Duke’s Climate Change Research in North Carolina


Duke's main campus may be located in the central part of North Carolina, but staff and alumni are conducting climate change research across the state from the Marine Lab on North Carolina's coast to the mountains of the tar heel state. "Serving the state of North Carolina from mountains to the sea." In the Asheville region, Duke alumni like Rob Young and Chris Oishi are exploring the impact of climate change. "There's no question that the planet is warming. There's no question that sea level is rising. Whether you want to argue about who's causing it or not, it's undeniable that things are changing and as a result of that we certainly need to be applying the best science we can to making smart decisions about those changes." "Another part of it too is that we're really interested in the amount of water that is used by the system and basically leaves forest and is available to streams, to drinking water.

What we're trying to do is quantify water quality and water quantity and how different aspects of forest health affect that." Rob Young directs the program for the study of developed shorelines at Western Carolina University and he's an adjunct faculty member at Duke. "We have people that are working on coastal processes, basic research of coastal processes, storm impacts and we also have policy wonks who are trying to communicate that science to a variety of entities that are both public and private." Chris Oishi is a research ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service. At the Coweeta Hydrologic Lab, southwest of Asheville, he measures wind speed and conservation of different gasses to determine the effects of climate change on the forest. "We're interested in trying to be able to predict levels of stress that might impact or reduce the ability of trees to survive, reduce the ability of forests to sequester carbon, as well as the potential for forests to sequester carbon.

" At the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, North Carolina, Dave Johnston directs the Unoccupied Systems Facility, where research is conducted with the assistance of drones. "The facility is about a year old now and we've been working across a range of different projects that are looking at coastal habitat– things like coastal erosion." For researchers like Oishi, it's rewarding to see the variety of climate change research that has ties to Duke. "Really nice to be able to still collaborate with people that are either at Duke or other former students, graduates of Duke that I encounter from time to time that are doing similar research in different areas.".