Environment

environment

"Greening" stormwater in Philadelphia

When environmental geologist David Wilcots joined Sci-Tek Consultants in 2014, he became involved with the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure project. Sci-Tek’s goal was to redesign certain areas of the city’s urban landscape so that “less stormwater goes into the sewage system” and more goes into the ground, explains Wilcots. 

29 May 2018

Down to Earth With: Geologist and paleontologist David Wilcots

When David Wilcots was 4 years old, his parents took him to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City where he encountered his first giant dinosaur skeleton: a roughly 27-meter-long sauropod named Apatosaurus (though at the time it was still popularly known as Brontosaurus). “That just blew my mind,” he remembers. His passion for paleontology grew, branching from dinosaurs into early mammals, and led him to major in geology at Temple University in Philadelphia. In 1988, he earned a master’s in geology at Fort Hays State University in Kansas. But then, things didn’t go as planned. “When I got out of grad school, I looked for jobs in paleo, but couldn’t find any,” he recalls. “Environmental geology was the next best thing.” He began consulting with business and government agencies, and as time went on, his second choice of career grew on him.

29 May 2018

When more humidity means less water

Scientists have long assumed that temperature is the main control on melting of winter snowpacks across the mountainous western United States. In a recent study, however, scientists suggest that regional humidity may have a larger impact than temperature.

16 May 2018

Comment: To intervene or not to intervene: Improving the environment

Are science and technology enemies of the environment, or can they help us effectively and sustainably manage it?

08 Dec 2016

Benchmarks: April 22, 1995: GLOBE is launched

Studying the global environment requires collecting numerous detailed observations. And although it may seem today like we’re awash in such data, relevant observations — collected at the right time and place — are often unavailable. For example, scientists studying precipitation must rely on just a handful of sampling stations: All of the world’s raingages gathered together would only cover an area the size of two basketball courts.

22 Apr 2016

Wedge approach proposed to lower water stress

Roughly 30 percent of the global population — or about 2.2 billion people — lives in water-stressed parts of the world, where high freshwater withdrawals endanger ecosystems, agriculture and drinking-water supplies. If current population and water usage trends persist, this fraction could rise to about one-half by the century’s end. In a recent study, researchers — taking a page from the climate-change mitigation literature — have proposed a “wedge” approach to address global water stress, laying out how various tactics could ease the growing problem.

22 Apr 2015

New tracers can identify fracking fluids

Hydraulic fracturing to harvest natural gas has been controversial due in large part to the potential for contamination of ground and surface waters by the pressurized fluids used to force open cracks in deep shale formations and by the so-called flowback fluids that re-emerge at the surface from fracking wells. Now, researchers have developed a geochemical method of tracing fracking fluids in the environment; it’s a tool that could be used to identify hazardous spills in the future and may lead to better use and disposal of fracking wastewater.

01 Feb 2015

The Chesapeake Bay gets some good news

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is the largest on the Atlantic seaboard, encompassing most of Maryland and Virginia, along with parts of Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. More than 150 rivers flow into the system, carrying pollution and nutrient runoff from a 160,000-square-kilometer area into the bay ecosystem. A new study tracking long-term effects of the Clean Air Act has some good news about the often-poor water quality in some areas of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, but the overall picture may be complicated by hydrology.

02 Apr 2014

Neutralizing the rain: After much success in the battle against acid rain, challenges remain

Every Tuesday at 9 a.m., Dave Warner collects water from a white plastic 3.5-gallon tub that sits on a strip of tall grass between two cornfields at the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead, Neb. For more than 30 years, the bucket has collected all forms of precipitation — from hail to rain to snow — to be analyzed for nitric and sulfur oxides, the main components of acid rain.

21 Jun 2012

Voices: Making tough decisions in a changing climate

World leaders are beginning to realize that planning for and adapting to our changing climate must become a priority of national governments. But what does that mean, in practical terms, for planning and policymaking, and for the day-to-day business of government? Do standard decision-making practices need to change? If so, how?

07 May 2012

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