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Climate

— Space

First color reveal of an exoplanet has the blues

By - July 12, 2013 6 Pictures
Uncovering any sort of detailed information about an exoplanet presents astronomers with an exceedingly difficult challenge. Despite the hurdles, however, some exoplanets are particularly well situated for such study. Astronomers have previously determined considerable information about the atmosphere and climate of HD 189733b. Now, thanks to Hubble observations made while it passed behind its primary star last December, we also know that this hot Jupiter-like planet is a deep cobalt blue in color, marking the first time that the color of an exoplanet has been measured. Read More
— Science

Link found between global warming and increased volcanic activity

By - December 19, 2012 2 Pictures
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
— Environment

Gravity probe shows groundwater reserves slipping away

By - September 25, 2012 7 Pictures
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

Cryogenic treatment could cut coal-fired power plant emissions by 90%

By - August 27, 2012 2 Pictures
A team of physicists from the University of Oregon (UO) has calculated that cooling the emissions from coal-fired power plants would result in a reduction of the levels of dangerous chemicals entering the atmosphere, including CO2, by 90 percent. While cryogenic treatment would also see a 25 percent drop in efficiency, and therefore result in electricity costs increasing around a quarter, the researchers believe these would be offset by benefits to society, such as reductions in health-care and climate-change costs. Read More

Chilly European winters linked to solar activity

Some clever cross-referencing has helped an international team of researchers establish a link between low periods of solar activity and frosty European winters. The Sun's level of magnetic activity follows an 11-year cycle. Peaks in this cycle pose a threat to telecommunications and electricity networks and it's long been suspected that there's a correlation between the opposite end of the cycle and extreme winters in Europe. A lack of historical average temperature data makes it difficult to confirm this link, but scientists have filled the gap by studying the comings and goings of 19th Century riverboats on the Rhine. Read More
— Science

NASA's Perpetual Ocean animation turns ocean currents into art

By - April 2, 2012 1 Picture
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is an unlikely entrant in the SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival. Its “Perpetual World” animation may have failed to appeal to the judging committee of the 2011 edition of the competition, but it sure succeeded in catching our eye. The jaw-dropping animation visualizes the flow of surface ocean currents around the world. The raw data regarding the currents from June 2005 through to December 2007 has been turned into a work of art reminiscent of van Gogh. Read More
— Environment

New York rooftops 40 degrees cooler painted white, reckons NASA/Columbia study

By - March 8, 2012 4 Pictures
It's long been suggested that white rooftops could help reduce the heat bubble microclimates that surround our cities simply by reflecting solar radiation directly back into space, and in 2010 we reported on NCAR efforts to demonstrate the effect through computer modeling. A new study goes one better, putting the theory into practice and pitting three white materials against one another on three New York rooftops. The results of the study appear to be overwhelmingly positive, with white roof coatings reducing peak rooftop temperatures in summer "by an average of 43 degrees Fahrenheit (about 24 degrees C)." Read More
— Environment

Study finds sunshade geoengineering could improve crop yields

By - January 26, 2012 1 Picture
In the face of potentially catastrophic effects on global food production, some have proposed drastic solutions to counteract climate change such as reflecting sunlight away from the Earth. A new study from the Carnegie Institution for Science examining the effects of sunshade geoengineering has concluded that such an approach would be more likely to improve food security than threaten it. Read More
— Space

ESA and NASA pack their bags for Mars

By - August 4, 2010 3 Pictures
The first joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA that will study the chemical makeup of the martian atmosphere is scheduled for 2016. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter marks an unprecedented alliance between the two agencies for future ventures to Mars and is the first in a planned series of joint missions leading to the return of a sample from the surface of the Red Planet. Scientists worldwide were invited to propose the spacecraft’s instruments and the ESA and NASA have now made their selections. Read More
— Environment

Mapping the urban forest one tree at a time

How do we get a good picture of what trees are where, how they are affecting or contributing to the environment, and what problems they might be susceptible to in today's changing world? The main problem with recording this vital information is (to borrow a line) “tree people like planting trees, they don't like entering data.” So why not throw the task open to the local community? The Urban Forest Map is a one-stop repository using information contributed from any willing group or individual and aims to engage community participation to build a complete, dynamic picture of the urban forest. Read More
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