Gleanings of the Week Ending August 10, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Green – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Starting off the gleanings list with birds this week – green ones.

Indigenous Maize: Who Owns the Rights to Mexico’s ‘Wonder’ Plant? - Yale E360 – The nitrogen fixing maize --- farmed in Mexico – but who will profit if the trait is replicated in corn to feed the rest of the world.

Vast majority of dietary supplements don't improve heart health or put off death, study finds -- ScienceDaily – Massive analysis…277 clinical trials. The supplement industry is large and advertises; how do studies like this counteract that even if the supplement in many cases is having only a placebo effect.

Brothers Use Drone to Reveal Beauty of Ordinary Objects – Art of objects seen from above.

Making HVAC heat exchangers five times better -- ScienceDaily – We’re going to need all the innovation we can muster to get air conditioning more efficient…and power it with renewable energy.

BBC - Future - Do we need to walk 10,000 steps a day? – Hint – 10,000 is not a magic number at all. I’ve had my goal set at 12,000 steps for quite some time. I make it when I am home but am usually challenged when traveling.

Toyota plans to launch its first full EVs, in a deal with China’s BYD - MIT Technology Review – I hope by the time I get ready to replace my Prius Prime there are a lot of EVs to choose from!

What it Means to Design with Nature in 2019 - News | Planetizen – Is this the thinking of all design going forward?

A Fungus Is Now Infecting Humans & Global Warming May Be to Blame | CleanTechnica – Candida auris started showing up in humans in 2009 and it is multiple drug resistant already. New research is indicating that the fungus might have adapted to warmer temperatures until it can now multiply in the human body…which it couldn’t before.

Water Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the U.S. – Lots of changes in the time period between 1945 and 2014.The article includes a color-coded map. It will be interesting to see if the trends continue over the next decade

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 22, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

The royal tombs of Ur reveal Mesopotamia's ancient splendor – From National Geographic - Leonard Woolley’s excavation of Ur in the 1920s.

Astronomers Worry New SpaceX Satellite Constellation Could Impact Research | Smart News | Smithsonian – Are telescopes on the surface of the earth doomed? Will we only be able to study the universe from space?

Americans May Be Ingesting Thousands of Microplastics Every Year | Smart News | Smithsonian and Hawaii’s newest black sand beach already contains plastic pollution – Plastics everywhere...and there is growing evidence that it is negatively impacting life on our planet. What are we doing about it?

Image of the Day: Hot Stripes | The Scientist Magazine® - Did you know that zebras can raise the black stripes separately from the white stripes!

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Communication – National Geographic Society – Birds…never can resist including a wild bird photo collections.

BBC - Future - How modern life is transforming the human skeleton – The way we live – written in our bones.

New Jersey 100% Renewable Energy Plan -- More Fiber, Less Fluff | CleanTechnica – Hurray for New Jersey….having a tangible plan to use zero carbon energy by 2050.

Eliminating packaging is a good start – but here's what supermarkets should do to stop harming the planet – I’ve made it a point to reduce the amount of packaging when I shop; I am way past the easy things…and up against the way groceries operate in my area. I buy local produce through my CSA for 5 months of the year (a good way to eliminate packaging, eat seasonally, and reduce food transportation costs) but the other 7 months of the year, I’m back to the typical grocery store for produce.

How old are your organs?  -- ScienceDaily - To scientists' surprise, organs are a mix of young and old cells: Scientists discover cellular structures with extreme longevity, leading to insights for age-associated diseases.

Tropical Cyclones are Stalling More – Hurricane Harvey (Texas)….Tropical storm Fay (Florida)…Hurricane Florence (North Carolina) – All three storms caused a lot of damage to the coasts when they lingered over the coastal area becoming prolific rain producers. Is this the new normal for Atlantic Hurricanes?

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 14, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Antibiotics found in some of the world's rivers exceed 'safe' levels, global study finds -- ScienceDaily and Hundreds of world's rivers contain dangerous levels of antibiotics – Same story from different news feeds. Antibiotics we take are not broken down in our bodies and are excreted. Wastewater treatment does not take them out of the water so the rivers are – over time – building up more antibiotics.

Ancient Fingerprints Show Men and Women Both Made Pottery in the American Southwest | Smart News | Smithsonian – The breadth of men’s finger print ridges are 9% wider than those of women…so pots that are made via pinching layers of coiled clay together using the thumb and forefinger (leaving fingerprints) can be analyzed to determine the gender of the person that made them. It turns out at Chaco Canyon that men and women made pottery…unlike the more modern tradition of the skill passing from grandmothers to mothers to younger women.

Route 66 Considered for National Historic Trail in The Park System – On a recent road trip, the Pacific, MO hotel we stayed in (west of St. Louis) was near Route 66. They had a map to continue the journey through Missouri on stretches of the old road. We needed to reach our destination quickly so stayed on I-44…but maybe sometime when we can take our time…we’ll take Route 66 where we can.

CITY SPROUTS: The Budding Movement to Integrate Garden-Based Learning in Public School Education | Children & Nature Network – A laudable goal…but it takes work. With teachers that already have a lot to do….organizing garden-based learning might be a tough addition to their job jar.

Most of the World’s Macadamias May Have Originated from a Single Australian Tree | Smart News | Smithsonian – The majority of macadamias are grown in Hawaii…so the lack of diversity within the trees in Hawaii leaves the crop open to species-level risk. This article talks about the research and search for wild plants in Australia to increase the diversity within the macadamia gene pool.

Seven US Species Invading Other Countries – Cool Green Science – We talk a lot about non-native species invading the US. Here are some that have gone the other way.

A Sea of Sagebrush Disappears, Making Way for Fire-Prone Cheatgrass: NPR – Nearly 75% of the acres burned by wildfires in the west are range lands rather the forest. And what burns is sage and cheatgrass. The problem is that cheatgrass, an invasive grass, grows faster than sage and is taking over land where sage once dominated…and cheatgrass is more flammable. Put that together with climate change and the look of the west is changing.

Megacities Like Paris and London Can Produce Their Own Clouds | Smart News | Smithsonian – The urban heat island phenomenon has been known for a long time. Now studies are looking at cloud cover over cities and it appears they are 10% cloudier than rural areas.

Still snarling after 40,000 years, a giant Pleistocene wolf discovered in Yakutia – Found in Siberia. The discovery was announced as the opening of a Woolly Mammoth exhibition in Tokyo organized by Yakutian and Japanese scientists. The same team also presented a well-preserved cave lion cub.

Six fingers per hand – People with 6 fingers on a hand (a form of polydactyly) can perform movements with one hand where people with 5 fingers would require 2 hands. The brain of polydactyly subjects controls the additional degrees of freedom the additional finger provides without sacrificing any other brain functions.

Gleanings of the Week Ending May 25, 2019

Eye's vulnerability to macular degeneration revealed -- ScienceDaily – All cells of the macula are not the same. The ones in the central part (Muller cells) are smaller and shaped differently than the cells around the edges…and they are the ones involved in macular degeneration. Knowing more about the central cells may lead to more focused treatment.

Dangerously High Air Pollution Levels Found in Most U.S. National Parks - Yale E360 – Our national parks are places to enjoy natural beauty…be outdoors. Its very sad to know that air pollution is a problem.

Banana disease boosted by climate change -- ScienceDaily – Black Sigatoka – a fungal disease impacting bananas – is not virtually worldwide. It’s surprising that bananas are still such a bargain in our grocery stores.

Ten Tips for Being a Good Partner - On the Job - AGU Blogosphere – Good tips…and I liked the illustrative examples from real projects.

Oldest known trees in eastern North America documented -- ScienceDaily – In North Carolina there is a Bald Cypress that it at least 2,624 years old!

Does insulin resistance cause fibromyalgia? A newly confirmed link with insulin resistance may radically change the way fibromyalgia and related forms of chronic pain are identified and managed -- ScienceDaily – Researchers dramatically reduced pain of fibromyalgia patients with medication that targeted Insulin resistance.

Dogs Sniff Out Invasive Mussels at Chickasaw National Recreation Area – In the early 1970s, my husband and I often visited this area of Oklahoma (also visiting what was then Platt National Park). Kudos to the people trying it keep Zebra Mussels out of the Lake of the Arbuckles!

Soaking up pharmaceuticals and personal care products from water -- ScienceDaily – A new acronym (PPCPs = Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products). These are being detected in water everywhere usually in low concentrations but increasing…so it’s good that research is underway to develop ways to remove them from water.

A New View of Bird Vision – Cool Green Science – The article describes ways bird vision is being studied and provides examples of specific UV sensitivities in turkeys and red-winged black birds.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: May – National Geographic Society – Last but not least for this week --- enjoy some bird pictures.

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 30, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Spring Outlook: Historic, widespread flooding to continue through May | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Check out the map about 1/3 of the way through the article. It looks like quite a few areas along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are going to have moderate or major flooding through May. Almost the whole eastern part of the US is going to have some flooding during that period.

How Chromosomes X and Y Got Their Names, 1891 | The Scientist Magazine® - A little history. It all begins in the late 1800s.

C. R. PERCIVAL’S MICROSCOPE SLIDE COLLECTION | Ingenium – Browse through some of the images made of slides created in the early/mid 1900s. Click on the larger image to get a magnifier that can be moved over the image.

Food Trends 2019: Fermented Foods, Blueberries, Coconut Products, and More | Berkeley Wellness – How many of these are you already eating?

What oil leaves behind in 2.5 billion gallons of water every day in US -- ScienceDaily – Wouldn’t it be nice to not have oil polluted water injected underground…and sometimes into aquafers? Water is already in short supply in some areas of the country (mostly in the west). We need technologies to never contaminate water in a way that it cannot be consumed by plants and animals…and ourselves.

In Germany, Consumers Embrace a Shift to Home Batteries - Yale E360 – Half of the orders for rooftop solar panels are sold with a battery storage system too in Germany. I wonder when the US will catch up.

Butterfly numbers down by two thirds: High-intensity agriculture reduces number of butterfly species in adjacent areas -- ScienceDaily – It’s not just butterfly numbers that are down either. Agriculture research needs to hone practices that are productive in the short term…and the long term. In other words – all agriculture needs to become sustainable for humanity and the rest of the organisms that inhabit the Earth.

Nitrogen pollution's path to streams weaves through more forests (and faster) than suspected -- ScienceDaily – Nitrate is one of the abiotic tests we do for water quality assessment with high school students. This is a new finding to think about and incorporate in to the analysis of readings after heavy rains. The nitrogen might be moving so fast that the forest can’t absorb it!

Missouri Making Hyperloop Plans - News | Planetizen – A hyperloop between Kansas City and St. Louis! What a boon to the two cities and probably easier to build since there is not the heavy population between the two cities like the route that was originally talked about in California.

China Isn't Recycling Tons of U.S. Plastic Trash Anymore: Goats and Soda: NPR – We’re going to have to show some innovation in dealing with plastics – mostly single use – that we dutifully put in our recycle bins and assumed they would be recycled. Now a lot of them are going to landfills or polluting our waterways.  With a little thought, my family has reduced some….but the next step is tough. Some products we need are only available packaged in plastic.

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 16, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Wind Cave, In the National Park, Is 150 Miles Long...And Counting – About 2 miles are surveyed annually and there are about 3,000 unexplored openings that haven’t been checked.

Climate of North American cities will shift hundreds of miles in one generation: New web application helps visualize climate changes in 540 North American cities -- ScienceDaily – The article includes a link to the interactive map. Baltimore Maryland will be like Cleveland, Mississippi in 60 years!

Southern California Will Soon See Another Booming Superbloom | Smart News | Smithsonian – Much better than burn scars and mud slides.

The Obelisks of Heliopolis - Archaeology Magazine – Obelisks taken from the city…a project to understand where they originally stood and the role they played.

In Era of Drought, Phoenix Prepares for a Future Without Colorado River Water - Yale E360 – Living on the edge when it comes to water supply. It’s not just South Africa that has the challenge.

BBC - Future - How Japan’s ancient trees could tell the future –Teasing out how much rain fell in Japan over the past two and half millennia by looking at the preserved wood of ancient forests.    

The soaring cost of US child care, in 5 charts  and Paid family leave is an investment in public health, not a handout – Thought provoking…families coping in the modern world.

Utilities are starting to invest in big batteries instead of building new power plants – Shifts in the way big utilities are structuring themselves for the future – it not all about new power plants.

New molecules reverse memory loss linked to depression, aging -- ScienceDaily – Maybe in the future we’ll be able to treat some types of cognitive decline better than we can now.

The Future of Universities | What's Next: Top Trends – 7 Cs: Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Curiosity, Character and Compassion

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 16, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Mountain Birds – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Starting off the gleanings this week with bird pics!

BBC - Future - The perils of short-termism: Civilization’s greatest threat – It is very difficult for individuals and groups of humans to think strategically. And maybe since we are now quite capable of catastrophically destroying civilization (atomic bombs and climate change are the two most probable) – we need to make strategic thinking a higher priority.

Could Spider Silk Become a Natural Replacement for Plastic? – Cool Green Science – It is still very far from the goal – mass production cheaply. But it is hot material science topic.

Report: Americans Are Now More Likely to Die of An Opioid Overdose Than on The Road: NPR – Gives another take on the magnitude of the opioid deaths.

Not One, Not Two, But Three Fungi Present in Lichen | The Scientist Magazine® - For a long time the textbooks used lichen to exemplify symbiosis of a lichen and a fungus. It’s more complicated than that….and it’s a good example of how science is refined over time to improve our understanding.

BBC - Future - Why it pays to declutter your digital life – Getting rid of stuff needs to be about more than the physical junk we accumulate…we now have email and photos…all kinds of digital media stored and rarely – or never – used. It’s clutter. And it might need different strategies to declutter.

Central Texas salamanders, including newly identified species, at risk of extinction -- ScienceDaily – It seems like I’m seeing several stories like this recently – a newly identified species that is already almost gone. Depressing.

Elevated Nitrate Levels Found in Millions of Americans’ Drinking Water - Yale E360 – I don’t like articles like this because they point to a situation that has negative consequences…then doesn’t have anything that individuals can do to reduce the risk. It’s very frustrating.

Flowers Sweeten Up When They Sense Bees Buzzing | Smart News | Smithsonian – Flowers increase sugar content by 12-20% within 3 minutes of hearing a bee’s buzz.

Food is medicine: How US policy is shifting toward nutrition for better health – Glad this idea is getting more attention. We’ve been way to gullible to think that medications can overcome poor day-to-day dietary habits. I hope the 2018 Farm Bill and the “Food is Medicine” working group in the House are good ‘first steps’ to change the way we think about what we eat.  

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 24, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Drug pollution concentrates in stream bugs, passes to predators in water and on land: Animals that eat insects in or near streams at risk of being dosed with pharmaceuticals -- ScienceDaily – Wow – the existence of macroinvertebrates in our local rivers is an indicator of water quality (the focus of the field trips with high schooler’s I’ve been doing in recent years) but those same macroinvertebrates are probably getting a healthy dose of pharmaceuticals from the water…the fish that eat them act as concentrators….and some of those fish are eaten by people.  I hope reserarchers in the US are doing similar studies to the one described in this article. It would also be good if pharmaceutical companies would develop drugs that were not excreted in a still active form.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Flocks – National Geographic Blog and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Seed Eating Birds – National Geographic Blog – Two bird photograph collections for this week’s gleanings. Enjoy!

RIP Kepler: NASA’s exoplanet-hunting space telescope is finally dead - MIT Technology Review – The Kepler mission that discovered 2,662 exoplanets in our galaxy finally ran out of fuel. There is already a new satellite picking up the mission and the James Webb Space Telescope will launch in 2021.

Premature Birth Report Cards | March of Dimes – Only one state gets an ‘A’ – and many areas of the country are getting worse when it comes to premature births.

High levels of previously unsuspected pollutant uncovered in homes, environment -- ScienceDaily – An organophosphate that is known to be toxic was a surprise find in household dust…more study needed on its impact on humans that live with it at that level. The chemical is used as a flame retardant or plasticizer in consumer products…and may also form as other chemicals degrade.

Wildlife Populations Have Shrunk by 60 Percent Since 1970 | The Scientist Magazine® - The impact of less and less space for habitat for any species other than those directly related to humans.

BBC - Future - Why the flu of 1918 was so deadly – There have been flu strains that have been just as contagious as the 1918 strain…but none as deadly.

Infographic: What Makes a Brain Smart? | The Scientist Magazine® - There are several models that are being studied.

11 Wildly Colored Moths to Brighten Your Day – Cool Green Science – Most of our moths are in cocoons for the winter. There are several of these that I’ve seen on Maryland…will be looking for them next spring.

Owls help scientists unlock secret of how the brain pays attention -- ScienceDaily – A study using barn owls to figure out how the brain chooses what most deserves attentions.

Common Buckeye Butterfly

2018 10 IMG_2968.jpg

Last Saturday, I was at Robinson Nature Center about noon enjoying the native plant garden near the front of the nature center. When I noticed a Common Bucky Butterfly enjoying some of the fall flowers.

I took pictures from several perspectives. The colors and markings are very distinctive. It has knobs on the end of the antennae and whitish palpi between its eyes. It’s reported to like flowers with yellow centers…and that it what this individual was enjoying.

The entrance of the nature center has a nice display of fall pumpkins and squash.

I had come to the nature center earlier to participate look at macroinvertebrates in this part of the Middle Patuxent – upstream from the location for the two assessment with high schoolers earlier this week. Two differences: 1) no clams at Robinson….lots of them further down the river and 2) we found a snail…didn’t find any downstream. We found more of everything but that could have been the difference between and adult group and high schoolers….and we had more time to do the project.

In the Middle Patuxent – Day 2

Last Wednesday was the second day of the week that I volunteered through the Howard County Conservancy to help with a high school Stream Assessment in the Middle Patuxent River off the Kings Contrivance Loop trail; same location, different high school. The day still started out in near darkness…but then it was sunny!

We set up for the macroinvertebrate identification and quality assessment: collection bins and buckets and nets at the river level then tables with identification and analysis materials to the side of the trail.


I took a river level picture…much better without the rain – although the temperature was in the 50s rather than the 60s like Monday.


This time the white board worked very well to summarize the macroinvertebrates the students found and identified.

The students took pictures of the critters during the field trip. I let them borrow my clip-on macro lens. One girl had a very steady hand and took video of one showing gill movement. I took my pictures after the students headed back to school. Here are some my favorites.


Two entwined netspinning caddisfly larvae and a dragonfly larvae

A lot of dragonfly larvae…different instars and species


Another dragonfly larvae – one that seems to like this particular stretch of the Middle Patuxent. We’ll see if we find any upstream in day 3.


Several different pictures of the same damselfly larvae. We use ice cube trays to separate the critters while we are identifying them…they are ‘macro’ but not very big!

Two different kinds of mayfly larvae.


As I walked back up the hill to my car, I savored the sunny day and the near solitude of the walk.


The feeder streams still had trickles of water. One neighborhood woman that came by before the students arrived told me that the river had gotten bigger in the 30 years she has lived in the area and walked the trail. The river has dug down through sediment enough that it becomes a roaring torrent when it rains hard and rarely connects to its floodplain.


I couldn’t resist a fall leaf. Most of the forest is still green. We’re still waiting for fall color!

Rain and the Middle Patuxent

Last Friday, I had all my gear prepped and was almost walking out the door when I got the word that the field trip for high schoolers to assess stream health in the upper part of the Middle Patuxent River (in the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area) was cancelled. There was a line of heavy thunderstorms come through the night before and crossing the river on rocks was impossible. It’s been a rough fall for stream surveys with all the heavy rain we’ve gotten. I waited until mid-morning then headed out to see the high water myself – recruiting my husband to go along. It is about 15 minutes from our house.

Like a lot of forested areas in our county, there are scheduled deer management hunts posted on bright red signs. There is a similar one in our neighborhood for the forest behind many of our houses (and down to the Middle Patuxent River).


The South Wind Trail started out as older asphalt then became grass with some muddy places.

I saw some Christmas ferns under a low growing tree just off the path.


The closer we got to the river the muddier the trail got. The ground was clearly saturated. It would have become quite a quagmire with 60+ students, teachers, and volunteers hiking down to the river.

At the river the water was higher than I’d see it and foam was floating on the surface. The rocks we used to get across the river where we did most of the sampling were partially submerged…to dangerous to cross the river. The amount of sediment and rapid flow of the water would have made it had to find macroinvertebrates as well.

At first, I thought the gray areas of the rocks close to the river were lichen, but when I looked more closely, the areas looked more like they had been scoured and the lichen might be starting to grow again – very slowly.


As we continued around the loop to get back to our car, a part of the trail looked like it was becoming a rivulet into the river. Since the water had not made a ditch yet, it might be something that has just happened this fall.

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 23, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Civil War Battlefield ‘Limb Pit’ Reveals Work of Combat Surgeons – History from bones…a different perspective on the Civil War.

Seeing Through the Eyes of Your Camera | The Prairie Ecologist – A little photography tutorial….it’s great to understand your camera well enough to (sometimes) see more than you easily can with your eyes!

Forensic dentistry and how teeth are used to identify a person – Emerging technologies are making it realistic to identify a person from a single tooth.

What Americans Told Us About Online Shopping Says A Lot About Amazon : NPR – Shopping has changed so much….I like the change too.

Carbon Bubble About To Burst, Leaving Trillions In Stranded Assets Behind, Claims New Research | CleanTechnica – A thought provoking article about the inevitable transition from fossil fuels…and the value of these assets.

A new material capable of the adsorption of organic pollutants in water: The organomica C18-Mica-4 eliminates between 70 and 100 percent of these toxic compounds in less than 24 hours -- ScienceDaily – There are a lot of pollutants that the old style water treatment does not remove. I’m glad there is active research on increasing what can be removed from waste (industrial and sewage) water before it is released from the treatment facility.

 2017 set a new record for renewable power, but emissions are still rising — Quartz – I hope we can turn a corner soon – stabilize and then reduce emissions. Otherwise the future is a very different world. Many will not fare very well.

Age-related diseases may be a negative outcome of human evolution – In 1957, evolutionary biologist George Williams proposed a theory: adaptations that made species more fit in the early years of life likely made them more vulnerable to diseases in the post-reproductive years. This article is about some recent work investigating this theory in relation to brain development in humans.

Photography in the National Parks: Adding a Sunburst to your Sunshine – Getting up to photograph sunrise…some ideas to add pizzazz.

Top 25 Birds of Africa – I can’t resist including a ’25 birds’ post in the gleanings for the week.

Gleanings of the Week Ending May 26, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

The Secret Science of Shell Seeking – Shells and Sanibel, Florida. Hopefully the sea will not become so acidic that shellfish become less numerous over time.

Old sea ice continues disappearing from the Arctic Ocean | NOAA – Quite a difference in the amount of old sea ice between 1984 and 2018. It’s tough to be a polar bear or any other creature that depends on sea ice.

The secret to honing kid’s language and literacy -- ScienceDaily – Children need enough sleep, playing games, and time without distractions in the background as well as having books read to them…to encourage language and literacy development.

Compound Interest - The chemistry behind how dishwashers clean – The post didn’t address why glass becomes etched by dishwashers over time…so I was a little disappointed. Otherwise, seemed to cover the bases.

Twin Satellites Map 14 Years of Freshwater Changes: Image of the Day – Analysis of observations from multiple satellites to determine where freshwater is changing on Earth. One of the sources of data was GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) that collected data through 2017. The follow-on was launched this past week (on May 22) - Meet NASA’s New Dynamic Duo: A Pair of Climate Change-Tracking Satellites | Smart News | Smithsonian

Fox Photos Capture the Diverse Personalities of the Wild Animals – We occasional see fox around – entering or leaving the forest behind our house. I’ve never managed to photograph one.

BBC - Future - Pain bias: The health inequality rarely discussed – I’m glad I am healthy….but wonder what will happen if I ever do need medical attention. This post is part of series from BBC Future about how men and women experience the medical system differently.

Climate change broadens threat of emerald ash borer -- ScienceDaily – Here in Maryland, our ash trees are dying now. Many have been cut down this year.

Buyer beware: Some water-filter pitchers much better at toxin removal: Study finds some purifiers remove twice the microcystins from risky water -- ScienceDaily – Evidently the slower filters (and often more expensive) do a better job.

Thomas Jefferson and the telegraph: highlights of the U.S. weather observer program | NOAA – A little history of weather observations in the US….the earliest being in the 1640s. Thomas Jefferson bought his first thermometer about the time he wrote the Declaration of Independence and his barometer about the time he signed it….and maintained records until 1816. George Washington also took regular observations….the last entry being the day before he died.

Gleanings of the Week Ending May 19, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Top 25 Arid Birds – National Geographic Blog and Top 25 Woodland Birds – National Geographic Blog and The Best of the Top 25: Part 1 – National Geographic Blog and The Best of the Top 25: Part 2 – National Geographic Blog – Birds and more birds! I’m catching up on a lot of ‘top 25’ posts that have been accumulating.

Millennials Begin To Change The Face Of Camping In National Parks And Beyond  - Positive trends – more people camping…and more diversity. Great vacations…outdoors.

Historic Low Sea Ice in the Bering Sea: Image of the Day – Big changes to the amount of ice.

Algae Blooms in Lakes & Oceans Creating Pollution That Harms People, Pets, & The Planet | CleanTechnica – Who want to do anything in green water. Ugh! Another reason to slow the flow and reduce the extra nutrients that we send into our rivers, streams and lakes (that cause algae blooms).

World’s Largest Victorian Glasshouse Opens Doors After Five-Year Restoration Project | Smart News | Smithsonian – It’s easier to the structure of the building at this point…before the many new plants get very large and block the view. The building was originally opened in 1863…and this was it first restoration.

Alligators on the beach? Killer whales in rivers? Get used to it: Large predators once hunted to near-extinction are showing up in unexpected places -- ScienceDaily – Rebounding populations! They are returning to hunting grounds where they were common before hunting caused their near extinction.

Five Tips to Help Frogs and Toads in Your Yard: The National Wildlife Federation – Good recommendations for frogs…and wild life in general. I may repurpose my daughters old ‘turtle sandbox’ into a vernal pool (but will have to monitor it for mosquito larvae)

Why Teenagers Should Understand Their Own Brains (And Why Their Teachers Should Too!): NPR Ed: NPR – After being around middle school students this week…this article caught my interest. I’m glad we are learning more about the teenage brain and can come up with solutions to the problems caused to their sleep pattern by early school start times.

How Seeds from War-Torn Syria Could Help Save American Wheat - Yale E360 – From a seed bank near Aleppo…saving the seeds from the bank by taking them into Aleppo to Lebanon and now Kansas State and North Dakota State Universities developing wheat that is resistant to Hessian fly which has been an increasing problem with climate change (higher temperatures enough that the flies were not killed by the cold of winter, less water) significant enough that US grain yields were falling. Hurray for a diverse seed stock (and the US should take note to develop diversity rather than destroying via monoculture agriculture).

For how long will the USA remain the Nobel Prize leader? Empirical study on historical development allows a prognosis -- ScienceDaily – The graph is not positive for the US. It looks like the UK is recovering from a trough that developed in the 1990s while the US peaked in the 1980s and has been going down since then (the metric being Nobel prizes per year per 100 million inhabitants).

Gleanings of the Week Ending May 12, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Why I Speak Up for Science – National Geographic – A short piece about the need for science in everyday life….why science is important for everyone.

From property damage to lost production: How natural disasters impact economics -- ScienceDaily – The economic impact is more than just a single point of property damage and lost production…there is a ripple effect that can increase the overall impact significantly over what insurance covers and it beomes a very complex problem to estimate.

European Union Bans All Outdoor Uses of Neonicotinoids - Yale E360 – Shouldn’t we in the US be at least this concerned about the health of bees and other pollinators? Why have we not done more to curtail the use of neonicotinoids?

Top 25 Urban Birds – National Geographic – Some birds are thriving in the cities of the world.

Common Eye Disorders Explained: Cataracts, Glaucoma, AMD | Berkeley Wellness – Prevention, signs and symptoms, treatment…well organized and easy to understand.

These daggers made from human bone were a deadly asset on the battlefield | Science | AAAS – They are from New Guinea….and decorated. Most of the time they were made from cassowary leg bones….but sometimes human thigh bones were used.

US gains in air quality are slowing down: New study indicates challenges of meeting ozone goals -- ScienceDaily – I live in an area that has an increasing number of ‘code red’ days (high ozone). This study indicates that emissions from cars and power plants are understood well enough…but not other sources and that is probably why the trend toward better air quality is slowing down.

BBC - Future - How prison changes people – Evidently the personality change that dominates is an inability to trust others….but there are other common changes as well. Prisons almost seem design to change personalities for the worse.

City upbringing, without pets, boosts vulnerability to mental illness -- ScienceDaily – We need to figure out how to make cities a healthy place for everyone --- including children.

BBC - Future - Why pristine lakes are filled with toxins – A study done on Lake Geneva revealed cadmium, mercury, lead…sometimes in high concentration…from decades of plastic build up in the lake. Other studies of the microplastics in the water (and in water that has been processed for drinking) and then beer and honey from the area. Lots more research is needed on the impact to wildlife in and around the lake.

In the Middle Patuxent River

Last weekend I participated in the quarterly water quality monitoring of the Middle Patuxent River at Robinson Nature Center. The temperature was in the mid-40s it felt warmer with the sun shining and the river level less breezy that the top of the nearby hills. We hiked down taking a short cut through the forest and crossed the river.


The crossing was a little tricky for those of is with boots (Me and several others) rather than waders but we made it across with only one person getting water in one of her boots. There is a whale-shaped rock that is a landmark for where the quarterly surveys take place.

We used D-nets and tubs to collect macroinvertebrates from leaf wads and riffles. The leaf wad my partner and I worked on had lots of little critters, a very large crane fly larvae and a frog. Everything went into the tub except the frog which we put back into the river (not a macroinvertebrate….and not easily contained anyway). After collecting for over an hour we headed back across the river to the lab with buckets to search through of macroinvertebrates to identify.

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Back in the lab we emptied the buckets into smaller plastic bins and started separating the macroinvertebrates into ice cube trays for identification. We were after diversity and numbers of macroinvertebrates, so we were sifting through everything very carefully. I used a macro lens attached to my cell phone camera to get a few pictures.

There were a few things that were not macroinvertebrates but they were in the sample which were generally bigger than the macroinvertebrates and moved around a lot – a little distracting while we were searching. Several of us had salamanders (me included) and one person has some small fish!

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Our team lead completed the form to submit for the monitoring session; the river scored about the same as the last sampling in January which is better than 85% of other Maryland water sources. Hurray for the river!

HoLLIE – Week 5

The Week 5 of HoLLIE (Howard County Legacy Leadership Institute for the Environment) class focused on farming in our area of Maryland, conversations that change hearts/minds/behavior, and protecting watersheds from storm water.

The day started out cool and damp…with lots of birds moving about and making noises. I took a short walk around Belmont, but the birds were not still enough for photography (and the light was not very good. I did get some silhouettes of pigeons in the sweet gum.

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I had better luck with buds on trees

seedpods from last summer,

and the bark on the river birch.

Then it was back indoors for class.

The farms in our area are generally small and generally must specialize to be successful. The country is down to 3 dairy farmers and will probably lose one of them this year. We were encouraged to ‘buy local’ and I felt good that I already have signed up for the 2018 version of the Gorman Farm CSA (community supported agriculture).

By the end of the day – we were all hoping the rain would hold off for our field trip to see different ways Columbia, MD ‘slows the flow’ of storm water runoff. It remained cloudy...but no rain! We stopped at a bioretention area near Wilde Lake to handle the runoff from a large barn so that it does not dig a trench on it’s way to the lake (carrying the slope sediment with it). It was an attractive depression the grasses and other plants with interesting seed pods (this time of year).

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The next stop was a stream restoration where a series of stepwise pools has been constructed that will slow water letting it soak in  with the series of pools or drop sediment before it moves on town to Lake Elkhorn. The project is completed except for plantings.

The last stop was an inline bioretention facility, Homespun pond, and a nearby residential rain garden. I listened but was busy photographing what turned out to be a male and female hooded merganser on the far side of the pond!

It was another good class day!

Previous HoLLIE posts: Week 1, Week 2, week 3, week 4

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 23, 2017

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Search for Microbial Life on Mars | The Scientist Magazine® - Life on Mars…challenges abound.

Using Data to Inspire: Share Science and Find Truth in the Stories - The Bridge: Connecting Science and Policy - AGU Blogosphere – Maria Merian studied butterflies…and discovered that instead of being ‘born of mud’ spontaneously, they grew as caterpillars that metamorphosed into butterflies. That was back in the 1600s. Communication of data can be very inspiring!

Will Squid Soon Rule the Oceans? | Zócalo Public Square – These creatures thrive on disruption in our oceans…benefiting from climate change, overfishing and pollution.

Suburban ponds are a septic buffet -- ScienceDaily – Suburban animals behave, look and function differently because of the fundamentally unique ecosystems of suburbia.

Cancer imaging aid developed from horse chestnuts -- ScienceDaily – Horse chestnuts are trees I recognize in our local gardens….so I took a second look at this article. Evidently an extract from the tree may have a medical use!

What is the Bauhaus Movement? The History of Bauhaus Art – A short history of  Bauhaus art, architecture and design….how it all comes together and its legacy.

Free Technology for Teachers: The Science of Snowflakes – Two short videos about snowflakes.

100,000 Digitized Art History Books Are Now Freely Available to Any Art Lover and the Getty Research Portal – Another source of eBooks…it is easy to spend a lot of time browsing this one.

Photographer Takes Stunning Portraits of Endangered Animals: Goats and Soda: NPR – Photography with a message.

Dinosaurs Were Around Before Saturn Had Rings | Smart News | Smithsonian – There are timelines relating events around the world. This is a link between our planet and the rings of Saturn.

In the Middle Patuxent River with 9th Graders

The Howard County Conservancy conducts field trips with 9th graders in the county to gather another year of data for country’s Watershed Report Card and I am one of the volunteers helping to make it happen. In September, I volunteered twice and both were assessing locations along the Middle Patuxent River. About 120 students participate each day. There is a calm along the river before the students arrive and 30 pairs of boots left haphazardly by the first group of the day (the second group had the challenge of finding a matching pair and realizing that there might be water in the boots before putting them on).

I took more pictures on the second day…before the students arrived. The abiotic measures (like pH, nitrate, nitrite, dissolved oxygen, phosphorous, temperature, transparency, stream corridor) are done at 3 stations above the river. On this day those stations were along a paved trail that was close to the river.

Down in the river there were three other stations with D-nets, collection cups, ice cube trays, and plastic sheets….all used to collect macroinvertebrates for the water to further assess the quality of the river.

The highpoint from one group was finding a hellgrammite (the larvae of the dobsonfly that is as big as a small fish)!

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Another group found a crayfish…and an golden colored dragonfly larvae.