In “Atchafalaya,” John McPhee’s essay in the 1989 book “The Control of Nature,” the author chronicles efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prevent the Atchafalaya River from changing the course of the Mississippi River where they diverge, due to the Atchafalaya’s steeper gradient and more direct route to the gulf. McPhee’s classic essay proved inspirational to John Shaw, an assistant professor of geosciences who called it “a foundational text.”
Indeed, his latest work adds to the story.
In a recent paper published in the American Geophysical Union’s journal, Water Resources Research, Shaw and his fellow researchers, Kashauna G. Mason, Hongbo Ma and Gordon W. McClain III, examine the critical period before the decision was made in 1950 to create a river control system at the junction of the two rivers to get a clearer understanding of the rivers’ natural state—and how regulation might be fine-tuned moving forward to preserve Louisiana coastlands.
Two original pages from the handwritten draft of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, along with rare letters, and never-before-seen reading notes are to be added to Darwin Online
An extraordinary collection of priceless manuscripts of naturalist Charles Darwin goes online today, including two rare pages from the original draft of On the Origin of Species.
These documents will be added to DarwinOnline, a website which contains not only the complete works of Darwin, but is possibly the most comprehensive scholarly portal on any historical individual in the world. The website is helmed by Dr John van Wyhe, an eminent historian of science. He is a Senior Lecturer at NUS Biological Sciences and Tembusu College.
Los Angeles has had air pollution problems since before smog was a term. In 1943, people began to notice the smog when it covered Los Angeles so thickly that residents thought Japan had launched a chemical attack. The city continued to have smog problems for decades. President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, which introduced air pollution regulations, and it was a major factor in combating the city’s smog problem.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the hunting guide L.S. Quackenbush lived in a cabin in remote Oxbow, Maine. He rented cabins to hunters, cut, stacked and split wood and used his daily walks to keep detailed notes on the spring arrivals of songbirds and the first appearances of flowers and tree leaves.
His journals meticulously documenting the changing seasons grew and grew, eventually totaling more than 5,000 pages. Now they are filling gaps on how trees and migratory birds are responding to a changing climate in northern Maine, where historical data is sparse.
A new paper by the University of Maine’s Caitlin McDonough MacKenzie compares Quackenbush’s journals to recent observations, and suggests bird arrivals may be lagging behind the earlier leaf-out and flowering induced by a warming climate. Flora appears to be more directly responsive to local warming, while migratory bird schedules are more complex.