Not a lot of good reservoir sites on Mars

For those planning a trip to Mars…. Evidence shows that more than 3 billion years ago Mars was wet and habitable. However, this latest research reaffirms just how dry the environment is today. For life to exist in the areas we investigated, it would need to find pockets far beneath the surface, located away from …

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In fond memory of Kelly Redmond

Every fall semester, I have our UNM Water Resources Program students read Kelly Redmond’s 2002 Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society paper on the definitions of drought. It’s a classic in a very particular and important way. Based at the Desert Research Center in Reno, Kelly carried the title of “Regional Climatologist” for the western …

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Greenhouse gases and southwest “megadrought”

Scientists have dubbed decades-long periods of aridity in southwestern North America “megadroughts“. We’ve had them in the past, and research has long pointed toward an increasing risk of them as the climate warms. New research published last week by Cornell’s Toby Ault and colleagues has generated a wave of scary headlines – A Mega-Drought Is Coming to …

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the role of science and evidence in decision-making processes

I’m working on a couple of projects right now in which I’m trying to help policymakers effectively communicate complex science (involving drought, climate change, and water availability, but that goes without saying, right?) in political and policy processes. Paul Cairney suggests the constraints: In debate, evidence is mentioned a lot, but only to praise the …

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The oldest working door in Britain. We know because tree rings!

The BBC reports on the oldest working door in Britain: Archaeologists discovered the oak door in Westminster Abbey was put in place in the 1050s, during the reign of the Abbey’s founder, Edward the Confessor. It makes it the only surviving Anglo Saxon door in Britain. We most often think about the use of tree …

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The relationship between beetle kills and forest fire

In contrast to common assumptions of positive feedbacks, we find that insects generally reduce the severity of subsequent wildfires. Specific effects vary with insect type and timing, but both insects decrease the abundance of live vegetation susceptible to wildfire at multiple time lags. By dampening subsequent burn severity, native insects could buffer rather than exacerbate …

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5 million years ago, when the Colorado River made its first dash to the sea

In a neat new paper looking at sediment layers near Blythe, California, Jordan Bright of the University of California and colleagues (paper here, $ gated) argue that they’ve found evidence of the moment (in geological time, the “moment” is really hundreds of years) when the Colorado River made its first dash to the sea. The …

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