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Links to interesting Yellowstone websites and news.

Fresh snow at Old Faithful

Categories: Geysers, News, On the Web, Winter
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snowfall Old Faithful

Finally! A real snow cover at Old Faithful Village.

Yesterday was the last day of March, and at last we have a lot of snow on the ground at Old Faithful Village. From a screen shot I took yesterday morning, you can see that the snow now comes to the top of the post holding the Old Faithful Geyser sign. With no wind at all the trees were gorgeous, and seeing this takes me back to magical winter visits to the park.

You can see this for yourself at: www.nps.gov/yell/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm.

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SPRING CLOSURES—roads close for plowing
February 28: East Entrance
March 1: Mammoth to Norris road
March 2: Madison-Norris-Canyon road
March 16: South Entrance

SPRING/SUMMER SEASON ROAD OPENINGS
April 18: West Entrance
May 2: East Entrance
May 9: South Entrance

Note that not all hotels, cabins, and campgrounds open when the roads do.
For information about this year’s facility openings, see
the National Park Service’s Plan Your Visit page for Yellowstone.

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Continuing interest in the Anthropocene

Categories: On the Web, Science
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Since I find it quite fascinating, I may be following up on my January 22 through February 4 series on the Anthropocene for a while yet. For other people who would like to know more about this still rather unfamiliar word and its implications, webmaster/daughter Beth has found a short and succinct video.

And for people who are willing to invest twenty minutes or so watching a mini-lecture from the point of view of a Swedish anthropology professor, try this.

Then, as if we didn’t have enough syllables in the word already, there’s a long technical article on Science Direct with a new twist, The Palaeoanthropocene.

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Please keep calm about Yellowstone Caldera activity!

Categories: On the Web, Science
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Here is another good article by a knowledgeable person striving to calm down Internet hysteria about what may be happening in the Yellowstone Caldera:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2014/02/think-yellowstone-erupt/

The lovely picture at the head of the article is of Porcelain Basin at Norris Geyser Basin.

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Living in the Anthropocene, Part IV

Categories: On the Web
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Many nonprofit organizations are making a difference in how we use and affect Earth. They are offering programs that train young people to value and care for our special lands and resources. In the U.S. these include the Nature Conservancy, NatureBridge, and the Student Conservation Association.

Individuals are also making a difference in mitigating the changes humans have brought to Earth. I have come up with three small examples. Stanford University graduate student Mike Osborne and friends have set up a series of podcasts and a website they call Generation Anthropocene [1]. They have interviewed and posted essays by scientists and others who are working full time on the big problems. A quote I like from their website goes, “If humans are the force that has harmed the Earth, we are responsible for turning it around.” Osborne is ultimately optimistic: Humans “thus far have demonstrated that we’re perhaps the most adaptable organism in the history of the planet. We are amazing innovators, and you have to believe that we’re an evolutionary success. . . .“

On Hawaii’s island of Oahu, a land and town planner named Bruce Tsuchida runs a small planning company that creates land and water conservation plans for numerous native Hawaiian organizations, including educational components for high school students. The goal of the high school program is “to protect this very important cultural landscape and see that it is used in culturally appropriate ways. . . .” [2]

Karen Chapple backyard cottage in Berkeley My daughter Karen Chapple is a University of California—Berkeley associate professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and the faculty director of their Center for Community Innovation. In connection with her concern that many more units of affordable housing are needed in the San Francisco Bay area, she has built a tiny “green” cottage at the back of her Berkeley property. She says it “helps people understand how they could reduce their material possessions and carbon footprint” [3].

Maybe the new word Anthropocene or the question of declaring a new epoch are not important to everyone, but the human-caused problems are the concern of us all. We can try to understand, ponder, and discuss the implications of the Anthropocene, and we can contribute in our smaller or larger ways to the goal of allowing Earth to support human life for as long as possible.

References

[1] Generation Anthropocene podcasts and essays
[2] The Ka’ala Farms project that planner Tsuchida is involved with: Cordy, Ross. “Archaeology: How the land tells its story,” Ka’ala Farm blog, April 17, 2013.
[3] Dr. Karen Chapple’s backyard cottage featured: Maclay, Kathleen. “With streamlined regulations, in-law units could boost East Bay affordable housing stock and economy, study finds.” UC Berkeley News Center, September 13, 2011.

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Landing room reservations in Yellowstone Park

Categories: On the Web, Trip planning
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Yesterday I found an excellent article by Kurt Repanshek about booking rooms in prime locations in various national parks, with an emphasis on Yellowstone and its wonderful Old Faithful Inn. Agreeing with everything I read there, I was going to write a short comment to say so and found that the well-known environmental historian Alfred Runte had written essentially what I would have commented.

I have had very much the same experiences as these two men have had and can only add that, especially for Old Faithful Inn, you should book a year or more in advance of your visit. However, I’ve sometimes had good luck calling a day or two before I needed a room and learning that a cancellation has created an opening.

The entire article and comments are on the National Parks Traveler site.

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Brits are getting into the “Supervolcano” act

Categories: News, On the Web, Science
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I try to read only a few of the dozens of reports that keep coming out in the media since the magma reservoir under Yellowstone was found to be larger than previously thought. But when there is new research or informed comment by a scientist, it’s worth looking at.

Today there is an interview in the old (since 1821) and widely read daily The Guardian, formerly The Manchester Guardian, giving Prof. Bill McGuire’s take on the story: Explaining Supervolcanoes: big, hot, and dangerous.

The comments—totaling 82 when I looked at them—are almost entirely the same crazy mix we get in the States.

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Yellowstone wolf interview with the number one expert

Categories: News, On the Web, Wildlife
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As the New Year rolls out I am researching topics that interest me a lot to write about in posts for my blog and for one or two new nuggets of Yellowstone information for this website. This all takes a lot of time, so I don’t know just when I’ll be able to post these original articles.

In the meantime I found something about Yellowstone’s wolves that more people should read, so I’ll pass along the link. Doug Smith has been the number one guy who knows about and helps to manage the park’s wolves and has been on site since they were first introduced in 1995. Here are his very balanced answers to a Montana Pioneer interviewer’s questions.

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The magma system or reservoir under Yellowstone is 2.5 times larger than previously known

Recent articles including “supervolcano” in the headline in the blogosphere and in media such as the New York Post shout “We’re probably doomed” and tell us of “a volcano that could wipe out U.S.” That gets people’s attention! The whirl of media activity is all due to research presented at last week’s American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual meeting in San Francisco.

An interesting session and a poster presented by Drs. Robert Smith and Jamie Farrell have stirred up a lot of emotional response, as has a November earthquake swarm in the area. The more these things are discussed in the media, the less rational readers seem to become. Media loves sensation. Perhaps the scientists whose work inspired the sensationalism will soon issue something to calm people down. Meanwhile, I’ll do what I can with this post.

I attended Smith’s 15-minute session at AGU and read Farrell’s poster last week. I am not a scientist, but I know enough about Yellowstone and current research to say this: The size of the magma reservoir below Yellowstone tells us nothing about when it will explode. Just as a reminder, magma is liquid or molten rock, including any dissolved gases or crystals, found deep within Earth.

More and more researchers are using various methods and instruments (seismometers, strainmeters, geochemical analyses, geodesy, instruments measuring electrical conductivity, and so on) to study what is under Yellowstone and its surroundings. Let’s wish them well and not panic about a catastrophe that is very unlikely to happen within the lifetime of anyone who can read this.

What about those earthquakes? One useful conclusion reached by this recent research is: “A large earthquake at Yellowstone is much more likely than a volcano eruption,” according to Farrell.

ON THE WEB: Here is some reliable and interesting information:
1. University of Utah’s Seismology and Active Tectonics Research Group’s faculty member Bob Smith stated on December 5th that U. of Utah’s seismographs will “continue to monitor Yellowstone earthquakes and will provide additional information if the earthquake swarm activity increases.”

2. U.S. Geological Survey’s Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. Swarms of (usually small) earthquakes have been reported frequently over the years; they are detected by the USGS seismograph array in Yellowstone.

3. Phys.org’s article called “Study: Yellowstone magma much bigger than thought (Update).” A relevant quote serves to sum up my comments here: “For years, observers tracking earthquake swarms under Yellowstone have warned the caldera is overdue to erupt. Farrell dismissed that notion, saying there isn’t enough data to estimate the timing of the next eruption. ‘We do believe there will be another eruption, we just don’t know when,’ he said.”

ON THIS WEBSITE: For more about the quest to understand what’s under Yellowstone, be sure to read the nuggets called “The Yellowstone Supervolcano,” “The Yellowstone Hot Spot: History of the Science“, and “The Yellowstone Hot Spot: Modern Science“.

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An unlikely place for an article: “An Unlikely Look at Yellowstone’s Geysers”—and Fall Closure begins soon

Categories: News, On the Web, Thermal features, Trip planning
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The website Weather.com just came up with this beautiful collection of close-ups of the amazing variety of colors found around Yellowstone’s hot springs:

http://www.weather.com/news/science/unlikely-look-yellowstones-geysers-photos-20131030

Just now you have only through this coming Sunday, November 3, to take in all the treasures of the park, since all but the Gardiner to Northeast Entrance road will be closed as of Monday for the annual fall-into-winter break. This is when the park’s natural features and the animals, including two-legged ones who work there, get a break from the pressures of visitors.

Reopening to snowcoaches, snowmobiles, and skiers begins on December 15 this year (snow accumulation permitting), except for the East Entrance Road, which will open on December 22. The winter season continues until mid March. Then there’s another break for road plowing until late April 2014.

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