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Gyres spin up, currents get muddled

In addition to polynya formation and warming-induced surface freshening, other factors may also impact open-ocean convection in the Southern Ocean. The warming atmosphere is shifting global climatic zones and their associated wind fields poleward in both hemispheres. In the Weddell Sea Gyre, one of two clockwise-spinning circulation patterns in the Southern Ocean, this shift has resulted in a dramatic increase in wind stress curl (the strength of the wind’s influence on ocean water flow) over the past two years.

20 Mar 2018

Getting There & Getting Around Corsica

The two largest of Corsica’s four airports, Ajaccio (AJA) and Bastia (BIA), are located on the island’s southwestern and northeastern coasts, respectively. There are no direct flights from the U.S. to Corsica, so it’s usually cheapest and most convenient to fly into Paris and then catch a 1.5-hour flight to the island. Air France and Air Corsica operate connecting flights year-round from most major French cities. During the bustling summer months, other carriers, including the budget airlines EasyJet and Ryanair, offer direct service from numerous European cities. If you prefer to arrive by ferry, several lines, including Corsica Ferries and Moby Lines, offer year-round transport from Marseille, Nice and Toulon, as well as summer routes from several Italian ports.

 
09 Mar 2018

How do earthquakes impact landslides?

Sensitive instruments installed on and near the slow-moving landslide in Maca, Peru, have allowed scientists to observe the response of the landslide to earthquakes: information that can help researchers predict hazards from other slow-moving landslides in the region and perhaps around the world. But scientists are wondering whether the findings could also shed light on the triggering of fast-moving landslides by earthquakes.

27 Feb 2018

Getting There and Getting Around Las Vegas

McCarran International Airport is the main gateway for exploring Las Vegas and the surrounding area. Except for sights along the Strip, it’s necessary to rent a car to see the attractions described here. If you fly in, you can rent a vehicle at the airport or take a shuttle or taxi into the city and rent a car as needed. Although all of these sites are open year-round, the best times of year to visit are in the spring and fall. In winter, it’s not possible to hike high in the Spring Mountains due to snow, and in summer the valley heat can be stifling. There are currently no visitor facilities or infrastructure at Tule Springs National Monument, but you can catch a glimpse of the fossil beds near one of two National Park Service signs, one located at the intersection of Moccasin Road and Durango Drive, and the other where North Decatur Boulevard meets Horse Drive.

14 Feb 2018

Getting there and getting around Scotland's Southwestern Islands

Ferry service to Arran and Islay is the primary way to access the islands from the Scottish mainland. Caledonian MacBrayne (“CalMac”) offers a “hopscotch” ticket package that goes from Ardrossan (close to Glasgow) to Brodick (Arran), across the Kintyre Peninsula, to Port Ellen (Islay), and then back to Kintyre, all on your own schedule, for £150, including ferrying your rental car. (We brought a rental car with us from the mainland, in the interest of being able to access outcrops where and when we wanted, but each island offers a municipal bus service as well.) Reserve a space for your car on the ferry during peak tourist times. Also, be prepared to be stuck on an island for a bit (usually not more than a few hours) if the weather turns.

 
06 Nov 2017

T-A-P (Testing, Awareness, Prevention)

Not all water corrosivity issues are obvious. For this reason, Ryan Gordon, a hydrogeologist at the Maine Geological Survey, recommends that regular tests be conducted at least once every three years.

30 Oct 2017

Can preserved proteins reveal paint-by-numbers plumage?

Some of the most compelling dinosaur fossils are those found with clearly defined feathers. Feathers may seem fragile and unlikely to be preserved, but in fact they’re composed of durable keratin, one of the toughest natural proteins. Additionally, some fossil feathers unearthed are speckled with tiny black dots, which, according to different studies, could be remnants of either bacteria or melanosomes. Melanosomes are organelles that produce and store melanin, the main source of pigment in feathers. If melanosomes are indeed preserved in some ancient fossils, they could reveal information about dinosaur coloration and plumage — and represent further evidence of preserved proteins in dinosaurs.
 

16 Oct 2017

Getting there and getting around Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff is a two- to three-hour drive from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) and a four-hour drive from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas (LAS). The small but conveniently located Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) also offers several flights daily to Phoenix.

04 Oct 2017

A great time to land on Mars

The 2020 window represents an especially good opportunity for missions looking to reach the Martian surface because of favorable environmental conditions on the planet early in 2021 when the spacecraft will arrive. The elliptical shape of Mars’ orbit means that the planet is, at times, much closer to or farther from the sun, so the amount of sunlight hitting the planet varies dramatically through the Martian year. Meanwhile, the tilt of Mars’ axis, as on Earth, leads to a progression of seasons as the orientations of the northern and southern hemispheres with respect to the sun change regularly and oppositely. The combination of Mars’ orbit and tilt drives an annual cycle of swings in atmospheric pressure of up to about 25 percent as carbon dioxide freezes out of, or sublimes into, the atmosphere.

15 Sep 2017

Making oxygen with MOXIE

The MOXIE (Mars OXygen In-situ resource utilization Experiment) instrument on NASA’s 2020 rover is designed to demonstrate technology that can generate oxygen from carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere. Scaled-up versions of the technology could one day be used to produce the large amounts of fuel needed to boost rockets back off the planet’s surface, as well as to create breathing oxygen for human settlements.

 
15 Sep 2017

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