Top Stories

92% of the world's population exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution
September 29, 2016 07:18 AM - World Health Organization

A new WHO air quality model confirms that 92% of the world's population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits. Some 3 million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution can be just as deadly. In 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths (11.6% of all global deaths) were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together.

Longest record of continuous carbon flux data is now publicly available
September 28, 2016 10:04 AM - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory via ScienceDaily

Around the world -- from tundra to tropical forests, and a variety of ecosystems in between -- environmental researchers have set up micrometeorological towers to monitor carbon, water, and energy fluxes, which are measurements of how carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor and energy (heat) circulate between the soil, plants and atmosphere. Most of these sites have been continuously collecting data, some for nearly 25 years, monitoring ecosystem-level changes through periods of extreme droughts and rising global temperatures. Each of these sites contributes to a regional network -- i.e. the European Network (Euroflux) or the Americas Network (AmeriFlux) -- and the regional networks together comprise a global network called FLUXNET.

It May Not Cost You More To Drive Home In A Climate-Friendly Car
September 27, 2016 02:34 PM - NPR

It has been a common belief that low-emissions vehicles, like hybrids and electric cars, are more expensive than other choices. But a new study finds that when operating and maintenance costs are included in a vehicle's price, cleaner cars may actually be a better bet.

Could California's gridlock generate electricity for the grid?
September 27, 2016 02:05 PM - Yale Environment 360

California is testing whether its heavy traffic can produce not just emissions and air pollution, but electricity. The state’s Energy Commission says it will spend $2 million to examine the potential of using piezoelectric crystals embedded under asphalt as a way to send the energy created by moving cars to the grid.

Fate of turtles and tortoises affected more by habitat than temperature
September 27, 2016 07:17 AM - University of Bristol

Habitat degradation poses a greater risk to the survival of turtles and tortoises than rising global temperatures, according to new research.

More than 60 per cent of the group are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered, because they are being traded, collected for food and medicine and their habitats are being degraded. Understanding the additional impact of global warming and changes in rainfall patterns on their diversity and distributions is therefore paramount to their conservation.

Soil modeling to help curb climate change
September 26, 2016 05:40 PM - Natural Resources Institute Finland via ScienceDaily

Soil is a major carbon pool, whose impact on climate change is still not fully understood. According to a recent study, however, soil carbon stocks and could be modelled more accurately by factoring in the impacts of both soil nutrient status and soil composition. Determining the volume of carbon dioxide efflux from soil is important to enabling better choices in forest management with respect to curbing climate change. Knowledge of the extent and regional variation of soil carbon stocks is vital. Current soil carbon stock predictions are unreliable and it is difficult to estimate the volume of carbon dioxide efflux that is emitted from soil as a result of climate change.

Acidity in atmosphere minimized to preindustrial levels
September 26, 2016 10:30 AM - University of Copenhagen via ScienceDaily

New research shows that human pollution of the atmosphere with acid is now almost back to the level that it was before the pollution started with industrialization in the 1930s. The results come from studies of the Greenland ice sheet and are published in the scientific journal, Environmental Science and Technology.

The Greenland ice sheet is a unique archive of the climate and atmospheric composition far back in time. The ice sheet is made up of snow that falls and never melts, but rather remains year after year and is gradually compressed into ice. By drilling ice cores down through the kilometre-thick ice sheet, the researchers can analyse every single annual layer, which can tell us about past climate change and concentration of greenhouse gases and pollutants in the atmosphere.

Millions of Trees are Dying Across the US
September 26, 2016 06:53 AM - Julie Rodriguez, Care2

Throughout the U.S., trees are dying at an astonishing rate. The reasons for the die-off vary from location to location — drought, disease, insects and wildfires – but the root cause in many of these cases is the same: climate change.

The epidemic is even threatening the oldest white oak tree in America, a 600-year-old giant in New Jersey that predates Columbus’ visit to the Americas.

Stronger turbine blades with molybdenum silicides
September 23, 2016 04:24 PM - National Institute for Materials Science via ScienceDaily

Researchers at Kyoto University have found that molybdenum silicides can improve the efficiency of turbine blades in ultrahigh-temperature combustion systems.

Gas turbines are the engines that generate electricity in power plants. The operating temperatures of their combustion systems can exceed 1600 °C. The nickel-based turbine blades used in these systems melt at temperatures 200 °C lower and thus require air-cooling to function. Turbine blades made out of materials with higher melting temperatures would require less fuel consumption and lead to lower CO2 emissions.

Inexpensive semiconducting organic polymers can harvest sunlight to split carbon dioxide into alcohol fuels
September 23, 2016 09:33 AM - University of Texas, Arlington via ScienceDaily

Chemists at The University of Texas at Arlington have been the first to demonstrate that an organic semiconductor polymer called polyaniline is a promising photocathode material for the conversion of carbon dioxide into alcohol fuels without the need for a co-catalyst.

"This opens up a new field of research into new applications for inexpensive, readily available organic semiconducting polymers within solar fuel cells," said principal researcher Krishnan Rajeshwar, UTA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and co-Director of UTA's Center for Renewable Energy, Science & Technology.

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