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Green House Gases Other than CO2
August 4, 2011 11:40 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Carbon dioxide remains the largest by mass of potential green house gases affecting climate change, but other greenhouse gases measurably contribute to the problem. A new study, conducted by NOAA scientists and published online today in Nature, shows that cutting emissions of those other gases could slow changes in climate that are expected in the future. Discussions with colleagues around the time of the 2009 United Nations’ climate conference in Copenhagen inspired three NOAA scientists — Stephen Montzka, Ed Dlugokencky and James Butler of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. — to review the sources of non-carbon dioxide (CO2) greenhouse gases and explore the potential climate benefits of cutting their emissions.
Better Battery Storage
August 3, 2011 03:26 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
MIT researchers have found a way to improve the energy density of a type of battery known as lithium-air (or lithium-oxygen) batteries, producing a device that could potentially pack several times more energy per pound than the lithium-ion batteries that now dominate the market for rechargeable devices in everything from cellphones to cars. Lithium batteries are disposable (primary) batteries that have lithium metal or lithium compounds as an anode. Depending on the design and chemical compounds used, lithium cells can produce voltages from 1.5 V to about 3.7 V, over twice the voltage of an ordinary zinc—carbon battery or alkaline battery. Lithium batteries are widely used in products such as portable consumer electronic devices.
Lake Acidification Causes
August 3, 2011 01:11 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Acidification caused by acid rain precipitation has been, and remains, a major environmental issue because of its life-threatening effects on biota, its global spread, and the prolonged recovery period associated with it. International cooperation to reduce the precursors of acid precipitation has provided a textbook example of how society can address a complex environmental pollution problem with support from science. A key step in that success was the achievement of a broad scientific consensus that acid precipitation was a serious threat to ecosystems in sensitive regions. That consensus was built during two decades of scientific research starting with the first United Nations conference on the environment in 1972 and continuing to 1990 with the conclusion of major research programs in Europe and in the United States. But is this the only cause? A new study of the role of dissolved organic carbon, which comes from living organisms and can also make lakes acidic, suggests that power station emissions may have played less of a role than previously thought. Martin Erlandsson of the University of Reading, United Kingdom, and his colleagues wondered whether it was possible to distinguish the historical effects of organic acids and power station emissions by assessing findings during the 20 years since lake acidification started to decrease in Sweden. They describe their results in the August issue of BioScience.
Study: Antarctica, not Greenland, Will Contribute More to Sea Level Rise
August 3, 2011 09:00 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
As the planet has gotten warmer, sea levels have been slowly rising at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year since 1961. The higher levels are caused by thermal expansion as well as from melting land-based ice. Most eyes have been on Greenland, the large arctic island covered with an immense ice sheet, as the critical source of melting ice. However, a new study has recently been published which suggests that Greenland is not as big a concern as the continent of Antarctica, and in particular, the West Antarctic ice sheet.
A Potential Cure for Sunburn
July 29, 2011 09:35 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
A research team from Ohio State University has been studying the effects of solar radiation on skin cells. They have been able to replicate the process within the tight scrutiny of their laboratory. What they found is that the key biological molecules, which operate during the repair of sunburned cells, function in a way totally unexpected. This new knowledge may possibly lead to the production of special treatments that can heal sunburn. Their findings have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Turns out, there IS water in outer space after all
July 26, 2011 04:16 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Did you think that the earth was unique in having vast amounts of water? Not that much fresh water, or pure water, but lots of water nonetheless! Water is formed when two hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom get together, so in theory, there could be LOTS of water in outer space. Two teams of astronomers have discovered the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe. The water, equivalent to 140 trillion times all the water in the world's ocean, surrounds a huge, feeding black hole, called a quasar, more than 12 billion light-years away. "The environment around this quasar is very unique in that it's producing this huge mass of water," said Matt Bradford, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It's another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at the very earliest times." Bradford leads one of the teams that made the discovery. His team's research is partially funded by NASA and appears in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Northeast Bakes Under Blistering Heat
July 22, 2011 02:02 PM - David A Gabel, ENN
The ungodly weather that scorched the Midwest of the USA has travelled east, giving the large population centers along the Atlantic coast a chance to experience the skin-frying joy. Temperatures exceeding 100 degrees F (38 C) have lingered for several days. When factoring in humidity and other conditions, the outdoors can feel like a sultry 115 degrees F (46 C). The inhuman heat wave is expected to break by the end of the weekend, with temperatures dipping to a relatively cool 90 degrees F. The end of July is known to be the hottest time of the year, but today's heat goes far above the average. With current trends in the climate, is it possible that this extreme weather may one day become the norm?
July 22, 2011 01:57 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Ambient energy sources are all around us in a busy technological world. These sources are small and often imperceptible such as as radio and television transmitters, cell phone networks and satellite communications systems. Researchers have discovered a way to capture and harness energy transmitted by such sources as radio and television transmitters, cell phone networks and satellite communications systems. By scavenging this ambient energy from the air around us, the technique could provide a new way to power networks of wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips. Tentzeris and his team are using inkjet printers to combine sensors, antennas and energy-scavenging capabilities on paper or flexible polymers. The resulting self-powered wireless sensors could be used for chemical, biological, heat and stress sensing for defense and industry; radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagging for manufacturing and shipping, and monitoring tasks in many fields including communications and power usage.
Electric Frog Face
July 22, 2011 01:20 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
There are always oddities and strange patterns. For the first time, Tufts University biologists have reported that bioelectrical signals are necessary for normal head and facial formation in an organism and have captured that process in a time-lapse video that reveals never-before-seen patterns of visible bioelectrical signals outlining where eyes, nose, mouth, and other features will appear in an embryonic tadpole. The Tufts biologists found that, before the face of a tadpole develops, bioelectrical signals (ion flux) cause groups of cells to form patterns marked by different membrane voltage and pH levels. When stained with a reporter dye, hyperpolarized (negatively charged) areas shine brightly, while other areas appear darker, creating an electric face.
Brea Solar Power
July 21, 2011 03:55 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Chevron Energy Solutions and the City of Brea today unveiled Orange County's largest municipal solar installation. The effort is part of a comprehensive energy efficiency and solar project expected to generate an estimated $13 million in net savings over the 25-year project, plus significant environmental benefits. The savings have been immediate and the City has already seen results exceeding expectations. One early example is a 65% reduction in electricity costs at the Brea Community Center for the month of June. At the Civic & Cultural Center the reduction was 35%. By using the sun to generate its own power, the city has projected to reduce its electrical utility costs by an average 40 percent and its carbon emissions by 86,000 metric tons; comparable to removing 16,000 cars from the road. During construction, the project also provided more than 25 local jobs and 125 indirect jobs with an estimated $3 million boost to the local economy.