Australian Bushfires/Wildfires Biodiversity Climate Change Environment 

Extreme Wildfires’ Effects on Australian Forests

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) Australia began 2020 facing the losses and catastrophic effects of the early fire season that began in September 2019. As of this writing, 33 people have died, and more than 2,200 homes have been lost—numbers that may increase, as some fires are still burning in the country, even after heavy rains have helped put out others. According to scientists, more than one billion animals have died in the wildfires, while more than 46 million acres of land have burned. Experts are saying that the Australian environment…

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The water bear or moss piglet is a tiny invertebrate that's been around on Earth for more than half a billion years. This is a giant model at the AMNH's "Life at the Limits" exhibit. Photo courtesy of Eden, Janine, and Jim(CC BY 2.0) Animals Biology Climate Change Environment 

Even the Resilient Tardigrade Has an Achilles Heel

By Shelby Nilsen (@shellbeegrace) Climate change is already affecting many habitats and ecosystems. As a result, scientists are working to understand how the rising temperatures we face might affect extant animals—that is, those species that are still surviving—including tardigrades, some of the toughest organisms around, which are well known for their ability to adapt to extreme environments.  In the face of certain environmental cues, tardigrades enter cryptobiosis, a state in which all metabolic processes stop until the organism’s surroundings become favorable again. This remarkable survival tactic allows tardigrades to withstand…

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hydropower dam Engineering Environment 

Are Hydropower Dams the Future of Energy?

By Emily Folk @EmilySFolk Growing concerns about fossil fuels—especially their potential contributions to pollution and global warming—have individuals and governments around the globe looking for alternative sources of power. Hydropower is one of the oldest sources of electricity, already responsible for generating around 52 percent of the United States’ renewable electricity generation according to the National Hydropower Association. Hydroelectric dams are seen as some of the best options available. However, there are challenges that hydropower will need to overcome—otherwise, they may prevent the energy source’s widespread adoption. Current state of…

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Bush Fires across Woy Woy Bay in New South Wales, Australia, Photo by Martin Snicer (CC BY-ND 2.0) Climate Change Ecology Environment 

Australian Bushfires vs Amazon Rain Forest Fires

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) Year 2019 faced many climatic emergencies and devastating scenarios. The Amazon rainforest in Brazil was consumed by a number of fires that burned around 17.5 million acres of land, and Australia was ravaged by massive bushfires that have spread uncontrollably into 2020. There are many questions about the differences between these two events. From a large distance, they might look alike, but they actually present a lot of dissimilarities, making any comparison unfair. The evident and shocking number of deaths in Australia—both human and animal—already shows…

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CO2 capture and storage Climate Change Environment Geology 

CO2 underground could combat climate change

By Mackenzie Myers, @kenzwrites Despite the scariness of already-manifesting climate change, lawmakers and researchers worldwide have identified strategies to help us fight it. Expanding renewable energy, replacing coal with natural gas, and making machines more energy-efficient are just a few tricks humankind has up its sleeves. At the center of all this, of course, is a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. According to a new study, one key to accomplishing that goal may lie far beneath the surface of the earth and yet be more accessible than you might…

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air quality monitoring citizen science Citizen Science Environment SciStarter Blog 

Regular People Are Changing How We Monitor Air Quality

Low cost, high impact: How access to sensors is changing everything in air quality research.   Air quality: It’s about us The ways we hear about air pollution can make us think it’s not about us. Large industrial stacks, smoky skies, and cities far away — filled with people we’ve never met, in places we don’t expect to be. Articles on the front pages of major news outlets describe air pollution in India, China, and Bangladesh, and they don’t always make the connection with people like me who live in the…

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asthma, pollution, air quality, environment Environment Genetics Health 

Asthma, Genetics, and the Environment

By Emily Folk @EmilySFolk The relationship between asthma and genetics has evaded scientists for years. Researchers are still unraveling clues today, although they’ve made many advancements in making the connection. Environmental influences have become more significant in their impact, posing new challenges in treating the disease. As scientists explore ways to enhance asthma treatment, they also work to uncover its causes, hoping for more information on its relatively vague origin. How does asthma work? Asthma is an inflammatory lung disease characterized by shortness of breath, chest tightening, coughing, and wheezing.…

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Figure Five: Forum participants choosing where to allocate resources. Image Credit: Museum of Science, Boston Citizen Science Climate Change Environment SciStarter Blog 

Boston is Wicked Hot: Here’s What They’re Doing About It

Want to learn more about this initiative? Check out the Wicked Hot Boston series, Parts One and Two. Want to address climate hazards in your community? Head over to SciStarter.org/NOAA to find a citizen science project. Wicked Hot Boston It’s true: the world is getting hotter, and Boston is becoming WICKED hot.  This past summer, the Museum of Science, Boston (MOS) team and local citizen scientists began to measure extreme temperatures. They used sensors provided by CAPA Strategies to make an ambient air temperature map of Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline,…

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mass extinction events Environment 

Anthropocene mass extinction: are we there yet?

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) In the last few decades, scientific observations have highlighted that we are now facing a mass extinction, caused in major part by human activity: habitat fragmentation, invasive species, spread of pathogens and diseases, climate changes leading to global warming, and, of course, direct killing of endangered species. However, this is still a debated topic among scientists. Some say that we are not in a mass extinction event, and that if we were, conservation biology and all the efforts we have been putting into conserving animal species…

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Hurricane Patricia Biota Project Climate Change Environment 

Community Perspectives Strengthen Hurricane Preparedness

By Helen Cheng (@ms_helenc / @thebiotaproject) For those who live along the United States East Coast, October is the height of the hurricane season. According to the National Hurricane Center, the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. The peak of the season is mid-August to late October, as shown in the graph below, with the number of storms increasing during this time of year. However, deadly hurricanes can occur anytime in the hurricane season. Understanding communities’ past experiences of hurricanes and how they perceive forecasts for…

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