mass extinction events Environment Oceanography Paleontology 

The Forgotten Mass Extinction

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) Yes, we are in a mass extinction event Recent research has spotted a new major mass extinction, termed the “end-Guadalupian (259.8 Ma),” according to a scientific paper in the journal Historical Biology. Previously, scientists knew of only five mass extinctions in the history of Earth: the end-Ordovician (443.8 Ma), the Late Devonian (372.2 Ma), the end-Permian (251.9 Ma), the end-Triassic (201.4 Ma), and the end-Cretaceous (66 Ma). Our current biodiversity crisis has been called the sixth mass extinction, but with these new findings it will probably…

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A red crane sits idle at the SWRP mine next to Boulder Ridge. A chain link fence separates the two properties. Citizen Science Citizen Science Connected Blog Environment Health 

Researchers, regulators, and residents collaborate to test air quality sensors

This article was originally published by SciStarter on February 4, 2019. By Margaret Hinrichs In early 2018, Scistarter and Arizona State University began the process of collaborating with a local community, Boulder Ridge, to measure the quality of its air. Boulder Ridge is a 55 and older retirement community in Phoenix. Over the past three years, Boulder Ridge residents began to notice increased blasting, crushing, and trucking out of rock and dirt from an open stone mine next door operated by Southwest Rock Products, LLC. On days when there were no…

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Biota Project Environment Health 

Air Pollution: Breathing in Biofuels

By Jessica Monterrosa Think of the last time you were at a bonfire. Maybe you were at the beach, or a camping site. At sunset, everyone huddles around a fire pit. You lean toward the fire to get cozy and cook your hot dogs and s’mores. You wait in anticipation for your perfectly roasted marshmallow, enduring itchy eyes and a sore throat while breathing in the thick smoke. Even though you only spend a few hours next to the fire, you know that your car, your room, and even your…

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Environment Science Debate Science Policy 

Plastic Waste Necessitates Policies for Producers

By Neha Jain (@lifesciexplore) This article is part of a series about key science policy issues. Please use these articles to become an informed voter, ask political candidates about the issues, and put every candidate on record about science. Countries around the world, both developed and developing, have been grappling with growing piles of plastic waste from overuse of packaging materials, such as those for food and beverages, and single-use plastic tableware. In 2015, 42 percent of all plastic produced was used for packaging, much of which is used only…

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Environment 

Microplastics Contaminate Snow from Alps to Arctic

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that pollute the environment and can range from 0.05 to 5 millimeters in length. Bigger plastic items can be fragmented by the action of light, temperature fluctuations, ocean waves, or mechanical abrasion into smaller pieces that are widely dispersed, persistent in the environment, and sometimes accompanied by microorganisms. A recent article by Bergmann et al., published in the periodical Science Advances, assessed quantities of microplastics in the snow from the Alps and other northern European sites to the Arctic and…

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Environment 

Mapping the Urban Heat Island Effect with Wicked Hot Boston

by Emily Hostetler, Sara Benson, and Roxanne Lee It’s not just in your head; Boston really is hotter in the summer. When urban areas are warmer than surrounding non-urban environments, we experience a phenomenon called the urban heat island (UHI) effect.  Cities are filled with large amounts of artificial materials, such as concrete and asphalt, that absorb heat throughout the day and release heat at night. Living materials like trees, flowers, and grass tend to make areas feel cooler due to the shade they create and the water they release…

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Environment Science Debate Science Policy 

The Unfortunate Withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) This article is part of a series about key science policy issues. Please use these articles to become an informed voter, ask political candidates about the issues, and put every candidate on record about science. In December 2015, parties of the UNFCCC (United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change) gathered at the twenty-first Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris to create a new international deal to mitigate climate change, called the Paris Agreement. Its ultimate goal was to keep the rise in average surface temperature below…

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Biota Project Health 

Medicinal Plants to Nourish the Soul

White sage. Peyote. Opium Poppy. African Dream Root. What do all these species have in common? These are all plants that serve both medicinal and spiritual roles in cultures across the world. Plants have long since played important roles in human experience since time immemorial. Plants have provided civilization with food, shelter, tools, and the earliest form of health care. It is from the plant kingdom that people began developing the first medicines. Foxgloves, from the genus Digitalis, native to Europe, Asia, and northwestern Africa, were the original sources of…

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Citizen Science Citizen Science Connected Blog Environment Health 

You Can Help Beat Extreme Heat in Cities

Imagine a smoldering hot day in downtown Boston: temperatures have reached over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and the sidewalks and streets are absorbing the strong heat from the sun and radiating it back into the air.  Days like this are becoming hotter and more frequent. This “silent storm” causes more deaths in the US than all other weather hazards combined. Heat impacts human health, infrastructure, and the environment. The Urban Heat Island (UHI) Effect Urban areas trap heat inside of them, experiencing hotter temperatures than in surrounding suburban areas. Cities are…

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Biology Biota Project Chemistry Environment 

Learning Where Water Comes From, With Isotopes

by Nicholas Dove and Alyssa Abbey Did you ever wonder where your water is coming from? For many of us, drinking a glass of water is as easy as turning on the tap. But, the journey of water from a single raindrop to your drinking glass starts long before then. Water can actually travel hundreds of miles or take hundreds of years before it finally reaches you. During this hot summer month of July, The Biota Project is exploring the origins of one of Earth’s most precious resources: water. We…

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