environment

Fires continue to burn around Lake Chelan in central Washington Monday. Nearly 3,000 residents have been evacuated so far and dozens of homes have burned as firefighters struggle to gain any control over the blaze.

A renewable energy company in Portland has cities across the globe taking a closer look at their water pipes.

Lucid Energy has designed a hydropower system that draws power from drinking water as it makes its way to the tap. Its turbines are small enough to fit inside a city water pipe, and they tap the power of gravity as water flows through.

Could A Mushroom Save The Honeybee?

Aug 18, 2015

Honeybees need a healthy diet of pollen, nectar and water. But at a bee laboratory in Eastern Washington, Steve Sheppard fills their feeding tubes with murky brown liquid from the forest.

His bees are getting a healthy dose of mushroom juice.

“If this does what we hope, it will be truly revolutionary,” said Sheppard, who heads the Department of Entomology at Washington State University. “Beekeepers are running out of options.”

The Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer sits on a transport vessel in Port Angeles, Wash., this spring.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The federal government on Monday gave Royal Dutch Shell the final permit it needs to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's northwest coast for the first time in more than two decades.

The Army is deploying 200 soldiers to help fight wildfires that are burning through about 1.1 million acres across the Western United States. That's according to a press release from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

"It's been nine years since wildfire was so widespread all at once that active military troops joined firefighters battling blazes," NPR's Howard Berkes reports. "Four military C-130 cargo planes are also in use as air tankers."

The Environmental Protection Agency was investigating an old mine near Silverton, Colo., earlier this month, when it accidentally released 3 million gallons of toxic waste water into the Animas River.

Initially the agency downplayed the incident and provided little information. So Navajo President Russell Begaye traveled to the source of the toxic spill and posted a video of it on Facebook.

In the video, he stands in front of the still-leaking mine.

The giant sequoias in the Sierra Nevada are one of America's treasures, but for the first time in Sequoia National Park's history, the trees are showing visible signs of exhaustion due to the drought.

On a hike last summer, a scientist noticed that the needles of the giant sequoias were browning and more sparse than usual. This finding got ecologists thinking: Did the drought cause this?

Oregon Becomes No. 1 Wildfire Fighting Priority

Aug 16, 2015

As wildfires continue to spread, officials say the state's resources are stretched thin. Oregon is the No. 1 national priority, said Koshare Eagle with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

"We have a limited number of resources, and all of the resources are 100 percent engaged and committed on these incidents," said Eagle. "We don't have additional planes and helicopters to call in."

Everyone is accounted for and no one was injured by a flash flood and debris flow in Mount Rainier National Park. It happened Thursday when the terminus of the South Tahoma Glacier broke off and released trapped meltwater.

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.

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