Environment

Where We Live
9:00 am
Mon February 10, 2014

A Look at Connecticut's State Parks and Forests

Kent Falls State Park in Kent, CT.
Credit write99 / Creative Commons

From the glistening Hammonasset shoreline to the winding paths of the Blue-Blazed trails, Connecticut is home to 139 of the most beloved parks and forests in our region.

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Investing in Energy
7:09 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Group of Foundations Unite in Divesting From Fossil Fuels

A group of foundations has decided to divest from companies doing business in fossil fuels.
Credit _J_D_R_ / Creative Commons

A recent move by 17 foundations to stop investing in fossil fuels has added to a growing debate about "green portfolios."

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Earthquakes
5:32 pm
Sun February 9, 2014

Oil, Gas Drilling Seems To Make The Earth Slip And Go Boom

Infrastructure used for oil and gas may be making more earthquakes. In Texas, there 10 times the number of earthquakes now than a few years ago.
Mark Rogers AP

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 5:21 pm

There's been a surge in earthquakes in the U.S. over the last few years. In Texas, there are 10 times the number of earthquakes now than just a few years ago.

Scientists say it's likely linked to the boom in oil and gas activity, meaning that people who never felt the ground shake are starting to.

Here's how Pat Jones of Snyder, Texas, describes the earthquake that struck her town in 2010: "It just sounded like some car hit the back of our house. We got up and checked around and we didn't see anything or hear anything else."

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Climate Change
10:31 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Most Ski Resorts in Warmer New England May Disappear By 2100

Vermont skiers may still be able to enjoy the slopes a century down the line.
Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com / Thinkstock

A climate scientist said that ski resorts in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island may not continue to be economically viable at the end of the century, as the region sees warmer winters.

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Snow Drought
9:14 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Much-Needed Snow Arrives In The Nation's West

Weather map from the National Weather Service showing winter storm warnings in pink on Friday.
National Weather Service

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 12:33 pm

California and Oregon, which experienced their driest year on record in 2013, are looking at more snow and rain over the weekend, with heavy accumulation expected in the Sierra Nevadas, the Cascades and the Great Basin.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:00 am
Fri February 7, 2014

The Right Way To Hug A Lion

Courtesy of Connie Sun

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 8:16 pm

There are different ways to think about animals. One way is to imagine them totally separate, not attaching to us, ever. "They are not brethren," wrote the great naturalist Henry Beston, "they are not underlings. They are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time." Animals and people, Beston thought, live in their own worlds while sharing the same streets, meadows, skies, homes. We mingle, but the gap between us is not crossable.

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Agriculture
4:59 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Even As Dairy Industry Booms, There Are Fewer And Fewer Farms

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:55 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

On Friday, President Obama is scheduled to sign a new farm bill into law. It contains a provision that allows all dairy farms to be part of a safety net. The point is to offset risk when milk prices are too low or feed costs too high. But Abbie Fentress Swanson reports that even in good times, smaller dairy farms in traditional milk producing states are now giving up.

(SOUNDBITE OF COWS)

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Space
1:56 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

NASA Probe Finds Newly Formed Crater On Mars

An enhanced image of a newly formed crater on Mars. The feature, including the ejected material, stretches more than 9 miles across.
NASA

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:42 pm

Take a close look at the stunning image above showing a newly formed impact crater on Mars: The blue streaks of material, known as ejecta, radiate 9 miles from the 100-foot crater, according to NASA.

The picture was taken from orbit by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Nov. 19. The same area was imaged by the MRO's Context Camera in July 2010 and again in May 2012 — with no crater in the first and a telltale surface scar in the second.

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Mammoth Menu
3:26 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Woolly Mammoths' Taste For Flowers May Have Been Their Undoing

Woolly mammoths depended on tiny flowering plants for protein. Did the decline of the flowers cause their extinction?
Per Möller/Johanna Anjar

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 5:01 pm

They were some of the largest, hairiest animals ever to walk the Earth, but new research shows a big part of the woolly mammoth's diet was made up of tiny flowers.

The work is based on DNA analysis of frozen arctic soil and mammoth poop. It suggests that these early vegans depended on the flowers as a vital source of protein. And when the flowers disappeared after the last ice age, so too did the mammoths that ate them.

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Ice Bustin'
7:15 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Why the Connecticut River Needs an Ice Breaker During the Cold Season

USCGC Bollard drives down the Connecticut River in Middletown. The 65-foot ship's main mission during the winter is breaking up ice.
Patrick Skahill / WNPR

If you've looked out on the Connecticut River this winter, you may have seen something a bit unexpected: a Coast Guard cutter. It's called the USCG Bollard, and it's been on the river for weeks, dutifully breaking up ice.

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Metro-North
9:37 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Upgrade to Metro-North New Haven Line Begins

Governor Malloy announces upgrades to the New Haven line alongside other officials. Behind him, from left: Senator Richard Blumenthal, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, DOT Commissioner James Redeker, and Rep. Elizabeth Esty.
Credit Office of Governor Dannel Malloy

Work on a $10 million project to upgrade the power supply for Metro North’s New Haven Line begins on Monday. The upgrade is aimed at preventing the kind of catastrophic power failure that took place in New York last fall, seriously disrupting service. 

Governor Dannel Malloy announced the project Sunday at Union Station in New Haven. “Transportation is the backbone of our economy here in Connecticut,” he said. “As governor, I’ve been clear that we need to invest in bringing our highways and mass transit systems into the 21st century after years of under-investment.”

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Weather
2:51 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

It's True: Snowiest Places Are Least Likely To Close Schools

Dark blue: It's going to take a foot or more of snow to close schools. Green: Any snow's going to shut things down.
reddit.com/user/atrubetskoy

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 8:48 pm

We all probably sort of knew this already, but a new map seems to show quite clearly that it doesn't take much snow to close schools in the Southern U.S. — and that it takes a lot to close them in the Northern half of the nation.

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New York Thruway
9:20 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Tappan Zee Bridge to Be Replaced Using 400-Foot Floating Crane

The current Tappan Zee Bridge from Westchester County, New York.
Credit Brett Weinstein / Creative Commons

The Tappan Zee bridge across the Hudson River is being replaced, and to get the job done, one of the world's largest floating cranes has arrived in New York.

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Great Plains Oil Rush
10:08 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Much Of North Dakota's Natural Gas Is Going Up In Flames

Gas flaring near Highway 85 southwest of Williston. Analysts estimate that almost 30 percent of the gas being produced in the state is burned off.
Jeff Brady/NPR

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 11:44 am

A remarkable transformation is underway in western North Dakota, where an oil boom is changing the state's fortunes and leaving once-sleepy towns bursting at the seams. In a series of stories, NPR is exploring the economic, social and environmental demands of this modern-day gold rush.

North Dakota's oil boom isn't just about oil; a lot of natural gas comes out of the ground at the same time. But there's a problem with that: The state doesn't have the pipelines needed to transport all of that gas to market. There's also no place to store it.

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Space
3:30 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Asteroid Belt May Be Just One Big Melting Pot Of Space Rocks

An artist's concept of a narrow asteroid belt orbiting a star similar to our own sun.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:32 am

The asteroid belt, a ring of rubble between Mars and Jupiter, has sometimes been written off as discarded leftovers from the solar system's start. But new research published in the journal Nature shows that the belt actually formed during an unruly later era, when planets themselves were on the move.

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Great Plains Oil Rush
11:04 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Oil Boom: See A Modern-Day Gold Rush In Motion

Ritter Brothers, a jewelry shop in Williston, N.D., sells novelties that might appeal to those benefiting from the region's recent oil boom.
Annie Flanagan for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 2:30 pm

If you've seen any coverage of North Dakota's oil boom, you've seen the images — oil rigs, truck traffic, "man camps," miles of temporary housing.

But there is something about this place that just can't be captured by a still photograph. It's a feeling you get when you cruise down an endless highway under a vast, big sky — until suddenly: BOOM. You're wedged between semitrucks dwarfing what was once a quiet farm town.

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Utilities
6:01 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Officials Delay Decision On Fate of UI's Ambitious Tree-Cutting Plan

A downed power line following an ice storm in 2011.
Chion Wolf / WNPR

According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, PURA will now delay their decision on United Illuminating's ambitious tree-cutting plan past Wednesday, January 29, due to a public hearing request from UI to discuss "technical issues."

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Open Season On Open Land?
2:12 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

State Parks and Forests Aren't as Protected as You Think

Credit Flickr Creative Commons / ChrisHConnelly

If you think Connecticut's roughly 270,000 acres of forests and parks are protected forever, you're wrong. That's according to a new report from Connecticut's Council on Environmental Quality claiming state conservation lands aren't always preserved forever.

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Invasive Species
1:31 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Environment Committee Holds Informational Forum on Aquatic Invasive Plants

Don Les of UConn speaks before the Environment Committee.
Credit CT-N

The Environment Committee of the state legislature held an informational meeting on Tuesday about aquatic invasive species. 

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection notes a number of non-native plants and animals that cause problems for native species, such as zebra mussels, rusty crayfish, and an aggressive perennial called hydrilla.

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Antarctica
8:28 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Yale Student Treks to the South Pole at Record Pace

Yale student Parker Liautaud and explorer Doug Stoup in Antarctica.
The Willis Group

Parker Liautaud, 19, is a sophomore at Yale University studying geology and geophysics. He’s also a polar adventurer who just returned from an expedition, where he and another explorer broke the world record for the fastest unsupported trek from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole.

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North is South and South is Cold
6:57 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Looking To Escape The Deep Freeze? Head To Alaska

A man walks across a bridge in Trenton, N.J., on Saturday. More cold weather is headed his way.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 8:38 am

The National Weather Service is warning, once again, that brutally cold weather is going to be spreading across much of the nation, from the upper Midwest down to the deep South and up through the mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England.

The Weather Service even throws an exclamation point into its forecast for this week:

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Weathering the Storm
2:48 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

UConn Launches New Climate Change Institute

The Institute will be located at UConn's Avery point campus on Long Island Sound.
Credit Harriet Jones / WNPR

The University of Connecticut has launched a new institute that will focus on how the state and the nation can adapt to climate change.

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Metro-North
12:18 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Malloy: Metro-North Outage Was "Totally Avoidable"

MTA signal maintainers clearing switches after a snowfall.
Credit Marc A. Hermann / MTA

Governor Dannel Malloy called Thursday night's Metro-North maintenance failure "totally avoidable." The outage brought the entire network of commuter trains to a halt for just under two hours in frigid temperatures. 

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Leadership Changes
1:11 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Top Esty Aide Named As New Commissioner of DEEP

Robert Klee will take over as the new head of Connecticut's DEEP.
Credit Yale World Fellows

Robert Klee, a lawyer who served as chief of staff to Dan Esty, will take over as the new commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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Agriculture
5:27 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Should Farmers Give John Deere And Monsanto Their Data?

Adam Cole NPR

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 8:01 pm

Starting this year, farmers across the Midwest can sign up for a service that lets big agribusiness collect data from their farms, minute by minute, as they plant and harvest their crops.

Monsanto and John Deere are offering competing versions of this service. Both are promising to mine that data for tips that will put more money in farmers' pockets.

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Again with the weather
7:20 am
Tue January 21, 2014

What Is This Bombogenesis And Why Is It Dumping Snow On Us?

People walk in a park along the Hudson River across from New York City as snow begins to fall in Hoboken.
Gary Hershorn Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 8:54 pm

Just as we're getting used to hearing about the polar vortex, there's another cool-sounding weather term being thrown around that we've had to look up:

Bombogenesis

This post by Philadelphia meteorologist John Bolaris caught our eye: "Old Man Winter to drop bombogenesis."

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Game of Cones
2:15 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Brace Yourselves, Potholes Are Coming

Potholes in New York City. This winter's multiple frost/thaw cycles are expected to contribute to a high volume of potholes in the spring.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

As cold weather returns to Connecticut, a slew of potholes are expected to appear around the state. According to Jim Mahoney from the Connecticut Transportation Institute, "This is about as perfect as a setup as you can get for potholes, and unfortunately, every road is susceptible to them."

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Agriculture
8:02 am
Mon January 20, 2014

How Food Hubs Are Helping New Farmers Break Into Local Food

Marty Travis (right) started the Stewards of the Land food hub in 2005. His son Will helps him transport food from local farms to area restaurants.
Sean Powers Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 4:10 pm

Lots of consumers are smitten with local food, but they're not the only ones. The growing market is also providing an opportunity for less experienced farmers to expand their business and polish their craft.

But they need help, and increasingly it's coming from food hubs, which can also serve as food processing and distribution centers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that there are about 240 of them in more than 40 states plus the District of Columbia.

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Space
6:26 pm
Sun January 19, 2014

Mars Or Bust: Putting Humans On The Red Planet

Tracks from NASA's Opportunity rover disappear toward the horizon on the Meridiani Plains of Mars. The rover has been on the planet since 2004.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

Originally published on Sun January 19, 2014 6:42 pm

"I don't know why you're on Mars, but whatever the reason for going to Mars is, I'm glad you're there and I wish I was with you."

That was a part of astrophysicist Carl Sagan's message, recorded a few months before he died in 1996, to the future human inhabitants of Mars.

Some of the earliest science fiction imagined voyages to the Red Planet. We now have the space-faring technology, and getting humans to Mars actually seems within reach. It would certainly involve massive resources and a lot of danger, but some believe the rewards would be massive.

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Wildlife
4:11 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

To Save Threatened Owl, Another Species Is Shot

A northern spotted owl in a Redwood forest.
Michael Nichols Getty Images/National Geographic Creative

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 12:19 pm

In desperation to save the rare northern spotted owl, biologists are doing something that goes against their core — shooting another owl that's rapidly taking over spotted owl territory across the northwest.

"If we don't do it, what we're essentially doing, in my view, is dooming the spotted owl to extinction," says Lowell Diller, senior biologist for Green Diamond, a timber company.

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