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  • Spotlights

    ESI highlights members of the UT-Austin community leading advances in environmental science research, education, and outreach.  If you or your organization would ESI to consider your event for a spotlight, please contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


  • Get Involved

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    The Environmental Science Institute is supported by The University of Texas at Austin Office of the Provost, the Jackson School of Geosciences, and the College of Natural Sciences.  Additionally, much of ESI's research is funded through external grants from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

    But ESI would not be possible without support from people like you.  Individual supporters, ESI members, volunteers and organization connections - all of you help ESI bring in additional funding and support to continue existing projects and develop new ones.

    So if you support ESI and its mission, please consider making an online donation today, becoming an ESI member, volunteering at one of our events, or working with ESI and your organization towards a sponsorship opportunity.

    And for more ways to support ESI, or if you have a new idea on how you can support ESI in furthering its mission, please contact our office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

  • Spotlights - Front Page Content
  • About ESI
    E.P. Schnoch Building

    The Environmental Science Institute is a multi-disciplinary institute for basic scientific research in environmental studies founded by The University of Texas at Austin.

    The Institute serves as a focal point on campus for a wide scope of interdisciplinary research and teaching involving the complex interactions of the biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere in the Earth system, as well as the human dimensions of these interactions.

    Additionally, ESI coordinates cross-departmental instruction in environmental studies; facilitates education and outreach in environmental studies; and disseminates advances in the area of environmental science that are important locally and globally.

     

     

    Downloadable Images (PNG): 

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    esi wordmark_thumbnail  ESI Wordmark

  • Contact
  • News & Events

    ESI acts as a focal point for members of the UT-Austin community with an interest in environmental science, connecting researchers, educators, and members of the public in two key ways:

    • ESI e-News:  We deliver customized e-Newsletters and announcements covering exciting events, initiatives and progress towards that address environmental issues through research, education, and outreach. Enter your email address in the signup box below. After clicking the Join button, you can specify what kinds of news you want to receive in ESI's e-News subscription center.
      Join Our Network
      Email:
    • ESI Sponsored Events:  ESI regularly presents educational events for the public, including its nationally-recognized Hot Science - Cool Talks Outreach Series, as well as symposia and conferences for UT faculty to connect about their research efforts on issues such as climate change and campus sustainability.
    • ESI Spotlights: ESI features individuals, organizations, and events supporting science and sustainability. For more information about being featured in an ESI Spotlight, contact us!
  • EVS Program
    The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science (EVS) program is a new interdisciplinary degree program in Environmental Science operated collaboratively by The University of Texas at Austin's College of Natural SciencesJackson School of Geosciences, and College of Liberal Arts.  The EVS curriculum brings together four essential components to successful environmental education, making it unique both at The University of Texas at Austin and nationwide:
    This interdisicplinary, hands-on education keeps students motivated to learn and grow, while simultaneously preparing them to address mounting environmental challenges:

    For more information on the EVS Program, please explore this site, take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions page, or contact Deborah Salzberg (Program Coordinator) at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
  • EVS Field Seminar

    Introductory Field Seminar in Environmental Science and Sustainability (EVS 311)

    This field course introduces students to observation and analysis of environmental processes and sustainability issues. Beginning with a tour of the UT campus through hands-on experience, students gain an understanding of human impact on the environment, the interdisciplinary nature of environmental analysis, and the range of environmental science and sustainability research at UT-Austin.

    Students then travel to watersheds, ecosystems, estuaries, caves, outcrops, urban developments across Central and South Texas, using the sites as natural laboratories for analysis. Specifically, the Field Seminar uses UT's local environs to study and address:

    In conjunction with these field outings, researchers from UT’s Section of Integrative Biology, the Department of Geological Sciences, and Marine Sciences Institute, as well as researchers from the City of Austin and the United States Geological Services, work with seminar students on their methods and findings.

  • EVS Student Profiles
    Want to know the inside scoop on the EVS Program? A sample of our students have shared what their experiences have been like. EVS students come from all sorts of backgrounds, and have all sorts of goals, but come together around the desire to better understand the science behind the world around them. Take a minute and get to know a few of those who will be among the first to graduate from this innovative program!
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    Daniel Perenyi
    Class of 2013
    Michelle Camp
    Class of 2013
    Nathan Hoppe
    Class of 2013
    Austin Jorn
    Class of 2013
    Jettie Koen
    Class of 2013
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    Lauren Tien
    Class of 2014
    Gianna Struiale
    Class of 2014
    Eric Attwood
    Class of 2014
    Paige Lambert
    Class of 2016
    David Comer
    Class of 2016
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    Leah Sprague
    Class of 2016
    Neil Lemcke
    Class of 2016
    Morgan Faulker
    Class of 2016

    Interested in becoming part of the EVS cohort? Students not yet enrolled at UT-Austin should apply for admission to EVS when they apply to UT. Applications for EVS admission from current UT students are accepted each spring for the following fall. For more information on the EVS Program, please take a look at our frequently asked questions page or just browse this site.
  • EVS Career Services

    With the growing national need for well-trained environmental scientists, the EVS Program is dedicated to ensuring its students graduate with the professional perspective and skills needed to transition successfully to the workforce and have an immediate impact.

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    Careers in Environmental Science

    Opportunities for EVS Students

    EVS Career Fair (Coming Soom)

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    Professional Development at EVS

    Professional and Board Certification

    Green Job News

    Professional Associations

     

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  • Students

    ESI for Students

    undergraduatesEducation is the key to understanding the complex, interdisciplinary nature of environmental challenges, and ESI is uniquely positioned to help foster that education. Marshalling the institutional strengths of UT-Austin, ESI has taken the lead in environmental science education on campus, with new courses, degree and certification plans, and research opportunities that will help develop the minds that will explore and address this century’s environmental challenges.

    For undergraduate students, ESI offers both a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science Degree Program with focus areas in Biology, Geology, and Geography, and a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates in which students design and complete their own short-term research project.

    For graduate students, ESI offers a Graduate Portfolio Program in Watershed Studies. This certification program provides current Masters and Doctorial students at The University of Texas at Austin with an interdisciplinary framework to study issues related to the mechanisms and processes that govern watershed function,supplementing existing degrees offered at The University of Texas at Austin.

    ESI also features some of UT-Austin’s exceptional courses in environmental science, and is integral to Sustaining a Planet. - UT's first signature course.


    If you are interested in pursuing the study of environmental science at UT, please feel free to contact ESI with any questions.

  • Research Experience For Undergraduates

    NSF-LogoThe University of Texas at Austin Environmental Science Institute (ESI) Research Experience for Undergraduates in integrated environmental science gives undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research into The Science of Global Change and Sustainability. This program is funded by the National Science Foundation, and in the past has been operated in tandem with ESI's Research Experience for Teachers.

    The Program accepts students from across the country and teachers from the Austin area, and is funded by a National Science Foundation grant. Participants spend ten weeks designing a research project, participating in a research group, and presenting their work. After the program, many past participants have gone on to further study, teaching, and publication on a variety of topics all relating to global change.

    Program details (including information about applying to the program), and answers to frequently asked questions can all be found on this site.  Or take a few minutes and check out this video!


    If you have further questions, or if you would like more information about the program, please contact the Environmental Science Institute offices at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (512) 471-5847.

     

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  • Graduate Portfolio Program
    The Integrated Watershed Studies Graduate Portfolio Program (IWSGPP) provides graduate students at The University of Texas at Austin the opportunity to supplement their current degree program with an interdisciplinary study of watershed issues.

     

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    GPP students complete  requirements comprised of coursework, field experience, and a research paper and presentation all focused on integrated watershed challenges.  Through this additional focused study, GPP students are able to take advantage of UT-Austin's resources and learn from both the unique local landscape of Central Texas and their fellow students from other disciplines.  As a result, GPP students complete the program with a broader understanding of water issues. GPP students also give a professional presentation on their research.

     

    The GPP is open to graduate students in good standing at any masters or doctoral programs in one of the following participating academic units:
    • Jackson School of Geosciences
    • School of Architecture
    • Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs
    • School of Law
    • Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering (Cockrell School of Engineering)
    • Department of Geography and the Environment (College of Liberal Arts)
    • Marine Science Institute (College of Natural Sciences)
    • Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (College of Natural Sciences)
    • Graduate Program in Plant Biology (College of Natural Sciences)
    New departments can be added to the program, so if your department is not listed please contact the Environmental Science Institute.

     


     

    A program information packet, application form, and completion form are all available as PDF files for download.

     

    More information about how to apply, the program requirements, and the required coursework that can be used to satisfy those requirements can be found on our website.

     

    For specific questions, please contact Eric Hersh (GPP Coordinator) at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
  • Featured Courses

    ESI is proud to feature environmental science courses that help both undergraduate and graduate students at The University of Texas at Austin gain a better understanding into their environment. The following courses are being offered this spring at The University of Texas at Austin.  For a complete listing of courses being offered this fall, please consult the UT Course Schedule or click here for a list of previously featured courses.

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    MKT-382

    GRG334C

    GRG301C

    CRP387C

    BIO346

    CHE341

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    MNS320 PHL325C BIO301M
  • Student Opportunities

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    Environmental Science is a dynamic field, and new opportunities for volunteer or professional experiences occur year-round. As a service to our students, ESI maintains informational listings of:

    If you would like your opportunity to be listed on this site, or if you would like to speak with someone about your particular circumstances, contact the ESI office at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


    Please note that the opportunities presented on these pages are for informational purposes only and the inclusion of any opportunity on these pages should not be taken as an endorsement of the opportunity by the Environmental Science Institute or The University of Texas at Austin.

  • Faculty

    ESI for Faculty

    Faculty-MainESI offers a number of ways for faculty at The University of Texas at Austin to connect and collaborate.  ESI's network of affiliated faculty, regular conferences and symposia, and working groups help faculty members connect with each other, and often act as a catalyst for new and unique research collaborations.

    To help foster these connections, ESI also offers assistance with the assistance with sponsored projects, including external grant identification, proposal drafting, and project facilitation.  Please explore this site for more information, or contact our office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you would like to speak with our research coordiantor about your particular circumstances.

    ESI offers a number of ways for faculty at The University of Texas at Austin to connect and collaborate.  ESI's network of affiliated faculty, regular conferences and symposia, and working groups help faculty members connect with each other, and often act as a catalyst for new and unique research collaborations.

    To help foster these connections, ESI also offers assistance with the assistance with sponsored projects, including external grant identification, proposal drafting, and project facilitation.  Please explore this site for more information, or contact our office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you would like to speak with our research coordiantor about your particular circumstances.

  • Working Groups & Collaboration

    ESI strives to initiate, facilitate, and coordinate diverse, multidisciplinary research related to various focus areas.  Towards that end, ESI hosts eight different working groups, addressing all aspects of the environmental sciences.   To varying degrees, these groups collaborate on not only research, but also on public education and the dissemination of group findings to the government and industry, as well as the public at large.  Membership is open to both the UT community and to the public at large, helping develop practical approaches to environmental challenges.

    Climate Change Working Group studies climate history and the prediction of future climate change, creates global and regional climate models, and explores methods for climate change remediation that are both scientifically sound and economically feasible. 

    Climate Change Working Group
    Integrated Watershed Sciences Working Group facilitates and coordinates collaborative multidisciplinary research projects addressing hydrology, ecology, geomorphology, and the various ways in which humans have altered watershed processes. Watershed Working Group
    Microbial Ecology Working Group facilitates collaboration among ESI-affiliates whose research is involved directly or indirectly with the microbial biosphere, the biosphere on which all more complex life forms depend.  Microbial Working Group
    Remote Sensing Working Group studies and models earth systems using remote sensing technology and geographic information systems, disseminating their research to make a holistic view of atmospheric, geographic, and hydrologic systems available to the public. Remote Sensing Working Group
    Urbanization Working Group studies the environmental effects of urbanization and finds paths to solutions, connecting state, national, academic, and private interests in multidisciplinary research into issues such as wildlife conservation, sustainable development and resource availability. Urbanization Working Group
    Texas-Mexico Borderlands and Latin America Working Group facilitates multidisciplinary environmental research in Latin America and the Texas-Mexico border region, bringing combined expertise to bear on scientific problems of regional importance. Borderlands Working Group
    Edwards Aquifer Working Group facilitates, coordinates, and initiates diverse, multidisciplinary research and management efforts related to the Edwards aquifer of central Texas, bringing together diverse academic and agency professionals to further sound scientific research in the Edwards aquifer.   Edwards Aquifer Working Group
    Environmental Policy Working Group brings together academic and professional members to foster and develop interdisciplinary policy research and projects focusing on the environment, providing a forum for transfer of research ideas and communication with policy makers and the scientific community.   Policy Working Group
  • Conferences & Symposia

     

    As part of its mission to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration, ESI regularly hosts and sponsors conferences and symposia for UT faculty and researchers. Recent symposia include:


    Texas Water Journal Forum

    twj_sqNovember 21, 2013

    Water, Politics & Drought: The Proposition 6 vote, a way-too-early look at the next legislative session, how courts are remaking Texas water policy, and the ongoing drought.  A panel discussion featuring perspectives from policy makers, scientists, water resource experts and regional leaders on how we can meet our water needs while experiencing droughts and rising demands.

    Hosted by the UT Environmental Science Institute.

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    Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategies: A Capital Area Symposium

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    October 4, 2013

    LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin.  This one-day conference will bring Capital Area stakeholders together to identify and assess the shared challenges we face given the specific impacts of climate change in our region. The symposium provides a forum for learning about climate vulnerability in the region and sharing best practices in the area of resilience planning  here in Texas and throughout the U.S. Most importantly, it provides a space for identifying collaborative solutions for making the Capital Area more resilient.

    Co-sponsored by the UT Environmental Science Institute.

     


    US Business Council for Sustainable Development USBCSD_Logo

    COLLABORATE TODAY, CHANGE TOMORROW

    Join the US BCSD for biannual meetings. Collaborate, share, and build strategies with US BCSD members and other sustainability experts to tackle sustainable development challenges impacting your business.  Dive deep into our four project focus areas: Materials, Water, Energy, and Ecosystems. Learn what is happening around the US and how your organization can get involved.

    Co-sponsored by the UT Environmental Science Institute.

     


    Sustainability on the UT Campus: Fusing Research & Practice

    Sustainability on Campus (2010)September 10, 2010

    Co-sponsors of the symposium, including ESI, brought together representatives from across UT, including representatives from facilities, research, and administration, to help members of the UT community get up to speed on innovations taking place in sustainability across the UT campus. Presentations included a discussion of the new EVS Program, administered by ESI, as well discussions of the new sustainability portal under development at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.


    After Copenhagen: Collaborative Responses to Climate Change

    After Copenhagen (2010)April 6-9, 2010

    Conference co-sponsors, including ESI, worked together to initiate a biennial international conference of climate scientists, climate policy scholars and political leaders with the goal of identifying and evaluating public policy options for effective and timely action on climate related threats and opportunities. The conference was designed to bridge science, public understanding and political action on climate change adaptation and mitigation with the goal of identifying and evaluating public policy options for effective and timely action on climate related threats and opportunities. For more information, a full copy of the conference program is available here.


    Climate Change Studies at UT-Austin

    Climate Change Studies at UT-Austin (2010)February 2, 2010

    Designed to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and research at The University of Texas at Austin , the symposium brought together over 150 faculty, guests and graduates students to discuss active research at UT on topics including: climate modeling, impacts on ecological systems, implications for law and policy, and upcoming interdisciplinary funding opportunities in climate change research. Through its scope, the symposium presented attendees with a unique opportunity to meet other researchers and initiate interdisciplinary projects. It also provided an opportunity to demonstrate the depth of climate-related research at UT-Austin for local, state and federal agencies and prospective students. By all measures, the symposium was a success – one that ESI looks forward to building upon again in the near future.

  • K-12 & the Community

    CommunityAccording to the National Research Council, the United States trails behind more than a dozen other nations in the percentage of 24-year olds who earn degrees in natural sciences or engineering as opposed to other degrees.

    The nationwide trend of fewer students choosing careers in science makes it essential that we engage students through new and innovative efforts.

    ESI is leading the way in those efforts through programs such as our Hot Science – Cool Talks Outreach Series, educational mini-sites and environmental guides – all of which are designed to help the students and the community connect with environmental sciences in new and fruitful ways.  ESI also offers a YouTube Channel with videos featuring leading scientists discussing current issues in environmental science.

    ESI also works to provide teachers with innovative opportunities and inquiry-based resources that help bring the latest in science into the K-12 classroom.


    Through these efforts, ESI is working to revive and cultivate an interest in science within the next generation of innovators.  If you have ideas on new ways to inspire future scientists, please let us know at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

  • Mini-Sites & Environmental Campaigns

    ESI is committed to helping members of the UT community learn about the environment, as well as about the University resources dedicated to exploring those issues and ways in which they can help protect the surrounding environment.

    With the support of UT’s UTOPIA program, ESI has developed three fully interactive mini-sites to engage members of the UT community with some of the university’s intellectual reserves, including resources concerning groundwater and caves: two essential aspects of the Texas environmental landscape.  ESI also presents UT faculty and their research to the community at large through the "Hot Science - Cool Flicks" mini-sites.  Each of these mini-sites affords K-12 teachers access to online curricula to further learning and understanding

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    ESI has also led the way for the Campus Greenlight program at UT-Austin.  With the support of the Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO), and with help from the Campus Environmental Center and ESI facilitated the implementation of series of energy conservation and sustainable energy projects around UT.  Included in this project was the publication of a Green Computing Guide which advises on how to be environmentally sensitive when acquiring, using, and disposing of computing equipment.

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  • Hot Science - Cool Talks

     

    Presented by the Environmental Science Institute, Hot Science - Cool Talks provides a means for leading researchers from the University of Texas and other prominent universities to communicate their research to the public in general and the K-12 educational community in particular.

    Learn more...

    Upcoming Lectures

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    April 13: Life on Europa?
    by Dr. Brittney Schmidt


    Dr. Brittney Smith, post-doctoral fellow with the UT Institute for Geophysics, will be discussing the recent discovery of evidence for a "great lake" on Europa and the potential new habitat for life in outer space.

    Learn more...

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    February 24: From Fracking to the 40 Acres
    by Dr. Michael Webber


    Dr. Michael Webber, professor of mechanical engineering and associate direcor of UT's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy will be discussing energy challenges faced at UT, in Texas, and across the globe.  Presented with the support of The University of Texas at Austin Green Fee Committee.

    Learn more...

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    Jan. 13: Dark Energy, Explosions, and Zombie Stars
    by Dr. Andrew Howell


    What do you see when you look at the night sky? If you are Dr. Howell and his team, you discover a supernova a within hours of its explosion (a rare feat) and use it to measure and study the expansion of the universe in unprecedented detail. Explore supernovas, dark energy, and zombie starts with Dr. Howell, and hear how learning more about these phenomena helps us understand our universe.


    Learn more...

    Explore Past Hot Science - Cool Talks

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    Archives

  • GK-12: Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education

     

    ESI’s GK-12 program represents an extension of the National Science Foundation GK-12 program at the University of Texas at Austin (2001-2011). This program pairs graduate student scientists and teachers from STEM disciplines in local school districts. Throughout its history, the GK-12 program has consistently improved communication and teaching skills for graduate fellows, enriched learning by K-12 students, created innovative professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers, and strengthened partnerships between institutions of higher education and local schools.

    Starting Spring 2013, the GK-12 program has begun to provide prestigious fellowships and innovative training opportunities to graduate researchers interested in public outreach and environmental education. Please click here for the 2014-2015 Fellow and Teacher biographies.

    If you are interested in becoming a GK-12 Program Fellow or Teacher, please contact us. More information about the program can be found in the documents below:

    GK-12 Program Support Documents:

    2014 GK-12 Fellow FAQ's

    2014 GK-12 Teacher FAQ's

     

     

    GK-12 Associates Volunteer Program: 

    Beginning in 2014, the GK-12 Associates Program expands the reach of the GK-12 Fellows Program to include additional science graduate students and teachers. The goals of this pilot volunteer program are to 1) guide science graduate students in their development as communicators of science, and to 2) provide teachers with expert scientists who will engage students with interactive and exciting science related to their research and field of expertise. In the few months since establishing the associates program, we have already engaged a number of enthusiastic volunteers, who approached us looking for ways to get involved in science education/outreach. Their fields of study range from child developmental psychology to hydrogeology research in cave systems to field observations of penguin behavior in New Zealand. These volunteers will give scientific presentations in K-12 classrooms, volunteer as Science Fair judges, and create activities for outreach events such as our Hot Science – Cool Talks Outreach Series. Click here for the Spring 2014 Associates Biographies. 


  • Campus Greenlight

    Across the academic world, universities are joining together to address the critical related environmental challenges of growing energy demand and climate change. The University of Texas at Austin has long been at the forefront of trying to answer several important questions related to these issues.

    SECO-GraphicThe Environmental Science Institute, with support from the Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO), has joined with the Campus Environmental Center and other UT faculty, staff and students, to develop and implement this series of energy conservation and sustainable energy projects around UT.  As part of this effort, ESI coordinated a series of outreach projects on the UT campus designed to promote conservation, including the publication of a Green Computing Guide.

    ESI has also collected a comprehensive list of online resources for those interested in learning more about energy issues and conservation.

    For more information on Campus Greenlight resources and materials, please feel free to contact the ESI office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

  • The Tree Project

    tree-project-01aBeginning in May, 2009, the Environmental Science Institute at The University of Texas at Austin (UT) partnered with the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA) and the University of Arkansas Tree Ring Lab (UA) to study and reconstruct the drought history of central Texas over the past several hundred years. The results of this study and implications for Texas climate and water resources are presented in the Texas Water Journal in a research article entitled Extended chronology of drought in South Central, Southeastern and West Texas.  For more information and media coverage of this research, please see articles in in Austin-American Statesman and the Texas Tribune, as well as segments on KUT Radio and Good Day Austin.

    Participants include principal investigator Dr. Malcolm Cleaveland (UA), Dr. Todd Votteler (GBRA), Dr. Jay Banner (UT), undergraduate research assistant Dan Stahle (UA), and graduate research assistant Richard Casteel (UT).

    The goal of the study is to core bald cypress trees (Figure 1) to reconstruct the drought history of central Texas.  Bald cypress trees have a distinct advantage over previously reconstructed post oak chronologies in that they are a longer lived species.  It is a goal of the study to extend the drought record back to the 13th century. This is important as: (1) the region experiences periods of unpredictable drought; (2) the instrumental record of drought only extends to the late 1800s; (3) previous drought reconstructions only extend to 1698; (4) a longer chronology is needed to determine trends or cycles in drought; (5) there is a possibility of past “mega droughts” lasting more than a decade;  (6) determining trends in drought can assist water planners in future resource management; (7) Texas has been identified as a potential “hot spot” by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for future climate change.

    As part of the study, bald cypress trees were cored in many locales in central Texas.  The sites with the oldest and most abundant trees were found at the Guadalupe River State Park (Figure 2), Krause Springs in Spicewood, TX (Figure 3), and along the San Bernard River near Rosenberg, TX (Figure 4).

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