ELi on Earth

Bicyclists Concerned about Rapid Transit Plan

Monday, March 14, 2016

Bicycle advocates in East Lansing are concerned that CATA’s plan for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) does not include more and better provisions for bicycle use in the downtown East Lansing/Grand River Avenue corridor. But City Planning staff told Council last week that CATA it is doing what it can while being hampered by space and funding limitations.

Eli on Earth: How does EL's recycling get sorted, and what can go in my cart?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Do you place bottles, cans or other recyclables in plastic bags before disposing them in your single-stream curbside recycling container? If so, it is likely that your recyclables are not actually getting recycled at all.

Curbside recycling materials picked up in East Lansing are combined with City of Lansing recycling items and hauled to ReCommunity’s Material Recover Facility in Ann Arbor. ReCommunity sorts the materials using a wide variety of manual and mechanical methods including vibrating screens, gusts of air, magnets and optical sorting.

You Think It's Cold Now?

Monday, February 1, 2016

The geography of East Lansing all comes back to a big old glacier known as the Laurentide Ice Sheet.

Local Weather Ruins Another Astronomy-Viewing Opportunity, But There’s Hope

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Above: The cloud cover in East Lansing this morning.

“Cement sky” is the term used by regular ELi on Earth reporter Aron Sousa for what we’ve got overhead right now. It’s the kind of sky that makes East Lansing’s amateur astronomers like Sousa unhappy. But these night-watchers are holding out hope that the cloud cover may yet clear and they may yet get to see the unusual delight of five planets all lit up together in our early morning sky.

Where do they Go and when do they plan on coming back? The mystery of bird migration

Monday, January 25, 2016

Great blue-heron spotted in Everglades National Park. Populations in Michigan are migratory and travel to the Caribbean, Central America, and northern South America. Photo credit: Paige Filice

Michiganders know a thing or two about migrating south. In fact 7% of Florida’s seasonal population are Michigan residents, according to a 2004 study conducted by the University of Florida.

Balancing Road Safety and Environmental Stewardship

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The photo above shows our City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) snow and ice team—the people who clear and salt our roads when winter storms turn them dangerous. As Ron Lacasse, DPW’s Infrastructure Administrator explains, “the staff in this picture includes all areas of DPW related to the effort, including staff that plows parking lots and sidewalks as well as mechanics who keep everything serviced and repaired during a storm event. All are important pieces of the puzzle that keeps us successful.”

Hibernation Versus Torpor: A Quandary for East Lansing Animals

Monday, January 11, 2016

Above: An East Lansing squirrel who will not engage in hibernation or torpor but who has recently chubbed-up for winter.

In the last couple of weeks, it has turned cold in East Lansing. For some animals, that means poofing out their coats like a squirrel and toughing it out, but some animals in East Lansing just go into a torpor.

ELi on Earth: Winter Solstice

Monday, December 21, 2015

Image of the Newgrange passageway on the winter solstice, courtesy World Heritage Ireland

Winter solstice comes to East Lansing this year at 11:49 p.m. tonight, Monday, December 21. At that time, the earth’s tilt away from the sun (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) will be at its maximum. From that moment until the summer solstice in June, the Northern Hemisphere will tilt more and more toward the sun.

Eli on Earth: Where Do Michigan Reptiles and Amphibians Go in the Winter?

Monday, November 30, 2015

The American Bullfrog, a common frog species found throughout Michigan

Winter is slowly creeping across Michigan and inevitably ice will cover most bodies of water, creating a winter wonderland without reptiles and amphibians. But where do they all go? Do they hibernate? Freeze? Relax? Well, surprisingly, it is a little bit of everything for Michigan’s common cold-blooded animals.

Talking East Lansing Turkey

Monday, November 23, 2015

The fleshy bit hanging over the bill of this tom is called a snood. The fleshy bit hanging below the chin is a wattle. Image courtesy MSU Extension.

A drive into the countryside around East Lansing will take you into turkey habitat. The domestic or wild turkey is native to the East Lansing area, and turkeys have been in North America for more than 20 million years. Relatives of the turkey go back to the dinosaurs, about 85 million years ago in the late Cretaceous period.

ELi on Earth: When EL Ginkos Lose Their Leaves

Monday, November 2, 2015

Editor's note: This article originally ran last fall in a slighly different form.

The day after East Lansing gets a killing frost, residents will likely be treated to a rain of leaves from all the local ginko trees. Most types of trees lose their leaves over the course of several weeks, but ginko trees usually lose their leaves in a day following a hard frost. Below we provide a video taken last year during East Lansing's ginko-leaf rain.

ELi on Earth: Why the Leaves Change Colors

Monday, October 26, 2015

It is impossible to look outside and not be mesmerized by the dazzling orange, blazing red, and glittering yellow leaves covering the trees and falling from the sky this time of year. It is a magical time to play outside, and the opportunity to enjoy it is not long lasting.

Ever wonder why leaves change color in the fall? It’s fairly simple, but first you must understand the basics of photosynthesis. Trees absorb water through their roots and carbon dioxide from the air. Simply put, plants use the energy from the sun to convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and glucose.

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