Spring is here and some wildlife are emerging from hibernation. They should be waking up on the sunny side of the den after a long winters rest but that is not necessarily true. Hibernation takes a toll on their body and it takes a great deal of energy to wake up and join the land of the conscious. The New York Time’s Science section has a wonderful article about what goes on in this time of waking for a few different animals: Waking From Hibernation, the Hard Work of Spring Begins (by Steph Yin).
Happy Spring everyone!
About the Illustration: Acrylic gouache and India ink. I am currently smitten with acrylic gouache. The opacity of gouache but waterproof like acrylic paint. When I read the article and saw the picture of the sleeping black bear and her cub this image came to me. I considered putting pjs on both of them but I decided the sleeping masks were enough.
On this day in 1809 Charles Darwin, the English biologist and geologist, was born. He is best known for his contributions to the theory of evolution. In this illustration I have him posed in front of a cladogram (a diagram indicating the evolutionary relationship between organisms) of finches of the Galapagos. The most well known subject of his research into the theory of the evolution of species. So Happy Darwin Day!
Okay, that was my post from last year. I am adding on to it this year by suggesting you become acquainted with a living scientist. Don’t get me wrong, Charlie deserves his own day and eternal admiration. However, knowing present day scientists will help you better understand how far science has gone and where it is going. How do you do that you ask? Dr. David Steen, a wildlife biologist, made it easy for you by creating the Twitter hashtag #actuallivingscientist. This came out of the concern that most Americans could not name a living scientist. So now scientists all over the world and from different disciplines are tweeting about their research and a little bit about themselves. It is fascinating to read and it is critical, in these crazy times, to get to know a scientist.
In this age of fake news and science illiteracy I cannot stress enough the need to read unbiased, factual science journalism (really any kind of good, truthful journalism). In addition to reading it may I also stress the need to pay for it. A soy latte doesn’t come free, news and facts should not be free either. Before I get off my soapbox here are some suggested sources of scientific information. Please share any that I missed via the comments section.
Earlier this week we saw a “Super Moon“. What is a super moon? Once a month there is a full moon, where the earth is between the moon and the sun. Once a month there is a new moon, where the moon is between the earth and the sun. Every month the moon also reaches the closest point to the earth during it’s orbital rotation. That point is called the perigee. So a super moon is a full moon or new moon that coincides with perigee. This occurs a few times a year. However the most recent super moon is the closest the moon has been to the earth since 1948. The next time that will happen is in 2034. Mark it on your calendar.
The opposite of perigee is apogee where the moon is the furthest away from the earth during it’s orbital rotation.
The term “super moon” actually came from *astrology, not **astronomy. It was absorbed into astronomy because perigee full moon or perigee new moon is just not that sexy. It’s true, astronomers are trying to bring sexy back 😉
*Astrology is the the divination of the supposed influences of the stars and planets on us humans (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
**Astronomy is the scientific study of the universe-planets, stars, etc (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
About This Illustration: Acrylic and watercolor ink on canvas paper. I hope to offer this illustration as an art print but we will see how the metallic paint looks after scanning.
As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler we notice the shift in color among the trees around us. If you live near aspen stands you might notice that a group of trees will change colors all at once. This is because aspens grow as a clonal colony from a single seedling. I am referring to the Quaking Aspen (Populous tremuloides) in this post although there are a number of aspen species found around the world. The Quaking Aspen is widely distributed throughout North America. It is one of the first tree species to colonize an area after a forest fire by sprouting new trees through it’s deeply buried root system.
These colonies can live for a surprisingly long time although individual trees die out (only to have a new tree sprout up from the extensive root system). The oldest known colony can be found in Fishlake National Forest in Utah. According to the US Forest Service this clone named Pando (Latin for “I Spread”) is about 80,000 years old. It spans 106 acres, consists of over 40,000 individual trees, and weighs over 14 million pounds. However, the Pando is beginning to show it’s age. A combination of insects, disease, drought, and human disturbance is compromising the health of this ancient tree. The Forest Service is actively trying to restore the Pando so that future generations can witness this biological marvel.
Yesterday was the Autumn Equinox and we can now bid farewell to summer. Personally I am relieved that summer is over. I am ready for cardigans and pumpkin spiced anything. Even though the leaves will be changing colors and the nights will be getting cooler, 2016 may turn out to be the hottest year on record. The last year to receive such notoriety was 2015. That’s right-last year.
According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, each of the first six months of 2016 set global records as the hottest since 1880 (when we began measuring such things). Global temperatures continue their upward climb while Arctic sea ice extent continues its downward climb. The recent El Niño event has had some influence on rising temperatures but the general trend in our global climate is a constant upward trajectory due to the increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Pumpkin spice season might be getting shorter in the future.
I will be posting more about climate but this is a quick post. My posts will be shorter but more frequent in the future.
Below are some links for those of you who would like to learn more:
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for Annual 2015, published online January 2016, retrieved on September 23, 2016 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201513.