Science and Environment

Hurricanes, oil spills, and the latest efforts to manage them.

The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where the oxygen is so low that fish and shrimp can’t live.

 

Scientists say this year’s dead zone is 8,776 square miles now -- about the size of New Jersey. Over the last five years it’s averaged 5,543 square miles.

 

It’s caused largely by agricultural runoff from the Midwest, and brought downstream by the Mississippi River. That runoff is high in nitrates, from fertilizer, which causes algae to bloom. When the algae dies, it sucks oxygen out of the water.

As part of our ongoing reporting on flood recovery in Louisiana, Betsy Shepherd set out to tell the story of Guidry Brangus Ranch, a family-owned cattle farm in rural Vermilion Parish. Struggling to recover after being submerged by floodwater last August, Shannon Guidry planned to sell his farm. But just a few weeks after the interview, another tragedy struck - and this agriculture recovery story took a turn that no one could have imagined.

Exergaming Helps With Bone Density

Mar 28, 2016
Frank Barnett, WRKF

A study at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge was conducted to determine what impact, if any, “exergaming” had on weight loss – and the focus was on adolescent girls.

Exergaming, if you don’t already know, is video gaming that requires physical activity – kind of like the Nintendo Wii. However, this study used the Kinect for Xbox, which has no remote.

Coffee Science

Mar 14, 2016
Frank Barnett, WRKF

Before a company like Community Coffee purchases coffee from origin, they need to know what they’re buying. So, a pre-ship sample of the coffee is sent before (and after) purchase and that sample is taken to the “Cupping Lab.”

Much like a wine connoisseur would taste test a wine, “cupping” provides a consistent methodology of grading and evaluating a coffee’s quality; whether you’re in Brazil, Sumatra, or Baton Rouge, everyone who “cups” does it the same.


Making Faces

Feb 8, 2016
Larry Livaudais, LSU FACES Laboratory

When local authorities find a decomposed body they can’t identify, what do they do?

Well, they send it to the LSU FACES Laboratory.

“It goes through a processing stage where anthropologists try to identify the gender, the race, and the approximate age range," says Larry Livaudais, the Imaging Specialist and Facial Reconstructionist at the FACES Lab. "Then after that it comes to me and I try to put a face to it as best I can with the clay.”

Microwaving Saturn

Feb 1, 2016
http://www.playbuzz.com/tomnixon10/can-you-recognize-a-planet-by-its-picture

For most people, a microwave means a quick way to "nuke" your food.

But for LSU Math Professor Dr. Robert Lipton, a microwave means another thing: “Deep space communications – like how do you control the Mars Rover? They can use microwaves or radiowaves.”

Lizards!

Jan 25, 2016
Alexey Sergeev - http://www.asergeev.com/pictures/k/Anole.htm

Spring, summer and fall, they’re everywhere – green lizards. From backyards to office buildings, swamps to downtown streets, these lizards (or Green Anoles) are found everywhere in Baton Rouge; and, there are lots of them.

Flood Fight

Jan 11, 2016
Frank Barnett

The Mississippi River is still rising and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are in what they call a Flood Fight.

During Flood Fight the most important thing to the Corps is monitoring and attending to the well-being of the levees. All measures are taken to ensure its safety and well-being.


Bonnet Carre Spillway Opens

Jan 11, 2016
WRKF, Travis Lux

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway on Sunday. Heavy rain in the Mississippi Valley and rising river water stages prompted the opening.

The spillway was opened to divert water into Lake Pontchartrain to help keep the volume of Mississippi River flows at New Orleans from exceeding 1.25 million cubic feet per second. That amount of water is enough to fill the entire Mercedes-Benz Superdome in a minute and 40 seconds.

The spillway may be open for several weeks. All public access areas within the spillway are closed until further notice.

Ann Marie Awad

During a noisy reception at the Atchafalaya Welcome Center in Butte La Rose in December, the Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy signed a Memorandum of Understanding to restore the Bayou Sorrel region of the Atchafalaya Basin.


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