Photokina 2014 highlights

Climate Change

Ronald Prinn, director of MIT's Center for Global Change Science, and his group have revis...

Researchers at MIT have continued a study of climate risk and released a new report to show that even moderate carbon-reduction policies can substantially lower the risk of future climate change. It also shows that action is needed quickly if global emissions reductions are to provide a good chance of avoiding a temperature increase of more than 2°C above the pre-industrial level — a widely discussed target. But the researchers determined that failing to take prompt action could result in extreme changes that could become much more difficult, if not impossible, to control.  Read More

'Green roofs' like these rooftop gardens atop the Rockefeller Center may go a long way to ...

‘Green roofs’- urban rooftops covered with plants - are gaining in popularity to help buildings reduce their reliance on air conditioning, and now scientists in Michigan are reporting they could also help fight global warming by eliminating carbon dioxide in cities, more effectively than was first thought.  Read More

The blue line shows estimates of Arctic temperatures over the last 2,000 years. The green ...

Arctic temperatures in the 1990s reached their warmest level of any decade in at least 2,000 years, new research indicates. The study, which incorporates geologic records and computer simulations, provides new evidence that the Arctic would be cooling if not for greenhouse gas emissions that are overpowering natural climate patterns. The international study, led by Northern Arizona University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), will be published in the September 4 edition of Science.  Read More

Cellphone towers could soon become more than just ugly buildings to satisfy our communicat...

Atmospheric humidity can strongly influence radio signals by scattering them in all directions, weakening and making it much harder to detect on the receiving end. A team of researchers from the University of Tel Aviv has now found a new, promising way of exploiting this phenomenon to accurately predict the intensity of imminent floods and other natural catastrophes.  Read More

Yellow crazy ants  Image: CSIRO

While the implications of climate change for biodiversity have been widely recognised, the insidious effect of invasive alien species (IAS) on global biodiversity stays under the radar. Last Friday was the United Nations’ International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) and the International Convention on Biological Diversity sees IAS as “one of the greatest threats to biodiversity, and to the ecological and economic well-being of society and the planet”. “Increasing globalisation has led to greater movement of new species around the world, and native species killed or stressed by global change will all too often be replaced by these weeds and feral animals,” says CSIRO Biodiversity Research Director, Dr Mark Lonsdale. CSIRO Podcast  Read More

The “roulette wheels” created by MIT researchers to show the range of probability of poten...

Research carried out by the MIT's Center for Global Change Science has predicted that global warming will be roughly double previous estimates – and could be even worse than that. While a major 2003 study indicated a median projected increase in earth surface warming of 2.4 degrees Celsius, the new study, which takes into account possible changes in human activities, points to a median probability of surface warming of 5.2 degrees Celsius by 2100 unless drastic action is taken.  Read More

The electric Tesla Roadster comes out on top of the ethanol powered Saab 9-5 in the miles ...

Running vehicles on biofuels such as ethanol reduces CO2 emissions and offers a way to lessen the world's reliance on oil. While this sounds great from an environmental perspective, the energy required to produce the biofuel and the land clearing for crops that can result means biofuels aren’t necessarily the environmentally friendly solution they initially appear to be. Recognizing this, researchers have analyzed the best way to maximize the “miles per acre” from biomass and discovered that the far more efficient option is to convert the biomass to electricity, rather than ethanol. Another tick for the electric car.  Read More

The Bushbunker is a purpose-built fire shelter designed to maximize the likelihood of surv...

Australia’s ‘Black Saturday’ in February claimed 173 lives and countless homes and livelihoods. The country’s worst wildfire tragedy, this horrific disaster was an extreme example of an annual threat faced not only in Australia but also North America and South Africa where similar dry conditions are experienced. As the survivors struggle to come to terms with their losses and begin to rebuild their lives, questions are being asked about what could have been done, and what must be done now to better protect populations. Tougher building standards for homes in fire-prone areas will be introduced, but another option under scrutiny is fire resistant shelters - are they safe, should governments play a role in their development and how should they be designed and built? Entering this debate is the Bushbunker, a dedicated fire shelter design which aims to maximize the likelihood of survival regardless of the intensity or type of fire.  Read More

IBN scientists convert CO2 into methanol

Scientists at the Singapore-based Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have made an unprecedented breakthrough in transforming carbon dioxide, a common greenhouse gas, into methanol, a widely used form of industrial feedstock and clean-burning biofuel. Using "organocatalysts", researchers activated carbon dioxide in a mild and non-toxic process to produce the more useful chemical compound.  Read More

Ice thickness, estimated by combining six climate models selected for this study, is shown...

According to new research the Arctic Ocean may be ice free in the summer months much faster than previously estimated. Research based on earlier climatic models suggested that this would not occur until the end of the century, but new models suggest that the Arctic might lose most of its ice cover in as little as 30 years - three times more rapid than previous studies have indicated. If this was to occur, the amount of the arctic covered by ice at the end of the summer could be down to around 1 million square kilometers (390 000 square miles) compared with the currently coverage of 4.6 million square kilometers (1.8 million square miles).  Read More

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