Texarkana, TX – On Wednesday, March 5th, 2015, Thomas Strawn, a Junior at Texas A&M University-Texarkana had his research showcased at the Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Austin, Texas. The event, which serves to promote “undergraduate students engaged on research for the Texas legislature and public through high quality poster displays” represented over 50 higher education institutions.
Dr. Kati Stoddard (Assistant Professor of Environmental Science), Thomas’ research mentor and professor, stated that this event was “perfect for Thomas as it displayed his exceptional researching and writing skills”. She added he is well on his way to achieving his goals of pursuing advanced degrees in Biology or Environmental Science and the skills, knowledge, and experience he is gaining at Texas A&M University-Texarkana are preparing him to be highly successful in graduate school. Thomas is currently a working on his degree in Biology with a minor in Environmental Science.
Thomas was accompanied at the event by Dr. Nurul Alam (Associate Professor of Biology), who stated “Research Day at Capitol provided a great experience for the student and myself; they not only presented their research but interacted with their peers and learned what it takes to become a good researcher from the panel of established researchers”.
Specifically, Thomas’ research focused on the desertification effects being observed throughout the world. His research analyzed existing models and the current literature and concluded that “climatological influences such as the oceanic oscillations and climate change” are influencing monsoon seasons.” His assessment of the current research on desertification indicates “the possibility exists that global climate change may begin to further influence human impacted regions at a greater scale” and that “current assessments show deserts as a zone potentially at risk, but no in depth analysis has been carried out on the subject.” According to his research, although the scientific community is still investigating the role and influence global warming and human land mismanagement have on desertification, they have “more recently come to the agreement that in large part human land mismanagement is the primary culprit of desertification.”
This is the 200 word write up Thomas submitted.
Researchers have debated for the past half century over exact definitions and methodologies for quantifying and studying desertification as a phenomena. Modern practices utilize the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index and precipitation patterns. This is a very recently developed method however and does not take into account at all outside climatological influences such as the oceanic oscillations and climate change impacts on monsoon seasons.
Whether or not global warming or human land mismanagement is primarily to blame remains a potential area of study though much of the scientific community has more recently come to the agreement that in large part human land mismanagement is the primary culprit of desertification.
The potential combined effects the North Atlantic Oscillation and El Niño Southern Oscillation impose on fluctuations in the size of the Sahara Desert and vegetation productivity in the Sahel have been hypothesized, but not investigated.
The possibility exists that global climate change may begin to further influence human impacted regions at a greater scale. Current assessments show deserts as a zone potentially at risk, but no in depth analysis has been carried out on the subject.