Legislative & Regulatory Update

2015 Antarctic Ozone Hole larger and formed later than previous holes

The 2015 Antarctic ozone hole area was larger and formed later than in recent years, said scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Black Holes and their flares studied by NASA missions

The baffling and strange behaviors of black holes have become somewhat less mysterious recently, with new observations from NASA's Explorer missions Swift and the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. The two space telescopes caught a supermassive black hole in the midst of a giant eruption of X-ray light, helping astronomers address an ongoing puzzle: How do supermassive black holes flare?The results suggest that supermassive black holes send out beams of X-rays when their surrounding coronas -- sources of extremely energetic particles -- shoot, or launch, away from the black holes."This is the first time we have been able to link the launching of the corona to a flare," said Dan Wilkins of Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Canada, lead author of a new paper on the results appearing in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. "This will help us understand how supermassive black holes power some of the brightest objects in the universe."

New report addresses how we can slow climate change

Climate Change News - ENN - October 27, 2015 - 7:44pm
Top environmental researchers from UCLA joined a team of 50 University of California experts in issuing a new report today with solutions to stabilize Earth’s climate this century. The report, Bending the Curve, was released Tuesday at the UC Climate Neutrality Initiative Summit in San Diego, and provides 10 scalable solutions to reduce global greenhouse emissions. 

Why are diesel cars so popular in Europe?

Climate Change News - ENN - October 27, 2015 - 9:04am
An estimated annual 'tax gap' subsidy of some €16 billion for diesel over petrol has made Europe the world's largest market for diesel cars - but the Volkswagen scandal has put the national tax schemes supporting this industry at risk.“There is no reason to keep subsidising this sector," Carlos Calvo, policy analyst at Transport & Environment, told EurActiv on Monday (26 October). The efficiency of petrol-fuelled cars has improved significantly in recent years, while the diesel industry has reduced its nitrogen-oxide emissions only very slowly.

Waterfalls are more threatened than you might think

Climate Change News - ENN - October 25, 2015 - 9:52am
More than 100 years ago today, a 63-year-old Michigan schoolteacher took the first ride ever down Niagara Falls in a barrel. Annie Edson Taylor may have survived, but the future will tell if the waterfalls available for such (now-illegal) escapades will. Here are a few threats to waterfalls we can’t ignore if we want to preserve these natural wonders.1. DroughtLast year, Yosemite Falls went dry for five months. While the falls have always been ephemeral, meaning they flow seasonally, California’s severe drought had stopped them two months earlier than usual in June until December rains started them again a month late. In The Atlantic, outdoorsman and author Michael Lanza wondered if the world’s sixth-highest falls would actually disappear, with climate change leading to less and less snowfall. Snowpack in the Cascade Range has already decreased 15 to 30 percent in the past 70 years.

Artificial lung to help study air pollution effects

Air pollution is one of the leading causes of lung cancer and respiratory diseases, responsible for one in eight global deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.However, researchers will soon be able to develop new treatments for such diseases with a life-sized, artificial human lung created at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. It is the first diagnostic tool for understanding in real time how tiny particles move and behave in the deepest part of the human lungs, the alveolar tissue. 

Was the Bronze Age plague really spread by flies?

When the plague swept through Europe in 1665, no one could figure out how the devastating disease spread. But after a tailor in the small village of Eyam in central England died that September, people eventually put two and two together. He had received a parcel of cloth infested with fleas just 4 days before dying of bubonic plague. Within a month, five other villagers had succumbed, and the local vicar convinced the town to voluntarily put itself under quarantine. It eventually became clear that it was fleas, probably on rats, that spread the plague so far and so quickly.But now it appears that the plague did not always infect fleas—and the disease may not have always spread so rapidly or been as devastating. A new study of ancient DNA from the teeth of 101 Bronze Age skeletons has found that seven people living 2800 to 5000 years ago in Europe and Asia were infected with Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes the plague. 

Newly discovered large asteroid will make flyby on Halloween

A large near-Earth asteroid named 2015 TB145, discovered on October 10 by the University of Hawaiʻi’s Pan-STARRS1 Telescope atop Haleakala, Maui, will pass close to Earth on October 31. The asteroid has a diameter of approximately 400 meters (1,300 feet), and will pass within approximately 480,000 km (300,000 miles) of Earth.  There is no possibility of this object impacting Earth.The asteroid is already being studied by telescopes across the planet, and soon will be targeted by radar observations that will look for details as small as 2 meters (6.5 feet) on its surface. The radar observations will directly measure its size and shape, and determine whether the object has any satellites.

NASA Spots the 'Great Pumpkin'; Get ready to see a Halloween Asteroid!

Climate Change News - ENN - October 22, 2015 - 10:31am
NASA scientists are tracking the upcoming Halloween flyby of asteroid 2015 TB145 with several optical observatories and the radar capabilities of the agency's Deep Space Network at Goldstone, California. The asteroid will fly past Earth at a safe distance slightly farther than the moon's orbit on Oct. 31 at 10:05 a.m. PDT (1:05 p.m. EDT). Scientists are treating the flyby of the estimated 1,300-foot-wide (400-meter) asteroid as a science target of opportunity, allowing instruments on "spacecraft Earth" to scan it during the close pass.Asteroid 2015 TB145 was discovered on Oct. 10, 2015, by the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS-1 (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) on Haleakala, Maui, part of the NASA-funded Near-Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program. According to the catalog of near-Earth objects (NEOs) kept by the Minor Planet Center, this is the closest currently known approach by an object this large until asteroid 1999 AN10, at about 2,600 feet (800 meters) in size, approaches at about 1 lunar distance (238,000 miles from Earth) in August 2027.

NASA Spots the 'Great Pumpkin'; Get ready to see a Halloween Asteroid!

NASA scientists are tracking the upcoming Halloween flyby of asteroid 2015 TB145 with several optical observatories and the radar capabilities of the agency's Deep Space Network at Goldstone, California. The asteroid will fly past Earth at a safe distance slightly farther than the moon's orbit on Oct. 31 at 10:05 a.m. PDT (1:05 p.m. EDT). Scientists are treating the flyby of the estimated 1,300-foot-wide (400-meter) asteroid as a science target of opportunity, allowing instruments on "spacecraft Earth" to scan it during the close pass.Asteroid 2015 TB145 was discovered on Oct. 10, 2015, by the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS-1 (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) on Haleakala, Maui, part of the NASA-funded Near-Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program. According to the catalog of near-Earth objects (NEOs) kept by the Minor Planet Center, this is the closest currently known approach by an object this large until asteroid 1999 AN10, at about 2,600 feet (800 meters) in size, approaches at about 1 lunar distance (238,000 miles from Earth) in August 2027.

How will rising sea levels impact the Phillippines?

Climate Change News - ENN - October 22, 2015 - 10:18am
More than 167,000 hectares of coastland -- about 0.6% of the country's total area -- are projected to go underwater in the Philippines, especially in low-lying island communities, according to research by the University of the Philippines.Low-lying countries with an abundance of coastlines are at significant risk from rising sea levels resulting from global warming. According to data by the World Meteorological Organisation, the water levels around the Philippines are rising at a rate almost three times the global average due partly to the influence of the trade winds pushing ocean currents.On average, sea levels around the world rise 3.1 centimetres every ten years. Water levels in the Philippines are projected to rise between 7.6 and 10.2 centimetres each decade.

The fish that cools off by jumping OUT of the water

Climate Change News - ENN - October 21, 2015 - 5:18pm
On hot, humid days, you might jump into water to cool down, but for the tiny mangrove rivulus fish, cooling down means jumping out of water, according to a new study from the University of Guelph.In the study published today in the journal Biology Letters, the researchers describe how these fish air-chill themselves on solid ground in order to drop their body temperatures. The researchers also found that fish exposed to higher temperatures for a week tolerated warmer water better.The fish jump out of the water to escape rising temperatures, said integrative biology professor Pat Wright, senior author of the study.

Dirty pipeline: Methane from fracking sites can flow to abandoned wells, new study shows

Regulatory news - ENN - October 21, 2015 - 10:47am
As debate roils over EPA regulations proposed this month limiting the release of the potent greenhouse gas methane during fracking operations, a new University of Vermont study funded by the National Science Foundation shows that abandoned oil and gas wells near fracking sites can be conduits for methane escape not currently being measured.The study, to be published in Water Resources Research on October 20, demonstrates that fractures in surrounding rock produced by the hydraulic fracturing process are able to connect to preexisting, abandoned oil and gas wells, common in fracking areas, which can provide a pathway to the surface for methane.A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science showed that methane release measured at abandoned wells near fracking sites can be significant but did not investigate how the process occurs.

Dirty pipeline: Methane from fracking sites can flow to abandoned wells, new study shows

Climate Change News - ENN - October 21, 2015 - 10:47am
As debate roils over EPA regulations proposed this month limiting the release of the potent greenhouse gas methane during fracking operations, a new University of Vermont study funded by the National Science Foundation shows that abandoned oil and gas wells near fracking sites can be conduits for methane escape not currently being measured.The study, to be published in Water Resources Research on October 20, demonstrates that fractures in surrounding rock produced by the hydraulic fracturing process are able to connect to preexisting, abandoned oil and gas wells, common in fracking areas, which can provide a pathway to the surface for methane.A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science showed that methane release measured at abandoned wells near fracking sites can be significant but did not investigate how the process occurs.

NASA studies LA earthquake

A new NASA-led analysis of a moderate magnitude 5.1 earthquake that shook Greater Los Angeles in 2014 finds that the earthquake deformed Earth's crust across a broad region encompassing the northern Los Angeles Basin and northern Orange County. The shallow ground movements observed from this earthquake likely reflect strain accumulated on deeper faults, which remain locked and may be capable of producing future earthquakes.A team of NASA and university researchers led by geophysicist Andrea Donnellan of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, used GPS and NASA airborne radar data to measure surface deformation in Earth's crust caused by the March 28, 2014, earthquake, which was centered in La Habra, California. The earthquake was felt widely in Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino, Kern and San Diego counties. While the earthquake was relatively moderate in size, the earthquake's depth (3.6 miles, or 5.85 kilometers) and location within a highly populated region resulted in more than $12 million in damage. Most of the damage occurred within a 3.7-mile (6-kilometer) radius of the epicenter, with a substantial amount of damage south of the main rupture.

Heavy rain doesn't mean more trees in African savanna

Climate Change News - ENN - October 20, 2015 - 10:38am
In 2011, satellite images of the African savannas revealed a mystery: these rolling grasslands, with their heavy rainfalls and spells of drought, were home to significantly fewer trees than researchers had expected. Scientists supposed that the ecosystem's high annual precipitation would result in greater tree growth. Yet a 2011 study found that the more instances of heavy rainfall a savanna received, the fewer trees it had.To this ecological riddle, Princeton University researchers might have finally provided a solution.

Why more rain leads to fewer trees in the African savanna

Climate Change News - ENN - October 20, 2015 - 10:09am
In 2011, satellite images of the African savannas revealed a mystery: these rolling grasslands, with their heavy rainfalls and spells of drought, were home to significantly fewer trees than researchers had expected. Scientists supposed that the ecosystem's high annual precipitation would result in greater tree growth. Yet a 2011 study found that the more instances of heavy rainfall a savanna received, the fewer trees it had. To this ecological riddle, Princeton University researchers might have finally provided a solution. 

Volkswagen begins recalling diesels in Europe

Regulatory news - ENN - October 19, 2015 - 7:54am
The good news for Volkswagen is that it delivered almost 7.5 million vehicles to customers during the first three quarters of 2015. The bad news is that 8.5 million of VW’s cars will most likely be subject to a mandatory recall — and that’s just in Europe.The fallout from the Volkswagen emissions scandal continues to reverberate, four weeks after revelations about the installation of “defeat device” software in diesel-powered cars slammed the newswires. Now, the world’s largest automaker is facing a global public relations crisis. This includes its home base: 2.8 million of the recalled vehicles were sold in Germany.

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