The Ozone hole seems to be getting smaller
October 29, 2013 06:48 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Remember the Ozone hole? Decades ago it was a big concern. It was getting bigger and bigger and our emissions of ozone-depleting substances was identified as the main reason. It continues to get smaller as anthropogenic emissions continue to be reduced. It was slightly smaller in 2013 than average in recent decades, according to NASA satellite data. The ozone hole is a seasonal phenomenon that starts to form during the Antarctic spring (August and September). The September-October 2013 average size of the hole was 8.1 million square miles (21 million square kilometers). For comparison, the average size measured since the mid-1990s when the annual maximum size stopped growing is 8.7 million square miles (22.5 million square kilometers). However, the size of the hole in any particular year is not enough information for scientists to determine whether a healing of the hole has begun.
Africa's biggest wind farm opens
October 28, 2013 09:03 AM - Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist
Africa's biggest wind farm, at Ashegoda in Tigray, Ethiopia, is being inaugurated today after a three year construction period. This marks the completion of the last of three construction phases. The 120 MW wind farm has already injected 90 MWh of electricity into Ethiopia's power grid since commissioning began earlier this year, and is expected to produce a total of 400,000 MWh per year hereafter.
Nuclear power gets twice the price of solar!
October 28, 2013 08:31 AM - Oliver Tickell, Ecologist
The UK government's policy to pay for more for nuclear power than for power from solar PV is in direct contradiction of EU rules on state aid. The Hinkley C nuclear power station is to be paid more than twice as much as German solar pv arrays of 10MW or more, energy expert David Toke of Aberdeen University has calculated. And even smaller arrays are being paid considerably less than the price paid to EDF at Hinkley.
Kazakhstan nuclear test site clean up success
October 27, 2013 08:32 AM - Paul Lowe / Panos, SciDevNet
A Soviet-era nuclear test site in Kazakhstan was cleaned up through a collaborative international project that could provide lessons for tackling other dangerous nuclear sites across the globe, a report reveals. The report, entitled 'Plutonium Mountain', documents how international scientific cooperation was important for securing nuclear waste from the site. It was released in August by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, United States. The Semipalatinsk test site, which spans an area about the size of Belgium, lies in a remote part of eastern Kazakhstan. It embodied the post-Cold War risk of 'loose nukes' -- the threat that terrorists or rogue states could obtain nuclear fissile materials — according to the report.
Arctic warming confirmed to be unprecedented
October 26, 2013 09:43 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
The earth's climate is changing. Temperatures are trending higher. Scientists want to know if this trend is part of a natural cycle, augmented by man's use of fossil fuels. The Arctic region is a good place to look for clues. Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher now than during any century in the past 44,000 years and perhaps as long ago as 120,000 years, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study. The study is the first direct evidence that the present warmth in the Eastern Canadian Arctic exceeds the peak warmth there in the Early Holocene, when the amount of the sun’s energy reaching the Northern Hemisphere in summer was roughly 9 percent greater than today, said CU-Boulder geological sciences Professor Gifford Miller, study leader. The Holocene is a geological epoch that began after Earth's last glacial period ended roughly 11,700 years ago and which continues today.
India blocks progress on HFC emissions reductions
October 25, 2013 05:05 PM - Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist
The Indian Government has single-handedly blocked progress on an agreement to reduce emissions of the super-powerful greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The G20 - which includes India as the world's tenth largest economy - resolved in September to phase down the consumption and production of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty which has successfully slashed emissions of ozone eating CFCs. But in the 25th meeting of the Montreal Protocol in Bangkok, which ended today, India deliberately blocked detailed discussions of the HFC-reduction proposals.
The Abundance of Invasive Species
October 25, 2013 04:05 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Recognizing that invasive species are major catalysts for environmental change, researchers from the University of Wisconsin—Madison are relooking at how we account for invasive species populations. Instead of researching the behaviors and habits of the invasive species, researchers Gretchen Hansen and Jake Vander Zanden are considering abundance distributions of invasive species. They hypothesize that measuring abundance in an area is a more helpful determinate for defining the most optimal methods of prevention, containment, control and eradication.
Breakthrough in CO2 conversion to useful forms of carbon
October 25, 2013 07:22 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
CO2 is an important air pollution emission contributing to climate change. Researchers around the globe are looking at ways to remove CO2 from flue gasses and to store it (sequestering) or to in someway use it. By tuning gold nanoparticles to just the right size, researchers from Brown University have developed a catalyst that selectively converts carbon dioxide (CO2) to carbon monoxide (CO), an active carbon molecule that can be used to make alternative fuels and commodity chemicals. "Our study shows potential of carefully designed gold nanoparticles to recycle CO2 into useful forms of carbon," said Shouheng Sun, professor of chemistry and one of the study’s senior authors. "The work we've done here is preliminary, but we think there's great potential for this technology to be scaled up for commercial applications."
Introduction to Persistent, Bioaccumulative, Toxic (PBT) Compounds in the Environment
October 24, 2013 05:03 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Global chemical contamination is a worldwide concern affecting every being on earth. Chemical exposure, whether it is through air, water, plants, soil or our modern living environment is unavoidable. But certain chemicals and compounds having Persistent, Bioaccumulative, Toxic (PBT) characteristics are more dangerous to our environment than others because of their inability to break down easily, are easily transferred throughout all forms of environmental media, and posing risks to human health and the ecosystem due to their toxicity at low concentrations.
Ecology: Life's Connections
October 24, 2013 04:41 PM - Glen Barry, Ecologist
Ultimately, all humanity and all life have is the biosphere, the thin layer of life just above and below Earth’s surface, composed of ancient, miraculously evolved natural ecosystems. The natural Earth is a marvel - a complex coupling of species within ecosystems, whereby life begets life. Ecology is far more than the study of life and its environment. The word is used here as a synonym for ecosystems - the vibrant connections that emerge between species across scales, which cumulatively make life on Earth possible.