Three professors say canyon grand

By Michael Simpson - Staff Reporter

Three Highline professors say they want to present climate change and geology in a tangible sense.

Woody Moses, Russ Higley and Dr. Eric Baer took a rafting trip down 280 miles of the Grand Canyon last summer and found evidence of ancient civilizations and extinct species that changed their perception of the world.

Science Seminar is a weekly series of presentations by faculty, staff and experts on science, technology, medicine, mathematics, health and topics that are relevant to current events.

The Grand Canyon is a 10-mile wide and mile-deep canyon carved through more than 200 miles of northwest Arizona over millions of years.  

It's is the major source of water for the southwest, receiving less than 10 percent of the amount of water received by the Columbia River, Moses said.  

Ancestral Puebloans relied on its waters for 12,000 years and left because of a 300 year drought, Moses said.

"Folks were sort of on the edge as it was," he said.

Moses saw evidence of their civilization through building foundations and pottery.

Currently, the reason the river can sustain life is because of dams such as the Hoover Dam, Moses said.

Rus Higley warned the audience of the consequences of water loss due to climate change.

Due to a drought in the summer of 2015, Washington citizens were asked to cut water consumption by 10 percent, Higley said.

Longstanding drought conditions in Washington would create devastating impacts on agriculture, drinking water, wildlife populations and risk for wildfires.

The dams of the Colorado River, while benefiting populations that depend on it, also harms the natural variability of the area, Higley said.

These include natural factors, such as floods, that cause the environment to change over time.

Dams don't flood, resulting in loss of fine sediment, fish and wildlife.

As a result, dams have begun to practice trial fake floods in attempts to restore the river canyon.

Dr. Eric Baer said he was awestruck by the geology of the Grand Canyon.

He saw mud-cracks from hundreds of millions of years ago, preserved sand dunes and fossils of squid and worm burrows.

"You go through time," Dr. Baer said.

In the next Science Seminar, Highline's Dr. Savio Pham will discuss the data science of shopping.

It will be on Dec. 2 at 1:30 p.m. in Building 3, room 102.  

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