environment

Severe Drought Developing in Florida

Apr 3, 2017

It’s the heart of wildfire season in Florida, and more than 90 percent of the state is in a drought. The National Drought Mitigation Center classified the situation as “severe” in nine counties Thursday.

Florida Forest Service reports show that wildfires have scorched almost 60,000 acres since January 1st. State Climatologist David Zierden attributes the active fire season to the shortage of rain, which he says is unlikely to improve anytime soon.

One of the symbols of Florida is no longer an endangered species. That's according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which announced Thursday they're downlisting the manatee from endangered to threatened. Manatees have been classified as endangered since the first federal endangered species list was issued in 1967.

More manatees than ever - 6,300 - were counted during the winter, when they congregate around springs and warm power plant outfalls. But last year, more than one hundred manatees were killed, mostly by boaters.

J
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

President Donald Trump may be trying to scrub his predecessor's initiatives to fight climate change from just about every corner of the federal government — Exhibit A being this week’s executive order aimed at undoing Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan — but the reality of the climate crisis is not going away.

R
Mike Segar/Reuters

The former head of United Nations climate negotiations says the Trump administration executive order rolling back energy regulations won’t derail the landmark Paris climate change agreement.

Christiana Figueres, who led nearly 200 countries to a hard-fought international climate change agreement in December 2015, says the US policy changes are a “sad commentary” on the worldview of the current administration, but that other countries remain dedicated to the UN climate agreement.   

Courtesy of Oceana

A new study shows shark-related diving in Florida is a growing business, generating some $221 million annually for shops and other providers.

A couple researchers created fake mangroves in Manasota Key to bring back marine life that was lost from development. Along Florida’s coasts are seawalls-- built to prevent the shoreline from eroding. But that defense sometimes means removing natural habitats. Experts are now trying to turn these solid barriers into thriving ecosystems.

color:#333333">Government scientists are seeing a surprising surge in phosphorus in North America’s lakes and streams.


That’s the nutrient responsible for harmful algae blooms like those plaguing Florida’s Indian River Lagoon and other waterways.


Dan Burdeno / Miami Waterkeep

In advance of a $374 million dredging project at Port Everglades, the U.S. Corps of Engineers published a fact sheet last month to help the public understand the work and risks posed to coral and other marine life.

Kate Stein / WLRN

 

What if 30 percent of Miami-Dade County were shaded by trees? What would that look like? Is that something we’d really want?

Yes! says County Commissioner Dennis Moss. He heads the county’s Million Trees initiative.

 

"The trees are there, and they basically provide shade and they cool the community," Moss said. "When you have trees in the area, children are more inclined to go out and play."

 

Updated at 11 a.m. ET Friday

The U.S. State Department has signed and issued a presidential permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline. That reverses former President Barack Obama's 2015 decision to reject the controversial pipeline.

A Florida Senate committee has advanced a bill that gives certain Florida coastal communities the power to temporarily ban or regulate the use of plastic bags.

The Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation gave the measure its first-round approval on Wednesday, gifting a small victory to those who have fought for similar legislation to pass since 2013.

Angel Valentin / EarthEcho

A group of fifth graders from Citrus Elementary School huddle around Dr. Julien Zaragoza, a teacher with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center in Key Biscayne.

They’re all standing in knee-deep water with seagrass at the bottom of their feet. Each student is getting a glimpse of a male pipefish, which falls under the same fish classification as seahorses.

“See those little things inside here? Those are the eggs, and when they hatch all the little babies go out like ‘pew!’,” Dr. Zaragoza explains, while making a quick flicking hand motion.

Tom Hudson / WLRN

Water, water everywhere, but a lot of it’s contaminated.

That’s a theme of World Water Day 2017, which took place Wednesday. It extends to South Florida, where high phosphorus levels in the Everglades contribute to harmful algae blooms and cattails that dominate native sawgrass.

On a cold and windy day off the coast of Alabama, a team of researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts gathers, conducting the first test outside a laboratory for a potential new solution to a challenging problem: cleaning oil spills from water.

The invention, the Flame Refluxer, is "very simple," says Ali Rangwala, a professor of fire protection engineering: Imagine a giant Brillo pad of copper wool sandwiched between layers of copper screen, with springy copper coils attached to the top.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Seagrass in Florida Bay has died off rapidly over the past couple of years. About 40,000 acres have been lost, harming the habitat of animals from manatees to toadfish and imperiling the area's fishing industry.

Pages