RMBL in the News

With about 70 media mentions in 2023, RMBL attracted a lot of attention. Any summary (and apologies for paywalls) of RMBL media coverage in 2023 has to start with the National Geographic piece on the Phenology Project. Beautiful photographs and great writing, it captures the extent to which the RMBL Phenology Project, started by Dr. David Inouye, has become a critical part of the global conversation around climate change. Following this theme, NPR’s Science Friday interviewed David and what he and his colleagues are seeing in terms of the timing of annual flowering being disrupted by climate change.

Jumping from wildflowers to water, the Colorado River provides water for 40 million people across seven states. Improving our ability to predict and manage water resources is one of the most critical issues for the western US. Gunnison Country Times writer Bella Biondini did a nice piece on research by Dr. Jessica Lundquist (University of Washington) for the High Country News, which was then picked up in outlets across the country such as Wired.  Her research focused on working out the details of Colorado’s water budget, with a particular emphasis on sublimation, or the loss of snow to evaporation.

Multiple articles (e.g., NPR, LA Times, Vail Daily) captured how quickly technological change involving our ability to generate and process data is fundamentally transforming our understanding of the Earth. NPR covered how Dr. Jeff Deems (CU Boulder) is using plane-based laser technology to measure the water content of snowpack in the western US, transforming the ability of water managers to manage water resources, techniques which were calibrated in part through RMBL. In similar fashion, Dr. Ian Breckheimer released a map through RMBL’s Spatial Data Platform that combined satellite and historic data to predict when local trails would be snow-free in the spring, a tool that attracted a great deal of attention through social media and the Crested Butte News.

As always, RMBL’s charismatic marmots got their share of attention. The marmots were featured on the cover of Ecology, along with meerkats, with a research article on seasonality, population viability, and demography. The RMBL marmot project also contributed data to a Science paper on using epigenetics, or the processes by which genes are turned on and off, to age mammals. This research was also picked up by the New York Times.

Dr. Noah Whiteman (UC Berkeley) published a popular book, Most Delicious Poison: the Story of Nature’s Toxins from Spices to Vices, examining the role of plant and fungal secondary compounds to human drug use and disuse, with references to RMBL research. His interview on NPR’s Science Friday is worth listening to!

On the arts front, Mark Dorf’s art, rooted in RMBL research and inspired from time he spent in Gothic as an artist in residence, was featured in the New York Times Square. And how can we review RMBL media without a billy barr mention? The Elevation Hotel in Mt. Crested Butte named a bar after him at the base of the ski area, which attracted attention in the Denver Post! PBS also featured him as part of their Evolution Earth series.