Legislative & Regulatory Update

Bern study rehabilitates climate models

Climate Change News - ENN - February 7, 2017 - 9:54am
With new methods of reconstruction, climate researchers in Bern have been able to demonstrate that some 9,000 to 5,000 years ago, the Mediterranean climate was considerably warmer than previous studies had suggested. Among other things, previous concerns regarding the reliability of climate models could thus be dispelled.Climate reconstructions are necessary because reliable measurement data are only available for the last 150 years. For this reason, research on past climate change uses so-called ‘proxies’. These are indicators with which it is possible to reconstruct temperatures in the past. A widespread reconstruction method examines pollen which is embedded in lake sediments. From the composition of this pollen, it is possible to determine the plant species which occurred at a particular location in the past – and since the temperatures that the individual species require are also known, it is possible to reconstruct the temperature conditions for the period in question.

Study Shows Planet's Oxygen Rose Through Glaciers

Climate Change News - ENN - February 7, 2017 - 8:38am
A University of Wyoming researcher contributed to a paper that determined a “Snowball Earth” event actually took place 100 million years earlier than previously projected, and a rise in the planet’s oxidation resulted from a number of different continents -- including what is now Wyoming -- that were once connected.

NASA Highlights Science Launching on Next SpaceX Cargo Mission

NASA will host a media teleconference at 3 p.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 8, to discuss research investigations launching aboard the next SpaceX commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station. Among the investigations are experiments with potential to fight human disease and a new autonomous spacecraft docking technology for testing.

NASA Sees Tropical Cyclone Carlos Over La Reunion and Mauritius

Climate Change News - ENN - February 6, 2017 - 2:07pm
Tropical Cyclone 04S formed north of La Reunion Island on February 4 and continued to track slowly toward the island. This ended an unusual drought of tropical cyclone formation in that part of the Indian Ocean that began in July 2016. When NASA's Terra passed over the newly-formed tropical cyclone imagery showed a concentration of strong thunderstorms around the center of the compact storm. The storm was later renamed Tropical Cyclone Carlos.

With Norway in Lead, Europe Set for Surge in Electric Vehicles.

On Europe’s northern margins, lightly populated Norway has been at the cutting edge of electromobility for years, even decades now. The capital of Oslo, like most of Norway’s cities and towns, boasts bus-lane access for electric vehicles (EVs), recharging stations aplenty, privileged parking, and toll-free travel for electric cars. The initiative began in the 1990s as an effort to cut pollution, congestion, and noise in urban centers; now its primary rationale is combating climate change. Today, Norway has the highest per capita number of all-electric [battery only] cars in the world: more than 100,000 in a country of 5.2 million people. Last year, EVs constituted nearly 40 percent of the nation’s newly registered passenger cars.

Low-Cost Imaging System Detects Natural Gas Leaks in Real Time

Researchers have developed an infrared imaging system that could one day offer low-cost, real-time detection of methane gas leaks in pipelines and at oil and gas facilities. Leaks of methane, the primary component of natural gas, can be costly and dangerous while also contributing to climate change as a greenhouse gas.

Low-Cost Imaging System Detects Natural Gas Leaks in Real Time

Climate Change News - ENN - February 6, 2017 - 11:17am
Researchers have developed an infrared imaging system that could one day offer low-cost, real-time detection of methane gas leaks in pipelines and at oil and gas facilities. Leaks of methane, the primary component of natural gas, can be costly and dangerous while also contributing to climate change as a greenhouse gas.

Lakes respond differently to nitrogen disposition

Climate Change News - ENN - February 6, 2017 - 10:49am
Nitrogen deposition caused by human activities can lead to an increased phytoplankton production in boreal lakes. The response of boreal lakes to nitrogen deposition will strongly depend on each lake’s content of organic carbon, which are predicted to increase with future warmer and wetter climate. This according to a thesis at Umeå University.The worldwide increase of inorganic nitrogen deposition via fossil fuel combustion, fertilization and forestry has been intervening drastically with the Earths’ natural nitrogen cycle. Food webs of boreal lakes, that have historically received little nitrogen deposition until now, are expected to be especially susceptible to increases in inorganic nitrogen availability.

A future for skiing in a warmer world

Climate Change News - ENN - February 6, 2017 - 10:28am
As the world struggles to make progress to limit climate change, researchers are finding ways to adapt to warmer winter temperatures — by developing environmentally friendly ways of producing artificial snow.Chances are if you know anything about Norway, you know it’s a place where skiing was born.Norse mythology describes gods and goddesses hunting on skis, and 4000–year-old petroglyphs from northern Norway include some of the earliest known drawings of people on skis. One of the most recognizable Norwegian paintings worldwide depicts two skiers in 1206 fleeing to safety with the country’s two-year-old prince, Håkon Håkonsson.

LED lighting could have major impact on wildlife

LED street lighting can be tailored to reduce its impacts on the environment, according to new research by the University of Exeter.The UK-based study found predatory spiders and beetles were drawn to grassland patches lit by LED lighting at night, but the number of species affected was markedly reduced when the lights were dimmed by 50% and switched off between midnight and 4am.

Flipping the switch on ammonia production

Nearly a century ago, German chemist Fritz Haber won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for a process to generate ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen gases. The process, still in use today, ushered in a revolution in agriculture, but now consumes around one percent of the world’s energy to achieve the high pressures and temperatures that drive the chemical reactions to produce ammonia.Today, University of Utah chemists publish a different method, using enzymes derived from nature, that generates ammonia at room temperature. As a bonus, the reaction generates a small electrical current. The method is published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Change in astronaut's gut bacteria attributed to spaceflight

Northwestern University researchers studying the gut bacteria of Scott and Mark Kelly, NASA astronauts and identical twin brothers, as part of a unique human study have found that changes to certain gut “bugs” occur in space.The Northwestern team is one of 10 NASA-funded research groups studying the Kelly twins to learn how living in space for a long period of time -- such as a mission to Mars -- affects the human body. While Scott spent nearly a year in space, his brother, Mark, remained on Earth, as a ground-based control.

Mathematically optimizing traffic lights in road intersections

Traffic modeling has been of interest to mathematicians since the 1950s. Research in the area has only grown as road traffic control presents an ever-increasing problem. Generally, models for traffic flow in road networks are time-dependent and continuous, that is, they describe traffic by a continuum rather than as individual drivers or cars. These macroscopic models describe the temporal and spatial evolution of traffic density without predicting traffic patterns of individuals.  In addition to macroscopic models based on continuous densities, microscopic approaches like particle models or cellular automata are also used to model traffic.

Great Barrier Reef building coral under threat from poisonous seaweed

Climate Change News - ENN - February 3, 2017 - 9:45am
World-first research on the Great Barrier Reef has shown how ‘weed-like’ algae will kill vital coral because of increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

Battling corrosion to keep solar panels humming

People think of corrosion as rust on cars or oxidation that blackens silver, but it also harms critical electronics and connections in solar panels, lowering the amount of electricity produced.“It’s challenging to predict and even more challenging to design ways to reduce it because it’s highly dependent on material and environmental conditions,” said Eric Schindelholz, a Sandia National Laboratories materials reliability researcher who studies corrosion and how it affects photovoltaic (PV) system performance.

Life-cycle assessment study provides detailed look at decentralized water systems

The “decentralized” water system at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which treats all non-potable water on site, contributes to the net-zero building’s recognition as one of the greenest buildings in the world. However, research into the efficacy of these systems versus traditional treatment is practically non-existent in the literature. Thanks to a collaboration between Phipps and the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, researchers now have a greater understanding of the life cycle of water reuse systems designed for living buildings, from construction through day-to-day use.

NASA Scientist Studies Whether Solar Storms Cause Animal Beachings

A long-standing mystery among marine biologists is why otherwise healthy whales, dolphins, and porpoises — collectively known as cetaceans — end up getting stranded along coastal areas worldwide. Could severe solar storms, which affect Earth’s magnetic fields, be confusing their internal compasses and causing them to lose their way?

How adult-born neurons get wired-in

One goal in neurobiology is to understand how the flow of electrical signals through brain circuits gives rise to perception, action, thought, learning and memories.

Turbine Breaks World Record for Wind Power Generated in Just One Day

A 722-foot tall, 9-megawatt wind turbine operating at an offshore testing site near Østerild, Denmark has set a new world record for wind electricity generation. The V164 turbine, built by Danish energy company MHI Vestas, produced 216,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity in just 24 hours, enough to power 240 U.S. homes for a month.

Toward all-solid lithium batteries

Most batteries are composed of two solid, electrochemically active layers called electrodes, separated by a polymer membrane infused with a liquid or gel electrolyte. But recent research has explored the possibility of all-solid-state batteries, in which the liquid (and potentially flammable) electrolyte would be replaced by a solid electrolyte, which could enhance the batteries’ energy density and safety.

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