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"The Himalaya Connection": Telling a story of geoscientific exploration on film

A filmmaker describes the triumphs and travails of six trips to Asia to capture footage and interviews for a forthcoming PBS documentary about the Himalayas and the earth scientists who are working to protect the region’s inhabitants from natural hazards. |
14 Jun 2017

Travels in Geology: Tracking African animals and deranged drainages across the Kalahari

The Okavango Delta, a major river delta in the middle of the dry Kalahari, and thundering Victoria Falls, a day’s drive away, may seem unrelated. But to a geologist, they are inextricably linked by hydrologic changes that have swept across southern Africa in response to subtle tectonic movements and major Pleistocene climate fluctuations.
12 Jun 2017

Getting there and getting around Kalahari

There are three gateway cities to the Kalahari, all of which are at least a day’s drive from the Okavango Delta. Although it’s the farthest (about 12 hours away), the O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg, South Africa, is the region’s largest and often has the best airfares and car-rental rates. Two closer alternatives, each about an eight-hour drive away, are Botswana’s Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (GBE) in Gaborone and Namibia’s Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) in Windhoek. Maun (MUB) is Botswana’s primary tourist hub and the delta’s main service town. Most accommodations there provide a free minibus transfer from the airport.

12 Jun 2017

When and how did plate tectonics begin on Earth?

Earth’s surface is a shifting puzzle of plates that collide and diverge, generating earthquakes, fueling volcanoes, opening ocean basins and raising mountain ranges. But when and how did this process — unique in our solar system as far as we know — begin? 
22 May 2017

An economic argument for reframing the geoscientist's role in disaster mitigation

Geoscientists don’t often weigh in on the long-term societal implications of the natural disasters they study — but perhaps they should. Thinking about disasters in the same way economists do might help them do more good.
14 May 2017

Travels in Geology: Geo-diversity and geologic history in the North West Highlands of Scotland

The complex rocks of the North West Highlands of Scotland —which span two-thirds of Earth’s history — include the oldest rocks in the United Kingdom, as well as some young, glacially sculpted landscapes. They also hold a prominent place in the history of geology.
09 May 2017

Neonicotinoids: Prominent pesticides escape into the environment

Three decades after neonicotinoids, a widely used class of pesticides, were first introduced, a far more complex understanding of their distribution, abundance and persistence in the environment — as well as their effects on nontarget species like bees — is emerging. 
14 Apr 2017

Shale boom could fuel batteries

Independent energy trends — namely a shale revolution and a push toward electronic vehicles — are connected in nonobvious but synergistic ways. In fact, the shale revolution may be a helpful partner for the electric vehicle industry.
09 Apr 2017

Of airplanes and ash clouds: What we've learned since Eyjafjallajökull

The havoc created when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull Volcano erupted in 2010 and closed trans-Atlantic and northern European airspace for days also created research opportunities. Scientists, engineers and the airline industry have been working together to figure out how to keep the aviation system going when volcanic ash can’t be avoided.
02 Apr 2017

Warning: Ash Ahead!

One of the next-generation tactics being pursued by engineers is the use of ash-sensing equipment installed on airplanes that could warn of an ash cloud ahead and allow pilots time to adjust their flight path to avoid the cloud. “If you’re driving a car and you see a hazard up ahead, you can navigate around it,” says Fred Prata of the University of Oxford in England. “Every aircraft has radar equipment with which [pilots] can see weather systems and fly around them. This is the same concept, but adapted to image volcanic ash.”

02 Apr 2017

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