Environment

The Two-Way
12:01 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

The Science Of Why Sandy Is Such A Dangerous Storm

A Dare County utility worker checks on conditions along a flooded Ride Lane in Kitty Hawk, N.C., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012.
Gerry Broome AP

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 11:33 am

Here are a few reasons government forecasters at the National Hurricane Center and emergency management officials are so concerned about Sandy:

1. Sandy is one of the largest hurricanes ever to strike the U.S. Sandy's winds cover an area of more than 1,000 miles in diameter. That's enormous by hurricane standards. So instead of affecting an area a couple of hundred miles across, Sandy will cut a huge swath. That means many millions of people are probably going to be exposed to high winds, heavy rains, and, for those on the coast, powerful storm surge.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:59 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Celebrating Autumn All Year Round ... By Becoming A Leaf

Piotr Naskrecki

Originally published on Mon October 29, 2012 11:04 am

It is autumn, and where I live the leaves are peaking; there is a riot of them everywhere, narrow ones, broad ones, droopy ones, crunchy ones. Leaves come in so many shapes, hues, textures — the closer you look, the more differences you see. Botanists have names for every leaf type, and clumped together, says writer Robert Dunn, they sound like free verse poetry ...

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The Two-Way
5:24 pm
Sun October 28, 2012

Sweden Wants Your Trash

In May 2011, uncollected rubbish piled up in Naples, Italy. Sweden hopes Italy might be willing to export the problem.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 29, 2012 1:59 pm

Move over Abba, Sweden has found new fame. The small Nordic country is breaking records — in waste. Sweden's program of generating energy from garbage is wildly successful, but recently its success has also generated a surprising issue: There is simply not enough trash.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
1:46 pm
Sun October 28, 2012

Hurricane CSI: Frankenstorm Sandy And Climate Change

Hurricane Sandy's huge cloud extends up to 2,000 miles based on a satellite image from Sunday.
NASA GOES Project

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 3:10 pm

It was not a good year for people, weather and climate. The winter was strangely warm in many places and the summer ridiculously hot. As a large fraction of the country suffered through extreme or even extraordinary drought many folks naturally wondered, "Is this climate change?" Then along came a presidential election in which the words "climate change" disappeared from the dialogue. Now, just a week or so before voting day, the convergence of westbound Hurricane Sandy with a eastbound cold front is creating a massive storm, a Frankenstorm even, that is threatening millions of Americans.

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Environment
6:21 am
Sun October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Roaring Up East Coast

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 10:58 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. The nation is bracing for Hurricane Sandy, from the East Coast all the way into the Ohio Valley. The storm killed almost 60 people in the Caribbean, and U.S. officials are warning the storm could affect as many as 60 million people NPR's Allison Keyes reports.

ALLISON KEYES, BYLINE: All along the coast people like Carl Stevens in Virginia Beach were getting ready to hunker down for a while.

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Environment
7:00 am
Sat October 27, 2012

Sandy Downgraded To Tropical Storm

Originally published on Sat October 27, 2012 11:18 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And this morning, we're following the progression of a major storm, hurricane Sandy, which is turning toward parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The National Hurricane Center briefly downgraded Sandy to a tropical storm, but this morning restored it to a category one hurricane. Parts of the east coast are bracing for destructive winds and heavy flooding once Sandy makes landfall in the coming days.

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The Two-Way
5:30 am
Sat October 27, 2012

Storm's Uncertain Track Defies Weather Rules

In this satellite image provided Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hurricane Sandy's huge cloud extent of up to 2,000 miles churns over the Bahamas, as a line of clouds associated with a powerful cold front approaches the East Coast of the U.S.
Handout Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 27, 2012 7:53 pm

It's still unclear whether Sandy will be a devastating storm or just a bad one.

It is clear, however, that Sandy will be remembered as the storm that broke all the rules and baffled the nation's top weather forecasters.

Early Saturday morning, the National Weather Service downgraded the storm from a hurricane to a tropical storm — only to return it to hurricane status a few hours later. Either way, forecasters warn, "widespread impacts" are expected along the coast.

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World
5:33 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

What's A Lake Doing In The Middle Of The Desert?

A midas fly touches down on the sands of the desert in the United Arab Emirates. A lake in the area has brought new forms of wildlife, but some scientists are concerned it could harm the habitat of the midas fly.
Brigitte Howarth

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 5:37 pm

One place you don't expect to see waves lapping against the shore is in the middle of a desert. But that's exactly what's happening deep inside the United Arab Emirates, where a recently formed lake is nestled into the sand dunes, and a new ecosystem is emerging.

Drive through the desert in the United Arab Emirates, and all you see mile after mile are red, rolling dunes. Maybe some occasional trees or shrubs, but otherwise a dry, red sandscape.

And then, suddenly, a bright blue spot comes into view. It must be a mirage, you think. But it's not.

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Around the Nation
4:37 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Computers, Pinch Of Art Aid Hurricane Forecasters

These are some of the "spaghetti map" models used to generate a forecast for Hurricane Sandy's track. The models have grown increasingly sophisticated over the years.
PCWeather Products Inc.

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 7:07 pm

If you've ever found yourself anxiously wondering where a hurricane might make landfall, then you're probably familiar with "spaghetti charts" — the intertwined web of possible storm tracks put out by many forecasters.

Those lines represent hundreds of millions of observations from satellites, aircraft, balloons and buoys, all crunched from complex forecasting equations on some of the world's most powerful computers.

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Environment
5:53 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

In A Shift From 2008 Race, Obama's Hush On Climate

A boat skims through the melting ice in the Ilulissat fiord, on the western coast of Greenland, in 2008. The glacier is the most active in the Northern Hemisphere, producing 10 percent of Greenland's icebergs, or some 20 million tons of ice per day. But experts say the glacier is in bad shape because of climate change.
Steen Ulrik Johannessen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 5:57 pm

This story is part of a two-part series about the presidential candidates' climate policies. Click Here For The Story About Mitt Romney

Both presidential candidates have all but ignored climate change during this election season. Mitt Romney would not make it a priority if he were president.

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Environment
4:50 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

On Climate Policy, Romney Walks A Tightrope

A general view of the Aletsch Glacier on April 21, 2007, near Brig, Switzerland, the largest glacier in the Alps. Unseasonably warm weather with temperatures up to 77 degrees Fahrenheit across Switzerland let snow melt, even at Alpine altitudes.
Johannes Simon Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 25, 2012 6:51 pm

This story is part of a two-part series about the presidential candidates' climate policies. Click Here For The Story About President Obama

Neither presidential candidate mentioned climate change during their three debates — in fact, the issue is nearly absent from the entire campaign. That's because the issue poses challenges for each candidate.

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Science
7:05 am
Thu October 25, 2012

Algae As Car Fuel: Possible, But Not Sustainable?

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Let's take a look at alternative energy now. There's growing interest and investment in the process of extracting oil from algae and turning it into fuel for vehicles and airplanes. It requires a lot of water, nutrients and land. And a new report from the National Research Council says that will make it challenging to turn algae into a sustainable source of energy.

NPR's Richard Harris reports.

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The Salt
6:32 am
Sun October 21, 2012

Despite Protest, College Plans To Slaughter, Serve Farm's Beloved Oxen

After a leg injury didn't heal well earlier this year, Lou has difficulty walking. He and his partner, Bill, will be slaughtered at the end of the month, and their meat will be used to feed students at Green Mountain College in Vermont.
Nina Keck Vermont Public Radio

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 8:03 am

If the thought of eating horse meat makes you queasy, what about strong, sturdy oxen? A small Vermont college that emphasizes sustainable living will soon slaughter two beloved campus residents: Bill and Lou, a pair of oxen. Green Mountain College plans to serve the meat from the oxen in its dining hall, but the plan has drawn international outcry and a massive Facebook petition to save the oxen.

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Health
1:03 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

When Infections "Spillover"

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 4:55 pm

In his new book Spillover writer David Quammen traces the evolution of Ebola, HIV and other diseases that moved from animals to humans. Quammen describes how scientists look for the reservoirs of the infectious agents, and what might be done to prevent the next pandemic.

NPR Story
12:12 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

Winter Weather Predictions

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 4:55 pm

Science Or Folklore? — The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts winter weather months in advance. Is that even scientifically possible? Meteorologist Jason Samenow, of The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, talks about the science and art of seasonal forecasting, and why even the pros at NOAA sometimes get it wrong.

Environment
2:02 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Athena To Zeus: Weather Channel Names Winter Storms

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 2:32 pm

Transcript

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The Salt
11:53 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Top Five Myths Of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted

Central Illinois corn and soybean farmer Gary Niemeyer readies his genetically modified seed corn for spring planting at his farm near Auburn, Ill.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 5:49 pm

Having just stepped into the shouting match over patents on genetically engineered crops, there are a few small things that I, too, would like to get off my chest.

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Environment
5:04 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Scientists Solve Mystery Of Disappearing Salt Marshes

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 12:11 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's pay a visit now to one of the crucial parts of our country's ecosystem. Along U.S. coastlines, there are salt marshes that serve as nurseries for fish, crabs and other shellfish. They also protect coastal areas against flooding. Scientists warn that some salt marshes are disintegrating, and researchers have a pretty surprising theory about why that is. Here's NPR's Christopher Joyce.

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The Salt
4:00 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Test Your Food IQ: Do We Need More Farms To Grow Fruits And Veggies For All?

Orchards like this one in Adams County, PA, and other U.S. farms face worldwide competition for their apples and apple products due to imports.
Brad C. Bower AP

Think you're part of the food-literati? True or false: 13 million more acres of farmland would be required to produce enough fruit and vegetables for the daily diets of all Americans to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines.

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Solve This
2:00 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Climate Politics: It's Laugh Lines Vs. 'Not A Joke'

This Sept. 16 image released by NASA shows the amount of summer sea ice in the Arctic, at center in white, and the 1979 to 2000 average extent for the day shown, with the yellow line. Scientists say sea ice in the Arctic shrank to an all-time low of 1.32 million square miles on Sept. 16, smashing old records for the critical climate indicator.
NASA AP

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 12:11 pm

Scientists view climate change as one of the world's most pressing long-term problems. But the issue has barely surfaced in the U.S. presidential race. President Obama has taken steps to address climate change during his time in office. Republican challenger Mitt Romney would not make it a priority in his administration.

In fact, as Romney stood on the stage to accept his nomination at the Republican National Convention, he used global warming as a laugh line.

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The Two-Way
12:29 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

NOAA: Around World, September Tied Record For Warmest Temperatures

The redder the shading, the further above average were the temperatures in September.
NOAA's National Climatic Data Center

This chart offers another perspective on just how warm it was around the world last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says.

The agency has been keeping records since 1880 and the "average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for September 2012 tied with 2005 as the warmest September on record."

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It's All Politics
4:09 pm
Sun October 14, 2012

On The Campaign Trail, Regulations Dominate The Environmental Debate

Smoke rises from the stacks of the La Cygne Generating Station coal-fired power plant in La Cygne, Kan. President Obama's regulation of the coal industry has come under fire from his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Sun October 14, 2012 5:02 pm

In previous elections, candidates from both parties have campaigned on pledges to be environmental presidents. This time, neither candidate is talking much about cleaning up the air or protecting scenic lands.

Instead, the debate has focused on whether and how much environmental regulations hurt businesses, especially the energy industry.

Mostly it's been GOP candidate Mitt Romney criticizing President Obama for what he sees as overzealous environmental regulations that strangle the economic recovery.

Environmental Rules

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NPR Story
12:03 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Tracking The Ozone Hole, As It Waxes And Wanes

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 1:45 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. 21 years ago this week, way back in October of 1991 on the first-ever episode of SCIENCE FRIDAY, one of our show topics was the ozone hole, that bite out of the Earth's ozone layer caused by chemicals in our refrigerators, air conditioners, cans of hairspray. Our guest that day was the late Sherwood Rowland, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize for his work on the ozone hole.

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Science
3:28 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Software Calculates City-Specific Carbon Footprint

Bedrich Benes and Michel Abdul-Massih

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 3:58 pm

One way to measure greenhouse gases is simply to capture them at the source: You put an instrument on a smokestack, for example. Cities, however, are full of cars, buses, factories and homes that all use fuel or electricity. No one really knows how much carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, comes from each.

Ecologist Kevin Gurney says he can find out.

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Environment
4:25 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Scientists Watch Antarctica, Arctic Sea-Ice Levels

Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 4:35 am

The ice covering the Arctic Ocean was at a record low, in keeping with a sharp warming trend in the far north. At the same time, the amount of the ocean around Antarctica covered by sea ice hit a record high. It's winter in Antarctica when it's summer in the Arctic. But why in a warming world is wintertime ice growing?

Environment
6:10 am
Sun October 7, 2012

Restore California Delta! To What, Exactly?

Wetlands are returning naturally at Liberty Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in California. The state plans to restore more than 100,000 acres of habitat in the area.
Lauren Sommer for NPR

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 1:24 pm

In California, state officials are planning a multibillion-dollar environmental restoration of the inland delta near San Francisco Bay. There's only one problem: No one knows what the landscape used to look like. Ninety-seven percent of the original wetlands are gone, so the state is turning to historians for help.

This detective story begins on a sunny day in a dry field of corn, about an hour east of San Francisco.

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NPR Story
12:11 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

Starfish Blamed For Great Barrier Reef Coral Loss

Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 1:03 pm

Over the past 27 years, Australia's Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its live coral cover, and a type of starfish is partly to blame for the alarming decline. Mark Eakin, head of NOAA's Coral Reef Watch program, discusses how to save the world's largest coral reef system.

The Salt
1:25 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

The Cost Of Saving Lives With Local Peanuts In Haiti

Alex E. Proimos flickr

Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 4:05 pm

How much extra would you pay for local food? It's a familiar question. We face it practically every time we shop for groceries, either at the store or at the farmers market. But what about food that can save the lives of severely malnourished children?

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Remembrances
4:23 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

'Paul Revere Of Ecology' Sounded Alarms On Pollution

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 6:14 pm

Scientist Barry Commoner, a pioneer in environmental activism, died Sunday. Melissa Block speaks with Michael Egan, environmental historian at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and author of the book, Barry Commoner and the Science of Survival: The Remaking of American Environmentalism.

Science
5:07 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

A Tiny Ocean World With A Mighty Important Future

Plankton make up 98 percent of the biomass of ocean life and provide half of the oxygen on the planet. Scientists are working to figure out how climate change may be affecting these important microorganisms.
M. Ormestad Tara Oceans

Originally published on Sun September 30, 2012 7:11 pm

As you take in your next breath of air, you can thank a form of microscopic marine life known as plankton.

They are so small as to be invisible, but taken together, actually dwarf massive creatures like whales. Plankton make up 98 percent of the biomass of ocean life.

"This invisible forest generates half of the oxygen generated on the planet," Chris Bowler, a marine biologist, tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered.

And, as climate change alters the temperature and acidity of our waters, this mysterious ocean world may be in jeopardy.

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