Events bring awareness of homelessness, hunger

November 10, 2008

According to the Valley of the Sun United Way, more than 8,500 homeless people – including men, women and children -- live in the Phoenix area, and nearly one in 10 families in Maricopa Country lives in poverty.

These statistics often don’t hit home until one is forced to become one of them. Download Full Image

To help ASU students and staff become more aware of homelessness and hunger, the ASU Community Service Program will sponsor a series of events and activities during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Nov. 16-22. They include:

Sunday, Nov. 16: Project Dignity, banquet for homeless youth, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Memorial Union. Volunteer to provide a restaurant-like environment for homeless youth. To volunteer, contact Ben Wood-Isenberg at ben.woodisen">">

Monday, Nov. 17: Hunger Banquet, 6-10 p.m., Memorial Union Arizona Ballroom (221). Sponsored by the Residence Hall Association. Contact Lindsey Kronforst at lindsey.kronforst">">

Wednesday, Nov 19: Empty Bowls, 11 a.m.-1 pm., southwest corner of Memorial Union. Purchase a bowl of soup and get a free bowl. All money raised will go to fighting hunger in the Valley. Sponsored by Programming and Activities Board. Contact Joe Denoncourt at joseph.denoncourt">">

• Castle of Cans: Circle K International is conducting a food drive, through Nov. 19, and creating a castle of cans to bring awareness of issues of food shortage and hunger in the community. To donate or volunteer, contact Matthew Sweeten at msweeten">">

Thursday, Nov 20: Toiletries Assembly Project on North Neighborhood, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., PV Beach. Help make care packages of toiletries for individuals struggling with homelessness. All materials will be provided. Sponsored by Devils After Dark and Community Service Program. For more information or to sign up, e-mail volunteer">">

Thursday, Nov. 20: Clothing Drive, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., outside of the Memorial Union and at PV/San Pablo area. Donate gently used clothing. Sponsored by Community Service Program Team Leaders. To volunteer for a shift or for more information on donating, contact: Megan Selvey at megan.selvey">"> or Jessica Krumtinger at jessicalacie">">

Friday, Nov 21: First Annual WE Care: YOU Care 2008, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (3 shifts of 3 hours each). Sponsored by Black Graduate Student Association, Campus Environment Team - Downtown Phoenix Campus and First Institutional Baptist Church - The Hope Center. R.S.V.P.: bgsa">"> with full name and shift chosen.

Saturday, Nov 22: Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week Day of Service at two locations: Project Hunger, Phoenix Rescues Mission, 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Project Homelessness, UMOM New Day Center, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Register at:

For"> more information or to register for these events, go to">"> or send an e-mail to volunteer">">, or call Mina Ahmad at (480) 965-9511.

Sedimentary records point to evolution of Himalayas

November 10, 2008

Throughout history, the changing fortunes of human societies in Asia have been linked to variations in the precipitation resulting from seasonal monsoons. A new paper published in the British journal Nature Geoscience suggests that variations in monsoon climate over longer time scales also influenced the evolution of the world's highest mountain chain, the Himalaya.

The climate over much of Asia is dominated by seasonal winds that carry moist air over the Pacific Ocean into East Asia and over the Indian Ocean into South Asia. The East and South Asian monsoons are responsible for most of the rainfall in these regions. Although the time when these monsoon patterns were first established is unknown, many lines of evidence suggest that they first came about at least 24 million years ago. Download Full Image

The new study uses geochemical data from an Ocean Drilling Project sediment core extracted from the seafloor of the South China Sea to establish a record of the East Asian monsoon climate over that time interval.

"Sediments in this core were eroded from the drainage area of the Pearl River system in China, and their chemistry records the relative intensity through time of chemical weathering in an area that received the bulk of its precipitation from East Asian monsoon storms," explains Peter Clift, lead author of the study and a professor of geology and petroleum geology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Many researchers believe that a geologically "abrupt" uplift of the Tibetan Plateau – the largest high-altitude region on Earth, with an average elevation of more than 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) – at 8 to10 million years ago caused a major intensification in the monsoon climate.

"South China Sea data do not support that interpretation," says Kip Hodges, a co-author of the paper and director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. "Other than a brief drop between about 17 and 15 million years ago, the pattern in the core suggests a steady increase in East Asian monsoon intensity from 23 to 10 million years ago, followed by a steady weakening until about 4 million years ago. After that, the intensity began to increase once more. The implication is that either the development of the plateau was not as abrupt as we might have thought, or that an abrupt uplift of the plateau at 8 to 10 million years caused a change in precipitation patterns that was not recorded in East Asia."

Another controversy surrounds the degree of coupling between the South and East Asian monsoons. Could one have varied in intensity differently from the other?

The team compared the South China Sea record with less-complete sedimentary records from the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal – which contain sediments that were eroded from the Himalaya, where the principal rainfall comes from South Asian monsoon storms – to argue for a linkage between the two monsoon systems over most of the past 23 million years.

"The really exciting moment in this research came when we began to compare patterns from one record to another and found broad agreement," says Clift.

The most interesting correlation was found when the team compared the sedimentary records to cooling age patterns in the Himalaya. Hodges and his students have spent years using isotopic dating techniques to determine the cooling ages of thousands of bedrock and sediment samples from all over the Himalaya.

"Most people are familiar with the use of such techniques to determine the crystallization ages of minerals and rocks," says Hodges. "They also can be used to determine when a mineral cooled through a certain temperature. The principal mechanism by which samples cool in mountainous regions is erosion, so a high frequency of minerals with the same cooling age generally means a high rate of erosion at that time."

Compilations of the cooling ages obtained by Hodges' group and other researchers show that the periods of high East Asian monsoon intensity matched well with high frequencies of cooling ages, implying a relationship between monsoon intensity and erosion in the Himalaya.

"While it makes sense intuitively that heavy rainfall should be correlated with more aggressive erosion, it is important to see such direct evidence of the coupling between the processes that define the evolution of mountain ranges and climatic processes," Hodges explains. "It implies, once again, that Earth is a complex system, and we cannot begin to fully understand mountain building without appreciating the roles of the hydrosphere and atmosphere in the evolution of mountain ranges."

But Hodges cautions that the results of this study are suggestive.

"It is important to confirm our interpretations by generating a more comprehensive cooling age dataset from regions of the Himalaya that have not yet been studied because of logistical constraints or political instability."

Adds Clift, "We really need more complete offshore sedimentary records from the Arabian Sea and Bengal Fan to make a solid case for linkages between the South and East Asian monsoon systems."

Nikki Cassis

marketing and communications director, School of Earth and Space Exploration