Green Technology and Environmental Science News - ENN
Updated: 1 hour 8 min ago
Their scruffy beards weren't ironic, but there are reasons mammoths and mastodons could have been the hipsters of the Ice Age. According to research from the University of Cincinnati, the famously fuzzy relatives of elephants liked living in Greater Cincinnati long before it was trendy -- at the end of the last ice age. A study led by Brooke Crowley, an assistant professor of geology and anthropology, shows the ancient proboscideans enjoyed the area so much they likely were year-round residents and not nomadic migrants as previously thought.
The size and age of plants have more of an impact on their productivity than temperature and precipitation, according to a landmark study by University of Arizona researchers. UA professor Brian Enquist and postdoctoral researcher Sean Michaletz, along with collaborators Dongliang Cheng from Fujian Normal University in China and Drew Kerkhoff from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, have combined a new mathematical theory with data from more than 1,000 forests across the world to show that climate has a relatively minor direct effect on net primary productivity, or the amount of biomass – wood or any other plant materials – that plants produce by harvesting sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.
Since the end of the Space Shuttle flights, NASA has been relying on help from Russia to launch men and women into space. The agency has been planning on replacement rockets to take humans into space and now engineers have taken a crucial step in preparing to test parts of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will send humans to new destinations in the solar system. They installed on Thursday an RS-25 engine on the A-1 Test Stand at the agency's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
By measuring how fast Earth conducts electricity and seismic waves, a University of Utah researcher and colleagues made a detailed picture of Mount Rainier's deep volcanic plumbing and partly molten rock that will erupt again someday. "This is the most direct image yet capturing the melting process that feeds magma into a crustal reservoir that eventually is tapped for eruptions," says geophysicist Phil Wannamaker, of the university's Energy & Geoscience Institute and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "But it does not provide any information on the timing of future eruptions from Mount Rainier or other Cascade Range volcanoes."
The mystery behind the movements of flocking starlings could be explained by the areas of light and dark created as they fly, new research suggests. The research, conducted by the University of Warwick and published in the journal PNAS, found that flocking starlings aim to maintain an optimum density at which they can gather data on their surroundings. This occurs when they can see light through the flock at many angles, a state known as marginal opacity. The subsequent pattern of light and dark, formed as the birds attempt to achieve the necessary density, is what provides vital information to individual birds within the flock.
This week, on July 15, NASA's Aura satellite celebrated its 10th anniversary. Happy belated, Aura! The mission of Aura, which is Latin for breeze, centers on obtaining measurements of ozone, aerosols and key gases throughout the atmosphere. And after one decade in space, the satellite has provided vital data about the cause, concentrations and impact of major air pollutants.
Ok, no surprise to see Washington, D.C. or San Francisco ranked high in a list of the cities with America's greenest buildings. But Atlanta? Georgia's capital was the only southern state to make the top ten in the 2014 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index, released July 15 by Clean Edge. The cleantech research firm tracks the cleantech progress of the 50 largest metro areas and the 50 states.
When it rains, where does the water go? Well for one, a lot of rainwater will funnel its way off roads and impermeable surfaces and will make its way into storm sewers. Another path might be directly into rivers and lakes. Or, rainwater might get soaked up by soil where it will then infiltrate into the ground and replenish aquifers. But just how deep does this rainwater infiltrate? According to new research, rainwater can penetrate below the Earth's fractured upper crust - which is at least eight miles below the Earth's surface!
Technology of the future is hard to see coming – sometimes because you can't see it. Advances in nanotechnology are the driving force behind longer lasting Lithium-ion batteries. Currently, Lithium-ion batteries are used to power every-day technologies like cell phones, computers, cameras and cars. Their energy source is a carbon-based graphite anode, which is nothing short of polarizing. Battery life has always been a major concern with Li-ion batteries. The solution is the most abundant compound in the earth's crust: SiO2, - or – more commonly – sand. The next generation of battery technology is using sand as a source for the production of nano-silicon, an anode material for Li-ion batteries.
Millions of urban Europeans are exposed to aviation noise that contributes to stress, high blood pressure and even weight gain, say health specialists who want stronger measures to make flying quieter. While new-generation jet engines are on average 75% quieter than than their 20th century predecessors, the advance in technology has been offset by a steady rise in flights and a demand for bigger passenger planes.
Super Moons are full moons that are extra, well, super! They are super because they appear larger in the evening sky than your run of the mill full moon. In June of last year, a full Moon made headlines. The news media called it a "supermoon" because it was 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full Moons of 2013. Around the world, people went outside to marvel at its luminosity. If you thought one supermoon was bright, how about three? The full Moons of summer 2014—July 12th, August 10th, and Sept. 9th--will all be supermoons. The scientific term for the phenomenon is "perigee moon." Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon's orbit. The Moon follows an elliptical path around Earth with one side ("perigee") about 50,000 km closer than the other ("apogee"). Full Moons that occur on the perigee side of the Moon's orbit seem extra big and bright.
Astrobiologists from the United States and Germany recorded the highest known level of solar UV radiation to reach Earth's surface. This was around 10 years ago. On December 29, 2003, the UV Index (UVI) peaked, reaching the blistering number of 43.3 over the Andes Mountains in Bolivia. To put this in context, a beachgoer in the United States would expect a UVI of 8 or 9 on a summer day. Even with an 8 or a 9, one may not escape the day without sunburn. Nonetheless, it has taken scientists 10 years to detail a report of this data while taking into account all of the variables and anomalies monitored from an international network of dosimeters – or Eldonets (European Light Dosimeter Network) – that measure UV radiation worldwide. This system is comprised of more than 100 stations across 5 continents to account for variation in the atmosphere above each station.
A new Yale-led study quantifies for the first time the primary causes of the "urban heat island" (UHI) effect, a common phenomenon that makes the world's urban areas significantly warmer than surrounding countryside and may increase health risks for city residents. In an analysis of 65 cities across North America, researchers found that variation in how efficiently urban areas release heat back into the lower atmosphere — through the process of convection — is the dominant factor in the daytime UHI effect. This finding challenges a long-held belief that the phenomenon is driven principally by diminished evaporative cooling through the loss of vegetation.
Becoming an Astronaut is a big deal! Men and women selected to go into space are very carefully chosen. They go through rigorous medical evaluations to make sure they are healthy and that their bodies can withstand the forces of liftoff and re-entry. And they go through months and months of training to prepare them for their first space flight. Now NASA is sending untested, untrained astronauts into space. Of course, they are not human, they are fruit flies! Fruit flies are bug eyed and spindly, they love rotten bananas, and, following orders from their pin-sized brains, they can lay hundreds of eggs every day. We have a lot in common. Genetically speaking, people and fruit flies are surprisingly alike, explains biologist Sharmila Bhattacharya of NASA's Ames Research Center. "About 77% of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies, and 50% of fly protein sequences have mammalian analogues."
Some of the world's most endangered forests may soon benefit from better protection, thanks to discarded treasures from the consumer society - mobile phones. A Californian technology startup, Rainforest Connection (RFCx), has developed a tool - made from recycled smartphones - that it says will pilot new ways to monitor and stop illegal logging and animal poaching throughout Africa's equatorial forests. RFCx has formed a partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), an international scientific charity that works for the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. The two organisations are planning to install the anti-deforestation, anti-poaching technology in Cameroon this year.
The Milky Way may have found a solution to its gas shortage. Astronomers had calculated that our home galaxy possesses only enough fuel to forge new stars for just a few billion more years. But scientists have now discovered that a long stream of gas falling into the Milky Way is four times as massive as previously thought and could power our galaxy's starmaking career for a long time to come. "It's a very beautiful study with surprising results," says Leo Blitz of the University of California, Berkeley, an astronomer who was not part of the project.
With the focus on reducing carbon emissions, we often forget about methane – another greenhouse gas that is way more powerful as an atmospheric pollutant than carbon dioxide. Methane emissions can come from industry, agriculture, and waste management activities, but can also be emitted from a number of natural sources. One newly discovered natural source: SAR11.
A study by the British Geological Survey and the Environment Agency reveals that almost all the the oil and gas bearing shales in England and Wales underlie drinking water aquifers, raising fears that widespread water contamination could occur. The British Geological Survey (BGS) in partnership with The Environment Agency (EA) have published a map which show the depth to each shale gas and oil source rock below principal groundwater aquifers in England and Wales.
Scientists have speculated for centuries about comets. Why do the become visible on an irregular interval? Why does the tail always point away from our sun? What are comets made of? Are they balls of ice, or more like an asteroid? Now NASA may finally get some concrete answers with a current mission that will land on a comet later this year! Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is releasing the Earthly equivalent of two glasses of water into space every second. The observations were made by the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO), aboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft on June 6, 2014. The detection of water vapor has implications not only for cometary science, but also for mission planning, as the Rosetta team prepares the spacecraft to become the first ever to orbit a comet (planned for August), and the first to deploy a lander to its surface (planned for November 11).
Tsunami earthquakes happen at relatively shallow depths in the ocean and are small in terms of their magnitude. However, they create very large tsunamis, with some earthquakes that only measure 5.6 on the Richter scale generating waves that reach up to ten metres when they hit the shore. A global network of seismometers enables researchers to detect even the smallest earthquakes. However, the challenge has been to determine which small magnitude events are likely to cause large tsunamis.