• U.S. Air Force is Really Reducing Energy Use

    The U.S. Air Force is the largest energy user in the federal government. The federal government accounts for about one percent of total U.S. energy use, most of that is used by the Department of Defense (DOD). The Air Force accounts for 48 percent of the DOD's energy costs, which equates to about 2.5 billion gallons of aviation fuel, 64 trillion BTUs a year, and 35 metric tons of carbon. In 2012, the Air Force spent over $9 billion on energy, and 85 percent went to aviation fuel, which accounted for eight percent of the Air Force's budget. In 2003, energy was only three percent of the total budget. >> Read the Full Article
  • Maya Long Count

    Ancient calendars were remarkably accurate but over the centuries it is hard to compare the dates of one to the modern day calendar. Things change after all and no calendar is perfect in an ever changing world. The Maya are famous for their complex, intertwined calendar systems, and now one calendar, the Maya Long Count, has been empirically calibrated to the modern European calendar, according to an international team of researchers. Archaeologists want to place the Long Count dates into the European calendar so there is an understanding of when things happened in the Maya world relative to historic events elsewhere. Correlation also allows the rich historical record of the Maya to be compared with other sources of environmental, climate and archaeological data calibrated using the European calendar. >> Read the Full Article
  • New Sinking Islands and Lands

    The seas do rise and fall over the ages. Lands sink and rise depending on the weather. Dynamic modeling of sea-level rise, which takes storm wind and wave action into account, paints a much graver picture for some low-lying Pacific islands under climate-change scenarios than the passive computer modeling used in earlier research, according to a new report. A team led by research oceanographer Curt Storlazzi of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center compared passive bathtub inundation models with dynamic models for two of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The team studied Midway, a classic atoll with islands on the shallow (2–8 meters or 6–26 feet deep) atoll rim and a deep, central lagoon, and Laysan, which is higher, with a 20–30 meter (65–98 feet) deep rim and an island in the center of the atoll. Together, the two locations exhibit landforms and coastal features common to many Pacific islands. >> Read the Full Article
  • Is Ice Loss by Glaciers Abnormal?

    In the last few decades, glaciers at the edge of the icy continent of Antarctica have been thinning, and research has shown the rate of thinning has accelerated and contributed significantly to sea level rise. New ice core research suggests that, while the changes are dramatic, they cannot be attributed with confidence to human-caused global warming, said Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences. Previous work by Steig has shown that rapid thinning of Antarctic glaciers was accompanied by rapid warming and changes in atmospheric circulation near the coast. His research with Qinghua Ding, a UW research associate, showed that the majority of Antarctic warming came during the 1990s in response to El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean. >> Read the Full Article
  • How Fast is Global Climate Changing?

    There's plenty of evidence that the climate has warmed up over the past century, and climate scientists know this has happened throughout the history of the planet. But they want to know more about how this warming is different. Now a research team says it has some new answers. It has put together a record of global temperatures going back to the end of the last ice age — about 11,000 years ago — when mammoths and saber-tooth cats roamed the planet. The study confirms that what we're seeing now is unprecedented. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Cicadas are Coming!

    Remember seventeen years ago when those creepy looking orange and black insects covered nearly every tree and you could barely step outside without crunching on a molted shell or cringing when these winged creatures flew by? Maybe they weren’t in your neighborhood, but all along the eastern seaboard of the United States from New York to North Carolina, millions of these half-inch long cicadas swarmed around for nearly a month. And guess what? This spring, these little critters will emerge from the ground once again. In fact, the cicadas are probably starting to plan their escape right now, as several weeks before emerging, they start to build small cones that stick above the soil. >> Read the Full Article
  • New Camera Takes Better Pictures of Snowflakes

    Winter may be over for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and hopefully we will not be expecting any more snowfall, but that doesn't mean we still can't marvel at the intricacies of the snowflake. A team of researchers at the University of Utah have developed a new high-speed camera system that records 3-D images of these snowflakes in hopes of improving radar for weather and snowpack forecasting. Funded in part by NASA and the US Army, the team studied falling snow and how it interacts with radar in order to improve computer simulations. As a result, the research has revealed more about how snowy weather can degrade microwave (radar) communications. >> Read the Full Article
  • Britain's love affair with bottled water

    Leading academic brands industry a "scam" as campaigners condemn our growing thirst for bottled water. The UK bottled water industry releases 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. One of Britain's leading authorities on water supplies has branded the bottled water industry a scam, backing campaigners' claims of wasted millions and environmental pollution at a time when tap water standards have never been higher. Professor Paul Younger, Rankine Chair of Engineering at Glasgow University, has highlighted growing fears that our increasing consumption of bottled water is damaging the environment while raising huge profits for the big brands, despite Britain having one of the best mains water supplies in the world. >> Read the Full Article
  • Norwegian Pinot Noir?: Global Warming to Drastically Shift Wine Regions

    In less than 40 years, drinking wine could have a major toll on the environment and wildlife, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study finds that climate change will likely force many vineyards to move either north or to higher altitudes, leading to habitat loss, biodiversity declines, and increased pressure for freshwater. Some famous wine-growing areas could be lost, including in the Mediterranean, while development of new wine areas—such as those in the Rocky Mountains and northern Europe—could lead to what the scientists describe as "conservation conflicts." >> Read the Full Article
  • EU Looking Favorably on Shale Gas Development

    The EU’s chief scientific advisor has said that evidence allows the go-ahead for extracting shale gas, the energy source at the centre of a European policy tug-of-war. The EU executive launched a green paper on 27 March, setting out Europe's energy and climate aims for 2030, with Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger taking a favourable position on shale gas. "I am in favour of producing shale gas, particularly for safety reasons, and to reduce gas prices," he said. "In the United States, which is a big producer of shale gas, the price of gas is four times less than in Europe." >> Read the Full Article