Melissa Sevigny

Science & Technology Reporter

Melissa grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona and an M.FA. in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University. Her first book, Mythical River, forthcoming from the University of Iowa Press, is about water issues in the Southwest. She has worked as a science communicator for NASA’s Phoenix Mars Scout Mission, the Water Resources Research Center, and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Melissa relocated to Flagstaff in 2015 to join KNAU’s team. She enjoys hiking, fishing and reading fantasy novels.

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A petition submitted today by a nonprofit environmental group seeks to trigger federal reform of uranium mining regulations on public lands.

The petition focuses on so-called “zombie” mines that have been reopened after long periods of inactivity. It asks for limits on how long a mine can remain on standby, as well as new environmental reviews when an old mine reopens. It also proposes regular inspections of inactive mines, long-term water monitoring and firm deadlines for reclamation.  

Two people in Coconino County are recovering from a rare disease called tularemia, or rabbit fever.

These are the first confirmed cases of tularemia in Coconino County in a decade. The bacterial infection mainly affects mammals, especially rabbits and hares. It can spread to humans who have handled infected animals or been bitten by deer flies or ticks.

Brady Smith, U.S. Forest Service, Southwestern Region, Coconino National Forest

Current climate change models assume that trees recover swiftly after a drought ends. That’s not true, according to a new study.

Researchers examined tree-ring data from more than 1,300 sites around the world. By comparing the rings to rainfall records, they could track tree growth before, during, and after droughts.

They found most trees grow slower than normal for 1 to 4 years following a drought.

It’s called a “legacy effect,” and it hasn’t been included in climate change models.  

Office of Emergency Management in La Plata County Colorado

A massive wastewater spill from a Colorado mine is expected to reach Lake Powell sometime this week.

About three million gallons of wastewater poured into the Animas River last Wednesday after a breach at a defunct gold mine near Silverton. The contaminated water has reached the San Juan River in New Mexico, which flows into Lake Powell on the Colorado River. 

Cynthia Sequanna is a spokesperson for the National Park Service.

USDA Forest Service Active Fire Mapping Program

The U.S. Forest Service now has a better view of wildfires from space, thanks to a new agreement with NASA.

The agreement gives wildland fire managers access to data from a satellite imaging system called VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite). In the daytime, VIIRS can theoretically detect a flaming fire just 50 square meters—about the size of a small house. At night, VIIRS can detect a fire five times smaller. That’s an improvement on current technology, called MODIS, which routinely detects wildfires about 1,000 square meters in size.

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