Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, reporting in the journal iScience on December 8, found that shifting learning weeks to the summer term and extending the winter vacation period can reduce the university’s yearly CO2 emissions by more than 4%.
While strategies to reduce carbon emissions normally require significant time and financial investment, the authors say that this kind of schedule change could offer a simple and low-cost way to reduce carbon emissions. “This approach does not really require any significant investment,” says Wei Sun, an energy system researcher and Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and author on the paper. “We just need willingness from staff and students to be open to the changes in semester dates.”
Sun and his colleagues monitored how more than 20 universities are currently managing their energy consumptions on campus, including their semester schedules. Then, the team looked at heat and energy usage for the University of Edinburgh, where some of them work, over the course of the year. This helped them propose the most environmentally friendly semester schedule for the university.
They found that by starting a new semester on the second week of September, followed by a 12-week winter learning semester and a 5-week winter holiday, they could reduce CO2 emissions by 167 tonnes, 4.2% of the university’s total.
“This would mean there was an extended period off during the winter period, and in turn, longer summer semesters. This could contribute to lower heating costs during the winter period and a decrease in emissions overall,” says Sun.
Other universities could adopt a similar approach but timings would need to vary based on where they are located, he says. “In future studies, it would be useful to adapt our approach to compare the energy consumptions of universities under different climate zones to see what impact our approach would have globally. But for UK universities, it’s clear that changing semester times could reduce emissions,” says Sun.
This study was conducted before the pandemic, and Sun and his colleagues would like to explore how hybrid learning would affect their recommendations. “In a post-pandemic world, we will be looking into other strategies to reduce emissions,” he says. “We saw a huge carbon reduction during the pandemic and now things are slowly getting back to normal, so we’d like to see if emissions continue to drop with lectures now online and less physical attendance in person.”
UK university can reduce CO2 emissions by 4% with shorter winter semesters (2021, December 8)
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University of California regents on Thursday approved a multiyear plan to raise tuition and fees at the system’s 10 campuses.
The proposed increase is the first since 2017 and had been criticized by opponents as a “forever hike.” University officials say the increase is needed to maintain the quality of the public university system and provide more financial aid to students.
The proposal calls for tuition and fees to rise by 2% plus inflation for new undergraduates starting in the 2022-23 academic year. UC officials estimate that will amount to an additional $534, putting tuition and systemwide fees at just over $13,000 a year for in-state students. The estimate does not include additional campus-based fees.
That amount would stay flat for those students for up to six years. Increases for incoming freshmen in the following years would gradually decline from 1.5% to 0.5% plus inflation until the 2026-27 academic year, when increases would be based only on inflation.
However, regents also voted to visit the issue in five years, and the board at that time will have to reauthorize the plan. The vote was 17 in favor and 5 opposed.
Kalli Zervas, a senator with the Associated Students of the University of California at Berkeley, said she was “absolutely appalled” that leaders would consider raising costs on low-income students such as herself.
“How dare you parade yourself as a diverse system?” she told regents. “At this rate, you might as well only accept the wealthy students, as you’re making it nearly impossible for the rest of us to attend.”
UC President Michael Drake and others said that an accompanying increase in financial aid would more than offset increases in tuition. Only students whose families earn $150,000 a year or more would benefit from keeping tuition flat, it said, whereas everyone else would benefit from more financial aid.
Even with an increased $11 billion in the California budget for UC this year, officials say state funding has not kept pace with enrollment growth. State funding has gone from nearly $40,000 a student in 2000 to an estimated $25,200 in 2021, the office says, while enrollment has increased from 171,000 to 292,000 over the same time period.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, warned against tuition increases for both UC and the California State University system in January when he released his initial state budget.
“Right as students and families continue to struggle to recover from the adverse impacts of this pandemic, this proposal would lock-in inequitable fee increases for the foreseeable future,” the University of California Student Association said in a statement, calling the proposal a “forever hike.”
The University of California has a strong public mission and is invaluable in promoting social and economic mobility, said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law, in an op-ed published last year to support the increase.
“For a public university, there are only three choices: the state subsidizes, or tuition goes up, or quality gets cut,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “The only way to make sure that the University of California remains excellent is to ensure that it has adequate funds.”
The office of the UC president said in-state tuition and campus fees at comparable public universities in Virginia, Illinois and Michigan average around $17,000, with increases ranging from 24% to 56% since 2011, at the same time UC tuition has gone up 6%.
The Board of Regents was scheduled to vote on a version of the tuition proposal in March 2020, but deferred action amid the pandemic.
University of California regents approve rare tuition hike (2021, July 22)
retrieved 23 July 2021
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In mid-April on the University of Montana-owned Bandy Ranch in neighboring Powell County, the snow was still visible on the surrounding Garnet Mountains, geese were honking overhead and Cottonwood Creek was beginning to ripple.
But there would be a greater sound of the season that day.
Tree sap, water pockets and air popping, crackling and combusting from heat, and the swinging of Pulaski’s into hard ground as bright orange flames raced up conifers against a backdrop of radio static and beeps.
“The first rule of fire is that it depends on batteries,” said LLoyd Queen, UM professor and director of UM’s FireCenter. “Everything runs on batteries—headlamps, radios, weather stations.”
Prescribed fires consist of purposely burning land to reduce the risk of wildfire and jumpstart rejuvenation of plant life. It was the University’s first-time hosting a cross-boundary prescribed fire, burning both UM property and adjacent land managed by other agencies.
As the world faces bigger and scarier wildfires, researchers and fire managers working together to prevent and manage them represents of a new trend in fire science, Queen said.
The day also doubled as a hot and heavy training experience for UM students, who were front and center on the burn.
“The burn has two objectives—one is ecological, one is educational,” Queen said. “The first is restoring the landscape, getting rid of debris and the second is providing an educational experience for students and partners on the burn.”
Queen was one of several Fire Center staff and UM professors in the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation who joined forces with fire scientists from the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory, a research institute with the U.S. Forest Service, and personnel from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to manage the burn, which took about two years to plan. At about 3,500 acres, UM’s Bandy Ranch is a working cattle ranch that also serves as an exploratory extension of a classroom.
“This is a complicated prescribed burn, given the involvement of our students and combination of jurisdictions and research activities,” said Carl Seielstad, UM Fire and Fuels Program manager and associate professor. “We’ve got students, University property that’s part of the Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, the Forest Service and Montana FWP, all of whom are heavily and intimately involved.”
Seielstad, who authored the burn plan and secured the required permissions for the fire, served as the day’s incident commander or burn boss—or the main guy in charge if anything went wrong.
“From a fire management perspective, we are successful when executed safely, the burn doesn’t get out of control and the treatment meets the objectives of the burn plan,” Seielstad said.
The day’s charge included the lighting by drip torch of about 108 acres of native grassland and beetle-killed pine trees that included equal parts of Bandy Ranch, research plots from the Forest Service and the Montana FWP game range adjacent to the ranch.
Management of the fire also included a mix of 12 UM undergraduate and graduate students who either are members of the UM Fire Club, majoring in forestry or completing a minor in Fire Sciences and Management. One of the squad bosses included a graduate student in UM’s Computer Science Department who studies fire behavior models when not fighting fire.
The majority of students have summer jobs as wildland firefighters, and many were on hand that day to receive certification for experience on a prescribed burn for their Red Cards, agency-issued documents that certify that an individual has the training, experience and fitness to perform duties as a wildland firefighter.
“It’s a super fun and a really great opportunity to be out here, to be able to have this experience, particularly before many of us fight fire this summer,” said Mason Banks, president of UM’s Fire Club and driver of the “gator,” an all-purpose all-terrain vehicle, that day.
As Missoula and UM both serve as a national nexus of wildland fire expertise, the burn also served as an opportunity for a host of research for interagency and University research objectives with important implications for national wildfire prediction, response and management.
Some of those projects included examining modifications of fuel structure with fire behavior, capturing 3-D images for fire prediction models, better understanding how fire kills trees immediately and in the long-term documenting how energy and fuels interact for computer science models.
Russell Parsons, research ecologist with the Forest Service, was on the burn to capture footage via ground-based remote cameras to document the fire’s behavior, complementing aerial imagery captured by drone-based sensors flown by UM scientists.
“The drone allows us to see exactly what the fire is doing, down to the second,” Parsons said. “The footage will allow us to track thermal heat and watch that progression over space and time, which we plan to recreate in a computer model.”
As the country continues to see super wildfires, computational models of fire behavior can help predict fire dynamics and inform on-the-ground management and response. Parsons said the models have a particularly important role in helping managers consider different options and evaluate how prescribed fires or fuel treatments can help control fire. Parsons said he ultimately hopes to use the data to create simulation training for wildland firefighters.
“As we continue to see extreme droughts and high temperatures, we know wildfire is not going to get better, it’s going to get worse,” he said. “So, what we can do in the meantime is to model the fire so we can try to predict fuel and fire interactions in varying environments.”
Maggie Epstein, UM forestry graduate student and squad boss that day, was responsible for the safety of the firefighters and reporting directly to the fire boss. Epstein had to manage the day’s variables, including wind, fuels and moisture and delivered orders to the fire crew.
“I’m mostly in a lab between four and five days a week, so it’s nice to get out and be on the line today,” she said. “It’s exciting to be part of burn that includes so many moving parts, objectives and agencies.”
As some parts of the fire petered out throughout the day, other areas jumped irrigation ditches and spot fires ignited outside of the containment line, adding for a bit of drama that the crew was fully prepared and trained to expect.
“Keeping fire within control lines is paramount, but threats like this are expected, planned for and they provide a learning opportunity to assess what we could change in the future to avoid these spot fires,” said Queen.
Queen said what sets UM’s expertise in fire sciences apart is that most, if not all FireCenter faculty and staff, serve as wildland firefighters when they’re not teaching or researching.
“It’s immensely important for us to not only serve as experts in the discipline, but to never lose that practice and connection with the field,” he said. Ryan Kirk, a UM freshman from Eugene, Oregon, who is majoring in business, was also working the fire that day in preparation for spending the summer as a wildland firefighter in Wyoming.
“I’m glad to have this experience on my card, and I love being out here with other Fire Club volunteers,” he said. “A big reason why I chose UM is for these kinds of experiences. I can’t say working fire is easy or the hours aren’t long, but it’s always fun. Addicting, actually.”
University of Montana students lead pres
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