From Wikipedia, "The biosphere is the global sum of all ecosystems."

Winter 2015 has had its share of days with below freezing temperatures, ice, snow, and freezing rain.  But some of the moments in the early morning sun show the beauty of this season.  This photo was taken on the historic Davis Estate along Rocky Run in Media, PA.

Winter scene at a stream

This Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) tree is part of the historic tree collection at Tyler Arboretum in Media, PA.  The tree is part of the Painter Tree Collection and planted some time between 1830 and 1873 by Jacob and Minshall Painter.  The fence was recently constructed around the base to prevent visitors from walking on the shallow root system of the tree, in hopes that minimal human interactions will increase the longevity of this plant specimen.

Tyler Arboretum's Cedar of Lebanon

Citizen science projects present opportunities for students to engage in authentic science projects that have them learn about and engage with their local environment, then share their findings with a larger population.  One example of a citizen science project is the Picture Post project, which uses digital photography for environmental monitoring.  Learn more about this project at the Picture Post website and how you can set up a post at your own school.  You can also check out how students at Penn State Brandywine have brought the Picture Post project to their campus at their website:

The Picture Post citizen science project - a way to engage students

A view across the Monongahela River of exposed rock and soil on the slope of Mt. Washington.  Also visible are tracks for the incline, a mass-transit mode for the mountains.

Pittsburgh's Mt. Washington

Signs of recovery on a once-defoliated mountainside in Palmerton, Carbon County, near the site of the New Jersey Zinc operation.  For more information, visit the EPA's Palmerton Zinc website.

Rehabilitating Mountainside in Palmerton

If you viewed the 3-part PBS series on Your Inner Fish, then you have already been introduced to the tetrapod that captures the transition of life moving from water on to land.  This fossil specimen, classified as the Tiktaalik roseae, is temporarily housed at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA.  To learn more about the Tiktaalik roseae, visit our online collection of resources relating to the book and mini-series. 

Tiktaalik roseae, from Your Inner Fish

The Pennsylvania Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation has over 150 nurseries that are working to restore the American Chestnut tree to the forests and woodlands of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic states.  The American Chestnut was once the dominant tree in our forests before it was erradicated by a fungus.  In fact, many Pennsylvania forests consisted of 25% American Chestnut.  The PA-TACF has its headquarters in State College, PA, and is working to develop a blight-resistant American chestnut tree via scientific research and breeding, and looks to restore the tree to its native forests along the eastern United States.  Pictured here is one of the three nurseries on the Penn State University Park campus.


American Chestnut Foundation Nursery

The winter storms in February 2014 were especially strong in southeast Pennsylvania.  This downed tree, cut in to sections, clearly reveals the internal tree rings.

Tree Rings Exposed

Winter 2014 is a season we won't forget very soon in Pennsylvania.  Southeastern Pennsylvania was hit especially hard, with periods of melting creating some impressive icicles, such as those seen here hanging from the room of Lachford Hall at Tyler Arboretum in Media, PA.

Icicles - representing the cryosphere in southeastern PA

The month of February is maple sugaring time, and Tyler Arboretum in Media, PA, has this sugar maple tree (Acer saccharum) tapped and ready to collect the sap to make their own maple syrup.

Maple Sugaring at Tyler Arboretum