Enn Original News

The Effect of Urban Heat Islands
October 19, 2011 11:30 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Cities are centers of human and industrial activity. They are also considered commonly centers of urban warmth or heat. Jacobson and Ten Hoeve are authors of a paper describing the research that will be published in Journal of Climate. The paper is available online now. The study modeled climate response from 2005 to 2025. Some global warming skeptics have claimed that the urban heat island effect is so strong that it has been skewing temperature measurements that show that global warming is happening. They have argued that urban areas are a larger contributor to global warming than the greenhouse gases produced by human activity, and thus drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gases are not needed. "This study shows that the urban heat island effect is a relatively minor contributor to warming, contrary to what climate skeptics have claimed," Jacobson said. "Greenhouse gases and particulate black carbon cause far more warming." Prior to Jacobson's study, claims about the importance of heat island to global warming could not be addressed directly. The few previous modeling studies by other researchers that had examined the effect of urban heat islands on regional scales did not calculate global impacts.

Enceladus View
October 19, 2011 09:35 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

In 2005 the Cassini spacecraft performed several close flybys of Enceladus, revealing the moon's surface and environment in greater detail. In particular, the probe discovered a water-rich plume venting from the moon's south polar region. This discovery, along with the presence of escaping internal heat and very few (if any) impact craters in the south polar region, shows that Enceladus is geologically active today. Moons in the extensive satellite systems of gas giants often become trapped in orbital resonances that lead to forced libration or orbital eccentricity; proximity to the planet can then lead to tidal heating of the satellite's interior, offering a possible explanation for the activity. NASA's Cassini mission will take advantage of the position of two of the three stars in Orion's belt when the spacecraft flies by Saturn's moon Enceladus on Wed., Oct. 19. As the hot, bright stars pass behind the moon's icy jets, Cassini's ultraviolet imaging spectrograph will acquire a two-dimensional view of these dramatic plumes of water vapor and icy material erupting from the moon's southern polar region. This flyby is the mission's first-ever opportunity to probe the jets with two stars simultaneously, a dual stellar occultation.

A New World Map
October 18, 2011 12:50 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The world is constantly changing. Not only the names of cities and states but the very height of mountains and continental drift dislocations. NASA and Japan released a significantly improved version of the most complete digital topographic map of Earth on Monday, produced with detailed measurements from NASA's Terra spacecraft. The map, known as a global digital elevation model, was created from images collected by the Japanese Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, or ASTER, instrument aboard Terra. So-called stereo-pair images are produced by merging two slightly offset two-dimensional images to create the three-dimensional effect of depth. The first version of the map was released by NASA and Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in June 2009.

Shenyang, a Major Chinese Industrial City, Turns Green
October 18, 2011 09:53 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Shenyang is a large city in Northeastern China, not far from the border with North Korea. It is a centrally important industrial city with a population of 8 million that is currently leading the charge for environmentally-friendly practices in urban China. It was at one point heavily polluted with perpetual gray skies and black soot in the air. It was home to some of the country's largest iron and steel plants with a forest of smokestacks and chimneys. The city has undergone a massive transformation by reducing its air pollution, expanding green spaces, and implementing stricter environmental policies.

25 Years of Toxic Right to Know
October 18, 2011 09:52 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

On the 25th anniversary of the law that created the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson was joined by New Jersey Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez to celebrate improved transparency and environmental quality since the legislation passed in 1986. TRI was established through legislation authored by Senator Lautenberg and signed into law as part of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The measure requires owners of facilities to report annually on the amount of toxic chemicals that have been released into the air, water or land. These facilities are also required to report how they dispose of chemicals that are not released into the environment.

Sea Rise!
October 17, 2011 02:38 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

It has often and continually debated on how much the level of the sea rise in the next few decades and centuries. Sea level changes is actually old hat and has been happening (up and down) for millenia. New research from several international research groups, including the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen provides independent consensus that IPCC predictions of less than a half a meter rise in sea levels is around 3 times too low. The new estimates show that the sea will rise approximately 1 meter in the next 100 years in agreement with other recent studies. The results have been published in the scientific journal, Geophysical Research Letters.

Solar Power and Which Roof to Use
October 17, 2011 12:19 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A roof is more than a way of keeping the rain off. Nowadays many people think of a roof as a place to put solar panels to collect all of that free sunshine. The problem is that not all roofs are created equal. Scientists from the University of Gothenburg have launched a tool that uses the actual conditions to determine the maximum possible magnitude of solar incidence (and implied the maximum amount of time in shadow)- in a whole town, a neighborhood, or a particular roof. The scientists have surveyed Gothenburg in a pilot project.

Vermont Experiments in Cow Power
October 17, 2011 10:25 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

A recent case study in the State of Vermont suggests that deriving electricity from cow manure may be economically feasible. This small and largely agrarian state has no shortage of cows and dairy farms. It is conceivable that with the proper commitment from farmers, utilities, and government agencies, cow power could be a central part of the Vermont electric grid. The seven-year study was conducted by six dairy farms, and produced 12 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

Earthquakes in Mid America
October 17, 2011 08:46 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Between Little Rock, Ark., and Memphis, Tenn., scientists have found evidence of an earthquake source capable of magnitude 7 or greater earthquakes located at the southwestern end of the ancient Reelfoot Rift. This is the same geologic structure that hosts the New Madrid seismic zone which is responsible for the major earthquakes that occurred in the midcontinent almost 200 years ago. The geologic proof includes large, visible sand blows formed by strong ground shaking, and subsurface geophysical imaging of faulting nearby. Field observations and radiocarbon dating suggest that the sand blows formed as the result of two to four earthquakes between 4,800 and 10,000 years ago.

Offshore Wind Development Progressing on US East Coast
October 14, 2011 09:21 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Plans for large commercial-scale wind farms have been on the table for years, but constantly held up by environmental permitting issues, financing concerns, or local objections based on aesthetics. States like New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Massachusetts all have offshore wind projects that have yet to commence. At the American Wind Energy Association's annual conference this week, two major offshore wind developers have announced progress in their attempts to build America's first offshore wind farms. Those two companies, Providence, RI-based Deepwater Wind, and Cape May, NJ-based Fisherman's Energy are taking their projects to the next phase.

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