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…

Read More
View towards Khumbu and Cholatse from below Ama Dablam at about 4,900 m showing typical subnival vegetation in the foreground. Photo credit: Karen Anderson Climate Change Ecology 

Plants Climb Himalayas as Snow Line Recedes

By Emily Rhode Humans aren’t the only ones climbing the highest peaks in the world these days. Thanks to warming temperatures, some areas around Mt. Everest that are normally covered in snow are getting greener. To a plant, that’s great news. But for the 1.4 billion people who live at the base of the Himalayas and depend on snowmelt for fresh water, the steady march of the stubby vegetation that inhabits the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region could be an indication of a crisis in the making. High-altitude data mining…

Read More
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…

Read More
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…

Read More
Climate Change Ecology Geology 

Fossil pollen holds clues to past

By Mackenzie Myers What if, instead of ancient treasure and tombs, Indiana Jones researched ancient pollen and soil?  Beyond just a seasonal nuisance or a crucial component of agriculture, pollen can be a key to understanding the past. It clues researchers in to how land was used thousands of years ago, as well as what the climate conditions were like at that time. And according to a new study from North Carolina State University, this tool may be available in more areas than previously thought.  Painting the past with fossil…

Read More
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…

Read More
Ecology Science Debate Series Science Policy 

Could Agriculture Save US Water Supply?

By Mackenzie Myers 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. This time of year in California’s Central Valley, it’s easy to see where the Golden State gets its nickname. Golden sun shines on golden grasses of rolling golden hills, parched after so many months without rain, which is unlikely to return for at least several more weeks. Even so, there are signs…

Read More
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…

Read More
Environment Science Debate Series 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…

Read More
Citizen Science SciStarter Blog 

Help Audubon Protect Threatened Birds

Audubon’s Climate Watch Program needs volunteers to help it spot 12 birds threatened by climate change. Are you in? “Hope is the thing with feathers/ That perches in the soul,” Emily Dickinson wrote. Is there hope for our feathered friends in the era of climate change? Yes, but they need our help. More than 300 North American birds will likely lose over 50 percent of their current geographical range by 2080, according to Audubon’s 2014 Birds and Climate Change Report. This means that the areas with the climate conditions these…

Read More