Stories tagged phenology

Mar
16
2010

All day, up in the Mississippi River Gallery, people have been stopping to look out the window and watch the river.

Here's how the US Geological Survey sees it:
Mississippi River, actual vs. forecast, 3/16/10, 1pm
Mississippi River, actual vs. forecast, 3/16/10, 1pmCourtesy USGS

The river's rising, but not as fast as yesterday. And yesterday's rise outpaced predictions by almost a foot, but today the rise matches the predicted curve almost exactly.

So what are folks seeing out the window? Take a look.

Also check out our full feature on the 2010 Mississippi River flooding.

Watch the steps: They're a good benchmark.
Watch the steps: They're a good benchmark.Courtesy Liza Pryor

Raspberry Island: Still high and dry
Raspberry Island: Still high and dryCourtesy Liza Pryor

Looking upstream: You're still looking at Harriet Island. But low-lying areas of Lilydale (upstream, south side of the river) get inundated when the river reaches 14 feet or so. Right now, that's predicted to happen sometime after 7pm on Sunday, 3/21.
Looking upstream: You're still looking at Harriet Island. But low-lying areas of Lilydale (upstream, south side of the river) get inundated when the river reaches 14 feet or so. Right now, that's predicted to happen sometime after 7pm on Sunday, 3/21.Courtesy Liza Pryor

It's been a very snowy winter so it should come as no surprise that the flood risks in Minnesota are going to be high as well. There's a 60-percent chance that the Mississippi River will be creeping up close to our backdoor here at the museum in the latest forecast announced today. Start packing the sandbags right now in Moorhead and Fargo. There's a 98-percent chance that the Red River will flood this spring.

Check out the Science Buzz 2010 flood feature now.

Lily, a 3-year-old pregnant black bear, made her den near a cabin in Ely, MN. Access to electricity, etc., meant that researchers were able to install a web cam in Lily's winter quarters. And today, their efforts may be rewarded. Biologist Lynn Rogers told the Associated Press that he thinks Lily's labor started today at around 2 pm. We should see cubs in the very near future.

Watch the live video stream for yourself. (A lot of people are trying to check it out. If you can't get through, try again later.)

Robins in January, 2010: Somewhere in Burnsville, MN., dozens of robins are eating fermented apples. Perhaps they think the anti-freeze property will help. Early spring?
Robins in January, 2010: Somewhere in Burnsville, MN., dozens of robins are eating fermented apples. Perhaps they think the anti-freeze property will help. Early spring?Courtesy Larry Maras
Robins 2010 January: January 18, 2010 Burnsville, MN.
Robins 2010 January: January 18, 2010 Burnsville, MN.Courtesy Larry Maras

Too cold
Too coldCourtesy Petruha
Millions of fancy fish are dying because of the cold snap in Florida. Florida businesses that raise fancy fish to sell in pet stores are getting devastated.
Learn more about the 2010 Florida fish kill here.

I made this video of soap bubbles freezing and shattering in Saint Paul, MN. The temperature was 15 below this morning, Jan 3, 2010 .

Sep
04
2009

It's giant puffball time
It's giant puffball timeCourtesy ARTiFactor
The first time I saw giant puffball mushrooms in the woods I thought they were gallon sized plastic jugs. One that I saw behind the Tea House in Como Park's Japanese Garden looked just like a soccer ball.

Giant puffballs are edible

I slice them like bread and fry them on a pancake griddle. For flavor I use various seasonings like cinnamon and sugar or Cajun spices.

My wife used to see them along the State Fair ground fences (North side).

If they are yellow inside, it is too late to eat them. The one in the picture was traded in at our Collector's Corner on Wednesday. I sliced it once to see if it was good. Today I sliced it again and saw the yellow color. Yuck! Eat 'em while they are fresh.

Jul
06
2009

Mayflies: Developing a sudden interest in trucks, apparently.
Mayflies: Developing a sudden interest in trucks, apparently.Courtesy adolson13
Did things just get a little… sexier in here? By “in here” I mean in my local metro area? So did things just get a little… sexier in the Twin Cities?

Oh ho, I think they just did. I took my shoes off the write this post, and that’s part of it, but that’s not where it starts. No, it starts with thousands upon thousands of young adults—in the blazing prime of their life, really—with one thing on their minds, and not much time on their hands.

Yep, the mayflies have hatched. That is, they hatched about a year ago, and have just now completed their final moults into adulthood. Now they have anywhere between a day and just half an hour to do what needs to be done. In their case, it’s sex that needs to be done. Other than vague efforts at avoiding premature death via fish mouth or windshield, adult mayflies haven’t got a lot of distractions—while immature naiad mayflies spend months paddling around at the bottoms of streams and lakes eating algae, their mouthparts are vestigial (useless) when they reach maturity, and their digestive tracks are full of air. (Exactly when this occurs is based on temperature and humidity, so all the mayflies in a particular area will become mature at the same time.) So, as a young mayfly, asking a prospective mate out for dinner would be pretty much pointless even if you had the time.

It might seem kind of crazy evolving into a creature that only lives for a few hours and can’t do anything but fly around and try to have sex. But if that’s all you have to do, you can invest all your resources into ensuring that you reproduce, and if your whole generation is doing it at more or less the same time, your chances are pretty good. Plus, time is relative, and there are probably those who’d say that a life of just flying around and having sex would be okay. Assuming you didn’t get eaten by a walleye.

I’m going to put up a boring ol’ picture of a mayfly here, just so you know what to look for when you’re trying to avoid thousands-strong airborne orgies over the next couple of days. Hopefully, though, I’ll have some pictures of actual swarming mayflies soon. (I know where to find some, but if y’all are already on top of things, don’t hesitate to post your own!)

The catalpa trees are blossoming

I think they are a few weeks later this year.

Fireflies provide light show in Tennessee

Happening right now, and for the next few days the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee will light up as P. Carolinus fireflies begin to blink in beautiful, astonishing unison. The fireflies, who can sense when their neighbor fireflies are flashing and attempt to flash before them, send waves of light to cascading down the Tennessee hillsides. One of the best spots to see them is in one small area, near the Little River Trailhead in Elkmont, TN." BoingBoing

Learn more by clicking Appalacian Voices