Taxonomy term

Features

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

Getting there and getting around in Cuba

Because of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, U.S. citizens must go through a travel agency licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department that provides “people-to-people” travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens. Because booking with this type of travel agency is required, the U.S. State Department’s website on visiting Cuba is a great place to start: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1097.html.

28 Jul 2013

Mapping field camp's past and present: Exploring a mainstay of geoscience education

Every spring, troops of geoscience students set out to observe firsthand the minerals, rocks, folds, faults, unconformities, ore bodies and other features that populate the geological landscape. And by this time each summer, they (and the instructors brave enough to have accompanied them) have mostly returned home, sporting unkempt hair and sun-tanned limbs. These students — after putting knowledge and skills learned over several years to the test — are the latest group to have survived the rigors of geology’s enduring rite of passage: field camp.

22 Jul 2013

Home sweet home for field campers

With a few exceptions — including available meal choices and entertainment options for when students have limited free time — accommodations at today’s field camps haven’t changed all that much, at least in the last few decades. Depending on the camp, however, lodging ranges from log cabins to college dorms to motels to the occasional traveling camps that still live and work out of “tent cities.”

22 Jul 2013

Location, Location, Location

Although field camps based east of the Mississippi River do exist, and a handful of American schools run camps abroad in places like Ireland, Italy and parts of Africa, the vast majority of camps in the U.S. are still  conducted out West. From the Black Hills and the Great Plains, across the Rockies and other mountain ranges, to the Desert Southwest, the western U.S. offers much in the way of beautifully exposed outcrops, distinctive landscapes and transects through long stretches of geologic time.

22 Jul 2013

The energy-water nexus: Managing water in an energy-constrained world

Water can be tricky. With too little, crops die, industries move away, power plants fail, ecosystems suffer and people go thirsty. With too much, floods ruin infrastructure, destroy crops, spread waterborne diseases, and disrupt flows of clean water, wastewater, power and transportation. We want water at the right time and in the right place because moving and storing water require effort. We also want it at the right quality and the right temperature. If we had unlimited clean energy at our disposal, we could desalinate the ocean, providing enough potable water for everyone, everywhere. Energy provides a constraining factor on the world’s management of water issues; likewise, water is a constraining factor on the world’s energy supply. This interdependence is the energy-water nexus and the way we manage the delicate relationship between energy and water will have major implications for the future of both critical resources.

30 Jun 2013

Droning on for science

Unmanned aerial vehicles take off in geosciences research

Despite some controversy, scientists whose work involves imaging, monitoring or otherwise investigating the outdoor world have gradually been turning to unmanned aircraft in recent years, touting drones’ versatility, affordability and safety compared to manned flights. The possibilities for drones in the natural sciences are almost boundless.

13 Jun 2013

The past is key to the future: Historical observations strengthen modern science

 

Written records of natural phenomena come from personal journals and diaries, newspaper accounts, ship logs and government documents, among other sources. Such accounts often offer descriptive details and context that cannot be matched by other methods, and they can prove extremely useful in broadening records both temporally and geographically. Given that they predate the sort of widespread instrumental readings that scientists have come to depend on, sometimes there is simply — and literally — no substitute for historical data. Despite their advantages, historical records are used infrequently in modern physical sciences. That may be changing, however.

29 May 2013

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