Science

Elevation Zero
12:57 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Building For Sea-Level Rise -- Without Rules

The Miami-Dade Wastewater Treatment Plant on Virginia Key.
Credit Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department

  Miami-Dade County has recently worked out a $1.5 billion plan with the Environmental Protection Agency to fix its aging sewer system — an over-burdened network of pipes, pumps and plants that’s leaked a lot of sewage in the past years.

But a local environmental group says there’s a major piece missing from that agreement: climate-change planning in a consent decree.

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Elevation Zero
8:55 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Sea Level Limbo In The Caribbean: How Low Can You Go?

Map of the Caribbean showing in red the vulnerability of the Western Isles, especially The Bahamas.
Credit Google

The folks in the Bahamas hamlet of Dunmore Town seem blissfully unaware of sea level rise. One resort hotel operator I called in Dunmore, which sits on Harbour Island, dismissed it altogether.

“I was just down at our beachside bar,” she said. “I didn’t notice the sea level rising.” (Yes, she was serious.)

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Elevation Zero
3:24 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Outdated Miami Canals Too Weak For Sea-Level Rise

Credit Balthazira / Flickr Creative Commons

  It’s been more than half a century since flood-control structures such as dams and canals were constructed throughout Florida. Now, with the impact of sea-level rise on the horizon, many of these structures are becoming fragile barriers to keep floodwaters and tidal surge safely away.

Dr. Jayantha Obeysekera is in charge of assessing short- and long-term responses regarding sea-level rise for the South Florida Water Management District. He examines the canal system in Miami's Little River neighborhood, which separates the river from the ocean.

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Elevation Zero
7:53 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Fort Lauderdale Ahead Of The State When It Comes To Sea-Level Rise Protection

Fort Lauderdale's State Road A1A suffered serious damages from Tropical Storm Sandy.
Credit Florida Department of Transportation

If not for its patchwork of different shades of asphalt, you would never imagine the stretch of State Road A1A along Fort Lauderdale Beach was all underwater a year ago.

Last November, Tropical Storm Sandy and small storms that followed washed out a four-block section of A1A, north of Sunrise Boulevard. Sandy wasn’t a big storm, so the uncharacteristic destruction it brought has been explained by sea-level rise, which can cause increasingly harmful storm surges.

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Elevation Zero
7:00 am
Wed November 13, 2013

What To Make Of All Those Sea-Level Rise Projections

Credit NOAA

Climate scientists largely agree that sea level is rising. The extent of the change is a far more complicated matter.

“Probably two feet. Three feet, possibly,” said David Enfield, a climatologist with the University of Miami and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. “As an extreme -- if for example we see an unexpected acceleration of the melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica, something else we’re not observing -- we could be seeing six feet by the end of the century.”

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Elevation Zero
3:06 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Key West Awash With Plans For Rising Sea Level

A cyclist rides past buckled asphalt in Key West, Fla., after Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Key West experienced widespread flooding with the storm surge.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 6:00 pm

Florida — especially South Florida — is very flat and very low, and in places like Miami Beach and Key West, buildings are just 3 feet above sea level. Scientists now say there may be a 3-foot rise in the world's oceans by the end of the century.

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Elevation Zero
6:46 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Wild Money: Crocs, Cash And Sea-Level Rise

Credit Brian Jeffery / University of Florida IFAS

As water levels rise in the Everglades, are prolific pythons and their iguana cousins going to come slithering out, seeking higher ground and pushing out our local crocs? The very idea makes most of us want to relocate.

It turns out wildlife biologists and other scientists have been studying for the past few years what might happen to more than 20 Everglades species. One conclusion: Soon, we all may be scrambling for a higher perch.

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Elevation Zero
4:18 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Why Modern Human Beings Aren't Built To Grasp Climate Change

In 2007, artist Eve Mosher drew a chalk line at the 10-foot above sea level line around 70 miles of coastline in New York City.
Credit highwaterline.org

A decade ago, sea-level rise from climate change was a political argument with very little external reality in the minds of most people.

But University of Miami professor Kenny Broad might have said then what he says right now.

"This isn't some future generation problem," Broad said. "It’s in our lap right now and we don’t have a lot of time to make some clear decisions."

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Environment
11:29 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Birdwatchers In The Keys On Alert For Nature's Speed Demon

Credit Kerry Ross

The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal on the planet. 
Throw a brick off the top of the Empire State Building and the Peregrine will fall out of the sky faster.

The secret is the falcon’s ability to shape its body into an almost perfect teardrop, fine tuning its muscles and feathers according to the feel of the rushing wind. Navy scientists using radar have clocked them doing 240 miles per hour. Peregrine Falcons don’t do this for fun. They do it to survive.

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Community Contributor
6:00 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Become An Online Citizen Scientist Through UM Plankton Project

An example of the computer screen interface volunteers see when reviewing images.
Credit Zooniverse.org

Planktonportal is a new online citizen science project to engage the public’s help in identifying planktonic creature images collected by an underwater robotic camera.

Plankton is the basis of our ocean ecosystem. No plankton, no life in the ocean. By understanding the mechanisms underlying plankton distribution both locally and globally, we can better assess the health of the ocean and better manage this precious environment. And now we can all do it together!

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Health
3:29 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Why Can't Fish Oil Supplements Keep Our Brains Sharp?

If you eat fish, rather than take a fish-oil supplement, is there more likely to be a benefit? There's more than a suggestion that this is indeed the case.
Verena J Matthew iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 2:22 pm

Lots of people think of fish as brain food. And there's good reason.

Many kinds of fish — think salmon, sardines, tuna — contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a class of polyunsaturated fat, which have been shown to fight inflammation and improve the function of our neurons.

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Climate Change
6:00 am
Fri September 20, 2013

Why There's A Boom In Noah's Ark Construction In Miami And Around The World

A puppy (born on the ark site) runs to Carolina Peralta, Hidden Ark spokesperson. (Taken 3/12/13)

With almost exactly forty days and forty nights left in South Florida’s rainy season, now might be a good moment to consider the options.

Globally, four Noah’s Arks have been either completed or started in the last few years.

As of last March, one-tenth of a life-sized ark -- 150-feet worth -- sat just outside Hialeah, part of the $1.5 million Hidden Ark project. (An update on that later.)

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Synesthesia
6:00 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Better Than Tinted Shades: Why Some People See Time And Taste Music

For Fort Lauderdale high schooler Laura Herman, A is red. Q is purple. G is brown. Two is pink. Rap is salty. And techno is like sweet and sour sauce.

That’s because she has synesthesia, a perceptual condition where she combines two senses in four different ways (letter-color; sound-taste; time-space; and shape-color), which apparently is common among synesthetes.

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Americas
6:18 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

World's Biggest Virus May Have Ancient Roots

Pandoraviruses were discovered lurking in the mud of Chile and Australia, half a world apart.
courtesy of Chantal Abergel and Jean-Michel Claverie

Originally published on Sat July 20, 2013 6:14 am

Researchers have discovered the largest virus ever, and they've given it a terrifying name: Pandoravirus.

In mythology, opening Pandora's Box released evil into the world. But there's no need to panic. This new family of virus lives underwater and doesn't pose a major threat to human health.

"This is not going to cause any kind of widespread and acute illness or epidemic or anything," says Eugene Koonin, an evolutionary biologist at the National Institutes of Health who specializes in viruses.

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Food
4:11 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Meet Hunters Who Discover New Fruit For South Florida

Noris Ledesma poses with mangos at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens.
Credit Kaylois Henry

If you've ever found yourself biting into a tangy sapote, or a lush mango, give a small thanks to fruit hunters.

Fruit hunters are an intrepid band of explorers, growers and researchers. For decades, they have introduced most of the fruit that we enjoy in South Florida. The area's climate is conducive to growing most of the tropical fruit from nearly all the world's continents. Fruit hunters will travel the lengths of the earth, as well as mining their own back yards, in search of the newest, rarest and tastiest plants.

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