Picture it: Dozens of kilometers off the coast of Texas, a giant polygon-shaped cage constructed of steel ribs and mesh netting floats 30 or so meters beneath the waves. The cage, moored to the seafloor, is filled with tens of thousands of teeming, silvery fish. Several kilometers away, offshore wind turbines sprout from the sea surface in a curving line, their spindly white arms churning the atmosphere.
On a clear day in November 2007, the governor of Georgia held an unusual public vigil. Before the doors of his state capitol, Gov. Sonny Perdue bowed his head, took his wife’s hand and prayed for rain.
Some called it a stunt. Others admired the gesture. Above all, one thing was clear: Northern Georgia was facing its worst drought in 100 years, and there was no easy fix. It would take unprecedented statewide efforts to save Georgia from ruin.
The Mississippi River Delta is arguably the most geologically (and politically) dynamic delta in the United States. Subsidence, sedimentation, sea-level change and human manipulation constantly alter the landscape at the end of North America’s longest river. But now, researchers say, the beloved delta may be irrevocably shrinking.
With a global economic slowdown and growing environmental concerns, it is worthwhile to take a look at the future and think about how we can better manage development relative to society, natural ecosystems, climate and energy. These global issues can be viewed through the lens of the Mississippi Delta.
Although winter in the Northern Hemisphere does not technically begin for another month, snowfalls and icy conditions are already making driving hazardous. When winter weather strikes, most states spread salt to clear roadways. However, more and more studies are showing that salt has lasting environmental repercussions, which may force a winter roadway maintenance overhaul. But if not salt, then what?
Usually, NASA hopes its space probes land safely at their destinations. This morning, the agency was planning for a big explosion on the moon — all in the hopes of confirming the presence of water on our nearest neighbor.
Today, the surface of Venus is a hellhole, seared by scorching temperatures, crushing pressures and a toxic atmosphere of carbon dioxide with occasional clouds of sulfuric acid. But evidence is mounting that billions of years ago, Earth’s evil twin planet was a much more pleasant place — a second blue marble covered by water. The latest data come from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express spacecraft, which has spent three years constructing a detailed map of the surface of the planet’s southern hemisphere and finding new evidence for Earth-like plate tectonics and a watery past.
At first glance, it seems like an obvious solution to a problem: Villagers need vegetables and an aid organization has money to buy tools and seeds. Striving to create a sustainable program, the aid organization develops a training plan to teach the villagers how to garden, invests in local workshops, and purchases tools to distribute to the participants. All plans seem in order and the project is poised for success. However, the project’s managers encounter the first of potentially many obstacles when they realize that shovels are impossible to use if you don’t have shoes.
Predicting the weather has been central to human civilization since the Babylonians started studying cloud patterns in 650 B.C. The key to weather predictions is making correct assumptions. Today, instruments like Doppler radar that measure rainfall work under the assumption that raindrops fall at their terminal velocity. A new study, however, shows that some raindrops fall faster than they should, indicating rainfall instruments — and by extension, weather forecasts — may need some tweaking.
Ravaged by war, drought and natural hazards such as earthquakes and landslides, Afghanistan’s people face many challenges. But the country also has untapped resources — great natural beauty , deep supplies of groundwater and a vast mineral wealth, including coal, gems like emeralds and metals like copper and iron.
Last year’s hurricane season was not kind to Haiti. First, tropical storms Fay, Gustav and Hanna hit the Caribbean nation; then Hurricane Ike pummeled the island, flooding much of the country, wrecking roads and bridges and leaving Haitians desperate for food, water and other basics. To help the battered country, the United States sent hundreds of metric tons of supplies and hygiene kits aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge. The Navy deployed helicopters, landing craft and personnel to help local residents. And they brought in thousands of gallons of freshwater.
Craig Beasley’s one-year term as president of the Society for Exploration Geophysicists had a challenging start. After about two months in office, a magnitude-9-plus earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra on Dec. 26, 2004, triggering a powerful tsunami that killed more than 225,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
SEG members wanted to help, but did not know how to contribute their expertise. “I could encourage members to donate money and time, but how does that distinguish a contribution from SEG from what people would normally do?” Beasley says.
The billions of tons of coal that miners extracted from Pennsylvania’s ground over the past two centuries have long gone up in smoke, but their legacy lives on in the state’s rivers and waterways. Nasty discharge — often with sky-high metal concentrations — from thousands of abandoned coal mines has been polluting Pennsylvania’s streams and groundwater.
Since the downfall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraqis and scientists from around the world have been working hard to restore Iraq’s once-lush marshes. But after several years of measurable improvement, drought and competition over limited water supplies threaten to reverse this progress. Those working on the marshes are confident that the marshes can come back — but whether the people who rely on these wetlands for their livelihood will be as resilient remains to be seen.
In 1702, Francis Chadsey and his family bought 200 hectares of meadow and upland on the banks of the Brandywine Creek in southeastern Pennsylvania. Within a year, he built a mill for grinding wheat, oats and barley. Like other landowners in the region, Chadsey also built a small dam on the creek. He most likely used local stone to erect the 2.5- to 3.5-meter-high structure, behind which a small pond sprang up. From the pond, a conduit carried water that spilled over a wheel to produce power to run the mill.
Have you ever thought about using your urine to fertilize your tomatoes and cucumbers? Full of nutrients like phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen, urine can work wonders in your garden. How about composting your feces — packed with rich organic matter just waiting to be decomposed — to help your rose bushes and oak trees grow? If you don’t use feces for composting, then it could be a source of natural gas and hydrogen for use as an alternative energy supply. Or perhaps you would be more comfortable with the thought of reusing the water you wash your clothes in to flush your toilets?
HOUSTON – The Geological Society of America’s joint meeting kicked off Sunday, beginning a week filled with thousands of presentations on soil science, atmospheric science, education and evolution, paleontological discoveries, energy issues and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike — made particularly poignant by the Houston, Texas, setting.