This year, the U.S. is on track to have the most acres burned in wildfires ever.     Photo: NPS Climate Change Response / Flickr

U.S. Is on Track for Worst Fire Season Ever

More than 8 million acres burned

U.S. wildfires have burned 8,202,557 acres this year, the National Interagency Fire Center posted Wednesday. The number is greater than any other year in recorded history as of September 1, the Washington Post reports

In 2006, the worst wildfire year to date, a total of 9,873,745 acres were burned. But only 7,663,928 had been consumed by September 1, more than 500,000 fewer than this year. 

A major contributing factor to the total acres consumed this year was a series of large fires in Alaska that have burned more than 5 million acres already, according to The Washington Post. Washington state has also been battling fires, with over 900,000 acres consumed in 16 currently burning fires. 

“While nobody around here really likes to make bets with where we’ll end up with fire season, there’s certainly the potential to hit that record mark,” Jennifer Jones, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service, told The Washington Post.

There are currently 56 reported large (upwards of 100 acres) fires across the country, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, and the national wildfire preparedness level has been at its highest—level 5—since August 13. For the first time ever, more than 50 percent of the Forest Service’s budget will be used fighting fires.


Farmer Derek Klingenberg

Farmer Derek Klingenberg snags a bluegill with his DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter.     Photo: Farmer Derek Klingenberg / YouTube

WATCH: Drone Catches Fish

Via farmer in Kansas

On Monday, Derek Klingenberg—a farmer in Kansas, according to Popular Mechanics—pulled a bluegill out of his pond by baiting a fishing line attached to a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter, Popular Science reported. Klingenberg told Popular Science that he used a fake worm as bait, and it took about 10 minutes of drone fishing to catch the fish. 

David Darg was the first recorded person to catch a fish with a drone in August 2013, according to Popular Mechanics.

Farmer Derek Klingenberg, as he is known on YouTube, has made multiple videos that went viral. His video “Serenading the cattle with my trombone (Lorde – Royals)” has over nine million views, and his What Does The Fox Say?” parody has over six million.

Watch Farmer Klingenberg catch a fish with his drone: 


World Trade Center BASE Jumper Sentenced

Three men BASE jumped from the One World Trade Center in September 2013. Six months later they were arrested.     Photo: Jmabel / Wikimedia

World Trade Center BASE Jumper Sentenced

Receives 300 hours community service

On Monday, BASE jumper Marko Markovich was sentenced in Manhattan Supreme Court to 300 hours of community service for parachuting from the top of One World Trade Center, according to the New York Daily News. Markovich was one of three men who snuck onto the roof of the not-yet-completed skyscraper in September 2013 and jumped off. Markovich, James Brady, and Andrew Rossig penetrated the construction site without encountering a single police officer or security guard. They were arrested in February 2014, before releasing a video of their jump on YouTube.

In April 2014, a grand jury indicted the group with charges for second-degree reckless endangerment and reckless endangerment of property, a violation of a New York City law that bans BASE jumping, and a felony charge for third-degree burglary, carrying a possible seven-year prison sentence.

The felony charge was dropped last June. Brady was sentenced 250 hours of community service, and Rossig got 200 hours, the New York Daily News reported. A judge sentenced Markovich to 300 hours, calling his courtroom apology convenient and insincere. (Markovich sold T-shirts advertising the jump to raise money for his legal fees and posted derogatory comments about the police investigation on social media.)

“I don’t believe your client has shown remorse, and I believe that his actions, his words, and his conduct certainly do not help deter and have not helped deter similar future behavior,” Judge Juan Merchan told Markovich’s lawyer on Monday, according to the New York Daily News. “Of the three defendants, none have shown more contempt for the process than your client.”


USGS Announces New Height for Denali

“No place draws more public attention to its exact elevation than the highest peak of a continent," Suzette Kimball, U.S. Geological Survey acting director, said in the announcement.     Photo: Nic McPhee / Flickr

USGS Announces New Height for Denali

10 feet shorter than previously thought

Denali is officially 20,310 feet, ten feet shorter than previously thought, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced Wednesday in a press release. The news came three days after President Obama announced that he would officially change the name of North America’s tallest mountain from Mount McKinley to Denali. 

The previously accepted elevation of 20,320 feet was based on a survey Bradford Washburn completed in 1953, using photogrammetry, which relied on aerial photography to determine the mountain’s height. (GPS wasn’t available at the time.)

To determine the correct height, researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and survey company CompassData used GPS devices—carried by climbers—to measure the elevation at the mountain’s peak. The project, Denali Summit Survey, was funded by government agencies, including the USGS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

“No place draws more public attention to its exact elevation than the highest peak of a continent. It is inspiring to think we can measure this magnificent peak with such accuracy," Suzette Kimball, USGS acting director, said in the release. "This is a feeling everyone can share, whether you happen to be an armchair explorer or an experienced mountain climber.”