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Climate Change

According to a new study, as much as 12 percent of the world’s human-caused greenhouse gas emissions could be sustainably offset by producing biochar, a charcoal-like substance made from plants and other organic materials. That’s more than would be offset if the same plants and materials were burned to generate bioenergy, says the study. Additionally, biochar could improve food production in the world’s poorest regions as it increases soil fertility. Read More
Global Hawk, Northrop Grumman’s sophisticated unmanned high altitude surveillance aircraft is finding its niche in unexpected areas. In April, 2010, in consort with NASA, a Global Hawk fitted with scientific instruments completed 82.5 flight hours cruising at latitudes ranging from the Arctic Circle to just near the equator as part of an ongoing civilian research program known as GloPac, or Global Hawk Pacific Program, which aims to study atmospheric conditions over the Pacific and Arctic oceans. Read More
Previous studies have indicated that painting the roofs of buildings white could be a low tech way to reduce global warming by reflecting the sun’s rays back into space. Now the first computer modeling study to simulate the impacts of white roofs on urban areas worldwide has added more weight to such a proposal indicating that painting every roof in a city entirely white could cool the world’s cities by an average of about 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.4 degrees Celsius. Read More
Rounding off a big week in renewable energy is news that the world’s largest working hydro-electric wave energy device has been officially launched in Scotland. Known as Oyster, the device, stationed at the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) Billia Croo site near Stromness, was installed this year and is, at present, the world’s only hydro-electric wave energy device which is producing power. Read More
“Electric cars should be rewarded for their energy efficiency, not for moving emissions from exhaust pipes to powerstation chimneys” says the UK's Environmental Transport Association (ETA). In a report titled "How to avoid an electric shock - Electric cars: from hype to reality", the ETA has taken a close look at electric-powered vehicles (EVs) and their associated technologies. In what could be a shock to some commuters – and governments - the report states that EVs could potentially speed climate change, rather than reduce it, and might not be as good for the planet as some of the spin suggests. Simply put, it’s not necessarily the cars themselves that will cause the damage, but the way the electricity is generated to power them and how often we drive them. For instance, EVs powered by “green energy” - wind or solar - are obviously superior, but if the electricity comes from coal, hybrids perform better. Read More
The 658kg (1,450 lb) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) this week is the first ever satellite designed both to map sea surface salinity and to monitor soil moisture on a global scale. The unique radiometer it carries will enable passive surveying of the water cycle between oceans, the atmosphere and land thereby playing a key role in the monitoring of global climate change. Read More
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’- 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
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
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
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