Utah High School Student wins $100,000 scholarship

The winner of the 2006 Intel Science Talent Search is Shannon Babb of Highland, Utah, who won a $100,000 college scholarship for her project studying the impacts of humans and animals on the Spanish Fork River drainage system. Not only did she spend six months studying the drainage system, she also came up with recommendations for improving water quality. Shannon’s study is something physical geographers interested in hydrology do all the time, so maybe she will take her scholarship and use it to study geography!


Wired News 3-part series on Global Warming

Wired News just posted the first part of their 3-part series on global warming, which will consist of interviews with 3 leading authors on the topic. First up is Tim Flannery, of the University of Adelaide, who is director of the South Australian Museum. The second installment will feature environmentalist Lester R. Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute, and the series will finish up with Elizabeth Kolbert, a writer for The New Yorker.

“One Planet, Many People” – New Atlas using Landsat imagery

The United Nations Environment Programme recently published One Planet, Many People: Atlas of Our Changing Environment, using 30 years of before-and-after Landsat images for 80 sites around the world to provide “insights into the many ways people around the world have changed, and continue to change, the environment.”
It is hardcover, and looks really nice, but at $150 US and $20 US to ship to Europe, $30 US elsewhere, I don’t think I can afford it. Still, it would be a great addition to many libraries.

Via Landsat Project website

Addition:  As pointed out by the CCA blog the chapters are actually available for download from the book’s homepage on the UNEP website.

Global Warming debate shifts to “tipping point”

An article from the Washington Post online edition (free registration required) argues that, now that most scientists agree that human activity is causing global warming, the debate is now beginning to focus on the ‘tipping point’ or point of no return when we can no longer reverse the changes that are taking place. Determining when such a point may occur given the current rate of warming will be essential in figuring out what the necessary reduction in greenhouse gases will need to be to prevent the catastrophic outcome of unchecked global warming.


BBC NEWS | Sea level rise ‘is accelerating’

It has been a while since the BBC gave us something bloggable. This gem is definitely worth blogging and chuckling about. Sea level is rising…OK. The last 50 years moving at an accelerated rate…OK. But the fact that we have evidence of the Little Ice Age ending just before this study begins makes it all a bit amusing. Of course some of the ice captured in the arctic regions during this time would be released with the following warming in the mid to late 1800s.

I want to see more studies comparing the altithermal (you know, around 8000 BP) to the present sea levels.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Sea level rise ‘is accelerating’

Pleistocene Park

A project is underway in Russia to return a portion of Siberia to the landscape and ecosystem that existed 10,000 years ago during the late Pleistocene. The initiative is led by Russian biologist Sergei Zimov, and is aptly dubbed “Pleistocene Park”

Already 20 square kilometers have been fenced off, and Yakutian horses, reindeer, and moose have been released into the park. Zimov hopes to import Canadian bison, musk oxen and eventually re-introduce the Siberian tiger once the large herbivore populations have been built up. NationalGeographic.com has a piece on Pleistocene Park from May 2005, and the New Scientist (subscription required) just did a feature as well. The National Geographic article suggests that if Japanese and Russian researchers were ever successful in finding viable woolly mammoth DNA and actually reviving the species (yes, they are really trying), they would be introduced into Pleistocene Park.

Via BldgBlog

Alaskan Volcano webcam

The Alaska Volcano Observatory website has a webcam located on Augustine Island in Alaska, monitoring Augustine Volcano, which had a small ash eruption yesterday and continues to show signs of unrest. The images are updated every 30 minutes, and show a pretty good image of the ash plume and several small lahars (volcanic mudflows). The USGS posts daily status reports on the volcano on the website. So, if you’re interested in physical geography, geology, or just curious about volcanoes, check out the webcam and maybe you’ll get to see an actual volcanic eruption!

Via Digg.com

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

It’s good to hear that, even though the current US administration has failed to support the Kyoto Protocol, individual US states are at least trying to do something to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. One such effort is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. The initiative was started by New York’s governor in 2003, and on December 20, 2005, the seven states announced an agreement to implement the initiative to stabilize and eventually reduce carbon dioxide emissions beginning in 2009. I know that other states and cities are also working on similar efforts, so I will try to blog those as well.

GPS for Tsunami Warnings

Wired News has an interesting article about the use of GPS as an aid in tsunami warnings. Researchers have suggested at least 2 ways in which GPS might give warning information: 1) GPS receivers can measure ground movement in real time, and they could also be used to measure tsunami-associated pressure waves in the Earth’s atmosphere. Either method, when combined with seismic-based warning systems, could help cut down the time before a warning can be issued and increase time for evacuation.