environment | KUOW News and Information

environment

Beach-goers in Seattle enjoy a Puget Sound shore in Seattle.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Kim Malcolm talks with Joe Casola about a new analysis that finds average temperatures in Washington have warmed more slowly than any other state in the country. Casola is deputy director of the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group.

Hikers at Rattlesnake Ledge. The number of visitors to this trail have been increasing over the last years.
Flickr Photo/Matt Kowalczyk (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/6unaK9

At 2 o’clock on a recent Friday afternoon, the parking lot at the Mailbox Peak trailhead was almost full. This much was to be expected: Mailbox is a popular hike in the Middle Fork Valley, just outside of North Bend.


McDonald's says it will start using paper straws instead of plastic at all its locations across the United Kingdom and Ireland. And it plans to test sustainable alternatives to plastic straws in some restaurants in the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe later this year.

Why Do We Have Allergies?

Jun 14, 2018

Summer’s back and every plant wants to fertilize your nose. At least that’s what it feels like if you have allergies. Itchy eyes, runny nose, constant coughing and sneezing — pollen can make us miserable.

The federal government is reviewing the endangered species status of gray wolves in the Lower 48 states — a move that could lead to reduced protections. This includes the western parts of Oregon and Washington, where wolves are considered endangered under U.S. law.

Rare Whale Dolphin Washes Up On Oregon Coast

Jun 14, 2018

A rare right whale dolphin was found beached on the Oregon coast last week.

Experts say that this is only the fourth sighting of the dolphin species in more than two decades along Oregon’s northern coast.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that Nehalem Bay State park staff found the dead female whale dolphin along Manzanita Beach last Friday. Park staff then reported the incident to the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which works to save stranded sea mammals and investigates what might have caused them to beach.

Looking To History To Combat Wildfires

Jun 14, 2018

As at least half a dozen fires in Colorado force hundreds to evacuate, and have closed a national forest, some residents say they're shocked at how quickly the fire has spread. The speed of wildfires is actually something Colorado ecologists have been studying, and they say history may provide clues on how to slow it down.

Scientists have completed the most exhaustive assessment of changes in Antarctica's ice sheet to date. And they found that it's melting faster than they thought.

Ice losses totaling 3 trillion tonnes (or more than 3.3 trillion tons) since 1992 have caused global sea levels to rise by 7.6 mm, nearly one third of an inch, according to a study published in Nature on Wednesday.

A container ship at the Port of Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Bari Bookout (CC-BY-NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/6kUVcr

The world's biggest cargo ships, some a quarter-mile long, could be docking regularly near downtown Seattle before long.

After four years' study, the Army Corps of Engineers has given the okay to digging deeper shipping channels around Harbor Island at the mouth of the Duwamish River.

A fish-friendly culvert in Washington state.
Flickr Photo/Washington DNR (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/cCuMVy

A tie in the U.S. Supreme Court may cost Washington state $2 billion.

The court split 4-4 Monday in a long-running court battle between tribes and the state over salmon-blocking road culverts.


Renewable energy developers are showing interest in converting public grazing lands in sunny central Washington into large solar farms.

A scientist at Oregon State University is developing edible food packing as well as edible coating for fruits and vegetables. Her goals: reduce plastic waste and keep food fresher longer. Katie Herzog visits Yanyun Zhao in her lab for a taste test.

As boat inspections in the Northwest ramp up for summer, an inspection at the Washington-Idaho border near Spokane last week turned up highly invasive zebra mussels.

UPDATE (1:40 p.m. PT) — Salem has issued yet another drinking water advisory Wednesday for the city’s vulnerable populations – just four days after lifting an initial advisory that prompted Gov. Kate Brown to issue an emergency and activate the National Guard.

The new advisory is based off of water samples taken on June 3-4. 

A parking spot for electric vehicles outside of the Ballard Market
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Washington state’s electric vehicle law is being widely ignored, according to a new report.

Friday is the deadline set by a decade-old law that requires vehicles in government fleets to run on electricity or biofuel. But just two percent of the state's motor pool is electric now, and many cities and counties have no electric vehicles at all.

It’s all because of one big catch in the law.

 


Gov. Kate Brown is declaring an emergency and mobilizing Oregon National Guard soldiers in response to an ongoing water quality situation in and around Salem.

The volcanic eruptions on Hawaii's Big Island are putting on quite a show, making for stunning and devastating images. Rivers of molten rock flow into the ocean, toxic gas spews into the air and plumes of ash push upward. Since May 3, Kilauea's eruptions have destroyed dozens of buildings and forced the evacuation of 2,000 people.

Coastal erosion is chewing away at one of the Northwest's most popular recreation areas. It's threatening the main campground and other amenities at Cape Disappointment State Park, which has the second most camper visits in the Washington State Park system.

If you’re looking to get outside on Memorial Day weekend, you might first check your phone. The U.S. Forest Service launched a mobile app this week that provides trail maps and updates on wildfires and road conditions for all of the Pacific Northwest’s national forests, a national grassland and one scenic area.

Ballistic blocks, earthquakes and ocean plumes: In the three weeks since Hawaii's Kilauea began erupting, it has produced some awe-inspiring — and dangerous — phenomena.

A new study has found that if the climate warms as projected, warmer streams could compound the effects of global warming by adding more heat-trapping carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Scientists tested the carbon output of streams at seven locations across the globe, including watersheds in Oregon, Puerto Rico, Alaska and Australia.

Aptly nicknamed Washaway Beach, in Pacific County, Washington, has long suffered from the most extreme coastal erosion along the whole U.S. West Coast. Now a relatively low cost defense is raising hopes among property owners and nearby cranberry growers.

For the first time, scientists have videotaped sharks traveling a 500-mile-long "shark highway" in the Pacific, and they plan to turn it into a protected wildlife corridor in the ocean.

Lava from the Kilauea volcano is pouring into the Pacific Ocean off of Hawaii's Big Island, generating a plume of "laze" – which Hawaii County officials describe as hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles — into the air. Officials say it's one more reason to avoid the area.

"Health hazards of laze include lung damage, and eye and skin irritation," says the Hawaii County Civil Defense agency. "Be aware that the laze plume travels with the wind and can change direction without warning."

Seven different companies have notified Washington's Department of Licensing that they plan to test self-driving vehicles on roads in the state. Oregon transportation officials have gotten notifications from two other companies.

Fred Dillon, second from left, and his son, Codi Dillon, right, return the remains of a chinook salmon to the Puyallup River after a first salmon ceremony on Tuesday in Tacoma.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The Puyallup Tribe welcomed the first salmon of the year back to the Puyallup River in Tacoma on Tuesday.

Strangely, perhaps, that chinook's epic journey from mid-Pacific Ocean to a Puyallup fishing net begins with a sloshing tanker truck.


Another fissure has emerged on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, bringing the total to 21, as authorities handed out protective masks and local officials warned that toxic ash and sulfur dioxide gas are the biggest health concerns for people near the mountain.

The new fissure was discovered at Leilani Estates, the neighborhood in Puna where the first new fissures were seen this month when Kilauea suddenly became more active. Since then, more than two dozen homes have been inundated in slow-moving lava flows.

Someone appears to be producing a banned ozone-depleting chemical, interfering with the recovery of Earth's damaged ozone layer, according to a newly published study led by scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The illicit emissions are believed to be coming from somewhere in eastern Asia, but nothing else is known about the offender. It's a scientific whodunit — or rather, a who's-doing-it.

Updated at 4:25 p.m. ET

Just after 4 a.m. local time Thursday an explosion within Kilauea's Halemaumau crater on the island of Hawaii produced a volcanic cloud reaching as high as 30,000 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey .

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