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15 June 2017

A wilderness feel along an industrial path

This clear waterway running through boreal swampland marks the farthest Cora and I will be from a highway during our summer hike along the route of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. If we chose to bust overland southwest toward Banner Creek, we would have to cover at least nine boggy miles before we reached the Richardson Highway. Backtracking to the nearest pipeline access road would require a hike of 20 miles.

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14 June 2017

Roadhouse provides a rest along the trail

Sitting in the shade of a poplar, I watch the Tanana River flow by. It’s flat and tan, dimpled by eddies and darted over by swallows that sound like they are chewing rubber bands. I slept last night with my wife, daughter and dog in the upstairs of a handsome, two-story log structure that has stood since before World War I. Tonight, Cora and I will sleep there again.

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13 June 2017

Torfajökull, Iceland Accumulation Zone Demise Drives Recession

Torfajökull in 1994, adn 2014 Landsat images.  Note the lack of retained snowpack in 2014 and emerging bedrock areas within icecap, purple arrows. Torfajökull is a small ice cap north of  Myrsdaljökull in Iceland.  The glacier’s lowest elevation is 750 m and the highest elevation is 1150 m.  This low of an elevation range in a climate driving higher snowlines places this type of ice cap at great risk for …

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Dispatches from field camp: Our mini shiprock

Shiprock in New Mexico is a classic example of a volcanic neck. It is a vertical column of volcanic rock that sticks up around the surrounding landscape, with dikes that radiate from the central core. Although ours isn’t as high, we have a literal version of Shiprock in our field area.

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Don’t forget to comment on the Antiquities Act Monuments

Everyone will have their own reasons for wanting to protect these public lands, from political to personal. The key is to not keep your passion for these national monuments to yourself. Our opinions need to be heard in DC, and several organizations have created very simple electronic interfaces for us.

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The Amyntaiou lignite mine landslide in Greece: more information

More information has emerged about the 80 million cubic metre Amyntaiou landslide in a lignite mine in northern Greece on Saturday

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An Anthropogenic Heat Advisory

So, why such a small Heat Advisory? Look at the temps. at 11 PM EDT Monday night: Note the temps. in Central Philadelphia and Wilmington are around 6-10 degrees F. warmer than the surrounding areas. Yes it’s the urban heat island effect, and Philly has a big one.The extra heat pushed Philly beyond the criteria for a Heat Advisory, while areas away from the city were not hot enough. You may …

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12 June 2017

Dispatches from field camp: The Big Sky rocks

In my last post, I showed off some of the metamorphic rocks we can see that formed about 1.8 billion years ago during a mountain building event known as the Big Sky Orogeny. The textures in these rocks are fascinating. They contained a variety of protolith lithologies, making them immediately complicated. They are highly deformed; so one lithology bends into another very rapidly.

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New study evaluates efficiency of oceans as heat sink, atmospheric gases sponge (plus video)

A new study is one the first to estimate how much and how quickly the ocean absorbs atmospheric gases and contrast it with the efficiency of heat absorption. Using two computer models that simulate the ocean, scientists found that gases are more easily absorbed over time than heat energy.

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Anargyroi: an 80 million cubic metre mining-induced landslide in Greece this weekend

On Saturday, an 80 million cubic metre landslide occurred at Anargyroi in Greece as a result of the collapse of the slopes bordering a lignite mine

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11 June 2017

Landslides in Art Part 29: a Victorian view of Black Ven

Landslides in Art Part 29: a beautiful Victorian view of the famous Black Ven landslide complex in Dorset, southern England

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10 June 2017

Is highway de-icing ‘a-salting’ our aquifers?

If you live in a cold climate, have you ever wondered where all the de-icing salt (or ‘grit’ as we call it in the UK) that gets spread on the roads in winter time ends up, aside from that accumulating salty grime that coats your car? As you might expect, most of the salt gets washed off the highways as the salt has the desired effect of melting the ice, or carried away by rain. This salty ‘runoff’ ends up in streams nearby via pipes which drain the highway.

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8 June 2017

Sabbione Glacier, Italy Retreat & Fragmentation

Sabbione Glacier in 1999, 2001 and 2016 Landsat images.  Red arrow is 1999 terminus location, red arrow the 2016 terminus location and the purple area new rock outcrops emerging in the midst of the glacier. Sabbione Glacier is on the Swiss-Itlaian border.  The glacier drains into Lago Sabbione an artificial lake that in turn drains into Lago Morasco, which is a 29MW hydropower facility. The lake also has good fishing. This …

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Dispatches from Field Camp: How about some rocks?

Here’s an intro to some of the rocks we’re actually mapping. On our first day in the field, we walked the section of rocks exposed in this area from oldest to the youngest rocks we had time to get to. Students were literally standing on 2.5 billion years or so of Earth’s history – more than half the time this planet has existed.

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Some clouds filled with ice lollipops

A cloud full of lollipops may sound like the most delicious carnival treat ever… except this cloud’s lollipops are made of ice. Scientists spotted the lollipop-shaped ice crystals during a research flight in southwest England. The researchers flew through a large cloud system in 2009 to better understand how ice forms at relatively mild temperatures.

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Scientists Find Clouds full of Lollipop-Shaped Crystals

Some clouds are filled with lollipops (not really, but close)! A new Drawn to Geoscience by JoAnna Wendel.

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The enormous Green Lake landslide in New Zealand

The 27 cubic kilometre Green Lake landslide in Fjordland, southern New Zealand – one of the largest known landslides on the surface of the Earth

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7 June 2017

Dispatches from field camp: Meeting local wildlife

Although the area where we’ve been mapping is pretty dry, dealing with wildlife in various forms has been pretty constant. This is potentially on my mind as today I set my personal best by peeling 6 ticks off of me. Our camp is pretty large and has broken into separate groups, each group shifting between different areas.

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Offshore wind turbines vulnerable to Category 5 hurricane gusts

Offshore wind turbines built according to current standards may not be able to withstand the powerful gusts of a Category 5 hurricane, creating potential risk for any such turbines built in hurricane-prone areas, new University of Colorado Boulder-led research shows. The study, which was conducted in collaboration with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, highlights the limitations of current turbine design and could provide guidance for manufacturers and engineers looking to build more hurricane-resilient turbines in the future.

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Dispatches from Field Camp – the Montana Sky

One of the things you can’t help but notice once you come to Montana is the sky. According to my daily topo maps, most of my time is spent in-between contours 5600 and 5800, so literally 1 mile (1.8 kilometers) above sea level. I haven’t traveled enough myself to know if you get the same effect around the world, but once you come to a field camp here the phrase “big sky country,” one of the official nicknames for Montana, definitely fits.

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