Okinawa mozuku: The treasure under the sea
August 8, 2016 01:57 PM - Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology via EurekAlert!
Mozuku is a unique Okinawan seaweed. Scientifically known as Cladosiphon okamuranus, this alga is popular in Japanese cuisine, and it has been farmed for more than 35 years. The cultivation of this seaweed is a key element in the economy of Okinawa: in 2006, the Japanese Cabinet Office estimated a 20,000 ton production, with an economic value of billions of Yen. 99% of this seaweed is produced in Okinawa, almost entirely farmed by humans. When in 2015 the production dropped for causes related with the higher temperature of the ocean, political institutions and research centres started to coordinate in order to develop a strategy to preserve this Okinawan treasure.
Making a solar energy conversion breakthrough with help from a ferroelectrics pioneer
August 8, 2016 01:32 PM - Drexel University via EurekAlert!
Designers of solar cells may soon be setting their sights higher, as a discovery by a team of researchers has revealed a class of materials that could be better at converting sunlight into energy than those currently being used in solar arrays. Their research shows how a material can be used to extract power from a small portion of the sunlight spectrum with a conversion efficiency that is above its theoretical maximum -- a value called the Shockley-Queisser limit. This finding, which could lead to more power-efficient solar cells, was seeded in a near-half-century old discovery by Russian physicist Vladimir M. Fridkin, a visiting professor of physics at Drexel, who is also known as one of the innovators behind the photocopier.
NASA Satellite Reveals How Much Saharan Dust Feeds Amazon's Plants
August 5, 2016 04:40 PM - Goddard Space Flight Center
What connects Earth's largest, hottest desert to its largest tropical rain forest?
The Sahara Desert is a near-uninterrupted brown band of sand and scrub across the northern third of Africa. The Amazon rain forest is a dense green mass of humid jungle that covers northeast South America. But after strong winds sweep across the Sahara, a tan cloud rises in the air, stretches between the continents, and ties together the desert and the jungle. It’s dust. And lots of it.
For the first time, a NASA satellite has quantified in three dimensions how much dust makes this trans-Atlantic journey. Scientists have not only measured the volume of dust, they have also calculated how much phosphorus – remnant in Saharan sands from part of the desert’s past as a lake bed – gets carried across the ocean from one of the planet’s most desolate places to one of its most fertile.
Cornell scientists convert carbon dioxide, create electricity
August 5, 2016 03:08 PM - Cornell University via EurekAlert!
While the human race will always leave its carbon footprint on the Earth, it must continue to find ways to lessen the impact of its fossil fuel consumption.
"Carbon capture" technologies - chemically trapping carbon dioxide before it is released into the atmosphere - is one approach. In a recent study, Cornell University researchers disclose a novel method for capturing the greenhouse gas and converting it to a useful product - while producing electrical energy.
Lynden Archer, the James A. Friend Family Distinguished Professor of Engineering, and doctoral student Wajdi Al Sadat have developed an oxygen-assisted aluminum/carbon dioxide power cell that uses electrochemical reactions to both sequester the carbon dioxide and produce electricity.
Abu Dhabi project uses sand to store solar power
August 5, 2016 11:00 AM - Ali Audi, SciDevNet
Researchers in Abu Dhabi are testing a pilot device that can store solar energy in sand to improve the efficiency of power plants and provide energy at night.
The technology, developed at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, uses gravity to drain sand from a higher basin into a lower one, heating up the sand grains with solar power during the transition. In the lower basin, the energy can be stored and withdrawn at low cost to provide extra energy if needed, for example during peak hours and at night-time.
"Two pilot models of the system have been tested in an effort to prove its efficiency and applicability on a large scale in big projects,” says Nicolas Calvet, an assistant professor at the Masdar institute’s department of mechanical engineering.
EPA On Board to Develop Emission Rules for Aircraft
August 5, 2016 10:11 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit
The end of last month brought big news in the battle to rein in climate change. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from airplanes pose a threat to human health and the environment and therefore are subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.
The Act was originally passed in 1970 to combat air pollution in the form of airborne lead and mercury, sulfur and nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulates, and ground-level ozone — to name a few. It was updated in 1990 to include emissions that threaten the ozone layer, and again in 2009 to deal with emissions known to contribute to climate change.
This announcement now clears the way for the EPA to develop rules to regulate aircraft emissions, much as the agency has done for emissions from cars and trucks. Aircraft are responsible for roughly 12 percent of all U.S. transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, or a little over 3 percent of all U.S. GHG emissions.
Do eco-friendly wines taste better?
August 3, 2016 07:26 AM - UCLA
t’s time to toast environmentally friendly grapes. A new UCLA study shows that eco-certified wine tastes better — and making the choice even easier, earlier research shows it’s often cheaper, too.
Though consumers remain reluctant to spend more on wine from organic grapes, the new study from UCLA researchers shows that in blind taste-tests professional wine reviewers give eco-certified wines higher ratings than regular wines.
Giant forest fires exterminate spotted owls
August 3, 2016 07:17 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison
As climate changes and wildfires get larger, hotter and more frequent, how should public lands in the American West be managed to protect endangered creatures that, like the spotted owl, rely on fire-prone old-growth forests?
Could periodic forest thinning and prescribed burns intended to prevent dangerous “megafires” help conserve owls in the long run? Or are those benefits outweighed by their short-term harm to owls? The answer depends in part on just how big and bad the fires are, according to a new study.
In a report published Aug. 1 that may help quiet a long-simmering dispute about the wisdom of using forest thinning and prescribed burns to reduce the “fuel load” and intensity of subsequent fires, a University of Wisconsin—Madison research group has documented an exodus of owls following the fierce, 99,000 acre King Fire in California in 2014.
Antarctic sea ice may be a source of mercury in Southern Ocean fish and birds
August 1, 2016 09:27 PM - University of Melbourne
New research has found methylmercury – a potent neurotoxin – in sea ice in the Southern Ocean.
Published today in the journal Nature Microbiology, the results are the first to show that sea-ice bacteria can change mercury into methylmercury, a more toxic form that can contaminate the marine environment, including fish and birds.
If ingested, methylmercury can travel to the brain, causing developmental and physical problems in foetuses, infants and children.
ORNL-led study analyzes electric grid vulnerabilities in extreme weather areas
July 29, 2016 04:25 PM - DOE/OAK Ridge National Laboratory via EurekAlert!
Climate and energy scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to pinpoint which electrical service areas will be most vulnerable as populations grow and temperatures rise.
"For the first time, we were able to apply data at a high enough resolution to be relevant," said ORNL's Melissa Allen, co-author of "Impacts of Climate Change on Sub-regional Electricity Demand and Distribution in the Southern United States," published in Nature Energy.