Environment

environment

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

Voices: Log off and get outside again

I began this column while meandering across the West just after Labor Day last year. We drove from Telluride, Colo., to Zion National Park in Utah, to Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border, and finally to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

06 Jan 2011

Blogging on Earth: Driveway sealants add PAHs to environment

Winter is hard on asphalt: Water that seeps into tiny cracks freezes and expands, breaking the asphalt apart. That’s why homeowners and business owners across the U.S. use sealants to protect their driveways and parking lots.

16 Dec 2010

Greening the friendly skies

If you’re a frequent flyer, the script of plane travel is probably so familiar you may mumble it along with the flight attendant: “Please raise your tray tables and return your seatbacks to their full upright position. We’re beginning our descent.” The sounds of that descent are probably just as familiar: The whir of landing gear descending, the loud drone of engine power rising and falling as the plane makes a series of stair-step descents to lower and lower altitudes before landing on the runway.

02 Nov 2010

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