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Extinction Countdown

Flower Power: Collaboration Keeps Rare Plant off the Endangered Species List

Georgia aster

Fifteen years ago the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) acknowledged that a rare plant called the Georgia aster (Symphyotrichum georgianum) deserved and needed protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Unfortunately, a lot of other species also needed protection—some of them much more urgently. As such, the Georgia aster was determined to be a [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Rare Tree, Dependent on Fire, to Leave Endangered Species List

Santa Cruz cypress

Natural forest fires were once an important part of the life cycle of the Santa Cruz cypress, a rare tree that today exists in just five mountainous groves in California. Fires cleared out competing plants from around the trees and, crucially, the heat caused their cones to release their seeds—the main way the species reproduces. [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Bad News for Christmas: Frankincense Faces Uncertain Future

frankincense tree

Frankincense—that aromatic staple of the original Christmas story—could soon be “doomed” to near-extinction, according to research published December 21 in the Journal of Applied Ecology. Frankincense is an aromatic resin used in perfumes and incense. It comes from trees of the Boswellia genus, which grow mostly in the Horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula. The [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Deadly forest fire leads to resurrection of endangered tree

In 2009 six weeks of wildfires in Victoria, Australia, killed 173 people and injured hundreds more, but the fires may have also led to the resurrection of a rare tree that was previously on a path to extinction. Only about 670 Buxton silver gum trees (Eucalyptus crenulata) were left in the wild before the devastating [...]

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Life, Unbounded

A Planet on Fire

modis

Imagine, if you will, a planet with atmosphere, oceans, rocks and life. On this planet, most chemical reactions are either slow and geophysical, or quick and biological but very localized. There is, however, an exception. Because of the particular nature of this world there is the ever-present potential for a type of chemical reaction that [...]

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Observations

Humans Tamed Fire by 1 Million Years Ago

fire

The ability to control fire marked a major milestone in human evolution, helping our ancestors stay warm in the cold, enhance the nutritional value of their food and keep predators at bay, among other uses. But exactly when humans mastered flame has proved difficult to establish. The oldest signs of fire in association with human [...]

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Observations

New Mexico Wildfire Remains a Threat to Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos fire

The uncontrolled 60,000-acre Las Conchas Fire in New Mexico, which began June 26, is raging near Los Alamos National Laboratory, but the lab says that its nuclear materials are protected. Los Alamos was the birthplace of the atomic bombs that the U.S. developed during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project and dropped [...]

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Plugged In

Central Texas Is on Fire–Vulnerability, the Grid and the View from Space

AERONET_Univ_of_Houston-1.2011248.terra.1km

Not to be outdone by the East Coast, we are fighting through our own natural disasters here in Texas. Nearly two dozen large wildfires are burning across Texas. The latest batch is in and around Austin, TX. The largest fire is in Bastrop County, only 25 miles east of Austin. Another fire in the upscale [...]

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Plugged In

Maybe … a Half of a Cheer for Shale Gas? Maybe?

I had a whole post prepared about how the Geographic Information Services people helped in the response to the April tornados that devastated Raleigh, which seemed like a good way to introduce the infrastructure-plus-connectivity-plus-how-do-they-DO-that? applied science take I hope to bring to this blog, but then I came back from vacation and opened the newspapers [...]

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