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Climate Change

Environment

Researchers bring extensive world temperature records to Google Earth

Talking about the weather is a pastime as old as language, but climate researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK have just given people a whole lot more to talk about. As part of an ongoing effort to increase the accessibility and transparency of data on past climate and climate change, they've made one of the most widely used records of Earth's climate accessible through Google Earth. Read More

Environment

The trees have ears: Automating wildlife detection in the tropics

The tropical ecosystems of Costa Rica and Puerto Rico have ears, and have done for some time. These recording stations were put together with iPods and car batteries which each record 144 60-second recordings every day, and transmit them to a web-enabled base station up to 40 km (25 miles) away. From there they're uploaded to a web app with which biologists train a software algorithm to recognize the chirrups, squeaks and caterwauls of the forest's birds, monkeys, frogs and other fauna. It's all in the name of documenting wildlife, to better understand the effects of deforestation and climate change. And according to scientists at the University of Puerto Rico, it sure beats putting boots on the ground.Read More

Environment

ESA satellite to map and quantify biomass in world’s forests

Kicking off with the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE), which was launched in March 2009, the European Space Agency’s Earth Explorer missions are intended to provide a greater understanding of the Earth and the interactions between various natural Earth processes. “Biomass” is the seventh Earth Explorer satellite to get the nod and will provide and accurate picture of the amount of biomass and carbon stored in the world’s forests.Read More

Environment

Genetically modified microorganism could convert atmospheric CO2 into fuel

While much research is being done on capturing carbon dioxide emissions at their source to reduce the amount expelled into the atmosphere, researchers at the University of Georgia’s Bioenergy Systems Research Institute have taken a different approach to tackle the problem. Taking a leaf out of the process used by plants to convert CO2 into something useful, they have uncovered a way to take CO2 from the atmosphere and transform it into useful industrial products, including, potentially, fuel.Read More

Architecture

Lagos' flood-beating floating school nears completion

Design and urbanism practice NLÉ, led by Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi, is building a new multilevel school in Makoko – a region of Nigeria's most populous city, Lagos. While that doesn't sound too unusual, the difference here is that in an effort to address the issues of land scarcity and poor waste management that affect the flood-prone area, this school is being built on floating platforms.Read More

Science

Link found between global warming and increased volcanic activity

It’s no secret that volcanic eruptions can cool the planet by spewing ash and droplets of sulfuric acid into the atmosphere that obscure the sun. Now researchers at Germany’s GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and Harvard University have found evidence that suggest the reverse could also be true. The researchers have discovered a strong historical link between global temperature increases and increases in volcanic activity.Read More

Science

Shale gas and atmospheric CO2: help or hindrance?

Since peaking in 2005, US domestic energy CO2 emissions have fallen by 8.6 percent. A new report asserts that up to half of this reduction may be down to "energy switching," as generators switch from coal to shale gas (partly on cost grounds), which emits about half the CO2 when burned. Yet the same report, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, questions the wisdom of touting shale gas as a low-carbon technology, with its authors actually asserting that "the exploitation of shale gas reserves is likely to increase total emissions." How so?Read More

Environment

Gravity probe shows groundwater reserves slipping away

Recently, drought seems to be a fact of life. As the lead photograph poignantly illustrates, most of the U.S. has been struggling with serious levels of drought for the past several years. Worldwide, drought affected areas include Europe, India and Pakistan, Russia, much of Africa, South America – the list goes on. But when the rains start again, everyone expresses great relief, not realizing that long-term depletion of groundwater reserves is part of the price for surviving drought. It was with this in mind that GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), a joint U.S. and German space project, was designed a decade ago.Read More

Environment

New low-cost material could help bolster carbon capture

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have developed another weapon in the ongoing war to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from fossil fuel-burning power plants. The researchers have created a new porous material called NOTT-300 that they claim is cheaper and more efficient than existing materials at capturing polluting gases, such as carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, from flue gas.Read More

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