Current Event February 7, 2018
Permafrost is frozen soil that has preserved things such as ancient animal bones and centuries-old icebergs. Permafrost contains twice as much carbon as is currently in Earth's atmosphere and it also preserves old bacteria. When it's defrosted the bacteria eats dead plants and animals turning their carbon into gases such as carbon dioxide. As the permafrost warms, the microbes are releasing gases contributing to further warming. Listen to learn more about this warming cycle.
Current Event December 20, 2017
The Santa Ana winds are making it extremely difficult for firefighters to control the range of the wildfires in Southern California. The fires have burned more than 272,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. These wildfires have caused many scientists to revisit the discussions over climate change as the United State’s western coast has continuously been battling floods, earthquakes, and wildfires throughout the entire year. Listen to hear what these fires indicate for future weather patterns.
Current Event October 23, 2017
About a month after Hurricane Maria, almost 90% of Puerto Rico is without power and many residents have become dependent on generators. Hospitals, restaurants, air traffic control towers and other businesses are now operating with generator power. The dependence on generators has introduced a new level of division between the privileged and the poor for these U.S. citizens. Listen to hear the concerns about generator power and how people in Puerto Rico are surviving after the hurricane.
Current Event October 3, 2017
After Hurricane Harvey in Texas, many people evacuated their homes and are now living in shelters. Leaving home during an emergency was especially difficult for parents of small children. Even though they brought supplies when they left their homes, an essential item that runs out quickly is diapers. Toddlers need 6-8 every day, and infants need twice as many. Listen to hear more about how this issue is affecting families and how it is being solved.
Current Event October 2, 2017
Hurricane Maria landed directly on Puerto Rico, taking down trees and destroying homes. The hurricane seriously damaged the island’s infrastructure creating widespread power outages and damage to cell towers. People are also facing shortages of gas, food, and water. A few people have gas powered generators that are running, but most are in the dark with no way to contact friends and relatives. Listen to this story to learn more about Hurricane Maria’s effect on the people of Puerto Rico.
Current Event September 28, 2017
Houston, Texas is recovering from Hurricane Harvey and students were delayed in going back to school. Many students are staying in shelters and teachers are volunteering to provide learning opportunities to children who were traumatized or displaced by the hurricane. One special education teacher created a group of educators called Teachers Volunteering in Shelters to help these students. Listen to hear more about these volunteers.
Current Event September 22, 2017
In neighborhoods in and near Houston, Texas, many people stranded by the flooding brought on by Hurricane Harvey were not able to get through to 911. That's when social media sites such as Facebook, Nextdoor and Twitter became important connectors for people to ask for help. Some think these are effective when calls to emergency personnel don’t go through, and others encourage people to stick to 911 instead of social media. Listen to this story and then debate: Social media or 911: Who do you ask for help?
Current Event September 18, 2017
Hurricane Harvey was enormous and Hurricane Irma had record high winds of 185 miles per hour. This is very unusual, but not unprecedented. What’s unusual is that they both hit land. Global warming creates more heat, and the more heat you have, the bigger the storms. Listen to hear about the relationship between big storms and climate change.
Current Event September 4, 2017
Many parts of Texas were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, the most powerful storm to strike Texas in more than half a century. The coastal tourist town of Rockport was hit directly. About half of the residents evacuated and rescue was difficult because of high winds, failed cell phone towers, and flooding. Listen to hear what this powerful hurricane was like from people who experienced it firsthand.
Science Middle School
The phrase “no two snowflakes are alike” is actually scientifically accurate. Snow forms high in the atmosphere, and despite its uniform appearance, each snowflake is different based upon where and how it was formed. Although snowflakes are non-living, they grow and change from the time they are formed to the time they reach the ground. Listen to learn how snow is formed and why it exists in some places but not others.
Current Event May 8, 2017
Recently, severe weather struck Texas, the South, and the Midwest bringing thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods that led to multiple deaths. The storms killed 15 people in East Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Mississippi and caused the rivers in Missouri to swell to levels not seen in a century. Listen to learn more about the human impact of this extreme weather.
Current Event March 24, 2017
Although the United States has cut its emissions of smog-forming pollutants by half over the past few decades, smog levels in the Western United States have increased each year. Now, scientists believe that rising emissions in Asia are causing smog in the United States. Asian emissions have tripled over the past decades and are particularly high in China and India. During the spring, storms lift and carry emissions from Asia to the Western United States, causing fog. Listen to learn more about how emissions levels in different parts of the world are changing and how global climate systems move emissions around the Earth and then debate: How can we address global pollution?
Science Middle School
Our bodies react differently to extreme heat depending on how much humidity is in the air. Heat index is a measure of how hot it feels outside, taking into account both air temperature and relative humidity. As the humidity rises, the heat index rises. In dry heat, our sweat quickly evaporates, which helps lower our internal temperature; but on a humid day, our sweat cannot fully evaporate as the air is already damp, and this prevents us from effectively cooling off. It also raises our risk of heat stroke and even death. To illustrate the science, this podcast considers the case of a man who was lost for three weeks in a remote desert in southern Utah and survived. Listen to hear more about dry versus wet heat and how it affects the human body.
Current Event February 2, 2017
California has been in a severe drought since 2014. It’s underground aquifers, which are permeable rocks that can hold groundwater are dry. During recent droughts, farmers pumped groundwater to irrigate their crops, which dropped the water table and drained the aquifers. In the Sierra Nevada Mountains, they are also getting less snow and more rain, which just runs into the ocean. Farmers are now experimenting with water management and ways to store excess water. With some recent heavy rains, rivers all over the state flooded and some farmers flooded their fields, letting the water seep deep into the ground to refill the aquifers. Listen to hear about ways to catch and store rainfall to help farmers.
Current Event January 10, 2017
A week of high pollution levels in Paris has brought strict restrictions on driving. The Paris mayor is making public transportation free in an effort to reduce the pollution particles in the air. There are also health concerns if people breathe this air for more than an hour, so some school sports and outdoor activities were banned temporarily. Listen to hear more about how Paris is managing this pollution crisis.
Current Event December 8, 2016
Wildfires swept through the city of Gatlinburg Tennessee, destroying several businesses and homes, forcing everyone to evacuate. The Great Smoky Mountains were being threatened by wildfires, along with Ripley’s Aquarium which houses 10,000 sea creatures. The staff at the aquarium were not allowed to stay and worried about the air quality and the flames reaching the building and the animals. Listen to this story to hear about the relief felt by the staff the next day.
Current Event October 19, 2016
Hurricane Matthew has left destruction in Haiti, with over 1,000 fatalities. In some towns, 80 to 90 percent of the homes were damaged or destroyed. Aid workers are making their way to the most vulnerable Haitians and trying to overcome the obstacles in getting food and water to some towns. Listen to hear more about the concerns about the spread of disease as well as what it will take to rebuild these devastated areas of Haiti.
Current Event August 30, 2016
Floods have devastated parts of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The flooding hasn’t spared schools, and 15 of the 46 schools in Livingston parish have flood damage. Three to six feet of water has swamped schools and homes in the area. The Superintendent has opened one of the schools as an emergency shelter. He is providing housing for residents whose homes have been flooded. Listen to hear the Superintendent talk about how the uncertainty of the situation means even he doesn’t know when schools will be opening this year.
Current Event April 6, 2016
The severe drought in California resulted in a state-wide mandate of 25% reduction in water use last year. This affects many residents, especially those who make a living in farming and agriculture. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains feeds water into the state’s reservoirs, which supplies about 30% of the state’s water needs. Last year the snowpack was 5% of average. This year, it’s about 95%. Even though it’s just below average, this is a great improvement. However, most growers remain cautious about whether the drought is really over.
Current Event February 16, 2016
Last summer, President Obama laid plans for fighting climate change. The Clean Power Plan includes Environmental Protection Agency standards on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants. Twenty-seven states sued over the proposal. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on the Clean Power Plan by a vote of 5-4. Environmentalists say this ruling threatens progress on global warming. In some states, coal companies and Republican politicians are cheering this decision. Listen to hear from supporters and opponents, and what this may mean for regulating coal.