Science Wednesdays

 

Join us every Wednesday for short, interesting and informative stories about a wide variety of subjects! These are meant to be educational and engaging for the general public and aimed at furthering everyone’s understanding and enjoyment of science and its methods.
Hurricane Ida – September 8, 2021

Hurricane Ida – September 8, 2021

Warmer conditions in the oceans are raising the potential intensity for storms, where intensity refers to how bad they can get if nothing disrupts them. We have no clearer example of this than Hurricane Ida, a deadly and destructive hurricane that not only impacted...

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An Explosive History – September 1, 2021

An Explosive History – September 1, 2021

Colorado is known for its beautiful remote wilderness areas and its high peaks. But it’s also home to one of the largest and most destructive volcanic events in Earth’s history. The story starts roughly 35 million years ago, when layers of lava, ash, and other debris...

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Summit Rain – August 25, 2021

Summit Rain – August 25, 2021

Posting Science Wednesday early, due to some upcoming travel and being away from cell signal and the internet. More than 500 miles above the Arctic Circle and at 10,551 ft. (3,216 meters) above sea level, it rained for the first time. On August 14, 2021, temperatures...

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Meteor Crater – August 18, 2021

Meteor Crater – August 18, 2021

50,000 years ago, a large crater was formed in the northern Arizona desert of the United States. To get an idea of the size, imagine twenty American football games being played simultaneously on its floor, while more than 2 million spectators watch from the sloping...

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Code Red for Humanity – August 11, 2021

Code Red for Humanity – August 11, 2021

Just a few days ago, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared a “code red for humanity” in its latest 3,000 page report on the state of the climate. It is clear that the climate is in a state of emergency due to human-caused...

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Flash Flooding – August 4, 2021

Flash Flooding – August 4, 2021

A lot of rain and afternoon thunderstorms are typical of the summer monsoon season here in Colorado. Monsoon? In Colorado? When you hear the word monsoon, you probably think of the heavy rains in India during the summertime. While The North American monsoon is not as...

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Produce from the Past – July 28, 2021

Produce from the Past – July 28, 2021

Here in the Northern Hemisphere during these hot summer days, a lot of us are eating delicious produce like watermelon, peaches and corn-on-the cob. These days, there’s lots of chatter about GMO concerns (genetically modified organisms), but every species that’s ever...

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Flooding in Europe – July 21, 2021

Flooding in Europe – July 21, 2021

A few days ago, record rainfall caused rivers to burst their banks, leading to devastating floods in parts of western Europe. In the hardest hit parts of Germany, two months’ worth of rain fell in 24 hours, according to Deutscher Wetterdienst, Germany’s meteorological...

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Ethnobotany – July 14, 2021

Ethnobotany – July 14, 2021

Today’s Science Wednesday is a guest post from French anthropologist, Dr. Benjamin Pothier, with a focus on enthobotany. While anthropology is the scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behavior, human biology, cultures and societies, in both the present...

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Fire & Ice – July 7, 2021

Fire & Ice – July 7, 2021

Located along the 40,000-kilometer-long mostly underwater Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is one of the most volcanically active places in the world: Iceland. The ridge is the meeting point of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, and, as the two tectonic plates...

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Extreme Heat – June 30, 2021

Extreme Heat – June 30, 2021

The Pacific Northwest of North America has been experiencing unprecedented heat these last few days. But "unprecedented" doesn’t even do it justice. Statistically speaking, this is shaping up to be a once in a 1000-year occurrence – and that’s in a normal climate. But...

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Faces in the Stone: June 23, 2021

Faces in the Stone: June 23, 2021

This past weekend, Ricardo and I were in South Dakota. While there, hiking the highpoint (Black Elk Peak – 7,242 ft./2207 m), we were also able to visit nearby Mt. Rushmore – my first time seeing this national memorial. The size of the faces carved into the rock is...

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Mars on Earth – June 16, 2021

Mars on Earth – June 16, 2021

Guest post by Dylan Dickstein: Astronaut analogs are unique and incredible opportunities to jump into new worlds and challenge your ability to remain productive and level-headed while living in isolation with limited resources. This past April, The Explorers Club...

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Zombie Fires – June 9, 2021

Zombie Fires – June 9, 2021

Did you know that, deep below the snowpack during the winter, wildfires can still smolder? It’s pretty rare – but these overwintering fires do happen! Typically, when forest fires are put out, they stay out. They don’t survive cold, wet winters. But in boreal forests...

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Nyiragongo Erupts – May 26, 2021

Nyiragongo Erupts – May 26, 2021

It’s Science Wednesday! This past Saturday (May 22), Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa erupted for the first time in nearly 20 years. This active stratovolcano stands 11,385 feet tall (3470 m) and has a main crater about 2...

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Brood X Cicadas – May 19, 2021

Brood X Cicadas – May 19, 2021

It’s Science Wednesday! If you live on the east coast of the United States and have been outside recently, you may have noticed a peculiar sight and sound in the air – loads and loads of male cicadas are singing their siren songs through vibrations of their tymbals, a...

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New Normals – May 12, 2021

New Normals – May 12, 2021

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released new climate normals for the US. So, what does this actually mean? A climate normal is a 30-year average of measurements from weather variables like temperature and precipitation from...

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Stories in the Sand – May 5, 2021

Stories in the Sand – May 5, 2021

In last week’s Science Wednesday, I covered the geology that created the Gulf of California and Baja California. This week, I want to share some photos from a particular island in the region: Isla San Jose, home to some stunning geology, particularly at a place called...

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Baja, California – April 28, 2021

Baja, California – April 28, 2021

There are few places on the planet that are true paradise - that not only provide stunning scenery but incredible diversity of life, microclimates and geology. Baja California Sur - the state in the southern part of the larger Baja California Peninsula - is one of...

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Surging Glaciers – April 21, 2021

Surging Glaciers – April 21, 2021

(Science Wednesday is posted early due to some upcoming travel): On the north side of Denali, North America’s highest peak, the Muldrow Glacier has been moving unusually fast: as much as 90 feet/day! What is causing this? It’s called a glacial surge which is a...

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When Lightning Strikes – April 14, 2021

When Lightning Strikes – April 14, 2021

Life on Earth originated billions of years ago. While there was likely plenty of water and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to work with - essential ingredients for life - most of Earth’s phosphorus was locked up in insoluble rock, making it impossible to combine into...

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Ingenuity – April 7, 2021

Ingenuity – April 7, 2021

It’s Science Wednesday – and it’s an exciting time in the realm of planetary science! On February 18, 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars in order to explore the Jezero Crater. The primary mission is an astrobiological one: to identify environments capable...

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The Science of Procrastination – March 31, 2021

The Science of Procrastination – March 31, 2021

So, I should probably be working right now….but….   What is it that makes us procrastinate? Is it because we’re lazy? Or does it have roots in our evolutionary development? As Dr. Tim Pychyl, a psychology professor states, procrastination “is not a time...

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New (Volcanic) Life in Iceland – March 24, 2021

New (Volcanic) Life in Iceland – March 24, 2021

It’s Science Wednesday! For several weeks, Icelanders had been bracing themselves for a volcanic eruption of some sort, given the island recorded more than 50,000 recent earthquakes! A few days ago – on March 19 – a new fissure (linear volcanic vent through which lava...

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AMOC Gone Amok? – March 17, 2021

AMOC Gone Amok? – March 17, 2021

When we think of climate change, often we think about how the atmosphere is changing – how it’s getting hotter. But there is also a story of change unfolding in the ocean, which absorbs some 90 percent of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions. A system of...

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What Does Ice Have To Do With It? – March 10, 2021

What Does Ice Have To Do With It? – March 10, 2021

From 1914 – 1919, during which time World War I was being fought, an unusual weather pattern settled in over Northern Europe due to what’s called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). This is a natural fluctuation that occurs in atmospheric pressure over the North...

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Piecing it Together – March 3, 2021

Piecing it Together – March 3, 2021

Earlier in February, as the US was in the icy grip of an Arctic blast of cold air, a tragedy was unfolding on the other side of the planet, in northern India. On February 7, 2021, a large torrent of water and debris wiped out multiple hydroelectric power plants in the...

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Alphabet Soup – February 24, 2021

Alphabet Soup – February 24, 2021

Back in January, I wrote about A-68a – the world’s largest iceberg – that was on a collision course with South Georgia Island, an island about 950 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula. The iceberg initially measured more than 2300 square miles (6000 square kilometers)!...

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Frozen Texas – February 17, 2021

Frozen Texas – February 17, 2021

In this last week, parts of the US were hit with incredibly cold and deadly winter weather. Places where you typically see palm trees and cacti were covered in snow and ice instead. The state of Texas saw some of its coldest temperatures in more than 30 years, with...

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Saharan Dust – February 10, 2021

Saharan Dust – February 10, 2021

It’s Science Wednesday! Back in June/July 2020, parts of the US and the Caribbean saw darker hazier skies due to large clouds of dust coming from the Sahara Desert in Africa. While the dust storm was a part of a regular meteorological phenomenon, the 2020 cloud of...

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Dirty Snow – February 3, 2021

Dirty Snow – February 3, 2021

It’s Science Wednesday! Yesterday, Ricardo and I went up Colorado’s 5th highest mountain: La Plata Peak (14,336 ft./4370 m). The trail conditions were very challenging below treeline, as we had to break trail through very loose and unconsolidated dry snow with our...

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Starlink Satellites – January 27, 2021

Starlink Satellites – January 27, 2021

Lately there’s been a lot of activity in the realm of space. SpaceX has been launching Starlink satellites in an effort to develop low-latency high-speed broadband internet connection for the entire globe in the next few years.  This effort began back in May 2019,...

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The Science of Conspiracy – January 20, 2021

The Science of Conspiracy – January 20, 2021

It's Science Wednesday. Today marks the start of a new administration in the US government. It also marks a much-needed shift to trusting in science again. Science is the best tool we have to combat the crises currently plaguing the US as well as the world: the...

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Iceberg A68a – January 13, 2021

Iceberg A68a – January 13, 2021

Though most of my work is currently focused in the Arctic – with emphasis on Alaska – this time last year I was preparing to go to Antarctica with Aurora Expeditions. I have been thinking back to wonderful memories of an amazing land and oceanscape full of vibrant...

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Vitamin D – January 6, 2021

Vitamin D – January 6, 2021

In 2020, our lives changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to science, multiple vaccines are out and showing good results (e.g., https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2034577). As it may be a while before the general population gets access, what can we do...

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Geodes – December 30, 2020

Geodes – December 30, 2020

It’s the last Science Wednesday of 2020 - wishing all our readers a very Happy New Year! Last week, my nieces received some geodes for Christmas and they are the inspiration for this week’s post! It’s been fun breaking the rocks open (safely!) together and seeing what...

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Santa’s Reindeer – December 23, 2020

Santa’s Reindeer – December 23, 2020

Did you know that reindeer and caribou are the only deer where both the male and female have antlers? Antlers grow each year from bony stubs on deer heads and are made of bone but covered by a furry skin called “velvet.” This skin is heavily concentrated in blood...

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The Unicorn of the Sea – December 16, 2020

The Unicorn of the Sea – December 16, 2020

The Unicorn of the Sea - December 16, 2020   As the holidays approach, we’re focusing on the cold places of the planet – while harsh, these places are home to many incredible and resilient species. One that stands out for its uniqueness is the “unicorn of the...

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Reaching a New Height – December 9, 2020

Reaching a New Height – December 9, 2020

Reaching a New Height - December 9, 2020    Mt. Everest captures imaginations. Mountaineers come to scale the peak while trekkers come to marvel at the mountain from base camp (note: you can’t actually see much of Everest from the base camp but if you hike up...

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An Ancient World – December 2, 2020

An Ancient World – December 2, 2020

An Ancient World - December 2, 2020   A few weeks ago, we climbed Texas’ highpoint: Guadalupe Peak (8750 ft./2667 m). This is a very interesting state highpoint in that it is made up of the remains of creatures that inhabited an inland sea and built a reef in the...

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The Carlsbad Caverns – November 24, 2020

The Carlsbad Caverns – November 24, 2020

The Carlsbad Caverns - November 24, 2020   A majority of the world’s limestone caves are created through carbonic acid in surface water flowing down through cracks in limestone rock, eroding and enlarging passageways. Carbonic acid is formed by rain and snowmelt...

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Trinitite – November 18, 2020

Trinitite – November 18, 2020

Trinitite - November 18, 2020   Sharing a photo of a rather unusual “rock” seen at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in Albuquerque, New Mexico. On July 16, 1945, the world’s first atomic device (“Gadget”) was tested at the Trinity Site, about...

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Permian Reef – November 11, 2020

Permian Reef – November 11, 2020

Permian Reef - November 11, 2020   Tomorrow we are headed to climb Texas’ high point: Guadalupe Peak at 8,751 feet/2,667 meters, located near the New Mexico border. This is a really unique area, as the top of Texas actually used to be underwater hundreds of...

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Black Mesa – November 4, 2020

Black Mesa – November 4, 2020

Black Mesa - November 4, 2020   It's Science Wednesday! Yesterday we did a sunset trail run on Black Mesa, Oklahoma's highest point at 4,973 ft. Black Mesa is actually a 3-5 million year old basaltic lava flow, originating from a vent that erupted in a volcanic...

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Water on the Moon – October 28, 2020

Water on the Moon – October 28, 2020

Water on the Moon - October 28, 2020   In some more exciting space news, a team of scientists found evidence for widespread presence of water molecules on the Moon! This is exciting as lunar exploration continues – and lunar bases may soon become a reality. Water...

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Asteroid Bennu – October 21, 2020

Asteroid Bennu – October 21, 2020

Asteroid Bennu - October 21, 2020   It’s an exciting time in the realm of space exploration! Yesterday, NASA made history as its spacecraft, the OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) performed a...

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Kilimanjaro – October 14, 2020

Kilimanjaro – October 14, 2020

Kilimanjaro - October 14, 2020   On Sunday afternoon, a fire suddenly erupted on the slopes of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, with high winds contributing to its rapid growth and spread. Investigators recently discovered that it was started accidentally by...

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Historic Hurricane Delta – October 7, 2020

Historic Hurricane Delta – October 7, 2020

Historic Hurricane Delta - October 7, 2020   The 2020 hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean has been a very active one, seeing 25 named storms (the average for a season is 12). And it’s still not over, as the season doesn’t officially end until November 30th....

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Fire: The Climate Connection – September 30, 2020

Fire: The Climate Connection – September 30, 2020

Fire: The Climate Connection - September 30, 2020   As we’ve gathered more data and evidence these last few years on the global impacts of climate change, a new field has emerged: extreme-event attribution, which investigates if and to what extent climate change...

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