environment

Wild Yeast Can Transform Wine - With Some Risk

Aug 16, 2015

Winemaking is about more than just grapes. They need something else to ferment into alcohol: a microscopic fungus, yeast. People have been fermenting grapes for thousands of years using wild yeasts that grow in the vineyard. Researchers at Washington State University want to know more about these species.

Lightning over Lakeview, Washington.
Flickr Photo/Emily Neef (CC BY NC 2.0)

Jeannie Yandel talks to state climatologist Nick Bond about thunder patterns in Washington state. 

Two teenagers in Kivalina, Alaska, play near a skinned polar bear. Scientists predict Kivalina, an Alaskan village, will be the first casualty of climate change and sea rising in the U.S.
Suzanne Tennant

President Barack Obama is coming to Alaska later this month.

The White House released a video Thursday morning to explain why he will be the first sitting president to visit Alaska’s Arctic. 

The folksy video (it starts with the president saying, “Hi, everybody”) features dripping glaciers, raging wildfires and Alaska Natives hanging salmon to dry.

'The Blog' is indicated by dark orange on the West Coast of the U.S. The Blob is a patch of warm water that was detected by a University of Washington climatologist in 2013.
Courtesy of Nick Bond

Warm, dry weather will probably continue in the Pacific Northwest -- and may last until at least next spring.

New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicates the warming ocean phenomenon in the Pacific, known as El Nino, is getting stronger.

Foss Maritime tugs pull the Polar Pioneer past downtown Seattle on the way to Terminal 5 on Thursday, May 14, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Shell’s Polar Pioneer, briefly a resident at the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5,  is drilling for oil in the Chukchi Sea. The question is whether the rig can return to Seattle this fall -- and whether it can stay the winter. 

The Port of Seattle and Foss Maritime Co. are appealing a city decision to try to stop the rig. A city examiner is hearing arguments about what should happen next.

A historically strong El Niño is taking shape according to climatologists watching the Pacific Ocean. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said during a briefing Thursday that the current El Niño has the potential to develop into one of the most potent on record by late fall or early winter.

On a recent evening, KUOW reporter Ann Dornfeld froze a tray of wild blackberries. When she pulled out the tray, she saw that tiny worms had crawled out of each berry.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

You know those blackberries you just picked?

There are worms in them.

Tiny white worms, almost transparent, that will ultimately blossom into fruit flies -- unless you eat them first. Scientists know them as Drosophila suzukii.

DNA tests confirm a captured grizzly bear was the animal that killed Lance Crosby while he was hiking in Yellowstone National Park last week. The bear was put down Thursday, according to a National Park Service news release.

The tests also conclude that, in addition to the adult grizzly, cubs were at the site of the attack, the statement says:

ODOT Reopens Long Stretch Of I-84

Aug 13, 2015

A section of Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon closed for several hours Thursday due to nearby wildfires, according to a release from the Oregon Department of Transportation. At one point, the highway was closed for more than 160 miles between Ontario and Pendleton.

Three fires in Eastern Oregon continued to grow in size Thursday, and forced immediate evacuations in some areas. The fires grew due to high winds, low humidity and hot temperatures.

Investigators Say Lawnmower Sparked Stouts Creek Fire

Aug 13, 2015

Fire investigators said Thursday that southern Oregon's Stouts Creek Fire seems to have started by a lawnmower used in violation of local orders.

Nearly 1,600 firefighters are battling the blaze, due east of Canyonville and north of Grants Pass, which has burned more than 23,000 acres. It has filled the air above Crater Lake National Park with a heavy haze of smoke.

The State of Oregon will start looking for a buyer willing to take the Elliott State Forest off its hands. The State Land Board voted Thursday to move ahead with plans to sell the public forest located near Coos Bay.

The Elliott is managed as part of the Common School Fund, and is obligated to make money for public schools. But with declines in timber sales in recent years, the state has been losing money on the land.

Kim Malcolm talks with Seattle Parks and Recreation superintendent Jesús Aguirre about how the city is cutting back on water use to help head off a water shortage.

The Wolverine Fire in north central Washington has burned up more than 30,000 acres. Hotshot crews are now trying to save a small Lutheran religious retreat center called Holden Village near Lake Chelan.

Depictions of possible poaching caused Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Police to investigate and then clear the History Channel reality TV show "The Woodsmen."

Christopher Clark, who directs the bioacoustics research program at Cornell University, is among the world's best scientific listeners. His work has revealed how human-made noise is filling the ocean, making it harder for marine animals to hear their own world. But Clark didn't start out with much interest in whales at all.

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