Earth Notes

Earth Notes
11:52 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Earth Notes: Early Cotton

Early cotton from the Colorado Plateau
Credit National Park Service

A thousand years ago, farmers on the Colorado Plateau were known for their classic crop trio of corn, beans and squash. But, in some places, they were also growing, using and trading cotton.  

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Earth Notes
10:41 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Earth Notes: Ancient Peoples and Fire

Prater Canyon in Mesa Verde National Park
Credit Library of Congress

In modern times human presence has influenced the size and number of wildfires on the Colorado Plateau. We are, in part, responsible for more big fires and fewer small ones. But is there also a connection between ancient peoples and wildfire?

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Earth Notes
7:23 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Earth Notes: Sedona Sinkholes

Devil's Kitchen
Credit Arizona Geological Survey

The colorful red rock geology of Sedona looks timeless. But, the complicated topography hides layers of rock that aren't as solid as they appear. And that might - in some places - even pose a threat to humans.

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Earth Notes
7:33 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Measures of Drought

A scene of Southwestern drought
Credit University of Arizona Climate Assessment of the Southwest

Drought is a universally understood phenomenon — especially here in the arid Southwest. But what does drought really mean? To help define the term, and the concept, scientists use several commonly used drought indices. Each summarizes thousands of data points on rainfall and other information into a single handy number.

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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
1:47 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Earth Notes: Bee Houses

Bee House
Credit North Carolina State University

When you hear the word "bee", you're likely to think of the hard-working insects that produce the honey we use. But in North American, a wild diversity of native bees - more than 4,000 kinds - swamps that of honeybees, which were imported from the Old World.

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Earth Notes
7:14 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Earth Notes: Schultz Fire Habitat Islands

Fresh vegetation grows in the Schultz Fire burn area
Credit Kris Haskins

It's been 3 years since the Schultz Fire seared more than 15,000 acres on the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff. About 2/3 of that area, mostly ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forest, was moderately to severely burned. But native plant species have been helping to restore the area.

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Earth Notes
5:27 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Earth Notes: The Mouse that . . . Whistles?

Grasshopper Mouse
Credit Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

At night, sharp-eared southwestern campers sometimes hear the sound of a fierce predator on the prowl.

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Earth Notes
5:16 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Earth Notes: How Dark Can the Night Sky Get?

Credit NASA

It’s well known that the sky gets darker as you get farther away from human sources of light.

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Earth Notes
5:53 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Earth Notes: A Sunny Future for Desert Power—But What About the Tortoises?

Agassiz Desert Tortoise
Credit Gerald and Buff Corsi © California Academy of Sciences

Sunshine is endemic to the desert Southwest. So is a venerable reptile, the Agassiz’s desert tortoise.

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