Legislative & Regulatory Update

The Solar cycle is more complex than we thought

The Sun undergoes a type of seasonal variability, with its activity waxing and waning over the course of nearly two years, according to a new study by a team of researchers led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). This behavior affects the peaks and valleys in the approximately 11-year solar cycle, sometimes amplifying and sometimes weakening the solar storms that can buffet Earth’s atmosphere.The quasi-annual variations appear to be driven by changes in the bands of strong magnetic fields in each solar hemisphere. These bands also help shape the approximately 11-year solar cycle that is part of a longer cycle that lasts about 22 years.

EPA Moves to Restrict Bee-killing Pesticides

Regulatory news - ENN - April 7, 2015 - 2:45pm
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally taken some action to restrict the use of pesticides that are believed to be causing serious declines in pollinators, but environmentalists are arguing the agency still needs to do more.

Sun experiences seasonal changes

The Sun undergoes a type of seasonal variability, with its activity waxing and waning over the course of nearly two years, according to a new study by a team of researchers led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). This behavior affects the peaks and valleys in the approximately 11-year solar cycle, sometimes amplifying and sometimes weakening the solar storms that can buffet Earth’s atmosphere.

Sun experiences seasonal changes

Climate Change News - ENN - April 7, 2015 - 10:35am
The Sun undergoes a type of seasonal variability, with its activity waxing and waning over the course of nearly two years, according to a new study by a team of researchers led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). This behavior affects the peaks and valleys in the approximately 11-year solar cycle, sometimes amplifying and sometimes weakening the solar storms that can buffet Earth’s atmosphere.

California's Water Situation is Beyond an Emergency

Climate Change News - ENN - April 6, 2015 - 10:07am
Originally Published on the ECOreportCalifornia’s water situation is beyond an emergency, according to Healdsburg resident Dave Howard. He and his sons returned from a “ski trip” in Northern California.“The peaks are as bald as they normally are in August! Where’s the snow pack that’s supposed to be providing us water all summer? It’s zero folks. There is nothing there,” he said.They proceeded on to Northstar ski resort. On a normal year there are more than a hundred runs. The temperatures are low enough and Northstar is making it’s own snow. Dave dropped his sons off, to go ahead.“They did one run, then called me and said, ‘Dad we’re done. This is stupid. There is only one run worth doing and everyone is on it. This is not even worth spending any time on,” said Dave.He added, “Northstar is scraping for their lives. Where’s their Spring skiing? It doesn’t exist. There in March, they’ve had a bad season already and its not going to get any better. There’s no hope on the horizon for those guys.”

Why does water rationing in California exclude fracking and agribusiness?

Climate Change News - ENN - April 6, 2015 - 8:31am
California has responded to the drought by rationing water, with $500 fines for domestic 'water wasters', writes Evan Blake. But agribusiness and water-intensive industries like fracking remain untouched by the restrictions, even though they consume over 90% of the state's water.There are immense water efficiencies to be gained, but any rational reorganization is blocked by the US financial oligarchy, which, controlling the entire political system, will not abide any impingement on its profits.The unprecedented drought gripping California has deepened for the fourth consecutive year, having already set new records for the lowest annual precipitation levels on record.

White fat, brown fat, now beige fat and obesity

Those extra pounds around your belly that no amount of exercise seems to shake off? That's not just fat; it's what scientists call white fat – unhealthy, energy-storing fat.Brown fat, however, has been known to contain energy-burning, heat-producing qualities that could be key to helping people lose weight. The key is finding a way to increase brown fat in the body and reduce the white fat.Hibernating mammals have brown fat, and human babies are born with it to help them keep warm outside the womb. Adults also have varying amounts of brown fat, but researchers weren't sure if it’s the same kind babies are born with, and if not, where it comes from.

Plant roots may accelerate carbon loss from soils

Soil, long thought to be a semi-permanent storehouse for ancient carbon, may be releasing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere faster than anyone thought, according to Oregon State University soil scientists. In a study published in this week’s online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, the researchers showed that chemicals emitted by plant roots act on carbon that is bonded to minerals in the soil, breaking the bonds and exposing previously protected carbon to decomposition by microbes.

Plant roots may accelerate carbon loss from soils

Climate Change News - ENN - April 3, 2015 - 3:33pm
Soil, long thought to be a semi-permanent storehouse for ancient carbon, may be releasing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere faster than anyone thought, according to Oregon State University soil scientists. In a study published in this week’s online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, the researchers showed that chemicals emitted by plant roots act on carbon that is bonded to minerals in the soil, breaking the bonds and exposing previously protected carbon to decomposition by microbes.

Ice melt endangers Arctic mammals

Climate Change News - ENN - April 2, 2015 - 3:47pm
Three kinds of whale, six varieties of seal, the walrus and the polar bear all have these five things in common: they are marine mammals; they depend on the Arctic for their survival as species; they are vulnerable; and biologists know surprisingly little about them. And since the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, their future could become even more threatened as climate change increases habitat loss.

Carbon storage in world's biomass is increasing

Climate Change News - ENN - April 2, 2015 - 3:08pm
The threat of deforestation is understood as one of the major problems in the world today, but a new study suggests that the total amount of vegetation in the world appears to have increased in the past decade, suggesting a rare ray of light in conservation and climate change news.The study, which was published late last month in the journal Nature Climate Change, saw researchers from Australia assess the amount of carbon stored in living plant mass, also known as biomass, stored above ground. This is one established way that we can measure not just how much carbon is stored but also the density of biomass in any given area and so provides us with an interesting way of assessing regional and global forest densities.

Polar Bears Won't be Satisfied by Terrestrial Foods Alone

Climate Change News - ENN - April 1, 2015 - 2:48pm
A team of scientists led by the U.S. Geological Survey found that polar bears, increasingly forced on shore due to sea ice loss, may be eating terrestrial foods including berries, birds and eggs, but any nutritional gains are limited to a few individuals and likely cannot compensate for lost opportunities to consume their traditional, lipid-rich prey—ice seals.

Why is Mars so different from Earth?

Did Mars ever support life of any sort?  Why is Mars so different from Earth? Can we deduce its history from current conditions?NASA's Curiosity rover is using a new experiment to better understand the history of the Martian atmosphere by analyzing xenon. While NASA's Curiosity rover concluded its detailed examination of the rock layers of the "Pahrump Hills" in Gale Crater on Mars this winter, some members of the rover team were busy analyzing the Martian atmosphere for xenon, a heavy noble gas. Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) experiment analyzed xenon in the planet's atmosphere. Since noble gases are chemically inert and do not react with other substances in the air or on the ground, they are excellent tracers of the history of the atmosphere. Xenon is present in the Martian atmosphere at a challengingly low quantity and can be directly measured only with on-site experiments such as SAM.

New deep-water methane reservoir found deep in the Arctic Ocean

Climate Change News - ENN - March 31, 2015 - 8:57am
Research led by a University of New Hampshire professor has identified a new source of methane for gas hydrates -- ice-like substances found in sediment that trap methane within the crystal structure of frozen water -- in the Arctic Ocean. The findings, published online now in the May 2015 journal Geology, point to a previously undiscovered, stable reservoir for abiotic methane -- methane not generated by decomposing carbon -- that is "locked" away from the atmosphere, where it could impact global climate change."We've found an example where methane produced at a mid-ocean ridge is locked up in stable, deep water gas hydrate, preventing it from possibly getting out of the seafloor," says lead author Joel Johnson, associate professor of geology at UNH and guest researcher at the Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. Johnson notes that the findings, which pinpointed a source of abiotic methane ¬produced in seafloor crust, indicate gas hydrates throughout the Arctic may be supplied by a significant portion of abiotic gas.

The highlight of the "Green Knesset" Project: The unveiling of the largest solar field in any parliament in the world

Regulatory news - ENN - March 30, 2015 - 1:09pm
In the past few weeks, giant cranes have unloaded some 1,500 solar panels onto the Knesset's (the Israeli parliament) roofs. These panels were created especially for the Knesset's solar field, which is laid out over 4,650 square meters of the Knesset roofs and will have an installed capacity of 450 kilowatts. The solar array, which cost the Knesset NIS 2.4 million, will create some 10% of the Knesset's electricity, and together with additional energy-saving measures, it will help reduce the Knesset's energy use by a third.The solar array is expected to save the Knesset NIS 300,000 every year. It will operate according to the net-metering method, under which electric energy generated by an electric consumer from an eligible on-site generating facility and delivered to the local distribution facilities may be used to offset electric energy provided by the electric utility to the electric consumer during the applicable billing period. The Knesset's solar array will be the first of any national institution to operate according to this method. Director General of the Knesset, Mr. Ronen Plot, hopes that other government institutions and local authorities will follow suit and establish solar fields of their own.

The highlight of the "Green Knesset" Project: The unveiling of the largest solar field in any parliament in the world

In the past few weeks, giant cranes have unloaded some 1,500 solar panels onto the Knesset's (the Israeli parliament) roofs. These panels were created especially for the Knesset's solar field, which is laid out over 4,650 square meters of the Knesset roofs and will have an installed capacity of 450 kilowatts. The solar array, which cost the Knesset NIS 2.4 million, will create some 10% of the Knesset's electricity, and together with additional energy-saving measures, it will help reduce the Knesset's energy use by a third.The solar array is expected to save the Knesset NIS 300,000 every year. It will operate according to the net-metering method, under which electric energy generated by an electric consumer from an eligible on-site generating facility and delivered to the local distribution facilities may be used to offset electric energy provided by the electric utility to the electric consumer during the applicable billing period. The Knesset's solar array will be the first of any national institution to operate according to this method. Director General of the Knesset, Mr. Ronen Plot, hopes that other government institutions and local authorities will follow suit and establish solar fields of their own.

The highlight of the "Green Knesset" Project: The unveiling of the largest solar field in any parliament in the world

Climate Change News - ENN - March 30, 2015 - 1:09pm
In the past few weeks, giant cranes have unloaded some 1,500 solar panels onto the Knesset's (the Israeli parliament) roofs. These panels were created especially for the Knesset's solar field, which is laid out over 4,650 square meters of the Knesset roofs and will have an installed capacity of 450 kilowatts. The solar array, which cost the Knesset NIS 2.4 million, will create some 10% of the Knesset's electricity, and together with additional energy-saving measures, it will help reduce the Knesset's energy use by a third.The solar array is expected to save the Knesset NIS 300,000 every year. It will operate according to the net-metering method, under which electric energy generated by an electric consumer from an eligible on-site generating facility and delivered to the local distribution facilities may be used to offset electric energy provided by the electric utility to the electric consumer during the applicable billing period. The Knesset's solar array will be the first of any national institution to operate according to this method. Director General of the Knesset, Mr. Ronen Plot, hopes that other government institutions and local authorities will follow suit and establish solar fields of their own.

Oceans' heat-buffering ability may be weakening

Climate Change News - ENN - March 30, 2015 - 11:23am
For decades, the earth’s oceans have soaked up more than nine-tenths of the atmosphere’s excess heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions. By stowing that extra energy in their depths, oceans have spared the planet from feeling the full effects of humanity’s carbon overindulgence. But as those gases build in the air, an energy overload is rising below the waves. A raft of recent research finds that the ocean has been heating faster and deeper than scientists had previously thought. And there are new signs that the oceans might be starting to release some of that pent-up thermal to significant global temperature increases in the coming years. 

NASA captures best images yet of a dwarf planet

As NASA's Dawn spacecraft closes in on Ceres, new images show the dwarf planet at 27 pixels across, about three times better than the calibration images taken in early December. These are the first in a series of images that will be taken for navigation purposes during the approach to Ceres.Over the next several weeks, Dawn will deliver increasingly better and better images of the dwarf planet, leading up to the spacecraft's capture into orbit around Ceres on March 6. The images will continue to improve as the spacecraft spirals closer to the surface during its 16-month study of the dwarf planet.

Climate change doesn't cause severe winters after all

Climate Change News - ENN - March 28, 2015 - 7:59am
Cold snaps like the ones that hit the eastern United States in the past winters are not a consequence of climate change. Scientists at ETH Zurich and the California Institute of Technology have shown that global warming actually tends to reduce temperature variability.Repeated cold snaps led to temperatures far below freezing across the eastern United States in the past two winters. Parts of the Niagara Falls froze, and ice floes formed on Lake Michigan. Such low temperatures had become rare in recent years. Pictures of icy, snow-covered cities made their way around the world, raising the question of whether climate change could be responsible for these extreme events

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