Legislative & Regulatory Update
Philadelphia communities along the Schuylkill River and Darby Creek now have new tools to help inform residents of impending flooding. The U.S. Geological Survey recently installed three new streamgages in Manayunk, Eastwick, and downtown near 30th St., which will monitor water levels, and provide vital data used by emergency managers and flood forecasters to help protect lives and property.
The combination of prolonged hot spells with poor air quality greatly compounds the negative effects of each and can pose a major risk to human health, according to new research from the University of California, Irvine.“The weather factors that drive heat waves also contribute to intensified surface ozone and air pollution episodes,” said UCI professor of Earth system science Michael J. Prather, co-author of the study, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “These extreme, multiday events tend to cluster and overlap, worsening the health impacts beyond the sum of their individual effects.”
Researchers in the Singapore-ETH Centre’s Future Cities Laboratory developed a method to quantify ecosystem services of street trees. Using nearly 100,000 images from Google Street View, the study helps further understanding on how green spaces contribute to urban sustainability.Do you remember the last time you escaped the hot summer sun to enjoy a cool reprieve in the shade beneath a broad-leafed tree? While sizzling summer days may seem far away right now in the northern hemisphere, tropical cities like Singapore deal with solar radiation on a daily basis.
The first images from the Solar Ultraviolet Imager or SUVI instrument aboard NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite have been successful, capturing a large coronal hole on Jan. 29, 2017.The sun’s 11-year activity cycle is currently approaching solar minimum, and during this time powerful solar flares become scarce and coronal holes become the primary space weather phenomena – this one in particular initiated aurora throughout the polar regions. Coronal holes are areas where the sun's corona appears darker because the plasma has high-speed streams open to interplanetary space, resulting in a cooler and lower-density area as compared to its surroundings.
An influx of pollution from Asia in the western United States and more frequent heat waves in the eastern U.S. are responsible for the persistence of smog in these regions over the past quarter century despite laws curtailing the emission of smog-forming chemicals from automobile tailpipes and factories.The study, led by researchers at Princeton University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), highlights the importance of maintaining domestic emission controls on cars, power plants and other industries at a time when pollution is increasingly global.
In small village communities, local resources are often not used sustainably
A World Meteorological Organization (WMO) committee of experts announces this week (Wed 1 March) new records for the highest temperatures recorded in the Antarctic Region. The results are part of continuing efforts to expand a database of extreme weather and climate conditions throughout the world.
A team of international researchers led by University of Freiburg hydrologist Dr. Andreas Hartmann suggests that inclusion of currently missing key hydrological processes in large-scale climate change impact models can significantly improve our estimates of water availability. The study shows that groundwater recharge estimates for 560 million people in karst regions in Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa, are much higher than previously estimated from current large-scale models. The scientists have shown that model estimates based on entire continents up to now have greatly underestimated in places the amount of groundwater that is recharged from fractions of surface runoff. This finding suggests that more work is needed to ensure sufficient realism in large-scale hydrologic models before they can be reliably used for local water management. The team has published their research findings in the scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).”
We’ve long known that diverse stands of trees tend to be more productive than monocultures. What we haven’t known is why. In a paper published today in the scientific journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, researchers from the University of Minnesota and Université du Québec à Montréal show the talent behind the trait: Thanks to their natural different growth forms and ability to modify their shape to fit the available space, multiple species are able to fill in vertical gaps with branches and leaves. This maximizes their combined ability to soak up the sun falling on a particular plot of land and turn it into tree — absorbing planet-warming carbon dioxide and producing wood in the process.
We tend to think of the overuse of natural resources, climatic instability, and large-scale human land use as quintessentially modern day problems. Yet a group of researchers led by archaeologists and calling themselves historical ecologists have recently come together to determine what we need to know about past human-environmental relationships to build a more sustainable future. These historical ecologists crowd-sourced hundreds of research questions from scholars around the world that, when answered, will reveal key information about how people have hade impact on and responded to changing environments over the course of thousands of years. Workshops were held at Uppsala University (Sweden) and Simon Fraser University (Canada) to discuss submissions from scholars and identify the 50 questions that are most in need of answering. The list of 50 priority issues for historical ecology will be published Friday in the open access journal PLOS ONE.
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland examined, as part of the EU's Reffibre project, whether new industrial applications could be developed for various types of sludge and fly ash generated by the paper and board industry. Laboratory tests showed that these side streams can replace up to 50% of oil-based polypropylene. They can be used as a raw material in plastic composites made using injection moulding and extrusion.
Inspired by bird and insect behavior, engineers create software to enable teams of common UAVs to work togetherThousands of ants converge to follow the most direct path from their colony to their food and back. A swarm of inexpensive, unmanned drones quickly map an offshore oil spill.
Wildfires can start when lightning strikes or when someone fails to put out a campfire. New research shows that people start a lot more fires than lightning does — so much so that people are drastically altering wildfire in America.
Forests are set to play a major role in meeting the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement - however, accurately monitoring progress toward the 'below 2°C' target requires a consistent approach to measuring the impact of forests on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.In a paper published in the journal, Nature Climate Change: Key role of forests in meeting climate targets but science needed for credible mitigation, scientists are calling for robust, transparent and credible data to track the real mitigation potential of forests.
When Geoffrey Coates, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Cornell University, gives a talk about plastics and recycling, he usually opens with this question: What percentage of the 78 million tons of plastic used for packaging – for example, a 2-liter bottle or a take-out food container – actually gets recycled and re-used in a similar way?The answer, just 2 percent. Sadly, nearly a third is leaked into the environment, around 14 percent is used in incineration and/or energy recovery, and a whopping 40 percent winds up in landfills.
The tin foil hat, while fashionable, is an ineffective way of keeping the government’s radio waves from infiltrating and manipulating your mind. In fact, the hat may boost certain radio frequencies, which is OK because there’s no such thing as mind-controlling waves anyway.
New research from North Carolina State University offers insights into how far and how fast cyborg cockroaches – or biobots – move when exploring new spaces. The work moves researchers closer to their goal of using biobots to explore collapsed buildings and other spaces in order to identify survivors.
Computers can also be programmed to match names and faces, study says
Meet Mr. Trash Wheel and Professor Trash Wheel—a pair of floating, solar and hydro-powered trash interceptors keeping Baltimore’s waters clean. These frankly adorable trash wheels can collect as much as 38,000 pounds of debris in a single day.
Last winter’s El Niño may have felt weak to residents of Southern California, but it was one of the most powerful weather events of the last 145 years, scientists say.If severe El Niño events become more common in the future, as some studies suggest, the California coast -- home to more than 25 million people -- may become increasingly vulnerable to coastal hazards, independently of projected sea level rise.