Taxonomy term

december 2009

Xeriscaping: Not just rocks and cactus

“The word ‘xeriscape’ brings to mind a lot of pebbles with cacti,” says Janet Ward, public relations manager for the City of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management. “That’s not what xeriscaping is, but that’s what people think it is.” Xeriscaping is simply minimum-water landscaping. It can involve everything from stones and cacti, to sedums, drought-tolerant plants and native bushes. Indeed, a glimpse into yards in Denver, Colo., often reveals fiery blanketflowers, magenta poppy mallows and sky-blue forget-me-nots.

31 Dec 2009

Thirsty Cities: Water management in a changing environment

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.

31 Dec 2009

Where on Earth? - December 2009

Clues for December 2009:
1. Don’t let first impressions fool you: This sea stack is more than 500 meters high, among the tallest in the world.
2. The sea stack, named after a British officer who was allegedly the first to spot it in 1788, is the remnant of a shield volcano that formed about 7 million years ago. It is situated about 16 kilometers from a larger island named after a lord.

Sunlight mobilizes mercury in wetlands

Elemental mercury — whether produced naturally by volcanoes or forest fires, or released from industrial sources such as power plants — is easily volatilized into the atmosphere; from there, it can settle in aquatic settings and enter the food chain.

22 Dec 2009

Energy Notes: August 2008-2009

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit

20 Dec 2009

Blogging on EARTH: "Climategate" scientist tells his side

SAN FRANCISCO: In November, hackers broke into the e-mail server of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit and stole thousands of e-mails dating back to 1996 written by and to climate scientists. The e-mails, which were then leaked to the public, contained the typical stuff of science (and of e-mails, for that matter): amid discussions of data and theory, there was debate, confusion, flippancy, dark humor and questioning.

17 Dec 2009

Scientists find watery super-Earth

The search for Earth-like planets has never looked better. Scientists say they have discovered a water-rich planet that is only 2.7 times larger than Earth. Although positioned just outside the habitable zone for life, the planet gives scientists their best hope yet that other Earth-like planets exist in our universe.

16 Dec 2009

Geomedia: Twitter gives heads-up to users and officials about earthquakes

Twitter stirs up a wide range of reactions — it’s hailed as a vital social networking service by some, despised as the ultimate waste of time by others. But the popular online message board does possess one characteristic that is universally undeniable: speed.

15 Dec 2009

Blogging on EARTH: A proposed twist on carbon trades at AGU

SAN FRANCISCO: In the ongoing climate negotiations, one issue that keeps coming up is that developing countries should be held to the same standards as the developed world.

But that’s not quite fair, say Steven Davis and Ken Caldeira (both at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif.): Much of the carbon dioxide emitted by those developing countries goes into producing goods that are exported to the developed world — which means the developing world ends up paying for others’ consumerism. In other words, we’re outsourcing our carbon dioxide emissions.

14 Dec 2009

Mineral Resource of the Month: Diamond

Diamond is an extremely stable form of carbon: It is a material with superior physical properties due to the very strong covalent bonding between the carbon atoms. Diamond has the highest hardness and thermal conductivity of any known natural or synthesized material. In diamond, the carbon atoms are arranged in a rigid cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice — it is this lattice that blocks impurities, thus giving diamond its colorless appearance.

14 Dec 2009