As snow goes, where go the animals?

As snow goes, where go the animals?
Animals like the wolverine evolved to live in the snow, and they excel in conditions that defeat most animals. How will they fare if (when?) snow continues to decline in their homes? And whassup with the balmy but hidden ecosystem under the snow? More »

Arctic warming: Greenhouse gas nightmare?

Arctic warming: Greenhouse gas nightmare?
Large amounts of methane and carbon dioxide could be produced as warming changes Arctic lands and ocean. Could this start a frightening feedback, where warming makes more gas that makes more warming? More »

Greenhouse gas maps

Greenhouse gas maps

Using at least 20 sources of data, scientists have modeled releases of carbon dioxide from Indianapolis. The new view will help cities map reductions in greenhouse warming, and help people understand that the climate warming problem belongs to everybody. More »

Shaking it up: Maverick scientist dies

Shaking it up: Maverick scientist dies

Sometimes, scientists feel the need to leave the lab and warn the public about onrushing hazards. Rowland warned about ozone, but others are warning about warming. Does scientific culture encourage or hinder going public? Does the helpful response to ozone depletion suggest we’ll succeed in confronting global warming? More »

Putting the brakes on fish invasions

Putting the brakes on fish invasions

Ecologists are desperate to forestall a devastating invasion of the Lakes. Should canal be closed to cut off the damaging fish, or is it already too late? More »

Tundra fire: Bad news on warming

line of fires seen as thick barrier of smoke along tundra landscape

The globe warms, and the Arctic starts to burn. If warming causes fires that release carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas, will this accelerate further warming? A new study measures carbon releases from the largest tundra fire in North America. More »

Nothing light about lightning

Nothing light about lightning

New instruments are giving a better view of how those astonishingly strong lightning bolts form inside clouds – and we are also getting a better picture of the many ways that lightning can harm us. More »

The secret life of cats

The secret life of cats

Humans and cats have enjoyed each other’s company for millennia, but scientists have discovered some troubling secrets of free-roaming felines that have wildlife and health experts worried. A new study reveals what free-roaming cats do all day, and The Why Files investigates some implications of their outdoor habits. More »

Nuclear nightmare in Japan

Nuclear nightmare in Japan

With three nuclear reactors and three pools of spent fuel teetering on the edge of meltdown, Japanese technicians struggled to throttle the nuclear demons after the gigantic tsunami. Is Fukushima closer to Chernobyl or Three Mile Island? How will the disaster affect plans for a renaissance of nuclear power? More »

A climate of extremes?

A climate of extremes?

Are extreme heat, wicked cyclones and record rainfalls signs of climate change, or just more changes in the weather? Will warming eliminate record cold days? Will hurricanes get bigger? More »

Hangover: Getting to the root of pain

Hangover: Getting to the root of pain

It’s as sure as sunrise. Drink too much, and you’ll pay next morning: lassitude, nausea, headache, dizziness, and more specialized agonies will be cause for regret. Hangovers: If you can’t avoid them, will they cause you to drink less? Do fruitflies get hung over? More »

Treatment defeats phony hormones!

Treatment defeats phony hormones!
When chemicals in the water trigger the endocrine system, male fish can start looking and acting female. What happens once chemicals from plastics, drugs and our own endocrine system are flushed down the toilet? Can we prevent them from entering our streams and harming wildlife? More »

Gray wolf: How many is enough?

Gray wolf: How many is enough?

The gray wolf has made a dramatic recovery in the northern Rockies and upper Midwest. Is the wolf still endangered, or has it recovered? Should we start hunting and killing the dog wild relatives? More »

Gulf oil spill: It’s a gusher – one mile deep!

A large structure on water on fire, large black cloud, large surrounding ships spraying water

What kind of ecological damage can we expect from a sustained blowout in the Gulf of Mexico? What are the lessons of Exxon Valdez, and how well do they apply to the current outbreak of oil? Is prevention really the only strategy? More »

Studying survival on a sinking ship

black and white photo, detail of ship bow with people on deck, lifeboats above attached to ship
The Titanic sank in 1912, the Lusitania sank in 1915. In each case, about 32 percent of passengers survived. But women and children did much better on Titanic, which took 160 minutes to slide underwater, than on Lusitania, which went down in 18 minutes. Ditto for rich people. Why? More »