• US Military Takes Part in Reducing Ecological Footprint

    In an effort to enhance American security and address climate change, the U.S. military is diminishing its footprint. The military is producing cleaner power, reducing energy consumption, managing water and minimizing waste. Their efforts encompass vast numbers of vehicles, ships, planes, buildings, lands, and other facilities. A major impetus for these efforts is Executive Order 13514, "Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance," which President Obama signed on October 5, 2009. It mandates a 30 percent reduction in energy usage by federal agencies. >> Read the Full Article
  • Researchers study the transformation of materials facing water erosion

    One of the main reasons why the Grand Canyon looks the way it does is due to water erosion. With its deep valleys and smoothed ridges, the Grand Canyon is a prime example of how erosion can wear away at land formations and change landscapes. But according to a team of researchers at New York University, erosion caused by flowing water does not only smooth out objects, but can also form distinct shapes with sharp points and edges. Researchers at the university studied the effects of water erosion to better understand how water and air work to shape land, rocks, and artificial structures. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ground Water Inundation

    Scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) published a study today in Nature Climate Change showing that besides marine inundation (flooding), low-lying coastal areas may also be vulnerable to groundwater inundation, a factor largely unrecognized in earlier predictions on the effects of sea level rise. Ground-water flooding or inundation occurs in low-lying areas when the water table rises above the land surface. >> Read the Full Article
  • Update on Ötzi the Iceman and the Spread of Agriculture

    Ötzi the Iceman, an astonishingly well-preserved Neolithic mummy found in the Italian Alps in 1991, was a native of Central Europe, not a first-generation émigré from Sardinia, new research shows. And genetically, he looked a lot like other Stone Age farmers throughout Europe. The new findings, reported Thursday (Nov. 8) here at the American Society of Human Genetics conference, support the theory that farmers, and not just the technology of farming, spread during prehistoric times from the Middle East all the way to Finland. >> Read the Full Article
  • Seeing Storms Through the SMOS Eye

    When millions of people are bracing themselves for the onslaught of extreme weather, as much information as possible is needed to predict the strength of any impending storm. As its name suggests, the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite was designed to measure how much moisture is held in soil and how much salt is held in the surface waters of the oceans. Since SMOS has the ability to see through clouds and it is little affected by rain, it can also provide reliable estimates of the surface wind speeds under intense storms. This can be quite useful in tracking a storm system remotely and accurately. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Mystery of 49 Ceti

    Just look up into the night sky and see all of the stars and then imagine all that you cannot see that is still up there. There are lots of mysteries up there and some we know of , some we suspect, and some we do not know. Every six seconds, for millions of years, comets have been colliding with one another near a star in the constellation Cetus called 49 CETI, which is visible to the naked eye. Over the past three decades, astronomers have discovered hundreds of dusty disks around stars, but only two — 49 CETI is one — have been found that also have large amounts of gas orbiting them. >> Read the Full Article
  • Scientists research plant-based insect repellent

    What do the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense have in common? Besides being government departments, both want to improve technologies for killing pathogen-transmitting insects. Mosquitoes, sand flies, ticks, and other biting bugs can cause some of the most devastating diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever. These arthropods pose a particular problem not only for native populations, but also for military troops that are located where these illnesses are endemic. >> Read the Full Article
  • Exploring the Ocean for Minerals

    Global demand for metals continues to grow, fuelled largely by increasing populations and the industrialisation and urbanisation of China and India. To meet this demand, the international minerals industry has had to search new areas of the globe for additional resources. As Africa — the last underexplored continent — becomes more developed, it is inevitable that the oceans, which cover three-quarters of our planet, will be explored and exploited for their mineral wealth. It is a question of when and how, not if. >> Read the Full Article
  • Landslides and Earthquakes

    A landslide or landslip is a geological phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal and onshore environments. Although the action of gravity is the primary driving force for a landslide to occur, there are other contributing factors affecting the original slope stability. Typically, pre-conditional factors build up specific sub-surface conditions that make the area/slope prone to failure, whereas the actual landslide often requires a trigger before being released. U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that last year's magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia triggered landslides at distances four times farther—and over an area 20 times larger—than previous research has shown. "We used landslides as an example and direct physical evidence to see how far-reaching shaking from east coast earthquakes could be," said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. "Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur." >> Read the Full Article
  • If we're going to pave paradise, let's put up a green parking lot

    Can you imagine if our roads and parking lots were painted yellow or maybe a light blue? It would challenge our concept of a typical blacktop, but according to research, "cool pavement" seems like the way of the future. Pavements from streets and exposed parking lots make up a large percentage of surface area in our growing communities. And it is easy to feel the heat that is absorbed in those dark pavements. As pavement surface heats up, local air is also heated and aggravates urban heat islands—urban areas that become warmer than their surrounding areas. To address this issue, the Heat Island Group of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been experimenting with "cool pavement" technologies. Similar to the way lighter-colored roofs have a cooling effect by reflecting the sun's energy, cool pavements also have the same ability. Cool pavements can be made from traditional pavement materials that are lighter in color and therefore have a higher solar reflectance, or can consist of cool-colored coatings for asphalt surfaces. Because sealcoats are commonly used as asphalt pavement structures degrade over time, when roads do need to be repaved or patched up, cities may want to opt for these new technologies. The benefits of cool pavements will not only help local ambient air, but can also impact global warming and energy loads. Dark roofs and dark pavements both contribute to warming temperatures as they absorb large amounts of solar energy and then radiate that energy back into the atmosphere in the form of heat. >> Read the Full Article