Chevrolet's Carbon Initiative Program, Part Two
November 16, 2011 04:05 PM - R Greenway, ENN

In the U.S., the best wind resources are in the Northern Plains – but it’s virtually impossible for a single individual to build a multi-million dollar turbine. But if a group of individuals come together, they can work with an enterprising electric company to create a community- supported wind farm. As part of its Carbon Initiative Program, Chevrolet is supporting the Crow Lake Wind Project, a 108 turbine, 162 MW wind project owned by the Basin Electric Cooperative, a public power entity serving rural cooperative power customers principally in the north central plains states. The project was built utilizing a first-of-its-kind community wind investment partnership. In addition, this is the largest project currently operational in South Dakota. The first 100 turbines, owned by Basin Electric Cooperative, enabled the two smaller projects to be developed. Seven turbines are owned by a group of around one hundred local community investors (farmers, ranchers, local businesses). The last turbine is owned by the Mitchell Technical Institute, a school providing vocational education to local students – including training in construction, operations and maintenance of wind farms. Fully operational since February 2011, the Crow Lake Wind Project introduces wind energy into a system heavily dependent on conventional coal combustion, diversifying the resource base. It also supplies and supports rural consumer-owned electric cooperatives and creates community jobs in construction and operations.

A LEAFâ„¢ That Does More Than Float
November 15, 2011 04:17 PM - Kathleen Neil, Contributing Editor, ENN

Once you see a Leaf coming at you, you know it. After it passes by, you look for it in the rear view mirror and it's gone. The 2012 Nissan LEAF™ is peppy and cute. No other words express quite how it differs from other electric vehicles being offered by major car manufacturers. It is cute; it has neat 16-inch alloy wheels and a superb sound system. It will take you where you want to go, so long as it's not more than 100 miles (without a charge), and you can top up at any of the charging stations you find using the LEAF™'s smart on-board display. My recent drive of the Nissan LEAF™ at the Snow Jam event in San Diego on November 11, 2011 took me along the quiet streets of Del Mar, California. The LEAF™ is responsive, with nice acceleration, handling and turn radius. It was overcast and chilly outside and when I went to turn on the head lights I was surprised to find the switch right there at the end of the turn signal. The dash display didn’t offer clear visibility for all of the dials and gauges, but with the extra digital speed display placed high up it was easy to know how fast we were going without being distracting. Once again major car companies seem to be trying to give drivers who want electric vehicles something familiar. The look on the outside and the feel of the inside of a LEAF™ does not seem that different of an experience than what you get with a non-electric vehicle. Indeed, the Nissan Snow Jam electric vehicle tour also provided the opportunity to drive the 2012 Nissan Versa, not an electric vehicle.

Floods, Droughts, and Air Pollution
November 15, 2011 01:51 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Certain types of air pollution can serve as nuclei which aid in the formation of rainfall. Therefore increases in air pollution and other particulate matter in the atmosphere can strongly affect cloud development in ways that reduce precipitation in dry regions or seasons, while increasing rain, snowfall and the intensity of severe storms in wet regions or seasons, says a new study in Nature Geoscience. The research provides the first clear evidence of how aerosols — soot, dust and other small particles in the atmosphere — can affect weather and climate; and the findings have important implications for the availability, management and use of water resources in regions across the United States and around the world.

Broadcasters lose their nerve over BBC's climate change program
November 15, 2011 12:27 PM - Staff, ClickGreen

The final episode of the BBC's Frozen Planet documentary series that focuses on climate change has been canned in the US and other countries, prompting fierce criticism. All seven episodes of the multi-million pound nature series, written and presented by Sir David Attenborough, will be screened in the UK – but the final show, entitled 'On Thin Ice', has been shelved by several foreign TV channels, including the Discovery channel in the US. The last programme in the series looks at the man-made threat to the environment and examines how Earth's ice caps are changing and the likely consequences for the rest of the planet. But US audiences will not be shown the final episode, where many fear a show that promotes the theory of global warming could upset viewers. The package of six episodes has been sold to 30 countries and networks were provided with the option to buy a seventh 'optional extra' episode, along with behind-the-scenes footage. The documentary series is said to be an epic portrait of two disappearing wildernesses – the Arctic and the Antarctic - before they change forever, and is already hugely popular with viewers in the UK.

Air pollution linked for first time to droughts and major storms
November 15, 2011 08:24 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

A groundbreaking new study has found an increase in air pollution can reduce rainfall in drought-affected regions and worsen the severity of storms in wet regions or seasons. Researchers have discovered that increases in air pollution and other particulate matter in the atmosphere can strongly affect cloud development in ways that reduce precipitation in dry regions or seasons.

Ocean Temperatures Can Predict Amazon Fire Season Severity
November 14, 2011 09:22 AM - Editor, Science Daily

By analyzing nearly a decade of satellite data, a team of scientists led by researchers from the University of California, Irvine and funded by NASA has created a model that can successfully predict the severity and geographic distribution of fires in the Amazon rain forest and the rest of South America months in advance.

Survival against all odds: Animals of the Arctic
November 11, 2011 05:16 PM - BBC Earth

Adaptation is fundamental for a species to survive, especially in hostile environments like the Arctic. When faced with six months of perpetual darkness where snow and ice lays claim to every inch of the land. What kind of extraordinary animals survive in such harsh terrain, and more importantly, how do they do it? During winter in the Arctic, temperatures can drop to a bone-chilling −50°C (−58 °F). Rather than going into hibernation however, some animals will stick out the winter and use their cold-conquering adaptations to survive. One such animal that has done this is the arctic fox or the snow fox as it is also commonly known. Ranging far and wide in the arctic and alpine tundra, these jackals of the north, so-called because of their propensity to scavenge on polar bears' kills, have a woolly coat that has the best insulating properties of any mammal. Other adaptations for life in the arctic include small, heavily furred ears and a short nose. Having a smaller surface area reduces heat loss. They also have fur on the soles of their feet as well as increased blood circulation to the feet which literally stops their paws freezing to the ice! Another such master of retaining body heat is the walrus. Walrus are covered with short coarse hair that becomes less dense as they get older. Their skin which is folded and wrinkled can be up to 4 cm thick serving as a great insulator. This tough skin is the thickest on the neck and shoulders of adult males where it also serves as a defensive purpose – when these bulls spar the thick skin is intended to resist tusk penetration. They have a deposit of fatty tissue that is up to an astounding 15 centimetres (6 inches) thick - in winter it may make up to a third of their body mass. As well as being an excellent insulator it also streamlines the body and is used as an energy reserve.

The Importance of Riverbed Carbon Storage Capacity
November 10, 2011 09:43 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The soils and sediments at the bottom of rivers are rich in organic material. They can store carbon for thousands of years according to a study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Despite often high rates of erosion and sediment transport, the riverbed can hold organic carbon for 500 to 17,000 years. The researchers focused their studies on the Ganges-Brahmaputra basin in India, which feeds off waters from the Himalaya Mountains. The fact that riverbeds store much carbon is a cause for concern. In a changing climate, the soils could be destabilized, releasing the carbon back to the atmosphere.

"Storm of epic proportions" hits Alaska
November 10, 2011 06:47 AM - Yereth Rosen, Reuters, ANCHORAGE, Alaska

A storm experts compared to a Category 3 hurricane lashed the western coast of Alaska on Wednesday, ripping roofs from buildings and pushing water and debris into communities, authorities said. The storm, which began hitting Alaska late on Tuesday after building over the northern Pacific Ocean, brought winds measured at up to 89 miles an hour and flooded parts of some Native villages along the coastline. There were no reports of deaths or injuries as of Wednesday evening, and damage tallied so far was caused largely by wind and included reports of tin roofs flying off and power lines down, authorities said. Alaska opted out of participating in a nationwide emergency-broadcast test on Wednesday due to the storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said. "This is a storm of epic proportions as it's being described," said Jeff Osiensky, a meteorologist and regional warning coordinator for the National Weather Service. "This is kind of ratcheted up to a level much higher than we've been accustomed to."

GHG Index is Up
November 9, 2011 02:47 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Green house gas emissions such as carbon dioxide have been increasing. NOAA’s updated Annual Greenhouse Gas Index, which measures the direct climate influence of many greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, shows a continued steady upward trend that began with the Industrial Revolution of the 1880s. Started in 2004, the AGGI reached 1.29 in 2010. That means the combined heating effect of long-lived greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere by human activities has increased by 29 percent since 1990, the base index year used as a baseline for comparison. This is slightly higher than the 2009 AGGI, which was 1.27, when the combined heating effect of those additional greenhouse gases was 27 percent higher than in 1990.

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