New residential water heater concept promises high efficiency, lower cost
August 15, 2016 11:53 AM - DOE/OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LABORATORY via EurekAlert!
A team of scientists from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Florida has developed a novel method that could yield lower-cost, higher-efficiency systems for water heating in residential buildings.
The theory behind the newly termed "semi-open" natural gas-fired design, explained in an ORNL-led paper published in Renewable Energy: An International Journal, reduces the cost and complexity of traditional closed gas-fired systems by streamlining, and even eliminating, certain components.
Tropical sea urchins caught between a rock and a hot place
August 15, 2016 09:48 AM - Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute via EurekAlert!
The balmy waters of the Caribbean could turn into a deadly heat trap for countless tiny creatures. Authors of a new study conducted at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama discovered that microscopic sea urchin eggs and larvae may suffer stunting or death when the water temperature spikes just a couple of degrees above normal, adding to the impact of climate change in already warm tropical oceans.
Sea urchins, pincushion-shaped relatives of the starfish, graze the sea floor from shallow coastal areas to deep ocean vents from pole to pole. Their young look nothing like them. Adults release millions of eggs and sperm into the water, which develop into pinprick-sized free-swimming larvae. Only a minute fraction will survive and metamorphose into adults. Scientists think the developmental stages from egg to larvae are extra sensitive to temperature changes, but very few studies compare the vulnerability of the offspring to that of the adults.
Nature and the Nurture of Aerosols
August 15, 2016 07:07 AM - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
You've seen it when flying into major cities the world over: a haze over the city. It is caused by aerosol particles, but scientists don't know all the details of the complex chemistry involved. At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Dr. Alla Zelenyuk and her team took on a specific part of that haze: originated from isoprene. After being released by the trees and shrubs, isoprene reacts in the atmosphere and becomes assorted chemicals, including IEPOX (isoprene epoxydiols). The team found that IEPOX is a major player in producing aerosols from isoprene and that particle size, certain coatings, and acidity influence how IEPOX behaves.
Threat of wildfires expected to increase as global temperatures rise
August 12, 2016 04:01 PM - United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has warned that wildfires could become more frequent and more destructive as global temperatures rise and drought conditions plague many regions of the world.
“Last year was the hottest year on record and was above average for the number of reported major droughts and heatwaves. This year we are seeing a similar pattern with new temperature records being set on a monthly basis,” UNISDR chief Robert Glasser said yesterday in a news release issued by the Office.
July Electric Car Sales in China Rose by 188 Percent Over Last Year
August 12, 2016 01:59 PM - Yale Environment 360
Chinese consumers bought 34,000 new electric cars in July, a 188 percent jump over the same period last year, according to CleanTechnica, an energy and technology news organization. The monthly total puts China on track to sell 400,000 electrical vehicles in 2016, accounting for 1.5 percent of the total auto sales market — larger than annual EV sales in Europe, or the U.S., Canada, and Mexico combined.
Let's roll: Material for polymer solar cells may lend itself to large-area processing
August 12, 2016 01:48 PM - National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) via EurekAlert!
For all the promise they have shown in the lab, polymer solar cells still need to "get on a roll" like the ones employed in printing newspapers so that large sheets of acceptably efficient photovoltaic devices can be manufactured continuously and economically. Polymer solar cells offer advantages over their traditional silicon-based counterparts in numerous ways, including lower cost, potentially smaller carbon footprint and a greater variety of uses.
Global warming's next surprise: Saltier beaches
August 12, 2016 10:41 AM - New Jersey Institute of Technology via ScienceDaily
Batches of sand from a beach on the Delaware Bay are yielding insights into the powerful impact of temperature rise and evaporation along the shore that are in turn challenging long-held assumptions about what causes beach salinity to fluctuate in coastal zones that support a rich network of sea creatures and plants.
The findings have implications for the migration and survival of invertebrates such as mussels and crabs as global warming drives temperatures higher.
A first major study of the effects of evaporation on the flow of subsurface water and salinity, or salt content, in the beach intertidal zone -- the section of the beach between the low and high tide marks -- is being published today in Scientific Reports, an online affiliate of Nature.
NASA measures winds of Tropical Storm Conson
August 11, 2016 04:43 PM - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center via EurekAlert!
NASA's RapidScat instrument provided measurements of sustained wind speeds as Tropical Storm Conson continued tracking north through the northwestern Pacific Ocean.
When RapidScat passed over Conson on Aug. 10, it was near peak intensity. RapidScat measured maximum sustained winds around the center of circulation as fast as 49 mph (22 meters per second/79 kph) on Aug. 10. The RapidScat instrument that flies aboard the International Space Station measures Earth's ocean surface wind speed and direction over open waters.
Virus attracts bumblebees to infected plants by changing scent
August 11, 2016 03:18 PM - University of Cambridge via EurekAlert!
Plant scientists at the University of Cambridge have found that the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) alters gene expression in the tomato plants it infects, causing changes to air-borne chemicals - the scent - emitted by the plants. Bees can smell these subtle changes, and glasshouse experiments have shown that bumblebees prefer infected plants over healthy ones.
Scientists say that by indirectly manipulating bee behaviour to improve pollination of infected plants by changing their scent, the virus is effectively paying its host back. This may also benefit the virus: helping to spread the pollen of plants susceptible to infection and, in doing so, inhibiting the chance of virus-resistant plant strains emerging.
With droughts and downpours, climate change feeds Chesapeake Bay algal blooms
August 11, 2016 10:15 AM - Princeton University via ScienceDaily
A study shows that weather patterns tied to climate change may increase the severity of algal blooms in Chesapeake Bay as extreme rainfall cycles flush larger amounts of nitrogen from fertilizer and other sources into the Susquehanna River. The researchers found that a spike in rainfall can increase nitrogen levels in the bay even if the amount of fertilizer used on land remains the same, leading to explosive algae growth that poisons humans and wildlife, and devastates fisheries.
While efforts to restore the bay have been successful during the past several years, a study led by Princeton University researchers shows that weather patterns tied to climate change may nonetheless increase the severity of algal blooms by changing how soil nutrients leach into the watershed.