Here are some noteworthy science and environmental links folks have been Digging
— I'm out of the loop on this. I knew TV meteorologists tend to have wacky names
— Flip Spiceland, Storm Field, Johnny Mountain — but I hadn't noticed their global-warming-denying tendencies. According to this column on Huffington Post, though, our local TV weathermen "are hell bent on denying that global warming is happening." It's a preface to applauding D.C. meteorologist Bob Ryan, who was recently quoted in the Washington Post calling out
his colleagues on their unscientific stances.
— The United States may be facing some lost years of climate monitoring in the near future, thanks to a looming gap between aging satellites and their replacements, whose launches are still years away. That's partly due to more than a decade of budget cuts, but also interagency squabbling between NASA and NOAA over who should run the country's climate satellite program. "We'll be blind for maybe a decade," a University of Washington oceanographer tells NPR. That doesn't bode well for our ability to track climate change, since the climate record must be highly accurate and span decades without any gaps.
— It's a little like showing up to a costume party, only to find out you're the only one there in disguise. As global warming makes snow less and less common in Montana's boreal forests, the snowshoe hare — camouflaged white to blend in with its wintry surroundings — begins looking ridiculous against the brown ground. "That's just an embarrassing moment for a snowshoe hare to think that it's invisible when it's not," says University of Montana researcher Scott Mills, who's studying the problem. And it may be more than just embarrassing, Mills fears: A white rabbit on brown ground is much easier for predators to spot.
— While scientists have already found a variety of algae that can produce biodiesel, they usually have to feed them sugars to coax the fuel out. A new species of fungus discovered in Patagonia, however, can synthesize diesel compounds directly from cellulose, making it a much less picky, and more productive, fuel maker than previous finds. It produces the compounds in gas form, though, so the next step is to convert those into liquid fuel.
— Researchers shot this video of a mother and baby blue whale during a January 2008 expedition to the "Dome," a warm-water region off the Costa Rican coast that draws the animals from hundreds of miles away to breed. National Geographic
released the video earlier this week, announcing that it may be the first time a baby blue whale has been photographed underwater. Blue whale mothers are notoriously protective, so the divers were lucky to get within a few feet of the infant. It already looks huge for a baby, but blue whales are normally born about 25 feet long and — since their mothers' milk is about 40 percent fat — they gain about 200 pounds a day, making them the biggest babies in the history of life on Earth. The video is part of a documentary called Kingdom of the Blue Whale
, airing Sunday night at 8 on the National Geographic Channel.
And to catch up on anything you might've missed during the last week, check out MNN's week in review