Too Hot to Handle

Unsurprisingly, this past April has the highest recorded temperatures than any April in the past. This record-breaking April is just one of the seven other months that have broken the records of being the hottest months in history. The past two years have been the hottest on record since 1880, which alludes to danger for our planet. The rising temperatures can trigger extreme weather and climate change, and most habitats and ecosystems will not have enough time to adapt to the hotter temperatures. However, the rising of temperatures is becoming a popular trend, so ecosystems must attempt to prepare themselves for one hell of a ride. It was not until October that scientists were able to determine whether or not 2015 would be the hottest year in history, but scientists have been able to determine at this point in time that 2016 may just top last years temperatures, making this year the hottest year up to date. El Nino has contributed to the rise in temperatures as well as industrial plants, but scientists believe that these two factors are not the only factors in the equation. Now, the world is left to worry what the future holds.


Birth of the Century

Over the past 17 years, multiple satellites from the the European Space Agency (ESA) have been tracking the separation of two large glaciers from an ice shelf located in Antarctica. Although it may seem very uncommon, seeing as this is big news, this type of activity is not too uncommon because this happens about every 30 years. The reason for the separation of the ice shelf into two glaciers is because of the difference in the velocity of the northern glacier and southern glacier. In this way, the southern part of the glacier is being hooked and pulled away from the ice shelf. The glaciers finally separated from the ice shelf this past week. Now the giant icebergs are moving north-eastwards, but do not worry, they pose no threat to the rest of the world.

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Ditch the Cup

If you ask anyone in our school to describe me, I bet they will all come to the same consensus that I’m that girl who always has her Dunkin’s coffee. This is completely true, as I go there almost every morning, and I am on a first name bases with the employees. And actually, the more I’ve gotten to know the women who make my drinks, the nicer they have become. Now instead of just giving me my coffee, they place my iced coffee in a hot cup so my hands won’t freeze. Now, if you add up the amount of styrofoam cups I have accumulated over the past two months, you could probably call me a walking land-filler, which concerned me. However, I was not the only person to think about this problem. Dunkin Donuts realized how many styrofoam cups they were wasting, so they began to brainstorm alternative products that would eventually replace styrofoam cups. However, this was hard because styrofoam cups had many benefits for the company as styrofoam is easy to obtain, its light, easy to print on, and insulates drinks the best. After much testing and research, the company decided to settle on a hot cup made of polypropylene, which is a type of thermoplastic that can be used in a variety of different ways. The best part about polypropylene is that it is recyclable, so now I don’t have to worry about harming the environment with my excessive coffee drinking.

Shower Power

On cold winter nights like these, it’s not uncommon to crank up the heat in the shower, and before you know it, you’ve spent 30 minutes in the shower, and who even knows how much water you have wasted. In recent years, French companies realized the extreme amounts of water that were being wasted through showers, and they came up with a new product with hopes of changing the shower game. With a newly designed shower head, that has built in LED lights, users are able to visually see their impact on water loss when they shower. An app is used to connect to the shower head, and when you are ready, start up the shower. Your shower will start to glow green until you have used 10 liters, which is when your shower head will change to a shade of blue. Once a total of 30 liters has been reached, the shower will turn red, and will begin to flash red once 50 liters of water has been used, indicating that the user should quickly finish showering. The average person uses up to 80 liters of water per shower, and with this new technology, the company hopes to reduce the amount of liters used to 55 liters. The app that is used, allows users to track the amount of water they have used each shower for up to 200 showers. Not only does this product allow users to be educated on the amount of water they waste, but it is also beneficial for the amount of money they will end up saving in the long run.


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“El Nino is Spanish for…The Nino”


El Nino is a series of climatic changes that shifts warm water, located on the equator in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, eastwards towards the west coasts of North and South America. This weather phenomenon happens every 2 to 7 years and is currently formulating as we speak. Although El Nino primarily hits the west coast, weather is affected in many different regions all over the world. Because El Nino shifts the warm water eastwards and brings all of the rain with it, Southeast Asia is left to fend for itself, in terms of rainfall. In fact, Indonesia suffered a drought and many forest fires due to the dryness on land and in the atmosphere. Not only did the country have forest fires, but fires caused a great deal of haze to cover the whole region. Ethiopia has been affected just as harshly, as the country has been suffering a food crisis due to a drought, making food and water very scarce. This past year in the Pacific, the warmer weather contributed to record breaking hurricanes along the western coasts of the Americas. Northern states in the U.S. have been experiencing below-average snowfall this winter caused by the warmer weather El Nino has brought. El Nino made the world break its record in 2015 for having the hottest year yet. Now all we can think is, how will El Nino affect the world next time around?

Save the Butterflies

Monarch butterflies have always been used to conduct a kid friendly activity to display the process of metamorphosis. The butterflies are also notable for their long distance travel from Mexico to the U.S. and Canada, and back. However, over the past 20 years, the population of butterflies have been dwindling from billions of butterflies to now only millions. Although the number of butterflies seems reasonable and high, monarchs need to be accompanied by a greater amount than millions to survive threats, such as harsh weather. The main reason for the decline in population among the butterflies is due to the use of Roundup Ready, which allows farmers to easily spray herbicide directly onto crops such as corn and soy bean plants. Although Roundup Ready is helping protect the corn and soy bean crops, it kills milkweed crops, which are vital to monarch butterflies. Milkweed plants are the only food source for monarch butterflies, and are used for raising monarch larvae. In order to better the situation, even just planting milkweed plants, that are untampered by insecticides, in your backyard will help. One of the most hands on activity and exciting activity children ever get to do during school is watch caterpillars become butterflies, and we would never want to take that joy away from kids in the future.

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(Monarch Butterfly on milkweed plant)



The Northern Lights

In class today, we were discussing the levels of atmosphere on earth, and found ourselves on the topic of the Northern Lights. As a child, I had the notion that the Northern Lights were caused by the spirits of the deceased from Inuit tribes in the North. I did not make this up, I was a fan of the movie Brother Bear as a child, and in Brother Bear, this was the given reason for the Northern Lights. However, as our class discussed this topic further, we learned that the Northern Lights or Aurora borealis/australis are located in the thermosphere, and specifically, the thermosphere that is located in the north and south poles. These poles contain very high electro magnetic fields that support movement of particles and allow the Northern Lights to seem as though they are dancing in the sky. In this part of the atmosphere, the temperature is very high and can cause the gaseous particles to collide frequently. The bright colors are formed by the collisions between the charged particles that are released from the suns atmosphere and gaseous particles that reside in this part of earths atmosphere. The color of the lights depends on the atoms and the altitude at which the atoms are struck. The most common gaseous particle to be radiated is oxygen, which displays a greeny-yellow color. If the color that is produced appears to be a purpley-red, the gaseous particle that was struck is nitrogen.  The closer to the north and south poles you get, the better the visibility of the Northern Lights will be. I hope that someday I will actually be able to travel to the north to capture these beautiful images in first person.

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