2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
Paper No. 97-24
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM

THE CARBON-NEUTRAL CLASSROOM: A USER'S GUIDE

CEPERLEY, Elizabeth G.1, DELATOLAS, Nikiforos2, DERRY, Louis A.3, HUTH, Alexander2, LEVINE, Robert2, MNICH, Meagan2, MOORE, Alexandra3, WEBSTER, Dylan2, and YOST, Jacqueline2, (1) Department of Geology, University at Buffalo, 411 Cooke Hall, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260, (2) Earth & Environmental Systems Field Program, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, (3) Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, afm113@gmail.com

The magnitude and rate of carbon exchange through natural and anthropogenic reservoirs is widely misunderstood. Yet understanding carbon fluxes is critical to understanding global climate and energy balance, and to addressing the anthropogenic contribution to climate change. As part of the Cornell Field Program in Earth & Environmental Systems (EES) we undertook a comprehensive assessment of the carbon emissions associated with our program, and we partnered with local conservation organizations to offset our carbon footprint. The EES program is a semester length field program located on the island of Hawaii, the world’s most dynamic natural laboratory and the premier location for Earth systems research and education. While there are compelling reasons to study in Hawaii, the air and ground travel associated with the program creates a significant carbon footprint. We assessed our carbon footprint, offset that footprint, and analyzed the carbon fluxes to/from the island as a whole in order to gain an understanding of the relative scale of natural and anthropogenic fluxes.

Our carbon footprint includes terms for all air and ground travel, energy use, food and waste, and transport of goods to the island. For the 2011 semester our footprint was 66 metric tons of CO2. We offset our footprint in collaboration with three conservation groups working to restore native Hawaiian forest ecosystems. We planted 700 native trees and shubs, and calculated the offset potential of our outplants using species- and climate-specific allometric equations. The sequestration capacity of our trees is 2400 metric tons of CO2. We also monitored the growth of trees planted by previous EES classes in order to assess mortality and growth rate, and we have surveyed plots at mature native forest sites near our outplants in order to quantify the carbon sequestration capacity of living biomass and forest soils. Finally, we calculate CO2 fluxes for soil-atmosphere exchange, volcanic emissions, weathering, and anthropogenic emissions from Hawaii Island. Kilauea volcano (3.3 Mt CO2/yr) and fossil fuel (2.5 Mt CO2/yr) sources are similar, and 70 to 90x larger than weathering uptake. The soil flux is by far the largest, 40–60x greater than volcanic or anthropogenic sources. Hawaii is unique in that volcanic sources of CO2 are similar to anthropogenic sources.

2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 97--Booth# 76
Geoscience Education (Posters) II
Minneapolis Convention Center: Hall C
9:00 AM-6:00 PM, Monday, 10 October 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 257

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