Environment

WNPR's Environmental Reporting Initiative is made possible by United Technologies Corporation.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled new rules today to reduce emission levels for smog-causing ozone, which is linked to asthma and other health problems.

The draft measure calls for lowering the threshold for ozone from 75 parts per billion to between 65 ppb and 70 ppb. The agency said it would take comments on an ozone level as low as 60 ppb.

B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for northern Connecticut through southern New Hampshire that will snarl Thanksgiving travel plans for many on Wednesday.

UConn

Federal and state environmental officials say grants of more than $1.3 million have been awarded to local government and community groups in Connecticut and New York to improve the health of Long Island Sound. 

Sean Marshall / Creative Commons

Connecticut’s transportation commissioner has rejected criticism that his department is more concerned with reliability than with safety on the Metro-North Railroad. 

Steve Guttman / Creative Commons

The National Transportation Safety Board released a report Wednesday recommending better training for the nation's doctors in identifying and treating sleep disorders. This follows last year's deadly Metro-North derailment in the Bronx that it blames on an engineer's sleepiness. 

Dean Winter

There's only so much history you can learn from books. Sometimes, you just need to go underwater and travel back in time.

Finchlake 2000 / Creative Commons

Today, we take a deeper look at the beaver. Beavers are sophisticated eco-engineers, one of few animals capable of broadening biodiversity and currently considered of the keys to reversing climate change. They build sophisticated dams and deep-water ponds that stem erosion of riverbanks, create cooler deep-water pools that support temperature-sensitive plant and fish species, and increase the water table, a big deal for Western states suffering the impact of worsening drought. In addition, they're social animals who live much like humans, with mates, two kits per year, and an active social life. 

Updated 1:30 a.m. ET Thursday:

Another 2 to 3 feet of snow is expected to fall in the Buffalo area by late Thursday. At least seven deaths in western New York have been blamed on the storm — at least four of them from heart attacks.

Original Post:

Driven by the lake effect, a massive snowstorm dumped up to 60 inches of snow on some parts of western New York, killing at least five people and paralyzing an area used to huge snow totals.

You probably noticed: It's really cold outside. But it's not just you.

According to the National Weather Service and meteorologist Eric Holthaus, all 50 states hit 32 degrees or lower on Tuesday.

Yep. Even Hawaii, where Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano reaching 13,800 feet above sea level, was below freezing.

This map from the National Weather Service's Twin Cities office shows you that:

USDAgov / Flickr Creative Commons

It looks like the Emerald Ash Borer has won. Since 2012, the tiny invasive green beetle has spread to dozens of towns, posing a deadly risk to ash trees and resulting in six counties falling under wood quarantines. Now, with winter just around the corner, the state has announced it will modify those rules to make it easier for consumers to transport firewood around the state. 

Update at 7:35 p.m. ET: The Senate voted against completing the Keystone pipeline.

The remaining portion of the Keystone pipeline project, if completed, will be fewer than 1,200 miles long — just a fraction of the existing 2.6 million miles of oil and gas pipelines running beneath our feet in the United States.

Updated at 3:45PM ET

It was the first ever landing on a comet, and it was perfect.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the journey for the European Space Agency's unmanned Philae lander. After touching down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the lander bounced off the surface and flew a kilometer back up into space.

Facebook

Federal health and safety officials have fined Stamford about $2,700 for asbestos and water contamination at the city's police headquarters. 

It's a hot summer day outside Lincoln, Neb., and Jack Chappelle is knee-deep in trash. He's wading in to rotting vegetables, half-eaten burgers and tater tots. Lots of tater tots.

"You can get a lot of tater tots out of schools," Chappelle says. "It doesn't matter if it's elementary, middle school or high school. Tater tots. Bar none."

With America Recycles Day Saturday, Massachusetts environmental officials are celebrating the Commonwealth’s new commercial food waste ban – the first statewide ban in the nation. The state’s Commissioner of Environmental Protection will visit the Red Lion Inn to see how the renowned hotel is shipping its food waste to a nearby farm.

Philae, the lander currently on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, may not be able to perform its extended mission — scientists at the European Space Agency worry that the probe may have landed in a spot too shadowy for solar panels to recharge its batteries. The ESA says it may not be able to contact the craft after Friday night.

Worries over the robotic lander's power supply prompted engineers to take the risky step of activating its drill, an operation that had been shelved out of fears that it would sap the remaining charge.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

We take certain things for granted. Like the mountains, rivers and rocks around us.

So what made Connecticut look the way it looks today? As you kayak on the Connecticut River, drive over Talcott Mountain, or swim in Long Island Sound...there are millions of years of history underneath you.

As you may be aware, there's a hot new space movie now in theaters — Interstellar. Here's the premise: It's just a little bit in the future, conditions have become pretty horrible on Earth and some astronauts head out in search of a new planet for humans to inhabit.

In a head-spinning step, a handful of researchers from Cambridge, England, are experimenting with one of man's oldest building materials — the kind from trees — instead of steel as the primary structure for big buildings. And they're aiming really, really high.

Flickr Creative Commons / why 137

A new agreement between China and the United States to reduce carbon emissions will send strong signals to the global community, according to a Wesleyan professor who has studied climate change for the Obama administration.

The European Space Agency made history on Wednesday morning, landing the first man-made object on the surface of a comet. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is shutting down cod fishing, from Provincetown, Mass., up to the Canadian border, in an effort to reverse plummeting numbers of the iconic fish in the Gulf of Maine.

Starting Thursday, no fishermen — commercial or recreational — may trawl or use certain large nets that might catch cod for the next six months. Local cod fishermen, who now face an uncertain future, say the government hasn't done enough to maintain cod populations, and they challenge NOAA's cod counts.

Wikimedia Commons

Polar vortex is a phrase you've probably heard a lot, but what does it actually mean?

"I think, sometimes, people sort of misunderstand the polar vortex and they think it's this giant amoeba of cold that sits over the North Pole that just gets dislodged and heads right over Chicago," said Ryan Hanrahan, meteorologist at NBC Connecticut. "That's not really what happens."

Robert Snache/flickr creative commons

Paul Bogard, the author of the paperback, The End of Night, went on a journey in search of something rare in America and Europe—true darkness. He wanted to have the jaw-dropping experience of looking up at the night sky to see uncountable stars and planets that we seldom see due to light pollution.

Ryan von Linden / New York Department of Environmental Conservation

Researchers in New York and Vermont are still scrambling to understand the disease known as white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungus that has killed millions of bats since it was first identified near Albany, New York in 2006.

Caves in the Adirondacks, the Black River Valley, the Champlain Valley, and Vermont have been especially hard-hit.

Humans have never landed anything on a comet's surface. That may change tomorrow.

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission is poised to send out a small probe to land on a comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta spent 10 years chasing the comet before arriving in August.

Some forecasters call it an arctic front. Others say it's the good old polar vortex, or simply an "intrusion." By any other name, it'll be just as cold: Weather that hit Alaska last week is rushing down into the U.S., rapidly bringing a drop in temperature that won't end for days.

There is frustration and anger over a delay in rebuilding the only Catholic high school in Springfield, Massachusetts that was destroyed in the 2011 tornado.

   Parents and alumnae of Cathedral High School said they were blindsided by Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski’s call for more study to help him make a decision on the school’s future.  Mayor Domenic Sarno said Rozanski had reneged on a pledge made by his now retired predecessor to rebuild the high school in the same neighborhood where it had stood since 1959

Red means stop; green means go. You live in a red or a blue state. You feel green with envy, or you're tickled pink. Colors alert, provoke, attract, divide and unite us.

Thinkers from Plato to Einstein to a new cottage industry of color psychologists have studied the importance of color in our daily lives. But, as Joann and Arielle Eckstut write in their book The Secret Language of Color: "Anyone who claims to be an expert on color is a liar."

Creative Commons

The Quinnipiac Law Review will hold a symposium this weekend about ivory trafficking, focusing on controversial ivory laws that went into effect last February.

Pages