Sierra Nevada

Hot Topic: What Do We Really Know About Volcanoes?

Ongoing volcanic eruptions in Hawaii and Guatemala are leading to speculation that volcanism in general may be on an upswing. The anecdotal evidence, at least, is tantalizing: There have been about 25 major eruptions around the world from 2000 to 2018, compared to 65 for the entire 20 th Century.

Deep Water in Deep Trouble: Can We Save California’s Drying Aquifers?

It may not be a true meteorological “March Miracle,” but it’s close enough for government work, as government workers are wont to say.  The series of storms that have battered California in recent weeks have pumped up the snowpack in the Sierra and swelled streams at lower elevations. And it looks like we could be in for a last wet gasp from the Pacific, with a fairly robust front poised to dump rain and snow mid-week. For a state that still teeters on drought despite last year’s extraordinarily wet rainy season, that’s good news.

All STEAMed Up: Retirement Takes an Unexpected Turn to an Elementary School

At Eagle Elementary School, located in a  suburban district in New York’s Capital Region, 12 fourth and fifth-graders are inventing. Two students are trying to work the bugs out of a miniature electronic sliding door. Another team is setting up the tiny equivalent of a washing machine drum. Still others are building a robotic fan.

A Deep Dive Into California’s Recurring Drought Problem

Feel it yet? That dire sense of déjà vu? It probably depends on your livelihood or interests. If you’re a Bay Area boulevardier or the type once described in singles ads as a lover of long walks on the beach, you’re no doubt delighted by the unceasing blue skies and unseasonably pleasant temperatures. But it’s another matter if you’re a farmer, salmon fisherman, water agency manager, skier or whitewater kayaker. Your income—or at least, your sense of well-being— is directly determined by what falls from the sky.

Are Wet Winters or Drought Worse for California Fires?

Disastrous wildfires are popularly associated with drought. But the North Bay fires followed one of the wettest winters in decades.

The nightly news tends to make things even more confusing. During drought, newscasters sound the alarm about dead trees and the general flammability of parched forests. After wet winters, dire warnings are issued about the abundant growth of grass and brush that will become tinder during the hot, dry days of California’s summer and fall. So are wet winters worse for fires? Or are dry winters worse?

Saving the Sequoias: The Most Magisterial of Trees in California Face a Big Risk

Ronald Reagan was (in)famously unmoved by ancient forests, claiming that “when you’ve seen one redwood, you’ve seen them all.” But most of us still feel a frisson when we stroll among old-growth trees, particularly when they’re the biggest dang trees on the planet: Sequoiadendron giganteum, otherwise known as giant sequoias. (That’s biggest by volume, by the way. Coast redwoods, Sequoia sempervirens, may be taller but typically are more slender.)

Rim Fire Reprise Warning: Restoring Forests the Wrong Way May Fuel Future Fires

As the U.S. Forest Service finalizes plans to restore forests torched in last year’s Yosemite-area Rim Fire—the third largest in state history—conservationists are worried that the scheme skimps on environmental protection. Also concerned is one of the state’s top forestry experts, a UC Berkeley professor who warns that replanting trees the traditional way will simply sow the seeds for the next conflagration.

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