ASU professor studies impact of increased sugarcane production

August 20, 2014

The growing demand for bioethanol fuel, combined with a growing demand for sugar, means that sugarcane is being grown in increasing quantities around the world.

In some countries, lands previously used for subsistence agriculture are being converted to large industrial-scale sugarcane fields. In other countries, cane fields are replacing native vegetation. sugar cane field Download Full Image

“The transition from diverse vegetation to vast fields of a single crop is likely to have many impacts,” explains ASU professor Matei Georgescu, who will be investigating these impacts as part of a team of researchers from the United Kingdom, the United States, India, Brazil, South Africa and Australia.

In addition to changes in land-use and the ecology of agricultural lands, the transition to sugarcane in some places impacts food security – the availability of food to local residents. Large-scale mono-crop agriculture can affect everything from water supplies to disease control to soil nutrient cycles.

Climate change adds another element to this picture. Rainfall variability is likely to increase, making it unreliable as a source of water for the cane fields, and increasing the demand for irrigation.

Given the complexity of the environmental and human impacts of sugarcane agriculture, one of the goals of the two-year investigation is to encourage transdisciplinary investigation. The team includes experts in agricultural systems, land use modelling, social science, climate impact assessment, rural resource economics, GIS, remote sensing and spatial modeling for decision-making.

As they work together to understand the impacts of cane production’s expansion, the researchers aim to foster a community of scientists that will continue to develop a holistic understanding of agricultural change and its social and environmental consequences.

Georgescu will bring to the group his expertise in the climate impacts of land use change. A recent project modeled regional climate changes that may be expected as Brazil increases land in sugarcane production. Georgescu is also using regional climate models in another project, seeking to identify suitable locations across the United States where perennial biomass energy crops can be grown sustainably.

“Our ongoing bioenergy-related work in the United States is a natural springboard for this current project, which is primarily focused on networking and community building in the areas undergoing these land use transitions, and which therefore require the greatest attention,” says Georgescu.

The new project will focus on Brazil, India and South Africa, where agriculture is an important cornerstone of the economy, a basis of economic growth and a significant source of livelihood. These countries are also under pressure to improve resource efficiency and increase resilience to future climate uncertainty.

The project is funded by the Belmont Forum, a group of representatives from major funding agencies across the globe, including the National Science Foundation. More information about the project is available on the Belmont Forum’s website.

Matei Georgescu is an assistant professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as well as a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

Barbara Trapido-Lurie

research professional senior, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning


Safety resources at your fingertips with new ASU LiveSafe app

August 20, 2014

Smartphone users who download the free ASU LiveSafe mobile app can now report tips to the ASU Police Department, make emergency calls and perform other functions that improve their personal safety and security.

ASU LiveSafe mobile app users can communicate anonymously with ASU Police in real-time via chat, pictures, audio and video. During times of distress, a link with an accurate GPS location can be sent to alert a LiveSafe user’s personal emergency contacts. screenshot of the ASU LiveSafe mobile app Download Full Image

Friends and family can also virtually walk an app user home. The app’s SafeWalk feature uses GPS-tagged monitoring to track an app user’s progress on a Web-based map. Once a user has reached his or her destination safely, the feature easily can be deactivated.

ASU joins schools in 16 other states and is the first university in the state of Arizona to launch a mobile app created by Virginia-based LiveSafe, which is co-founded by a Virginia Tech shooting survivor.

The LiveSafe app launch is an additional step that ASU is taking to improve the safe living, working and studying environment that the university community enjoys.

“At Arizona State University, we are committed to personal and public safety,” said Morgan R. Olsen, executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer. “As a leading research university, it is logical that we would leverage emerging technology to continue to enhance our commitment. The university's goal with LiveSafe is simple; enable individuals to report emergencies and items of concern more easily and effectively by using their smartphones."

While phone calls and written reports will still be accepted and acted upon by ASU Police, LiveSafe users can report tips in new ways and with more accurate location information.

“Expanding communication lines with the campus community is critical for our department,” said Michael Thompson, acting ASU Chief of Police. “LiveSafe makes it easier for us to respond our community’s needs, which is paramount for promoting a safer environment.”

ASU launches the LiveSafe mobile app for all smartphone users, which includes ASU staff, faculty, parents and more than 76,000 students.

“LiveSafe is committed to making the world a safer place, and we are proud to partner with institutions like Arizona State University,” said LiveSafe President & CEO, Jenny Abramson. “Technology is breaking down barriers for students to take more ownership of their campuses, to actively look out for one another and to create a safer environment to get the most out of the college experience.”

The free ASU LiveSafe mobile app can be downloaded to smartphones via Apple iTunes and Google Play stores.

1. visit Apple iTunes or Google Play stores
2. search for LiveSafe
3. download the app to your mobile device
4. select Arizona State University

ASU LiveSafe mobile app features are also accessible through the Arizona State University mobile app, which is available at Apple ITunes and Google Play stores.

The ASU LiveSafe mobile app does not replace the ASU Alert and Advisory systems. ASU Police continue to use the ASU Alert and Advisory systems to expedite messages about campus emergencies and non-life threatening events via email, SMS messages, social media and RSS feeds. Visit this Web page to learn more about ASU Alert and Advisory and how to register now.

The ASU LiveSafe mobile app does not replace 911 emergency services or any communications with local police departments.

If you have questions about the ASU LiveSafe mobile app features and functions, please visit this Web page or send an email to this ASU address.

Media contact:

Sergeant Daniel Macias,
ASU Police Department

Wendy Craft

Marketing and communications manager, Business and Finance Communications Group