Science and Environment

Science & Environment
4:11 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Rate Of Coastal Wetlands Loss Has Sped Up, U.S. Study Says

Saltwater wetlands that include marshes and shoals on Virginia's Atlantic coast. U.S. coastal wetlands losses were 25 percent greater from 2004-2009, according to a recent federal study.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 6:47 pm

The U.S. lost an average of 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands from 2004 to 2009, according to the latest data published by federal agencies. More than 70 percent of the estimated loss came in the Gulf of Mexico; nationwide, most of the loss was blamed on development that incurred on freshwater wetlands.

"The losses of these vital wetlands were 25 percent greater than during the previous six years," NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports for our Newscast unit. She also notes that the loss equals "about seven football fields every hour."

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Science & Environment
3:34 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Federal Brain Science Project Aims To Restore Soldiers' Memory

President Obama has pledged millions of dollars to fuel research into understanding the workings of the human brain.
Zephyr Science Source

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 7:07 pm

When President Obama announced his plan to explore the mysteries of the human brain seven months ago, it was long on ambition and short on details.

Now some of the details are being sketched in.

The BRAIN Initiative will include efforts to restore lost memories in war veterans, create tools that let scientists study individual brain circuits and map the nervous system of the fruit fly.

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Science & Environment
1:35 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Old Dogs, New Data: Canines May Have Been Domesticated In Europe

A dog burial in Greene County, Ill. This fossil dates back to about 8,500 years ago.
Courtesy of Del Baston, Center for American Archaeology

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 7:34 pm

Scientists have used some new tricks and old dogs to show that thousands of years ago, wolves may have first become man's best friend in Europe.

Researchers extracted DNA from ancient wolf or dog fossils and compared it with DNA from modern dog breeds and wolves. Until recently, labs didn't have the kind of genetic tools they'd need to work with such old dog DNA and do this kind of detailed comparison.

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Science & Environment
11:57 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Can The Philippines Save Itself From Typhoons?

The sun sets behind a house damaged by Typhoon Haiyan outside the hard-hit city of Tacloban. The Philippines has gotten better at preparing for typhoons, but remains extremely vulnerable.
Philippe Lopez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 1:05 pm

For the third year in a row, the Philippines has been hit by a major storm claiming more than 1,000 lives, and the death toll from Haiyan, one of the worst on record, could climb to 10,000.

With thousands of islands in the warm waters of the Pacific, the Philippines is destined to face the wrath of angry tropical storms year after year.

So what can a poor, densely populated country do to mitigate the huge loss of life and the massive destruction?

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Science & Environment
6:33 am
Tue November 12, 2013

For Strengthening Levees, Bermuda Grass Is Hard To Beat

Bermuda grass is considered ideal grass for armoring local levees because its dense root mass holds soils and it grows well in the local climate.
Bob Marshall The Lens

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 8:08 am

The idea that grass can armor anything is hard to believe.

But on a recent visit to the Lake Pontchartrain levee, LSU agronomist Jeff Beasley explained how plain old, garden variety grass has earned a reputation with the US Army Corps of Engineers as one of the best armoring materials to keep the huge mud walls of a levee from collapsing during a storm.

"You know how we reinforce concrete with rebar?" says Beasley. "We can do the same with these levees."

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Science & Environment
2:06 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Key West Awash With Plans For Rising Sea Level

A cyclist rides past buckled asphalt in Key West, Fla., after Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Key West experienced widespread flooding with the storm surge.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 5:00 pm

Florida — especially South Florida — is very flat and very low, and in places like Miami Beach and Key West, buildings are just 3 feet above sea level. Scientists now say there may be a 3-foot rise in the world's oceans by the end of the century.

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Science & Environment
3:50 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

4-D Printing Means Building Things That Build Themselves

H. Jerry Qi, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Colorado University, holds simple models printed using polymers that have "shape memory." The flat piece on the left can reshape itself into a box with the application of heat.
Glenn J. Asakawa University of Colorado

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 5:12 pm

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Science & Environment
3:13 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — Diversions?

New Orleans' levee board is suing energy companies for damaging the Mississippi River delta by cutting canals through the marshland. The canals let in sea water, which kills marshes, eroding the city's protective buffer against storms. A map of the delta.
Frank Relle

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 2:22 pm

Anyone following the development of the Master Plan for the Louisiana coast knows that the central part of the plan is also its most controversial: large scale river diversions, opening the levees on the sides of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans to let the silt-carrying Mississippi out into these sinking deltas to begin rebuilding them.

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Science & Environment
3:10 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

BP Claims Settlement Heads To Appellate Court

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 7:03 am

The BP oil spill claims agreement is heading back to a courtroom in New Orleans on Monday. The oil company says fraudulent claims are being paid.

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Science & Environment
2:09 pm
Sun November 3, 2013

Space Agencies Of The World, Unite: The U.N.'s Asteroid Defense Plan

This mosaic image from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, captured between 2011 to 2012, shows the giant asteroid Vesta. The mountain at the south pole, seen at the bottom of the image, is more than twice the height of Mount Everest.
NASA

The United Nations General Assembly may approve a plan soon for the world's space agencies to defend the Earth against asteroids.

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