• Iron and Life and Volcanic Ash

    In 2010, there was a large volcanic eruption spewing tons of ash into the atmosphere and into the sea. The ash caused major flight delays as well as posing potential health hazards. Nevertheless, the Icelandic volcano's ash plume resulted in the oceans absorbing more carbon dioxide (CO2) than usual, say scientists. In about a third of the global ocean, the abundance of life is limited by a lack of biologically available iron. The supply of iron to a region that is depleted in this important nutrient can stimulate algal productivity, and can result in a temporary boom in biological activity. For much of the surface ocean, the wind-borne transport of iron-rich dust and the upwelling of nutrient-filled water are the normal major sources of iron. >> Read the Full Article
  • US Hazardous Waste Grade: D+

    Superfund is the common name for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), a United States federal law designed to clean up sites contaminated with hazardous substances. Where responsible parties cannot be found, the Agency is authorized to clean up sites itself, using a special trust fund. There has been undeniable success in the cleanup of the nation’s hazardous waste and brownfields sites. However, annual funding for Superfund site cleanup is estimated to be as much as $500 million short of what is needed, and 1,280 sites remain on the National Priorities List with an unknown number of potential sites yet to be identified. More than 400,000 brownfields sites await cleanup and redevelopment. The American Society of Civil Engineers has prepared a report card on the state of the nation on this matter and have given us a D+. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Importance of Aircraft Emission in Climate Change

    While air travel today accounts for just three percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, the carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants that come out of jet exhaust contribute disproportionately to increasing surface temperatures below because the warming effect is amplified in the upper atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the United Nations (UN) to provide comprehensive scientific assessments of the risk of human-induced climate change, reports that CO2 emitted by jets can survive in the atmosphere for upwards of 100 years, and that its combination with other gas and particulate emissions could have double or four times the warming effect as CO2 emissions alone.Modern jet engines are not that different from automobile engines—both involve internal combustion and burn fossil fuels. But instead of gasoline or diesel, jet fuel is primarily kerosene, a common home heating fuel used around the world. Just like car engines, jets emit CO2, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and soot. >> Read the Full Article
  • Plankton and CO2

    Plankton are any organisms that live in water and are incapable of swimming against a current. They provide a crucial source of food to many large aquatic organisms, such as fish and whales. The true base of the food chain. Though many plankton species are microscopic in size, plankton includes organisms covering a wide range of sizes, including large organisms such as jellyfish. Models of carbon dioxide in the world's oceans need to be revised, according to new work by UC Irvine and other scientists published online Sunday in Nature Geoscience due to plankton. Trillions of plankton near the surface of warm waters are far more carbon-rich than has long been thought, they found. Global marine temperature fluctuations could mean that tiny Prochlorococcus and other microbes digest double the carbon previously calculated. >> Read the Full Article
  • Arctic Genetic Pollution Effects

    The cold frozen north and south are pristine and innocent. Even the people who live there. People living in Arctic areas can be more sensitive to pollutants due to their genetics, says researcher Arja Rautio at the Center for Arctic Medicine in the University of Oulu, Finland. This is unfortunate since the northernmost areas of Europe are receiving more harmful chemicals. Scientists believe climate change may be a culprit as air and water mass movements push some of these undesirable chemicals towards the Arctic. "In real life, people are exposed to lots of chemicals," says Rautio, who leads studies into the human health effects from contaminants and the influence of climate change in a EU-funded project called ArcRisk, "and I think the people of the north are exposed to higher levels than for example the general population in Europe." >> Read the Full Article
  • US Drinking Water: D+!

    How safe is our drinking water? The water system especially in our older cities has been around for a long time being patched and repaired. The How safe is our drinking water? The water system especially in our older cities has been around for a long time being patched and repaired. The American Society of Civil Engineers and its members are committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and as such, are equally committed to improving the nation’s public infrastructure. To achieve that goal, they have recently issued a Report Card on the condition and performance of the nation’s infrastructure. They are experts at how it is done and they give the American system a D+! At the dawn of the 21st century, much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States. The quality of drinking water in the United States remains universally high, however. Even though pipes and mains are frequently more than 100 years old and in need of replacement, outbreaks of disease attributable to drinking water are rare. >> Read the Full Article
  • German Research Institute Drops Canadian Tar Sands Project

    The Helmholtz-Association of German Research Centres has just backed out of a CAN$25 million research project funded by the Canadian government that would study sustainable solutions for tar sands pollution. Canada is home to the world's third largest crude reserves in the form of tar sands. Tar sands are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit and are considered part of the world's oil reserves as new technology can extract oil from these sands. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Looming Threat of Water Scarcity

    Some 1.2 billion people—almost a fifth of the world—live in areas of physical water scarcity, while another 1.6 billion face what can be called economic water shortage. The situation is only expected to worsen as population growth, climate change, investment and management shortfalls, and inefficient use of existing resources restrict the amount of water available to people, according to Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). It is estimated that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, with almost half of the world living in conditions of water stress. Water scarcity has several definitions. Physical scarcity occurs when there is not enough water to meet demand; its symptoms include severe environmental degradation, declining groundwater, and unequal water distribution. Economic water scarcity occurs when there is a lack of investment and proper management to meet the demand of people who do not have the financial means to use existing water sources; the symptoms in this case normally include poor infrastructure.Large parts of Africa suffer from economic water scarcity. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Red-Dead water conveyer can avoid a dead end

    The Red-Dead canal could take a small step forward in light of projected environmental impacts and other constraints, says Batir Wardam. After a delay of more than six months, the World Bank has finally released the final drafts of the feasibility and environmental assessment studies for the controversial Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance project, designed to channel some 1.2 billion cubic metres of water 180 kilometres from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Smart Grid and Electric Car Charging

    Widespread adoption of electric vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Some are worried that the electric grid will be stressed leading to a decrease in its reliability. In related news today, Battelle and AeroVironment have a technology that will address this concern, and help EV's charge when the grid is most able to support charging. This technology is the subject of a commercial license agreement between Battelle and AeroVironment, Inc., of Monrovia, Calif. The technology may also ultimately result in lower costs for plug-in electric vehicle owners. Battelle operates the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. AeroVironment will use a portion of the licensed technology in a new prototype version of its Level II charging systems. >> Read the Full Article