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Sycamores and Hillslopes

Below are some recent photographs of sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) in limestone bedrock at Herrington Lake, Kentucky (about37.78o N, 84.71o W). As you can see, the tree roots and trunks exploit joints in the rock, and accelerate weathering both by physically displacing limestone slabs and widening joints by root growth, and by facilitating biochemical weathering along both live and dead roots.

Sycamores rock

These are some nice examples of root/bedrock interaction, and the general phenomena are not uncommon, though usually much more difficult to see. The Herrington Lake shores also appear to illustrate a process by which the sycamores accelerate weathering and mass movements (other trees are also involved, but Platanus occidentalis seems to be the most common and effective):

1. Plants colonize the exposed bedrock, with roots exploiting bedrock joints.

2. Tree roots accelerate weathering and loosen joint blocks.

3. While the tree is still alive, root growth envelopes rock fragments and the trees provide a physical barrier to downslope transport.

Brad's Blurb

Dear Staff,

This week brings us several key staff events with the College of Arts and Sciences Staff Appreciation Luncheon on Wednesday and the UK Staff Appreciation Luncheon on Thursday.  I hope everyone can find time to attend and enjoy some “downtime” with colleagues and friends. 

The Aspire Mentorship Program officially kicked off with the recent announcement of the initial mentee/mentor pairings listed below.  Congratulations to everyone that was nominated.  The program will continue to expand with another group selected later this summer. 

1. Erin Norton (Dept. Manager-Appalachian Studies) with Adrienne McMahan (Assistant Dean of Student Affairs)

2. Stacey Wilks (HR Payroll Specialist) with Aaron Vaught (Sr. Scheduler & Data Analyst-Recruitment & Enroll Planning)

3. Megan Koshurba (Staff Associate-A&S Front Office) with Melissa Cowan (Grants Analyst-IBU)

4. Andy Johnson (Scheduler and Data Analyst-Recruitment & Enroll Planning) with Peter Idstein (Academic Coordinator-Dept. of EES)

5. Jessica Pennington (Education Case Officer-Student Affairs) with Kim Reeder (Staff Associate Sr.-Psychology)

6. Lara Hillenberg (Academic Advisor) with Jenny Casey (Dept. Manager-Department of Psychology)

Five Things About Me

Mary BoultonOriginally from the Cincinnati area, I moved to Lexington where I completed a BA in Hispanic  Studies. After undergrad I returned to Cincinnati where I worked in global marketing for Procter & Gamble, but decided to complete my MA in Diplomacy and International Commerce. During my graduate program I worked in the research unit for sub-Saharan African Studies at the Foreign Service Institute in D.C. and after at the Center for Poverty Research at UK prior to my time at A&S. 
 
1. What do you do in your spare time? In my spare time I enjoy playing with my daughter and working on projects around the house with my husband. I also enjoy traveling.
2. What is your favorite movie or book? Besides traveling and spending time with my family, I enjoy reading, watching movies and trying out new restaurants. One of my favorite movies is “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” I love the combination of humor and story-telling the movie combines. 

Antarctic ice, sea-level, & rivers

 

The long-speculated collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet is underway, and also appears to be on an unstoppable trajectory. According to the recently-published research documenting this (Joughin et al., 2014; McMillan et al., 2014; Rignot et al., 2014) it will likely take a couple of centuries for the ice sheets to transfer their water to the sea (in the case of land ice). Among other things, this means that already rising sea levels will accelerate (see this NASA summary discussion on past meltwater pulses and their effects on sea level: http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/gornitz_09/)

 

Adjustedness

Earth surface systems are characterized by components that are adjusted, and those that aren't. By "adjusted," I mean that they have had time to respond to the most recent change or disturbance, and reach relaxation time equilibrium (Phillips, 2009), are considered to be characteristic of their environment. Non-adjusted components are inherited from past environmental conditions, or are inherently dynamically unstable, nonequilibrium phenomena that basically don't reach a stable condition. You could also add a third category--phenomena that are in the process of adjustment, but haven't have time to complete the process (this corresponds roughly to Renwick's (1992) triad of equilibrium, nonequilibrium, and disequilibrium geomorphic systems). 

The attached describes a simple method for measuring and quantifying the degree of adjustedness in environmental systems--at least the quantification is simple; determining what constitutes adjusted, adjusting, and non-adjusted could get hairy. This was the seed of what was to be a research proposal, but I doubt that I will ever have time to pursue it. Maybe you will!

Geomiracles

 

Science fiction and popular science writer Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Riffing on that theme, I once gave a talk in which I proclaimed that "any sufficiently improbable event is distinguishable from the miraculous." Some definitions of "miracle" invoke the divine or supernatural, but I have in mind the definition (in this case from the Merriam-Webster dictionary) as: "an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment." The point of the argument is that, due to the inescapable, irreducible role of geographical and historical contingency in Earth surface systems, all such systems (landscapes, ecosystems, soils, etc.) are unique in some respects (a formal argument along these lines is presented in this article: Phillips, J.D.  2007.  The perfect landscape.  Geomorphology 84: 159-169.). Thus the probability of existence of any given state of any given system at a given point in time is infinitesimally low. This exceedingly low probability makes nearly any environment in some senses extremely outstanding and unusual, and thus a miracle.

Brad's Blurb

Dear Staff,

This week I would like to provide you an update of some of the new components of the UK benefit package that take effect on July 1, 2014.

Health care flexible spending accounts will feature a new $500 annual rollover.  Unlike the current FSA system that requires participants to “use or lose” all funds within a certain time frame, the new rollover allows you to carry over up to $500 in unclaimed funds from one plan year to the next. 

Other changes include: 

Five Things About Me

jay youngI was born in Danville, KY and lived there until 2003. I moved to Lexington in 2003 after graduating Centre College where I earned my BS in Biology. I then attended the College of Public Health (’06) here at UK to earn my Master’s of Public Health (MPH).  I began working at UK in 2005 for the College of Pharmacy and last year (2013) started working for the College of Arts & Sciences.  I have been married for almost 9 years to my wife Marianne and we live here in Lexington. We have a son, Thomas, who is 4 years old.  We also have a dog named Sophie, and two cats, Bell and Alley.
 

Brad's Blurb

Dear Staff,

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending the College of Arts and Sciences Staff Appreciation Day Luncheon on June 4, 2014, at Memorial Hall.  Several of the College’s outstanding staff will receive recognition for achievement and service.  More information on how to RSVP and the specific time of the event is forthcoming in the mid-May A&S newsletter. 

UK Appreciation Day (UKAD) is scheduled for Thursday, June 5, 2014, at the UK Student Center.  UKAD is a time to honor staff and faculty and celebrate community.  Each year there are numerous giveaways and plenty of food so I hope you can make it.  UKAD is sponsored by the Office of the President, coordinated by the Staff Senate, and brought to you by the Appreciation Day Commission.

Five Things About Me

libby weir UK has been a large part of my life, working here since 1978.  I can truly say that it is a great place to work.  I was most excited to join Arts and Sciences in the fall of 2013 and I absolutely love being part of this learning environment. 

1. What do you do in your spare time?
My spare time is mainly spent with my family doing fun things together with my mom, sister and two grandchildren.   On the internet, I like to play words with friends and love pinterest.  I like to shop for antiques or collectibles to decorate my home.

 

2. What is your favorite movie?
Toss up between Holiday House and Must Love Dogs.

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