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Surf’s Up!

If you love big surf, go to Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast during a winter storm. As swells rise and break offshore, winds whip ocean spray high into the air, but the waves move inexorably toward the harbor (the “world’s smallest navigable harbor,” reads a road sign), channel through rocks and, with a resounding […]

A Slippery Slope

Grinding over ancient layers of lava and ash, the glaciers of the Cascade Range act like supersized sheets of shrinkwrap. Stretched taut across tons of pulverized rock, these blankets of frozen snow hold sand, gravel and boulders in place — that is, until they start to melt. Then the sediments, unlocked from the glaciers’ icy […]

Countdown on the Columbia

More than 400 dams produce power and control floods in the nation’s fourth largest river basin. The U.S./Canada treaty that established responsibilities for water flow and power sharing is due for renewal.

Climate Impacts

At times in the distant past, an abrupt change in climate has been associated with a shift of seasonal monsoons to the south, a new study concludes, causing more rain to fall over the oceans than in the Earth’s tropical regions, and leading to a dramatic drop in global vegetation growth. If similar changes were […]

Climate by the Numbers

You can’t just walk into the data center in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS). The sign on the door says you need a pass card. There should be another sign too: Caution, planetary experiments in progress. Inside, computer clusters churn 24/7, spinning out information about ocean currents, winds, air temperatures, ice […]

Across the Divide

In the summer of 1997, Aaron Wolf and a Berber guide trekked up narrow mountain paths to a village high in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Despite the steep terrain, they walked lightly. A donkey carried their gear. As they moved toward snowcapped peaks, they crossed one dry, rocky ridge after another. It took four […]