Environment

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

Carter Roberts / NASA

A star in the direction of the constellations Cygnus and Lyra has some astronomers scratching their heads. It's pretty run-of-the mill by stellar standards, but what appears to be passing in front of the star is a bit of a mystery.

Shandi-lee Cox flickr.com/photos/shandilee/8983279962 / Creative Commons

Fall is not only for pumpkins, corn stalks, and colorful leaves. It's also bulb planting time. 

Creative Commons / redplanet89

The price to put a solar panel on your home has dropped in recent years, spurring a growth in residential solar energy installations. But at least one researcher said consumers still need to be diligent before deciding to put a panel on their house.

Fracking Opponents Shift Focus To Gas Pipelines

Oct 14, 2015

Hydrofracking has been banned in New York State for nearly a year now,  but opponents of the natural gas extraction process have other concerns, including new pipelines.

Almost a year after its shutdown, the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is still sparking debate over safety, spending and the disposal of nuclear waste.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission flickr.com/photos/nrcgov/6517600977/ / Creative Commons

Federal regulators have begun an inspection of the Millstone Unit 2 nuclear power plant to review problems associated with a leaking relief valve.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Follow a stream in Connecticut and eventually, you're likely to encounter a dam.

The Environmental Protection Agency has updated its cleanup plan for the Housatonic River, which was contaminated by chemicals from Pittsfield’s General Electric facility.

The Vermont Council on Rural Development wants the state to become a leader in growing the green economy as scientists, governments and entrepreneurs confront the effects of climate change.

The council is going around the state to gather input on these issues, and held a forum in Brattleboro.

Mars is cold and dry, but billions of years ago, it was cold and wet. That's according to new evidence from NASA's Curiosity rover, which is currently exploring a large crater on Mars.

Dan Schultz / WNPR

Widening highways can be a controversial topic. Some say it just encourages congestion, but the governor said it’ll improve the state's bottom line.

Frenchtowner / Creative Commons

Pumpkins line farm stands and garden centers along with mums and corn stalks this time of year. Soon, that age-old tradition of pumpkin carving will happen, but did you know the first Jack-o’-Lantern was actually a turnip?

It’s October, and it’s supposed to be foliage season. But the splendor of the foliage in Northern New England isn’t what it used to be. Climate change, local pollution, invasive species, disease and development have all conspired to change the multicolored landscape to make it less so. NHPR's Peter Biello spoke with David Brooks, a reporter for The Concord Monitor and writer at GraniteGeek.org

Patrick Lynch/Yale University

Earth is home to thousands of different species of birds with an amazing array of behaviors, body types, and colors. For biologists studying evolution, that diversity has presented a fundamental question: How did so many different types of birds evolve? And how do they relate? 

General Electric says it has completed its sixth and final year of dredging sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls from the upper Hudson River.

Investigation Probes Amtrak Derailment In Vermont

Oct 7, 2015

Federal investigators are probing the derailment of a Washington, D.C.-bound Amtrak train in Vermont that left seven people hurt this week. The train carrying 98 passengers and four crew members derailed at about 10:30 Monday morning.

Wikimedia Commons

As NASA contemplates more voyages exploring our inner solar system, it’s tapping the talents of some scientists here in Connecticut. One scientist hopes to send a probe to Venus.

Updated at 10:10 a.m. ET

Their work details how cells repair damaged DNA and preserve genes. And now three scientists — Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar — have won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Their work promises years of better treatment and better drugs.

The three researchers carried out their work separately, unearthing different mechanisms cells use to fix problems in a range of cells.

Humans have been harnessing energy from rivers for thousands of years. Think water wheels from Ancient Greece and modern hydropower plants, like the Hoover Dam. Brown University engineers have a new take on a hydropower device that could harness enough energy to power communities in remote locations or along fast-flowing rivers.

Two scientists from Canada and Japan have won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics 2015 for opening "a new realm in particle physics," the Nobel Prize committee says. Working far apart, both Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald showed how neutrinos shift identities like chameleons in space.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

Extinguishing hope that the cargo ship that went missing near the Bahamas could have survived a Thursday encounter with Hurricane Joaquin, the Coast Guard announced Monday that the ship, El Faro, sank, according to the Associated Press. The Coast Guard also found an unidentified body of one crew member.

Passenger Train Derails In Vermont

Oct 5, 2015

UPDATED AT 3:27 p.m.

An Amtrak train headed from Vermont to Washington, D.C., derailed in central Vermont on Monday after apparently striking rocks that were on the tracks. No life-threatening injuries were reported.

An Amtrak passenger train carrying 102 people derailed Monday morning in Northfield after pieces of rock ledge fell onto the tracks. Seven people were injured in the accident, including one who was airlifted to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, but emergency officials say it could have been much worse.

Sarah Craig/Faces of Fracking / Creative Commons

Coventry has become the second town in Connecticut to pass an ordinance banning fracking waste from natural gas or oil drilling and extraction. The town of Washington passed a ban earlier this year.

Updated at 1:10 a.m. ET Monday:

A powerful rainstorm continues to soak South Carolina. At least five deaths have been reported across the state. Several sections of interstate highways have been closed including a 70-mile portion of I-95. In the state's capital Columbia, rescue operations will continue through at least Monday. Many schools and universities have canceled Monday classes and some businesses will also be closed. Forecasters predict it could be Tuesday before the rain stops.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Updated at 9:03 p.m. ET

Hurricane Joaquin is moving rapidly away from the Bahamas as a Category 4 storm, with sustained winds of 155 mph. Although forecasters say it will stay well offshore from the U.S. East Coast, Bermuda could be in the storm's crosshairs.

Even without a direct hit on the Eastern Seaboard, severe flooding, partly from hurricane-generated rain, was is a big concern in the Carolinas. The White House has declared a state of emergency in South Carolina, which is getting historic levels of rainfall.

Updated at 1:35 p.m. ET

A powerful Hurricane Joaquin was pummeling the Bahamas as it stayed put over the islands with sustained winds of 130 mph.

The storm is expected to begin a gradual march north, but most forecast models now place it firmly on a trajectory that stays well offshore from the U.S. East Coast, alleviating some concern over its potential impact.

Updated, 1:20 a.m. ET

The National Hurricane Center's projections for Hurricane Joaquin in the past two days have incrementally moved the storm east. Now the government agency is saying the storm is likely to miss the United States altogether.

Some coastal flooding is still likely from the storm's surge, the hurricane center says, and unrelated rains could cause flooding in parts of the Carolinas and Virginia.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Each weekday morning at the bank of the Connecticut River, a short line of cars begins to form. A part of Route 148 is closed off — the river runs through it. But at 7:00 am, a gate swings open, and the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry reconnects the route. 

nitram242

Connecticut's Department of Economic and Community Development is inviting municipalities and economic development agencies to apply for $7.5 million in state grants to clean up former industrial sites.

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