Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Global Warming

A part of Moofushi coral reef hit by coral bleaching
 Pic credit: Bruno de Giusti

We recently looked at problems with a last resort solution to counteract global warming by artificially shading the Earth from sunlight by injecting sulphur or small, reflective particles into the upper atmosphere. Now a new study from the Carnegie Institution has thrown further doubt on the effectiveness of such a proposal. Although it may lower the planet’s temperature by a couple of degrees, it would do little to stop the acidification of the world’s oceans that threatens coral reefs and other marine life.  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

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

A present-day salt lake in the south of Russia
 Pic Credit: Dr. Ludwig Weißflog/UFZ

A new report by an international team of scientists has suggested that the largest mass extinction in the history of the earth may not have been caused by volcanic eruptions, methane hydrate or the impact of an asteroid as previously surmised. It may actually have been triggered by giant salt lakes, whose emissions of halogenated gases changed the atmospheric composition to such an extent that vegetation was irretrievably damaged. While this is a lot less dramatic than a volcanic eruption or an asteroid, the effect would be no less devastating and may have implications for us today with forecasts predicting an increase in the surface areas of deserts and salt lakes due to climate change that researchers expect will also lead to an increase in the effects of these halogenated gases.  Read More

Just 51% of the population believe that climate change is caused by human activities

It just goes to show you what a bad state the education system is in when just 51% of the population believe that climate change is caused by human activities. Opinion Research Corporation surveyed 1,000 people in late January and found that 29% believe climate change is occurring naturally, 15% believe climate change needs to be proven scientifically either way and 3% believe climate change doesn’t exist. Oh, and for the record, of those who got it right, 55% were male, which means ... we're no longer sure whether to be more concerned about global warming or global ignorance.  Read More

The world's largest solar power facility, located near Kramer Junction, California, consis...

The concept of delaying global warming by adding particles into the upper atmosphere to cool the climate could unintentionally reduce peak electricity generated by large solar power plants by as much as one-fifth, according to a new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  Read More

The seawater vertical farm would make another stunning addition to the Dubai skyline
 Pic ...

The saying used to go, ‘only in America’, but in recent years it might be truer to say, ‘only in Dubai’, especially when it comes to architectural wonders. Buildings that would be unfeasible just about anywhere else seem to regularly spring from the ground in the oil rich emirate. The next eye-popping construction to grace the skyline could be a seawater vertical farm that uses seawater to cool and humidify greenhouses and to convert sufficient humidity back in to fresh water to irrigate the crops.  Read More

Calcium carbonate in powder form

Expensive carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects are gaining momentum around the world as a way to combat greenhouse gas emissions (or is that sweep them under the carpet?), India’s Economic Times has reported that a team of Indian scientists have discovered a naturally occurring bacteria that could help fight global warming by converting CO2 into calcium carbonate (CaCO3) - a common compound found as rock all the world over.  Read More

NCAR's AMSTAR digital storage library.

Analysis of the Earth’s climate relies on and generates a huge amount of data. No one knows this better than the folks at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), who have announced the arrival of AMSTAR, a new digital storage library that will preserve and protect 30 petabytes of valuable scientific data for the next 15 to 20 years. The new system, designed by Sun Microsystems, Inc. and based on the Sun StorageTek SL8500 Modular Library, will give NCAR five times its current storage capacity, enabling it to generate increasingly sophisticated computer studies of Earth’s climate.  Read More

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