Taxonomy term

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 ( 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

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

Tsunamis from the sky: Can meteotsunamis be forecast?

The Great Lakes, along with the U.S. East Coast, the Mediterranean, Japan and many other parts of the world, have a long history of mysterious large waves striking unsuspecting coastlines. Such waves have characteristics similar to tsunamis triggered by earthquakes or landslides. Only recently, however, have scientists unraveled how a storm can create and propagate these far-traveling waves — called meteorological tsunamis or meteotsunamis. 

19 Feb 2014

A history of tsunami-like waves on the Great Lakes

Severe and deadly seiche events are rare on the Great Lakes. In the last century, about 10 major waves have hit the shores of the Great Lakes, but smaller anomalous waves occur much more frequently. Many of the deadliest have occurred on Lake Michigan, but Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie have also experienced them. In addition to the June 26, 1954, event, some others were: 

18 Feb 2014

A tsunami by many other names

Storm-triggered waves have been recognized and recorded around the world, including the U.S. where, in addition to the Great Lakes, they have occurred in New England, on the West Coast and on the Gulf Coast. In some parts of the world, they are common enough to have special names. In Croatia, the phenomenon is called Šćiga; in Malta, it is Milghuba; in Spain, Rissaga; in Japan, Abiki; and in Finland, Seebär. Scientists everywhere call them meteorological tsunamis, or meteotsunamis. Here are a few notable occurrences:

18 Feb 2014