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12 June 2014

Where it burns, it floods: predicting post-fire mudslides in the West

By Alexandra Branscombe WASHINGTON, DC – Just a week after a 21,000-acre wildfire between Sedona and Flagstaff, Arizona, residents there are already bracing for mudslides that could surge down the burned slopes. These water-fueled flows of burned-out trees, loose rocks and mud can pack enough power to wipe out homes and roads. A new online hazard assessment system could help threatened communities in central Arizona and elsewhere in the western …


30 May 2014

Sonar could spot oil spills hidden by Arctic ice

By Alexandra Branscombe WASHINGTON, DC –Melting summer sea ice is opening up new shipping and drilling opportunities in the Arctic, bringing with them the potential for oil spills that could become trapped under the remaining sea ice and go unseen by current oil-detection methods. Now, a team of scientists is investigating a way to use sound waves to find this elusive oil. Scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts …


22 May 2014

Applying science to natural resource policy issues: Social science joins natural and physical sciences

By Jana Davis, Executive Director, Chesapeake Bay Trust As AGU members, we generally focus on the contribution of physical and natural science solutions to policy questions. But sometimes an issue calls for us to step outside the boundaries of these “hard” sciences to the social sciences. Areas in which many of us tend to be less comfortable. And less trained. Watershed restoration and protection can be just such an issue. …


23 April 2014

Proposed seawater-based air conditioning could benefit farmers

Discharged seawater pumped from the ocean and used for a renewable air conditioning system would overload surface waters with minerals that could potentially be captured instead for use in agriculture, according to a noted oceanographer.


6 November 2013

Top 5 Reasons You Should Check out AGU’s Thriving Earth Exchange, and more information

AGU has launched the Thriving Earth Exchange, a new initiative that supports communities as they protect themselves from hazards, adapt to a changing planet, and create sustainable futures. Featured in this week’s edition of Eos, learn more about the program where AGU members will work with local leaders to contribute their Earth and space science expertise to significant societal challenges. The Thriving Earth Exchange is inspired by a series of …


26 July 2013

Streamflow and storms at Glen Falls

In between bouts of hottish weather (I don’t count it as hot unless it’s well into the nineties and the humidity is fairly high) and the occasional cool day like today, we’ve been having some fairly spectacular thunderstorms in Buffalo. That’s no unusual thing in the summertime, but after teaching a chunk of an intro course about streamflow and what happens after it rains, I’ve started paying more attention to water features in my area.


28 June 2013

Carbon-cutting steps like those Obama proposed could improve, and worsen, water woes

As President Obama announced sweeping policies Tuesday aimed at curbing carbon emissions and combating climate change, water resources experts at a Washington, D.C. meeting across town from where Obama spoke discussed the entwined nature of water conservation and energy production .”Saving greenhouse gas emissions saves water too,” said Robert Jackson of Duke University in Durham, N.C., as he and other panelists discussed retrofitting power plants that burn coal or other fossil fuels and turning to alternative energy sources.


4 June 2013

The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges to Meet Growing Demands

Water and energy are linked resources in ever-increasing demand in the United States.  Energy production requires an abundant, reliable, and predictable source of water, a resource that is unfortunately in short supply already throughout large portions of the U.S.  Additionally, developing water supplies can require large amounts of energy to extract, transport, treat, and distribute.  As such, the water-energy nexus presents a significant challenge for our country’s water resource and …


19 April 2013

Exploring a changing coast in the face of sea level rise – Galveston, Texas

Over 80 scientists gathered at a conference here this week to share their latest research on past, current, and projected future sea level rise and to discuss how this information can be used to shape policy. Despite their diverse perspectives and expertise, one thing the scientists agreed on for sure: the rates and impacts of sea level rise are local and communities are facing a growing risk.


7 December 2012

Cosmic ray muons watch for carbon leaks

Out of sight, out of mind – that’s the essence of carbon sequestration, an emerging technology designed to fight climate change by packing liquefied carbon dioxide in underground rock formations. But rocks have cracks, wells, holes, and other surprises that could let that carbon, so painstakingly injected, bubble back up to the surface again. Engineers and scientists need a way to watch for leaks that’s reliable and inexpensive. The solution, one scientist says, is already falling from the skies.


6 December 2012

Surprising Source of Tsunamis

No one knew what happened when a 7-foot wave hit Lake Erie’s shoreline, sweeping holiday weekend beach-goers off of their feet and swamping boats in their harbors on May 27 of this year. News reporters jokingly called it a tsunami, but explained it was just another wave surge in the wake of windy weather coming from the Canadian border. But it was a tsunami.


5 December 2012

Measuring groundwater recharge could protect rural farmers’ livelihoods

In the Gangeshwar watershed in Rajasthan, India, farmers are at the mercy of their water supply. They use electrical pumps to capture well water for irrigating fields of wheat, rice, cotton and other crops. But wells often run dry, threatening crops and livelihoods. Melissa Rohde, now a graduate student in civil & environmental engineering at Stanford, in Palo Alto, California is working to find a simple, cost-effective way to measure …


28 October 2012

Halloween Superstorm Heads for Mid-Atlantic

The winds are already increasing along the Eastern Seaboard tonight as Sandy heads northward. I was at Cape Henlopen in Delaware before dark, and the ocean was already roaring with 5-6 foot swells. There is still some disagreement int he model guidance but I’d put the chances of landfall between Rehoboth Beach, Delaware and Sandy Hook NJ at 70%. As Sandy turns into an extratropical storm the winds will no …


27 September 2012

Scientists simulate growing role of Arctic climate culprit

Every summer in the Arctic, a vast system of ponds appears on the broad beds of floating sea ice, only to freeze again when the cold season returns. Researchers consider these transient bodies of water – called melt ponds — an important factor in climate change because they absorb sunlight and contribute to sea-ice loss. While warming has increased the fraction of Arctic sea ice where melt ponds form, global climate models have remained incapable of accurately predicting the influence of melt ponds, scientists say. A new model, which incorporates complex physics of the ponds, is generating predictions of sea-ice extent and thickness that match well with observations, the model’s developers report. The researchers are introducing this new capability just weeks after the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to an unprecedented autumn low that climate models were unable to predict.


10 September 2012

Arctic Ice Is Disappearing and Our Weather Will Never Be The Same

With every passing year it becomes more apparent that the Arctic Ocean sea ice seems to be in a death spiral. The ice area this September is 45% below the levels during September in the 1980′s, and almost certainly it is at levels that haven’t been seen for a thousand years (and likely much more). The melt back this year smashed the record set back in 2007, and we have now reached …


29 August 2012

Hurricane Isaac Strengthens Noticeably At Landfall. Risk to New Orleans Increasing.

Winds are gusting to over 100 mph just offshore now and winds are already gusting to near 80 mph around the New Orleans area tonight. The radar data shows a shrinking eye wall and that also indicates the Isaac has gotten stronger. The track now seems likely to put New Orleans in the wettest and windiest part of the storm. The storm surge and the rainfall remain the biggest worries. If you are in …


17 July 2012

Water scarcity in the tropical Andes: Population growth outweighs climate change

As the Earth’s surface warms, climate models predict that the amount of fresh water for human consumption will likely decrease in parts of the globe. While that prospect looms for many cities around the world, a new study finds a more imminent threat to water supplies of cities in the tropical Andes — population growth.


25 May 2012

Dead Sea rising: how the lowest place on Earth is getting (slightly) higher

Declining water levels are causing the floor of the Dead Sea to rise, according to a new study. With less water to weigh it down, the sea’s bed is now rising at a rate of about 5 mm (0.2 in) per year, said Ran Nof, a PhD candidate at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev


24 May 2012

Lake Breeze Around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario

NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a gorgeous view of the lake breeze around Lakes Erie & Ontario  Wednesday afternoon. The still, very chilly, waters of the lakes can produce a strong and pronounced lake breeze as the late spring sunshine warms up the land. Afternoon temps. near the lake were in the low 60′s while it was in the mid to upper 70′s just a few miles inland. Just to remind you that …


14 May 2012

The World’s Water- An amazing image.

This image courtesy of the USGS: Some interesting facts I looked up regarding water: Virtually all of that blue blob is salt water and not drinkable. Only 2.5% of that blue marble of water s fresh and 70% of that 2.5% is frozen ice in Greenland, Antarctica, or on high mountaintops. Only .007% of Earth’s water is easily accessible for humans, a fact that I made much of when taught …