Courtesy DigNatureThe other day I was invited to take a canoe trip down the Mississippi River, where I saw all kinds of wildlife, including a prehistoric-looking heron, and lots of other birds. I also saw really cool bridges from the underside, and got an up-close look at a gigantic river barge.
The best part about it? I didn't even need to leave the city, I just rode my bike to a park in St.Paul and a few minutes later I was out on the water.
This trip was part of a new program that Wilderness Inquiry and the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area are sponsoring to get city folks like me (and you?) out on the river. It's called the Urban Wilderness Canoe Area or UWCA, and the group organizing these trips hope to take 10,000 middle and high-school students on river trips. Some will even include overnight camping in St.Paul.
Besides being a really fun trip, I was able to see (and put my hands into) the place where my drinking water comes from, and where the run-off from my city street goes to.
While the water did look and smell better than I would have imagined, I did see all kinds of disgusting trash, some of which had made its way into the branches of nearby trees and bushes. I saw fast food containers, plastic toys, grocery bags and lots of cigarette butts. It's easy to forget that this stuff all ends up somewhere, and often times in waterways like the Mississippi, which eventually end up in our oceans. Even my short river trip was a great reminder of this.
Have any Buzz readers been canoeing or hiking along the Mississippi, or camping near the city? What did you see?
Check out this amazing slow-motion video taken beneath a huge wave off the coast of Pohnpei in the Caroline Islands in Micronesia. It was filmed by Australian cameraman Bali Strickland who specializes in filming world-class surfers doing their thing. He used a special high-speed camera that videotapes the action in high definition and at 20 times slower than normal speed. The camera captured - for the first time - underwater spiralling vortices created by the 12-foot wave's action. The remarkable footage is part of an upcoming BBC series on the South Pacific.
Courtesy Pabo76What say we take a breather from all the bleak and uncertain flu news and turn our collective attention to the possibility of a tsunami washing away the East Coast of the USA? Fortunately no such threat is on the horizon at the present moment but scientists have found evidence they say indicates a large tsunami hit areas of New York and New Jersey some 2300 years ago.
The evidence includes large gravel, wood deposits, and marine fossils found in core samples across the region dating to 300BC, and suggests some sort of violent event took place in the region. The size and condition of some of the deposits point to strong reworking of material rather than just a single violent storm. The wave is estimated to have been 9 to 12 feet in height with the velocity of the water estimated at about a meter per second. If a similar tsunami hit Manhattan today no doubt there’d be big trouble.
But Atlantic tsunamis are rare events. Unlike the Pacific and Indian oceans where tectonic plates are colliding and earthquakes are more common, the plates along the Atlantic ridge are spreading apart. That’s not to say an Atlantic tsunami isn’t possible today. In 1929, a tsunami swept into the coast of Newfoundland killing more than two dozen people. The cause was a massive underwater landslide triggered by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on the Grand Banks.
But neither an earthquake nor a submarine slump may have been involved in the 300BC tsunami. Recent research indicates an asteroid impact somewhere off the Atlantic coast dating to about the same time. Ejecta found in the local sediments such as spherules, shocked quartz, and nanodiamonds could only have been created under extreme temperatures and pressures produced by an extraterrestrial. No crater has been located as of yet but the scientists continue searching.
If your answer is "Nothing, yet," then you might consider stopping by the museum.
Minnesota's Water Resources: Impacts of Climate Change
Dr. Lucinda Johnson, National Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Thursday, April 9, 2009
7 - 8:30 pm in the Auditorium
Over the past 150 years, Minnesota's climate has become increasingly warmer, wetter, and variable, resulting in undeniable ecological impacts. For example, more recent changes in precipitation patterns combined with urban expansion and wetland losses have resulted in an increase in the frequency and intensity of flooding in parts of Minnesota. Learn about exciting new research which will develop a prediction model for future climate changes specific to Minnesota, and discover its potential economic and civic impact.
Check it out.
CNN posted a cool series of photographs of folks working to hold back the Red River. View the slideshow.
Courtesy Adapted from NOAA graphicThe colder-than-normal March temperatures in the Upper Midwest have helped hold back the rising flood waters in North Dakota and surrounding areas. Residents and volunteers battling the water can relax for the time being as the rivers shows signs of receding, but the threat of further flooding still remains. Check out the website Boston.com for some dramatic photos of events of the past week.
According to the National Weather Service, "flood stage" is the point at which a "rise in water surface level begins to create a hazard to lives, property, or commerce." In Fargo, that's at 18 feet. Today, the water level at Fargo climbed past 40.5 feet, passing all other recorded levels. If you're familiar with the city, here's an interesting list of flood stages as they correspond to geographic locations in the Fargo/Moorhead area.
Courtesy US ArmyCNN has an interview Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who is urging people to follow evacuation orders near the rising Red River. Cold temperatures are going to make this flood more dangerous, because if people get stuck in the frigid waters they won't be able to last long waiting for rescue before hypothermia sets in.
As Thor pointed out in another post, the frigid waters are also have a negative effect on the improvised sandbag dams that are holding back the rising waters.
Honore talked about the danger implicit in the sandbagging effort. The volunteers shoring up the sandbag walls are doing great work to help the community, but the leaders of this effort have to calculate and predict when or if the waters will break through. If those volunteers aren't evacuated before the waters rush in it might be too late for a safe escape.
He puts it pretty clearly at the end of the interview:
CNN: What's your final message for residents in the region?
Honore: Get out of there...
By 10:15 this morning, the Red River reached 40.6 feet, beating the record high water mark of 40.1 feet set 112 years ago. The river's rise shows no signs of slowing, and the National Weather Service predicts that the river will crest at 43 feet on Saturday afternoon. (That's 3 feet higher than the 1997 flood, and 1-3 feet above earlier predictions for this year. Two inches of rain and snow in the last four days prompted the higher forecast.) Emergency officials can no longer rely on historical data to help them make decisions.
Fargo's main dike protects the city at the 43-foot level, and city officials have no plans to try to raise it any further. (There's no time.) In other areas, volunteers are continuing to lay sandbags, hoping to protect cities, homes, and farms in the river's path. But water is breaching some dikes and evacuation orders are being issued for some areas. Forecasters say the river is likely to remain at more than 40 feet for as long as a week, putting pressure on the already taxed sandbag and temporary dike system.
Minnesota Public Radio's Bob Collins is writing from Fargo on the News Cut blog. Check it out.