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16 December 2014
Scientists use drones to monitor surf zone
When ocean scientists visit the beach they pack more than sunscreen and a towel – they pack drones. Researchers show in a new study that drones can be used to cheaply and accurately monitor the movement of water in the surf zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The drones provide a new way of documenting the movement of plant and animal plankton, sediments and pollutants, including spilled oil, near the shore.
7 October 2014
Detecting avalanches from sounds we can’t hear
Researchers have developed a new avalanche monitoring method that uses sound below the range of human hearing to detect and track these deadly and destructive snow slides. The technique can detect an avalanche from the moment it starts, picking up the unheard thump of a rupture in the snowpack that can precede the snow cascade. It can then track the avalanche’s path second by second down the mountain.
In a new study published last month in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, scientists report using an array of infrasound detectors on a mountainside to pick up low-frequency sound waves emitted from one of a series of January, 2012, avalanches in Idaho’s Canyon Creek corridor.
12 December 2013
Smartphone app could decipher mysterious gamma-ray bursts from thunderstorms
Amid flashing lightning and booming thunder, storms emit a very powerful but little understood form of energy — gamma radiation. These terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) produce short-lived but immensely powerful bursts of energy that could zap airplane passengers with unhealthy doses of radiation. Now, researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz think they might be able to use a smartphone app to learn more about these mysterious bursts.