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Earth Sciences

Cover of Finding the River
Fall 2012

Finding the River

finding the river crane book cover

Jeff Crane ’98, ’04 PhD
Oregon State University Press, 2011

In 1992, President George H. W. Bush signed into law the Elwha Act, which called for the removal of two hydroelectric dams from the 45-mile river that flows from Washington’s Olympic Range to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Over the past year, the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams have been removed and now the decades of sediment behind them are … » More …

Water poured on pervious concrete
Summer 2012

Video: Pervious concrete for stormwater management

Liv Haselbach, associate professor with Washington State University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, researches concrete surfaces that can absorb water, rather than allowing water to run off and cause pollution, flooding, or other problems.

Haselbach says, “WSU has been installing various sections of pervious concrete and porous asphalt on the Pullman campus to see how they might help with stormwater management on campus and prevent icing conditions in the winter. Researchers in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department are monitoring various aspects of the placements, and are also testing the materials in their laboratories to determine other environmental benefits, including … » More …

Summer 2012

A brush with Snorkel Bob

There is the world of science, of measured and verified observations, of slow-moving knowledge.

And there’s a world of advocacy, of convictions, values, passion, and a desire for fast-moving change.

Only a few slides into his PowerPoint on the West Hawaii aquarium fishery, WSU marine biologist Brian Tissot notes how the two views serve to complicate the conflicts around the aquarium trade.

Science, he says, looks at the interest-based aspects of … » More …

BIXI green bikes at WSU
Summer 2012

What moves you at WSU

One fuzzy old photograph of construction in downtown Pullman shows images of early days in the city: men laying a foundation by hand, a horse-drawn carriage on the street, a bicycle leaning on a post in the foreground. The photo has no date, but that bike, like a relic dropped by a time traveler, looks remarkably modern.

You won’t see a horse-drawn anything on Pullman’s streets now, except in parades, but you still see bikes among the buses, pedestrians, and a lot of cars.

Bridgette Brady, director of Washington State University’s Transportation and Parking Services, envisions bike use on campus increasing over the next … » More …

Jen McIntyre
Summer 2012

Not quite right as rainwater

Jen McIntyre is something of a rainwater connoisseur, but you wouldn’t want to drink from her collection. Her preferred source is a drainpipe that runs from State Route 520 to a parking lot in Seattle’s Montlake neighborhood.

Tens of thousands of cars and scores of buses pass by every day, dropping bits of tire rubber, brake dust, exhaust, and the occasional cigarette butt. In winter, passing showers might rinse off the road surface every few days or hours. In summer, a month might go by between rains, giving McIntyre a particularly potent stormwater cocktail, like the one she harvested last August.

Freshly bottled, it’s … » More …

Orrin Pilkey ’57
Spring 2012

Orrin Pilkey ’57—A climate change provocateur

In August 1969, Hurricane Camille slammed into Mississippi with winds of nearly 200 miles an hour. The storm blew many things far and wide, including the career track of coastal geologist Orrin Pilkey ’57. Up to that point, Pilkey had worked quietly studying deep-sea sediments, becoming an expert on abyssal plains (the flat underwater surfaces found along the edges of continents). But when he visited his parents on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Pilkey found he was a lot more interested in what was happening to coastlines than on ocean floors far from shore. Pilkey and his father co-wrote a book, How to Live With an … » More …

Carol Miles
Spring 2012

Mulch ado about garden plastics

In 2001, Carol Miles certified WSU’s first piece of organic land, a three-acre parcel at the WSU Vancouver Research and Extension Unit. It was a landmark moment, leading the way for organically managed land at all of WSU’s research facilities.

But one thing kept nagging her: the plastic.

In the absence of conventional herbicides, weed control was her number one issue, and laying down a layer of plastic took care of the problem handily. But it’s nonrenewable and not recycled.

If it’s going to be used in an organic production system, reasoned Miles, now a vegetable horticulturist at the WSU Mount Vernon … » More …

Spring 2012

The World’s Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline

2012spring_beaches_cover

Orrin Pilkey ’57
University of California Press, 2011

It may appear to be a scholarly approach to beaches, but once you wade in to this book, you will find an entertaining and informative read. With a light touch, Pilkey and his co-authors manage to describe some heavy concepts like erosion, tsunamis, and human impact. Their goal, they say in the introduction, is to provide “a global perspective in regard to beaches, how they form, how … » More …

Fall 2011

When soil goes sour

Ammonia based fertilizer, which provides nitrogen, can offer a great boost to even an otherwise not so healthy soil. But ammonia fertilizer, which depends on petroleum for its manufacture, is becoming very expensive. The consistent high yields of wheat on the Palouse depend on applying about 100 pounds of fertilizer per acre, with that fertilizer currently costing $50-80/ton. More significant, however, is not the cost, but the long-term effect of applying so much fertilizer.

Soils on the Palouse before farming were generally neutral, with a pH of 7, says Rich Koenig. Since then, the pH of the soil has dropped in some cases as much … » More …