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NOAA Maps The Raging Future of American Wildfires

August 30, 2015 On the one hand, the warming atmosphere is predicted to drench many parts of the U.S. with extreme rain. On the other, for much of the year it’ll likely desiccate vast areas into brittle tinder, setting the stage for more frequent and powerful wildfires. Increasingly balmy temperatures and a steady...

Animation: Watch the Remarkable Expansion of American Obesity

August 18, 2015 The United States isn’t the world’s fattest country—that distinction goes to Tonga—but it’s up there, with two-thirds of its adults classified as overweight or obese. But it didn’t used to be so heavy, as evidenced in this animated map from Metrocosm’s Max Galka (the same guy behind that fascinating visualization...

More Than 143 Million Americans Are at Risk From Earthquakes

August 11, 2015 In 2006, the U.S. Geological Survey issued an alarming report saying more than 75 million Americans faced a “significant risk” from earthquakes. Among its warnings: The East Coast could be hit extra hard because of its dense populations and lack of retrofitted structures; catastrophic tsunamis might swamp Alaska and the...

A NOAA Weather Model Shows Animated Storms and City Lights

August 7, 2015 Though software engineer Cameron Beccario did it first with “Earth,” now NOAA has launched its own real-time wind model displayed over the gorgeous backdrop of the world at night. Or day—you can change the time to see current and future conditions, and even watch the sun line swoop across the...

A NASA Satellite Sees the 'Dark Side' of the Moon Crossing Earth

August 6, 2015 NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory only reached its orbit a million miles from Earth in June. But already it’s sending back stunning test images, the latest being these shots of the moon’s dark side—that potential future home of a lunar city—sliding across our world. The observatory, designed to monitor solar...

The Great Lakes Run Green With Toxic Ooze

August 4, 2015 From the sky, you’d be forgiven for thinking parts of the Great Lakes are growing grass. The algae blooms this year are so thick they look like well-fed lawns, albeit ones that could suck you down into the ooze and maybe poison your dog with algal toxins, to boot. (NASA/USGS)...

Seattle Plants Street Trees in a Substance Made of Car Tires

July 16, 2015 Protecting street trees can be arduous. Rain washes mulch and topsoil into the gutter. Pedestrian traffic compacts the ground and harms their health. Installing metal grates to keep people off is expensive. Seattle believes it might have found a way to make the job easier. It’s a weird substance called...

NOAA Offers a Space-Based View of 2015's 'Hyperactive' Hurricane Season

June 19, 2015 Misdirected flocks of little, red crabs in California aren’t the only sign of a strengthening El Niño. There was also the bippety-bam-boom emergence of three eastern-Pacific hurricanes since May, something that hasn’t happened since 1956. The folks at Climate.gov have posted an illuminating guide to what they call a“hyperactive” Pacific...

Portland Debuts Rain-Themed 'Creative Crosswalks'

June 10, 2015 Yesterday, Portland stole a bit of Seattle’s thunder by debuting crosswalks decorated with rain drops and umbrellas. The pair of so-called “creative crosswalks” lie in Old Town Chinatown and represent the city’s first foray into artistic zebra stripes. For once, this isn’t just Portland being goofy: The crosswalks are meant...

NOAA: 2015 Could Be the New Hottest Year on Record

June 6, 2015 Remember the awful heat of 2014, which was likely the warmest year in known history? Well, the odds are increasing that 2015 might outdo that superlative sultriness, becoming the hottest year since record-keeping began in 1880. Whether or not that happens could depend on El Niño, writes NOAA scientist Deke...