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New study finds “nighttime heat waves” increasing in Pacific Northwest

OSU News Releases - Mon, 07/22/2013 - 8:38am
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The Pacific Northwest is beginning to get the type of nighttime heat waves that are routine in some other areas of the nation but historically rare in Oregon and Washington.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study has found that heat waves are increasing in the western portions of the Pacific Northwest, but not the kind most people envision, with scorching hot days of temperatures reaching triple digits.

These heat waves occur at night.

Researchers documented 15 examples of “nighttime heat waves” from 1901 through 2009 and 10 of those have occurred since 1990. Five of them took place during a four-year period from 2006-09. And since the study was accepted for publication in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, another nighttime heat wave took place at the end of this June, the authors point out.

“Most people are familiar with daytime heat waves, when the temperatures get into the 100s and stay there for a few days,” said Kathie Dello, deputy director of the Oregon Climate Service at Oregon State University and a co-author on the study. “A nighttime heat wave relates to how high the minimum temperature remains overnight.

“Daytime events are usually influenced by downslope warming over the Cascade Mountains, while nighttime heat waves seem to be triggered by humidity,” said Dello, who is in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. “Elevated low-level moisture at night tends to trap the heat in.”

In their study, Dello and co-authors Karin Bumbaco and Nicholas Bond from the University of Washington defined heat waves as three consecutive days of temperatures at the warmest 1 percentile over the past century. Using that standard criterion, they documented 13 examples of daytime heat waves during the time period from 1901 to 2009. Only two of those occurred in the last 20 years.

In contrast, nighttime heat waves have been clustered over the past two decades, with what appears to be accelerating frequency. A warming climate suggests the problem may worsen, studies suggest.

“If you look at nighttime temperatures in Oregon and compared them to say the Midwest, people there would laugh at the concept of a Pacific Northwest heat wave,” Dello said. “However, people in the Midwest are acclimated to the heat while in the Northwest, they are not. People in other regions of the country may also be more likely to have air conditioning in their homes.

On occasion, daytime and nighttime heat waves coincide, Dello said, as happened in 2009 when temperatures in the Pacific Northwest set all-time records in Washington (including 103 degrees at SeaTac), and temperatures in Oregon surpassed 105 degrees in Portland, Eugene, Corvallis and Medford. It was the second most-intense daytime heat wave in the last century, but lasted only three days by the 1 percentile definition.

However, that same stretch of hot weather in 2009 results in a nighttime heat wave that extended eight days, by far the longest stretch since records were kept beginning in 1901.

The latest nighttime heat wave began in late June of this year, and continued into early July, Dello said.

“Like many nighttime heat waves, a large high-pressure ridge settled in over the Northwest, while at the same time, some monsoonal moisture was coming up from the Southwest,” she pointed out. “The high swept around and grabbed enough moisture to elevate the humidity and trap the warm air at night.”

Dello frequently provides weather facts and historical data via Twitter at: www.twitter.com/orclimatesvc.

The Oregon Climate Change Research Institute is supported by the state of Oregon, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, and other agencies.

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Kathie Dello, 541-737-8927

Categories: Research news

Hospice workers struggle on front lines of physician-assisted death laws

OSU News Releases - Fri, 07/19/2013 - 2:01pm
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Hospice workers, who traditionally have opposed physician-assisted death, are often the caretakers of the people who use it - a difficult quandary to deal with.

The study this story is based on is available in ScholarsArchive@OSU: http://bit.ly/130Fqi3

 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Laws that allow physician-assisted death in the Pacific Northwest have provisions to protect the rights of patients, doctors and even the state, but don’t consider the professionals most often on the front lines of this divisive issue – hospice workers who provide end-of-life care.

The existing system, a new analysis concludes, has evolved into a multitude of different and contradictory perspectives among hospice organizations and workers, who historically have opposed physician-assisted death but now are the professionals taking care of most of the people who use it.

The study – titled “Dignity, Death and Dilemmas” - was just published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management by researchers from Oregon State University, and outlines a complex system in which many well-intentioned caregivers struggle to organize their thoughts, beliefs and actions when dealing with a concept they traditionally oppose. It was based on an analysis of 33 hospice programs in Washington state.

When first proposed, it was feared by some that physician-assisted death might displace the palliative and supportive care offered by hospice. Now, in practice, between 85-95 percent of the people in Oregon and Washington who choose assisted death also use hospice – but the interplay they have with their caregivers can vary widely.

“It might seem a little surprising that most people who use physician-assisted death also use hospice,” said Courtney Campbell, the Hundere Professor in Religion and Culture in the OSU School of History, Philosophy and Religion. “Some hospice workers were originally concerned this concept would make them unnecessary, but in fact the level of hospice usage has actually increased.”

Hospice is a national program in which trained professionals provide care to terminally ill patients, ensuring they get proper medical care, adequate pain control, are involved in decision-making and have other needs met in a home environment. They work with both the patient and family to help make death a natural and accepted part of life.

However, hastening or actually causing death is not an accepted part of the hospice philosophy, even though hospice programs acknowledge the right of patients to make that choice where it’s allowed by law. But balancing core beliefs, such as compassion and non-abandonment of a patient, with the new laws has been difficult at best for hospice professionals, Campbell said.

“About 75 percent of hospice organizations will not allow their workers to even be present when a fatal dose of medication is used,” Campbell said.

The reaction in hospice to physician-assisted death varies from one national organization to another, from one agency to another, from one worker to another. There is little consistency to many complex questions about how, whether, and when hospice workers will get involved as individuals they care for make this choice. Approaches can range from outright opposition to non-participation or non-interference.

In recent years it’s become even more difficult as assisted-death has become politicized, Campbell said. Even the words used in describing the serious issues involved are emotionally-charged and inherently contentious, the researchers noted in their report, making reference to legislation that embraced “ending life in a humane and dignified manner” while working its way around such topics as “suicide, assisted suicide, mercy killing and homicide.”

Somewhat caught in the middle, and caring for the people who are affected by those laws, are the hospice workers with marginal guidance and conflicted reactions, researchers said.

“The conventional approach to the question of legalized physician-assisted death . . . has missed the issue of how the requirements of a new law are carried out by the primary caregiving institution, hospice care,” the researchers wrote in their report.

The OSU research offered no simple solutions to this issue, but rather outlined a broad list of questions that could form the basis for more informed discussions – either among hospice providers, the organizations they work for or the general public.

These includes such topics as the hospice mission, patient access to information, questions about legal options, how to discuss emotional or religious factors, response to specific patient requests, documentation of conversations, responsibility to the patient’s family, and many other issues.

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Courtney Campbell, 541-737-6196

Categories: Research news

OSU Vet Med dean accepts job on East Coast

OSU News Releases - Thu, 07/18/2013 - 3:17pm
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – Cyril Clarke, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University since May of 2007, announced his resignation on Thursday to accept a position on the East Coast.

Clarke will become dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine effective Oct. 1.

Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president, praised Clarke for his leadership in growing the state’s only veterinary program.

“His leadership has enabled the College of Veterinary Medicine to grow the veterinary teaching hospital, increase the research infrastructure, expand the college’s partnership with the Oregon Humane Society, and advance collaborative research and graduate education initiatives in the Division of Health Sciences,” Randhawa said. “We wish him the best in the next phase of his career.”

During Clarke’s tenure as dean, the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine also went through a $12 million expansion of Magruder Hall, increased its student enrollment and faculty, and significantly expanded the Veterinary Teaching Hospital clinical service.

Randhawa said he would appoint an interim dean during the next several weeks and launch a national search for Clarke’s replacement.

Clarke, who was educated in South Africa, spent 20 years at Oklahoma State University prior to coming to Oregon State.

College of Veterinary Medicine Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Sabah Randhawa, 541-737-2111

Cyril Clarke, 541-737-0811

Categories: Research news

OSU student discovers floating tsunami dock on video one year later…

OSU News Releases - Thu, 07/18/2013 - 2:47pm
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A year after a cement dock from Japan washed ashore near Newport, Ore., an Oregon State University graduate student discovered video of the dock floating by Yaquina Head.

NEWPORT, Ore. – Oregon State University graduate student Cheryl Horton was meticulously scanning year-old video of a bird colony off Yaquina Head near Newport, Ore., last month when she noticed a strange object drifting by in the background.

Closer examination confirmed that the grainy, distant floating object captured on her research camera was the dock that washed ashore at Agate Beach in early June of 2012, some 15 months after a devastating earthquake and tsunami ripped it loose from its mooring in Misawa, Japan. In the weeks after it landed on the Oregon beach, the cement dock became a tourist attraction and drew attention from news media worldwide.

Her discovery came one year almost to the day that the dock landed on Agate Beach, bringing mystique – and potentially invasive species – to Oregon from Japan. It is the only known video of the dock during its trans-Pacific Ocean journey. It can be viewed at: http://bit.ly/112zAzb

“We’ve been behind analyzing our footage and had gone through video of common murre colonies at Cape Meares in the north and Coquille Point in the south,” said Horton, a master’s candidate in fisheries and wildlife at OSU. “But we got so busy that we didn’t get around to looking at the central coast data until this June. Then it was, ‘whoa – what is that?’”

“That” was the dock, which measured seven feet tall, was some 19 feet wide by 66 feet long, and weighed an estimated 188 tons. On camera, floating in the water, it looks much smaller – almost like a log. It takes about three minutes for the concrete dock to drift past the camera, slowly riding the current from north to south.

The discovery is more of a curiosity than anything, though OSU researchers have examined the video for clues that may tell them a bit more about the direction and speed the dock may have traveled – at least in the days before it beached.

Horton is sharing the video with others and is again focusing on her research on common murres, a species that increasingly is being preyed upon by bald eagles along the Oregon coast, as well as by “secondary” predators including gulls and pelicans.

“It was kind of fun to discover the dock video and share it with others,” she said. “Everyone has been pretty excited about it.”

A portion of the dock is on display at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, where Horton and major professor Rob Suryan are based. Horton also is mentored by Katie Dugger, another fisheries and wildlife faculty member on the OSU campus.

Horton is the second fisheries and wildlife student in recent years to make an accidental scientific discovery via camera.  In 2008, graduate student Katie Moriarty captured an image of a rare wolverine on camera in the Tahoe National Forest. It was the first sighting of a wolverine in California in nearly 75 years.

Hatfield Marine Science Center Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Cheryl Horton, 845-548-2187; hortonc@onid.orst.edu

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Cheryl Horton

 

Link to Video:

http://bit.ly/112zAzb

Categories: Research news

OSU hotline opens for food preservation questions

OSU News Releases - Wed, 07/17/2013 - 8:22am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – As interest grows in preserving produce, the Oregon State University Extension Service is offering its summer food preservation and safety hotline for queries on testing pressure canner gauges, ensuring jam sets properly and preparing tomato salsa.

The hotline at 1-800-354-7319 runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from July 15 to Oct. 11.

Extension-certified Master Food Preserver volunteers from Lane and Douglas counties take the calls.

More young people ages 25-40 are becoming are interested in local food and taking OSU Extension's Master Food Preserver training, said Nellie Oehler, the master food preserver coordinator in Lane County.  

"There's a whole new generation coming up that wants to know how we did it in the old days and wants to go back to the land and back to the basics," she said.

Oehler emphasized that proper techniques must be used to ensure canned foods are high quality and safe to eat. The hotline is one of several resources, including publications and classes, which OSU Extension offers on food safety.

Master Food Preservers who staff the hotline must undergo 40 hours of training. They educate the public about safe food handling and preservation over the phone and at workshops and exhibits. Last year, 374 new and veteran master food preservers throughout the state contributed 23,150 volunteer hours.

Master Food Preservers answered 3,425 calls during the 2012 summer season. About 80 percent dealt with food safety questions, Oehler said.

For more information about the Master Food Preserver Program, go to http://bit.ly/OSU_FoodPreservation and http://extension.oregonstate.edu/fch/food-safety. OSU Extension's Ask an Expert service also takes online questions about food preservation at http://bit.ly/OSU_AskAnExpert. Additionally, Master Food Preservers run a holiday food safety hotline every November. 

Extension Service Media Contact:  Denise Ruttan Source: 

Nellie Oehler, 541-868-6897

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Michele Pryse, a master food preserver trained by the Oregon State University Extension Service, teaches food preservation techniques in the Medford area. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Categories: Research news

Stone named head of engineering school

OSU News Releases - Tue, 07/16/2013 - 3:45pm
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Rob Stone will become the permanent head of the School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering in the OSU College of Engineering.

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Rob Stone, a professor in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University, will lead its School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering after serving as the interim head.

Stone will manage one of the largest engineering schools at OSU, which includes 1,600 undergraduate students, 200 graduate students, 38 full-time faculty and 14 full-time staff.

“Rob is committed to excellence in our academic programs, our research programs, our faculty and students,” said Sandra Woods, dean of OSU’s College of Engineering. “His commitment to OSU and to collaboration is a great benefit to the college and to OSU during this extraordinary period of growth.”  

Stone conducts research in the area of design theory and methodology, design knowledge archival, automated design concept generation, and biologically-inspired engineering design. He earned his doctorate in mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997 and joined the faculty at OSU in 2009.

College of Engineering Media Contact: 

Thuy Tran, 541-737-6020

Source: 

Sandra Woods, 541-737-3601

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Rob Stone

Categories: Research news

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