A disgraceful cascade of trash follows a rare Yellowstone Ear Spring geyser eruption

October 8, 2018 by  
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While tourists flock from all corners of the globe to witness the Yellowstone National Park geysers such as famous Old Faithful, it is a small and relatively-unknown geyser catching international attention this time around. Ear Spring had been quiet for about 60 years until its recent September 15 eruption that featured a fountain of trash gushing from its depths. The natural phenomena generally emit steam and hot water, but this 30-foot surge included a plethora of oddities thrown out by tourists over the course of nearly 90 years. In the aftermath, Yellowstone National Park’s official Facebook page issued a statement saying,  “After Ear Spring erupted on September 15, employees found a strange assortment of items strewn across the landscape around its vent!” A few of the items dated back to the 1930s. “Some are clearly historic,” the post read. “They’ll be inventoried by curators and may end up in Yellowstone’s archives.” Related: The world’s tallest active geyser keeps erupting in Yellowstone – and scientists don’t know why While throwing garbage into the geyser is prohibited, if not deterred by common sense, the landmark-turned-landfill had much to expel. Cigarette butts, plastic utensils and straws, film wrappers and other random articles, including a baby pacifier from the 1930s, littered the ground after the eruption.  “Foreign objects can damage hot springs and geysers,” explained the park, following the disgraceful display. “The next time Ear Spring erupts, we hope it’s nothing but natural rocks and water.” The small geyser’s spout was minor in comparison with other eruptions that are common in the area. Yellowstone is home to the world’s tallest active geyser, Steamboat, whose emissions can reach heights of 300 feet. The natural fountains gush steam and water in rapid patterns much like fireworks, and active geysers can erupt multiple times daily, such as Old Faithful, whose spouts can be admired every 35 to 120 minutes. While geyser eruptions can be magnificent, they are certainly less so when spewing decades of pollution. Via TreeHugger and The Huffington Post Image via Yellowstone National Park

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A disgraceful cascade of trash follows a rare Yellowstone Ear Spring geyser eruption

Judge stops bear hunt and returns Yellowstone grizzlies to the endangered list

September 27, 2018 by  
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The hunt for grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park is officially over. This week, a judge ordered that all grizzly bears living in or near the park to be put back on the list of endangered species. The ruling stops the attempts of wildlife officials to issue licenses for those want to hunt the bears, which have been protected from hunting for the past four decades. According to The Guardian , the population of grizzly bears has increased in the last 30 years from around 135 to more than 700 today. While the numbers are improving, grizzlies are only present in four locations in the Rocky Mountains. This has raised concerns about the recovery of grizzlies, as the populations are still isolated from each other. This is one reason why Judge Dana Christensen, who put in a lot of research on the case, decided to put the bears back on the endangered list. As Judge Christensen explained, true recovery means expanding grizzly populations to regions outside of the Rocky Mountains. Related: Montana judge to rule on first grizzly bear hunt in 40 years While environmental groups and activists praised the ruling, wildlife officials were disappointed by the turn of events. Officials in Wyoming recently put in motion plans for a bear hunt later this year. Up to 22 individuals were granted licenses to hunt grizzlies when the season opened. Luckily, citizens and conservationists launched a massive campaign — including the Shoot’em with a Camera, Not A Gun initiative  — to stop the sport hunting of these beautiful creatures. The fight to keep grizzly bears on the endangered list is sadly not over. Experts believe that state officials will attempt to repeal the ruling at a higher court. The pro-hunting organization Safari Club International is also expected to make a push toward making grizzly hunts legal once again. We can only hope that Judge Christensen’s ruling stands the test of time, allowing grizzlies to make a true recovery in the wild. Via The Guardian Image via Neal Herbert / Yellowstone National Park

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Judge stops bear hunt and returns Yellowstone grizzlies to the endangered list

Montana judge to rule on first grizzly bear hunt in 40 years

August 29, 2018 by  
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This week, a U.S. judge will hear the arguments presented by Native American tribes and animal activists for the protection of recently demoted Yellowstone-area grizzly bears from the endangered list. The removal of the grizzlies’ protection status has caused states such as Montana, Idaho and Wyoming to launch trophy hunting expeditions in and around Yellowstone National Park for the first time in over 40 years. All in all, 700 American bears are at risk of staring down the barrel since their elimination from the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Species in 2017 under the Trump administration. While some states hailed the decision, along with hunters and ranchers who worried about bears preying on their livestock, Native Americans and conservation groups took matters into their own hands, filing lawsuits with the U.S. courts. “We feel all our beliefs, medicines, ceremonies and ancestral ways of life are being disrespected … because a few people want to kill grizzlies … to mount their heads on walls or make rugs for their floors,” explained Crawford White, part of the Northern Arapaho Elders Society, a Wyoming tribe that is supporting the suit for what it feels is a violation of religious freedom. Related: Movement to save grizzly bears from hunters scores a victory Constituents arguing for the hunt said that they met with tribal leaders before allowing up to 22 grizzly bears to be killed in the scheduled hunt, according to Renny MacKay, spokesperson for the Game and Fish Department . They maintain their stance that grizzly populations have exceeded targets for recovery measures and risk over-pouring into the surrounding area. More than 7,000 people have applied to the lottery system, which is accepting 22 individuals into the hunt, one person for every bear to be killed. Some applicants include individuals in the conservation group “Shoot ‘Em with a Camera, Not a Gun,” which has scored at least one of the 22 licenses. The hunt is set to begin September 1 in Wyoming and Idaho, and groups are impatiently awaiting the trial’s commencement to find out whether or not the state of Montana will join as well. Related: Jane Goodall and conservationists move to obtain bear hunting licences in Wyoming The hearing is set for Thursday, and opponents will meet in the U.S. District Court of Montana. The judge presiding over the case will make the final decision whether to restore protective status to the Yellowstone grizzlies or give them up to the hunt. Via Reuters Image via Yellowstone National Park

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Jane Goodall and conservationists move to obtain bear hunting licences in Wyoming

July 19, 2018 by  
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Grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park are in danger as Wyoming opens up its first bear hunt since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973. Wildlife conservationists working alongside famed animal rights champion and educator Jane Goodall have raised over $28,000 online for their campaign “Shoot’em with a Camera, Not a Gun,” which has infiltrated the list of approximately 7,000 lottery members applying for a hunting licence in the state of Wyoming. In May, seven members of the state’s Game and Fish Department unanimously voted in favor of hunting the grizzly bears . People interested in hunting the bears had to enter into a lottery for bear hunting licenses. The lottery closed at 7 a.m. on July 17, and about 7,000 applications were submitted. The department communicated that it views this influx of applicants as proof that this is something their citizens want. Related: Trump administration wants to allow “extreme and cruel” hunting methods in Alaska The Shoot’em with a Camera activists are seeking to lower the number of hunters granted licenses by scoring as many permits as they can through the state’s lottery system. Of the people selected to receive licenses, those who reside in state will pay a fee of $602, while those who reside outside of Wyoming should be prepared to fork over $6,002 in the hopes of either saving or shooting their own grizzly bears. The event will allow for up to 22 grizzly bears to be hunted. Up until the 1850s, nearly 50,000 grizzly bears roamed North America. By 1973, only 136 grizzlies were left in and around Yellowstone. The number of wild grizzlies plummeted as a result of the same bear hunting activities that states such as Wyoming — and now Montana and Idaho — are sanctioning.  Now the grizzly bear population has reached approximately 700, apparently enough to warrant their elimination from both the Endangered Species Act and the environment. More than 650,000 people, including 125 Native American tribes, took part in a commentary session and criticized the government for raising the issue of removing grizzlies from the Endangered Species Act back in 2016. A federal judge will rule next month on a lawsuit appealing on the bears’ behalf —more specifically against their removal from the Act — that will hopefully put a ban on the hunting event altogether. Via The Guardian Images via Yellowstone National Park ( 1 , 2 )

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6 ways that scientists are hacking the planet

May 28, 2018 by  
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Life on planet Earth is struggling through an historically challenging era, thanks in no small part to the actions of our species. Some scientists have proposed labeling this period as the Anthropocene epoch due to the outsize influence that humans have had on the planet’s ecosystems , especially in the past several centuries. Anthropogenic climate change is wreaking havoc across the planet, from the melting sea ice in the Arctic to the rising sea levels in the Atlantic. Plastic pollution threatens to suffocate aquatic life while deforestation destroys essential habitat; both are contributing to what some scientists have called the sixth mass extinction. As much as humanity has altered this planet in ways that are harmful to itself and other species, some humans are now attempting to hack the planet, in big ways and small, for the good of us all. 1. Refreezing the Arctic As nations around the world race toward carbon neutrality, it is nonetheless clear that the planet will continue to experience significant effects of climate change, even in best-case scenarios. Given that the global community is far from the path toward best-case conditions, some scientists have begun work on radical procedures that, if successful, could return Earth’s ecosystems to a pre-climate change state. Perhaps the region most associated with the fundamental ecological transformations under climate change is the Arctic . To protect this rapidly warming region, a team of 14 scientists led by physicist Steven Desch of  Arizona State University   have created a plan that aims to refreeze sthe Arctic with 10 million wind-powered pumps. The system would pump water onto the sea ice during winter, freezing new layers and reinforcing the sea ice. With the Arctic predicted to be sea ice-free by the summer of 2030, something must be done. “Our only strategy at present seems to be to tell people to stop burning  fossil fuels ,” Desch told the Observer . “It’s a good idea but it is going to need a lot more than that to stop the Arctic’s sea ice from disappearing.” 2. Puncturing the Yellowstone Supervolcano As the Kilauea volcano destroys buildings and forces major evacuations in Hawaii , the public is once again reminded of the dangers that volcanic eruptions can pose, often unexpectedly. If the supervolcano at Yellowstone National Park were to erupt, it could could trigger a collapse of the global agricultural and economic systems and result in the deaths of potentially millions of people. Although scientists cannot predict when such an eruption would occur, they have already prepared a plan to prevent it from occurring. Related: The world’s tallest active geyser keeps erupting in Yellowstone – and scientists don’t know why Researchers at NASA have proposed drilling into the magma chamber and adding water to cool it down, thereby preventing an eruption. However, researchers recommend drilling into the chamber from below, so as to avoid fracturing the surrounding rock and causing an eruption. Excess heat gathered through such a puncture could be converted into geothermal power. NASA estimates that such a project would cost $3.5 billion; the agency has yet to secure funding. 3. A ‘Spray-on Umbrella’ to Protect Coral Reefs Coral reefs around the world are under severe pressure, with up to one-quarter of all reefs worldwide already considered too damaged to be saved. Climate change , overfishing, and pollution all contribute to the poor health of global coral populations. Even the sun’s UV rays are damaging coral reefs by exacerbating extreme bleaching events. To protect acute vulnerabilities in coral reefs, researchers have created what has been described as a “spray-on umbrella”: an environmentally friendly substance 500 times thinner than human hair, capable of reflecting and scattering sunlight that hits the surface of the ocean. “It’s important to note that this is not intended to be a solution that can be applied over the whole 348,000 square kilometres of Great Barrier Reef ,” Great Barrier Reef Foundation managing director Anna Marsden told  the Sydney Morning Herald . “That would never be practical, but it could be deployed on a smaller, local level to protect high value or high-risk areas of reef.” Real-world experiments with the lipid-calcium carbonate substance will begin soon. 4. A Chemical Sunshade As global temperatures continue to rise and climate change fundamentally alters ecosystems around the world, scientists are considering what some may see as drastic measures to correct a global climate spiraling into chaos. The deliberate large-scale manipulation of Earth’s climate to compensate for global warming is known as geoengineering. Scientists from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Jamaica, and Thailand have now joined the debate in a new study published in Nature, arguing that if there is to be geoengineering, developing countries must lead the way . Related: Trump administration could open door to geoengineering “The technique is controversial, and rightly so,” they wrote. “It is too early to know what its effects would be: it could be very helpful or very harmful. Developing countries have most to gain or lose. In our view, they must maintain their climate leadership and play a central part in research and discussions around solar geoengineering.” Specifically, these scientists are interested in studying the effect of controlled sprays of water molecules on cloud cover reflectivity. If clouds become more reflective, they could deflect more of the sun’s rays, thus cooling the planet down. While small-scale experiments have been conducted by researchers at Harvard University, geoengineering remains on the not-so-distant horizon for now. 5. Using the Color Spectrum to Cool Down Hacking the planet need not be done on such a large scale; sometimes small, local actions can effect large, global change. In this case, public works officials and workers in Los Angeles have figured out a way to hack the light spectrum by painting its streets white to reduce heat absorption. White-painted streets and rooftops are a low-cost, simple measure to reduce the urban heat island effect, thus saving energy otherwise spent on cooling. To achieve this impact, Los Angeles is covering its streets with CoolSeal, a light-colored paint that has already yielded positive outcomes. Related: Futuristic “spaceship” Lucas Museum breaks ground in Los Angeles “We found that on average the area covered in CoolSeal is 10 degrees cooler than black asphalt on the same parking lot,” said Greg Spotts, the assistant director of the Bureau of Street Services for San Fernando Valley, one of the hottest spots in greater LA. Currently, Los Angeles is one of the only places in the United States where heat-related deaths occur regularly during winter , a public health hazard that is expected to worsen as  climate change  gains strength over the next decades. If enough streets are painted white, relief from the heat may arrive in the City of Angels. 6. The Rain-Making Machine No matter how many streets are painted white, if there is no water, there will be no city. Water held within the air, even as it stubbornly refuses to rain, represents an untapped resource with which to quench the thirst of communities around the globe. The  China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation  (CASC) is currently testing devices in the Tibetan Plateau that could increase rainfall in the region by as much as 10 billion cubic meters, or around 353 billion cubic feet, per year. CASC plans to build tens of thousands of chambers across 620,000 square miles, which will burn fuel to create silver iodide. This silver iodide will then serve as a crystalline cloud-seeding agent. The chambers will be located on steep, south-facing ridges that will facilitate the sweeping of the silver iodide into the clouds to cause rainfall. As the project unfolds, 30 weather satellites will gather real-time data while the chambers work together with drones, planes, and even artillery to maximize the effectiveness of the rain-making machines. While the idea of “cloud seeding” is not new, China is the first country to pursue such a project on a large scale. Images via Good Free Photos,   Depositphotos  (1) (2) ,  Pixabay (1) , NASA/ISS  

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6 ways that scientists are hacking the planet

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

Scientists just learned what makes Yellowstone’s supervolcano tick

April 18, 2018 by  
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We all know about the supervolcano boiling underneath Yellowstone – but, until now, we didn’t know what was fueling the cauldron. This week, scientists revealed that they were able to model the behavior of two magma chambers underground by using supercomputer technology. At one point, these two magma lakes almost meet, forming a slab of pressure-trapping rock. That rock could be the powder keg that fuels the volcano. University of Oregon geologist Ilya Bindeman and his team ran simulations based on research from the University of Utah , which had determined that two gigantic magma chambers lay underneath Yellowstone. Bindeman’s simulations showed how those magma chambers formed over the course of 7 million years. ? Using these models, researchers determined that a cooler magma shelf is crushed between the two magma bodies about six miles below the surface. This so-called “gabbro rock” is found in other supervolcanoes around the world. Someday, scientists will be able to use this information to help shed a little light on how and when the Yellowstone volcano might blow, as well as what feeds it. Related: NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth “This is the nursery, a geological and petrological match with eruptive products. We think that this structure is what causes the rhyolite-basalt volcanism throughout the Yellowstone hotspot, including supervolcanic eruptions,” said Bindeman. The study was published this week in Geophysical Research Letters . + Geophysical Research Letters Via Science Alert Images via Deposit Photos and GRL

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Scientists just learned what makes Yellowstone’s supervolcano tick

New evidence suggests a massive magma plume under Yellowstone Park

March 20, 2018 by  
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A new study reveals evidence of a massive plume of magma beneath Yellowstone National Park – and it could run all the way to Mexico. Scientists have debated the presence of a plume for years, and if one does exist, it would explain the heat that bubbles to the surface in the park. Researchers at the University of Texas found evidence for a plume under the park using seismic data obtained from listening stations across North America run by EarthScope’s USArray . Using this data, they found a long, thin 72 x 55-kilometer channel where seismic waves are slower. This indicates that the section of mantle is 600 to 800 degrees warmer than areas around it. Related: Scientists construct new theory of Yellowstone’s supervolcano hotspot This plume could be the cause of Yellowstone’s surface activity , although the scientists say that more research is needed. There is also more work to be done to understand the forces holding the plume in place in its current location. Via Phys.org Images via Nature and Deposit Photos

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New evidence suggests a massive magma plume under Yellowstone Park

SOM’s net-zero Paris skyscraper will be one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe

March 20, 2018 by  
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Prolific firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) just unveiled plans for Charenton-Bercy, a net-zero Paris skyscraper that’s designed to be one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe. The 180-meter tower would include multiple green features, including rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, green roofs, and waste-to-energy conversion systems. As part of its “garden in the sky” design, the project would also feature a  band of vegetation running the length of the tower’s facade, leading into a tree-filled plaza at the tower’s base. The architects would place the skyscraper on the banks of the Seine in southeastern Paris. The building will house a mix of residential units and a hotel, with shops and outdoor cafes in the adjoining plaza. The master plan calls for  green space to occupy more than one-third of the site. In fact, the developer working with the architects has committed to planting one tree on-site per residential unit. Related: SOM unveils impressive LEED-targeting medical campus for Egypt’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) The plans reflect the firm’s goal of creating an icon of sustainability while blending the design into the traditional cityscape of Paris. In the words of Daniel Ringelstein, director at SOM London, the architects “saw [their] role as bringing a fresh perspective from an international point of view, refined in close collaboration with [their] local team to ensure a sensitive integration within the existing community.” + SOM Architecture Via Dezeen Images via Som Architecture

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SOM’s net-zero Paris skyscraper will be one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe

Wave of earthquakes shake Yellowstone’s supervolcano

February 22, 2018 by  
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Since the start of February, Yellowstone National Park and its supervolcano have been hit with a wave of at least 20 earthquakes and a number of smaller tremors. Although the largest earthquake only registered a 2.9 on the Richter scale and all have struck about five miles below the Earth’s surface, this so-called earthquake swarm is noteworthy, though likely not reason for alarm. “While it may seem worrisome, the current seismicity is relatively weak and actually represents an opportunity to learn more about Yellowstone,” wrote researchers Michael Poland and Jamie Farrell for the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory . “It is during periods of change when scientists can develop, test, and refine their models of how the Yellowstone volcanic system works.” Though the name may conjure images of aggressive insects , earthquake swarms are actually a fairly common, benign occurrence at Yellowstone. The largest earthquake storm came in 1985, when more than 3,000 earthquakes struck Yellowstone over several months. The area typically experiences 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes each year, most of which are not felt. Swarms are caused by stress changes at fault lines due to either tectonic forces or local pressure increases resulting from changes in water, magma , or subterranean gas. The highly seismic Yellowstone is affected by both swarm-causing factors. Related: Scientists construct new theory of Yellowstone’s supervolcano hotspot While the earthquake swarms and Yellowstone’s supervolcano are both currently harmless, there is always a small chance that, someday, the big one will arrive. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there is a 1 in 730,000 chance that the supervolcano will experience a major eruption; this is roughly equivalent to the probability of an asteroid collision with Earth. As for what might trigger such an event, tiny tremors serve as reminders. Seismologist Jamie Farrell told National Geographic, “The most likely hazard in Yellowstone is from large earthquakes”. Via National Geographic Images via Depositphotos (1)

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