Category » Earth

Forests at Risk
October 10, 2013

Forests at Risk

USDA grant fuels research on fire, drought, insects

“The margin between life and death in the forest can be rather small,” says Oregon State climate scientist Philip Mote. As wildfires widen, insects invade and drought deepens, the razor-thin margin for tree survival becomes ever thinner. A five-year, $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will speed the search for answers — […]


An Iceberg Roars
October 10, 2013

An Iceberg Roars

Listening to the frozen ocean

What is the sound of an iceberg disintegrating? Would you believe it’s as loud as a hundred supertankers plying the open seas? OSU scientists were astounded recently when they listened to recordings of an iceberg that had formed in Antarctica, floated into the open ocean, and eventually melted and broke apart. Scientists have dubbed this […]


Through the Ice
October 10, 2013

Through the Ice

On the Antarctic seafloor, life thrives in surprising abundance

Andrew Thurber is a self-described “connoisseur of worms.” He finds these wriggling, sinuous creatures, many with jaws and enough legs to propel an army, to be “enticing.” In the Antarctic, where he dives through the ice in the name of science, a type of worm known as a nemertean can reach 7 feet long. Giant […]


Peak Water
October 10, 2013

Peak Water

Global warming likely to shrink snowpack

Oregon is warming, and snow is waning. The clear, clean water that supplies many of Oregon’s cities and farms originates high in the Cascades. Stored on snowy peaks, the water feeds rivers and aquifers that supply some of the state’s most populous regions. In one key watershed, the McKenzie, snowpack is predicted to drop more […]


Seeing the Planet
October 9, 2013

Seeing the Planet

OSU's "remote sensing" story

From satellites, balloons, high-altitude surveillance planes and even a two-seater Cessna, Oregon State scientists have been gathering data on the planet for nearly a half century. Their work has helped manage crops, detect threats to Western forests, track activity in Cascade volcanoes and reveal new details about ocean currents and how they interact with the […]


“I Thought I Wanted to Work with Fish”
October 9, 2013

“I Thought I Wanted to Work with Fish”

Profile of an Antarctic scientist

When Andrew Thurber started his journey in marine biology at Hawaii Pacific University, he got a surprise. “I thought I wanted to work with fish,” he says. “Turns out I don’t.” Instead, in an Antarctic research lab, he became enamored with worms. “Worms are incredibly diverse. That was one of the most amazing things to […]


OSU Researchers Part of New Panel on Ocean Acidification, Hypoxia
August 30, 2013

OSU Researchers Part of New Panel on Ocean Acidification, Hypoxia

Governor Kitzhaber has announced that Oregon is joining with the state of California to establish a new panel to focus on the extent, causes, and effects of ocean acidification and hypoxia along the Pacific coastline. Five Oregon State University researchers will participate on the new panel. The West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel […]


Mapping the Columbia
July 30, 2013

Mapping the Columbia

Cartography students create atlas for iBooks

The Columbia River Basin comes to life in a new digital atlas produced by Oregon State University cartography students. They have created an iBook — accessible via Apple’s iPad — which combines the look and feel of a traditional paper book with the touch-screen features of a tablet computer. Through colorful maps, animations, photos and […]


da Vinci Days 2013: Stories from the Edge of Science
July 25, 2013

da Vinci Days 2013: Stories from the Edge of Science

Oregon State scientists take audiences on a planetary journey

Leonardo da Vinci combined the practical and the beautiful, the mechanical and artistic. At the 2013 da Vinci Days festival in Corvallis, Oregon State University scientists, engineers and mathematicians shared their journeys under Antarctic sea ice, to an African village, to Mars and through a mathematical landscape.


Jane Lubchenco kicks off OSU speaker series at da Vinci Days
June 11, 2013

Jane Lubchenco kicks off OSU speaker series at da Vinci Days

Popular arts and science festival celebrates 25 years

Jane Lubchenco, Oregon State University professor and former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will give the opening night keynote address at Corvallis’ annual da Vinci Days festival on Friday, July 19. Her presentation, “From the Silly to the Sublime: Stories about Science in D.C,” will begin at 7 p.m. in the Whiteside […]


Oregon 9.0
May 25, 2013

Oregon 9.0

When the next Big One comes, will we be ready?

Professor Scott Ashford has seen the consequences of “megathrust” quakes in Chile, Japan and New Zealand: buildings and bridges tilted and broken like toys, beachfront tourist towns reduced to rubble, pipelines squeezed out of the ground like toothpaste out of a tube, businesses closed or forced to relocate.


Yellowstone: One of the World’s Largest Calderas
April 3, 2013

Yellowstone: One of the World’s Largest Calderas

Keep up on the latest research

The Yellowstone caldera is no typical volcano. Its elongated form measures about 35 miles by 45 miles, considerably larger than most. Yellowstone Lake stands at the center of the caldera and shows evidence of volcanic activity that has formed some of its arms. Yellowstone contains one of the world’s largest geothermal systems. The caldera has […]


Researcher Profile: Adam Schultz
April 3, 2013

Researcher Profile: Adam Schultz

A professor of geology and geophysics, Adam Schultz received his Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 1986. He came to Oregon State University in 2003 and directs the National Geoelectromagnetic Facility, which loans geophysics equipment to scientists, industry and government. His research interests include geothermal systems, the Cascade volcanic arc, the Cascadia subduction zone […]


Rethinking Yellowstone
April 3, 2013

Rethinking Yellowstone

The hotspot theory gets a makeover from the emerging science of magnetotellurics

A geological mystery lies beneath the majestic beauty of Yellowstone National Park. Once thought solved, the enigma continues to unfold through the lens of a young science known as magnetotellurics. As accepted theory goes, over the past 16 million years a rising plume of magma in the Earth’s mantle produced massive amounts of lava and […]


Roots of Relationship
February 26, 2013

Roots of Relationship

Under the pine needles lies one of the secrets to forest health

The summer is warm and sunny in Corvallis, but my travels draw me east. Over and past the Cascades is an open land where the cold sparkling waters of a river flow north, and the sweet smell of Ponderosa pine blends with the fresh scent of lodgepole — the Deschutes National Forest. My one-person tent […]


Posture for the Planet
February 14, 2013

Posture for the Planet

Green Yoga combines inner peace with ecological consciousness

For many people, yoga is a form of relaxation. But in India, the birthplace of the exercise, yoga is beginning to stretch beyond the boundaries of one’s self and into the ecological realm. A new movement called “Green Yoga” encourages men and women who practice yoga — called yogis and yoginis — to strive for […]


Documenting the Giants
January 29, 2013

Documenting the Giants

Canopy science for old-growth forests

Forest scientist and Oregon State University alumnus Steve Sillett studies and climbs the largest trees in the world. Since 1987, he’s climbed more than 1,000 of these arboreal giants, many of which reach heights greater than 200 feet tall and diameters upwards of 20 feet. Sillett’s study of old-growth forests — and in particular redwood […]


Ice Core Diaries
January 23, 2013

Ice Core Diaries

Records from the past carry warnings for our future

We are slowly beginning to understand the anatomy of global climate and how it changes, its geographic fingerprint and its tempo. Ice cores paint a complex and sometimes surprising picture, one that generations of scientists will spend decades trying to fully understand.


Ground Lines
November 2, 2012

Ground Lines

Maps guide us through unfamiliar terrain

I remember my first day at what’s called “baby field camp” in the Oregon State geology program. Outside Bishop, California, we mapped the area around a cinder cone, long since dead. I quickly learned that the hot sun is a never-ending force of nature, not to be underestimated. I drank at least a gallon of […]


Forms from the Sea
October 9, 2012

Forms from the Sea

Oregon artists reveal hidden worlds in plankton science

During a Pacific Ocean research cruise, Angel White peers into her microscope. The ship rides gentle swells and sways side to side. In her field of view, organisms the size of dust motes rise and fall through their own watery world. “It can be disorienting and enthralling at the same time. The microbes are dying […]


Under the Hood
September 10, 2012

Under the Hood

Geologists reveal the steady personality of Oregon’s signature peak

Mount Hood last erupted more than 200 years ago, but at Crater Rock, not far from the summit, the signs of volcanic activity are unmistakable. Gas vents and hot springs emit sulfur fumes. Vapors rising from deep under the mountain carve snow caves, which can seem like sanctuaries for climbers but often hold deadly concentrations […]


The Earth Burps and Burns
July 11, 2012

The Earth Burps and Burns

WeiLi Hong measures methane emissions in Korean ocean waters

When the Earth burps, WeiLi Hong listens. Whether Earth’s gaseous emissions bubble up from “mud volcanoes” on the planet’s surface or seep out of fissures on the ocean floor, the Oregon State University Ph.D. student has his monitoring gear to the ground. And sometimes, he’s actually in the ground. “I fell in twice,” Hong admits, […]


Legacy of a Whale
July 11, 2012

Legacy of a Whale

Renee Albertson’s childhood encounter led her, decades later, to French Polynesia

Rain was pouring hard the day Renee Albertson first connected, face-to-face, with a marine mammal. She was a 7-year-old visiting British Columbia’s Sealand aquarium (Canada’s now-defunct answer to California’s SeaWorld) with her mom and dad. The daily show had been cancelled because of the downpour. The usual crowds were absent. As the soggy trio from […]


Dolphin Defender
July 3, 2012

Dolphin Defender

Rebecca Hamner boats New Zealand’s coastline collecting DNA from endangered dolphins

A dolphin’s dorsal fin can be as distinctive as a human fingerprint. As the fin slices through the sea, its unique pattern of pigments, nicks and scars relays the animal’s personal story to observers on the surface. Often, scientists can use these markings to ID individual dolphins. But for some species, fin IDs are not […]


Floating Dock from Japan Carries Potential Invasive Species
June 7, 2012

Floating Dock from Japan Carries Potential Invasive Species

Starfish, crabs, oysters and algae are among the Asian hitchhikers

When debris from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan began making its way toward the West Coast of the United States, there were fears of possible radiation and chemical contamination as well as costly cleanup. But a floating dock that unexpectedly washed ashore in Newport this week and has been traced back to the […]


Of Predators and Herds
May 29, 2012

Of Predators and Herds

Big meat-eaters mean healthy ecosystems

The health of any ecosystem starts with razor-like teeth and an appetite for meat. The “apex” predators — big carnivores like bears and wolves at the top of the food web — keep things in balance, OSU researchers have found in study after study in the western United States. Now, the findings have been confirmed […]


Hail Oceanus!
May 29, 2012

Hail Oceanus!

Marine research vessel switches coasts

It was a beautiful day for a shakedown cruise off the Oregon coast. For a crew based at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, March 7, 2012, was also a good day to get to know their new ship, the research vessel (R/V) Oceanus. Scientists and crew took Oceanus, the sister ship to OSU’s […]


The Oh! Zone
May 29, 2012

The Oh! Zone

Far-out findings from science

Ancient Blood Brothers Like the “sloth moth,” which lives only in the fur of the ambling two-toed and three-toed mammals, the “bat fly” exists only in the fur of the winged, cave-dwelling mammals. Now scientists know that the flea-like, blood-sucking fly has been hanging around with bats for at least 20 million years. That’s because […]


Tracking the Titans
May 29, 2012

Tracking the Titans

A whale named Varvara is following in the fluke-path of a whale named Flex, who surprised scientists last year by taking an unexpected migratory route from Russia to Oregon. Scientists led by Bruce Mate at the Marine Mammal Institute are following Varvara’s incredible journey via satellite signals from an electronic “tag” she received in September. […]


Fishing for Facts in Guyana
March 2, 2012

Fishing for Facts in Guyana

For two weeks in 2011, dawn signaled the beginning of another day of fish sampling for Oregon State University professor Brian Sidlauskas and his small team of colleagues and graduate students. Their camp was wedged within a mountainous area of northern South America called the Guyana Shield.