environment

Tsunami Aftermath
1:03 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Japan Aims To Contain Nuclear Contamination With Wall Of Ice

NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane and other NRC officials stand in the darkened interior of Reactor 4 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex on December 13, 2012.
Flickr Photo/Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Japanese officials are still battling radioactive groundwater that is leaking as a result of the Fukushima Nuclear plant meltdown triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The latest effort to block contaminated water from leaking into the Pacific Ocean is a $470 million ice wall. How do you build an ice wall and how does it work? Larry Applegate, the president of Seattle-based firm SoilFreeze, a company that  creates frozen walls and tunnels, explains the technology to Marcie Sillman.

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Nuclear Waste
11:49 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Hanford Tank Farms Get All-Clear After High Radiation Reading

Ann King. File photo of a storage tank at Hanford.

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 9:37 am

The tank farms at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington have the all-clear for work to resume after a high-radiation incident briefly shut down much of the site last month.

In late August, Hanford workers responded to an emergency of a high-radiation reading near a tank known as C-101.

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Environmental Study
12:03 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Pollution, Not Rising Temperatures, May Have Melted Alpine Glaciers

The Alps' largest glacier, Aletsch Glacier, extends more than 14 miles and covers more than 46 square miles.
Wikimedia.org

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 8:28 am

Glaciers in the Alps of Europe pose a scientific mystery. They started melting rapidly back in the 1860s. In a span of about 50 years, some of the biggest glaciers had retreated more than half a mile.

But nobody could explain the glacier's rapid decline. Now, a new study from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory uncovers a possible clue to why the glaciers melted before temperatures started rising: Soot from the Industrial Revolution could have heated up the ice.

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Salmon Spawning
10:30 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Washington Tribes Grow Impatient With Fish-Killing Dam

The pink salmon run is strong this year. That's presented a challenge to the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for moving returning salmon in the White River around the Buckley and Mud Mountain dams.
Credit EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Right now there are tens of thousands of salmon dying at the base of an outdated dam on the White River east of Tacoma in Buckley, Wash.

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Oil Transportation
11:14 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Shell Moving Ahead On Oil Train Project For Puget Sound Refinery

The oil refinery in Anacortes, Wash., with Mt. Baker in the background.
Flickr Photo/RVWithTito

On Thursday morning Shell Oil will be meeting with officials from a county in Washington state to talk about plans to build a rail extension to deliver oil from North Dakota to its refinery near Puget Sound.

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Film and Books
6:00 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Isabella Rossellini, Creativity With Sir Ken Robinson And George R.R. Martin

Flickr Photo/Sharyn Morrow

Actor, Model Isabella Rossellini On Making “Green Pornos”

Isabella Rossellini became famous for high-fashion modeling and for her acting roles in over 60 films and television shows. But she also makes films about sex. Specifically, the sex lives of animals. From the elephant seal to the little anchovy — all erotic encounters are on the table. Isabella Rossellini joined us back in 2009.

Sir Ken Robinson On Creativity

"All children are born artists. The problem is to remain artists as we grow up," says Sir Ken Robinson, an international expert on creativity. School, he says, encourages us to become good workers, not creative thinkers. So how do we fix it? Marcie Sillman talked with Sir Robinson in 2009 about his book, "The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything," and the challenges of teaching creativity.  

A Conversation With "Game Of Thrones" Author George R.R. Martin

With HBO's "Game of Thrones," George R.R. Martin's world of Westeros is seducing TV viewers much as it captured readers. Martin began writing science fiction stories in the 1970s, and early on his stories were nominated for awards. Raised in a housing project in New Jersey, he used to write monster tales for the neighborhood kids. Steve Scher talked with George Martin in 2012.

Salmon Recovery
10:39 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Can-Am Leaders Launch Salmon Recovery Effort

Salmon leaders from Washington and British Columbia gathered in Seattle for the launch of a new $20 million research and recovery project.
EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Leaders on salmon research and recovery from the United States and Canada came together in Seattle Wednesday to announce a new project.

It’s called the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, and it’s meant to address a major question: Why aren’t salmon and steelhead in Washington and Canadian waters recovering, despite the millions of dollars that have been spent on research and habitat restoration?

“We have a fairly clear idea of what salmon need and what they’re doing in the freshwater environment. We know considerably less about the marine systems,” said Jacques White, executive director of Long Live The Kings. The Seattle-based nonprofit is coordinating the effort along with the Pacific Salmon Foundation in B.C.

White says the project will focus on answering questions about what’s happening to salmon and steelhead when they leave the freshwater rivers and enter Washington’s Puget Sound and British Columbia’s Georgia Strait.

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Mysterious Migrations
12:01 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Where The Whale Sharks Go

A whale shark dives near the surface in waters off the coast of Mexico.
Marj Awai Georgia Aquarium

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 12:17 pm

Of all the creatures in the sea, one of the most majestic and mysterious is the whale shark. It's the biggest shark there is, 30 feet or more in length and weighing in at around 10 tons.

Among the mysteries is where this mighty fish migrates and where it gives birth. Now scientists have completed the biggest study ever of whale sharks, and they think they have some answers to those questions.

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Coal Train Study
10:21 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Seattle Mayor’s Coal Economics Study Released

Port of Seattle Photo/Don Wilson

The results of an economic analysis of coal export impacts on Seattle have just been released, more than a month after they were handed over to Mayor Mike McGinn, who commissioned the report.

The report, titled City of Seattle Economic Analysis of Proposed Coal Train Operations, cost $25,000. It was completed by Community Attributes and delivered to the mayor’s office on July 10.

But McGinn did not release the report to the public until The Seattle Times filed a public records request. Then the mayor posted the study to his blog on Friday afternoon, within nine minutes of giving a copy of the report to The Seattle Times.

When asked about the delay on the July 10 report, McGinn told EarthFix and KUOW, “That wasn’t the final because my staff and others provided comments to them and they made substantial revisions after that.”

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Environment Research
10:07 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Scientists Look For Climate Change Clues In Wildfire Soot

Anna King Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 4:10 pm

You may know that on a hot, sunny day it’s better to be sitting in a white car than a black one. White reflects sunlight, while black absorbs more of it.

The same concept applies to researchers trying to figure out what effect wildfires have on climate change. And part of the answer is whether the smoke particles are dark or reflective.

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Marine Conservation
10:59 am
Mon August 12, 2013

This Week In Fish

All kinds of fish turn up in Northwest nets and lines - and it's not just the expected salmon/
Flickr Photo/Ingrid Taylar

An eight-foot-long sturgeon was found dead in Lake Washington two weeks ago. That same weekend, a fisherman caught an exotic piranha-like fish in a lake near Marysville. What do these fishy events have to do with each other? Turns out they tell a story about marine conservation. Ross Reynolds talks with Tim Essington, an associate professor in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington.

Oil Equipment
10:03 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Nez Perce Seek Court-Ordered Roadblock With Second 'Megaload' On Horizon

Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 4:40 pm

Nightly protests on Idaho's Highway 12 delayed but did not stop a huge piece of oil equipment crossing the state. The so-called “megaload” passed through a scenic river corridor and entered Montana on Friday.

Now, the Nez Perce Tribe is asking a federal judge to prevent more extra-large shipments.

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Researching Amphibians
11:01 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Tracking An Alpine Frog That Chuckles And Beeps For Climate Change Research

The Cascades frog is only found in the alpine wetlands of the Pacific Northwest, though its range used to extend down to Northern California and up to British Columbia. Scientists are concerned its range will continue to shrink with climate change.
EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Maureen Ryan scales rocky trails at 5,000 feet elevation as nimbly as the mountain goats that wandered through camp earlier this morning.

The researcher of amphibians leads her team of scientists down off a ridge line in the Seven Lakes Basin of Olympic National Park to her “lab,” you might call it. It’s a series of pothole wetlands cupped in the folds of these green, snow-studded mountains: a perfect habitat for Cascades frogs (Rana cascadae).

Ryan, a researcher with the University of Washington, is an expert on alpine amphibians. She’s also part of a group of scientists from around the region, coordinated by the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative at the USGS, who are trying to understand and project how the warming climate will affect these frogs’ ability to feed, mate, and ultimately, survive.

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Gender
12:30 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

The End Of Men And The Rise Of Women

Credit Flickr Photo/Thomas Hawk

Women now comprise 50 percent of the workforce. But for the most part, they’re not running big companies or Congress and they’re still getting paid less.

Looking at the statistics, Hanna Rosin sees big changes coming. She documents these changes in her book, "The End Of Men: And The Rise Of Women." With universities now dominated by women, Rosin sees men struggling to adapt to a changing economy. Meanwhile, she says women, accustomed to being more flexible, are on the ascent.

Full list of stories on KUOW Presents, August 6:

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Megaload Hurdles
10:17 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Nez Perce Leaders Arrested In Protest Over Oil Sands 'Megaload'

Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 10:17 am

The national debate over oil development took an unusual turn on an Idaho highway early Tuesday morning. For two hours, members of the Nez Perce Tribe blocked the passage of a giant water evaporator headed for the oil sands of Alberta, Canada.

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