Melissa Sevigny

Science & Technology Reporter

Melissa grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona and an M.FA. in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University. Her first book, Mythical River, forthcoming from the University of Iowa Press, is about water issues in the Southwest. She has worked as a science communicator for NASA’s Phoenix Mars Scout Mission, the Water Resources Research Center, and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Melissa relocated to Flagstaff in 2015 to join KNAU’s team. She enjoys hiking, fishing and reading fantasy novels.

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USDA Forest Service Active Fire Mapping Program

The U.S. Forest Service now has a better view of wildfires from space, thanks to a new agreement with NASA.

The agreement gives wildland fire managers access to data from a satellite imaging system called VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite). In the daytime, VIIRS can theoretically detect a flaming fire just 50 square meters—about the size of a small house. At night, VIIRS can detect a fire five times smaller. That’s an improvement on current technology, called MODIS, which routinely detects wildfires about 1,000 square meters in size.

Melissa Sevigny

Pronghorn antelope are native to the American West. But the landscape they roam is increasingly fraught with peril. Highways and railroad tracks block their movement and make it difficult for pronghorn to find food, water and mates. Even simple cattle fences act as barriers. Now, wildlife biologists and volunteers have created a program to help pronghorn cross those boundaries.  

Jeff Servoss/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Forest Service must reexamine a plan for allowing cattle to graze near Fossil Creek on the Coconino National Forest. A court has ruled the current plan jeopardizes habitat for the threatened Chiricahua leopard frog.

Melissa Sevigny

New research supports the long-held hypothesis that the Grand Canyon is as young as six million years. That’s what geologists originally believed before a different study claimed it was tens of millions of years older.

The study was conducted by geologists at Arizona State University. It compares the western Grand Canyon with the Grand Wash Cliffs. It found that the canyon is steeper than the cliffs, which suggests erosion started more recently.

Kevin Schindler

When NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto yesterday, KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny was patched into mission operations in Maryland. She was talking to some of the Flagstaff scientists who were there to celebrate the big event. It was a reunion for past and present planetary scientists of Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was discovered 85 years ago. 

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