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JUNE 2018

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Welcome to the "Just For CICSS" Newsletter! 

The Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions (CICSS) Newsletter provides an update on current climate change and resiliency research projects, resources, tools, and funding opportunities, and recent Institute news and events. Please feel free to forward the newsletter far and wide to colleagues who would find it useful.

- The CICSS Team (Danielle, Allison, Mike and David)

Save the Date!

CICSS is holding a Local Climate Action Summit on September 28-29th at Cornell University, featuring municipal leaders from the Northeast presenting lessons learned from local climate action in their communities. The Summit will also provide an update on Cornell research related to local climate action planning, communication, and the potential for volunteer programs that could support climate smart communities. The Summit is designed for local community leaders and volunteers, extension educators, researchers, policy makers and college students interested in local climate action. Further details coming soon!

How Have You been Using our CSF Online Tools?

CICSS has developed a toolkit of online decision-support tools for farmers, Extension educators and stakeholders. Version 2.0 of our Climate Smart Farming Tools was released within the past few months, and these tools continue to show increased interest and usage as we enter the start of the growing season in Northeast U.S. (900+ web hits a month).

The tools have been updated to increase their speed, performance, user-friendly interfaces and enhanced features. CSF’s Growing Degree Day Calculator, Winter Cover Crop Tool, Apple Stage/Freeze Damage Probability Tool, and Grape Hardiness and Freeze Risk Tool all include a faster user experience. The Water Deficit Calculator features new chart enhancements, such as reference points and zoom capabilities for greater focus on periods of interest. Users can also explore past years in the Water Deficit Calculator to see how applying irrigation could have affected soil moisture throughout each previous growing season. Additionally, we are in the process of adding more capabilities to the Growing Degree Day Calculator for its use with numerous other crops, and we are working with the Emergent Climate Risk Lab to include a Northeast Drought Forecasting Tool. Stay tuned on social media for updates on this ever-evolving suite of tools!

Did you also know these tools can be used to make more informed decisions about your gardens or lawn care as well? Check out some of the latest information below from the CSF Growing Degree Day Calculator and Water Deficit Calculator - these tools can be used for free by any farmers or landowner with an address in the Northeastern US. Visit to utilize the tools. If you have any suggestions or feedback let us know. Many of our users have recently requested different base temperatures for the Growing Degree Day calculator. We are currently testing this option and should have more options for the Growing Degree Day calculator soon! 
CICSS at the SB48 Global Climate Talks in Bonn

Allison Chatrchyan recently attended the SB 48 meetings for Cornell where preparations and negotiations took place leading up to the COP24 meeting in December 2018 in Poland. Allison was tracking negotiations under the Research and Systematic Observation Committee and Koronivia Joint Work Program on Agriculture, and developing partnerships for Cornell's delegation to COP24.

The SB 48 meeting was like a mini-COP, with national delegations and all the major NGO players working to negotiate the working text that will be reviewed in December. Even though the current administration has announced plans to pull out of the Paris Accord, it was nice to see the quiet presence of United States negotiators working diligently at the meeting. For more details, t
he Earth Negotiation Bulletin provides an excellent summary of the Bonn meeting. 

Stay tuned: Cornell will be taking students to COP 24, through a new Engaged Cornell grant funding the development of a "Global Climate Change Science and Policy" course, taught by Natalie Mahowald and Allison Chatrchyan. 

Climate Change and the Global Food Supply 

On April 24th, Mike Hoffmann traveled to West Virginia University to provide a seminar on climate change and the global food supply, sponsored by the WVU Institute of Water Security and Science, in collaboration with the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.

Mike covered the basics of climate change and how the changing climate is affecting our globally interconnected and interdependent food supply including our staple commodities and our favorites like coffee, wine, and chocolate – just about everything on the menu. We face a food security and national security challenge. He stressed that this challenge requires innovative research to develop new practices and tools that help the agricultural and the food sectors adapt to the new normal, and mitigate their impact. New outreach approaches, climate smart farming decision tools developed at Cornell, and the importance of partnerships applicable to the Northeast and elsewhere were discussed.

Mike has also recently provided several lunch time presentations about climate change to Cornell staff, part of Cornell’s climate change literacy campaign. There is a great deal of interest in the topic and both the Employee and University Assembly have passed resolutions encouraging everyone to become climate change literate.
Climate Smart Communities Research
Cornell is leading a project for USDA, with the University of MD, USDA NE Climate Hub, Sea Grant, and CCE Tompkins County, to develop a plan for a new Climate Master Volunteer Program for the Northeast. Partners recently completed 19 Focus Groups from 7 States and the District of Columbia to ask stakeholders if their communities were prepared to address climate change, and if trained Extension volunteers could support local climate action! The project partners recently met at Cornell University to start planning the proposed curriculum. Stay tuned for the research results!
Current Funding RFAs
There are several funding opportunities currently open for climate and resiliency research and outreach:

On April 17th, 2018, CICSS post-doctoral fellow David Lane presented a talk entitled “Managing Impacts of Extreme Weather and Climate Change” in Ovid, New York at the monthly Seneca Beef Producers meeting. It was a very dynamic conversation, and the audience was very engaged in the topic. The beef producers were interested in our decision tools at, and they were very interested in the USDA’s Adaptation Resources for Agriculture. After reviewing our historical precipitation and temperature data, they were curious to know about changes in cloud cover/solar irradiance over time. These beef producers have perceived less light for photosynthesis over time, and they claimed that this is affecting production. This is an interesting hypothesis, and now we have a new research topic to consider. Overall the presentation in Ovid was a success, and David was invited back to speak again in the future.

Snowy Spring Transitioned into a Warm May in the Northeast
According to our partners at the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) at Cornell, the month of May brought above-normal temperatures to the entire region, which was quite the contrast from April when each of the major climate sites in the Northeast experienced below-normal temperatures, causing many people to wonder if spring would ever come. Six locations across West Virginia, New York and New Jersey had their warmest May on record. Throughout the region, 33 of the 35 major climate sites registered this May amongst their ten warmest on record. Both Washington D.C. and Baltimore, MD have had several days over 90 degrees. 

Heavy rainfall during the middle of the month led to severe flooding in parts of Maryland and West Virginia, which contributed to above-normal precipitation for about half of the climate sites in the region. Although some locations near Washington D.C. received over 200% of normal precipitation over the course of the month, there were portions of New England and New York which experienced opposite conditions. Portland, ME only received 0.79 inches of rain for the entire month, which was 20% of normal for that area.


Each quarter, we highlight members of our CICSS team, affiliated faculty, and extension specialists working in Ithaca and throughout New York State. In this edition, we highlight CICSS our summer 2018 Interns!
Tyler Brewer - CICSS and CCE Summer Intern 
My name is Tyler Brewer and I am a junior studying Environmental and Sustainability Sciences. I started working for CICSS at the beginning of this semester and have enjoyed working with my fellow interns and CICSS staff on developing a survey for implementing a Master Climate Volunteer program. Outside of the work I do for CICSS, I am involved with a number of organizations on campus. This summer, I will be working with Allison Chatrchyan and Sarah Ficken at CCE Madison County, working on climate smart farming tools, practices and outreach to rural farmers, including in the Plains Community.
Mitchell Lee - CICSS Summer Intern 
I am a rising senior double majoring in Biology, concentrating in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Government. My studies center around ecosystem ecology, American politics, and the intersection of science and policy-making. Also, I do research and field work at the Goodale Lab on biogeochemistry in forests. On campus, I teach tree climbing and telemark skiing for Cornell Outdoor Education, and I am the Co-Facilitator for Cornell Environmental Collaborative, which focuses on bringing the environmental community together in order to collaborate on initiatives and facilitate communication amongst the many student groups. I am looking forward to working with the CICSS team on a variety of projects this summer!


CICSS faculty and staff have participated in a number of meetings and have given various talks over the past several months. These events allow the Institute to broaden its reach and gain insights from stakeholders, policymakers, and the general public. Our outreach events to date this year included:
  • New York State Ag InSociety Annual meeting, January 4, 2018, Liverpool, NY.
  • North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (NACSAA) Stakeholder Meeting, January 16, 2018, Washington, D.C. 
  • Northeast Organic Farming Association NY Meeting, January 19, 2018, Saratoga, NY. 
  • King AgriSeeds Growers Meetings, January 31 - February 2, 2018, NY. 
  • Crop Insurance Meetings, February 7 - 8, 2018, NY. 
  • Tompkins County CCE Environmental Marketing Workshop, March 22, 2018, Ithaca, NY.
  • Seneca County Career Explorations Day, March 22, 2018, Seneca Falls, NY.
  • Seneca Beef Producers Meeting, April 18, 2018, Seneca Falls, NY.
  • UNFCCC COP24 Intercessional Planning Meeting, May 1 - 8, 2018, Bonn, Germany.
  • Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture Meeting, May 9 - 10, Bonn, Germany. 
  • CCE Delaware County/The W!ld Center Teacher Institute Day, May 11, 2018, Roxbury, NY. 
  • Seneca Falls 4-H Outdoor Field Education Day, May 16, 2018, Seneca Falls, NY. 
  • Western New York Youth Climate Summit, June 2, 2018, Buffalo State University, Buffalo, NY


Mission and Funders
The Mission of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions (CICSS) is to:
  • Facilitate Interdisciplinary Research related to climate science and policy, environmental and agricultural systems, food security, and environmental and social resiliency.
  • Conduct Education & Outreach to stakeholders, decision makers and the public using trusted, science-based information to increase sustainability and resiliency to climate change.
  • Build Partnerships and Engage Stakeholders to share information and develop climate change solutions.
CICSS research, education and outreach work is made possible through funding from several sources, including USDA NIFA Federal Capacity Funds (Hatch and Smith Lever funds), USDA Climate Master Volunteer project, the USDA NE Climate Hub, and through the insightful funding from the New World Foundation Local Economies Project and individual donors. We gratefully acknowledge our funders' support!
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