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Tip Sheet for the week of June 6, 2011

RELEASED: June 6, 2011

Story Idea
Scientific models used to predict future climate change could be modified because of findings from a research project that involves a UW-Eau Claire biologist and several of her students. Dr. Tali Lee, associate professor of biology, and researchers from the University of Minnesota conducted an 11-year experiment with 13 plant species common in prairie ecosystems in U.S. Midwestern states. The study found that in this ecosystem the capacity for plants to absorb extra carbon from the atmosphere as carbon dioxide levels rise was less than expected. The results are important because models used to forecast future climate change include estimates of plants' absorption of CO2. The study indicates that today's models may overestimate the ability of plants to absorb excess CO2, which means they may underestimate the pace of future CO2 increases and associated global change. The findings were published in the journal Global Change Biology. The findings that not all ecosystems respond the same to elevated levels of carbon dioxide will encourage scientists to be more cautious when using existing climate change models. Lee's experiment is located at the Cedar Creek Long-Term Ecological Research site in Minnesota. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology and the Department of Energy. Lee and two students will spend time working at the site this month. For details, contact Dr. Tali Lee at 715-836-5087 or leetd@uwec.edu.

Story/Photo Idea
UW-Eau Claire's new Pedal and Paddle Pollution Tour will be launched during the Earth Day is Every Day community celebration Saturday, June 11, at Phoenix Park in downtown Eau Claire. People interested in learning about pollution issues facing the Chippewa River will canoe, kayak or bike a 5-mile route along the Chippewa River from Phoenix Park to the Highway 85 rest stop. The tour will begin at 1 p.m. Participants will meet in Phoenix Park at the riverbank near the rocky ledge down the hill from the Farmers Market. Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich will join in the pedaling and faculty and students from the "Environmental Conservation and Action" class will lead the paddling. The tour is the result of a faculty-student project to educate people about pollution issues in the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area. The route is accessible from bike trails or the river as people kayak, canoe or bike to pre-set GPS waypoints on the river. It features 11 stops, each highlighting different pollution issues affecting the river basin. Details about the Pedal and Paddle Pollution Tour can be found online with a virtual tour featuring 10 three-minute student-created videos about environmental issues along the river. Maps highlighting the tour stops are available throughout the Chippewa Valley. For details, contact Dr. Ruth Cronje at cronjerj@uwec.edu.

Story Idea
Ten social work students recently returned from a 10-day Appalachian immersion trip to eastern Kentucky. Dr. Vanda Galen, professor social work, led the excursion. She took students to the coalfields to better understand the rich culture of the area. The group spent time in coal company towns in the shadow of Black Mountain to see the devastation of mountain-top removal for coal extraction that has been wrought on the Virginia side of the mountain. The students met with local advocates who are trying to save the mountain on the Kentucky side. Senior Amy Pederson, Mondovi, was among those who went on the trip. The group also visited social programs begun by women during the Progressive Era. The students blogged about their experiences online. For details, contact Dr. Galen at galenv@uwec.edu.

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