An adventurer just journeyed into Americas largest national park – and here’s what he found

April 30, 2018 by  
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The largest national park in America is one few have ever heard of, and even fewer have visited. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve encompasses 13.2 million acres of glaciers and forests in the southeast of Alaska . Mark Jenkins, writer-in-residence at the University of Wyoming , decided to journey into the big unknown of the park’s landscape for Smithsonian magazine to capture what it looks like today, knowing that in 10 years, it would look entirely different because of  climate change . What he saw was absolutely breathtaking, in more ways than one. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is massive – it could fit Yosemite, Yellowstone and the entire country of Switzerland within its borders. But even though it is the biggest park in the country, it gets just 70,000 visitors a year. In contrast, Yellowstone gets 4 million. The park holds 3,000 glaciers, some of the largest in the country, and no one knows them better than the 250 residents of McCarthy, a bush down tucked deep in the park that isn’t accessible by car. Related: Alaskan city’s temperatures spiked so significantly NOAA algorithms thought they were wrong Jenkins met with some of the residents of McCarthy, and they showed him the changing landscape, giving him a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the glaciers and rivers that make up the landscape. “Bottom line, the glacial rivers are growing and the glaciers are retreating and diminishing,” Mark Vail, a resident since 1977 told Jenkins. “The Kennicott Glacier has retreated over half a mile since I first came here. Ablation has shrunk the height of the glacier by hundreds of feet in the last century.” Jenkins found the most obvious signs of these changes when he visited the nearby mining town of Kennecott. Photographs from Kennecott’s heyday a century ago show the massive Kennicott Glacier towering over the mill, but today the glacier sits below the mill. Jenkins talked to glaciologist Michael Loso while dining in McCarthy’s Potato restaurant. He told Jenkins about Iceberg Lake, which suddenly vanished in 1999. Loso explained that the resulting open land left by the lake allowed scientists to determine what the lake looked like even during warming periods in the past. The news was grim: “They’re an archival record that proves there was no catastrophic lake drainage, no jokulhlaup, even during the Medieval Warming Period,” he said. “When Iceberg Lake vanished, it was a big shock. It was a threshold event, not incremental, but sudden. That’s nature at a tipping point.” To read the rest of the story, and to view the astonishing photos that Nathaniel Wilder took on his journey with Jenkins, check out Smithsonian magazine . + Smithsonian Images courtesy of Nathaniel Wilder for Smithsonian Magazine , Google Maps and the NPS  

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An adventurer just journeyed into Americas largest national park – and here’s what he found

The world’s tallest active geyser in Yellowstone keeps erupting – and scientists don’t know why

April 30, 2018 by  
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Something strange is happening at the tallest geyser in the world in  Yellowstone  park  – and scientists can’t explain it. Steamboat Geyser can shoot up to 300 feet in the air when it erupts, which isn’t often, but over the past six weeks, the geyser has erupted three times. Even though scientists may be baffled as to why the geyser has suddenly become so active, don’t panic. They don’t believe it is an indication that Yellowstone’s supervolcano is getting ready to erupt. ? The last time Steamboat Geyser was this active was in 2003. Normally, it can go a year or more between eruptions. The park is still covered in deep snow, but a brave visitor reported seeing the geyser erupt on Friday around 6:30 am. This is the third time it has erupted since March 15. Before that, it’s last major eruption was in 2014. Related: Scientists just learned what makes Yellowstone’s supervolcano tick Scientists say that there is no reason to think that this activity is an indication that the supervolcano that Yellowstone sits on is getting ready to blow. “There is nothing to indicate that any sort of volcanic eruption is imminent,” said Michael Poland, lead scientist at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory . It could just be the “randomness” of geysers, he added. What would be concerning is if the hydrothermal systems in Yellowstone started drying up. That could indicate that the magma boiling in the volcanoes core was making its way to the surface. Via Reuters Images via Wikimedia and Deposit Photos

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The world’s tallest active geyser in Yellowstone keeps erupting – and scientists don’t know why

This all-weather bicycle highway could fulfill the dreams of bike commuters everywhere

April 30, 2018 by  
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Architect Richard Moreta just unveiled the MINILOOP, an enclosed cycleway that could be a dream come true for bicycle commuters. Envisioned as the “ideal zero-emission transportation system,” the MINILOOP is designed to harness renewable energy and supply excess power to the local city grid. Geared to satisfy even the most fair-weather cyclists, the cycleway would be enclosed in a weather-resistant elevated pipeline and it’s designed to cater to bicycles and e-bikes . Inspired by the Hyperloop , the MINILOOP is designed for easy, world-wide reproduction and it can be modified to suit different climates – from an open-air design for temperate climates to a more insulated design for places with extreme weather. “MINILOOP helps create less traffic and pollution simultaneously; by both taking more conventional motor vehicles off the road and giving more vertical space to grow plants to further filter the air,” the architects wrote. “It also minimizes traffic and cycling incidents, creating safer environments for families and commuters.” Related: Shanghai flying car tower to clean the air with a 50,000-plant vertical forest The designers also included an optional additional circuit for small electric vehicles as part of their vision for moving cities toward a lower carbon footprint . To encourage surrounding communities to adopt greener transportation options, each MINILOOP would also be equipped with electric bicycle and vehicle charging stations, as well as electric bicycle rentals. + Richard’s Architecture + Design

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This all-weather bicycle highway could fulfill the dreams of bike commuters everywhere

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