Climate Change

Research Underway

Research with remote sensing technology in select South Carolina rivers,  will provide valuable data for gauging the impact of climate change.  The research will also address real-time GIS/hydrology flood warning system for first responders in rural areas.   This technology will also be applied in water quality research.

Climate change and global warming will affect food supply.  South Carolina is the No. 2 peach-producer in the nation and growers are concerned.  Many fruit and nut trees need sufficient chilling hours to make fruit.  The trees, also, need to be hardy enough to withstand a late frost.  In response to climate change, work is being directed towards improving the economic and environmental sustainability in tree fruit production through changes in rootstock use.  The genetic and cellular signals that begin dormancy and the developmental events involved in bud formation and non-growth seasonal phases are being examined.   This research is also an integral component of the sustainable agriculture production for horticultural crops.       

Plants are shown to produce a diverse array of secondary metabolites under various environmental conditions.  Research on plant secondary metabolites (PSMs) and their ecological roles will help understand the patterning of plant species in present and future ecosystems and for use in agriculture for better crop productivity.  This will involve characterizing how warming and precipitation alterations due to climate change will alter soil nutrient cycling via changes in plant secondary metabolite composition.  Research will examine how climatic changes alter secondary metabolite profiles of plants which will directly affect nutrient cycling and soil microbial community, composition and thus dictated composition of future plant communities.  Results will advance understanding of how climate change will affect phytochemical composition of plants and plant litter, with direct implications for food and fodder quality and herbivory.

Research is underway to understanding the effects of population growth and climate change on greenhouse gas emissions and carbon cycling in coastal regions.    The first step towards understanding the impacts of sea level rise and population growth in coastal ecosystems is to determine the salinity, water chemistry, characteristics of natural organic matter, and other environmental factors that are representative parameters of environmental quality.  Controlled laboratory studies will make it possible to identify the controlling factors of the greenhouse gas emissions and pollutant productions in different environmental settings.

Sugars are primary products of photosynthesis that function in metabolism and as regulators of gene expression.  Researchers are examining the expression of key genes in order to refine the understanding of glucose signaling mechanisms and could improve plant engineering for growth in a future world with increased carbon dioxide.