Tuesday, November 30News That Matters

Tag: Pacific Northwestern States (US)

Timber Poachers Set a Forest on Fire. Tree DNA Sent One to Prison.

Timber Poachers Set a Forest on Fire. Tree DNA Sent One to Prison.

Technology
In the spring and summer of 2018, a crew of poachers had been chopping down trees by night in the Olympic National Forest in Washington State, federal prosecutors said.On Aug. 3, they came upon the wasp’s nest.It was at the base of a bigleaf maple, a species of hardwood tree with a shimmering grain that is prized for its use in violins, guitars and other musical instruments. The crew was selling bigleaf maples to a mill in Tumwater, using forged permits, prosecutors said. Logging is banned in the forest, a vast wilderness encompassing nearly a million acres.The timber poachers sprayed insecticide and most likely gasoline on the nest, and burned it, the authorities said. But they were unable to douse the fire with water bottles, so they fled, prosecutors said.The fire spread out from the fo...

When Kilauea Erupted, a New Volcanic Playbook Was Written

Technology
Back in the summer of 2018, Wendy Stovall stood and stared into the heart of an inferno.Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano had been continuously erupting in one form or another since 1983. But from May to August, the volcano produced its magnum opus, unleashing 320,000 Olympic-size swimming pools’ worth of molten rock from its eastern flank.Dr. Stovall, the deputy scientist-in-charge at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, recalls moments of being awe-struck by the eruption’s incandescence: lava fountains roaring like jet engines, painting the inky blue sky in crimson hues. But these briefly exhilarating moments were overwhelmed by sadness. The people of Hawaii would suffer hundreds of millions of dollars in economic damage. The lava bulldozed around 700 homes. Thousands of ...

La Niña Weather Pattern Likely to Prolong Western Drought, NOAA Says

Technology, World
For the second year in a row, the climate pattern known as La Niña has developed in the Pacific Ocean, which will likely prolong the severe drought in much of the Western United States this winter while bringing some relief to Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, government forecasters said Thursday.In La Niña, lower than normal sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific lead to changes in the jet stream, a high altitude river of winds that can affect weather elsewhere in the world.Over North America, La Niña usually, although not always, shifts the jet stream to the north, bringing more storms to that part of the continent and fewer to the south.That typical pattern was reflected in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration outlook for the coming winter, releas...
When Heat Waves, Wildfires and Drought Grip Oregon and Washington

When Heat Waves, Wildfires and Drought Grip Oregon and Washington

Business
In early summer, a day laborer laying irrigation lines at a plant nursery just south of Portland, Ore., collapsed to the ground and died. His official cause of death was declared “heat related.”It was 104 degrees out — several days into a brutal heat wave whose like has become increasingly commonplace in many parts of the country. Mussels and clams baked in their shells along the Washington coast. Record temperatures and fierce winds fueled one of the largest wildfires in the United States.Drought, megafires and heat waves are descending on the Pacific Northwest as the effects of climate change alter the landscape. They have forced farm owners, fieldworkers and state regulators to navigate newly extreme conditions.But visits to several farms in the Rogue Valley in Oregon and in Southern Wa...
A Future With Dangerous Warming Locked In

A Future With Dangerous Warming Locked In

Technology, World
By Henry FountainOver the three decades that scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been issuing major reports about the state of the climate, they’ve gradually expressed more certainty about what is happening and why.The latest report by the panel, which is convened by the United Nations, is the most certain yet. The more than 200 scientists involved, who perused thousands of climate studies, dispensed with even the slightest doubt that Earth’s climate is changing and that humans are the cause of it, through emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.“Unequivocal” is one of the words they used, as I reported with my colleague Brad Plumer.With that out of the way, the scientists then delivered some grim news. Humans, they wrote in the report, made...
This Flower Hides a Secret: It’s Actually a Carnivore

This Flower Hides a Secret: It’s Actually a Carnivore

Technology
This wildflower looks innocent. Found in wetlands not far from major cities in the Pacific Northwest, it lures in pollinators with white blossoms atop a long, sticky stem. You can even buy seeds of the Western false asphodel in garden stores.But according to new research published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, botanists have overlooked a distinguishing feature of the perennial: It is the world’s newest and most unexpected carnivorous plant.There are 13 known families of carnivorous plants, from insect-eating sundews and Venus flytraps to pitcher plants large enough to drown and devour a mouse. Most live in sunny, moist habitats where vital nutrients are in short supply — peat bogs, acidic fens, jungle canopies — and have to get their nourishment from liv...
Pacific Northwest Heat Wave Study Predicts More Extreme Heat

Pacific Northwest Heat Wave Study Predicts More Extreme Heat

Technology, World
The ferocious heat wave that hit the Pacific Northwest in late June stunned some climate scientists because it was so much more extreme than anything the region had experienced before.In most heat waves, if local temperature records are broken, it might be by a few degrees Celsius at most. But in the Pacific Northwest, the records — and there were many of them — were as much as 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than previous high temperatures.That led a team of scientists who studied the event to suggest that something different might be occurring, some mechanism linking global warming to very extreme heat that they did not fully understand.A new study published Monday offers some insight into why the Pacific Northwest heat wave might have occurred, although the paper was res...
It’s a Grizzly Bear Survival Program. For Grizzly Bears.

It’s a Grizzly Bear Survival Program. For Grizzly Bears.

Technology
One morning in mid-July, Lana M. Ciarniello, a bear biologist in British Columbia, caught a flight from Vancouver Island, where she lives, to a wildlife sanctuary in the northwestern part of the province to meet two baby grizzlies, the newest subjects in an unusual study she is conducting.The two cubs — brothers, born this spring — were orphaned when their mother was shot. Traditionally, grizzly mothers in North America tend their offspring for at least two years, teaching them to find food and keep out of trouble before nudging them to live on their own. These cubs were far too young to survive without her.Most grizzly cubs orphaned in North America — say, in the lower 48 U.S. states where they are endangered, or in Alaska and Canada where they are more plentiful — are shot on the spot, l...
Heat-Related Deaths Increase as Temperatures Rise in the West

Heat-Related Deaths Increase as Temperatures Rise in the West

Technology, World
PORTLAND, Ore. — Western states braced for another extreme spike in temperatures this weekend after a recent heat wave in Oregon and Washington State killed nearly 200 people and endangered laborers in fields and warehouses.Excessive heat warnings were in effect across inland California and the Southwest through the weekend, and the National Weather Service predicted that temperatures would approach an all-time high by Saturday in Las Vegas. A high of at least 130 degrees — which would be one of the highest temperatures reliably recorded on earth — was forecast for Death Valley.In California, the agency that runs the state electrical grid asked residents on Thursday to set their thermostats at 78 degrees or higher to reduce power usage, and Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded a regional drought eme...
Like in ‘Postapocalyptic Movies’: Heat Wave Killed Marine Wildlife en Masse

Like in ‘Postapocalyptic Movies’: Heat Wave Killed Marine Wildlife en Masse

Technology, World
Dead mussels and clams coated rocks in the Pacific Northwest, their shells gaping open as if they’d been boiled. Sea stars were baked to death. Sockeye salmon swam sluggishly in an overheated Washington river, prompting wildlife officials to truck them to cooler areas.The combination of extraordinary heat and drought that hit the Western United States and Canada over the past two weeks has killed hundreds of millions of marine animals and continues to threaten untold species in freshwater, according to a preliminary estimate and interviews with scientists.“It just feels like one of those postapocalyptic movies,” said Christopher Harley, a marine biologist at the University of British Columbia who studies the effects of climate change on coastal marine ecosystems. To calculate the death tol...