Enn Original News
Elves and Sprites
July 8, 2010 03:19 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Upper atmospheric lightning or upper atmospheric discharge are terms sometimes used by researchers to refer to a family of electrical breakdown phenomena that occur well above the altitudes of normal lightning. The preferred current usage is transient luminous events (TLEs) to refer to the various types of electrical discharge phenomena in the upper atmosphere, because they lack several characteristics of the more familiar lower atmospheric lightning. TLEs include red sprites, sprite halos, blue jets, gigantic jets, and elves.
Really High Pressures
July 7, 2010 03:33 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Deep down in the earth are tremendously high pressures. What happens under high pressure is not the same as what happens at lower pressures. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory physicists are using an ultra fast laser based technique they dubbed nanoshocks for something entirely different. In fact, the nanoshocks have such a small spatial scale that scientists can use them to study shock behavior in tiny samples such as thin films or other systems with microscopic dimensions (a few tens of micrometers). In particular they have used the technique to shock materials under high static pressure in a diamond anvil cell.
July 6, 2010 04:48 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Over 10,000 years ago in the Americas, there were many more large mammals than today epitomized by the mammoth. The extinction of woolly mammoths and other large mammals more than 10,000 years ago may be explained by the same type of cascade of ecosystem disruption that is being caused today by the global decline of predators such as wolves, cougars and sharks, life scientists report July 1 in the cover article of the journal Bioscience.
Understanding Carbon Offsetting
July 6, 2010 11:27 AM - Karina Grudnikov, ENN, Sierra Club Green Home
Most of us know about carbon emissions and understand the idea of our own individual "carbon footprint," but here is a new concept that seems to be catching on: carbon offsetting. Carbon offsetting seems to be an indirect way to "reduce" one's carbon footprint - by paying someone else to support eco-friendly projects. Below is a fantastic article from Sierra Club Green Home that helps explain what carbon offsetting is, the projects it supports and other useful information, such as how to make a smart pick of company if you do want to support carbon-offseting. Win-win or pay to sin? To read more of this story, and to comment on it, visit the ENN Community Blog at http://blog.enn.com/
Deep in the Ocean Depths
July 2, 2010 12:43 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The dark deeps of the ocean has always been mysterious because they are dark (of course) as well hard to visit and see what is down there. For example the Coelacanth, long thought extinct, lives down deep and was only discovered in 1938 as well the elusive giant squids of legend. A study of the occurrence of fishes in the ocean's deepest reaches (the hadal zone, below 20,000 feet)has provided evidence that some species of fishes are more numerous at such depths than experts had thought. The authors of the study, which is published in the July/August issue of BioScience, observed 10 to 20 snailfish congregating at a depth of 25,000 feet around a baited video lander in the Japan Trench. The observation period lasted only five hours, so the occurrence of so many snailfish was a surprise.
EPA issues greenhouse gas reporting requirements for coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems, industrial landfills, and magnesium production facilities
July 2, 2010 09:55 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
The reporting of greenhouse gas emissions by major sources of these pollutants is gaining momentum. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing requirements under its national mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting program for underground coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems, industrial waste landfills and magnesium production facilities. The data from these sectors will provide a better understanding of GHG emissions and will help EPA and businesses develop effective policies and programs to reduce them. Methane is the primary GHG emitted from coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems and industrial landfills and is more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere. The main fluorinated GHG emitted from magnesium production is sulfur hexafluoride, which has an even greater warming potential than methane, and can stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years.
US EPA voids significant Texas air permit program in effect for 16 years
July 1, 2010 04:15 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN
For the past 16 years the state of Texas has been issuing air quality permits to refineries and other major sources that permitted emissions caps on facilities, and allowed facilities to comply with the caps in a manner that gave them some operating flexibility while not exceeding the overall facility cap specified in the permit. This approach, also used in other states, is generally applauded by companies, regulatory agencies, and also by environmental groups. It is a win-win for everyone. So why did EPA void the program? First, state programs operate under authority delegated by USEPA, so EPA does have the right to disapprove a state program it deems to be inadequate under the federal Clean Air Act. A major problem with the EPA action disapproving the Texas permitting program is that there are existing sources in Texas permitted under the program that are relying on the permit terms in their existing permits and have based their business decisions on an existing established permitting program that has been in place since 1995.
Dispersants in the Gulf
July 1, 2010 02:30 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
EPA continues to carefully monitor BP’s use of dispersant in the Gulf. Dispersants are generally less toxic than oil and can help prevent some oil from impacting sensitive areas along the Gulf Coast. EPA believes BP should use as little dispersant as necessary and, on May 23, EPA directed BP to reduce dispersant usage by 75 percent from peak usage. EPA and the Coast Guard formalized that order in a directive to BP on May 26. Over the next month BP reduced dispersant use 68 percent from that peak and EPA will continue to urge BP to reduce the volumes used. However, dispersants come in many varieties with different effectiveness and toxicity. EPA has just released a study of such available options.
Ensuring Seafood Safety in the Gulf of Mexico
July 1, 2010 10:24 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is having a devastating impact on marine wildlife. Fishery stocks are off limits in the affected areas. However, there are still large portions of the Gulf which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has kept open to fishing activities. To ensure the safety of the seafood caught in these areas, federal and state agencies have joined together to implement a comprehensive and coordinated safety program.
Alex in the Gulf
June 30, 2010 02:33 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Tropical Storm Alex, the first storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, continues to pick up steam as it crosses the western Gulf of Mexico. It has now reached hurricane proportions. It is fairly centered right now in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricanes are always a major weather related event especially for those who live in the affected area. In addition, this year we have the BP oil spill to contend with in the same area. What impact Alex and the oil spill will have on each other is far from clear yet.