Alexandra Murphy

Earth Notes
4:07 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Earth Notes: The Slide Fire’s Mosaic of Impacts

The State Route 89A switchbacks in Oak Creek Canyon after the Slide Fire. Large areas of steep terrain were severely burned in May.
Credit Ryan Heinsius

In late May of this year, wildfire swept through upper Oak Creek Canyon in northern Arizona. By the time firefighters contained it in early June, the Slide Fire had burned some 22,000 acres of chaparral, mixed conifers, and ponderosa pine forest.

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Earth Notes
8:49 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Earth Notes: Measuring the Night on the Colorado Plateau

Chaco Canyon National Historic Park
Credit National Park Service

Some 27 national parks and monuments protect the Colorado Plateau’s remarkable canyons, rivers, and wide-open spaces. But, people increasingly visit the plateau to experience another rare natural resource: its dark skies.

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Earth Notes
12:06 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Earth Notes: Tracking Climate Change In Northern Arizona

Grand Canyon
Credit Northern Arizona University

In late September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Summary for Policymakers for part-one of its  massive Fifth Assessment Report. Its message? Earth's climate is warming, and human influence on that warming is clear.

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Earth Notes
9:20 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Earth Notes: Caddisflies Inspire Medical Innovation

Credit Fred Hayes for the University of Utah

Imagine an adhesive that could take the place of pins and plates when fixing broken bones, or that could replace staples and sutures during surgery. But creating a glue that sticks to a wet surface is no easy task. That's why University of Utah researchers are taking their cues from a proven master of the art - the diminutive caddisfly.

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Earth Notes
7:52 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Earth Notes: Glen Canyon Dam - What Flows In (And Not Out)

Upstream from Glen Canyon Dam
Credit National Park Service/Kyler Carpenter

Two hundred miles upstream from Glen Canyon Dam, the Colorado River roars through Cataract Canyon in a rust colored tumult, thick with silt and clay. Each year, the Colorado and its tributaries carry, on average, some 61 million cubic yards of sediment into Lake Powell, enough to fill more than 200,000 railroad boxcars.

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Earth Notes
4:00 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Earth Notes: Restoring a Watershed, One Russian Olive at a Time

Escalante River: Before

Those who have bloodied hands or arms on the inch-long thorns of a Russian olive, or dulled a chainsaw on its dense wood, know that it takes determination and brute force to clear away these tough nonnative trees. Since 2000, this formidable task has been underway along the Escalante River in southern Utah.

Introduced in the 1940s to combat soil erosion, Russian olives took to the Colorado Plateau with gusto. They have crowded out native willows and cottonwoods, forming virtually impenetrable thickets along hundreds of miles of washes and river bottoms.

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Earth Notes
4:00 am
Wed March 14, 2012

Earth Notes: Bumblebees on the Colorado Plateau and Beyond

Cockerell's Bumblebee, southern New Mexico
G. Ballmer, University of California, Riverside

With bee populations declining worldwide, news is often grim in the world of bee research. But last August, entomologists from the University of California at Riverside found something to cheer about: they spotted three members of a bumblebee species long feared extinct.

Last documented in 1956, the Cockerell’s bumblebee of south-central New Mexico is the country’s rarest bumblebee.

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Earth Notes
12:00 am
Wed February 1, 2012

Earth Notes: Exploring Fish Ecology in the Colorado River Drainage

Over the past hundred years, people have introduced dozens of non-native fish species into the Colorado River and its tributaries. During that time, populations of native fish species have dropped, in some cases dramatically. It’s easy to guess at the causes of native species decline, like predation and competition for food. But it’s far more difficult to prove.

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