Energy and Environment | KUNR

Energy and Environment

News Brief 

New research published in the journal Ecology is the first to use GPS-tracking data to look into the effects of wildfire smoke on bird migrations. But researchers say the study was a lucky accident.

"It was really a stroke of luck, a lot of things had to happen, all at the right time, in order for us to see this," said Cory Overton, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and lead author of the paper.

A graphic illustration of President Joe Biden
Chelsea Beck / NPR

President Biden is speaking to reporters from the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow. Watch his remarks live.

Smoke is overhead a large lake with lots of pine trees in the foreground and mountains in the background.
Courtesy / University of Nevada, Reno ALERTWildfire program

With an increase in deadly wildfires, local researchers are collecting data from residents in order to study extreme weather events, such as fire-generated thunderstorms and tornadoes.

A mountain biker standing next to his bike in a grassy field. He is looking toward the horizon, which includes a cloudy sky and a setting sun behind trees.
Courtesy / Bureau of Land Management

Nevada celebrated its fifth annual public lands day over the weekend with events and free park admission, all designed to get more people outdoors. However, a new report in the journal Global Environmental Change estimates that as the planet warms up due to climate change, demand for outdoor recreation on public lands could go down.

Six satellite images of Pyramid Lake are compiled to show the progression of an algal bloom, which changes the color of the water. The blue lake is surrounded by brown desert hills.
Courtesy / NOAA

Two separate times over the summer, the City of Reno in Nevada warned residents to avoid contact with local lakes and ponds where the explosive growth of cyanobacteria – also known as blue-green algae – had choked the water with green slime and released dangerous toxins.

A plane is flying over part of the Richard Spring Fire while dropping retardant. The sky is filled with smoke, casting a sepia tone over the image. There are several small structures surrounded by trees toward the bottom of the composition.
Courtesy of Phil Millett / InciWeb

A new report on wildfire risk uses demographic data to highlight counties around the West that may be especially vulnerable.

A woman crouching down in the middle of a river and collecting samples.
Joanna Blaszczak / University of Nevada, Reno Freshwater Ecology & Biogeochemistry Department

The EPA has reported several dog and livestock deaths due to toxic algae blooms found in riverbeds. A researcher from UNR is examining what conditions cause these blooms.

An image of a sunset in the wilderness near Elko
Courtesy / Bureau of Land Management

Elko could reach a new record if the area reaches 100 degrees again today.

Clair Ketchum is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Elko. He said after Tuesday's high of 100, the area saw eight consecutive days of 100 degrees or hotter.

An image of a person holding up a tube filled with pink snow
Rachel Mallon / Living Snow Project

As summer quickly approaches, snow is melting on the mountaintops. This time of year, some of that snow won’t be the pristine white color you think of. It turns out that in the spring and summer, snow often turns pink or even red thanks to microalgae that have been adapted to live in it, partly as a response to climate change.

A large pile of trash in the desert outside of North Las Vegas.
Nathaniel Holmes / BLM

It’s easy to throw away everyday household waste, but what happens when broken appliances, old furniture or even hazardous waste need to be removed?

We often hear about efforts to support and conserve rare species, like the spotted owl or Joshua trees. But new findings argue that some very ordinary plants and animals deserve our attention, too.

An image of Lake Mead dried up.
James Marvin Phelps / CC BY-NC 2.0

The entire state of Nevada is under some level of drought. Wildfire season is already underway and the Sierra just experienced the second consecutive dry winter.

In honor of Earth Day, Nevada Climatologist Steph McAfee shares the state of Nevada’s climate and where things are headed in this interview with KUNR's Morning Edition Host Noah Glick.

A tornado swirling inside of a wildfire.
Courtesy of Tasha Farrell

Last year, wildfires destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres, displaced hundreds of people and caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage. So, what can we expect this year?

A close up of a wheat plant in a field of crops.
Scott Butner / Flickr Creative Commons

Heat waves induced by climate change will threaten future agricultural crops at a faster rate than gradual global warming, according to a new study published in the Journal of the European Economic Association. Steve Miller, a UC Boulder assistant professor of environmental studies, was a lead researcher in the study.

A grove of pinyon-juniper trees with a mountain range in the background.
Wikimedia Commons

Pinyon-juniper woodlands stretch across much of the high desert in the American West. While quiet on the outside, this forest is at the heart of contentious debate between environmentalists, tribes and the federal government.

While these woodlands cover millions of desert acres, they are still among the least studied forest types in North America, according to the National Park Service.

Dry and cracked soil covering a large span of sparingly bushed landscape.

Nevada had its driest year on record in 2020, according to the National Center for Environmental Information, and recent trends point to it continuing to get drier. Currently, all of Nevada is in drought, with over 72% of the state’s land experiencing “extreme drought conditions,” according to Desert Research Institute Assistant Research Professor and Climatologist Dan McEvoy says our conditions in the summer months are dependent on the precipitation our area gets in the winter.

A new report could help you analyze wildfire risks to homes in your state, county or community.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has created its first committee to research the financial risks posed by climate change.


On Wednesday, President Joe Biden ordered a temporary suspension of new leasing and permitting for oil and gas development on public lands. But the order will not apply to tribal lands.

A landscape with mountain peaks made of volcanic rock and dirt in the foreground. Snowcapped mountains line the background.
Noah Glick

The Sony Handycam, of all things, foretold what may soon be a massive mine on public lands in Nevada.

In the early 1990s, the camcorder became the first product to use lithium-ion batteries commercially. Since then, the technology has been used to power our laptops, smartphones, and now electric vehicles and homes.