Large Earthquakes create more aftershocks and farther away than previously thought
October 3, 2012 05:14 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
New research by the University of California has produced significant new data on large earthquakes the related aftershocks that can occur nearby and in distant locations. The largest earthquake in 2012 a magnitude 8.6 temblor on April 11 centered in the East Indian Ocean off Sumatra, did little damage, but it triggered quakes around the world for at least a week, according to a new analysis by seismologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The April 11 quake was unusually large — the 10th largest in the last 100 years — and, similar to a few other recent large quakes, triggered small quakes during the three hours it took for seismic waves to travel through Earth's crust. The new study shows, however, that some faults weren't rattled enough by the seismic waves to fail immediately, but were primed to break up to six days later.
Inuit Face Tensions with Outside World as their environment melts away
October 2, 2012 06:35 AM - Ed Struzik, Yale Environment360
With Arctic summer sea ice rapidly disappearing, the native Inuit of Canada are encountering not only unsettling changes in their subsistence way of life, but also a growing number of outsiders who will further transform their once-isolated homeland. Sakiasiq Qanaq has seen a lot of changes on the north coast of Baffin Island in recent years as the retreat of summer sea ice has continued unabated. But the Inuit hunter has never seen anything quite like this year, when sea ice loss in the Arctic hit a record low. First, the community's spring narwhal hunt, which usually yields roughly 60 of the tusked whales, produced only three. The sea ice was so thin that the Inuit couldn’t safely stand on it and shoot the narwhal as they migrated into Arctic Bay from Greenland through channels in the ice. Then an unprecedented number of killer whales, or orcas — rarely seen in heavy ice — showed up in the largely ice-free water, with Inuit hunters in nearby Pond Inlet observing three pods of orcas that reportedly killed some of the narwhals and scared off the others.
Turning Seawater into Jet Biofuel
October 1, 2012 12:16 PM - Allison Winter, ENN
From using vegetable oil and animal fats to trees and grasses as new sources of energy, biofuels are continuing to gain attention due to current oil prices and concern for energy security. As energy is produced from carbon fixation in these biofuels, scientists are experimenting with other types of renewable sources as mediums. The latest research endeavor? Creating jet fuel from seawater. Last year, the U.S. Navy Military Sea Lift Command, who is in charge of supplying fuel and oil to the U.S. Navy fleet, delivered nearly 600 million gallons of fuel to vessels underway, operating 15 fleet replenishment oilers around the globe. Refueling U.S. Navy vessels at sea is not only costly, but the process requires a lot of time and coordination, which can ultimately affect national security.
Southwest US Forests could suffer greatly as climate warms
October 1, 2012 06:02 AM - ScienceDaily
Combine the tree-ring growth record with historical information, climate records, and computer-model projections of future climate trends, and you get a grim picture for the future of trees in the southwestern United States. That's the word from a team of scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory, the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Arizona, and other partner organizations. If the Southwest is warmer and drier in the near future, widespread tree death is likely and would cause substantial changes in the distribution of forests and of species, the researchers report this week in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Norwegian Arctic Summers Warmest in 1,800 Years
September 30, 2012 10:13 AM - Yale Environment360
Summer temperatures on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in the High Arctic are now higher than during any time over the last 1,800 years, including a period of higher temperatures in the northern hemisphere known as the Medieval Warm Period, according to a new study. In an analysis of algae buried in deep lake sediments, a team of scientists calculated that summer temperatures in Svalbard since 1987 have been 2 to 2.5 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 4.5 degrees F) warmer than during the Medieval Warm Period, which lasted from roughly 950 to 1250 AD. Scientists say this year's record declines in Arctic sea ice extent and volume are powerful evidence that the giant cap of ice at the top of the planet is on a trajectory to largely disappear in summer within a decade or two, with profound global consequences.
Smokey Robinson Launches Smoke Alarm site to Fight Water-Borne Diseases
September 29, 2012 09:24 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit
Legendary R&B singer and songwriter Smokey Robinson has launched a social media site called Smoke Alarm as a way of getting the word out on important issues of the day. What makes Smoke Alarm so powerful is the number of celebrity participants he has on board, including Elton John, Hillary Duff, Daryl Hall, Eva Longoria and James Franco, among others who pass these messages along to their Facebook fans and Twitter followers. The site currently has over 44 million subscribers. The first issue that Smokey is tackling is a great one, the challenge of providing clean drinking water to millions of people around the world who do not have it.
Community Sharing: Saving Resources and Saving Money
September 28, 2012 09:15 AM - Samir Jeraj, The Ecologist
It started with Sam going around to his neighbour to borrow some milk. Things took a further step when one of them borrowed some chairs for a barbecue. Finally, the two neighbours decided the time had come to take down the fence between their gardens, to better enjoy the shared space. This is how StreetBank - an online tool sharing website - started. On a street in West London, two neighbours started to share what they each owned, replacing the idea of possessions with the more collaborative concept of shared tools.
Go Slowly to tap Namibia's groundwater
September 28, 2012 05:46 AM - Servaas van den Bosch, SciDevNet
The extraction of the much needed water from a large underground aquifer in northern Namibia may need to wait for further studies, officials have warned at a water investment conference. The aquifer, discovered in July, may contain enough water to sustain about one million people living in the area for 400 years at the current consumption rate, as well as boost development through irrigation in this poor, heavily overgrazed area where women and children walk for hours to get fresh water from boreholes. But officials and scientists have cautioned against too much optimism until further studies have been conducted. One reason is that the aquifer is under a smaller, polluted water resource, so it is still unclea
The Kathmandu Valley Needs Help!
September 27, 2012 05:56 AM - Joseph Mayton, The Ecologist
The once bustling Bagmati river has become the focal point of Nepal's struggle to bring modernity to this once isolated region. And the environment is struggling to survive, writes Joseph Mayton. It is "clean-up" day on Nepal’s major river, the Bagmati. Uniformed military personnel troll the banks of the river, picking up plastic bags and rubbish that has found its way onto the sides what once was the main thoroughfare for the Kathmandu Valley. Turning, with pieces in his hand, one officer lightly tosses the rubbish into the already polluted water.
Update - High Altitude Wind Energy Potential
September 26, 2012 05:35 AM - Dave Levitan, Yale Environment360
A host of start-up companies are exploring ways to harness the enormous amount of wind energy flowing around the earth, especially at high altitudes. But as these innovators are discovering, the engineering and regulatory challenges of what is known as airborne wind power are daunting. The wind turbines that increasingly dot the landscape peak at around 300 feet above ground, with the massive blades spinning a bit higher. The wind, however, does not peak at 300 feet. Winds are faster and more consistent the higher one climbs, maxing out in the jet streams at five miles and above.