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Image for 02/07/2010

Play now 28 mins


28 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 02 July 2010

As Hurricane Alex hits the Gulf of Mexico and holds up the clean up operation of the BP oil spill and with storm force winds, concerns about where the slick will go are foremost in the minds of people living in the region. Since the oil spill started, in April, the big question has been 'where will it go'? The ocean currents in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic have the potential to spread it for hundreds of miles. But how do you track it? One idea from researchers at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in the US is to use high resolution models to study global ocean currents and eddies – small circular currents. They do that by simulating what would happen if they release a coloured dye, rather than oil, into the water – watching it swirl and spread.

The phrase 'New York City wildlife' may conjure up images of the more exotic aspects of US urban living; but natural wildlife – that is wild animals and birds – are becoming a growing part of New York’s population. Living alongside millions of people, you can now find increasing numbers of raccoons, geese, skunks and deer. Now, some ecologists are warning that their growing numbers will lead to increasing conflict between New Yorkers – human and animal.

Great swathes of pine forest in the Rocky Mountain States in the US are being killed by an outbreak of tiny beetles – the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation has reached epidemic proportions. Scientists with the US Forest Service, think the beetles are causing so much damage for a number of reasons - most of the trees are the same age – the ideal age for an infestation; droughts have stressed the forest and a lack of cold winters has meant no annual kill-off of the beetle larvae.

International FameLab isn't a competition to find a new global popstar, but a competition to help change our perceptions of scientists and science. The 2010 event took place at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK, and Science in Action was there to catch up on the new kids on the block.

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