Monday, June 30th, 2014 - Dr. Judson Partin puts the Earth on a couch and asks it about its past

30Jun

University of Texas Institute for Geophysics researcher Dr. Judson Partin explains the importance of learning about past climates of planet Earth and how he uses stalagmites in caves to learn about ancient rainfall. Dr. Partin tells us about the his latest research in Vanuatu, an island region in the south Pacific Ocean, that attempts to understand past changes in a large band of rainfall called the South Pacific Convergence Zone. This band of rainfall is larger than the contiguous United States! He explains why it is important to global climate, what might have happened to thousands of years ago and what might happen to it in the future considering current climate change. Tune in to listen to Dr. Judson Partin take some time off from his day and speak to us about rainfall, (mega)drought, abrupt climate change, and his adventures while doing field work in caves!

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Monday, June 23rd, 2014 - Dr. Toti Larson gives us the real insight into “fracking”, methane, and groundwater as seen by stable isotopes

23Jun

Dr. Toti Larson, a research engineer at the Jackson School of Geosciences at UT Austin took some time with us to talk about his research in stable isotope geochemistry. Using stable isotopes, currently, Dr. Larson tries to track methane in groundwater. Methane exists naturally in groundwater due to microbial activity, but there are concerns whether hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") may be introducing methane into groundwater and aquifers. In this episode, Dr. Larson dispels many myths associated with the process of hydraulic fracturing and clearly explains the issues, concerns and problems that surround the topic. Tune in to learn about the science behind methane in groundwater, and also about the interesting world of stable isotopes that can shed light on processes as varied as nuclear forensics to the diets of birds and deer!

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