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february 2014

Getting there and getting around Kentucky's Red River Gorge

Entry to Daniel Boone National Forest and the Red River Gorge is free. The nearest airports are in Lexington and Louisville, Ky., both about an hour away by car. Cincinnati is two hours away. Having a car is a must for getting to and driving around the Red. 
 
04 Feb 2016

Harvesting fog could bring water to millions

In northern Chile, as in many other parts of the world, freshwater is a limited commodity, but heavy fogs are a regular occurrence. For at least two decades, people in such areas have turned to fine mesh nets to harvest moisture from fog, but to date the nets have never been terribly efficient. Now, new research could greatly improve the nets’ efficiency, increasing the amount of water they’re able to capture.

14 Mar 2014

Travels in Geology: Walking toward Whitney: A journey through the Sierra High Country along the John Muir Trail

The hike to Mount Whitney traverses uninterrupted wilderness through three national parks — Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite — as well as national wilderness areas such as the Ansel Adams Wilderness and 13 different river drainages over which the ecosystems and geology continually shift. The trail brings you views of the imposing Ritter Range, the columnar-jointed basalt of Devils Postpile, red cinder cones and Yosemite’s iconic exfoliated domes. It’s not for the faint of heart (or the weak-kneed), but if you can make time for it, it’s a trip you’ll never forget.

05 Mar 2014

Benchmarks: March 27, 1964: The Good Friday Alaska Earthquake and Tsunamis

During the Cold War, many Americans lived in fear of the day their town would be shaken by an atomic bomb blast. On Good Friday 1964, some Alaskans thought that day had come. Beginning at 5:36 p.m., intense ground shaking continued for almost five minutes as the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America struck 22.5 kilometers beneath Prince William Sound, where the Pacific Plate is subducting beneath the North American Plate. The shaking — felt over an area of more than 1.3 million square kilometers — was so severe and long-lived that some survivors later said they first thought the Soviet Union had dropped a nuclear bomb on Anchorage, 120 kilometers northwest of the epicenter.

27 Feb 2014

Be aware and prepare

Hiking the full 340-kilometer length of the John Muir Trail (JMT) isn’t a beginner backpacking trip. Make sure you enjoy slowly plodding up switchbacks carrying a heavy pack for days before you start out on this weeks-long trek. That said, I met a surprising number of people for whom the JMT was their first wilderness foray, and as far as I know, they all survived.

26 Feb 2014

Getting there and getting around on the John Muir Trail

The best time to hike the John Muir Trail (JMT) is late summer. To plan your own adventure, start by reading up on the trek at various websites such as the Pacific Crest Trail Association’s JMT trail site (www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/john-muir-trail/) and in guidebooks. Then, when you know when you want to go, procure your permits. To start in Yosemite, you can apply for permits through their lottery over the winter or get a permit for an alternate trailhead like we did.

26 Feb 2014

Getting There and Getting Around France

Most flights to France from the U.S. land in Paris. If you are heading directly to Provence, you can fly from Paris to Marseille-Provence Airport. Another option is France’s high-speed TGV train, which zips between the capital and Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, and Arles. 

24 Feb 2014

Southern Rhone wines

The Rhône Valley’s wine-growing regions are divided into two sections, with only its southern portion located in Provence. The Southern Rhône is best known for distinctively spicy red wines, the result of producing extremely low yields from very old vines whose grapes’ sugar content and acidity levels are further concentrated by the region’s fierce winds. The result is unusually dense wines full of earthy flavors.

 
24 Feb 2014

Travels in Geology: A taste of Provence

Nestled among the soaring Alps, the shining Mediterranean Sea, and the historic Rhône River, Provence, France — one of the world’s foremost tourist destinations — offers visitors scenic, gourmet, and geologic delights. The region’s rugged mountains, extensive plateaus and vineyard-lined slopes result from the Alpine orogeny, the mountain-building episode that uplifted the Pyrenees and the Alps in southwestern and southeastern France. The land in between was more modestly deformed, then gradually eroded over millions of years, to create the chefs-d’oeuvre — the masterpiece — that we now call Provence.

24 Feb 2014

GPS measurements of ground inflation help forecast ash plumes

When Grimsvötn Volcano in Iceland erupted in May 2011, northern European airspace was closed for seven days and about 900 passenger flights were canceled. Scientists were charged with trying to read the volcano — to tell how high the ash plume would go and to figure out how long the violent eruption would last. Such features are hard to predict, but in a novel study, one research team has found a correlation between the height and composition of the Grimsvötn ash plume and ground deformation before and during the eruption. The findings, the team says, could improve volcanic plume dispersion models, which in turn could help air traffic managers determine when and where it’s safe to fly when volcanoes like Grimsvötn and Eyjafjallajökull suddenly erupt.

20 Feb 2014

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