You Can Go Home Again: Volunteers Give River Herring a Lift

This article was originally published in the Narragansett Bay Watershed Counts 2016 Report

From time immemorial, when dams were the intellectual property of beavers, alewife and blueback herring (collectively known as river herring) made their way from the ocean into Narragansett Bay and up the Saugatucket River each spring to lay eggs in upstream ponds. These eggs then hatched, and the juvenile fish swam back to the ocean to grow into adults before returning to the same birthplace, yet again, to spawn.

But, human innovation during the Industrial Revolution brought dams to the rivers to capitalize on flowing water for power. An unintended consequence was that these dams also blocked the fish migration corridors. For some time now, fish ladders have been installed at dam sites to help river herring navigate over the dams, but the fish sometimes reject or are unable to navigate these structures.

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The Headwaters of the Narragansett Bay Region

This article was originally published in the Narragansett Bay Watershed Counts 2016 Report

Many residents of Rhode Island and Massachusetts are familiar with the Blackstone, Taunton, and Pawtuxet rivers, and other rivers that flow into Narragansett Bay. But these sizable rivers begin as numerous small, nameless “headwater” streams many miles from the bay, bubbling up from groundwater or trickling out of wetlands, bogs, ponds, and lakes. Even the Mighty Mississippi begins with a barely noticeable stream. The connection of headwaters to the recognizable larger rivers and the estuary they empty into is an important chapter in the story of the Narragansett Bay watershed, both for the environment and people.

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MASTER’S THESIS

My master’s thesis is available on ProQuest or by request (paul.mcdivitt@colorado.edu). I graduated in May 2016 from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in journalism and mass communication. My thesis committee consisted of Michael Tracey (adviser), Lisa Dilling, and Tom Yulsman

The Information Deficit Model is Dead. Now What? Evaluating New Strategies for Communicating Anthropogenic Climate Change in the Context of Contemporary American Politics, Economy, and Culture

Abstract:

Social science researchers studying the public controversy over Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) in the United States have convincingly argued that the “Information Deficit Model” (IDM), which assumes that the public needs more and better information, represents an insufficient strategy for communicating the science and risks of, and solutions to, ACC. Instead, these researchers propose alternative strategies, under the umbrella of what has been called the “contextual model.” These strategies attempt to incorporate social context — in the form of culturally resonant messages, frames, and other rhetorical devices — into communication with the public. Several researchers have even developed rigorous experimental methodologies to test the efficacy of these strategies, dubbing this burgeoning field the “science of science communication.” This thesis reviews a variety of social science research showing that ACC communication researchers underestimate the challenge of implementing contextual model strategies outside of a lab setting, especially at the scales necessary for significant shifts in public opinion and meaningful changes in public policy. This is due primarily to the fragmented, polarized, and highly contested spaces of contemporary American culture, politics, and economics within which communication occurs, as well as the unequal distribution of power within these complex systems.

Shrinking Satellites

This video was originally published on the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences’ YouTube

CU-Boulder researchers and students are shrinking satellites, figuring out how to collect critical Earth observations at lower cost and to more effectively track environmental changes. CU-Boulder’s Dave Gallaher (CIRES’ National Snow and Ice Data Center) and Al Gasiewski (Center for Environmental Technology) with colleagues from Space Grant are leaders in this effort.

Incoming! New Satellite Aims to Improve Crucial Solar Storm Warning

This article was originally published in the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences’ Spheres Magazine

In May 1921, a massive geomagnetic storm temporarily wiped out the top technology of the day, telegraph service. Today’s technology is just as susceptible to space weather events, which periodically sweep from the Sun toward Earth and can trigger geomagnetic storming. We are arguably more dependent than ever on technology, and more vulnerable to geomagnetic storms that can disrupt communication and navigation systems.

So a team of CIRES and NOAA researchers working at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC)—the nation’s official source of warnings and alerts about space weather and its impacts on Earth—are excited about a new satellite. The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is poised to improve the advanced warning systems that tell us when potentially destructive space weather is heading our way.

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The Color of Water

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This article was originally published in the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences’ Spheres Magazine

Imagine being able to measure the depth of a lake simply by looking at its color.

That’s basically what Allen Pope, a postdoc working in the National Snow and Ice Data Center (part of CIRES) is doing with supraglacial lakes on top of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Pope uses images from NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite and is analyzing the color of these lakes to decipher their depth. Darker blues and greens indicate deeper lakes. The deepest can reach eight meters, and Pope is finding he can measure depth within a 4-foot accuracy (and even better when averaged over large areas).

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New Research and Trends in Capital Punishment

This article was originally published on the Institute of Behavioral Science’s website

A lot has changed in the 35 years since Dr. Michael Radelet, an IBS researcher and sociology professor at CU-Boulder, began studying the death penalty. For starters, 80 percent of Americans supported the death penalty in 1980, he said. Today, polling has shown that more than half of Americans favor life in prison without parole over capital punishment.

“Support for the death penalty has been dropping precipitously,” said Radelet.

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