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Publications Archives - Page 3 of 8 - The Doctoral Program in Earth and Environmental Sciences




In Publications

By EES Social Media Fellow

#EESPublishes: EO Prof. Cindi Katz’s essay “A #Bronx Chronicle” available now! #spaces #places #power #culture #danger

On 20, Jul 2017 | In Publications | By EES Social Media Fellow

Check out Prof. Katz’s essay entitled “A Bronx Chronicle” published in Spaces of Danger: Culture and Power in the Everyday! Spaces of Danger contains 12 original essays by geographers and anthropologists offering a deep critical understanding of Allan Pred’s pathbreaking and eclectic cultural Marxist approach, with a focus on his concept of “situated ignorance”: the production and reproduction of power and inequality by regimes of truth through strategically deployed misinformation, diversions, and silences. Check it out!





In News

By EES Social Media Fellow

#EESpublishes: Check out Dr. Stephanie DeVries dissertation on nitrogen pollution!

On 07, Jun 2017 | In News, Publications | By EES Social Media Fellow

Stephanie DeVries dissertation is available on CUNY academic works!  Congratulations Dr. DeVries!

Following a comprehensive review of the occurrence and impacts of antibiotics and related pharmaceutical compounds on the terrestrial N-cycle, three experiments were performed to explore the topic of biogeochemistry as a source or a sink for N-pollution. The first of these experiments addresses the question of whether environmentally relevant concentrations of antibiotics (µg·kg-1) have a significant effect on denitrification or N2O production, a question that has not been well addressed in previous studies. Having determined that there is a significant shift, the second study aims to comprehensively follow changes to soil N pools and N2O flux alongside biogeochemical reaction rates under different soil moisture conditions. The final chapter of this research, Chapter 5, looks to biogeochemistry as a solution for some of the water quality issues associated with excess N by quantifying the rate at which sand columns inoculated with lake sediment biodegrade undesirable taste/odor compounds and toxins produced by cyanobacterial algae that proliferate in nitrogen-rich waters.

The results of this work show that the balance between soil as a source or a sink of N pollutants can be significantly disturbed by sources beyond the obvious, i.e. antibiotics. It further shows that biogeochemical activity can serve as an effective treatment for secondary N-pollution. Additional research is encouraged to test the effects of additional antibiotics and by extending the incubation period to longer time periods. In particular, there also exists a need to examine the short and long-term effects of antibiotics on soil microbial community structure. While the present work shows that endemic bacteria can degrade nuisance compounds in N-polluted waters, the efficacy of this activity may also be affected by long-term antibiotic exposure in sediment. Genetic tools including GeoChip, will help to better constrain changes that are relevant to all aspects of these findings.






In News

By EES Social Media Fellow

#EESpublishes: @GC_CUNY @CityCollegeNY Alumna Dr @mar_karimi & Prof #RezaKhanbilvardi on Surface T Variations in Urban Settings

On 19, Apr 2017 | In News, Publications | By EES Social Media Fellow

Dr. Karimi and Dr. Khanbilvardi coauthored a paper entitled Predicting surface temperature variation in urban settings using real-time weather forecasts in Urban Climate.  Highlight include:

•Three months of field campaign data were collected to understand the inverse effect of UHI in Manhattan
•Measuring spatial and temporal temperature variation within urban setting of Manhattan
•Predicting temperature variability from weather forecast
•The lapse rates being the common dependent for both spatial and temporal variations Within Manhattan

Abstract: Densely populated cities experience adverse effects of Urban Heat Island (UHI) including higher numbers of emergency hospital admissions and heat related illnesses. Studying UHI effects and temperature variations has become even more important as global temperatures continue to rise. To better understand UHIs within New York City, an exploratory study was done using a field campaign to measure high resolution spatial and temporal temperature variations within Manhattan’s urban setting. These time correlated temperature measurements along with weather model data of temperature and relative humidity were used to predict temperature variability using weather forecasts. The amplitude of spatial variations was most dependent on temperature (r = 0.400) and low level lapse rate (r = − 0.258) while temporal variations were most dependent on temperature (r = 0.398), low level lapse rates (r = − 0.361), and mid-level lapse rate (r = − 0.320). Regression of weather variables can be used to predict the amplitude of spatial and temporal variation in temperature within a city for each day. This study directs attention towards high resolution near-surface air temperature analysis and offers a new look at surface thermal properties. The application of the resulting data and modeling is most suitable for forecasting microscale variability in urban settings.

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In Publications

By EES Social Media Fellow

#EESpublishes: Prof @MPavlovskaya of @gc_cuny @Hunter_College on #class in the Interntl Encyclopedia of #Geography

On 03, Apr 2017 | In Publications | By EES Social Media Fellow

Professor Marianna Pavlovskaya of EES and Hunter College authored a book section in The International Encyclopedia of Geography entitled “Class“.


Class is one of the most important, widely used, and complicated concepts in human geography and the social sciences. It underpins economic geographies and intersects with geographies of gender, race, and sexuality. Different notions of class have been in use, along the spectrum from neoclassical to Marxist economic theories. These theories have also been reworked by feminist, postcolonial, and poststructuralist scholars in order to augment critiques of class-related inequalities and to construct possibilities for imagining and producing progressive geographies of class. The contemporary global and neoliberal economy has given rise to high levels of concentration of wealth and economic insecurity that cut across the class divisions and social safety nets of the twentieth century. The politics of class remains central, however; imagining new horizons in class solidarity and transformation is as vital as ever for new and diverse class subjects.

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In News

By EES Social Media Fellow

#EESpublishes: Prof #GillianStewart of @GC_CUNY @QC_News on Fe specie variability in #mesopelagic zone at #OceanStationPAPA

On 28, Mar 2017 | In News, Publications | By EES Social Media Fellow

Professor Gillian Stewart of EES and Queens College coauthored a paper entitled, “Temporal variability of dissolved iron species in the mesopelagic zone at Ocean Station PAPA” in the Journal of Marine Science.

Highlights include:

• A dissolved Fe enhancement in the mesopelagic zone of the NE Pacific was observed.
• The anomaly was also evident in Fe(II) distribution with depth.
• Aerosol deposition from Siberian forest fires is the likely cause of the anomalies.
• Dissolved Fe at the surface was at background levels.
• There was no evidence of a phytoplankton bloom.



In Publications

By EES Social Media Fellow



In Publications

By EES Social Media Fellow

#EESPublishes: PhD Student Ellen Hartig on NYC Holocene Sea Level in the NYTimes!

On 20, Jan 2017 | In Publications | By EES Social Media Fellow

Scientists Glimpse New York’s Perilous Path in an Ancient Patch of Marsh



In Pelham Bay in the Bronx, an ancient salt marsh has provided a unique laboratory to study historic sea levels and perhaps see what lies ahead. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Surrounded by landmarks of modernity like Co-op City in the Bronx, a sliver of New York’s ancient past remains relatively untouched.

It is one of the city’s last salt marshes, a coastal ecosystem dominated by dense and sturdy stands of plants and grasses that has been trapping and binding sediments from the flow of the tides for thousands of years.

The sediment there tells a story of the past and, according to a new study, offers a dire warning about the future that corresponds with similar research conducted around the world.

The finding that sea levels are now rising faster than at any other time in 15 centuries is consistent with other measurements made in the western North Atlantic. But in revealing the threat to New York City specifically, the study, which was published online in the scientific journal The Holocene this month, also confirms fears that the region is on a course to realize dire projections set for the next few decades. More than $25 billion worth of infrastructure will be under direct threat from flooding through the coming decades, scientists believe, including seven hospitals, 183 hazardous waste sites and the homes of nearly 100,000 people.

Most studies of historic trends in sea levels are conducted in rural areas. Research in urban areas, which are expected to feel the greatest impact of rising oceans, is often difficult or impossible because many of the natural marshes have been lost or deeply disturbed.

That’s the case in New York, too, where, by some estimates, between 80 and 90 percent of wetlands in and around the city are gone.

Ellen K. Hartig, with the New York City parks, entering the salt marsh. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

But some remnants remain, including a tract that straddles the Hutchinson River Parkway, just west of City Island, around Pelham Bay in the Bronx.

On the part of the wetland area west of the highway, bordering Co-Op City — a 35-building complex with more than 50,000 residents — the degradation of the marsh is evident. Muddy flats have replaced the fields of tall grass, known as Spartina alterniflora. But to the east, on the border of the bay, the marsh is healthier.

Four years ago, a team of scientists from a diverse set of backgrounds set out for that narrow stretch of land to do something never before tried: chronicle sea levels around the city over a 1,500-year stretch.

“We were chasing one of the last little bits of marshes left,” said Troy Hill, a biologist with the federal Environmental Protection Agency who was a graduate student at Yale when the research began.

The lead author of the study, called “Relative Sea-Level Trends in New York City During the Past 1,500 Years,” is Andrew Kemp, a scientist at the Department of Ocean and Earth Sciences at Tufts University.

Mr. Kemp’s previous work, looking at the impact of sea-level increases and hurricane flooding, drew a lot of attention after Hurricane Sandy. But the lack of historical sea-level data for the city was a missing element in any attempt to understand the effects of climate change.

Ice left at low tide in the marsh on Jan. 11. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

The team worked in close coordination with Ellen K. Hartig, a scientist at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation who specializes in wetlands.

In 2012, the researchers began taking core samples from the area, placing segments extracted from the earth into rigid plastic sleeves, labeling them and wrapping them in plastic so they could be refrigerated until they were analyzed in the lab.

Digging was the easy part. The work in the lab was painstaking and would take more than four years.

Every inch of the dirt held clues to what had been occurring in the wider world at the time it was deposited in the marsh. For instance, a small peak in the concentration of lead was found to correspond with its increased production and use during World War I, while a decline corresponded with the Great Depression.

Bottom of Form

The soil told of local pollution, indicating the use of municipal refuse incinerators, which peaked in 1937, and offering clues of events farther afield, such as evidence of the aboveground nuclear weapons tests conducted in the 1950s and 1960s.

Most important, the sediment marked tidal flows. Every day, for thousands of years, the tides would come in and deposit sediment before rolling back out. Mr. Hill likened these layers upon layers of sediment to the growth rings of a tree.

Less than 10 feet of dirt held 1,500 years of history.

Benjamin Horton, a professor at the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences of Rutgers, who was not involved in the study, said it was valuable because it offered an unusual view of sea-level rise. “Prehistoric sea-level studies have previously been restricted to rural environments with minimal human influence,” he said. “Here Kemp and co-authors reconstruct the first sea-level rise record from an urban environment.”

Troy Hill taking soil samples in the Bronx marshland. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Because of where the city is positioned geographically, the sea-level rise in the region may be up to 32 percent greater than the global average by the end of this century, scientists have said.

Philip Orton, a physicist at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken who also contributed to the study, sought to put climate change’s potential for destruction in perspective.

Since 1821, through nearly 200 years, the seas have risen roughly 1.5 feet, he said. But they are expected to rise by the same amount over the next 40.

While New York officials have in the past announced ambitious plans to protect the city, many of the most expansive ideas remain on the drawing board. “The efforts by New York City to adapt the city to flood risk, post-Sandy, have been intense, but are not protecting most of the city,” Mr. Orton said.

He cited two examples: a project known as the Big U, which was initially envisioned as providing protection for all of Lower Manhattan but is currently more focused on the Lower East Side, and another aimed at protecting Hunts Point in the Bronx.

Hunts Point, the food distribution center for the entire region, is a vital part of the city infrastructure. But as things stand, the city does not have the funding to build the protections, he said.

“I’d say the biggest surprise in all this is how expensive it all is — more expensive than expected,” Mr. Orton wrote in an email. “And the finding that protecting 500-plus miles of New York City shorelines from 100-year floods, plus sea level, may prove to be too expensive.”

Correction: January 19, 2017

An earlier version of this article misstated, using information from a researcher, the time it is expected to take for the sea level in the New York area to rise another 1.5 feet, after rising that amount in the last 200 years. It is 40 years, not 85.



In Publications

By EES Social Media Fellow

#EESPublishes: Prof. O’Mullan on Culturable bioaerosols on the urban waterfront

On 27, Dec 2016 | In Publications | By EES Social Media Fellow

Professor Gregory D. O’Mullan of Queens College and the Graduate Center coauthored a paper in Peer J entitled “Culturable bioaerosols along an urban waterfront are primarily associated with coarse particles“.

Abstract: The source, characteristics and transport of viable microbial aerosols in urban centers are topics of significant environmental and public health concern. Recent studies have identified adjacent waterways, and especially polluted waterways, as an important source of microbial aerosols to urban air. The size of these aerosols influences how far they travel, their resistance to environmental stress, and their inhalation potential. In this study, we utilize a cascade impactor and aerosol particle monitor to characterize the size distribution of particles and culturable bacterial and fungal aerosols along the waterfront of a New York City embayment. We seek to address the potential contribution of bacterial aerosols from local sources and to determine how their number, size distribution, and taxonomic identity are affected by wind speed and wind direction (onshore vs. offshore). Total culturable microbial counts were higher under offshore winds (average of 778 CFU/m3 ± 67), with bacteria comprising the majority of colonies (58.5%), as compared to onshore winds (580 CFU/m3 ± 110) where fungi were dominant (87.7%). The majority of cultured bacteria and fungi sampled during both offshore winds (88%) and onshore winds (72%) were associated with coarse aerosols (>2.1 µm), indicative of production from local sources. There was a significant correlation (p < 0.05) of wind speed with both total and coarse culturable microbial aerosol concentrations. Taxonomic analysis, based on DNA sequencing, showed that Actinobacteria was the dominant phylum among aerosol isolates. In particular, Streptomyces and Bacillus, both spore forming genera that are often soil-associated, were abundant under both offshore and onshore wind conditions. Comparisons of bacterial communities present in the bioaerosol sequence libraries revealed that particle size played an important role in microbial aerosol taxonomy. Onshore and offshore coarse libraries were found to be most similar. This study demonstrates that the majority of culturable bacterial aerosols along a New York City waterfront were associated with coarse aerosol particles, highlighting the importance of local sources, and that the taxonomy of culturable aerosol bacteria differed by size fraction and wind direction.




In Publications

By EES Social Media Fellow

#EESpublishes: Prof #BlaszczakBoxe of @GC_CUNY on the #Martian #ozone profile

On 13, Dec 2016 | In Publications | By EES Social Media Fellow

Professor Christopher Blaszczak-Boxe of the CUNY Grad Center and City College co-authored a paper in ICARUS entitled

A detailed pathway analysis of the chemical reaction system generating the Martian vertical ozone profile.


•Determination of all significant O3 producing and consuming pathways and quantification of their contributions in the Martian atmosphere with help of an automated computer algorithm.
•O3 production results from CO2 and O2 photolysis.
•O3 is consumed by catalytic cycles involving HOx (=H+OH+HO2).
•The Martian atmosphere can be divided into two chemically distinct re- gions according to the O(3P):O3 ratio.
•Vertical transport of O(3P) from upper layers downwards into the O3 layer at around 50 km altitude provides an additional source of Ox (=O+O3), which is pivotal to the formation of the Martian O3 volume mixing ratio maximum.


Atmospheric chemical composition is crucial in determining a planet’s atmospheric structure, stability, and evolution. Attaining a quantitative understanding of the essential chemical mechanisms governing atmospheric composition is nontrivial due to complex interactions between chemical species. Trace species, for example, can participate in catalytic cycles – affecting the abundance of major and other trace gas species. Specifically, for Mars, such cycles dictate the abundance of its primary atmospheric constituent, carbon dioxide (CO2), but also for one of its trace gases, ozone (O3). The identification of chemical pathways/cycles by hand is extremely demanding; hence, the application of numerical methods, such as the Pathway Analysis Program (PAP), is crucial to analyze and quantitatively exemplify chemical reaction networks. Here, we carry out the first automated quantitative chemical pathway analysis of Mars’ atmosphere with respect to O3. PAP was applied to JPL/Caltech’s 1-D updated photochemical Mars model’s output data. We determine all significant chemical pathways and their contribution to O3 production and consumption (up to 80 km) in order to investigate the mechanisms causing the characteristic shape of the O3 volume mixing ratio profile, i.e. a ground layer maximum and an ozone layer at ∼ 50 km. These pathways explain why an O3 layer is present, why it is located at that particular altitude and what the different processes forming the near-surface and middle atmosphere O3 maxima are. Furthermore, we show that the Martian atmosphere can be divided into two chemically distinct regions according to the O(3P):O3 ratio. In the lower region (below approximately 24 km altitude) O3 is the most abundant Ox ( = O3 + O(3P)) species. In the upper region (above approximately 24 km altitude), where the O3 layer is located, O(3P) is the most abundant Ox species. Earlier results concerning the formation of O3 on Mars can now be explained with the help of chemical pathways leading to a better understanding of the vertical O3 profile.


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In Publications

By EES Social Media Fellow

#EESPublishes: @GC_CUNY @GCSciences student #CharutaKulkarni on #Vegetational #History of #Serbia

On 06, Oct 2016 | In Publications | By EES Social Media Fellow

EES Student Charuta Kulkani (@ckulkarni) first authored a paper in Quaternary Science Reviews entitled ” Exploring the role of humans and climate over the Balkan landscape: 500 years of vegetational history of Serbia“.  Highlights of the article include; 1) The first Serbian palynological record of vegetation-landscape shifts from the Little Ice Age (LIA) to present. 2) Open landscapes with minor woodland and intense land erosion ensued during 1540–1720 CE due to human and climatic impacts. 3) Increased moisture availability in the late LIA (1720–1850 CE) is visible by increases in mesic and montane trees. 4) Increased forest cover with stable cultivation characterized the post-LIA/Industrial Era.

Congratulations Charuta!


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