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Geomedia: California's climatic catastrophes detailed in "The West Without Water"

The 2013-2014 California drought has impacted everything from wildfires to food prices across the country. Politicians and the media called this the worst drought in California history, but scientists know that intense multiyear droughts are a regular feature of California’s climate. Fortunately, B. Lynn Ingram and Frances Malamud-Roam have put drought into context for everyone in their new history of California’s droughts and floods, “The West Without Water.”
 

12 May 2014

Comment: The Oso landslide shows need for insurance and better planning

The deadly landslide that struck near Oso, Wash., in March killed more than 40 people and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage, most of which was not covered by insurance. The landslide was not a surprise to geologists. Could this disaster have been prevented — or can future disasters be prevented?

06 May 2014

Geologic Column: Data security: freezers, floppies and flash drives

In the olden days, many of us protected our field notes, lab records and draft manuscripts by making multiple photocopies, storing them in different places, and perhaps keeping one in the freezer in case of fire. Today, much of our data is collected and stored electronically. What strategies do we use now to protect against catastropic loss?

23 Mar 2014

Bare Earth Elements: Mars rocks wear manganese coats

Several rocks on the surface of Mars are coated with distinctive dark-colored surface layers enriched in manganese that, while sharing similarities with manganese-rich rock varnish found on Earth, do not appear to be varnish themselves based on differences in trace element levels, according to new research presented Wednesday by Nina Lanza of Los Alamos National Laboratory at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in The Woodlands, Texas.

19 Mar 2014

IPCC: A failure in communicating the impact of new findings

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Summary for Policymakers (SPM) to accompany the report of Working Group I on the physical science evidence for a warming planet. The SPM is designed to be the headline-grabbing addendum to the main report, written in plain language for nonscientists: policymakers, the media and the public. It is supposed to explain the findings of the unwieldy main report in a clear, concise manner. It fails to do so.

10 Mar 2014

Bare Earth Elements: EARTH's Top 10 online stories of 2013 ... (Yes, it's a list)

Although there have been a lot of “best of 2013” and "year-in-review" lists posted recently, there haven’t been many focusing specifically on stories the geosciences. EARTH's staff hopes you find time to enjoy one more list with this quick look back at some of our popular pieces from the past year.

31 Dec 2013

Energy 360: Moving energy - No easy feat, but a vital conversation

Trucks, trains, planes and boats move food, clothing, cars, wood, steel, medical products, smartphones, bicycles, organic milk, free-range chickens—basically all consumer goods. And energy is no exception. Coal is mined and then carried to where it is burned. Oil and natural gas are moved from where they are produced to where they can be refined into transportation fuels and myriad other products, and then moved again. Uranium is mined and transported to create fuel rods for nuclear power plants or nuclear-powered ships.

23 Dec 2013

Geologic Column: Beer's secret ingredient: geology

Geologists have a long history with beer. Earlier this year, I decided to raise my own beer appreciation to the next level and take a class on the subject. I attended the beer school at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis. A few minutes into the class, our instructor noted that the beer-brewing process uses clean water, which, he said, is basically the same no matter where you are. Unfortunately, that got us off on the wrong foot.

20 Dec 2013

Bare Earth Elements: AGU 2013 wrap-up

It’s back to the office this week for several EARTH staffers, including myself, who attended the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco last week in search of interesting story ideas and fascinating folks in geosciences that we might cover in upcoming issues. With more than 20,000 participants, 7,000 research talks and invited speeches, and 14,000 posters, along with numerous other activities, there was plenty of potential material, and we spent some long days absorbing as much we could. For now, here are a few highlights of AGU 2013.

17 Dec 2013

Bare Earth Elements: IceCube observatory spurs "dawn of new age" in astronomy

The main purpose of the world’s largest neutrino observatory — the $270-million IceCube project — is to detect and hopefully identify the as-yet-only-theorized sources of exceptionally high-energy subatomic neutrinos that stream through space. In a new study, the members of the project, comprising about 250 scientists, laid out their case showing that the first of those goals — detection — has been accomplished. They detailed 28 detection events of neutrinos ranging in energy from about 30 tera-electronvolts (TeV) to 1.14 peta-electronvolts (PeV) — far higher than for any neutrinos previously observed — and suspected of having originated outside the solar system in violent phenomena like quasars and gamma ray bursts.

25 Nov 2013

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