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Sunday, February 1, 2015

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University Launches Dynamic, Interactive Information Website UMD Right Now

December 4, 2012
Contacts: 

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618 crystalb@umd.edu

College Park, Md. – Today, the University of Maryland launched a brand-new multimedia news and information portal, UMD Right Now, which provides members of the media and the public with real-time information on the university and its extended community.

UMD Right Now replaces Newsdesk, which previously served as the university’s news hub and central resource for members of the media. The new site is aimed at reaching broader audiences and allows visitors to keep up with the latest Maryland news and events, view photos and videos and connect with the university across all of its social media platforms.

“We designed UMD Right Now to be a comprehensive, vibrant site where visitors can find new and exciting things happening at Maryland,” said Linda Martin, executive director, Web and New Media Strategies. “Through social media, video, photos and news information, we hope to engage visitors and compel the community to explore all that Maryland has to offer.”

The new website, umdrightnow.umd.edu, contains up-to-date news releases and announcements, facts and figures about the university, a searchable database of faculty and staff experts, information highlighting innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD, additional resources for news media and other campus and athletics news.

“UMD RightNow is the place to go to find out all the things happening on and around campus on any given day,” said Crystal Brown, chief communications officer. “This website brings real-time news, events and information right to your fingertips.”

For more information and contact information for the Office of University Communications, please visit umdrightnow.umd.edu.

Teaming Up on a "Catchy" New Football Product

January 29, 2015
Contacts: 

Faye Levine 301-405-0379
Lee Tune 301-405-4679 

Grip Boost gel restores gloves to like-new condition for a fraction of the cost of new ones

Credit: Faye Levine/A. James Clark School of Engineering

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Making a great catch, like this season’s astonishing three-fingered touchdown reception by New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., requires exceptional timing, skill, strength, hand-eye coordination and … sticky gloves. Now football players at all levels have a new way to put the sticky back on their favorite gloves. Grip Boost LLC, a company formed by University of Maryland (UMD) students and alumni, has created an inexpensive, quick-drying gel that keeps football gloves ready for the next great play. 

The company’s founders combined their expertise in science and sports to produce Grip BoostTM, the first product on the market to restore old gloves to a like-new condition that leaves no residue on the ball.

Football players from youth leagues to the NFL often wear gloves coated with a tacky polymer that helps keep the ball from slipping through their hands, but the stickiness doesn’t last very long.

“Depending on your position and the game, they could last anywhere from a few weeks to only a few plays before the [original] coating wears down,” says former University of Maryland and Baltimore Ravens tight end Matt Furstenburg (B.S. ’12), one of Grip Boost’s cofounders. “In the NFL, I would go through a pair of gloves every three or four days.”

New gloves retail from $20 to over $80 a pair. That’s not a problem for a professional or Division I college team, but it’s a major expense for youth league and high school players, who typically have to buy their own non-essential equipment. Furstenburg saw an opportunity to create an affordable product that could restore a pair of gloves’ tackiness and make them last longer.

Grip Boost cofounder Matt Furstenburg testing a pair of gloves treated with the product. Credit: Faye Levine/A. James Clark School of Engineering.He teamed up with co-founder Harry Geller, an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Dingman Center, part of UMD’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. The Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute connected the pair with their future cofounders, all members of Professor Srinivasa Raghavan’s research group at the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Raghavan’s group has extensive experience developing products made with strategically modified chitosan, a natural biopolymer with high adhesive and tack properties. Because it is non-toxic and adheres to skin, tissue and cells, the group has previously used it to develop blood-clotting bandages, foams and surgical sprays. 

“We found it sticks to footballs pretty well, too,” says cofounder Chanda Arya (Ph.D. ’14), one of Raghavan’s former students. 

Arya, along with fellow cofounders and lab-mates Kevin Diehn (M.S. ’14) and Zachary Rom (B.S. ’15), took up the challenge of creating a chitosan-based, NCAA-compliant product that did not leave residue on the ball, did not exceed the tackiness of existing gloves, and could be used quickly and easily. The team verified Grip Boost met the first two requirements using friction coefficient, tack and residue tests, and addressed the third by making the modified chitosan highly soluble in alcohol.

The result was a quick-drying, easy to use, clear gel.  Players apply a small amount to their gloved hands and rub them together. When the alcohol evaporates 15–20 seconds later, a thin, tacky film is left behind, restoring the gloves to their original condition. A two-ounce bottle of Grip Boost contains about 60 applications.

The cofounders of Grip Boost, left to right: Matt Furstenburg, Harry Geller, Chanda Arya, Zachary Rom, and Kevin Diehn. Credit: Grip Boost LLC.

Several local and regional high school football teams have tested Grip Boost, including Furstenburg’s alma mater, Hunterdon Central in Flemington, N.J. 

“We had 100 percent adoption among the players who tried it,” he says. “We’ve also seen a very positive response in social media and online product reviews.”

Grip Boost currently manufactures and sells their patent-pending product in small batches, but recently received a $100,000 Maryland Innovation Initiative grant to support direct commercialization. The company will use the funding to scale up production and lower costs.

“At best, a youth football player or their parents are going to buy one or two pairs of gloves per season,” says Arya. “Grip Boost is designed to make them last. That can have a real impact on students or teams with tight budgets.”

For more information on Grip Boost and Professor Raghavan’s Complex Fluids and Nanomaterials Group, visit www.gripboost.com and www.complexfluids.umd.edu.  

UMD Professor Pioneers Mental Health Treatment in Middle East

January 28, 2015
Contacts: 

Laura Ours 301-405-5722 

Methods can be Replicated in Low-Resource, High-Risk Areas to Alleviate Depression Worldwide

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Professor Carl Lejuez, director of UMD’s Center for Addictions, Personality, and Emotion Research (CAPER), is the co-creator of Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression (BATD), a psychotherapeutic intervention that has proven effective in treating depression for thousands across the United States, including UMD students adjusting to campus life. Now, his pioneering mental health treatment methods are being used to help victims of systematic violence and trauma in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq.

“This work provides much-needed attention to difficulties with depression and anxiety many Kurds in Iraq continue to endure from a long and traumatic history of torture. It shows great promise for a treatment approach that I developed at Maryland that helps individuals reconnect with their values and rediscover how simple everyday pleasurable and important activities can assist their healing process,” Lejuez said. “Most importantly, the approach is straightforward and can be administered by entry-level clinicians with minimal training, which can dramatically increase access to treatment across the region.”

Lejuez and his coauthors recently published “A randomized controlled trial of mental health interventions for survivors of systematic violence in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq” in BMC Psychiatry. The paper outlines the use of BATD and a second psychotherapeutic intervention referred to as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). CPT is designed specifically to treat trauma and was expected to be very effective with the issues this group was experiencing. Specifically, CPT involves several complex intervention components that directly tackle the trauma experienced through written exposure and efforts to restructure cognitions that were maintaining the patient’s psychological difficulties, thereby seeking to help the patient develop more effective strategies to cope with their trauma experiences. 

The use of BATD was quite novel and more “risky” for the presenting problems of this population as it does not specifically target trauma but attempts to impact one’s overall psychological functioning. This, in turn, could have a positive impact on specific conditions such as trauma, but also depression, anxiety and substance use. Because of the practical strengths of BATD, including the ease of training entry-level clinicians, the potential to show it could also positively impact the suffering of patients with a history of torture and other traumatic events is significant.  

The treatments were administered by 20 community mental health workers in rural health clinics trained by Dr. Lejuez and others on the study team. The mental health workers received training in one of the treatments based on random assignment and patients were then evaluated by blinded community mental health workers an average of five months after treatment. Of note, only BATD showed improvements in depression when comparing patients who received standard treatment in the same region of the country, and both treatments proved effective with trauma-related outcomes, including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic grief. This study is the first of its kind to be tested in a region that has long suffered from poverty and violence.

Lejuez and his collaborators are confident that BATD and CPT treatments can improve mental health outcomes in many other regions, as the methods are cost-effective, easy to administer and have proven results even in low-resource, high-risk regions. Moreover, because the approach is highly customizable and individualized, it can be modified as needed for patients to ensure needs and cultural factors in specific regions can be respected in the context of treatment delivery. 

BATD and CPT treatments are currently used in multiple countries, including Argentina, China, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, to treat trauma as well as depression, anxiety and substance abuse with adults and youth under Dr. Lejuez’s leadership. Dr. Lejuez will travel to Chile and to China to conduct similar trainings for health care workers later this spring. Learn more about Lejuez and his research.

Raising Healthy, Successful Children

January 28, 2015
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418

Analysis of Recent Census Data Shows Family Income Impacts Parenting Practices More Than Family Structure

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Parenting practices matter in the long-term emotional and cognitive health of children. A new briefing paper by Dr. Sandra Hofferth, professor of family science in the University of Maryland School of Public Health, analyzes recent data on parenting practices compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau. Published by the Council on Contemporary Families, the report by Hofferth notes that although the Census Report found some differences by family type, most American parents -- married, divorced, single, or unmarried and co-habitating -- read to their children, monitor their children’s media exposure, engage their children in extra-curricular activities and make an effort to regularly eat meals together with their kids.

Most of the differences in parenting practices between family types were small and not a cause for concern. For example, married parents reported reading to children aged 3-5 an average of 6.8 times a week, compared to 6 times a week for single parents of children the same age. Likewise, most families with children ages 6-17 reported eating breakfast together at least 5 days a week.

There are however notable differences in children’s experiences based on income level of the family. “For example, the children of parents who are below poverty level don’t get to engage in as many extracurricular activities,” Hofferth explains. “This is significant because children’s participation in extracurricular activities is related to their scores in school, their achievement, their ability to get into college and to succeed later on.”

Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2008 PanelThe Census report documents differences in children’s involvement in extracurricular activities by the income of the household and reveals that within each activity and across all family types, children whose family poverty status was 200 percent of poverty or higher had greater activity partici­pation levels than children living below poverty or those whose pov­erty status was 100 to 199 percent of poverty. For example, the extracurricular participation in sports of children in families at 200 percent or more of the poverty level is 42.5 percent, while the participation of those in poverty is 22.5 percent, a difference of 20 percentage points. The difference between children of two married parents and children with a single parent was only 10 percentage points (44 percent vs. 34 percent).

“The big issue is resources,” Hofferth suggests. “Our rate of child poverty in the U.S. is extremely high – 22 percent overall and 26 percent for kids 6 and under. We should be concerned about this because it does make a difference in terms of what parents do with children and that can have long term consequences for kids’ outcomes and ultimately societal outcomes.”

Hofferth noted that on many of the positive parenting indicators the Census Bureau reported, children in families headed by two unmarried parents were similar to children in families with only one parent (who were also likely to be poor), suggesting that it is not the number of parents, but having low resources that dramatically limits involvement in clubs, lessons and sports.  This limits important opportunities for skill-building and social development.    

Other nations have addressed this issue by providing more resources to make sure that families who participate in the work force will have sufficient resources so that they will rear healthy and socially and academically successful children with many opportunities to succeed, through tax credits for employment, for children, and for child care expenses, plus paid parental leave.  Thus child poverty rates in Scandinavia average 3 to 4 percent and those of Western Europe average only 9 percent, compared with 22 percent in the U.S.

UMD Researcher Shows China’s Economic Growth Diminishing its Water Supply

January 27, 2015
Contacts: 

Laura Ours 301-405-5722

International Experts Say Findings are a Warning to all Nations

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland Professor of Geographical Sciences, Klaus Hubacek, and a team of international researchers have published new findings outlining the alarming future of China’s water supply, as the country’s booming economy and human activities continue to deplete its natural resources. 

The experts’ new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences compiles for the first time a full inventory of physical water transfers and “virtual” water redistribution via trade between Chinese provinces.

The study demonstrates that this water threat is only partially mitigated by China's current two-pronged protection approach: physical water transfers to water-depleted regions, including the major South-North water transfer projects, and the unintentional “virtual” water flows associated with the production of traded products between regions and countries.

Moreover, these efforts—which are meant to alleviate the problem—are actually exacerbating water stress for China's poorer water-exporting regions, with virtual water transfers accounting for more than one-third of the country's national water supply. Up to 65% of the water supply in some provinces is earmarked for virtual water redistribution, to be used for infrastructure and for producing exports.

Until China significantly improves its water use efficiency and addresses the impact its expanding economy is having on its natural resources, the situation will continue to deteriorate, the researchers conclude.

"China must take concrete steps to improve outlooks and outcomes for its natural resource supplies, and must recognize that economic growth comes at the price of environmental damage," Hubacek said. "Our research offers a clear warning not only for China, but for every nation on the planet: the price for economic development cannot be severe environmental destruction."

President’s Proposed Tax Credit Designed by UMD Faculty

January 23, 2015
Contacts: 

Laura Ours 301-405-5722

Second Earner Tax Credit Would Fix Unintentional Penalty, Offer Relief to Millions

University of Maryland economists, Professors Melissa S. Kearney and Lesley J. Turner, developed the second earner tax credit proposed by President Obama at Tuesday's State of the Union address. Based on a December 2013 Hamilton Project paper and policy proposal by Kearney and Turner, Kearney outlined the paper and the policy proposal in person with President Obama over the summer, and said implementation of the credit would make a positive difference for U.S. families and for the economy. Download the full paper.

"I am absolutely thrilled to see the President propose a second earner credit. This is a simple fix to the tax code that would help address the unintentional, unfortunate second earner penalty inherent to the current U.S. system. The credit that the President is proposing is pro-work, pro-family, and targeted on low- and middle-income families. As such, it should earn widespread political appeal. It represents a step in the right direction and would offer economic relief to millions of working couples."

In their paper, Kearney and Turner illustrate how the family-based nature of the U.S. federal income tax system leads to a secondary earner penalty. Specifically, the tax and transfer system has an inherent second earner penalty that discourages work efforts and reduces the return to work for a second earner within a married couple. For families headed by a married couple, spousal income is pooled, and the first dollar of earnings by a spouse—or second earner —is taxed at the marginal tax rate of the last dollar earned by the primary worker. When children are present, a spouse’s work efforts often bring associated child-care costs, making the return to work even lower.

Kearney and Turner’s estimates suggest that under the current federal tax and transfer system, and assuming standard child-care costs, a family headed by a primary earner making $25,000 a year will take home less than 30% of a spouse’s earnings. To address this situation, the economists propose a secondary earner deduction for low- to moderate-income families. They show that this incremental modification to the tax code would increase disposable income for low to middle class families with two earners.

Kearney and Turner are among several members of UMD’s Department of Economics who directly inform U.S. economic policy discussions and decisions. Professor Katharine Abraham was recently a member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. The department’s chair, Dr. Maureen Cropper, has served as chair of the EPA Science Advisory Board Environmental Economics Advisory Committee and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. To learn more, visit www.econ.umd.edu.

Team Finds New Order in Exotic Superconductors

January 22, 2015
Contacts: 

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845

UMD discovery may advance synthesis of materials that can superconduct at room temperature

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – All known superconductors – materials that conduct electricity with no energy loss – require cooling to very low temperatures. Even the best “high temperature” superconductors, those made of copper-oxide ceramics called cuprates, operate at sub-freezing temperatures colder than the coldest places on Earth. These cuprates require cooling with liquid nitrogen, which is not practical for many potential superconducting applications, such as smart power grids, advanced wireless communications and power-storage technologies and new imaging systems.

However physicists from the University of British Columbia and the University of Maryland have made a new investigation into a phenomenon called "charge ordering." Charge ordering appears to compete with superconductivity in cuprates and may be a key to understanding this class of superconductors. 

Charge ordering behavior, previously observed only in a class of cuprates known as hole-doped cuprates, has now been detected by the UMD/UBC team in electron-doped cuprate superconductors for the first time. Doping involves adding impurities to the cuprate materials to produce either electrons or holes, which spur cuprate materials to exhibit unusual behaviors, such as superconductivity.

Their findings published Jan. 15, 2015 online in the journal Science -- suggest that charge order may be a universal feature of high-temperature superconductors. Because charge order appears to compete with superconductivity in cuprates – and thus lower the temperature at which superconductivity takes place – figuring out how to control or neutralize this competing phenomena might allow cuprates materials to superconduct at higher temperatures. In addition, gaining a better understanding of charge ordering may help scientists determine the specific mechanism for superconductivity in cuprates and eventually lead to the synthesis of materials that can superconduct at room temperature. 

"This study’s surprising results indicate that charge order must play a very important, as yet unknown, role in high-temperature superconductivity," said Richard Greene, UMD professor of physics. "The cause of high-temperature superconductivity continues to be a major unsolved question in condensed matter physics 28 years after its discovery."

In superconductors, electrons overcome their repulsion and form pairs that move in unison and conduct electricity without resistance. In a charge-ordered state, interaction between electrons keeps them locked into a rigid pattern, which limits their ability to make the freely moving pairs required for superconductivity.

"The universality of charge ordering across very different materials shifts our perspective, and could propel future breakthroughs. We need to understand how charge ordering is formed in materials and ideally tune it, allowing superconductivity to occur at temperatures closer to room temperature," said Eduardo H. da Silva Neto, a postdoctoral fellow with UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute and the Max-Planck-UBC Centre for Quantum Materials, who led the study’s experimental work with former UBC Ph.D. student Riccardo Comin.

Superconductors have found use most prominently in medical imaging (MRI machines) and Japanese Maglev 'Bullet' trains, but power utilities, electronics companies, the military and theoretical physics have all benefited strongly from the discovery of these materials.  Accomplishing the decades-old goal of finding a room temperature superconductor could transform energy use and spur revolutionary new technologies and developments in many fields.  

For the current study, UBC researchers led by Andrea Damascelli conducted resonant X-ray scattering studies on electron-doped cuprate superconductor samples prepared by UMD physics postdoctoral fellow Yeping Jiang to confirm the presence of charge ordering. 

Following the confirmation, the researchers investigated a possible prerequisite for charge ordering, and consequently the suppression of superconducting properties—the “pseudogap”. This gap in the energy level of a material’s electronic spectrum has been closely associated with superconductivity and has been documented to exist at temperatures just above those that give rise to superconductivity.

In the current study, the researchers found that charge ordering gradually developed in the electron-doped cuprate samples at a temperature much higher than the pseudogap, contrasting previous observations in hole-doped cuprates. The findings indicate the pseudogap is not a prerequisite for charge ordering or superconductivity in electron-doped materials. This knowledge could be an important clue to solving the 28-year-old mystery of the cause of high-temperature superconductivity, according to Greene.

"Our next experiments will be to study the doping dependence and temperature dependence of the charge order in electron-doped cuprates in the hopes of better understanding its role in high-temperature superconductivity," said Greene.

Robots Learn by Watching Videos

January 13, 2015
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright 301-405-9267 

Tom Ventsias 301-405-5933

Autonomous robots can learn and perform complex actions via observation

Imagine having a personal robot prepare your breakfast every morning. Now, imagine that this robot didn’t need any help figuring out how to make the perfect omelet, because it learned all the necessary steps by watching videos on YouTube. It might sound like science fiction, but a team at the University of Maryland has just made a significant breakthrough that will bring this scenario one step closer to reality.

UMD computer scientist Yiannis Aloimonos (center) is developing robotic systems able to visually recognize objects and generate new behavior based on those observations. Photo: John T. ConsoliResearchers at the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) partnered with a scientist at the National Information Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence in Australia (NICTA) to develop robotic systems that are able to teach themselves. Specifically, these robots are able to learn the intricate grasping and manipulation movements required for cooking by watching online cooking videos. The key breakthrough is that the robots can “think” for themselves, determining the best combination of observed motions that will allow them to efficiently accomplish a given task.

The work will be presented on Jan. 29, 2015, at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Conference in Austin, Texas. The researchers achieved this milestone by combining approaches from three distinct research areas: artificial intelligence, or the design of computers that can make their own decisions; computer vision, or the engineering of systems that can accurately identify shapes and movements; and natural language processing, or the development of robust systems that can understand spoken commands. Although the underlying work is complex, the team wanted the results to reflect something practical and relatable to people’s daily lives.

"We chose cooking videos because everyone has done it and understands it," said Yiannis Aloimonos, UMD professor of computer science and director of the Computer Vision Lab, one of 16 labs and centers in UMIACS. "But cooking is complex in terms of manipulation, the steps involved and the tools you use. If you want to cut a cucumber, for example, you need to grab the knife, move it into place, make the cut and observe the results to make sure you did them properly."

One key challenge was devising a way for the robots to parse individual steps appropriately, while gathering information from videos that varied in quality and consistency. The robots needed to be able to recognize each distinct step, assign it to a “rule” that dictates a certain behavior, and then string together these behaviors in the proper order.

UMD researcher Cornelia Fermüller (left) works with graduate student Yezhou Yang (right) on computer vision systems able to accurately identify and replicate intricate hand movements. Photo: John T. Consoli"We are trying to create a technology so that robots eventually can interact with humans," said Cornelia Fermüller, an associate research scientist at UMIACS. "So they need to understand what humans are doing. For that, we need tools so that the robots can pick up a human’s actions and track them in real time. We are interested in understanding all of these components. How is an action performed by humans? How is it perceived by humans? What are the cognitive processes behind it?"

Aloimonos and Fermüller compare these individual actions to words in a sentence. Once a robot has learned a “vocabulary” of actions, they can then string them together in a way that achieves a given goal. In fact, this is precisely what distinguishes their work from previous efforts.

"Others have tried to copy the movements. Instead, we try to copy the goals. This is the breakthrough," Aloimonos explained. This approach allows the robots to decide for themselves how best to combine various actions, rather than reproducing a predetermined series of actions.

The work also relies on a specialized software architecture known as deep-learning neural networks. While this approach is not new, it requires lots of processing power to work well, and it took a while for computing technology to catch up. Similar versions of neural networks are responsible for the voice recognition capabilities in smartphones and the facial recognition software used by Facebook and other websites.

While robots have been used to carry out complicated tasks for decades—think automobile assembly lines—these must be carefully programmed and calibrated by human technicians. Self-learning robots could gather the necessary information by watching others, which is the same way humans learn. Aloimonos and Fermüller envision a future in which robots tend to the mundane chores of daily life while humans are freed to pursue more stimulating tasks.

"By having flexible robots, we’re contributing to the next phase of automation. This will be the next industrial revolution," said Aloimonos. "We will have smart manufacturing environments and completely automated warehouses. It would be great to use autonomous robots for dangerous work—to defuse bombs and clean up nuclear disasters such as the Fukushima event. We have demonstrated that it is possible for humanoid robots to do our human jobs."

In addition to Aloimonos and Fermüller, study authors included Yezhou Yang, a UMD computer science doctoral student, and Yi Li, a former doctoral student of Aloimonos and Fermüller from NICTA.

Researcher Demonstrates Link Between Urbanization and Reduced Global Energy Use

January 13, 2015
Contacts: 

Andrew Roberts 301-405-2171

Smart urbanization could save up to 25 percent of global energy use by 2050

A new collaborative study led in the U.S. by the University of Maryland suggests that urban planning and transport policies can limit the future increase in cities’ energy use by about one-quarter, from 730 exajoules (or EJ, a standard measurement unit for city-scale electricity consumption) to 540 EJ in 2050. The limitation of future consumption is particularly critical, as current urbanization trends suggest that world-wide urban energy use will more than triple by 2050.

The study, led by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates that cities in developing countries throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East have the highest potential for energy savings through urbanization – 86 percent of the world’s total potential savings. In order to achieve these savings however, current and future urban planning methodologies must focus short commutes between home and work places – driven by mutually supportive public transportation and land use development.

Energy use of world cities. Energy use increases with economic activity, especially for low levels of GDP per capita. High population density cities and higher fuel prices are associated with lower energy use.

The team of researchers behind this groundbreaking study, including Giovanni Baiocchi, an associate professor in University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences, together with researchers at the MCC, Yale University, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, also identified mitigation options in “mature” cities (those whose land use and transportation systems have been fully developed). For example, higher fuel prices in the United States would enable more compact development in eco-centric and progressive cities like Boulder, Colorado.    

"Using global data on cities we produced a typology of cities based on their energy use and associated emissions, useful at tailoring mitigation measures for different cities,” says Baiocchi, lead U.S. researcher on the study. One key message extracted through this approach is that the eight different types of cities found in the study each need different mitigation policies to maximize their impact on energy consumption. 

One particular area of focus for the multinational research team is China, whose urban areas are responsible for more than 80% of the country’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

“Fast developing cities with low fuel prices and high heating demands have the largest potential for reducing emissions,” explains Baiocchi. “This is particularly evident for energy-intensive cities in China that are located in colder climates. The high-energy demands of these cities combined with China's dependence on coal, greatly contributes to the pollution problems we see today. It is important that China continues to target inefficiencies and invest in energy conservation.”

The study, titled “A Global Typology of Urban Energy Use and Potentials for an Urbanization Mitigation Wedge,” used data sets from the World Bank and the Global Energy Assessment and modeled the development of 274 cities, representing all city sizes and regions worldwide. “Through this study we provide critical new insights into how different types of cities can most effectively mitigate the effects of climate change,” says Felix Creutzig, lead author of the study and head of the working group Land Use, Infrastructures and Transport at the MCC. “The mitigation potential is greatest in rapidly growing cities and in cities where infrastructure is not set in place.”

Pages

January 30
Maryland high school and college students have the opportunity to create innovative solutions to healthcare challenges... Read
January 29
Making a great catch requires exceptional timing, skill, strength, hand-eye coordination and…sticky gloves. Thanks... Read
January 28
Professor’s methods proven effective across the U.S. can be replicated in low-resource, high-risk areas to alleviate... Read
January 28
In a new briefing paper analyzing recent U.S. Census Bureau data, UMD professor of family science shows parenting... Read