Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks

April 11, 2018 by  
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Each year, more than  1.5 million people attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. to glimpse a colorful sign of spring . But while this year’s peak bloom was in line with the 96-year average, over the long term spring is actually springing sooner — due to climate change . This change isn’t limited to the cherry blossoms, either; recently published maps from NASA Earth Observatory have revealed how much earlier the season is starting in national parks around America. The maps show the “rate of change (days per century since 1901)” for first leaf and first bloom, drawing on data published in 2016  by National Park Service (NPS) ecologists. NASA Earth Observatory looked at 276 parks to discover around three-quarters are experiencing earlier springs — and over half are seeing extreme early springs. Related: California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space The changes in national parks offer more evidence that climate change is happening now; according to NASA Earth Observatory, “…most parks are already experiencing and responding to climate-driven changes.” Parks have had to alter the timing of opening park facilities, hiring seasonal staff, and commencing control of invasive plants and pests. The National Cherry Blossom Festival has also been extended, so that it’s more likely for the peak bloom and the festival to overlap. According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival website, the event now takes place over four weekends , as opposed to the two weekends it lasted in 1994 (although the festival website didn’t specifically attribute the length to climate change). NPS climate change ecologist John Gross said, “Climate changes are affecting resources across the entire range of national parks. Earlier springs, as indicated by leaf and flowering dates, is one of the most obvious and easily understood effects of climate change.” The magnitude of change differs across the parks; for example, in Grand Canyon National Park , spring is appearing almost two weeks earlier than in 1901, according to NASA Earth Observatory. Conversely, some parts of the southeastern United States haven’t experienced as much change. + NASA Earth Observatory Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 ) and NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens , using data courtesy of Monahan, William B., et al. (2016)

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Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks

Off-grid Fossil Discovery Exhibit camouflages into the Texan desert

March 28, 2018 by  
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Big Bend National Park isn’t just a place of stunning landscape beauty—the Texan park is also paleontological paradise. To tell the story of the area’s rich fossil history, Texan architecture studio Lake | Flato designed the Fossil Discovery Exhibit, a series of interpretive pavilions that draws inspiration from the surrounding topography. The unstaffed, low-maintenance building operates off grid and draws energy and water from solar panels and a rainwater catchment system. Created as a series of open-air pavilions , the Fossil Discovery Exhibit takes visitors on the Big Bend Fossil Discovery Trail: a sequential walkway that covers four paleontological eras from the Early Cretaceous period to the Cenozoic Era. “The complex story of Big Bend’s remarkable landscape can be brought to life through its fossil history and the artifacts found within the park,” wrote the architects. “These characteristics create a unique opportunity for interpretation and education; the trail will describe the world-class diversity and length of Big Bend’s fossil history while directly referencing the breathtaking surrounding landscape.” Related: Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is sustainably built from CNC-milled beetle-kill timber Elevated on concrete piers, the building is clad in perforated weathering steel for low maintenance and camouflage so as to avoid disrupting views from the road and trails. Interior partitions guide visitors through the spaces, the highlight of which is the Gallery of the Giants where massive bones and recreated skeletons are on display. Solar panels power the buildings, while the angled roof, which evokes a winged dinosaur, is optimized for rainwater collection. + Lake | Flato Via Dezeen Images by Casey Dunn

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Off-grid Fossil Discovery Exhibit camouflages into the Texan desert

Over 20,500 people have signed a petition to keep Starbucks out of Yosemite

January 16, 2018 by  
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Should Starbucks be present in a national park like Yosemite ? More than 20,500 signers of a Change.org petition don’t think so. The petition says opening the Starbucks would pave the way for more undue development and the national park “will lose its essence, making it hardly distinguishable from a chaotic and bustling commercial city.” The idea of a Starbucks in Yosemite National Park has people livid. “National parks are some of the only free, clean, beautiful and pollution free places we have left. Multi billion dollar corporations don’t belong!” said petition signer Rebekah Stevens of Mariposa, California on Change.org. Signer Felicia Flick of Foresthill, California said, “John Muir would roll in his grave.” People saying they’re from places all over the United States and the world have signed the petition to be sent to representative Tom McClintock, senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, and the Yosemite National Park Administration. Related: White House kills ban on bottled water at National Parks The Starbucks would be part of Base Camp Eatery , Yosemite Hospitality’s renovated food court. Yosemite Hospitality is a corporate subsidiary of Aramark , and senior director of corporate communications David Freireich told Thrillist , “The petition is not an accurate representation or reflection of what is being planned. The Starbucks offering will occupy existing space. No new structures or free-standing stores are being built as part of the food court renovation.” National parks right now aren’t free of corporations, according to National Park Service spokesman Jeffrey Olson, who told Mashable , “Many of our current concessioners are multi-national corporations. Concessioners fill a vital role in helping the National Park Service carry out its mission. Private companies are drawn to working with NPS in order to offer services to park visitors, which are not provided directly by the government. Concessioners specialize in these operations and are thus able to provide quality services at reasonable prices.” Aramark became a concessioner at Yosemite in 2016 under a 15-year contract . People continue to sign the petition – at time of publication the number was just over 20,500. Find out more here . Via Change.org , Thrillist , and Mashable Images via Pixabay and Aniket Deole on Unsplash

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Over 20,500 people have signed a petition to keep Starbucks out of Yosemite

Idyllic ecolodge tucked into remote Vietnamese mountainside is made of locally-sourced granite

January 15, 2018 by  
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Located in a remote region in northern Vietnam, the Topas Ecolodge could just be the ultimate off-grid getaway . Set in an idyllic location with stunning views of the lush green mountainside, the sustainable complex offers 33 one-bedroom bungalows constructed from local white granite quarried from the surrounding mountains. The lodge is located in the remote village of Sapa in northern Vietnam, deep in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. The area is quite popular for tourism and many people come to visit the traditional hill tribe villages found in the area. In the past, visitors to the region would stay in the villages, but as tourism grew, the area was in dire need of a sustainable lodging option that would not take away from the idyllic surroundings. Related: Bolivia’s Ecolodge del Lago takes inspiration from traditional Lak’a Uta architecture The Topas Ecolodge was designed to provide rustic, but comfortable lodging that blends into the landscape. Situated atop two cone formed hills, the project’s construction was based on sustainable principles in order to create as low impact on the environment as possible. The 33 one-bedroom bungalows were all made out of locally-sourced granite quarried from the nearby mountains. Additionally, the complex has an innovative wastewater facility that was designed to avoid pollution of the surroundings. Additionally, the goods and products used in the lodge are all found locally. Created as a wellness retreat , thee bungalows have no TV and no internet. Visitors can spend their time hiking or biking through the mountainside and when they’re ready for a bit of relaxation, the infinity pool offers breathtaking views of the mountainside. Additionally, there is an onsite spa that specializes in the traditional Red Dao herbal bath. + Topas Ecolodge Via Uncrate

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Idyllic ecolodge tucked into remote Vietnamese mountainside is made of locally-sourced granite

New satellite paves the way for full-color, full-motion video from space

January 15, 2018 by  
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British company Earth-i just launched a new prototype satellite that paves the way for the “world’s first full-color, full-motion video satellite constellation.” CARBONITE-2 is a test version of the the Vivid-i commercial satellite constellation, and its imaging system “is designed to deliver 1m resolution images and color HD video clips with a swath width of 5km.” CARBONITE-2 (which the Earth-i team calls VividX2) blasted off from the Indian Space Research Organization ‘s Satash Dhawan Space Center aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle late last week. Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) manufactured the technology demonstration satellite. In their statement on the launch they said it “will demonstrate a low-cost video-from-orbit solution using Commercial-Off-The-Shelf technologies.” Related: Teen creates world’s lightest satellite and NASA is sending it to space An Ultra High Definition camera on CARBONITE-2 can snap high-resolution images and capture up to two minutes of video. The satellite weighs around 220 pounds, and it will orbit 314 miles, above the planet, moving at around 4.3 miles a second. European Space Agency Earth Observation Programs director Josef Aschbacher said in a statement, “The launch of VividX2 is a significant next development of Earth-i’s constellation, and welcomed by ESA. The Vivid-i Constellation will provide capabilities we haven’t seen before including full-color video, and an assured stream of high-quality data from space to help improve both our planet and lives on Earth.” The company said such images and videos could help governments or businesses monitor assets, track activities or changes, and even “predict future events with more certainty.” Earth-i has already ordered the next five satellites for Vivid-i from SSTL. Via Engadget , Earth-i , and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited Images via SSTL/Beaucroft Photography

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New satellite paves the way for full-color, full-motion video from space

‘Galapagos of North America’ – Mexico creates massive marine reserve

November 28, 2017 by  
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In a huge win for the environment, Mexico’s government just announced the creation of a massive marine reserve in an area known as the ‘Galapagos of North America.’ Aimed at protecting and preserving the precious environment around the Revillagigedo Archipelago near Baja California, the Illinois-sized reserve will be the largest of its kind for the continent. The 57,143-square-mile reserve will go a long way towards protecting the humpbacks, migratory birds, rays, turtles, endangered fish and coral reefs that call the area home. With the designation, all hotel construction, fishing, and mining are banned. The reserve sits 242 miles south-west of the Baja California peninsula and contains four volcanic islands and a submerged volcanic mountain range. Related: We created enough marine reserves last year to cover Texas and Alaska combined President Enrique Pena Nieto made the announcement on Friday, pushing back against significant opposition from the commercial fishing industry, saying that Mexico is reaffirming its “commitment to the preservation of the heritage of Mexico and the world”. The area will be policed by the Mexican Navy, a move that helps to silence critics that say marine reserves aren’t adequately patrolled. It’s worth noting that while Mexico is making a commitment to protecting priceless places, Trump is considering shrinking the Rose Atoll and the Pacific Remote Islands, two national monuments that could be opened to fishing. Con el Decreto del Parque Nacional Revillagigedo, el @gobmx reafirma su compromiso con la conservación del patrimonio de @Mexico y el mundo. pic.twitter.com/RNfTruK6XM — Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) November 25, 2017 Via The Guardian Lead image via Deposit Photos , image via Wikimedia

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‘Galapagos of North America’ – Mexico creates massive marine reserve

You can stay in this tiny treehouse made out of locally-sourced materials in Hawaii

October 18, 2017 by  
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Nothing says peaceful solitude like waking up surrounded by lush greenery with birds chirping away in the treetops. And that’s just what you’ll get in this tiny tree cottage  located in Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park. Although compact in size, the 300-square-foot Airbnb getaway feels anything but cramped. Set up ten feet off the ground, floor-to-ceiling windows flood the small space with natural light and provide beautiful viewing of colorful birds flitting about in the native ohi’a and hapu’u trees. Located on the side of the volcano, the tiny retreat offers the ultimate in serenity. The cottage – which was built by a local contractor using locally-sourced materials – is a mere 300 square feet, but the glass french doors and large windows provide a ton of natural light. The light wooden floors along with the vaulted ceiling also add a sense of spaciousness to the interior. Related: 8 inspiring tiny Airbnb homes for a taste of living small Guests will be able to enjoy the basic amenities such as a comfy bed, swinging rattan chair, a fully-equipped kitchen, along with a complete bathroom and shower. For water usage, the house is equipped with an outdoor rain catchment system to store water that is then purified with a UV system and filtered. Although the interior is closely connected to the beautiful surroundings, guests will be able to reconnect with the great outdoors by enjoying the covered lounge area on the ground floor, complete with acacia wood furniture and string lights. + Airbnb

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You can stay in this tiny treehouse made out of locally-sourced materials in Hawaii

White House kills ban on bottled water at National Parks

August 18, 2017 by  
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The Trump administration has put the kibosh on a six-year-old ban on selling bottled water at some national parks . The National Park Service announced on Wednesday that, effectively immediately, parks like the Grand Canyon will no longer be able to block the sale of plastic water bottles in a bid to reduce litter. In a statement, the National Park Service said it wanted to “expand hydration options for recreationalists, hikers, and other visitors to national parks.” The decision serves as yet another rollback of one of President Barack Obama’s environmental policies. Since 2011, the Green Parks Plan has encouraged the use of refillable water bottles on park lands. While it didn’t prohibit the sale of bottled sweetened drinks, the policy allowed parks to prevent the sale of disposable water bottles in vending machines, stores, and hotels. Related: Big Water fights plans to ban plastic water bottles in national parks Besides the Grand Canyon, 22 of the 417 National Park Service sites implemented the policy, officials said. These included Bryce Canyon National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Zion National Park. The rollback is a win for the bottled water and beverage industry, which campaigned against the ban, noting that the Obama administration “removed the healthiest beverage choice at a variety of parks while still allowing sales of bottled sweetened drinks.” “Consumption of water in all forms, tap, filtered, and bottled, should always be encouraged,” said Jill Culora, a spokeswoman for the International Bottled Water Association , a trade group. “The rescinded policy was seriously flawed.” The move by the National Parks comes three weeks after the Senate confirmation of David Bernhardt as deputy interior secretary. Bernhardt, according to the Washington Post , served as a lobbyist with the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which has represented Nestlé Water , one of the largest water bottlers in the United States and the distributor of the Deer Park brand. Via Washington Post and Associated Press Lead image via Pixabay , others by National Park Service/Flickr

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White House kills ban on bottled water at National Parks

NPS offers $5K reward for information about beloved white wolf shot in Yellowstone

May 15, 2017 by  
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There are only three white wolves known to reside in Yellowstone National Park . But one of them, a 12-year-old alpha female, was recently mortally wounded from a gunshot and had to be put down by park staff. Park superintendent Dan Wenk said this was a criminal act, and the park is offering $5,000 for any information about who might have shot the animal . Hikers came across the severely wounded white wolf last month inside the national park near Gardiner, Montana . Park staff responded and had to euthanize the wolf because her wounds were too grave. She was sent to the United States Fish & Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Oregon for a necropsy, and this week Yellowstone National Park shared the preliminary results: the wolf suffered from a gunshot. Related: Court condemns Wyoming wolves to first legal hunt in four years Park officials think someone shot the alpha female in the north side of Yellowstone or near the Old Yellowstone Trail. They think she was wounded between 1 AM on April 10 and 2 PM on April 11. Wenk said the park will offer a reward for information that can help them arrest and convict the person or people who criminally shot the wolf. The white wolf was 12 years old, which is double the average Yellowstone wolf’s age. She was the alpha female for more than nine years with one alpha male. She gave birth to at least 20 pups as an alpha female. The park said her range was quite expansive, from Hayden Valley in Wyoming to the Firehole River area, and even up to the northern part of the park near Montana. The park describes her as “one of the most recognizable wolves and sought after by visitors to view and photograph .” The park encourages anyone with information to step forward and call, text, email, or message them on social media; details to get in touch are here . Tips are confidential. Via the National Park Service Images via Yellowstone National Park on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 )

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NPS offers $5K reward for information about beloved white wolf shot in Yellowstone

Revolutionary printed solar sheets reach final trial stages in New South Wales

May 15, 2017 by  
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When disaster strikes, whether it be man-made or natural, power is the resource people need most. For this reason, Professor Paul Dastoor has been working for decades to develop a lightweight “printed solar ” panel that is capable of generating power . Now, the invention is in its final trial stages at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales. The revolutionary solar panels are made by printing electronic ink onto clear, plastic sheets. The final product is lightweight enough it can be quickly shipped to populations in distress – and that is the point. “What we do know right now is that if there’s a disaster the first thing people need is power,” said Dastoor. “Typically that’s generated by a diesel generator and you have to truck in fuel.” Compared to a silicon model, the lightweight solar panels are made from glass, which makes them much lighter. This, in turn, makes them ideal for developing countries. ”If I had 1000 square metres of typical silicone cells, that would weigh the equivalent of roughly three African Elephants . 1000m2 of this material would weigh about 100 kilograms,” said Vaughan, putting the product’s weight into perspective. The panels are also very economical to produce. After doing extensive economic modeling, the research team has concluded that they can produce the printed solar scales for less than $10 a square meter. “Try buying carpet for less than $10 a square metre,” said Vaughan. Related: MIT unveils new solar 3D printer that can build houses on other planets Based on data collected by the research team thus far, it is estimated that the university’s small printer can produce hundreds of meters of solar cells every day. In Professor Dastoor’s words, this “means that we’ll be able to power using scaled up printers , say thousands and thousands of homes… it’s very exciting.” You can expect to find the printed solar panels available for sale in about three years time. And, they won’t be marketed to just go on roofs . “One of the things about these cells is that they’re not as sensitive to light intensity,” said Dastoor. “Any part of the roof will generate electricity ; even walls, windows, surfaces of vehicles, tents, lightweight structures, roofs that can’t take a heavy conventional silicone solar cells are now accessible to these modules.”The inventor will “massively increase” the area of solar cells so energy can be produced in a variety of new ways. Added Dastoor, “We think it’s going to be a big change to the way in which we think about power being generated renewably .” Via ABC News Images via Kerrin Thomas of ABC News

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Revolutionary printed solar sheets reach final trial stages in New South Wales

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