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NASA photo shows Earth with today’s storm

NASA’s GOES satellite took this amazing picture of today’s storm at 9:45 this morning. The DC area is obscured by snow and clouds, obviously, but you can see the storm covering the whole mid-Atlantic north of Florida.

Image from NOAA/NASA GOES Project.

December 10th, 2013 | Permalink
Tags: environment

Pictures of Sunday’s solar eclipse

When the sun rose over DC’s east horizon on Sunday morning, it was in the midst of a partial solar eclipse. The moon was passing directly between Earth and the sun, obscuring the sun as seen from Earth.

To see the event, I woke up early and set up my camera at the best easterly-facing view I could think of – the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria. Here’s what I saw:

Eclipse over Alexandria. Full set of 25 pictures is on flickr.

November 4th, 2013 | Permalink
Tags: environment, fun

See (but don’t smell) the flower of death

One of the world’s rarest and stinkiest giant flowers is blooming now at the US Botanical Gardens. But if you want to to see it, you have to act fast. It will likely wilt in just a few days.

The titan arum can reach 10 feet in height, smells like rotting dead flesh, and can go decades between blooms. When a bloom does happen, it’s a big draw at the usually-quiet botanical garden.

I went yesterday and took a few pictures. I barely noticed the smell.

July 23rd, 2013 | Permalink
Tags: environment, galleries, parks

Lost rivers of Washington

Constitution Avenue used to be a canal, and two creeks used to flow through central DC. David Ramos produced a series of maps showing where they went.

Imagine what a different city Washington might be today if these had been kept in place.

Image from David Ramos on ImaginaryTerrain.com.

June 3rd, 2013 | Permalink
Tags: environment, maps

Remember what big snow storms looked like

R Street in the snow. This was not taken today.

March 6th, 2013 | Permalink
Tags: environment

Aerial of Boston covered in snow

This picture of Boston was taken by an American Airlines pilot shortly after the blizzard last weekend.

DC, on the other hand, is in the midst of its least snowy 2 year period on record, which comes shortly after our own 2010 snowpocalypse. But that’s OK. Extreme weather all the time probably isn’t climate change, right? Gotta be a hoax.

Boston in the snow. Image from reddit.

February 14th, 2013 | Permalink
Tags: environment

Know your DC birds

There are hundreds of thousands of birds in Washington, DC. It is virtually impossible to be outside and not see several of them. BeyondDC is hardly a nature blog, but birds are such a fact of life in cities that it’s worth being able to identify the most common ones.

So here’s a quick guide of the most frequently seen birds in DC.

Everybody knows pigeons.
Photo by dragontoller.

The little brown birds you see everywhere.
Photo by Mr T in DC.

“Washington Starlings” would have been a great name for a baseball team.
Photo by Shawn McCready.

Very common in suburbs, a little less so in the city.
Photo by Lucina M.

Unfortunately, mockingjays are not real.
Photo by Anne Davis.

Gray Catbird.
Looks like a mockingbird with a shorter tail.
Photo by goingslo.

Obviously most common near water.
Photo by Mr T in DC.

They love McPherson Square for some reason.
Photo by thisisbossi.

The orange beak gives away females.
Photo by Steve took it.

Looks like a starling without spots.
Photo by Carla Kishinami.

More common than you think; one may live on your roof.
Photo by Glyn Lowe.

Common inside BeyondDC’s house, not so much elsewhere.
Photo by BeyondDC.

October 25th, 2012 | Permalink
Tags: environment, galleries

Can’t deny a problem? Try hiding it!

click to enlarge
Pollution? What pollution?
Image from EnvironmentBlog.

China appears to be learning some poor lessons from the United States regarding how to handle environmental problems.

A few days after North Carolina made news by trying to outlaw sea level rise, China is demanding that foreigners stop reporting on Chinese air pollution.

As offensive as both of these strategies are, I actually wonder if they are not indication that some progress is being made on the acceptance of environmentalism as a legitimate global issue. Might these attempts to sweep environmental problems under the rug actually be a tacit acknowledgment that environmental problems exist? As opposed to just denying the problem exists at all. After all, why bother trying to hide something that you don’t think is a problem?

Anyway, this seems like a good opportunity to post an interesting map. This is from NASA, and shows global distribution of particles in the air. It includes both natural and man-made sources, which is why places like the Sahara Desert are highlighted. But holy smokes, check out China.

June 5th, 2012 | Permalink
Tags: environment

Map of US tree biomass

Yesterday on Twitter I linked to a neat map of tree biomass in the 48 contiguous states. Some people had trouble opening it and asked me to show it here. I’m happy to oblige.

The map is based on data from NASA, and originally came from Reddit. Correction: Here is the source.

Click the image for the full-size version.

January 12th, 2012 | Permalink
Tags: environment

The private subways of adorable animals

Animals are smarter than we give them credit for. They know roads are dangerous to cross, and know how to avoid doing so.

According to a study by the University of Maryland, almost 60 different species of animals have been spotted using underground drainage culverts to safely cross roads. Not only do they use the tunnels, they also show preferences regarding tunnel design, and teach their young how to use the tunnels safely. Deer avoid tunnels with rocky floors, herons like tunnels big enough to flap their wings in, and just about all the observed species like tunnels with unobstructed views.

The study used motion-capture cameras to photograph thousands of animals using the tunnels. A few examples are reproduced below. They clearly show why this behavior is as beneficial to humans as it is to animals: no car driver wants to hit a giant horned buck or a stinky skunk.

December 12th, 2011 | Permalink
Tags: environment, galleries, transportation, urbandesign



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