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Features

Bailing through the Boulder flood: One neighborhood's experience

In lieu of doing a "year in review" issue this year, EARTH asked our staff and some frequent contributors to write a short commentary on something that grabbed their attention in 2013. We gave everyone carte blanche. What follows is a collection of extremely varied, often very personal insights into how the planet impacted each individual. First up? The experience of EARTH's associate editor and her family in dealing with the Colorado floods.

18 Nov 2013

Gaming the system in the Caspian Sea: Can game theory solve a decades-old dispute?

Water-rights disputes are never easy. Whether they are over pumping from aquifers shared among adjacent landowners, allocation of resources at the municipal, county or state level, or division of a river or lake shared between neighboring countries, there is an inevitable push and pull among stakeholders over who gets what and how much. In the end, resolutions tend to be compromises — often meted out by governing authorities — which, while not ideal from any one party’s standpoint, appeal to the desire of the group for stability over strife.

20 Oct 2013

Caspian Sea: Negotiation Support System

To supplement their efforts at modeling the Caspian conflict using game theory and, potentially, to aid the five littoral countries as they continue to negotiate over how to govern and apportion the sea and its resources, Kaveh Madani, a civil engineer at the University of Central Florida, and his colleagues have developed a computer model dubbed the Caspian Sea Negotiation Support System (NSS).

20 Oct 2013

Energy storage brings a renewable energy future one step closer

Renewable energy sources promise to address many of the energy challenges facing society: They derive power from inexhaustible supplies of sunlight and wind and have the capability to meet a substantial portion of global electricity demands without adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. However, renewable power supplies must first overcome one inherent drawback: variability.

29 Sep 2013

Think differently: renewable hydrogen generation

Most of the existing solutions for renewable energy storage represent riffs on our current energy infrastructure. They are either inherent to existing fuel sources (concentrated solar power), or linked directly to the grid (flywheels, pumped storage and compressed air energy storage). But what if the future looks radically different from today, as history has often shown it can? What if the future of energy is based on hydrogen produced by renewable energy sources?

29 Sep 2013

A hurricane by any other name: How Sandy changed the way we issue storm warnings

As last year's Superstorm Sandy bore down on the Northeast, storm watchers could tell it would be worse than anything seen in decades, but the storm warnings were missed by many. One disconnect came from strict protocols about how federal agencies issue warnings. Since the devastating storm, federal officials have been revising their protocols to avoid a repeat situation. Will it be enough?

13 Sep 2013

Building resource corridors in Afghanistan: A solution to an interminable war?

Afghanistan has been ravaged by decades-long conflicts that have left it economically depressed, but the country also holds a potentially huge natural resource base. Some estimates have put the value of the resources — copper, gold, coal, oil, gas, industrial minerals, rare earth minerals and more — between $1 trillion and $3 trillion.

02 Sep 2013

Digitizing Earth: Developing a cyberinfrastructure for the geosciences

That geoscientists are notorious hoarders should come as no surprise. After all, geoscientists collect and study nothing less than Earth itself. Over the last four decades, massive amounts of digital data have begun streaming in from a growing number of satellites and sensors unceasingly monitoring the earth, atmosphere and oceans. Geoscientists are awash in data and, at the same time, have access to ever-increasing computing power. Together, these advances have precipitated fundamental changes in the way earth science is done, leading to the proliferation of computer-based data visualization and modeling — especially 3-D and 4-D modeling.

18 Aug 2013

Rescuing data from the dark

Along with the proliferation of techniques and technologies to deal with Big Data — the large volumes of data coming in from global sensors and satellites that can require supercomputers to crunch — geoscientists are also addressing the collection and integration of what could be termed small (or mainstream) data.

14 Aug 2013

Travels in Geology: Journeying through Cuba's geology and culture

It’s not every day that you get the chance to go to Cuba, so when I found out that the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) was offering an organized trip there in March 2013, I jumped at the opportunity. The excursion — nearly two weeks of exploration of our southern neighbor’s geology and culture — did not disappoint.

28 Jul 2013

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