Potential new source of renewable energy found in humidity
February 27, 2014 12:15 PM - Kristin Kusek, Harvard University
A new type of electrical generator uses bacterial spores to harness the untapped power of evaporating water, according to research conducted at the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Its developers foresee electrical generators driven by changes in humidity from sun-warmed ponds and harbors.
One state addresses potholes through a new pothole alert system
February 27, 2014 10:43 AM - ENN Staff
As much of the northern hemisphere looks forward to the second half of the winter season, municipalities and regional governments are faced with rudimentary task of repairing potholes. Rutgers University instructor Wansoo Im, no doubt frustrated with the infrastructure meltdown himself, launched an app and website to map the biggest ones in his own home state of New Jersey. Aptly called NJPothole, the website plots potholes on maps to alert motorists (and maybe even municipal departments of public works dispatchers) of impending undercarriage attack.
Forest recovery following natural disaster
February 27, 2014 08:06 AM - Sue Nichols, Michigan State University
Recovering from natural disasters usually means rebuilding infrastructure and reassembling human lives. Yet ecologically sensitive areas need to heal, too, and scientists are pioneering new methods to assess nature's recovery and guide human intervention. The epicenter of China's devastating Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 was in the Wolong Nature Reserve, a globally important valuable biodiversity hotspot and home to the beloved and endangered giant pandas. Not only did the quake devastate villages and roads, but also the earth split open and swallowed sections of the forests and bamboo groves that shelter and feed pandas and other endangered wildlife. Persistent landslides and erosion exacerbated the devastation.
Greener chemical cleanups
February 26, 2014 12:14 PM - Marianne English Spoon, University of Wisconsin
Cleaning up oil spills and metal contaminants in a low-impact, sustainable and inexpensive manner remains a challenge for companies and governments globally. But a group of researchers at UW—Madison is examining alternative materials that can be modified to absorb oil and chemicals. If further developed, the technology may offer a cheaper and "greener" method to absorb oil and heavy metals from water and other surfaces.
Passing the baton in oil spill research on the Gulf Coast
February 26, 2014 09:30 AM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Media Relations Office
As part of on-going research nearly four years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will team up with a group of high school students in Florida to collect remnants of oil from Gulf Coast beaches this week. Marine chemist Chris Reddy studies how the many compounds that compose petroleum hydrocarbon, or oil, behave and change over time after an oil spill. He and his researchers have collected and analyzed about 1,000 oil samples from the Gulf Coast since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Limitations of climate engineering
February 25, 2014 12:59 PM - Jan Steffen, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
Despite international agreements on climate protection and political declarations of intent, global greenhouse gas emissions have not decreased. On the contrary, they continue to increase. With a growing world population and significant industrialization in emerging markets such as India and China the emission trend reversal necessary to limit global warming seems to be unlikely. Therefore, large-scale methods to artificially slow down global warming are increasingly being discussed. They include proposals to fertilize the oceans, so that stimulated plankton can remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, or to reduce the Sun's incoming radiation with atmospheric aerosols or mirrors in space, so as to reduce climate warming. All of these approaches can be classified as "climate engineering". "However, the long-term consequences and side effects of these methods have not been adequately studied," says Dr. David Keller from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. Together with colleagues the expert in earth system modeling has compared several Climate Engineering methods using a computer model. The results of the study have now been published in the internationally renowned online journal Nature Communications.
Free mobile green apps
February 25, 2014 10:25 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Incorporating sound environmental decisions in our daily lives has been made easier with the availability of several green apps for the mobile device. Below is a list of five useful environmental apps that are free and feature discussions and motivators for carbon footprint identification and reduction, climate change, global forest cover, product scoring based upon environmental impact, and environmental actions all aimed at making better choices for sustainable living.
COLLEGIATE CORNER: Fossil Fuels vs. Renewable Resources
February 24, 2014 01:07 PM - Flavio Avalos, Class of 2015, Wakefield High School, Arlington, VA
Fossil fuels have been the main source of the energy all over the world. They increase the amount of CO2 emissions, and the emission of CO2 is a great cause of global warming in the atmosphere, destroying the atmospheric layers. What can we do to lower the demand of fossil fuels and become more eco friendly with renewable energy resources? The percent of US transportation sector consumption is 95.4% fossil fuels (Article 3), and this shows the reliance of the US on fossil fuels. As the Institute for Energy states, "Fossil Fuels make modern life possible" and that the only reason that our modern society works and the privileges we get are all due to the fact of fossil fuels (Article 3). Need I remind you: fossil fuels are limited and could go out?
Why did the toad cross the road?
February 24, 2014 09:24 AM - Megan Drake, Care2
Have you given any thoughts to toads lately? They may not be the first creature that comes to mind when considering animal advocacy. Indeed, the mating ritual of amphibians is not usually a concern because most toads manage to travel from their wooded habitats to a body of water for mating all by themselves and without human intervention.
Report Finds 42,000 Turtles Harvested Each Year by Legal Fisheries
February 21, 2014 10:05 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Conservation awareness for sea turtles has made great progress recently, however the species are still under threat. Not only are hundreds of thousands of sea turtles killed each year from bycatch and illegal fishing but, in many coastal communities, sea turtles are considered a food source. Despite having spiritual or mythological importance, human populations consume both turtle eggs and meat. A new study conducted by Blue Ventures Conservation and staff at the University of Exeter's Centre for Ecology and Conservation has found that 42 countries or territories around the world still permit the harvest of marine turtles — and estimates that more than 42,000 turtles are caught each year by these fisheries.