Top Stories

New era of western wildfire demands new ways of protecting people, ecosystems
April 17, 2017 04:00 PM - University of Colorado Boulder

Just four weeks ago, fire crews battled the Sunshine fire in the foothills west of Boulder. Low humidity, record-high temperatures and 40 mile-per-hour gusts of wind helped fan flames that forced over 1,000 people to evacuate their homes. Firefighters quickly contained the wildfire, with no injuries or damage reported. But the reality of a blaze this serious in March raises concerns about how we deal with wildfire in the western United States.

Termite gut holds a secret to breaking down plant biomass
April 17, 2017 03:53 PM - University of Wisconsin-Madison

In the Microbial Sciences Building at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the incredibly efficient eating habits of a fungus-cultivating termite are surprising even to those well acquainted with the insect’s natural gift for turning wood to dust. - See more at:

NASA Spots Tropical Cyclone 02W's Remnants in South China Sea
April 17, 2017 03:51 PM - NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center

The remnants of former Tropical Depression 02W still lingered in the South China Sea when NASA's Terra satellite passed overhead on April 17.

Tropical Depression 02W made landfall along the east coast of the eastern Visayas around 1500 UTC/11 a.m. EST) on Saturday, April 15, 2017. At 0900 UTC (5 a.m. EST) Tropical Depression 02W had maximum sustained winds near 25 knots as it neared the eastern Philippines. At that time, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center issued their final bulletin on the storm and said that satellite imagery showed weak development of thunderstorms and that bands of thunderstorms were diminishing.  It was centered near 11.4 degrees north latitude and 125.9 degrees east longitude, about 373 nautical miles east-southeast of Manila, Philippines, was moving to the west-northwest and moved in that direction over the central Philippines

Researchers design coatings to prevent pipeline clogging
April 17, 2017 03:46 PM - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig suffered a catastrophic explosion and blowout on April 21, 2010, leading to the worst oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, the well’s operators thought they would be able to block the leak within a few weeks. On May 9 they succeeded in lowering a 125-ton containment dome over the broken wellhead. If that measure had worked, it would have funneled the leaking oil into a pipe that carried it to a tanker ship above, thus preventing the ongoing leakage that made the spill so devastating. Why didn’t the containment work as expected?

The culprit was an icy mixture of frozen water and methane, called a methane clathrate. Because of the low temperatures and high pressure near the seafloor, the slushy mix built up inside the containment dome and blocked the outlet pipe, preventing it from redirecting the flow. If it hadn’t been for that methane clathrate, the containment might have worked, and four months of unabated leakage and widespread ecological devastation might have been prevented.

Retreating Yukon glacier caused a river to disappear
April 17, 2017 03:34 PM - Hannah Hickey via University of Washington

The massive Kaskawulsh Glacier in northern Canada has retreated about a mile up its valley over the past century.

Last spring, its retreat triggered a geologic event at relatively breakneck speed. The toe of ice that was sending meltwater toward the Slims River and then north to the Bering Sea retreated so far that the water changed course, joining the Kaskawulsh River and flowing south toward the Gulf of Alaska.

Banned industrial solvent sheds new light on methane mystery
April 17, 2017 03:28 PM - University of Bristol

Since 2007, scientists have been searching to find the cause of a sudden and unexpected global rise in atmospheric methane, a potent greenhouse gas, following almost a decade in which concentrations had stayed relatively constant.

Recent studies have explored a range of possible causes. Suggestions have included a rise in oil and natural gas extraction, increased emissions from tropical wetlands or increases in emissions from growing East Asian economies.

Models, observations not so far apart on planet's response to greenhouse gas emissions
April 17, 2017 03:20 PM - Hannah Hickey via University of Washington

How hot our planet will become for a given amount of greenhouse gases is a key number in climate change. As the calculation of how much warming is locked in by a given amount of emissions, it is crucial for global policies to curb global warming.

It is also one of the most hotly debated numbers in climate science. Observations in the past decade seem to suggest a value that is lower than predicted by models. But a University of Washington study shows that two leading methods for calculating how hot the planet will get are not as far apart as they have appeared.

"Bad" air may impact "good" cholesterol increasing heart disease risk
April 17, 2017 09:52 AM - American Heart Association

Traffic-related air pollution may increase cardiovascular disease risk by lowering levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), commonly known as “good” cholesterol, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

USGS Estimates 304 Trillion Cubic Feet of Natural Gas in the Bossier and Haynesville Formations of the U.S. Gulf Coast
April 17, 2017 08:45 AM - USGS

The Bossier and Haynesville Formations of the onshore and State waters portion of the U.S. Gulf Coast contain estimated means of 4.0 billion barrels of oil, 304.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 1.9 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, according to updated assessments by the U.S. Geological Survey. These estimates, the largest continuous natural gas assessment USGS has yet conducted, include petroleum in both conventional and continuous accumulations, and consist of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources.

Methane Seeps in the Canadian High Arctic
April 13, 2017 04:24 PM - Geological Society of America

Cretaceous climate warming led to a significant methane release from the seafloor, indicating potential for similar destabilization of gas hydrates under modern global warming. A field campaign on the remote Ellef Ringnes Island, Canadian High Arctic, discovered an astounding number of methane seep mounds in Cretaceous age sediments.

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