Category: Environment

How to Discover New Cloud Species

By Graeme Marlton, University of Reading | March 27, 2018 1:09 pm
File 20180321 165580 1mj5vws.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Asperitas cloud over Newtonia, Missouri, US. (Credit: © Elaine Patrick, Cloud Appreciation Society Member 31940)

Clouds form in a multitude of different shapes and sizes, their infinite combinations and position across the sky offering a visual drama in response to the light conditions. But despite their apparent randomness, a detailed naming convention is in place to categorize them.

When a cloud ultimately can’t be fitted into one of the many existing categories, it can be nominated for a classification of its own. In 2017, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) added 12 new types of cloud to the International Cloud Atlas, the world standard guide for cloud classification. And I worked as part of a small team investigating the science behind one newly categorized cloud, Asperitas, which exhibits wave-like perturbations, reminiscent of a rough sea in the base of the cloud. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Top Posts

Could Personal ‘Carbon Accounts’ Decelerate Climate Change?

By Martin Burgess, Aberystwyth University | January 24, 2018 10:46 am
shutterstock_370972811

(Credit: Shutterstock)

A recent call from British Member’s of Parlaiment to put a 25 pence levy on disposable coffee cups, and bans on plastic products cropping up across the country, show that the UK is getting serious about tackling collective individual behavior which threatens the environment.

Large-scale programs aimed at changing people’s behavior are rare – but they do happen. Take Britain’s various carrier bag charges, for example, which led to plastic bag use in England falling by 80 percent in just one year. But while these initiatives are definitely needed, we need to look at other, broader, solutions too. That’s why, in October 2017, the Welsh Assembly supported a feasibility study to look at piloting an environmental behavioral policy across Wales: personal carbon accounts. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Top Posts

What Happened the Last Time Antarctica Melted?

By Eric Betz | January 18, 2018 2:34 pm
JOIDES

The JOIDES team snapped this image on their transit through the ice near Antarctica. (Credit: JOIDES Resolution/Twitter)

Earlier this week, an international team of geologists and climate scientists parked their ship off the coast of West Antarctica and started drilling. Their mission: To find out why glaciers here melted millions of years ago and what that can tell us about what’s happening today.

Over the next couple months, their ship, the International Ocean Discovery Program’s JOIDES Resolution, will drill at least five core samples reaching thousands of feet below the Ross Sea. These cores will let scientists read layers in the rock record like pages of a book, unraveling climate and ice conditions stretching back tens of millions of years. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: climate change

Blockchain Technologies Could Help You Profit from Green Energy

By Srinivasan Keshav, University of Waterloo | January 8, 2018 1:04 pm
File 20180105 26154 1my86si.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Blockchain technologies could help homeowners sell their green electricity to their neighbors. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Imagine buying a solar panel from a hardware store, mounting it on your roof, then selling the green electricity you produce at a price you set.

Is this even possible? Some companies certainly think so. These startups are harnessing the power of blockchains to democratize green power.

Before you can understand how blockchains are part of the solution, you first need to know a few things about the green electricity market. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Technology, Top Posts

A Semi-Autonomous Cricket Farm to Feed the World

By Carl Engelking | December 19, 2017 4:12 pm
A feeding bot rolls through the racks of crickets at Aspire Food Group's test farm in Austin, Texas. (Credit: Aspire Food Group)

A feeding bot rolls through the racks of crickets at Aspire Food Group’s test farm in Austin, Texas. (Credit: Aspire Food Group)

When Gabe Mott, Shobhita Soor and Mohammed Ashour proposed building a commercial-scale cricket farm optimized with robots and data, the idea earned the McGill University students the $1 million Hult Prize, the largest student competition for social good, in 2013.

But when it came to launching the concept, they needed to leave convention behind, including most of what had been written in science journals about rearing billions of crickets. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: food, sustainability

Science Under Siege But Surviving — a Trump Timeline

By Gemma Tarlach | December 19, 2017 1:42 pm
(Credit: Shutterstock)

(Credit: Shutterstock)

For many who value science, 2017 will be remembered as the dawn of a new era. January saw the inauguration of Donald Trump, a president who has denied climate change and filled his inner circle with anti-science activists. But the year was as much an awakening as an annus horribilis: Researchers and citizens alike, in the U.S. and beyond, chose to speak out at rallies, on social media and even in the political arena — unprecedented numbers of scientists are considering a run for office.

In a year of surprises, setbacks and signs of hope, here are some of the most memorable and consequential moments from just the first several months of the Trump administration: Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Top Posts

Climate Change, Disease and the Fall of Rome

By Kyle Harper | December 15, 2017 11:01 am
fall-of-rome

This painting (circa 1836) titled “Destruction” is one painting depicting in a five part series by Thomas Cole called “The Course of an Empire.” (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

At some time or another, every historian of Rome has been asked to say where we are, today, on Rome’s cycle of decline. Historians might squirm at such attempts to use the past but, even if history does not repeat itself, nor come packaged into moral lessons, it can deepen our sense of what it means to be human and how fragile our societies are. Read More

A Geoengineered Future Is Downright Scary

By Nathaniel Scharping | December 13, 2017 2:06 pm
(Credit: kazuend/Unsplash)

(Credit: kazuend/Unsplash)

Catastrophic climate change seems inevitable. Between the still-accelerating pace of greenhouse gas emissions and the voices of global warming deniers, hitting the targets laid out in the Paris Accord to slow the pace of a warming climate feels increasingly elusive.

To hit even the 2 degree Celsius cap on a global temperature increase, emissions would need to peak in 2020, or less than three years from now, and keep going down after that. We could do it, but will we? Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Top Posts

Indigenous People are Deploying Drones to Preserve Land and Traditions

By K. N. Smith | December 11, 2017 10:00 am
Fixedwing-drone-Panama_Credit-FAO-Panama

(Credit: FAO Panama)

Indigenous tribes from the Pacific Northwest to the Amazon Basin face a similar set of challenges: How to manage their lands, defend against corporate encroachment and document historic and religious sites for future generations. Often working with limited resources, many indigenous groups are turning to drones to protect and preserve their traditional lands.

Many Central and South American countries have laws that, on paper, limit what companies can do on indigenous lands. But enforcement is hit-or-miss. To make their voices heard, indigenous tribes must go to the government with solid evidence that shows the land is theirs and laws are being broken. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Technology

We Can Do Better Than Road Salt

road-salt

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Marshes, streams and lakes lie alongside many of the roads and highways that zigzag across North America. Plants and animals inhabit these water bodies and can be exposed to many of the substances we put on those roads, including road salt.

Rock salt helps keep roads safe when winter storms hit, reducing winter road accidents. But it can also have serious, negative effects on aquatic ecosystems. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: pollution
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