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april 2012

IceGoat: The next generation

One source of young talent to carry the military’s proposals and technologies into the future will come from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where Lt. Cmdr. John Woods, an oceanography professor, specializes in sea-ice studies. Woods recently launched a polar science program, supported by the academy’s STEM Office, which he hopes will convey to students an understanding of sea-ice dynamics — how ice is thinning and what’s causing it to thin.

16 Apr 2012

Voices: Defending science: The link between creationism and climate change

What do creationists and climate change deniers have in common? Over the past few years, this riddle has been on our minds a lot at the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit that has fought for more than a quarter-century to defend the teaching of evolution in the public schools. Now, we’re expanding to defend the teaching of climate change — and with it, science in general.

30 Apr 2012

Mobile mapping with lidar hits the road

About a decade ago, Light Detection and Ranging technology, also known as lidar, burst onto the geoscience scene. The tool was quickly adopted by researchers, from archaeologists and geomorphologists to seismologists and atmospheric scientists.

By mounting lasers and detection and positioning instruments on an airplane or satellite, researchers could map everything from Mayan ruins lost beneath thick jungle canopies to erosion along shorelines to the structure of particulate plumes emitted from power plants to the topography of entire countries.

26 Apr 2012

Managing the seismic risk posed by wastewater disposal

From an earthquake perspective, 2011 was a remarkable year. While the devastation accompanying the magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake that occurred off the coast of Japan on March 11 still captures attention worldwide, the relatively stable interior of the U.S. was struck by a somewhat surprising number of small-to-moderate earthquakes that were widely felt. Most of these were natural events, the types of earthquakes that occur from time to time in all intraplate regions.

17 Apr 2012

U.S. Navy navigates a sea change in the Arctic

Arctic sea ice is already significantly declining in both extent and thickness, and impacts of the decline are evident. New shipping lanes in the Northwest Passage have been passable for ship traffic during summer months for the last two years, and an increasingly accessible Arctic is attracting increased interest. Shipping companies, entrepreneurs, scientists and tourists, however, are not the only ones looking north; militaries around the world, including the U.S. Navy, also have an interest. To that end, the Navy has created a task force and employed a corps of geoscientists to help develop a roadmap for expected future Arctic operations.

16 Apr 2012

Blogging On EARTH: Wisconsin’s microquake mystery

On the list of earthquake-prone states, Wisconsin does not rank highly. Yes, occasionally, America’s Dairyland is subjected to light rumbles emanating from its neighbor to the south, Illinois. But Wisconsin is hardly where you’d expect to find much excitement, let alone fear, over the possibility of homegrown seismic activity. And yet, that's exactly what happened a few weeks ago, when hundreds of people in Clintonville, Wis. began dialing 911 with reports that their homes were being inexplicably shaken overnight by terrifying booms.

11 Apr 2012

Blogging on EARTH: Congress considers severe weather policy options

It doesn’t take a geoscientist to know that severe weather impacts our lives. Tornadoes, hurricanes, windstorms, solar storms, droughts … the list goes on.

04 Apr 2012

The trouble with tornado tracking

Tornadoes and hurricanes may have swirling destruction in common, but when it comes to forecasting, the storms could not be more different. Due to their large size and longevity, hurricanes can be tracked for weeks in advance. Tornadoes, on the other hand, are relatively small and short-lived. Even with today’s advanced tracking technology, communities in a twister’s path often only get a few minutes’ warning.

02 Apr 2012

Foretelling next month’s tornadoes

Tornadoes are notoriously difficult to forecast, with often deadly results: In 2011, tornadoes in the U.S. killed more than 550 people, a higher death toll than in the past 10 years combined. Now a new study of short-term climate trends offers a new approach to tornado forecasting that may give people in tornado-prone regions as much as a month of forewarning that twisters may soon be descending.

02 Apr 2012

La Niña could set the stage for flu pandemics

In 1918, the Spanish flu spread around the world, claiming between 50 million and 100 million lives — more than 3 percent of the world’s population. The previous fall and winter, La Niña had brought cooler-than-normal sea-surface temperatures to the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. More recently in 2009, swine flu swept across the planet. Again, the widespread outbreak was preceded by La Niña conditions. This link might be more than coincidental, according to new research, and could lead to improved predictions of future pandemics.

26 Mar 2012

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