Enn Original News
Peat. Climate and Fires
November 29, 2010 03:47 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Peat, or turf, is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter. Peat forms in wetland bogs, moors, and peat swamp forests. Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world. Peat has a high carbon content and can burn under low moisture conditions. Once ignited by the presence of a heat source, it smolders. These smoldering fires can burn undetected for very long periods of time (months, years and even centuries) propagating in a creeping fashion through the underground peat layer. The rate of global warming could lead to a rapid release of carbon from these peat lands that would then further accelerate global warming. Two recent studies published by the Mathematics Research Institute at the University of Exeter highlight the risk that this 'compost bomb' instability could pose, and calculate the conditions under which it could occur.
Study Shows Over-Cleanliness Negatively Affects Immune System
November 29, 2010 09:51 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
In a never-ending quest to eliminate human contact with germs, science has given society a number of hygienic chemicals. Among these chemicals are Triclosan, found commonly in anti-bacterial soaps, toothpaste, and many other products, and Bisphenol A (BPA), found in the protective lining of food cans. A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) in Ann Arbor suggests that these chemicals may be detrimental to the immune system and cause allergies.
International Tiger Conservation Forum is over, now the hard work begins
November 26, 2010 08:54 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
The International Tiger Conservation Forum concluded in St Petersburg this week, with the heads of governments of the 13 Tiger Range Countries (TRC) adopting a declaration designed to help save the wild cats from extinction. The prime ministers declared that they will "strive to double the number of wild tigers by 2022." The worldwide tiger population has declined from 100,000 to just over 3,000 over the past century. The International Tiger Summit, hosted by the northwestern Russian city of St. Petersburg which ran from November 21-24 had heads of governments discussing a plan to double the animal's population in 12 years. The plan will require up to $350 million in funding from the international community.
November 24, 2010 10:33 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Pterodactyl are not giant birds and indeed if they were, they might not even be able to fly based on standard theories of flight. Some have proposed that they vaulted and then glided on the winds. These ancient reptiles that flew over the heads of dinosaurs — were at their best in gentle tropical breezes, soaring over hillsides and coastlines or floating over land and sea on thermally driven air currents, according to new research from the University of Bristol. Pterodactyls) were too slow and flexible to use the stormy winds and waves of the southern ocean like the albatrosses of today states the research by Colin Palmer, an engineer turned paleontology PhD student in Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences.
November 23, 2010 03:28 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have found a stunning burst of star formation that beams out as much infrared light as an entire galaxy. The collision of two spiral galaxies has triggered this explosion, which is cloaked by dust that renders its stars nearly invisible in other wavelengths of light. Although bright as this is, it pales in comparison to a quasar. The brightest known quasar is 3C 273 in the constellation of Virgo. This quasar's luminosity is about 2 trillion times that of our sun, or about 100 times that of the total light of average giant galaxies like our Milky Way. The starburst newly revealed by Spitzer stands as the most luminous ever seen taking place away from the centers, or nuclei, of merging parent galaxies. It blazes ten times brighter than the nearby Universe's previous most famous starburst that gleams in another galactic smashup known as the Antennae Galaxy.
World's First Hybrid Tugboat Reduces Emissions at California Ports
November 23, 2010 08:53 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Carbon emissions at sea have received more attention over the last decade. Ports, especially, can have a negative impact on air quality in the populated areas that surround them. The many emissions sources at ports include ships, trucks, trains, and cargo-handling equipment. Harbor-crafts also contribute a significant portion of total port emissions. These include tugboats, ferries, fishing boats, and dredge vessels. Recently, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have started using a hybrid electric tugboat. A new study by the University of California (UC) Riverside has shown that this has been effective at reducing emissions.
European Carbon Emissions
November 22, 2010 01:59 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The European Commission said on Monday a proposal to limit the use of some carbon credits from industrial gas projects in its emissions trading scheme might be unveiled during a United Nations climate summit in Mexico next week. The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme is the largest multi-national emissions trading scheme in the world. The trading Scheme currently covers more than 10,000 installations with a net heat excess of 20 MW in the energy and industrial sectors which are collectively responsible for close to half of the EU's emissions of CO2 and 40% of its total greenhouse gas emissions. Under the Trading scheme, large emitters of carbon dioxide within the EU must monitor and annually report their CO2 emissions, and they are obliged every year to return an amount of emission allowances to the government that is equivalent to their CO2 emissions in that year. In order to neutralize annual irregularities in CO2-emission levels that may occur due to extreme weather events (such as harsh winters or very hot summers), emission credits for any plant operator subject to the Trading Scheme are given out for a sequence of several years at once. Each such sequence of years is called a Trading Period. The 1st Trading Scheme Trading Period expired in December 2007. Since January 2008, the 2nd Trading Period is under way which will last until December 2012.
Global CO2 Emissions Increased in 2010
November 22, 2010 09:17 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
During the heart of the recession in 2009, CO2 emissions fell as economic activity slowed. Now that the world is seeing modest signs at recovery, the pace of economic activity has picked up and so have the CO2 emissions. According to a new study from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, the planet may reach record levels of emissions by the end of the year.
"Get to Know" Contest for Youth Open until November 30th
November 20, 2010 10:16 AM - Editor, ENN
Scientists have so far identified over 2 million species on planet Earth — yet American youth are less familiar than ever with plants and animals living in their own "backyard". To reverse this trend, the Get to Know Contest is challenging young Americans (age 5-18) to get outside today and "get to know" the amazing and diverse wild neighbors who share our ecosystems. Art, writing, photos and videos inspired by first-hand experience with our wild neighbours can be submitted at www.gettoknow.ca until November 30th, 2010. In honor of 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, the theme for art, writing and photography categories is "Celebrating Biodiversity". The all-new video category celebrates the upcoming 2011 International Year of Forests with a theme "This is My Forest". Winners will get exciting prizes, including a week-long Art & Nature Camp experience at the Pacific Rim National Park in Canada for those 12 and older. More than just a creative arts competition, the contest aims to draw youth into nature, so the prizes are first of all an incentive for youth to take the first step out of doors. Contest organizers are encouraging all youth to "get to know" their wild neighbors today and spread the word to their friends, since there are less than ten days left to enter.
November 19, 2010 12:10 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Comets are temporary night flashes across the sky. They are rarer than meteors and are further away. The EPOXI mission's recent encounter with comet Hartley 2 provided the first images clear enough for scientists to link jets of dust and gas with specific surface features. The EPOXI mission spacecraft revealed a cometary snow storm created by carbon dioxide jets spewing out tons of golf-ball to basketball-sized fluffy ice particles from the peanut-shaped comet's rocky ends. At the same time, a different process was causing water vapor to escape from the comet's smooth mid-section. This information sheds new light on the nature of comets and even planets.