December 18, 2014

5:53 PM | Satellite View of Cuba at Night Reveals the Impact of Embargo and a Centrally Planned Communist Economy
Yesterday's announcement was historic: restoration of full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. And that got me to thinking of how satellite imagery could contribute to public debate now swirling around the move. For 53 years, the U.S. embargo of Cuba, intended to help bring an end to the Cuban regime, has helped to stifle development there. This year, for example, the nation's economy grew at a paltry 1.4 percent, according to the government's […]
1:30 PM | Just in Time for Christmas! All the Gargantuan Guides in One Place!
Do you still have gifts to buy? Don’t want to leave the comfort of your home or office? Are you dreading the very thought of stepping into a store? Want to give the gift of knowledge and... -- Read more on
3:09 AM | The Arctic Continues to Bear the Brunt of Global Warming
Acknowledgment: I want to thank my friend and colleague, environmental journalist Susan Moran for help with this story. She covered the NOAA press conference today at the AGU meeting and sent me her notes. The Arctic continues to warm faster than any other region, according a report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday. Moreover, the extent of Arctic sea ice continues to shrink, and as a result more and more energy from the Sun is […]

December 17, 2014

9:19 AM | GIS in Mobility Research and Planning
What can geographers contribute to mobility research and planning? What is the interplay of mobility and space? Which techniques and analytical tools can be employed by GIS experts in the broad field of mobility? This week I gave a presentation for Master’s students in the “Applied Geoinformatics” programme at the University of Salzburg as part […]

December 16, 2014

11:31 AM | A Short Georney with Doctor Evelyn, Complete With Geology-Themed Christmas Gift Ideas!
A few weeks ago, I put together a cornucopia of geoscience blogging for ye, but I saved Doctor Evelyn for her own post. She’s one of the first geologists I got to break rocks with, and the only... -- Read more on
12:36 AM | Stunning Before and After Photographs Show the Impact of Global Warming on Greenland's Glaciers
I love NASA's Earth Observatory so much that I check in with it every day knowing I'll be rewarded with a visual treat about the Earth. But I'm a journalist, which means I have an urge to try to break news first. That includes beating the folks at EO to big, visual, Earth and environmental sciences stories (which I'm proud to say I've done from time to time). Today, though, I just have to share the Earth Observatory's imagery as is. It consists of the two photographs […]

December 14, 2014

11:07 PM | Mount Polley mine disaster: redux
Science Borealis is holding a blog carnival to celebrate their first anniversary, with bloggers writing about the most important story in their field for 2014. I’ve chosen the Mount Polley mine disaster, which I first wrote about on 5 August. To recap: on 4 August, a tailings pond at the Mount Polley gold mine in…
8:07 PM | Global Average Temperature Cools a Bit in November, But No Pause in Global Warming — And There Never Was One
This past November was the ninth warmest globally in a record extending back to 1880, according to data released today by NASA. This represents a bit of a cool-down from October, which was the warmest globally. What happened? The answer is weather. In the map above, check out that big blue blob sitting over most of North America (with California and Alaska being the notable exceptions). Temperatures here were as much as 4 degrees C cooler than the long term average, helping to bring do
8:11 AM | News Media #Fail: Storms DID Ease California's Historic Drought. But Erasing it Could Take Years
If you've been following news reports about California's epic drought in the aftermath of the recent storms there, it would be understandable if you've found yourself perplexed. "Finally, Some Good News In The California Drought" read the headline in Huffington Post. "Flood-Causing Deluge Amounts to Just Drops in California Drought" proclaimed the New York Times' glass-almost-empty headline: Refilling the glass a bit, the San Jose Mercury News stuck to reporting facts: "Winter […]

December 12, 2014

8:07 PM | Buttons Not Buttons
A quartet of buttons that may just leave you stuck, rich, ugly, or dead. Confused? Push the button marked “Play”.
7:40 PM | The Sun's Colossal Glowing Loops, Up Close and Personal
The gargantuan glowing loops that quiver and dance at the Sun's surface are absolutely mesmerizing. If you've never seen them up close and personal, make sure to check out the videos a little lower down in this post. But first, have a look at the image above. It is a supercomputer visualization that allows us to see what it would be like to fly through them. To understand what you're looking at, you first need to understand how these features form. First, consider the Sun's […]

December 11, 2014

5:23 PM | Pineapple Express Drenches California, Further Easing the Worst Drought in 1,200 Years
The fierce storm now battering Northern California is bringing welcome rain and snow to a state experiencing what may well be its worst drought in 1,200 years. But the storm is also bringing dangerous surf, high winds, and the potential for flooding. We'll see how much of an additional dent this latest blast of moisture, and more rains forecast for Sunday, will make in the drought. Meanwhile, the storm comes just days after a major report from the U.S. National […]
12:47 PM | Holiday Road Trip? Compelling Reasons to Stuff a Geologist in Your Car – But Do Your Own Driving
“‘If I’m going to drive safely, I can’t do geology.’” -Geologist quoted by John McPhee in Basin and Range There’s nothing like roadtripping with geologists.... -- Read more on
12:22 AM | The Scientist Who Thought 22 Trillion Aliens Live in Our Solar System
Matt Simon, writing for Wired: Here’s what Dick figured. At the time, there were an average of 280 people per square mile in England. And because he thought every surface of our universe bears life, it would naturally occur at roughly the same population density. So from comets and asteroids to the rings of Saturn, […]∞

December 10, 2014

10:19 PM | ‘Year’s best satellite images’
It’s time for the usual end of the year lists, and Slate posted on on the “best” satellite images snapped by commercial outfit DigitalGlobe. Usually, when sites publish satellite photos, they’re cherry picked from terabytes of data. They look amazing because they’re sharp shots of charismatic places. This list is no different, except for one. […]∞

December 08, 2014

11:42 PM | As Hagupit Weakens, Activists Hype Climate Connection
Please don't misread my headline. I'm not suggesting that I doubt the seriousness of the challenges posed by climate change — particularly for developing nations — and the pressing need to act. In fact, I'm so concerned that I think it's important to call out hype when I see it — because it could have the unintended effect of undercutting support for action on climate change. The hype I'm concerned about is coming from Greenpeace, which is strongly linking […]
8:07 PM | Summer jobs keep kids out of trouble
Emily Badger, writing for the Washington Post: A couple of years ago, the city of Chicago started a summer jobs program for teenagers attending high schools in some of the city’s high-crime, low-income neighborhoods. The program was meant, of course, to connect students to work. But officials also hoped that it might curb the kinds […]∞

December 07, 2014

2:15 AM | Sun Develops Gigantic Hole Fifty Times Larger than Earth
Not to worry! As many of you may know, a gigantic hole in the Sun's atmosphere is not terribly unusual. But you have to admit: This one is pretty dramatic. The image above is actually a composite of three acquired by the Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft this past week. Each color highlights a different part of the Sun's extended outer atmosphere — the corona. The coronal hole is that big, dark-blue splotch at the bottom. Here's NASA's explanation: The most […]

December 05, 2014

10:35 PM | Turbolifts close to reality
Get ready, architects. German company Thyssenkrupp is close to testing a maglev-powered elevator that can travel sideways in addition to vertically.  (James Temperton at Wired UK invokes the Wonkavator from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but I prefer Adam Rogers’s Star Wars/Star Trek reference—the turbolift.) ∞∞
9:25 PM | Hope for ash trees
Tina Casagrand, reporting for National Geographic News: Kansas City plans to treat the roots of about 12,000 trees on city property, spending about $80 a tree for protection that lasts up to three years. Once taken up by the roots, the insecticide travels up the trunk under the bark—which is exactly where the beetle larvae […]∞
8:30 PM | The West Antarctic Ice Sheet Has Not Collapsed, But New Findings are Concerning. Do they Indicate a 'Climate Crisis'?
| Udpate: I've been asking some scientists what they think about characterizing the climate as being in "crisis," as well as other issues I raise below. As they come in I'll tack them on to the bottom of the post. So make sure to scroll all the way down. | Earlier this year, new research offered strong evidence that melting of the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet has passed the point of no return. If true, this means it is now in irreversible retreat and will "collapse," as […]

December 04, 2014

4:32 PM | Super Typhoon Hagupit Aims for the Philippine Islands, Threatening the Region Devastated by Hayan
Super Typhoon Hagupit is swirling off the coast of the Philippine Islands today with maximum sustained winds of about 170 miles per hour and gusts of more than 200 (as of 11 a.m. EST). It looks like the cyclone, known as Ruby in the Philippines, is headed for landfall there some time on Saturday. The U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center […] The post Super Typhoon Hagupit Aims for the Philippine Islands, Threatening the Region Devastated by Hayan appeared first on […]

December 03, 2014

6:53 PM | How good are you at satellite image interpretation?
Fun quiz from the folks at Quartz. I beat it, though barely—some toward the end are pretty tricky. ∞∞
7:59 AM | A Gusher of Moisture Hoses California. Is El Niño Here?
Parts of drought-plagued California got hosed by a gusher of moisture streaming up from the tropics on Tuesday. As the chief meteorologist for Minnesota Public Radio put it, the copious stream of water vapor looks a whole lot like a “pineapple express,” a low level jet of moist air flowing from Hawaii to California. This is […]The post A Gusher of Moisture Hoses California. Is El Niño Here? appeared first on ImaGeo.

December 01, 2014

8:34 PM | Weak Atlantic Hurricane Season Ends, Continuing Incredible Lull in Major Landfalling Storms in U.S.
For the ninth year in a row, the United States has gone without a major landfalling hurricane. This continues an amazing streak: Going in to the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, it had been 3,124 days since the last Category 3+ storm had made landfall in the United States, according to Roger Pielke, Jr., an environmental studies […]The post Weak Atlantic Hurricane Season Ends, Continuing Incredible Lull in Major Landfalling Storms in U.S. appeared first on ImaGeo.
11:00 AM | Dana’s Super-Gargantuan Guide to Science Books Suitable for Gift-Giving II: Science for Kids!
Welcome to Part II of our Super-Gargantuan Guide! In this edition, we’ll be exploring the world of science books for kids. I attempted to cast my mind back to when I was a child, and also... -- Read more on

November 29, 2014

8:40 PM | Spatial perspective on transportation modelling
Workshop at GI-Forum – call for submission Transportation is a dynamic spatial phenomenon by its very nature. Thus transportation modelling requires explicit integration of time and space. This workshop intends to bridge disciplines to provide a spatial perspective on transportation modelling: mobility research, traffic planning, telematics, GIScience, geography, maths and physics. The goal is to […]
7:22 PM | Outside Westgate
After a public tragedy, a reporter looks at the space between the stories of the people who experienced it and the official narrative. 

November 27, 2014

6:17 PM | Satellite Spies Gargantuan Sunspots that Could Launch Solar Explosions Toward Earth
Looking a bit like nasty bruises, a cluster of truly massive sunspots appeared on the Sun’s surface starting in mid-October. Their collective surface area, measuring 66 times larger than the Earth’s cross section, was the largest in the last 24 years, according to the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. The sunspots produced six major solar solar […]The post Satellite Spies Gargantuan Sunspots that Could Launch Solar Explosions Toward Earth appeared first on […]

November 26, 2014

5:39 PM | Questions about a Parliamentary Science Officer
A couple of weeks ago, the European Union’s Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) was axed. It didn’t make headlines in Canada until about a week ago, which was surprising given the push by Kennedy Stewart and the NDP for a Parliamentary Science Officer (PSO) here in Canada. I hadn’t thought very carefully about the PSO initiative…
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