WUOMFM

Environment & Science

Lakes are getting warmer worldwide

Dec 18, 2015
user Rhonda Noren / Flickr

A study of 235 lakes around the world shows water temperatures are on the rise. The overall average increase was 0.61 degrees per decade over the past 25 years. Four of the five Great Lakes were included in the study, with deeper, colder Lake Superior showing the biggest temperature gain – about three times the worldwide average.

The ongoing temperature change could be damaging to Michigan's lake ecosystem and economy, says Donald Uzarski, director of the Institute for Great Lakes Research at Central Michigan University. 

Side sonar scan of the sunken barge believed to be the "Argo."
Tom Kowalczk, CLUE

TOLEDO, Ohio - The U.S. Coast Guard says crews have completed an effort to eliminate environmental threats from a sunken barge that apparently sat undiscovered in Lake Erie for nearly 80 years.

Salvage crews recently pumped hazardous, oil-based substances from the barge, though six of the eight tanks onboard were empty. The Coast Guard said Thursday that the mixture of cargo and water removed from the site near the U.S.-Canadian border totaled over 33,000 gallons.

NASA Goddard Media Studios

It’s possible to track air pollution from space.

NASA scientists did that with high-resolution satellite maps. To gather the data, they used an ozone monitoring instrument on board NASA’s Aura satellite. That tool tracks atmospheric gasses.

The team of NASA scientists tracked emissions of nitrogen dioxide from 2005 to 2014. Nitrogen dioxide comes from cars, power plants, and industries, and it plays a major role in forming smog.

The Michigan Sugar Company shared this aerial photo of sugarbeet piles in Bay City in October of 2015.
Michigan Sugar Company / Facebook

BAY CITY, Mich. - Michigan's sugar beet growers say they have harvested a record crop this year.

The Michigan Sugar Co., a Bay City-based grower-owned cooperative, said Tuesday the total 2015 production was roughly 5 million tons, representing a record-setting yield of 31.6 tons an acre.

Michigan Sugar CEO Mark Flegenheimer credits production increases to technological advances. In a news release, he praised the farmers' ability to overcome severe weather that hit the rural Thumb and Saginaw Valley regions during the growing season.

Flickr user Jenn Durfey/Flickr

Waukesha wants to build a pipeline to the Great Lakes.

The city is in southeast Wisconsin, 17 miles from Lake Michigan. It has a radium problem in its groundwater supply.

Radium occurs naturally, but it’s a carcinogen.

Dan Duchniak, general manager of the Waukesha Water Utility, says as the city’s groundwater supply has been drawn down, it’s made the high radium concentration worse.

“And ultimately the radium exceeded the federal drinking water standard and we are now under a court order to come into compliance with that, and the means by which we are going to do that is to develop a new water supply,” he says.

The city has to come up with a permanent solution for its radium problem by 2018.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An environmental group says oil pipelines running beneath the Mackinac Straits could be shut down without disrupting oil and propane supplies in Michigan.

Environmentalists say there is enough capacity on other pipelines skirting the Great Lakes to reroute the crude oil currently flowing through Line 5. 

The report says at least 90% of Line 5's oil goes to Canadian refineries, so it's not essential for the Marathon refinery in Detroit.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

As 190 nations try to finalize a climate change agreement in Paris, activists around the world are planning marches and rallies in support of that agreement.

But it won't be enough, says Nicholas Jansen of the group 350.org, so named for a reduction to 350 parts CO2 per million that the group is pushing the world to achieve.

That's why his group, and others around the world, will immediately begin pressuring their governments to go far beyond what is agreed to in Paris.

Jansen says the U.S. needs to play a large role.

Oil in a Shiawassee County drain.
EPA

More than 500 gallons of of used motor oil spilled into a county drain in Shiawasee County, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's on-scene coordinator Tricia Edwards.

The EPA is heading the cleanup process.

A hunter discovered the spill on November 26.

Edwards said the cost of clean up will be paid from the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Reimbursement is sought from a responsible party, if one is identified.

University of Michigan medical historian Dr. Howard Markel stops by and gives us a quick history of the person behind the Nobel Prize: Alfred Nobel. Nobel’s big first big breakthrough was in 1863, when he mastered detonating nitroglycerine, which many know as TNT.

Later in life, Nobel wanted to recognize those who had made great advancements in a variety of arts and sciences including medicine, physics, chemistry, physiology, and literature. Later, other disciplines were added to the list.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Coal is an abundant source of energy.  But burning it spews billions of tons of climate-warming CO2 into the air every year.

Much hope has been placed on a developing technology known as carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).  The idea is to extract the carbon before it’s emitted from smokestacks, compress it, and store it underground. 

That could allow humans to keep using coal, without further loading the atmosphere and oceans with more CO2.

Lindsey Scullen/Michigan Radio

Amy Beth Edwards posed this question to our M I Curious team:

Why doesn't road kill get picked up on a timely basis in Michigan?

Edwards says she sees dead animals so often along her commutes to Chicago that she had to know why they're all there.

Enbridge Line 5 runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario.
Enbridge

There are many Michiganders feeling uneasy about the idea of those 62-year-old twin oil pipelines running along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac.

The aging Line 5 can carry 540,000 barrels of oil and natural gas liquids each day.

Enbridge has made promises to keep the pipeline maintained and said it’s got an emergency response team in place, but there’s a complicating factor that no one can control: big, turbulent waves.

Photo by d.boyd, Flickr

State officials plan to remove hundreds of chemicals from a long list that requires companies to perform  modeling of smokestack emissions. 

The Michigan Manufacturers Association says each model can cost between $20,000 and $100,000, and removing the chemicals will make the process more efficient.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality agrees. 

Spokesman Brad Wurfel, in an email statement, said:

Fishing on Lake Michigan.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Although domestic clean energy efforts are leading to decreases in mercury pollution in the Great Lakes, a new International Joint Commission report says that increased reliance on fossil fuels overseas poses new concerns.

The IJC report urged the Canadian and U.S. governments to better monitor for mercury in the Great Lakes after noting increased levels of mercury in some fish in some parts of the Great Lakes.

USDA.gov

A deer killed by a hunter in DeWitt Township in Clinton County tested positive for chronic wasting disease. It is the fourth deer found with the disease in southern Michigan this year, and it shows that efforts by the Department of Natural Resources to stop the disease from spreading have not been successful. 

The flooding event in Detroit fits the global warming pattern, according to reports such as National Climate Assessment.
Michigan Emergency Management & Homeland Security / Flickr

In 1997 world leaders met Kyoto, Japan to set goals to curb carbon emissions in response to the threat of global climate change. While some nations strove to meet those goals, other countries ignored them. Almost 20 years later, the world community is meeting again to come up with a global plan to fight climate change. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A top researcher says it’s still too soon to drink Flint’s tap water unfiltered.

Virginia Tech University researcher Marc Edwards has been studying Flint’s water problems for months.    Tests conducted by Edwards’ team on water samples from more than 250 Flint homes showed elevated levels of lead.  

Edwards has been in Flint this week testing tap water in ten ‘sentinel’ homes.  He says the tests are tracking what’s happened in the six weeks since Flint switched back to Detroit water, after 18 months of getting tap water from the corrosive Flint River. 

Flickr user Mike Bell / Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Recent changes to the rules for deer hunting are changing the sport.

The rules apply to much of the northern Lower Peninsula, and they're more restrictive, making it harder to shoot a buck.

Plenty of hunters objected when they were put in place.

But after a few years, some say it’s a dramatic improvement and could make the region a hunting destination for people from other states.

A closeup view of spotted wing drosophila, collected by researchers near Traverse City.
Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center

A pesky insect that loves to invade fruit has found its way to northern Michigan’s cherry orchards. Scientists have had their eye on spotted wing drosophila since it arrived in the U.S. from Asia in 2008. 

Image courtesy the University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library

He became known to the world as “Dr. Death.” His first so-called “medicide” happened in the Detroit area in 1990.

From that point, Michigan pathologist Dr. Jack Kevorkian became the best-known face of the right-to-die movement. He assisted in the suicides of over 100 terminally ill people between 1990 and 1998.

He died in 2011 at age 83.

Now, Kevorkian’s papers are open to the public at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library.

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint leaders want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen its regulation of public drinking water systems.

U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, and seven others testified today in front of the EPA's National Drinking Water Advisory Council. The Council is developing recommendations to the EPA about changes to its rule on lead and copper in water.

Kildee said the agency needs to tighten up its regulations to make sure what happened in Flint never happens again.

Screen grab

Material that repairs itself after being shot? Sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but what practical applications could this have?

Researchers at the University of Michigan have teamed up with NASA to develop a material that solidifies once it's exposed to the atmosphere and could help make space travel safer. 

A meteor during the peak of the 2009 Leonid Meteor Shower. The photograph shows the meteor, afterglow, and wake as distinct components.
user Navicore / Wikimedia Commons

Astronomy enthusiasts are gearing up for a viewing of the Leonid meteor shower, set to peak between midnight and dawn tomorrow.

Headlands International Dark Sky Park near Mackinaw City is welcoming a host of stargazers for one of the biggest meteor showers of the year. Mary Stewart Adams, program director at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park, spoke with Stateside about the Leonids.

The shower is produced when a comet coming through our planetary system breaks into pieces as it approaches the sun, Adams says. The Earth orbits through the comet debris, giving the appearance of falling stars.

The Vatican Observatory
Vatican Observatory / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan native Brother Guy Consolmagno is one of 12 Vatican astronomers. He oversees the Vatican’s meteorite collection and was recently appointed as the director of the Vatican Observatory by Pope Francis.

A year ago, he became the first clergyman to win the Carl Sagan Medal, one of planetary science’s most distinguished honors. It’s given to the scientist who makes science accessible and understandable to the public.

American astronaut Scott Kelly posted a picture of Michigan and some of its Great Lakes to Twitter on Monday.
Scott Kelly

Many astronauts are using social media to showcase images of the blue planet from outer space – including awe-inspiring photos featuring Michigan cities and its Great Lakes.

Monday morning, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted out a picture of Michigan and the area surrounding the Great Lakes at nighttime. Kelly calls the Great Lakes "unmistakeable," even from 250 miles up.

Researchers at Virginia Tech received samples of Flint water (both clear and discolored) from residents. Dr. Edwards and his team there were among the first to call attention to lead contamination in Flint's water.
Flint Water Study / Facebook

The Flint water crisis has uncovered all kinds of details about how cities test the safety of their drinking water.

In particular, critics say the state is giving bad advice on testing drinking water for lead.

The state of Michigan tells cities to do something called pre-flushing.

A coffee leaf infected with Hemileia vastatrix, or coffee rust
wikimedia user Smartse / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

For many of us, the day doesn’t really start until we polish off that steaming cup of coffee.

But a fungus called "coffee rust” is putting that luxury in jeopardy. It’s attacking coffee plants across Mexico and Central America, and in recent years has caused more than $1 billion in crop losses and cost thousands of workers their jobs.

Two University of Michigan professors have been studying coffee in Mexico for nearly 20 years. They want to understand just how this fungus spreads and how best to shut it down.

Researchers at Virginia Tech received samples of Flint water (both clear and discolored) from residents. Dr. Edwards and his team there were among the first to call attention to lead contamination in Flint's water.
Flint Water Study / Facebook

The Flint water crisis will be part of a public meeting this week in Virginia about federal rules on lead.

The National Drinking Water Advisory Council is holding meetings tomorrow through Thursday to develop recommendations for the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA is working on changing its rules on lead and copper in water. Those rules have been scrutinized lately because of Flint’s problems with lead in drinking water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Firearm deer season is underway today in Michigan.

The hunt is giving state wildlife officials a chance to expand the search for more cases of chronic wasting disease.

In April, a 6 year old doe tested positive for CWD, a fatal neurological disease. It was the first case of a free ranging deer coming down with the disease. Since then, two more deer have tested positive. All three deer were from Ingham County and were related.    

A pair of Eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes, the only venomous snake native to Michigan.
Steven Parrish / Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, the University of Michigan

The Eastern Massasauga — the sole rattlesnake to inhabit the state of Michigan — is facing rapid population loss that's prompting national concern for Michigan wildlife.

In September 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the snake as a "threatened species" under the Endangered Species Act, which would qualify the snake for national funds to help preserve the species. 

Pages