KGS Annual Seminar Offers a Geoscience Perspective on Climate Change in Kentucky

Bill Haneberg presents the KGS Annual Seminar introduction. KGS staff photo.
Bill Haneberg presents the KGS Annual Seminar introduction. KGS staff photo.
The Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) hosted its 61st Annual Seminar on May 12th: the first to focus on the intersection between geoscience research and climate change in Kentucky. State Geologist and Survey Director Bill Haneberg set the direction for the day by emphasizing how interdisciplinary research is vital to shaping Kentucky’s future, saying “climate change is here, and the impacts reach far beyond geology. It’s an economic, human health, and policy issue. Our job at KGS is to provide unbiased data and information to help mitigate potential impacts to Kentucky and support science-based decision making.”

Dr. Steve Greb answers questions about potential storage of carbon dioxide. KGS staff photo.
Dr. Steve Greb answers questions about potential storage of carbon dioxide. KGS staff photo.
Each of the seminar’s six technical presentations explored climate-related research topics relevant to Kentucky: geologic hazards, remote sensing for environmental mapping, methane emissions from orphaned oil and gas wells, carbon storage, and critical minerals. KGS geologist Dr. Jason Dortch outlined how global phenomena like more frequent high-intensity precipitation events and forest dieback help researchers understand and predict landslides in Kentucky. Another member of the landslide research team, Dr. Sourav Saha, highlighted how geoscientists can use the Google Earth Engine scripting environment to create free, wide-scale maps for geohazard research. Discussing his collaboration with the Yale Carbon Containment Lab, Dr. Marty Parris presented an example from the Daniel Boone National Forest as a template for reducing methane emissions and plugging orphaned oil and gas wells in Kentucky. Reporting on a separate national initiative, Dr. Steve Greb discussed Kentucky’s contributions to plans for potential storage of carbon dioxide in deep subsurface rocks. Dr. Gina Lukoczki, referencing upcoming plans to build three electric vehicle plants in Kentucky, explained the critical mineral needs of the energy transition and Kentucky’s potential role in supplying these. Dr. Wei Ren, of the UK Plant and Soil Sciences Department, connected the emergence of climate-smart agriculture and agricultural resilience to larger geological considerations.

Dr. Lauren Cagle presents on the Kentucky Climate Consortium. KGS staff photo.
Dr. Lauren Cagle presents on the Kentucky Climate Consortium. KGS staff photo.
Presenting on the Kentucky Climate Consortium, a statewide, interdisciplinary research and teaching collaboration for academics, Dr. Lauren Cagle focused on the need for narratives of climate change that resonate with Kentuckians. She explained, “here, we don’t have polar bears or beachfront property, but as today’s talks have shown, climate change touches on every part of academia and research in the state.” Building on climate narratives in Kentucky, Dr. David Long, assistant professor of education at Morehead State University challenged ideas about rural opposition to science-based education, presenting case studies on successful, meaningful, project-based approaches used in eastern Kentucky and rural New York.

Seminar attendees gathered in the Jacob’s Science Building to view posters and network. KGS staff photo.
Seminar attendees gathered in the Jacob’s Science Building to view posters and network. KGS staff photo.
Haneberg presented the 2022 KGS Director’s Awards to a group of KGS scientists involved in the Radon on the RADAR research project, an NIEHS-funded citizen science project through the UK College of Nursing that involved 16 weeks of time-sensitive fieldwork to measure soil radon levels at more than 60 homes in four rural Kentucky counties. The radon data will inform public health efforts to decrease radon exposure, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer and significantly increases the likelihood of lung cancer in those exposed to tobacco smoke. Other key events included research poster session lightning talks and an open discussion for public comment. The 12 talks and accompanying posters showcase KGS climate research on topics ranging from carbon storage to seismology. Dr. Haneberg ended the session with a reflection on the breadth of topics discussed and emphasized that truly transdisciplinary challenges must have transdisciplinary solutions.

Last Modified on 2022-05-20
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