Stories by Andrew Freedman

Alaska is entering a new climate frontier

Reproduced from NOAA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Alaska's recent heat wave has been grabbing headlines, and rightly so: The state has been hotter than parts of the contiguous U.S. during June and July.

Driving the news: Anchorage hit 90°F for the first time ever, and the heat plus summer thunderstorms have triggered massive wildfires across the state. An area greater than Rhode Island has burned in just the past 11 days.

Study: Fish and humans sleep in similar ways

Neural activity in a zebrafish transitioning from waking to sleeping. Credit: Leung et. al. Nature 2019.

Most animals sleep, but scientists still lack a complete understanding of why, the biological factors that regulate sleep cycles and how the behavior evolved.

Driving the news: A new study in Nature on tiny zebrafish finds how humans sleep today may have first evolved in vertebrates more than 430 million years ago.

Developing hurricane threatens New Orleans levees

Computer model simulation of water vapor and winds in developing Hurricane Barry
Computer model simulation of water vapor and winds in developing Hurricane Barry on July 12. Credit: Earth Simulator

A developing storm in the north-central Gulf of Mexico, which is expected to become a hurricane by Saturday, threatens to unleash one of the worst flood events in New Orleans' history this weekend.

The big picture: Because the storm, to be named Barry, is lumbering off the coast, it's pulling copious amounts of moisture from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and is poised to direct it like a firehose at Louisiana and Mississippi. The Mississippi River is already so high in the New Orleans area that heavy rain plus a storm surge could overtop the cities' river levees for the first time, flooding large parts of the city.