Sci/tech

Is calling the current time Anthropocene helpful?
January 21, 2016 06:04 AM - James Scourse, Bangor University, The Ecologist

The just as policemen keep on getting younger, epochs keep on getting shorter, writes James Scourse. The Cretaceous endured for 80 million years, but our latest invention, the 'Anthropocene', will be lucky to last out the century. And humanity's vain preoccupation with the idea may, ironically, only bring forward its termination.

The adoption of the term 'Anthropocene' is misleading. Worse than that; it has stimulated a redundant, manufactured, debate that displaces more important scientific research and genuine discussion on climate and environmental change.

 

Pollution in Pacific tied to Africa and Asia
January 20, 2016 06:06 AM - Loretta Kuo/Shawn Honomichl, SciDevNet

Burning down forests in Africa and South-East Asia causes ozone pollution in the air as far as the western Pacific Ocean, researchers say, calling for revision of global climate models to reflect their findings.

In a paper published in Nature Communications last week (13 January), the scientists say their data contradicts earlier theories on the origins of ozone-rich air parcels above the tropical western Pacific, which were thought to descend naturally from a higher atmospheric layer.

How to make your new house a sustainable one
January 18, 2016 11:24 AM - Ewa Gromadzka

People might falsely believe that when they are building a house incorporating any sustainable solutions require additional costs and effort. It is actually the opposite. Some of the sustainable solutions require very little in any financing with comparison to the costs that need to be incurred anyways in a newly constructed building. Moreover, while an initial cost might be a bit higher as for purchasing, for example a sustainable heating system, there is a fast return on investment as utility bills are much lowers with sustainable heating than a standard one. It is possible to save around 30% on the use of energy and water in a sustainable house. That is a case with any other sustainable solution, when it pays off to invest in environment friendly solution in every case.
Below there is list of sustainable solutions that can be applied in every house.

  1. Heat recovery system for the ventilation, heating and cooling.
  2. The use of geothermal heat pump for heating the house, allows for great savings on heating costs.
  3. It is common to use only floor heating as a heating option in energy efficient houses (no radiators). 
  4. Use of low energy doors and windows (recommended triple glazed windows).

SpaceX launches Jason-3 satellite to monitor sea levels
January 18, 2016 05:49 AM - NASA-JPL

Jason-3, a U.S.-European oceanography satellite mission with NASA participation that will continue a nearly quarter-century record of tracking global sea level rise, lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday at 10:42 a.m. PST (1:42 p.m. EST) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Jason-3 is an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with NASA, the French space agency CNES, and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.

"Jason-3 will take the pulse of our changing planet by gathering environmental intelligence from the world's oceans," said Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service. 

NASA published amazing images of dwarf planet Ceres
January 12, 2016 11:42 AM - NASA Earth Observatory

This image from NASA's Dawn spacecraft shows Kupalo Crater, one of the youngest craters on Ceres. Image Credit: NASA/JPL Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Features on dwarf planet Ceres that piqued the interest of scientists throughout 2015 stand out in exquisite detail in the latest images from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which recently reached its lowest-ever altitude at Ceres.

Dawn took these images near its current altitude of 240 miles (385 kilometers) from Ceres, between Dec. 19 and 23, 2015.

Kupalo Crater, one of the youngest craters on Ceres, shows off many fascinating attributes at the high image resolution of 120 feet (35 meters) per pixel. The crater has bright material exposed on its rim, which could be salts, and its flat floor likely formed from impact melt and debris. Researchers will be looking closely at whether this material is related to the "bright spots" of Occator Crater. Kupalo, which measures 16 miles (26 kilometers) across and is located at southern mid-latitudes, is named for the Slavic god of vegetation and harvest.

Tiny chameleons deliver powerful tongue-lashings
January 7, 2016 07:20 AM - Brown University

A new study reports one of the most explosive movements in the animal kingdom: the mighty tongue acceleration of a chameleon just a couple of inches long. The research illustrates that to observe some of nature’s best performances, scientists sometimes have to look at its littlest species.

2015 Year in Review
December 31, 2015 07:10 AM - Mike Gaworecki, MONGABAY.COM

As 2015 comes to a close, Mongabay is looking back at the year that was. This year saw President Obama reject the Keystone pipeline as historic droughts and a vicious wildfire season wracked the western US and Canada. The world committed to climate action in Paris as Southeast Asia was choking on the worst Indonesian haze in years, Shell aborted its plans to drill in the Arctic for the “foreseeable” future, and ExxonMobil is being investigated for lying to the public about climate risks. Here, in no certain order, are the top 15 environmental stories of 2015.

This year's El NiƱo not giving up
December 30, 2015 05:12 AM - JPL-NASA

The current strong El Niño brewing in the Pacific Ocean shows no signs of waning, as seen in the latest satellite image from the U.S./European Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 mission. 

El Niño 2015 has already created weather chaos around the world. Over the next few months, forecasters expect the United States to feel its impacts as well. 

The latest Jason-2 image bears a striking resemblance to one from December 1997, by Jason-2's predecessor, the NASA/Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) Topex/Poseidon mission, during the last large El Niño event. Both reflect the classic pattern of a fully developed El Niño.

Influence of Earth's tilt on climate studied
December 28, 2015 08:00 AM - LSU via ScienceDaily

LSU paleoclimatologist Kristine DeLong contributed to an international research breakthrough that sheds new light on how the tilt of the Earth affects the world's heaviest rainbelt. DeLong analyzed data from the past 282,000 years that shows, for the first time, a connection between the Earth's tilt called obliquity that shifts every 41,000 years, and the movement of a low pressure band of clouds that is the Earth's largest source of heat and moisture -- the Intertropical Convergence Zone, or ITCZ.

"I took the data and put it through a mathematical prism so I could look at the patterns and that's where we see the obliquity cycle, that 41,000-year cycle. From that, we can go in and look at how it compares to other records," said DeLong, who is an associate professor in the LSU Department Geography & Anthropology.

Is the Earth more hairy than we thought?
December 25, 2015 09:25 AM - JPL NASA

The solar system might be a lot hairier than we thought.

A new study publishing this week in the Astrophysical Journal by Gary Prézeau of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, proposes the existence of long filaments of dark matter, or "hairs."

Dark matter is an invisible, mysterious substance that makes up about 27 percent of all matter and energy in the universe. The regular matter, which makes up everything we can see around us, is only 5 percent of the universe. The rest is dark energy, a strange phenomenon associated with the acceleration of our expanding universe.

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