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Genetics suggest early link between Polynesia and South America

The Rapanui are famous for building giant stone platforms and statues. Credit: Photograph by Natalia Solar Usage Restrictions: Credit Required

The Rapanui are famous for building giant stone platforms and statues. Photograph by Natalia Solar.

Findings may require re-evaluation of how the Americas were colonized by humans

Staff Report

FRISCO — Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 Kon-Tiki voyage showed that people could have sailed from South America to the South Pacific islands even without modern instrumentation, and now, a new genetic study shows that it might have been a two way street.

Genomic evidence suggests that people may have been traveling from Easter Island to the Americas long before European explorers arrived at the remote oceanic outpost, and that they had significant contact with Native American populations, as early as 1300 AD.

Along with establishing genetic links, the study suggests that historians and anthropologists might need to take a fresh look at some of their most basic ideas about how humans spread around the globe. Continue reading

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October heat wave delays start of Colorado ski season

Snow guns silent in late October as temps run 15 degrees above average

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2014 on track to become warmest year ever.

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How will the ski industry weather global warming?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —Last year’s winter Olympics helped cast a spotlight on global warming and the ski industry. As the snow at Sochi’s alpine venues visibly melted during the live television coverage of the games, winter sports athletes advocated for action on climate change.

Now, just a few months later, some of those same ski racers who had planned early season training sessions at Copper Mountain, Colorado will have to wait. A run of extraordinarily warm temperatures in October all but silenced industrial snowmaking operations at several resorts, as both Copper and Keystone delayed scheduled openings because of the balmy conditions. Continue reading

Study: Tornado season becoming more variable

A new NOAA study tracks the occurrence of seasonal tornadoes across the U.S.

A new NOAA study tracks the occurrence of seasonal tornadoes across the U.S.

Fewer outbreaks, but more twisters?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Tracking tornado trends is a big deal in the global warming era, as researchers seek to determine whether climate change will result in more catastrophic and life-threatening weather events.

Since the 1950s, researchers say, the overall number of annual tornadoes has remained steady, but a new analysis of data shows  there are fewer days with tornadoes each year, but on those days there are more tornadoes.

A consequence of this is that communities should expect an increased number of catastrophes, said lead author Harold Brooks, research meteorologist with the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory. Continue reading

Morning photo: Some colors!

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Wild rose leaves turn brilliant orange in the early autumn chill.

FRISCO — Living in a place where about the half the year is defined by the whiteness of snow makes you appreciate the other half of the year — the colorful half — even more. And especially in the fall, when you know the land is about to be transformed into frozen stillness, it’s fun to get out and capture some of the last brilliant bits of color, accented in this set by some in-camera editing as well as some post-processing. All the images in this set, except the aspen panorama, were treated with iPhone photo apps to accentuate the rich autumn light. Follow our Instagram feed for daily photo updates and visit our online gallery for a great selection of Colorado landscape and nature images, available as fine art prints and greeting cards. Continue reading

Study finds Deepwater Horizon oil ‘fallout zone’

Satellite view deepwater horizon oil spill

A NASA satellite view shows oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster spreading across the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

“Oily particles were raining down around these deep sea corals …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — More than four years after the disastrous failure of BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sent about 5 million barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, a team of scientists said they’ve found a 1,250-square mile fallout zone, where some of the oil settled to the sea floor in a thin layer.

The researchers, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of California, Irvine sampled 534 locations during 12 expeditions in Gulf and collected more than 3,000 samples, finding that the oil is concentrated in the top half-inch of the sea floor. Continue reading

Scientists say half measures won’t help Great Barrier Reef

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Australian scientists say a government plan for the Great Barrier Reef doesn’t do enough to mitigate threats.

Global warming, coal port dredging seen as key threats

Staff Report

FRISCO — Leading Australian scientists said this week that the government’s business-as-usual plan for the Great Barrier Reef won’t prevent its decline.

While acknowledging a few positive steps in the plan, the Australian Academy of Scientists said the proposal “fails to effectively address any of the key pressures on the reef including climate change, poor water quality, coastal development and fishing.”

And, as is often the case with planning efforts in the U.S., the Australian government’s vision for the reef also doesn’t acknowledge the cumulative impacts that intensify pressure on one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems.

Continue reading

Will there be a ‘hostile takeover’ of western public lands?

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Federal lands in the U.S. Courtesy Univ. of Montana.

New website offers glimpse of ongoing efforts to ‘de-federalize’ the West

Staff Report

FRISCO — On and off efforts to force the transfer of federally managed public western lands to individual states have grown beyond campaign rhetoric.

These days, there’s a semi-organized effort on the part of lawmakers in several western states to try and take over millions of acres of forests and rangelands. The history of the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, with roots in the Reagan era, is outlined in detail on this University of Colorado website. Continue reading

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