Hot Science – Cool Flicks

The Environmental Science Institute (ESI) supports science and environmental movies distributed through the Internet, television, and the big screen. ESI is pleased to host the following screenings:

No current screenings are scheduled.

Previous Screenings

“Last Call at the Oasis” featuring Dr. Jay Famiglietti

Monday, April 29, 2013.  6:00 p.m – 8:30 p.m. Jackson Geosciences Building (JGB) Room 2.324; Q&A with Jay Famiglietti will follow the screening

famiglietti_lecture_thumbnailJay Famiglietti has a passion for, and commitment to, preserving Earth’s environment for future generations. As Director of the UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling at the University of California – Irvine, Dr. Famiglietti focuses on modeling and remote sensing of the terrestrial and global water cycles. His Hydrology & Climate Research Group is taking a lead role in accelerating the  development of next-generation hydrological models for use in  addressing a number of high priority issues. Dr. Famiglietti’s work has implications for how we understand the Earth’s water cycle, its interactions in the land-ocean-atmosphere-ice system, and for monitoring changes in freshwater availability in the face of global environmental change.Without water, life cannot exist.  Yet, our most precious resource faces major threats which are pushing it to the brink of depletion in many regions.
How might climate change and population growth affect the way your water is replenished? Jay Famiglietti explores this question in this movie, which was produced by the same company that brought us An Inconvenient Truth.




“Perfect Storms” featuring Dr. Robert Dull

Tuesday, April 23, 2013.  6:00 p.m – 8:00 p.m. Liberal Arts Building (CLA) Room 0.130; Q&A with Robert Dull followed the screening

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Dr. Robert Dull is a Senior Research Fellow in the Environmental Science Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. He studies human land use history as related to decadal to millennial-scale changes in vegetation and climate, primarily in Central America and the western United States. For over a decade Dull and Dr. John Southon of the University of California at Irvine have been researching the eruption of Lake Ilopango in El Salvador, and have recently tied the event to what’s known in the scientific community as the “AD 536 Event,” a period of extreme climate change that led to global crop failures, famine and the potentially the first mass outbreak of bubonic plague in the Mediterranean which killed up to 25 million people in Europe.

New evidence uncovered by Dull’s research team since 2010 has led him to believe the trigger for the event was the 6th century eruption of Lake Ilopango, a massive caldera volcano located in present day El Salvador. Dull, Southon and colleagues have found evidence suggesting that the eruption of Ilopango was much larger than previously thought; big enough to send billions of tons of volcanic ash, dust and sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere, causing global cooling and dimming the rays of the sun for more than a year.

Dull fielded several questions from UT students and staff about the methods and mechanics  of his research.  They were fascinated by the amount of information that could be collected from radiocarbon analysis of tree cross sections. The discovery of a large, buried tree trunk in El Salvador allowed Dull to accurately estimate when the Ilopango eruption occurred, and demonstrate its proximity to a global cooling event.