Ten Most Polluted Places

National Geographic has a photo essay/article about the top ten most polluted places on Earth. It’s unfortunate how many of them are located in the former Soviet Union areas. I found the photo of the cemetery of radioactive vehicles near Chernobyl to be the most disturbing. With luck, Chernobyl will be a one time event. The number of vehicles contaminated by the event is astounding.

Calling all Owls…….

The MIT Media Lab and Maine Audobon are working on a project that uses cell phones to help study bird populations and habitat. The Owl Project researchers actually use cell phones placed within the forest to call owls, play owl sounds, and then record the responses. Following the success of a pilot project in Connecticut, the researchers are going to expand their work to areas of Maine. The Owl Project site also features some educational information and a Google Maps mashup showing the cell nodes for the project, and you can click on the pushpins to hear what sounds the speakers are sending out. I am sitting in a brightly-lit lab far from the forest and I’m still a little creeped out by all the owl sounds.

Recreating a Scottish paleo-landscape

Not to be out-done by Pleistocene Park, a Scottish landowner, Paul Lister, is attempting to turn his Highland estate, Alladale Estate (near Inverness), into an ecological game preserve with a twist – he is planning on recreating the flora and fauna that were typical of the area 2000 years ago. Lister is hoping to populate the park with elk, wild boar, lynx and other animals, as well as creating a reserve for indigenous vegetation such hazel, Caledonian pine and round birch.

The goal of this project is to create a tourist park and resort, and the developers hope to attract 50,000 visitors a year when the reserve is fully up and running.

Via Treehugger

National Biomass and Carbon Dataset

The Woods Hole Research Center has just completed a 2-year pilot phase for its National Biomass and Carbon Dataset 2000 (NBCD2000), a GIS data for the continental United States that will provide a “baseline data set for the assessment of the carbon stock in U.S. forest vegetation and will improve current methods of determining carbon flux between vegetation and the atmosphere.” This dataset will be especially helpful for researchers looking at issues related to greenhouse gas levels and climate change among other topics.

Based on year 2000 data, the NBCD2000 was derived from a number of base data sets provided by the USGS and others, including Shuttle Radar Topography Mission topography data, the National Elevation Dataset, the National Land Cover Database 2001, US Forest Service forest inventory data. The pilot phase mapped 5 of the 66 defined mapping zones within the US, with the remainder of the project commencing today and scheduled for completion in 2009. The NBCD2000 data will be made available for download via the USGS Seamless Data Distribution System.

Via ScienceDaily

Why there should be more surfer geologists

Surfers the world over have raved over a section of the California coast called The Mavericks. Now scientists know why. Geologists mapping the ocean floor have found the clear indication of what makes those waves so darn legendary. A nice ramp on the floor combined with a couple of deep troughs on either side allow the waves to get large and stable – the perfect combo for surfing. It’s kinda like nature’s water park.

World’s Third Longest River Nearly Irreversibly Damaged

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Yangtze may be so so polluted that the damage is irreversible. It’s understandable that a country wishing to quickly grow its economy might be lax on environmental issues. However, it blows my mind that the Yangtze could be “irreversibly” damaged. Even if the claim is hyperbole, it certainly indicates an incredibly high level of environmental damage. Hopefully China can find some what to repair the river that accounts for 35% of its fresh water supplies.

The Earth’s Magnetic Force is A-Ok

Apparently, like the esteemed Samuel Langhorne Clemens, reports of the Earth’s magnetic force’s demise are greatly exaggerated. The Earth’s magnetic force is just as strong now as it was 3.2 million years ago. For those of you who may have been loosing sleep over this issue, you’ll be happy to know we have no chance of loosing our atmosphere a la Mars anytime soon. I know that’s one thing I can mark off my worry list!