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.
Mauna Loa Erupts! – November 30, 2022

Mauna Loa Erupts! – November 30, 2022

A few weeks ago, Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, situated on the island of Hawaii showed signs of activity such as low-magnitude earthquakes and inflation of the ground, testament to underground magma on the move. Just this weekend, the 74-mile behemoth...

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Planetary Caves – November 23, 2022

Planetary Caves – November 23, 2022

The Artemis I mission took off spectacularly last week and made a close approach to the Moon this week, inspiring hope for the next phase of planetary exploration. This includes a return of humans to the Moon and building a lunar base. Given the exposure to radiation...

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Deception Island – November 16, 2022

Deception Island – November 16, 2022

Over the last 200 million years, Antarctica’s climate has changed from a long-lived warm period during the age of the dinosaurs, when lush forests covered the land, to progressively cooler climates, to the ice-covered landscape we see today. Antarctica is also home to...

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The End of the World – November 9, 2022

The End of the World – November 9, 2022

We’re currently in the southernmost Argentine province, named Tierra del Fuego. The first Europeans (Spaniards during Magellan’s 1520 expedition) who came to explore the southern tip of South America saw the campfires of the native inhabitants of the area (the...

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Shoes and Serendipity – November 2, 2022

Shoes and Serendipity – November 2, 2022

Imagine walking down a beach and then suddenly seeing thousands of mismatched pairs of shoes – Nike shoes – washed up ashore. This actually happened in November 1990 along Oregon’s coast. Six months earlier, in May 1990, a storm struck a carrier en-route to the United...

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National Adaptation Forum – October 26, 2022

National Adaptation Forum – October 26, 2022

This week I’m at the National Adaptation Forum in Baltimore, Maryland, representing the North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center (University of Colorado Boulder). The Forum gathers the adaptation community to foster knowledge exchange, innovation, and mutual...

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DART’s Success – October 19, 2022

DART’s Success – October 19, 2022

It’s Science Wednesday! A few weeks ago, we heard about the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission that managed to successfully impact its target asteroid, Dimorphos. It was a first-of-its-kind mission, demonstrating usage of asteroid deflection technology in...

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Desert Varnish – October 12, 2022

Desert Varnish – October 12, 2022

While here in Albuquerque for an Early Career Workshop with the regional climate adaptation science centers, I fit in a trail run with friends and colleagues at the Piedras Marcadas Canyon. It offers a unique and beautiful insight into the geologic, cultural, and...

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Hurricane Intensification – October 5, 2022

Hurricane Intensification – October 5, 2022

This season has seen an active Atlantic, most recently with hurricanes Fiona and Ian, leading to loss of lives and causing billions of dollars of destruction in Puerto Rico, Cuba and Florida. Strong tropical cyclones, called hurricanes in the Atlantic, typhoons in the...

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The DART mission – September 28, 2022

The DART mission – September 28, 2022

If you’ve seen the movie, Armageddon, then you’re familiar with the idea of planetary defense. While no drillers were sent out to stop a gigantic asteroid on a collision course with Earth this week, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) was a smashing...

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Extraterrestrial Life – September 21, 2022

Extraterrestrial Life – September 21, 2022

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) hasn’t been up in space for very long, and yet already it is taking unprecedented images in high-resolution. Its infrared vision allows us to “cut through the cosmic dust” to see some of the earliest structures in the universe in...

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Uptick in Ticks – September 14, 2022

Uptick in Ticks – September 14, 2022

This summer has seen an uptick in ticks and tick infections. Is this normal? Or, a “new normal”? When weather is warmer and spring starts earlier, people are outside more often, allowing for more “human-tick” encounters to occur. But what about the ticks themselves?...

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Pakistan Flooding – September 7, 2022

Pakistan Flooding – September 7, 2022

More than 1300 people have died and 33 million people have been impacted by unprecedented flooding in Pakistan. That latter number is more than the entire population of Texas! This is happening in a country that’s produced less than 1% of total global greenhouse gas...

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COVID and Clots – August 31, 2022

COVID and Clots – August 31, 2022

There have been many reported cases of mild COVID infections turning into more troublesome long COVID cases, lasting months, if not years, with a wide array of symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, vertigo, headaches, and heart palpitations. What’s causing this?...

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Dangers of Pseudoscience – August 17, 2022

Dangers of Pseudoscience – August 17, 2022

As we rang in the New Year 2020, hopes were high for the start of this new decade. But here we are in the year 2022, dealing with a pandemic that has killed millions, and dealing with a rapidly unfolding climate emergency that is, literally, scorching the Earth and...

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Jet Stream Wobbles – August 10, 2022

Jet Stream Wobbles – August 10, 2022

What does the jet stream, a band of fast-moving air in the upper atmosphere, have to do with the blazing heat waves this summer in the Northern Hemisphere? Not only have these heat waves broken temperature records, they have also fueled wildfires and caused travel...

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Intra-cloud Lightning – August 3, 2022

Intra-cloud Lightning – August 3, 2022

Often times when we talk about climate change, the stories center on melting ice, rising sea levels, and hazards such as hurricanes, droughts, fires and floods. But what about the future of lightning in a warming climate? This summer in Colorado has seen some pretty...

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Greenland Heat Wave – July 27, 2022

Greenland Heat Wave – July 27, 2022

What does 6 billion tons look like? Imagine an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Now imagine 2.4 million pools. That’s how much water the northwestern ice sheet of Greenland lost – PER DAY – from July 15 – 17 this summer during a melting event. Another way of looking at...

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Ice Viruses – July 20, 2022

Ice Viruses – July 20, 2022

By this point, we’re all pretty familiar with viruses. We’re sick from them. And we’re sick of them! What if I told you that viruses dating back 15,000 years have been found in an unlikely place - glacial ice originating in the Tibetan Plateau (35o17'N, 81o29'E)?...

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Arctic Dinosaurs – July 13, 2022

Arctic Dinosaurs – July 13, 2022

Svalbard, an archipelago about 650 miles from the North Pole, has a very rich and varied geological history. Its lands have been inundated with shallow tropical seas, covered in deserts and sub-tropical forests, and even roamed by dinosaurs. 600 million years ago, the...

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The Knife Edge – June 14, 2022

The Knife Edge – June 14, 2022

On Saturday, June 11, 2022, we went up Kelso Ridge (exposed class 3 scrambling route) on Torreys Peak (14,267 ft.). Its neighboring peak, Grays, is the highest point along the continental divide, a drainage divide where on one side of the peaks, all water drains...

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River Highways – June 8, 2022

River Highways – June 8, 2022

Back in the 1800s, rivers were the highways of the times. But waterfalls – like St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi river – provided significant obstacles for boats, their passengers, and their cargo. In Minnesota, the “twin” cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul...

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Hurricane Season Starts – June 1, 2022

Hurricane Season Starts – June 1, 2022

It’s that time of year again in North America - when hurricane season starts – and the outlook for summer 2022 is an above-average season. The prediction, according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is anywhere from 3 – 6 major ones expected...

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Coastal Redwoods – May 25, 2022

Coastal Redwoods – May 25, 2022

Muir Woods National Monument is home to some of the tallest trees on Earth: the coastal redwoods there measure in at 260 feet tall, or, the height of a 24-story building. But they can top out at nearly 400 feet! The trees grow in the moderate temperatures along the...

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Be Climate Savvy – May 18, 2022

Be Climate Savvy – May 18, 2022

Temperatures here in Colorado have been soaring into the mid-80s – in May! Severe flooding and landslides have been devastating South Africa; the eastern Australia floods of 2022 have been some of the worst recorded flood disasters; India and the Himalaya are...

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Science Fair Season – May 11, 2022

Science Fair Season – May 11, 2022

Tis the season! For science fairs, that is. Springtime is science fair season, when thousands of students across the country, from elementary to high school, compete in regional, state, national and international fairs. In fact, I’m writing to you right now from...

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Science in Star Wars – May 4, 2022

Science in Star Wars – May 4, 2022

May the 4th be with you – happy Star Wars day! And happy Science Wednesday as well! In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, the icy planet of Hoth hosts a temporary Rebel base where the heroes have to defeat Imperial walkers in order to escape. How could...

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The Future IS Fire – April 27, 2022

The Future IS Fire – April 27, 2022

Here is another video I compiled for the North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center: this one focused on wildfire.   On December 30, 2021, the unthinkable happened. Peaceful suburbs of Denver, Colorado, looking forward to celebrating the start of a New Year,...

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The Human Touch – April 20, 2022

The Human Touch – April 20, 2022

Climate change has always happened on Earth, which is clearly seen in the geological record. For the last three weeks, we’ve covered natural climate change: from orbital parameters to the Sun to volcanoes to the oceans and internal variability in the climate system....

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Natural Climate Change – Part 3 – April 13, 2022

Natural Climate Change – Part 3 – April 13, 2022

This week, we explore the Earth’s oceans and natural ocean-atmosphere interactions. Chapter 3: Natural Climate Change: The Oceans and Internal Variability When the air temperature starts to warm and it’s time to open up the backyard pool and go for a swim, it’s...

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Natural Climate Change – Part 2 – April 6, 2022

Natural Climate Change – Part 2 – April 6, 2022

Chapter 2: Natural Climate Change: Volcanoes and the Sun So, we’ve established that orbital parameters, like eccentricity of Earth’s orbit and the magnitude of the tilt of the planet are not responsible for the current and rapid climate change that we are seeing. What...

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Natural Climate Change – Part 1 – March 30, 2022

Natural Climate Change – Part 1 – March 30, 2022

In the lead-up to our “Climate Solutions Days” summit/virtual conference at the North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center during “Earth Week” 2022, Science Wednesdays are going to focus on climate change these next few weeks, starting with natural climate change...

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Origins of SARS-CoV-2 – March 23, 2022

Origins of SARS-CoV-2 – March 23, 2022

In order to prevent future pandemics, it is important to understand the circumstances that led to past ones. This includes looking at all hypotheses in detail and trying to discern the origin from a complex array of data. Did the COVID-19 outbreak originate at a...

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Staying Afloat – March 16, 2022

Staying Afloat – March 16, 2022

It’s the year 2022. Despite scientific progress in many realms, there’s still a stubborn persistence of pseudoscience, irrational beliefs and even downright science denial. There are many ways we can and do deceive ourselves on a day-to-day basis. When we want...

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The Endurance – March 9, 2022

The Endurance – March 9, 2022

Over 100 years ago, an incredible story of survival transpired at the bottom of the world. The “Endurance” was a ship used to transport an expedition team, headed by Ernest Shackleton, to cross Antarctica on foot. But, instead, the ship and the crew got trapped in the...

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Climate Solutions Days – March 2, 2022

Climate Solutions Days – March 2, 2022

For this Science Wednesday, I'd like to share something we've been working on at the North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center at the University of Colorado. Interested in learning more about climate change impacts? How to communicate science? Then join us...

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The Polar Vortex – February 23, 2022

The Polar Vortex – February 23, 2022

Around this time last year, Texas experienced an intense and damaging Arctic blast of cold air. Texas, of all places! This week, the “polar vortex” is at it again, bringing snow, ice and incredibly cold temperatures, this time across the central and eastern US. So,...

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No (Real) Snow at Winter Olympics? – February 16, 2022

No (Real) Snow at Winter Olympics? – February 16, 2022

It’s wintertime in the Northern Hemisphere – and typically that means cold temperatures and snow at the higher latitudes. Beijing, China, the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, is at roughly the same latitude as Denver, Colorado. It’s cold, but it’s also incredibly...

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The (Melting) Top of the World – February 9, 2022

The (Melting) Top of the World – February 9, 2022

It’s no surprise that there is worldwide retreat of mountain glaciers in recent decades given rising greenhouse gas emissions and rising temperatures. The concern of losing water from these frozen “storage towers” lies in the fact that ecosystems will suffer,...

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COVID as vascular disease – February 2, 2022

COVID as vascular disease – February 2, 2022

What does a particle accelerator, a machine that uses electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to very high speeds and energies, have to do with imaging the human body? At the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France, a particle...

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The Deep Past – January 26, 2022

The Deep Past – January 26, 2022

In some exciting news on the space front, the James Webb Space Telescope, which launched on Christmas Day in 2021, has reached its final destination. Webb is the most powerful telescope ever built and is about the size of a tennis court. Over this last month, it had...

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Tonga Tsunamis – January 19, 2022

Tonga Tsunamis – January 19, 2022

On Saturday, January 15th, a powerful undersea volcano erupted near Tonga, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, covering the group of islands in a thick layer of ash. A 4-foot wave swept ashore in the Tongan capital, leaving behind flooded homes and structural damage....

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Appalachian High – January 5, 2022

Appalachian High – January 5, 2022

Happy New Year 2022 - wishing you all health and happiness! In this Science Wednesday, learn more about Maine's highpoint, Katahdin, and the Appalachian Mountains. Here is a link to the new video. #sciencewednesdays #summitssongsandscience

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Long Lost World – December 29, 2021

Long Lost World – December 29, 2021

Come explore the ancient landscape of west Texas, home to Guadalupe Peak, the state highpoint at 8,750 feet! Here is a link to the new video. #sciencewednesdays #summitssongsandscience

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French Heat Wave – December 15, 2021

French Heat Wave – December 15, 2021

Learn more about Mont Blanc and its changing glaciers in this new Science Wednesday. Ricardo and I climbed the peak back in August 2018 - and even got engaged on the summit! Here is the new video... #sciencewednesdays #summitssongsandscience

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Neutrinos – December 8, 2021

Neutrinos – December 8, 2021

On June 1, 2019, we hiked Illinois' highpoint, Charles Mound (1,235 ft) for the Summits, Songs and Science project. It's on private property and, due to the owners' wishes, only open the first weekend in June, July, August and September. While in the state, we took...

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Volcanoes in Arizona? – December 1, 2021

Volcanoes in Arizona? – December 1, 2021

Check out our new video Science Wednesday. This one explores the volcanic features of northern Arizona. Also featured is Humphreys Peak, Arizona's highpoint at 12,633 feet. While Ricardo climbed it back in 1999, this was Ulyana's 20th state highpoint, climbed on May...

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Gannett Glaciers – November 24, 2021

Gannett Glaciers – November 24, 2021

Check out our new video Science Wednesday. This one explores the glaciers of the Wind River Range, home to Wyoming's state highpoint: Gannett Peak, 13,804 ft. #sciencewednesdays #summitssongsandscience

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Extinct Elephants – November 17, 2021

Extinct Elephants – November 17, 2021

Check out our new video Science Wednesday. This one focuses on The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota, which is home to the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world. #sciencewednesdays #summitssongsandscience

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