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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.
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.
October 11, 2011 05:09 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Next week a British engineering team heads off to Antarctica for the first stage of an ambitious scientific mission to collect water and sediment samples from a lake buried beneath three kilometers of solid ice. This extraordinary research project, at the frontier of exploration, will yield new knowledge about the evolution of life on Earth and other planets, and will provide vital clues about the Earth’s past climate. This is one of the most remote and hostile environments on Earth with —25°C temperatures. Their task is to prepare the way for the deep-field research mission that will take place one year later. In October 2012 a team of 10 scientists and engineers, which includes academics from the University of Bristol, will use state of the art hot-water drilling technology to make a three kilometer bore hole through the ice. They will then lower a titanium probe to measure and sample the water followed by a corer to extract sediment from the lake. Lake Ellsworth is likely to be the first of Antarctica’s 387 known subglacial lakes to be measured and sampled directly through the design and manufacture of space-industry standard clean technology.
October 11, 2011 07:33 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Imaginary, mythological, or real? Giant Octopus! Kraken are legendary sea monsters of giant proportions said to have dwelt off the coasts of Norway and Iceland. Long before whales, the oceans of Earth were roamed by a very different kind of air-breathing leviathan. Snaggle-toothed ichthyosaurs larger than school buses swam at the top of the Triassic Period ocean food chain, or so it seemed before Mount Holyoke College paleontologist Mark McMenamin took a look at some of their remains in Nevada. Now he thinks there was an even larger and more cunning sea monster that preyed on ichthyosaurs: a kraken of huge mythological. McMenamin will be presenting the results of his work on Monday, 10 October at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Minneapolis.
Battle over huge coal deposit highlights risks in Indonesia
October 10, 2011 07:02 AM - Michael Taylor JAKARTA
Indonesia contains some of the world's richest mineral deposits, located tantalizingly close to the markets of China and India, but a court battle over a $1.8 billion coal mine highlights the risks foreign miners face in the country. London-listed Churchill Mining Plc has been in dispute with Indonesia's Nusantara Group for three years over the right to develop the world's seventh-largest undeveloped coal asset. The case has reached Indonesia's highest court and could take years more to settle. The 350-sq-km (135-sq-mile) mine site in East Kutai, a coastal district in East Kalimantan province, is said to contain 2.8 billion tonnes of coal reserves. "It's a big medium to low-grade thermal coal deposit," Churchill Executive Chairman David Quinlivan told Reuters in a telephone interview. "That requires a substantial amount of infrastructure to be able to bring it into production. "But once in production, it will be very much a long-term project -- 50 years or more."
October 7, 2011 10:20 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Imagine a sun shining more bright than our sun does. 10 times brighter and warmer? A thousand times? How about 50 billion times? An international team of scientists has detected the highest energy gamma rays ever observed from a pulsar, a highly magnetized and rapidly spinning neutron star. The VERITAS experiment measured gamma rays coming from the Crab Pulsar at such large energies that they cannot be explained by current scientific models of how pulsars behave, the researchers said. The results, published on Oct. 6 in the journal Science, outline the first observation of photons from a pulsar system with energies greater than 100 billion electron volts — more than 50 billion times higher than visible light from the sun.
October 7, 2011 08:01 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Those who fly or are planning to fly to Europe nowadays will find that there is a heavy tax to pay loosely called environmental fees. European rules forcing all airlines to pay for carbon emissions are within the law, an adviser to Europe's highest court said on Thursday (October 6), in the latest stage of a bitter battle between the European Union and the aviation industry. From January next year, all airlines will have to buy permits under the EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS) to help cover the carbon cost of all flights that land or take off in Europe.
Growing CO2 Emissions from China due to Construction
October 6, 2011 04:05 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Carbon Dioxide emissions are not just from industry but may be caused by construction especially when there is a lot of new construction. Constructing buildings, power-plants and roads has driven a substantial increase in China's CO2 emission growth, according to a new study involving the University of East Anglia. Fast growing capital investments in infrastructure projects led to the expansion of the construction industry and its energy and CO2 intensive supply chain, such as steel and cement production. As a result of this transformation of China’s economy, more and more CO2 was released per unit of gross domestic product — a reversion of a long-term trend. Recently China became the world’s largest consumer of energy and emitter of CO2, overtaking the US. Previously the country’s greenhouse gas emissions growth was driven by rising consumption and exports. Today this growth is offset by emission savings from efficiency increases, but these savings are being hindered by the building of infrastructure — which is important as it dictates tomorrow’s emissions, the international team of researchers concludes.
Enforcement and Compliance Mapping
October 6, 2011 01:37 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the release of a new mapping feature in EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) database. As part of EPA’s ongoing effort to improve transparency, the EPA and State Enforcement Actions Map will allow the public to access federal and state enforcement information in an interactive format and to compare enforcement action information by state. The map will be refreshed monthly to include up to date information about the enforcement actions taken to address violations of air, water, and waste laws. This map will be a better visual aid for those people wishing to see what is happening in a given physical area.
Ice on Mercury
October 6, 2011 12:08 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Mercury is as close to the sun as any planet in our solar system can go. It has to be hot there. One would expect boiling lava for example. So can water ice be present? The answer is surprisingly yes. Twenty years ago, radar observations from Earth revealed small, highly reflective areas close to Mercury's poles, suggesting the presence of ice (along with vast expanses of ancient lava). Now, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, which has orbited Mercury since March 2011, has confirmed that these radar-bright patches neatly coincide with deep crater floors near the poles that never receive any sunlight at all.