Thursday, July 28, 2011

New EPA Standards Could Impact Omaha

(NET RADIO) - Editor's note: This Signature Story is part of the NET News QUEST Nebraska project, a multimedia series exploring Nebraska science, environment and nature.


It's a common summer scene.

Vehicle traffic in most places, including the Omaha metro area picks up when the temperature rises. Vacations, more daylight and other factors put more people on the road. With or without the traffic, summer heat is sometimes described as stifling. There might be some truth to that. As traffic planner with the
Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA), Sloan Dawson says something happens when mixing heat and traffic emissions.



Friday, July 22, 2011

Sandhills Hidden Water

Join renowned nature photographer Mike Forsberg as he documents diverse waterfowl and wildlife across the Great Plains. In Nebraska's Sandhills, Mike visits with University of Nebraska hydrogeologist Jim Goeke to examine how the hidden waters of the Ogallala Aquifer keep Blue Creek open during the winter months -- a haven for geese and trumpeter swans.

Click here to download the Educator Guide that accompanies this story.


Algae for Fuel

With growing pressure on the world's gas supply, University of Nebraska biologist George Oyler is working with researchers in California and New Mexico on a fuel alternative -- algae for fuel. Microscopic algae is grown in labs, then cultivated like a farm crop in ponds in New Mexico to turn the oil within aquatic algae into "green crude" -- which can be refined just like crude oil into gas for cars, trucks, and planes.

Saving the Tiger Beetle

Did you know that Nebraska has one of the rarest endangered species? It's called the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle. Only 200-500 beetles remain in a salt creek in Lincoln. Now, the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo is teaming up with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nebraska Game and Parks, and the Lincoln Children's Zoo to rescue, breed, and release a new beetle population to Save the Tiger Beetle.

Click here to download the Educator Guide that accompanies this story.


Click "Read more" to see how close the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle's habitat is to Nebraska's capital.

Pig Poop Power

Farm animals are generating power in rural Dodge, Nebraska. Hog farmer Danny Kluthe is using the poop from his 7,500 pigs to convert hog waste into methane that creates electricity for Kluthe's home... and nearly 40 other homes. Kluthe's success is due to a device called a methane digester.

Click here to download the Educator Guide that accompanies this story.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

QUEST Nebraska Premieres

Watch the first episode of NET's new science media project QUEST Nebraska.

This program visits a unique eco-system in the Nebraska Sandhills with wildlife photographer Michael Forsberg; a Nebraska farm where pig manure produces methane gas that generates electricity; scientists in Nebraska and other states who turn algaue into highly valued petroleum; and examines how Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo is helping save endangered Salt Creek Tiger Beetles.


Salt Creek Tiger Beetle Recovery Project

(NET RADIO) - Editor's note: This Signature Story is part of the NET News QUEST Nebraska project, a multimedia series exploring Nebraska science, environment and nature.


Click here for the Educator Guide that accompanies this story.

It has the feel of a round-up on the ranch. Armed with a butterfly net and keen pairs of eyes, a group of scientists from federal and state agencies and the Omaha and Lincoln zoos are on the hunt for one of the world's most endangered species.

"Get him?" one asks.

"No, I got a fly," another responds.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bioplastics

(NET RADIO) - Editor's note: This Signature Story is part of the NET News QUEST Nebraska project, a multimedia series exploring Nebraska science, environment and nature.


Click here to download the Educator Guide that accompanies this story.

Recently, companies like
Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Heinz ketchup have determined that plastic made from plants, not oil, makes sense both for the environment and for business. The growing demand has meant a boom in the bioplastic industry and could mean changes to the plastic bottle as we know it. Grant Gerlock looked into that for this NET News Signature Story and for Quest, a series on science and the environment, and found Nebraska is at the front of the pack on bioplastic.

In a cornfield west of Lincoln, Nebraska, dark green stalks rise chest-high from the soil and wind around the hill in perfect rows. Sunlight flashes on the leaves as they scrape against each other in a gust of wind. The field will produce thousands of bushels of corn to be used in products ranging from cattle feed and corn syrup to ethanol and even plastic.