Travis King, a Ph.D. student and researcher in the School of the Environment at Washington State University, is back home after the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak forced him to shelter in Honduras.
“From getting to the airport in Honduras to getting out of the airport in Spokane was about 30 hours,” King explained.
King has spent the last four years living in Central America studying big cats and large mammals. When the coronavirus forced him to evacuate back to the states, he had to go through a long process before departing the country.
It wasn’t until Thursday when a commercial flight through United finally got him in the air and brought him to Houston before catching a later flight to Spokane.
With all of his traveling, he’s decided to self isolate for the next 14 days as he adjusts to being back home.
He’s unsure when he’ll be able to go back to Honduras for his research. In the meantime, he’ll focus on logistics with his network that’s still in the country.
Sinkholes can be scary to think about. They don’t happen too often, but when they do, they can take people by surprise. The solid ground disappears, and a hole suddenly appears.
It might seem like sinkholes appear out of nowhere. But they actually need specific conditions to form.
To have a sinkhole, you first must have a cave.
“You can think of a sinkhole as the end of the life cycle of a cave,” Kurtis Wilkie, senior instructor of Geology at Washington State University, explained. He is very interested in how Earth’s features form over long periods of time.
Wilkie said caves often occur in rock called limestone. Limestone is made mostly of calcium carbonate (the same substance that makes up seashells!).
“We’re talking not just thousands of years, maybe millions of years. It’s not as if you start the process now and then 10 years or 100 years from now you have a cave. It takes a very long time,” Wilkie said.
Here and across much of the Eastern United States, dozens of cities experienced a “meteorological winter” — the three months from December through February — that ranked among their 10 warmest on record.
Deepti Singh, a climate scientist in the School of the Environment at Washington State University Vancouver, said the Arctic Oscillation has been in an unusually strong positive phase this winter, which has resulted in a strong polar vortex that’s kept Arctic air trapped up north.
That’s a contrast to some recent winters, when a weaker polar vortex has allowed frigid air to descend, resulting in extremely cold days and strong snowstorms across portions of the United States, she said.
Even when there are cold air outbreaks associated with a weak polar vortex, the cold air coming from the Arctic regions over the Eastern U.S. is warmer than it was a couple of decades ago, Singh said.
Overall, with climate change, she said, spring is generally coming sooner, colder seasons are warming faster “and we are getting fewer extreme cold events.”