Photo of Sam Illingworth

Rare Earth Water (The Poetry of Science)

Sept. 4, 2021

An original poem and science podcast episode of The Poetry of Science, by Sam Illingworth, inspired by Garrett Rue and Diane McKnight's new paper reporting on climate change as a driver of acid rock drainage and rare earth element contamination of the Snake River, Colorado.

Students involved in Diane McKnight's ongoing research on water quality in the Snake River collect tracer samples along a tributary.

Rare earth elements and old mines spell trouble for Western water supplies

Aug. 30, 2021

Acid rock and mine drainage into Western streams is a problem. Climate change is making it worse.

Brownish frog in the Amazon rainforest Peru, sitting on a bright green leaf at night

Shoe-leather science helps quadruple protected area in Peruvian Amazon (Mongabay)

Aug. 29, 2021

Rapid biological and social inventories produced by a team from Chicago’s Field Museum were the basis for new areas dedicated to conservation in Peru, a new study shows. In the Amazonian department of Loreto, territory covered under some category of conservation went from 2 million hectares to 8.5 million hectares. The study, which included Bob Stallard as an author, found that advances in protecting Loreto allowed not only the region, but also Peru as a whole, to meet the Aichi Goal of getting 17% of the country’s territory under some category of protection.

Pika watching for danger on a rock.

This adorable rabbit relative sounds an alarm for global warming (National Geographic)

Aug. 27, 2021

Each summer, the volunteer Pika Patrol is roaming the Rockies in service to the tiny, climate-threatened pika. You may need to enter your email address to read the article.

Chickadee on a branch

New grant to study life-and-death trait of chickadees (Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine)

Aug. 24, 2021

CU Boulder and University of Nevada Reno professors win $2.7 million grant from the NSF to study spatial cognition in chickadees. The new grant will allow the researchers to study natural selection on a complex behavioral trait, a difficult task that could potentially expand the ways natural selection is studied broadly, while also shedding light on how it relates to a changing climate.

People in a boat and wading in floodwaters

Study finds global surge of flood exposure is from population shifts far more than climate change (Sustain What)

Aug. 6, 2021

Too often, rising climate risk is conflated with rising CO2. That takes the heat off national and local leaders who can cut drivers of risk on the ground now. Andy Revkin collects in-depth perspective from scientists and others on the global risk of flooding, the inequities and policies that are driving up that risk, and what we can do to manage it. Revkin cites work that involved Albert Kettner and Bob Brakenridge of the DFO Flood Observatory.

Map of global flooding on a particular day

New global map shows populations are growing faster in flood-prone areas (MIT Technology Review)

Aug. 5, 2021

Satellite imagery reveals how floods are changing and who’s most at risk. A new global floods database involved Bob Brakenridge and Albert Kettner of the DFO Flood Observatory.

Windmill on dry grass

A river runs dry: Farms and ranches along Colorado River in jeopardy (The National)

Aug. 2, 2021

A two decade-long drought fueled by climate change has farmers and ranchers worried about their future, reports a National News story that quotes INSTAAR Keith Musselman.

Map of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta

Humans want stable landscapes; but rivers need to move (Univ. of Texas at Austin)

July 23, 2021

River deltas change over time, and the freedom to shift river location is important to maintaining a healthy ecosystem. However, humans are used to the stability of fixed infrastructure, so they struggle dealing with dynamic landforms like river deltas. But rivers changing course and evolving over time is a good sign for the delta and the environment around it. In a new commentary published in Earth’s Future, a national team of experts including Irina Overeem examines the ongoing conflict between stability and sustainability in heavily populated river deltas, such as the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna in India/Bangladesh and Mississippi in the U.S.

Plumes of smoke pour out from the Colorado foothills from the Calwood Fire

Wildfires in U.S., Siberia are unusually intense, setting emissions records (Axios)

July 22, 2021

Wildfires across parts of the U.S., Canada, and Siberia are burning unusually intensely and emitting larger amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than typical during midsummer, scientists say. The fires are thriving in areas experiencing extreme heat and drought conditions. They are both a consequence of climate change and an accelerant of global warming.