Climate

Hesperia Planum Mystery
October 13, 2011 12:04 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

One of the supposedly best understood and least interesting landscapes on Mars is hiding something that could rewrite the planet’s history. Or not. In fact, about all that is certain is that decades of assumptions regarding the wide, flat Hesperia Planum are not holding up very well under renewed scrutiny with higher-resolution, more recent spacecraft data. Hesperia Planum is a broad lava plain in the southern highlands of the planet Mars. The plain is notable for its moderate number of impact craters and abundant wrinkle ridges. It is also the location of the ancient volcano Tyrrhena Mons (Tyrrhena Patera). The Hesperian time period on Mars is named after Hesperia Planum. The cause of of the mystery is whatcaused the numerous rilles: water or lava.

Snowball Earth Cause Debated
October 13, 2011 10:39 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The hypothesis that Earth was completely covered in ice (Snowball Earth) 635 million years may not be so. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide during that period was much lower than previously thought, according to a team of French researchers from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (CNRS/IPGP/Université Paris Diderot), working in collaboration with scientists from Brazil and the U.S. The Snowball Earth hypothesis posits that the Earth's surface became entirely or nearly entirely frozen at least once. Proponents of the hypothesis argue that it best explains sedimentary deposits generally regarded as of glacial origin at tropical paleolatitudes, and other otherwise enigmatic features in the geological record.

Cities Can’t Combat Climate Change Alone
October 13, 2011 08:16 AM - Andrea Newell, Triple Pundit

By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and are responsible for 70 percent of global CO2 emissions. It will be cities, not individual states or governments, who will need to employ effective urban planning, implement eco-friendly ordinances, reduce emissions, and plan for the coming effects of climate change. In Life in the Big City: Unlocking Smart Development (SXSW Eco), the discussion centered around the premise that cities, centers of global economic activity and innovation, have the greatest power to impact climate change. But can they do it alone?

GM to produce all-electric Chevy Spark
October 13, 2011 06:51 AM - Ben Klayman, Reuters, DETROIT

General Motors Co confirmed it will make its first all-electric vehicle, a version of the Chevrolet Spark minicar that will debut in 2013 and take aim at Nissan Motor Co Ltd's Leaf. "Chevrolet will produce an all-electric version of the Spark minicar for selected U.S. and global markets, including California," Jim Federico, Chevy's global vehicle chief engineer for electric vehicles, said at the company's Detroit headquarters on Wednesday. Electric cars have been slow to catch on. In the U.S. market, demand has been held back by the lack of models to choose from, skimpy infrastructure for charging the vehicles, high sticker prices, and low gasoline prices compared with other industrialized nations. News of the electric Spark continues GM's push to seize the mantle of "greenest automaker in the world" from Toyota Motor Corp, which makes the popular Prius hybrid car. GM, like other major automakers, also needs more fuel-efficient cars as the industry pushes toward more stringent U.S. requirements that will be in place by 2025.

Carbon Sequestraion and the Balance of Property Right and the Public Good
October 12, 2011 01:38 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Carbon sequestration is the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2). This is the process of carbon capture and storage, where carbon dioxide is removed from flue gases, such as on power stations, before being stored in underground reservoirs. There are also natural sequestration processes such as the ocean. Carbon sequestration describes long-term storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon to either mitigate or defer global warming. It has been proposed as a way to slow the atmospheric and marine accumulation of greenhouse gases, which are released by burning fossil fuels. The lack of a settled legal framework that balances private property rights while maximizing the public good ultimately hinders the large-scale commercial deployment of geologic carbon sequestration, according to research by A. Bryan Endres, a professor of agricultural law at the University of Illinois.

Global Warming Will Make Chocolate a Luxury Item
October 12, 2011 08:45 AM - Akhila Vijayaraghavan, Triple Pundit

The latest victim of climate change could well be something we all take for granted. It is delicious, ubiquitous, and most people cannot think of dessert without it. The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) recently released a report that states that chocolate will soon become a luxury item that a few can afford.

Clear link between solar activity and winter weather revealed
October 11, 2011 08:47 AM - Tamera Jones, Planet Earth Online

Scientists have demonstrated a clear link between the 11-year sun cycle and winter weather over the northern hemisphere for the first time. They found that low solar activity can contribute to cold winters in the UK, northern Europe and parts of America. But high activity from the sun has the opposite effect. The study helps explain why the UK has been gripped by such cold winters over the last few years: the sun is just emerging from a so-called solar minimum, when solar activity is at its lowest.

Why Climate Models Underestimated Arctic Sea Ice Retreat: No Arctic Sea Ice in Summer by End of Century?
October 7, 2011 09:00 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Oct. 6, 2011) — In recent decades, Arctic sea ice has suffered a dramatic decline that exceeds climate model predictions. The unexpected rate of ice shrinkage has now been explained by researchers at CNRS, Université Joseph Fourier and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They argue that climate models underestimate the rate of ice thinning, which is actually about four times faster than calculations. This model bias is due to the poor representation of the sea ice southward drift out of the Arctic basin through the Fram Strait. When this mechanism was taken into account to correct the discrepancy between simulations and observations, results from the new model suggested that there will be no Arctic sea ice in summer by the end of the century.

Drought-stricken Pacific island nation Tuvalu down to last few days of water
October 7, 2011 06:23 AM - Reuters, WELLINGTON, NZ

The drought-stricken Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is down to its last few days of water, prompting a mercy dash by New Zealand and Australia with water-making equipment. Tuvalu, the world's fourth-smallest nation sitting just below the Equator, has declared a state of emergency and is rationing water. Tuvalu has a collective land mass of just 25 sq km (10 square miles) with its highest point five meters above sea level and is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change and rising oceans. Air force planes from New Zealand and Australia were combining on Friday to move a large desalination plant to Tuvalu, a group of small islands around 3,180 km (2,000 miles) northeast of New Zealand. "The advice is that more capacity is needed to relieve the acute water shortage and replenish stocks," said New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully in a statement.

Lake Agassiz Demise
October 5, 2011 04:13 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Lake Agassiz was an immense glacial lake located in the center of North America (Manitoba mostly). Fed by glacial runoff at the end of the last glacial period, its area was larger than all of the modern Great Lakes combined, and it held more water than contained by all lakes in the world today. At its largest, Glacial Lake Agassiz, as it is known, covered most of the Canadian province of Manitoba, plus a good part of western Ontario. A southern arm straddled the Minnesota-North Dakota border. University of Cincinnati Professor of Geology Thomas Lowell will present a paper about the lake to the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Minneapolis. Lowell’s paper is one of 14 to be presented Oct. 10 in a session titled: Glacial Lake Agassiz—Its History and Influence on North America and on Global Systems: In Honor of James T. Teller. Although Lake Agassiz is gone, questions about its origin and disappearance remain. Answers to those questions may provide clues to our future climate. One question involves Lake Agassiz’ role in a thousand-year cold snap known as the Younger Dryas.

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