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22 April 2016

It’s Mud Season on Lake Erie

This (above) is a MODIS satellite image of Lake Erie taken April 15, 2016. It clearly shows sediment entering the lake from major rivers and tributaries. The brownish hues on the land surface indicate “leaf off,” dead or dormant plant cover, and bare-ground agricultural fields. Later in the summer, the tawny sediment plumes of spring will give way to verdant swirls of nuisance algae blooms, like this: Between mud season …

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14 June 2015

Art in Science: Kubiena’s Soil Profiles in Watercolors

Photographs of soil profiles are often disappointing. Usually the subject is a hole in the ground where light is dim and the surrounding ground surface is light. Getting a good, representative photo of a soil profile can lead to acres of frustration. W.L. Kubiena worked as a soil morphologist in the last century and from a practical standpoint, probably only had access to black and white photography. He opted for …

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15 July 2011

Andrew Revkin’s Resilience

Those who follow the excellent New York Times science blog Dot Earth probably know that its author, Andrew Revkin, suffered a mild stroke two weeks ago. Apparently while out for a run with his son, one of Andrew’s eyes started feeding his brain cartoon-like images. The next day, he was back blogging – about strokes, and quite interestingly, at that. I was impressed with Andrew’s coverage of the Horizon Deepwater …

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23 April 2011

Three Poems and a Mountain Landscape

“…the stones would shout out” (Luke 19:38-40) The artists, writers, poets, and others (even scientists) have long sensed a connection between the full spectrum of human emotions and its perceived expression in nature. The result is use of nature with all that it offers: ocean depths, weather, seasons, rivers, deserts, rocks, fertile fields, birds, sun, darkness, etc., as a metaphore for the times of our lives. I admire those writers, …

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18 April 2010

April 14 Fireball

Last Wednesday’s fireball, meteorite, or space junk, whatever it was, lit up the sky over Iowa. At the time, I was standing in front of the AmercInn in downtown Ottumwa talking to a collegue who was outside chain-smoking in anticipation of spending the night in a non-smoking hotel. The fireball’s leading edge was red-rimmed grading to orange, then yellow. The tail was green with yellowish white “sparks” at the very …

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