Climate

Sunny Forecast for Solar Power
April 13, 2012 07:16 AM - Editor, Sierra Club Green Home

The American solar industry more than doubled in megawatts last year, from 887 megawatts installed in 2010 to 1,855 megawatts installed in 2011. This growth represents enough solar energy to power over 350,000 homes! 2011 also marks the first time the U.S. solar market has topped one gigawatt (1,000 MW) in a single year. Many factors contributed to this growth. The cost of installing solar panels fell 20 percent last year due to lower component costs and improved installation efficiency. Expanded financing options and a shift toward larger systems nationwide also made solar more affordable. In addition the 1603 Treasury Program, which offered rebates for businesses that installed solar panels, ended Dec. 31, 2011. This looming deadline drove developers to commission projects before the end of the year.

Climate Change Effects on Long-Term Plant Growth in Arizona
April 12, 2012 09:58 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Climate change around the world is not predicted to be uniform. Most places will get warmer, some will get more rain and others will get less. For areas of Arizona, warmer temperatures are expected to provide a boost in plant growth caused by a longer growing season and more carbon dioxide in the air. However, a new study from Northern Arizona University suggests the contrary. Warming temperatures will cause an initial boost in plant growth, but will quickly diminish over the years. This may lead to significant deterioration in future plant growth.

Balmy Weather Brought out the Bugs, but Was the Frost That Followed a Factor?
April 11, 2012 08:48 AM - Editor, Science Daily

While many enjoyed a mild winter and an early spring with record-breaking temperatures, the warm weather also prompted many bugs to show up earlier than usual. The question is, will bug populations be larger this summer?

The Oceans Perpetual Motion
April 10, 2012 03:45 PM - Editor, ENN

The ocean is not a placid body of water. It is a swirling convoluted mess of current flows due to temperature differentials and winds. The swirling flows of Earth's perpetually changing ocean come to life in a new NASA scientific visualization that captures the movement of tens of thousands of ocean currents. The high-definition visualization is available in 3-minute and 20-minute versions at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?3827 .

Droughts are Killers: Which Plants Will Survive?
April 10, 2012 03:11 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

No water equals dead plant. Yet some are harder to kill than others. New research by UCLA life scientists could lead to predictions of which plant species will escape extinction from climate change. Droughts are worsening around the world, posing a great challenge to plants in all ecosystems, said Lawren Sack, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and senior author of the research. Scientists have debated for more than a century how to predict which species are most vulnerable and, of course, what to do about it.

It's Official: March was Warmest Ever in United States
April 10, 2012 09:16 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has maintained records of weather and climate since 1895. According to these records, the month of March, 2012 has set a new record as the warmest March ever for the contiguous United States. Across the nation, 15,000 local warm temperature records were broken. The average temperature was 51.1 degrees F, which is 8.6 degrees higher than the average 20th century March temperature. It is 0.5 degrees higher than the previous warmest March in 1910. The record high March also pushed the average temperature for the first quarter (January-March) to a new record high.

Melting Glaciers are Causing the Matterhorn to Come Apart
April 9, 2012 09:13 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The Matterhorn is the iconic peak of the Alpine mountains on the border of Switzerland and Italy. Its majestic spire soars over 14,600 feet in the air, making it quite a sight to behold. The glaciers at the top of the mountain have been receding due to the changing climate, causing an increase in glacial melt water. According to a new study, the melting glaciers are causing large chunks of rock to be dislodged and tumble down the mountain. The deluge of water is penetrating cracks and fissures high up the mountain. The yearly freeze-thaw cycle causes these fissures to expand until entire boulders come loose of the Matterhorn and fall down its rocky slopes.

Plug-in Electric Cars had better early adoption rate than hybrids
April 9, 2012 07:10 AM - John Gartner, Matter Network, Clean Techies

The failure to reach the sales targets for the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf has led to considerable finger pointing about so-far disappointing attempts to mass market plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). PEVs have increasingly become fodder for politics as every misstep reinforces what opponents call their inevitable failure. But the real problem was in the original lofty expectations for PEV penetration by both the auto makers and the government, which were unreachable given the cost of the vehicles. As we've said all long, the government's projection of 1 million PEVs on US roads by 2015 was too aggressive given the short timeframe to get new vehicles to market and the nascent state of the technology .

In Dubai, Camels may work to control Mangrove trees
April 8, 2012 02:07 PM - Tafline Laylin, Green Prophet

Too many mangroves is not a good thing – at least not at the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai, where they were introduced in 1990. So an ecologist at Dubai’s Wildlife Protection office has proposed using camels to trim back the excess canopies that have buried wader feeding areas. Kevin Hyland told The National that camels used to have access to the sanctuary before it was fenced off in 2002, and that reintroducing them would help restore the site’s sensitive ecology without disrupting bird life. Hyland emphasizes that the camels would be introduced as part of a careful management program, and that they will not be left to run amok. "The key phrase in the whole proposal is 'managed camel grazing,'" the ecologist told the paper. "It's not, 'let's just chuck in 100 camels, because we don't want to destroy the mangrove canopy."

Spring has Sprung, it's getting warmer
April 8, 2012 07:27 AM - NPR

Across the country, more than 7,700 daily temperature records were broken last month, on the heels of the fourth warmest winter on record. While it might be time to lie on a blanket in the park, climate scientists are worried. They say all these sunny days are actually an extreme weather event, one with local and global implications. In Iowa, March was so hot — a record-breaking 84 degrees — that some crops there, like oats, are now running way ahead of schedule.

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