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Pollution

Environment

ESA successfully tests FLEX instrument, designed to create maps of photosynthetic activity

The European Space Agency (ESA) has successfully tested its Fluorescence Explorer mission (FLEX), which is vying for a spot on the organisation’s eight Earth Explorer satellite. The mission, which aims to create global maps of photosynthetic activity, will allow for the identification of vegetation suffering degrees of stress that simply aren’t visible to the human eye. It has the potential to significantly further our understanding of the global carbon cycle, and could have an impact on agricultural management. Read More

Environment

NASA takes climate change study to the air

With the goal of shedding more light on a number of Earth system processes whose effect on our climate is incompletely understood, NASA will this year launch five new airborne field campaigns. These studies will look at long-range air pollution, warming ocean waters, melting Greenland glaciers, greenhouse gas sources, fires in Africa and clouds over the Atlantic, with the captured data to complement satellite- and surface-based observations to help provide a better understanding of the interconnected systems that affect our climate and how it is changing.Read More

Space

New crowdsourcing project calls on citizen scientists to catalog images of cities at night

A new crowdsourcing initiative is calling upon the public to help catalog the ever increasing library of images snapped of our planet, and more importantly its cities, at night from the International Space Station (ISS). With your help, the Cities at Night project could help map light pollution spanning the course of the 16 year period in which the images where taken, with the added bonus of giving volunteers the opportunity to flick through a catalog of stunning images that highlight the mark we make on our planet at night.Read More

Environment

Electrodialysis identified as potential way to remove salt from fracking waste water

Fracking is a highly controversial and divisive issue. Proponents argue that it could be the biggest energy boom since the Arabian oil fields were opened almost 80 years ago, but this comes at a serious cost to the environment. Among the detrimental effects of the process is that the waste water it produces is over five times saltier than seawater, which is, to put it mildly, not good. A research team led by MIT that has found an economical way of removing salt from fracking waste water that promises to not only reduce pollution, but conserve water as well.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

New study aims to highlight pollution risks of megacity street canyons

A novel study undertaken by an international collaboration of universities – headed by King's College London – aims to assess the impact of toxic fumes and other pollutants on the residents of high-rise buildings. Such studies are becoming increasingly important to metropolitan areas where real estate is scarce, forcing us to build ever upwards in order to satiate the ever-increasing need for accommodation.Read More

Science

Detecting industrial pollution could be an effective approach to finding ET

According to researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), we might soon be able to detect hints of technologically advanced alien civilizations by measuring high levels of polluting gases in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets. The approach should become viable soon after the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is launched in late 2018.Read More

Mobile Technology

Smartphone sensor generates crowdsourced pollution maps

Fine dust pollution triggers all manner of health problems, but accurately tracking its concentration across cities and regions takes considerable manpower. That could get a whole lot easier with a sensor that attaches to a smartphone and measures particulate matter (fine dust) levels in the air, which is under development at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.Read More

Good Thinking

Student-designed device reduces gas lawnmower air pollution by over 90 percent

Gas-powered lawnmowers are notorious polluters. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, running a new gas mower for one hour produces as much air pollution as would be generated by 11 typical automobiles being driven for the same amount of time. Switching to an electric or reel mower is certainly one option, but for those applications where it's gotta be gasoline, a team of engineering students from the University of California, Riverside are developing another: an attachment that they claim reduces noxious emissions by over 90 percent. Read More

Science

Nanoscale research may help preserve Leonardo da Vinci’s vanishing portrait

A famous red chalk on paper drawing, widely accepted as a self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, is rapidly deteriorating from the effects of years of exposure to pollution, light, and heat. Worst of all, many centuries in unregulated and humid storage has led to extensive yellowing and browning of the paper. Recently, however, researchers from Italy and Poland have developed a new non-destructive, nano-level method to identify the root causes of the degradation and assist in planning appropriate conservation strategies.Read More

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