Taxonomy term

may 2013

The past is key to the future: Historical observations strengthen modern science


Written records of natural phenomena come from personal journals and diaries, newspaper accounts, ship logs and government documents, among other sources. Such accounts often offer descriptive details and context that cannot be matched by other methods, and they can prove extremely useful in broadening records both temporally and geographically. Given that they predate the sort of widespread instrumental readings that scientists have come to depend on, sometimes there is simply — and literally — no substitute for historical data. Despite their advantages, historical records are used infrequently in modern physical sciences. That may be changing, however.

29 May 2013

Getting There and Getting Around Utah

Moab is well worth the effort required to get there. Direct daily flights to Moab’s tiny Canyonlands Field airport are offered through Great Lakes Airlines. Because a car is necessary to tour the area, a less expensive, though more time-consuming, option is to fly into one of the larger regional airports — Salt Lake City (a four-hour drive), Denver (six hours), or Grand Junction, Colo. (1.5 hours) — rent a car, and then enjoy the scenic drive to Moab.

24 May 2013

Road biking in Moab

Moab, Utah, is often called a mecca for mountain bikers. What fewer people know is that Moab is also home to some of the most spectacular road biking in the world. 

24 May 2013

Travels in Geology: Slickrock sojourn in Moab, Utah

Remember the scene in the beginning of “Mission Impossible 2” where Tom Cruise dangles from a cliff face high above a red rock canyon, hanging on by one hand? That’s Moab. Remember the cliff that Thelma and Louise drove off at the end of their on-screen adventure? That’s Moab. Remember the slot canyon in which James Franco got stuck in “127 Hours”? That’s Moab — or nearby anyway.

24 May 2013

N.E.O.N.: Studying critical ecological issues on a continental scale

NEON, the National Ecological Observatory Network, is one of the most extensive ecology projects ever undertaken. Program scientists — along with members of the public — will examine critical ecological issues across North America, including the effects of climate change, invasive species, droughts, fires and floods.

22 May 2013

Energy Notes: January 2012-2013

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit

19 May 2013

Scripps launches Twitter carbon dioxide-meter

Back in January 2013, it became clear to Ralph Keeling, a scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who studies carbon dioxide, that sometime in the not-too-distant future, the concentration of this potent greenhouse gas in Earth’s atmosphere would creep above 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history.

17 May 2013

Down to Earth With: James Balog

Photographer James Balog is known for his groundbreaking environmental photography that examines intersections of humans and nature. His work has appeared in publications ranging from National Geographic and Smithsonian to Audubon and The New Yorker. He has also authored eight books, including the recently released “Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers,” and he has been honored with dozens of awards, including the Heinz Award and PhotoMedia’s Person of the Year.

17 May 2013

Bare Earth Elements: Cool time-lapse shows movement of ice and animals in Antarctica's Ross Sea

Has anyone else been obsessed with Antarctica lately? As an erstwhile scientist with a lasting interest in the life that inhabits what we think of as extreme environments (not to mention the physical environments themselves), I’ve been gleefully soaking up details from the myriad news reports, blog entries and scientific studies coming out of the icy continent of late. The latest bit of fodder for my Antarctophilia is a 5-minute time-lapse video (below) taken from the icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer during a recent two-month stint in the Ross Sea.

14 May 2013