Environment

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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Now You Know
3:27 am
Thu January 16, 2014

An Old Tree Doesn't Get Taller, But Bulks Up Like A Bodybuilder

The world's biggest trees, such as this large Scots pine in Spain's Sierra de Baza range, are also the world's fastest-growing trees, according to an analysis of 403 tree species spanning six continents.
Asier Herrero Nature

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 9:12 am

Like other animals and many living things, we humans grow when we're young and then stop growing once we mature. But trees, it turns out, are an exception to this general rule. In fact, scientists have discovered that trees grow faster the older they get.

Once trees reach a certain height, they do stop getting taller. So many foresters figured that tree growth — and girth — also slowed with age.

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Rubbish
3:11 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

A Compost Professional Explains How It's Done

Composting can be complicated. But you should try it.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

As we began working on a Colin McEnroe Show about composting, Colin made sure we included Susannah Castle, who runs Blue Earth Compost. She provides pails to subscribers in the Hartford area, and for a monthly fee, picks up the pails full of food scraps and other compostable materials from the household once a week. 

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Leadership Changes
12:04 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Dan Esty To Leave DEEP, Return To Yale

Dan Esty has led Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection since 2011.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Dan Esty will step down as commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection effective Feb. 3. He told Governor Malloy he plans to return to a teaching position at Yale. 

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:04 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Why Compost?

Susannah Castle runs Blue Earth Compost.
Chion Wolf WNPR

You may think that composting all your kitchen waste sounds like a good idea, but you probably don't realize how many things really can be composted, what services are available if you can't get yourself organized to do it, and if you do have a compost pile, which animals visit it at night, and for what purpose?

This hour, a heap of information about compost!

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West Virginia
11:43 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Thousands Have Water Again In W.Va. As 'All-Clear' Areas Spread

4:45 p.m. ET, Jan. 14: Areas in red still can't use their water. But the blue area is starting to expand.
West Virginia American Water

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 9:23 pm

The map that shows residents of nine counties in West Virginia whether they can start using the water from their taps is slowly starting to change from red to blue.

That's good news because blue means customers in those areas can start flushing their homes' and businesses' pipes — and after that, start using their water again for cooking, cleaning and drinking.

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NIMBYISM, Considered
7:00 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Wind Turbines Have Little Impact on Property Values, Study Finds

A new study observing 122,000 home sales in Massachusetts says nearby wind turbines have little impact on residential property values.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / lamoix

A new UConn report looked at more than 120,000 Massachusetts home sales and found wind turbines have little impact on prices. Carol Atkinson-Palombo is co-author of the paper, which tracked the data spanning a 14-year period.

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West Virginia
7:04 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Slowly, Water Is Flowing Again In West Virginia

On Saturday in South Charleston, W.Va., Cathy Mabe was one of many who came to get water from a temporary filling station.
Lisa Hechesky Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 8:20 pm

Relief is finally arriving for the 300,000 or so people in nine West Virginia counties who haven't been able to drink, cook or clean with their tap water for more than four days.

Officials announced at noon Monday that tests show the level of a potentially harmful chemical have fallen to the point where the water can be turned back on. But, they cautioned that the process of bringing customers back on line will take several days and has to be done systematically.

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West Virginia
11:02 am
Sun January 12, 2014

Chemical In West Va. Water More Diluted, But Still Unsafe

Members of the Nitro Volunteer Fire Department distribute water to local residents on Saturday.
Michael Switzer AP

Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 11:39 am

The amount of a dangerous chemical in West Virginian's tap water is more diluted, but it is still unsafe for drinking, washing or bathing.

WCHS-TV reports that Col. Greg Grant with the National Guard told reporters that they are seeing readings of methylcyclohexane methanol dip below 1 part per million, the amount that the Center for Disease Control says is safe, but those readings have spiked from time to time.

"The numbers are turning in the right direction," Grant said.

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West Virginia
10:12 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Hundreds Of Thousands Still Without Water In W. Va.

Shelves at Krogers remain empty after running out of water in Kanawha City a neighborhood of Charleston on Friday.
Tom Hindman Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 3:59 pm

(This post was last updated at 4 p.m. ET.)

For the third day in a row, hundreds of thousands of West Virginians are unable to drink, cook or wash with the water in their homes.

During a press conference, West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre, who oversees the states largest water treatment plant, said it could be days before the water is safe for use.

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Invasive Insects
9:44 am
Sat January 11, 2014

The Upside Of The Bitter Cold: It Kills Bugs That Kill Trees

Tom Tiddens, supervisor of plant health care at the Chicago Botanic Garden, displays bark with beetle larvae.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:19 pm

While many of us may prefer to never again see temperatures drop below zero like they did earlier this week across the country, the deep freeze is putting warm smiles on the faces of many entomologists.

That's because it may have been cold enough in some areas to freeze and kill some damaging invasive species of insects, including the tree-killing emerald ash borer.

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Architecture
5:25 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Historic House Is Yours Free, But There's A Catch

Architects at Paolasquare International are giving away this historic house in Arlington, Va. for free.
Sarah L. Voisin The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 12:53 pm

This little house is looking for a home.

In the past five years, 600 single-family homes have been demolished in Arlington, Va., many to make way for larger houses, according to a preservation group. One architectural firm is so determined to save one 1920s Sears kit house from demolition, it's giving the house away for free. But there's a catch: the buyer would need to pay to move it to a new location.

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Genetic Modification
12:39 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

A Green-Movement Website Shakes Up The Debate Over GMOs

After Grist's six-month-long series on genetically modified foods, some loyal readers accused the site of changing directions in the debate.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 12:52 pm

A 26-part series on genetically modified food was not Nathanael Johnson's idea. And he didn't realize it would take six months, either.

Last year, Johnson was hired as the new food writer for Grist, a website for environmental news and opinion. Grist's editor, Scott Rosenberg, was waiting with an assignment: Dig into the controversy over GMOs.

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Energy
8:10 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Natural Gas Boom Cuts Into Pennsylvania's State Forests

An oversized truck load slowly moves equipment along an icy mountain road in Pennsylvania's Tiadaghton State Forest.
Marie Cusick WITF

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 7:36 pm

On the side of a mountain road in Pennsylvania's Tiadaghton State Forest, I'm trying to avoid a steady stream of heavy truck traffic. Acres of freshly cut tree stumps stretch out in front of me.

Kevin Heatley lives in the area and has come to these woods for years to hike. He's an ecologist by trade and he's concerned about what he's seeing.

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Sun Plasma
3:50 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Space Music: How To Hear Solar Flares From The Moon

Live, from the moon, it's the space weather report: Data from a lunar orbiter is being used to create a music stream that reflects conditions in space. Here, an image created by NASA "visualizers" who used data from 2010 to show the moon traveling across the sun, as happens two or three times a year.
NASA/SDO/LRO/GSFC

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 6:04 pm

We've been following the coronal mass ejection that headed toward Earth after an intense solar flare was emitted from the sun earlier this week. And now NASA tells us that such events can be heard, in a sense, by tuning in to CRaTER Radio, a "sonification" project that uses data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to generate musical sounds and stream them on the Internet.

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Sun Plasma
11:45 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Aurora Watchers 'May Be In Luck' As Solar Flare Reaches Earth

A coronal mass ejection (CME) exploding off the surface of the sun in an image captured Tuesday by the European Space Agency and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.
Uncredited AP

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 5:32 pm

Update at 3:05 p.m. ET:

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center now reports:

"The coronal mass ejection (CME), originally expected to arrive around 0800 UTC (3:00 a.m. EST) today, January 9, was observed at the ACE spacecraft just upstream of Earth at 1932 UTC (2:32 p.m. EST)."

The SWPC goes on to say that "the original forecast continues to be for G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm activity on January 9 and 10."

"Aurora watchers may be in luck for tonight."

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Weather
7:32 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Death Toll From Deep Freeze Tops 20; Warm-Up Is Coming

A man walks through a steam cloud in frigid cold temperatures Tuesday in Manhattan.
Brendan McDermid Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 10:58 am

The deaths of at least 21 people are now being blamed on the winter storms and severe cold weather that have gripped much of the nation since late last week, The Associated Press reported early Wednesday.

At least half have been attributed to weather-related traffic accidents. The wire service adds that:

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Antarctica
7:30 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Ships Break Free In Antarctica, U.S. Icebreaker Not Needed

The Chinese research vessel and icebreaker Xue Long broke free from ice and was back in the open waters off Antarctica on Tuesday.
Zhang Jiansong Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 10:56 am

There's good news from Antarctica, where two ships that had been stuck in ice — one of them for about two weeks — have managed to get to open waters.

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Trains of History
3:24 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Is It Time to Bring Passenger Service Back to a Historic Connecticut Railroad?

A train on the Housatonic Railroad in Canaan, Connecticut in 2004. Legislators are exploring the possibility of investing in the historic tracks and reopening them to passenger service.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

A group in Connecticut would like to see passenger service restored to the Housatonic Railroad and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty seems willing to explore the idea. The 90-mile-long Housatonic Railroad was chartered prior to the dawn of the Civil War and runs from Massachusetts to Danbury. Currently, it serves only freight trains. Its last passenger train ran in 1971.

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Weather
12:22 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

What Is The Polar Vortex And Why Is It Doing This To Us?

Ice has built up along Lake Michigan in Chicago as temperatures have plunged in recent days. A dip in the polar vortex is to blame.
Scott Olson Getty Images

We've mentioned the polar vortex several times in recent days.

We've said, for instance, that it's "a low pressure system that's usually whirling around the North Pole but has weakened and come south."

But we're still getting asked this question:

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Wildlife
11:02 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Second Beaked Whale Found Beached in Eastern Long Island

True's beaked whales are known mainly from stranded specimens, accoridng to the NOAA Fisheries Service.
NOAA

Biologists are investigating the death of a second True's beaked whale that washed ashore on Monday in eastern Long Island, found on a beach in the Hamptons.

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