Archive for the ‘climatology’ category: Page 9

Jan 20, 2019

Water-based Fuel Cell Converts Carbon Emissions to Electricity

Posted by in categories: business, climatology, sustainability

Carbon emissions are one of the big concerns impacting climate change, with projects from the development of carbon dioxide-scrubbing plants to businesses pledging to offset their carbon emissions being suggested as ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Now scientists from South Korea have come up with a breakthrough concept which can turn carbon emissions into usable energy.

Scientists from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) developed a system which can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen by dissolving carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution. The inspiration came from the fact that much of the carbon dioxide produced by humans is absorbed by the oceans, where it raises the level of acidity in the water. Researchers used this concept to “melt” carbon dioxide in water in order to induce an electrochemical reaction. When acidity rises, the number of protons increases, and these protons attract electrons at a high rate. This can be used to create a battery system where electricity is produced by removing carbon dioxide.

The elements of the battery system are similar to a fuel cell, and include a cathode (sodium metal), a separator (NASICON), and an anode (catalyst). In this case, the catalysts are contained in the water and are connected to the cathode through a lead wire. The reaction begins when carbon dioxide is injected into the water and begins to break down into electricity and hydrogen. Not only is the electricity generated obviously useful, but the produced hydrogen could be used to fuel vehicles as well. The current efficiency of the system is up to 50 percent of the carbon dioxide being converted, which is impressive, although the system only operates on a small scale.

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Jan 18, 2019

Plunging Prices Mean Building New Renewable Energy Is Cheaper Than Running Existing Coal

Posted by in categories: climatology, nuclear energy, sustainability

A…rst-study/” target=”_blank” rel=” nofollow noopener noreferrer” data-ga-track=” ExternalLink:…rst-study/”>new report reveals 42% of global coal capacity is currently unprofitable, and the United States could save $78 billion by closing coal-fired power plants in line with the Paris Climate Accord’s climate goals. This industry-disrupting trend comes down to dollars and cents, as the cost of renewable energy dips below fossil fuel generation.

Across the U.S., renewable energy is beating coal on cost: The price to build new wind and solar has fallen below the cost of running existing coal-fired power plants in Red and Blue states. For example, Colorado’s Xcel will retire 660 megawatts (MW) of coal capacity ahead of schedule in favor of renewable sources and battery storage, and reduce costs in the process. Midwestern utility MidAmerican will be the first utility to reach 100% renewable energy by 2020 without increasing customer rates, and Indiana’s NIPSCO will replace 1.8 gigawatts (GW) of coal with wind and solar.

Lazard’s…rage-2018/” target=”_blank” rel=” nofollow noopener noreferrer” data-ga-track=” ExternalLink:…rage-2018/”>annual Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) analysis reports solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind costs have dropped an extraordinary 88% and 69% since 2009, respectively. Meanwhile, coal and nuclear costs have increased by 9% and 23%, respectively. Even without accounting for current subsidies, renewable energy costs can be considerably lower than the marginal cost of conventional energy technologies.

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Jan 12, 2019

Project to Eradicate Termites Reveals How Much Rainforests Need Them

Posted by in categories: climatology, sustainability

Homeowners tend to equate termites with property value apocalypse, but ecologically speaking, they’re more a force of stability than destruction. A new study points to how termites can help the rainforests they call home to weather droughts—which are expected to increase in frequency and intensity as climate change causes the tropics to heat up.

Termites are found across the tropics, where they feed on wood and dead leaves and build mounds that can sometimes be seen from space. Despite the wide-ranging influence of these ecological engineers, there’s been little research on how termites impact the ability of the forests they call home to withstand one of the biggest natural disturbances they face: drought.

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Jan 10, 2019

Laser triggers electrical activity in thunderstorm for the first time

Posted by in category: climatology

A team of European scientists has deliberately triggered electrical activity in thunderclouds for the first time, according to a new paper in the latest issue of Optics Express, the Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal. They did this by aiming high-power pulses of laser light into a thunderstorm.

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Jan 8, 2019

DARPA wants to build an AI to find the patterns hidden in global chaos

Posted by in categories: climatology, habitats, robotics/AI

That most famous characterization of the complexity causality, a butterfly beating its wings and causing a hurricane on the other side of the world, is thought-provoking but ultimately not helpful. What we really need is to look at a hurricane and figure out which butterfly caused it — or perhaps stop it before it takes flight in the first place. DARPA thinks AI should be able to do just that.

A new program at the research agency is aimed at creating a machine learning system that can sift through the innumerable events and pieces of media generated every day and identify any threads of connection or narrative in them. It’s called KAIROS: Knowledge-directed Artificial Intelligence Reasoning Over Schemas.

“Schema” in this case has a very specific meaning. It’s the idea of a basic process humans use to understand the world around them by creating little stories of interlinked events. For instance when you buy something at a store, you know that you generally walk into the store, select an item, bring it to the cashier, who scans it, then you pay in some way, and then leave the store. This “buying something” process is a schema we all recognize, and could of course have schemas within it (selecting a product; payment process) or be part of another schema (gift giving; home cooking).

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Jan 4, 2019

Researchers find bottom of Pacific getting colder, possibly due to Little Ice Age

Posted by in category: climatology

A pair of researchers, one with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the other Harvard University, has found evidence of deep ocean cooling that is likely due to the Little Ice Age. In their paper published in the journal Science, Jake Gebbie and Peter Huybers describe their study of Pacific Ocean temperatures over the past 150 years and what they found.

Prior research has suggested that it takes a very long time for water in the Pacific Ocean to circulate down to its lowest depths. This is because it is replenished only from the south, which means it takes a very long time for water on the surface to make its way to the bottom—perhaps as long as several hundred years. That is what Gebbie and Huber found back in 2012. That got them to thinking that water temperature at the bottom of the Pacific could offer a hint of what surface temperatures were like hundreds of years ago. To find out if that truly was the case, the researchers obtained data from an international consortium called the Argo Program—a group of people who together have been taking ocean measurements down to depths of approximately two kilometers. As a comparative reference, the researchers also obtained data gathered by the crew of the HMS Challenger—they had taken Pacific Ocean temperatures down to a depth of two kilometers during the years 1872 to 1876.

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Dec 28, 2018

The Milestones of Human Progress We Reached in 2018

Posted by in categories: climatology, sustainability

But in the grander context of human history, 2018 was an extraordinarily positive year. In fact, every year has been getting progressively better.

Before we dive into some of the highlights of human progress from 2018, let’s make one thing clear. There is no doubt that there are many overwhelming global challenges facing our species. From climate change to growing wealth inequality, we are far from living in a utopia.

Yet it’s important to recognize that both our news outlets and audiences have been disproportionately fixated on negative news. This emphasis on bad news is detrimental to our sense of empowerment as a species.

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Dec 19, 2018

How a weird fire vortex sparked a meteorological mystery

Posted by in category: climatology

A spinning inferno with 143-mile-an-hour winds sent scientists scrambling to understand the cause of this deadly phenomenon.

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Dec 19, 2018

Two Stalagmites Found in Chinese Cave Are a ‘Holy Grail’ for Accurate Radiocarbon Dating

Posted by in category: climatology

Since its inception in the 1950s, radiocarbon dating has proven indispensable to archaeologists and climate scientists, who rely on the technique to accurately date organic compounds. But a good thing just got better, owing to the discovery of two stalagmites in a Chinese cave containing a seamless chronological atmospheric record dating back to the last Ice Age.

An unbroken, high-resolution record of atmospheric carbon-12 and carbon-14 was found in a pair of stalagmites located within Hulu Cave near Nanjing, China, according to new research published today in Science. Because this record extends back to the last glacial period, to around 54,000 years ago, scientists are now equipped with a more accurate standard for use in radiocarbon calibration.

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Dec 17, 2018

New research shows that tornadoes don’t form the way everyone thought

Posted by in category: climatology

Tornadoes are some of the most destructive weather events on the planet, so understanding how they form is vital in forming early warning systems that give people plenty of time to take cover. It’s long been thought that rotation in storm clouds is the very first sign that a twister is taking shape, but new research suggests that the cloud rotation might actually be the last piece of the tornado puzzle.

While monitoring a large tornado-producing storm in central Oklahoma, meteorologist Jana Houser of Ohio University gathered readings using a mobile Doppler radar that logged wind speeds twice per minute. This painted a detailed picture of the exact moment the clouds began to rotate, but it wasn’t until afterward that Houser and her fellow researchers noticed an anomaly.

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