Earth

Smelly Seaweed Shocks Sunbathers and Sponges

By Toni Waterman   |   Tuesday, July 3, 2012
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July 5, 2012



BOSTON — If you've been spending early summer at the beach, you might have noticed something in the air. An invasive and quite ... pungent ... species of seaweed has made its way to the East Coast from Asia. Judy Pederson of MIT’s Sea Grant Program said the seaweed, which favors rocky shorelines and coves, could be squeezing out native species.
 
"We’re finding that over time these non-native species come in early, they grow faster or sooner than our native species and then they begin to displace them," she said. "And the native species they might displace are things like mussels, barnacles, sponges — things that are typically what we think of as our major New England species."
 
The seaweed has also become a hassle to state workers, who say they have no place to dispose of it — or the money and resources necessary to do so.

This Year, Weather Service Will Begin Pushing Notifications To Cellphones

By Eyder Peralta   |   Saturday, June 30, 2012
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June 29, 2012

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What the alerts may look like on your phone. (NWS)


The National Weather Service says that this year, it will begin pushing text notifications to cellphones that alert users to hazardous weather conditions.

The text notifications will be sent to those people within the location of the severe weather. The Weather Emergency Alerts could also be used for local emergencies that require evacuation, AMBER alerts and presidential alerts "during a national emergency," the Weather Service said.

Tech site The Verge reports:

"The Wireless Emergency Alerts system will notify people of approaching tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis, flash floods, extreme winds, blizzards and ice and dust storms by sending an up-to-90 character message to their smartphone. The system is only compatible with newer devices, and will not be available in all areas, but the NWS says that "millions of smartphone users" will start receiving messages soon. Apple intends to support the service this fall, but it's not clear whether the support will be limited to new hardware, or if all its devices will receive an update."

The Weather Service says users can opt out of the service.

The CTIA says that AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon are all participating in the system. They have more information on whether your phone is supported at their website.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Ready, Set, Sail: America's Cup Back In Rhode Island

By NPR's Bradley Campbell   |   Friday, June 29, 2012
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June 29, 2012
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The Oracle Racing AC45 catamaran competes in the America's Cup World Series in Cascais, Portugal in August 2011. The Oracle Team USA sailors are also competing in the final leg of this year's regatta in Newport, R.I. (Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images)

An America's Cup sailing event is being held to Newport, R.I., for the first time in 29 years. Sailors began arriving in Newport last week for the final leg of the America's Cup World Series regatta, which has been held at stops all across the world to gin up excitement for the official America's Cup next year in San Francisco.

No longer the sleepy, tactical event of old, the race now features a revolutionary new boat — the AC45 catamaran, made of carbon fiber and powered by a giant vertical wing. The high-tech boats are smaller versions of the vessels that sailors will be skippering in next year's big race.

"The boats are relentless," says Australian sailor James Spithill, who races for Oracle Team USA. "They are the most physical thing we've ever sailed and the most exciting thing we've ever sailed, and then probably the most demanding."

Spithill, also known as "James Pitbull," was a childhood boxer from Australia who left the ring for the sea. The youngest man ever to win the America's Cup, Spithill arrived in Newport skippering a class boat that's reinventing the game.

'Something That They've Never Seen Before'

These catamarans have also piqued the interest of Newport's residents. Even though this week's regatta is not the finals, Brad Read, chairman of the local host committee, says that with the right sailing conditions, the event just might knock the Topsiders off the locals.

"I'm really hoping it's windy because the people are going to just see something that they've never seen before," Read says.

Newport resident Halsey Herreshoff is excited to show off his backyard to a new generation of international sailors. Though their name is often mispronounced, the Herreshoffs are like royalty in sailing. Herreshoff's grandfather designed and built the first catamaran back in the 1870s.

Halsey Herreshoff has sailed all across the world from the Mediterranean to the Baltic, but he says, "I come back here, and I look out at my window and I see Narragansett Bay, and I think to myself, 'Yeah, those places were all great, but this is the best.' "

Like NASCAR On Water

Sailors like Spithill want to show people that sailboat racing has moved past the days of Ted Turner in a blazer. The regatta also allows sailors to get comfy with the high-tech craft because, as Spithill says, they're dangerous.

On a recent ride, the boat kicked up to 24 knots or so on Narragansett Bay. One hull lifted out of the water, and Spithill and his Oracle teammates leaned their bodies over its side. The boat balanced at a 40-degree angle, slicing through waters crowded with pleasure boats.

Unlike in the past, this new breed of sailing does not permit dead weight. Navigators, tacticians and other non-athletes can no longer just sit onboard during races. "If you can't put some serious horsepower into the boat, the guys [onboard] aren't going to carry you around," Spithill says.

Still, Spithill hopes the new boats will increase the sport's popularity. He wants people to view sailboat racing like NASCAR on the water. And as he threads his racing machine through waters off Newport, leaving the pleasure boats in his wake, you can't help but think he might get his wish. As every NASCAR fan knows, speed sells.

Copyright 2012 Rhode Island Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.ripr.org/.

As Water Supplies Wane, What's Next?

By Kara Miller   |   Saturday, June 23, 2012
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An irrigation canal is seen in Arizona's Salt River Valley. Some experts are concerned that parts of the American southwest are at risk for water shortages. (gem 66 via flickr)

Part 1:

Part 2:
 

A girl drinks from a tap in Rwanda. (jon gos/flickr)

We look at the increasing scarcity of water.

As the world’s population explodes, from 7 billion to 10 billion, will violence erupt over water the way it has over other natural resources, like gold, oil and diamonds?

Who will control water? And how much will it cost to access?

Guests:

  • William Moomaw, director, Center for International Environmental and Resource Policy, The Fletcher School, Tufts University

  • Shafiqul Islam, director of the Water Diplomacy Initiative; professor, Tufts School of Engineering

  • Lisa Sorgini Marchewka, vice president, Oasys Water

Spring 2012 the Warmest on Record

By Bob Seay   |   Thursday, June 7, 2012
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June 7, 2012

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The weather in Greater Boston as of 1 p.m. on June 7, 2012. (Google)

 
BOSTON — Despite the chill temperatures the week of June 4, Boston and Worcester have actually experienced the warmest spring since records started being kept in the late 1800s — and Hartford tied its record this year.
 
"If you average over January through May, we are well above average," said Mike Rawlins, a professor and manager of the Climate System Research Center at UMass Amherst.
 
Does this warm year bode long-term change? Rawlins said that despite variability from year to year, it does indeed point to a larger trend.
 
"We have been on a trend toward warmer springs, warmer years … the second-warmest spring on record now is 2010" for Boston and Worcester, he said. "So climate scientists would tell you, and we're in agreement, that the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations are leading to a warmer climate."
 
And if you're cold now, just wait a few days, Rawlins said: Temps are forecast to rise into the upper 80s.

Melting Glaciers Warn of Global Warming

Tuesday, April 10, 2012
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April 10, 2012

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Glacier National Park 2011 (karynsig/Flickr)



Professor Lonnie Thompson is a paleoclimatologist at Ohio State University. He and his wife study ice core samples to determine the impact of climate change. Called the Paul Revere of glacier melt, Thompson warns, "The ongoing widespread melting of high-elevation glaciers and ice caps, particularly in low to middle latitudes, provides some of the strongest evidence to date that a large-scale, pervasive, and, in some cases, rapid change in Earth’s climate system is underway."

Watch a video of a glacier melting, posted by the Extreme Ice Survey, and see how it was made.

About the Authors
Kara Miller Kara Miller
As a radio host, Kara Miller has interviewed thinkers from E.J. Dionne to Howard Gardner, Deepak Chopra to Lani Guinier. She is a panelist on WGBH-TV's "Beat the Press," as well as an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The National Journal, The Boston Herald, Boston Magazine, and The International Herald Tribune.

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Bob Seay Bob Seay
Bob Seay is the host of NPR's Morning Edition on 89.7FM WGBH Radio. He got his start in radio during college at WMUH, got involved with WGBH TV while in graduate school at Boston University and formerly hosted ME at WRNI in Rhode Island.

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