Swetnam leaves his laboratory for the evening. Fires in the Southwest have been getting bigger and bigger over the past two decades. The Wallow fire in Arizona, Swetnam says, was "a tornado of fire." "It burned more than 40,000 acres in the first eight hours," he says.
A tree's rings are marked on graph paper. Experts use this technique, called skeleton plotting, to help them cross-date tree-ring samples. This sample evinces no fire scars in the latest years of the tree's life.
University of Arizona professor Tom Swetnam examines a tree sample at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research in Tucson, Ariz. Swetnam's research focuses on understanding how forest fires are influenced by climate change.
Tree-ring samples are collected from every corner of the world and meticulously studied and stored in Swetnam's lab. The thick, dark rings on these samples are fire scars. Last year, more than 74,000 wildfires burned over 8.7 million acres in the U.S.
Republican Rep. Todd Akin's decision to stay in the U.S. Senate race in Missouri is likely to leave him with support from the state's evangelical community, but not much more, says a political scientist at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.
As cases of West Nile virus continue to increase, authorities warned today that this could turn out to be the worst outbreak since the virus first showed up in the United States in 1999.
The New York Times reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still unsure about "where and how far" the disease will spread, but so far there have been 1,118 cases and 41 deaths reported.
The daily fighting in Syria included this gun battle Wednesday involving rebels in the northern city of Aleppo. Still, the rival sides recently worked out a prisoner swap in which two women were freed from state custody, while the rebels released seven pro-government fighters.
Rotten jackfruit and tomatoes are sorted at a dump in New Delhi. India loses an estimated 40 percent of its produce harvest for lack of infrastructure. And Americans waste about 40 percent of our food.
Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 10:58 am
The food world is buzzing today about the latest news on just how often we waste perfectly good food. And we admit, the statistics are pretty depressing.
About 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. The average American consumer wastes 10 times as much food as someone in Southeast Asia — up 50 percent from Americans in the 1970s. Yet, 1 in 6 Americans doesn't have enough to eat, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And food waste costs us about $165 billion a year and sucks up 25 percent of our freshwater supply.
The Federal Reserve could take more steps to boost the struggling U.S. economy. That's according to minutes released Wednesday of the Federal Open Market Committee's July 31-Aug. 1 meeting.
"Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery," the minutes said. [PDF]
In 1999, Shanghai turned Nanjing Road, the city's most famous shopping area, into a walking street. On summer nights, thousands fill the street, surrounded by colonial architecture and riotous neon signs.
The question of whether to circumcise a newborn son is no question at all for most observant Jews. In Europe, the practice has come under fire. This summer, a German regional court ruled that circumcision is physical abuse, and a Swiss hospital temporarily banned the procedure. The debate has infuriated Jewish community leaders there.
In Israel, even the most secular Jews overwhelmingly have their sons circumcised. But the debate in Europe has drawn attention to a still small but growing number of Israeli Jews who are forgoing the procedure.
As far as portraits from the Civil War go, this one is quite famous. It shows a confederate soldier looking a bit disheveled and very serious while holding an 1855 Springfield single-shot pistol carbine.