeval Upper Ordovician deformation in the St. Croix (ca. 453 to 442 Ma) and Miramichi (ca. 453 to 446 Ma) terranes. Salinic folding in the southeastern Fredericton trough is bracketed between the 421.9 ± 2.4 Ma age of the Pocomoonshine gabbro-diorite and 430 Ma detrital zircons in the Flume Ridge Formation. Zircon ages, lithofacies analysis, and paleontological evidence support the origin of the Fredericton trough as a Salinic foredeep. The CMAM basin cannot have been an Acadian foreland basin, as sedimentation began millions of years before Acadian subduction.

Professor Andrew Maroko on Environmental Justice Versus Environmental Gentrification

Professor Andrew Maroko coauthored an article in the journal – International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health entitled Brownfields to Greenfields: Environmental Justice Versus Environmental Gentrification.

Abstract: Gentrification is a growing concern in many urban areas, due to the potential for displacement of lower-income and other vulnerable populations. This process can be accelerated when neighborhood “greening” projects are undertaken via governmental or private investor efforts, resulting in a  phenomenon termed environmental or “green” gentrification. Vacant land in lower-income areas is often improved by the existing community through the creation of community gardens, but this contributes to these greening efforts and paradoxically may spur gentrification and subsequent displacement of the gardens’ stewards and neighbors. “Is proximity to community gardens in less affluent neighborhoods associated with an increased likelihood of gentrification?” Continue reading “Professor Andrew Maroko on Environmental Justice Versus Environmental Gentrification”