Environment & Outdoors


This morning's 20 and 30 below zero wind chills did not, as we had theorized, turned Tom Kasper's attention to iceberg lettuce and snow peas.

Photo by Colleen Bowen

1959.  One of the best-selling cars in the US was the "fins and flash" Ford Fairlane.

Kids were rockin' 'round the clock to Bobby Darin, Frankie Avalon, the Platters, the Coasters ... and more than a few Northland teens had seen Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper at the Winter Dance Party  in January at the Duluth Armory.

Folks shopped at Kresge's or Oreck's Department Store or Glass Block downtown and brought home treats from the Danish Bakery on the west end.

Hawk Ridge draws hundreds of visitors every fall to watch the raptors migrating south.  But where do they end up?

Dave Anderson

Local meteorologist Dave Anderson weighs in on El Niño,  the possibilities of March blizzards and the Northland's possible weather comeuppance next winter.

©Hansi Johnson

There's a perfectly good, unassuming reason why ice climbers call one of their favorite climbing locations "Casket Quarry," but you still get the sense that they enjoy the sense of foreboding the name conveys.

John Goodge, UMD

The Rapid Access Ice Drill (or RAID) is on its way to Antarctica.

And when it's in place and online in about a year, well, there's no other way to put it: it will boldly go where no one has gone before.

Current technology allows ice core samples to be taken dating back about 750 million years.  John Goodge, the co-leader of the research and an Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor at UMD, says the RAID will allow million to million and a half year old samples to be taken -- and what they will discover will be a key part in understanding climate change.

Photo by Kurt Bauschardt (flickr)

Larry comments on our unseasonably warm December we've experienced (with no sub-zero temps reported by the NOAA!) in part due to the abundance of cloudy days so far this winter.  Tomorrow is perihelion, when the earth will be at its closest point to the sun in its annual revolution.

Alby Headrick

Tom tells us how to sustain poinsettias beyond the holiday weeks -- even year round.


If you can dream up a way to make the Iron Range a more sustainable place ... you can enter your idea in their Community Sustainability Initiative contest.  And if you win, you get to build it - and they will come!

Every year, on the last Backyard Almanac of December, Larry Weber makes a request that has nothing to do phenology or the natural world: he just wants to hear John McCutcheon's song, "Christmas in the Trenches."  So this year, we decided to make some additional information about the song - and the story behind it - clickable for other fans.

Doug Eastick/Flickr

It's probably no surprise that a hockey program here in Duluth is the last one in North America where the mite level practices exclusively outdoors.

In addition to being cheaper than renting indoor ice time, "pond hockey" is a whole, almost-forgotten culture.

It's that time of year again, and Gadget Guru Tom Kasper has his eye on a device that will measure the moisture AND the pH in your soil!

Larry Weber's renamed the season: "Desummber." 

D B Young/Flickr

Weather is what we experience day to day.  Climate is what sets up the conditions that result in the weather.  Climate change isn't linear ... but it is intensifying.

So what can individuals do?  Dr. Randy Hanson is the Co-Director of the Program in Environment and Sustainability, and he says we start by making some demands.

In addition to 350.org, Randy recommends:

Short Answers to Hard Questions about Climate Change

Photo by Jill Utrup

It's a tiny little butterfly; only about an inch wide.

So you may not have noticed that the Karner Blue Butterfly hasn't been seen in Minnesota in the last decade.