Sustainability

Greenhouse gas-monitoring aircraft keep tabs on the Amazon's rising methane levels
September 15, 2016 10:25 AM - University of Leicester via ScienceDaily

Research led by the National Centre of Earth Observation at the University of Leicester is going to new heights in the atmosphere to get a better handle on methane emitted from wetlands in the Amazon.

Using small aircraft flying in an upward spiral and collecting samples of the air, the team has measured the levels of methane in the atmosphere over the Amazon basin in unprecedented detail.

In the process they've shown the value of satellite measurements of methane for the region, paving the way for research that will keep better tabs on the greenhouse gas.

 

Green city in UAE desert has much to teach the world
September 14, 2016 02:19 PM - University of Birmingham

A new desert city in the United Arab Emirates without light switches or water taps has much to teach people around the world about saving energy and precious resources.

With its low-rise and energy efficient buildings, smart metering, excellent public transport - a personal transportation pod is pictured below - and extensive use of renewable energy, the 2,000 citizens of Masdar City, in Abu Dhabi, are living in a place which is a ‘green’ example to city planners around the globe.

New tools assess the future of wind power
September 14, 2016 11:29 AM - Carnegie Institution for Science via ScienceDaily

Using software tools developed by Near Zero, a research group hosted by the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology, a team of researchers has completed the largest expert survey yet on any energy technology, in this case wind energy.

Near Zero conducts research and assessment of energy and climate issues, focusing on integrating quantitative analysis with expert judgment. In this way, they inform decision-making to accelerate the global transition to a near-zero emission energy system. To support this work, Near Zero has developed open-source software tools to examine where experts agree and disagree and why.

Experts anticipate significant continued reductions in wind energy costs
September 13, 2016 01:37 PM - DOE / Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory via EurekAlert!

Technology advancements are expected to continue to drive down the cost of wind energy, according to a survey of the world's foremost wind power experts led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Experts anticipate cost reductions of 24%-30% by 2030 and 35%-41% by 2050, under a median or 'best guess' scenario, driven by bigger and more efficient turbines, lower capital and operating costs, and other advancements.

Carbon-coated iron catalyst structure could lead to more-active fuel cells
September 12, 2016 04:46 PM - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via EurekAlert!

Fuel cells have long held promise as power sources, but low efficiency has created obstacles to realizing that promise. Researchers at the University of Illinois and collaborators have identified the active form of an iron-containing catalyst for the trickiest part of the process: reducing oxygen gas, which has two oxygen atoms, so that it can break apart and combine with ionized hydrogen to make water. The finding could help researchers refine better catalysts, making fuel cells a more energy- and cost-efficient option for powering vehicles and other applications.

Led by U. of I. chemistry professor Andrew Gewirth, the researchers published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Calculating the role of lakes in global warming
September 9, 2016 05:01 PM - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) via ScienceDaily

As global temperatures rise, how will lake ecosystems respond? As they warm, will lakes -- which make up only 3 percent of the landscape, but bury more carbon than the world's oceans combined -- release more of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane? And might that create a feedback loop that leads to further warming?

To predict the effects of rising air temperatures on the carbon cycle of lakes, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers will link computer models of changing weather, water temperature, and emissions of carbon dioxide and methane for 2,000 lakes across the United States, including Lake George, through 2105. The project is supported with a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, and led by Kevin Rose, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Rensselaer and the Frederic R. Kolleck '52 Career Development Chair in Freshwater Ecology.

Tropics told to ban coral-killing sunscreen
September 8, 2016 06:57 AM - Inga Vesper, SciDevNet

Tropical island nations should team up to ban coral-killing sunscreen products, following the example of Hawaii, a conference has heard. Chemical compounds in sunscreen lotions cause irreparable damage to reefs, which are crucial to the livelihoods of 500 million people in the tropics, scientist and policymakers said at the IUCN World Conservation Congress on 3 September. Hawaii is leading a legistlative effort to ban the use of sunscreen that contains oxybenzone or similar harmful agents at its beaches.

Future fisheries can expect $10 billion revenue loss due to climate change
September 7, 2016 11:20 AM - University of British Columbia via EurekAlert!

Global fisheries stand to lose approximately $10 billion of their annual revenue by 2050 if climate change continues unchecked, and countries that are most dependent on fisheries for food will be the hardest hit, finds new UBC research.

Climate change impacts such as rising temperatures and changes in ocean salinity, acidity and oxygen levels are expected to result in decreased catches, as previous research from UBC's Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries has found. In this study, the authors examined the financial impact of these projected losses for all fishing countries in 2050, compared to 2000.

New simulations of wind power generation
September 6, 2016 02:28 PM - ETH Zurich via EurekAlert!

There has been a massive boom in wind power capacity both in Europe and worldwide. In 2015 global installed capacity was around 350 gigawatt (GW), with 135 GW installed in Europe, distributed across some 87,000 wind turbines. Wind power now provides a bigger share (13 percent) of electricity than nuclear power stations. In countries such as Spain, Denmark and Germany, the amount of wind power already installed is in theory enough to cover nationwide demand for electricity under ideal conditions, i.e. maximum wind power output and low consumer demand.

Detecting forest fragility with satellites
September 6, 2016 08:48 AM - Wageningen University and Research Centre via ScienceDaily

Over the past decades’ forests in different parts of the world have suffered sudden massive tree mortality. Now an international team of scientists led by researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands has found a way to spot from satellite images which forests may be most likely to fall prey to such die-off events.

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