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USGS science picks
Date:12/28/2009

N Environment Programme. For more on nitrogen impacts, Jill Baron's work, or information about the side event, contact Jill Baron at jill_baron@usgs.gov or (970) 491-1968.


STORY SEEDS: (points to ponder or investigate)

Snowpack a Predictor of Lightning Ignitions and Flammability

Did you know that snow could be a predictor of forest fires? Scientists from the University of Washington and USGS found that a projected decrease in spring snowpack is correlated with an increase in number and size of fires that are started by lightning. Less snow also increases the severity of the burn. Depending on conditions, lightning strikes can cause fires that burn large areas. Many climate change scenarios predict decreases in the snowpack in areas like Yosemite, where this study was conducted, making conditions more suited for fires started by lightning. In a new report published in the International Journal of Wildland Fire, these scientists project nearly 20 percent more lightning ignitions and more than 20 percent more area burned at high severity annually by mid-century. For more information, contact Jan van Wagtendonk at jan_van_wagtendonk@usgs.gov or (209) 379-1306.

Red Alert! Valuable Mineral found in Alaska

The chemical that produces red color in television monitors and LED used for energy-efficient light bulbs has been discovered in the Taylor Mountains quadrangle of Alaska. Europium has been found by USGS scientists in dark, pellet-like grains of the mineral monazite along with other metals of commercial interest such as gold, collected from Taylor Mountain area streams. Currently, the U.S. europium supply is scarce and limited to ore found in California and imported from China. A report of the findings is available in the December 2009 edition of Explore, the Association of Applied Geochemists newsletter. For
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Contact: Kara Capelli
kcapelli@usgs.gov
703-648-5086
United States Geological Survey
Source:Eurekalert

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