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.
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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Conglomerates! – September 23, 2020

Conglomerates! – September 23, 2020

Conglomerates! - September 23, 2020   Yesterday Ricardo and I climbed Challenger Point (14,081 ft.), a 12.5 mile round-trip hike with 5400 vertical feet of gain. As a geologist, I always love to look at the rocks that we’re climbing and this peak was no...

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Carbon Sequestration – September 16, 2020

Carbon Sequestration – September 16, 2020

Carbon Sequestration - September 16, 2020   Today we talk about carbon sequestration, the long-term natural or artificial storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon from the atmosphere. There is a series of checks and balances that happen on the planet:...

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Wild Weather – September 9, 2020

Wild Weather – September 9, 2020

Wild Weather - September 9, 2020   It’s Science Wednesday! Here in Colorado, we went from record-setting heat near 100 degrees Fahrenheit with raging wildfires over the Labor Day weekend to freezing temperatures and snow showers Tuesday/Wednesday. What gives? Is...

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Fall Colors – September 2, 2020

Fall Colors – September 2, 2020

Fall Colors - September 2, 2020   It’s September and, in 3 weeks (on the 22nd), it officially will be fall here in the Northern Hemisphere. As the days shorten and temperatures get cooler, trees will begin preparing for the winter ahead, preserving their...

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Hurricanes – August 26, 2020

Hurricanes – August 26, 2020

Hurricanes - August 26, 2020   This time of year is normally known as peak hurricane season due to wind shear slowing down (this is when winds blow in different directions at different levels of the atmosphere), and less dust coming off of Africa. But scientists...

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Vaccines – August 19, 2020

Vaccines – August 19, 2020

Vaccines - August 19, 2020   Given the ongoing pandemic and talk of effective vaccines coming in the next few months/early next year, we wanted to cover this important topic today for Science Wednesday. To start, what exactly is a vaccine? You can think of it as...

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Sharks! – August 12, 2020

Sharks! – August 12, 2020

Sharks! - August 12, 2020   In honor of Shark Week, today’s Science Wednesday covers one of the largest living species of shark: Somniosus microcephalus, otherwise known as the Greenland shark. This shark is comparable in size to Great Whites: growing over 6...

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Starting Kids Early – August 5, 2020

Starting Kids Early – August 5, 2020

Starting Kids Early - August 5, 2020   Science is based on curiosity. Kids naturally explore and discover while playing: often they are inquisitive about everything, love to experiment, and in the process, learn more about the world around them. Research suggests...

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Comet NEOWISE – July 22, 2020

Comet NEOWISE – July 22, 2020

Comet NEOWISE - July 22, 2020   If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere (and especially in the northern US) and haven’t had a chance yet to look up at the night sky, here’s your chance to see something really cool: a comet! Comet C/2020 F3 (otherwise known as...

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Yellowstone Supervolcano – July 15, 2020

Yellowstone Supervolcano – July 15, 2020

Yellowstone Supervolcano - July 15, 2020   While we were in Wyoming last week, we had a chance to spend some time at Yellowstone National Park. As a geologist, I am fascinated by the alien-looking terrain of active volcanic landscapes. Yellowstone is particularly...

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Gannett Peak – July 8, 2020

Gannett Peak – July 8, 2020

Gannett Peak - July 8, 2020   It’s Science Wednesday! We’ve been busy the last few days on this end, getting packed and prepared to attempt a new peak for the Summits, Songs and Science project. Over the next week, we’ll be in the Wind River Range, climbing...

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Dust Plumes – July 1, 2020

Dust Plumes – July 1, 2020

Dust Plumes - July 1, 2020   In the last week, the skies have been noticeably hazier across the Caribbean and the Gulf and East Coasts of the US. It’s not due to wildfires or increasing pollution from traffic. In fact, it is due to dust coming from 5,000 miles...

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