Articles on this Page
- 05/25/16--10:50: _These scientists ma...
- 05/26/16--05:48: _100 pictures that w...
- 05/26/16--09:57: _Extreme weather is ...
- 05/26/16--10:54: _India’s weather is ...
- 05/27/16--10:00: _El Niño is over — b...
- 05/28/16--08:01: _The 15 cities with ...
- 05/28/16--10:08: _China quietly did s...
- 05/29/16--10:00: _This technology cou...
- 05/30/16--12:00: _Hurricane season is...
- 05/30/16--13:01: _The Arctic Ocean is...
- 05/24/16--14:57: _Meet the 25-year-ol...
- 06/01/16--14:02: _A craft beer compan...
- 06/02/16--11:10: _Researchers have fo...
- 06/03/16--15:35: _Cheaper fuel may be...
- 06/04/16--04:59: _There's a way to in...
- 06/05/16--06:49: _Disheartening maps ...
- 06/07/16--07:00: _28 incredible photo...
- 06/07/16--08:05: _Norway just set an ...
- 06/07/16--13:43: _Here's why New York...
- 06/08/16--08:00: _The US will be tota...
- Direct aerosol particles: produced by dust, sea salt spray, or the burning of biomass
- Secondary aerosol particles: formed when gas is converted into a particle (these are the type the scientists of the new study are interested in)
- 05/26/16--05:48: 100 pictures that will change the way you see the world
- 05/26/16--10:54: India’s weather is so hot its roads are melting
- 05/28/16--08:01: The 15 cities with the worst air pollution in the world
- 05/30/16--12:00: Hurricane season is right around the corner — here's what to expect
- 05/30/16--13:01: The Arctic Ocean is about to get 'spicier'
- 06/02/16--11:10: Researchers have found 39 unreported sources of major pollution
- 06/03/16--15:35: Cheaper fuel may be on the horizon thanks to an unlikely source
- 06/07/16--13:43: Here's why New York City smells so rancid in the summer
- 06/08/16--08:00: The US will be totally unrecognizable by the end of this century
A new experiment looking at clouds is about to change the way we think about climate change.
For decades, scientists have thought that the tiny particles that form clouds — and play a big role in keeping the planet cool — were produced as a counterintuitive side-effect of pollution.
So, while it was understood that we were putting loads of planet-warming gases into the atmosphere and heating things up, it was also thought that at least a some of those particles were getting trapped inside clouds and helping to keep that warming from being even more catastrophic.
But a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature which looks more closely at these tiny particles finds that they can be produced naturally. This will help us understand just how cloudy the world actually was before we started polluting it, which is key to figuring out the rate at which our planet is heating up.
A cloud conundrum
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognizes aerosols as the single biggest source of uncertainty in human-driven climate change. Part of the problem is that we have no way of measuring just how cloudy the planet was in the preindustrial era.
Thanks to this uncertainty, and despite our precise measurements of the effects of human induced greenhouse warming on climate, the estimates for projected climate change have entertained a wide range of numbers for projected warming, and these numbers haven’t changed for the past 35 years.
The models predict that if carbon dioxide doubles over the next century the planet will warm anywhere from 2.7 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit — a critical difference that should inform the way we prepare for the future.
So, what's the deal with aerosols? Turns out there are two sources of the particles:
Unlike what happens with direct aerosol particles, gas-to particle-conversion occurs everywhere. As a result, more than half of all the cloud seeds in the atmosphere are secondary aerosol particles!
This is where it gets tricky: Up until now, scientists believed that sulfuric acid, which is mainly produced from fossil fuel emissions (cars, factories, etc.), was necessary for the formation of secondary aerosols. But in this new study, a group of scientists shows that Earth can actually produce these particles without any help from humans.
Instead, it gets made from a mix of tree vapors and highly energetic particles that bombard our atmosphere from outer space called cosmic rays.
We found that nature produces particles without pollution. That is going to require a rethink of how human activities have increased aerosols in clouds.
“We found that nature produces particles without pollution,” Jasper Kirkby, European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) particle physicist and originator and spokesperson of the CLOUD experiment, told Business Insider. “That is going to require a rethink of how human activities have increased aerosols in clouds.”
To estimate how much the planet is going to warm up, scientists look at how much hotter it gets as carbon dioxide increases. And abundant clouds in the preindustrial era — something the new study hints at — would mean less warming.
Taking this into account, current estimates about Earth’s projected warming in the 21st century could be sharpened, and even slightly reduced.
Heads in the clouds
The cloud chamber where scientists perform their measurements for the Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets (CLOUD) experiment at CERN is an unassuming three-meter-wide stainless steel chamber. But inside this chamber, scientists use vapors to recreate parcels of Earth’s atmosphere, injecting ultraviolet rays into the top of the chamber to simulate sunlight.
The chamber is actually the cleanest cloud chamber in the world, which is important because the experiment requires the sensitivity to detect the very poorly established vapors responsible for aerosol particle formation, which exist at about one in a trillion molecules.
“No one has done this before except at CLOUD. We put a lot of CERN know-how and expertise and care into building this chamber. To build a large chamber and keep contaminants below one in a trillion molecules is right at the limit of technology,” Kirkby said.
The scientists directed a beam of artificial cosmic rays from a CERN particle accelerator at the chamber to study the effects of cosmic ray ions on the rate of formation of aerosol particles.. They found that aerosol particles form ten to one hundred times more abundantly if an ion from a cosmic ray is in the center of the cluster to help stabilize it.
“Since time immemorial nature has had a perfectly good way of making cloud seeds throughout atmosphere by this gas to particle conversion and that’s new,” Kirkby said. “Previous knowledge was that you required sulfuric acid — and that sulfuric acid is dominated by human activities.”
What this means
One consequence of this study is that scientists will be able to sharpen their estimates about future warming in the 21st century. It will also slightly reduce these estimates, bringing the central value down a little, Kirkby said.
A second consequence of this study is that observations of solar climate variability in the preindustrial climate might be explained by the influence of galactic cosmic rays, which might be a natural source of climate change since the flux of particles raining down on the atmosphere varies with solar activity.
If this is the case, Kirkby said, Earth has exquisite records of these cosmic rays going back hundreds of thousands of years due to trace radioisotopes they leave in ice cores. Although the effect of these cosmic rays is likely very small today due to the effect of pollution, in the preindustrial era they could have played a key role.
“Human impact is not going to go away,” Kirkby said. “Temperature will still go up and warming will still occur. But now that we’ve got this important result that is going to pin down the pre industrial atmosphere, it’s going to sharpen our results and shrink the range of predictions.”
NOW WATCH: This mystifying cloud is made of birds
Earth is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind place.
To remind you of this, we've rounded up some of the most beautiful and mesmerizing pictures of our home planet.
These images will make you fall in love with earth all over again.
Swans swim past changing autumn leaves in Sheffield Park Gardens in southern England.
Cherry blossoms are seen in full bloom in Tokyo.
Smoke and lava spew from Chile's Villarrica Volcano at the end of March.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
LONDON - Extreme weather is becoming one of the biggest risks to World Heritage icons like the Polynesian Easter Island or Britain's Stonehenge, posing a threat to tourism and economies alike, scientists and U.N. experts said on Thursday.
Developing countries such as Nepal, home to Mount Everest, and Uganda, where tourists travel to see mountain gorillas, may be particularly hard hit as they rely on income from tourism more than developed countries, the experts said in a report.
"For them it's a very important revenue and income. It's an economic driver to have a World Heritage site," Adam Markham, lead author of the report and deputy director of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"If the attributes that attract tourists there in the first place are damaged by climate change, that could be a big blow to the tourism economies," he said in a phone interview.
Tourism is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors, generating 9 percent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) and providing one in 11 jobs, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the UCS said.
While badly managed tourism itself can be damaging to World Heritage sites, climate change multiplies the risk of the sites loosing attributes that make them attractive tourist destinations, they said.
"Some Easter Island statues are at risk of being lost to the sea because of coastal erosion," Markham said in a statement.
"Many of the world's most important coral reefs, including in the islands of New Caledonia in the western Pacific, have suffered unprecedented coral bleaching linked to climate change this year. Climate change could eventually even cause some World Heritage sites to lose their status."
The report analyzed 31 natural and cultural World Heritage sites in 29 countries, including the Colombian port city of Cartagena, Vietnamese town of Hoi An and the Galapagos Islands, that are under threat from extreme weather events like increasing temperatures, rising seas and droughts.
Preserving World Heritage sites was also important because forests and coastal habitats can help store carbon and protect against storms and floods, understand climate change impact and test resilience strategies, the report said.
To maintain the World Heritage sites it was essential to achieve a goal of keeping global average temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, as agreed by world leaders in Paris in December, the experts said.
(Reporting by Magdalena Mis; Editing by Katie Nguyen.; Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)
It sounds almost like something out of a cartoon. Someone crosses the road on a hot day and gets stuck in the melting asphalt, leaving behind shoes like some kind of Family Circus trail.
But this isn't from the funny pages.
This isn't even the first heat wave of the year for India. A heat wave last month killed 100 people.
The Wall Street Journal estimates that 330 million people in India live in areas affected by extreme heat.
Complicating matters, India is currently struggling through a serious drought, with few cooling rains falling to break the heat.
Here in the United States the majority of states are bracing for an extremely warm summer this year. But in some parts of the world, it seems that extreme heat, like the kind seen in India, is becoming the new normal.
Last summer, temperatures in Iran reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit, but felt like 165 degrees Fahrenheit thanks to the high humidity in the region. And it's not likely to get better. Multiple studies have predicted an increase in both the frequency and intensity of heat waves within the next century, both on a regional and worldwide basis.
This article originally appeared on Popular Science.
The 2015-16 El Niño has likely reached its end. Tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures, trade winds, cloud and pressure patterns have all dropped back to near normal, although clearly the event’s impacts around the globe are still being felt.
Recent changes in Pacific Ocean temperatures have been comparable to the decline seen at the end of the 1998 El Niño, although temperatures remain warmer than at the end of the most recent El Niño in 2010. Models suggest that ocean cooling will continue, with little chance of a return to El Niño levels in the immediate future.
The 2015–16 El Niño will go down as one of the three strongest El Niño events since 1950. Every El Niño is different, but typically the stronger the event, the greater its global impact. The 2015–16 El Niño was no exception, with wide-ranging effects felt around the world.
El Niño also added to the globe’s warming trend, making 2015 the world’s hottest calendar year on record. Early indications are that 2016 could be hotter still.
So as El Niño fades, let’s take stock of its impacts worldwide.
Drought meant that South African food production was around six million tonnes below normal levels — the lowest since 1995.
In Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique, maize prices were at least 50% higher than usual, with drought unlikely to break until rains in summer 2016–17. In the driest areas of Zimbabwe, more than 75% of crops were lost. In May 2016, Zimbabwean national parks put wildlife up for sale in a bid to save animals from drought.
The cost of chocolate hit a four-year high as a result of drought and lost production in the world’s major cocoa producer, Ivory Coast.
Drought also affected Ethiopia, Somalia, Swaziland, Zambia and parts of Madagascar, with more than 10 million Ethiopians in need of food aid.
In December 2015, Rift Valley fever was reported in East Africa. The disease is associated with heavy rainfall providing a fertile breeding ground for the mosquitoes that carry the virus.
In Tanzania, heavy rain destroyed crops and food reserves, while in Kenya heavy rains aggravated cholera outbreaks. In May 2016, landslides in Rwanda cost many lives and heavy rains damaged infrastructure and hundreds of homes.
The Pacific region
El Niño is often, but not always, associated with drought in Australia. But the drying influence of the 2015-16 El Niño was initially tempered somewhat by very warm temperatures in the Indian Ocean. From April to August, above-average rainfall fell over parts of inland Western Australia, New South Wales and eastern Victoria.
But by spring, the Indian Ocean was helping El Niño, resulting in Australia’s third-driest spring on record, limiting growth at the end of the cropping season. A record early heatwave in October further reduced crop production in the Murray–Darling Basin.
However, the lack of heavy rains in the north and west meant reduced downtime for mining.
The northern wet season produced a record-low three tropical cyclones in the Australian region. The previous record was five, which happened in 1987-88 and again in 2006-07 – both El Niño years.
Fewer clouds and less tropical rain contributed to the most severe coral bleaching event on record for the Great Barrier Reef.
The combination of heat and low rainfall brought a very early start to the fire season, with more than 70 fires burning in Victoria and around 55 fires in Tasmania during October. Dry conditions in Tasmania also resulted in hundreds of fires being started by dry lightning in mid-January 2016. The fires damaged large areas of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, including areas of rainforest and bogs, which may not have seen fire for centuries.
In Papua New Guinea, drought and frost led to crop failures and food shortages. Staple sweet potato crops in the highlands were severely damaged by August frosts – the result of El Niño reducing night-time cloud cover – which also destroyed wild plants that are usually eaten as a backup source of food.
Vanuatu, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Samoa and Tonga experienced worsening drought. Islands closer to the Equator such as Kiribati and Tuvalu had intense rain causing flooding, as well as higher sea levels due to warmer waters and weaker trade winds.
In the Philippines, drought was declared in 85% of provinces. Indonesia experienced its worst drought in 18 years. Forest fires caused poor air quality over vast neighbouring areas including Singapore, Malaysia, southern Thailand and the southern Philippines.
In the Mekong Basin, delayed monsoon rains reduced rice production, with significant reductions in Vietnam. In Thailand, severe water shortages led to water rationing and delayed rice planting. The Thai government lowered its forecast for rice exports by two million tonnes. This led to some African countries increasing their imports, fearing a price rise.
Palm oil prices rose as supplies became limited due to drought in Malaysia and Indonesia. In April 2016, a heatwave set national temperature records for Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
Northern parts of China experienced drought in 2015. Heavy rainfall in southern China persisted through the second half of 2015, with flooding and landslides recorded along the Yangtze River Valley. China’s December-to-February rainfall was approximately 50% above normal. In May 2016, heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in China’s Guangdong province.
In India, below-average monsoon rains in June to September led to reduced rice, corn, cotton and sugar output in 2015. Below-average rainfall between October and December also affected India’s wheat harvest. Major water shortages emerged in some areas, including Mumbai – the result of two years of failed rains.
Indian Premier League cricket matches were relocated from Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur due to water restrictions. Record heat affected the north and west of the country in May, setting a new national record of 51℃ in Phalodi.
Conversely, some southern parts of India had exceptionally wet conditions, with record-breaking rains and widespread flooding in Chennai in November and December. The city received over 300mm of rainfall on December 1, 2015; the wettest day in more than a century.
South and Central America
Peru experienced widespread flooding and mudslides in early 2016, with heavy rain leaving more than 5,000 people homeless. In Ecuador, flooding and landslides damaged properties and affected shrimp production.
More than 150,000 people were evacuated from flooded areas in Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina in December 2015. Some experts have linked El Niño flooding to outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika virus.
In January 2016, Argentina experienced its worst locust plague since 1954, following heavy rains and warm temperatures. Heavy rains returned to Argentina and Paraguay in April 2016, causing large agricultural losses.
In contrast, Colombia experienced drought and forest fires, which caused severe damage to crops and pushed up food prices, leading to malnutrition in some areas. In November 2015, the United Nations warned that 2.3 million people would need food aid in Central America.
The Caribbean also experienced drought; Cuba had its most severe dry season in 115 years; Barbados, Dominica, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Antigua, Barbuda and Saint Lucia experienced water shortages, with the latter declaring a national emergency. The Dominican Republic experienced serious agricultural losses.
Brazil had a particularly high number of forest fires during 2015, exacerbated by ongoing drought conditions in the Amazon region. Drought in Brazil and Colombia (and Indonesia) meant coffee prices soared as dry conditions affected all the major coffee-producing countries.
In contrast, excess rain in northeast Brazil flooded crops, leading to rises in the sugar price worldwide.
In California, many hoped that El Niño would bring relief from five years of drought. But despite some regions getting heavy rain more typical of El Niño, leading to mudslides, El Niño failed to end the long-term dry.
In the southeast and south-central United States, rainfall was above normal. Major flooding occurred along the Mississippi River. Missouri received three times its normal rainfall during November and December 2015.
Warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures offshore meant warm water species such as sea snakes, red tuna crabs and hammerhead sharks were found on Californian beaches.
For information on the current and forecast state of ENSO, keep an eye on the Bureau’s ENSO Wrap-Up.
Alison Cook, Climatologist, Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Andrew B. Watkins, Manager of Climate Prediction Services, Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Blair Trewin, Climatologist, National Climate Centre, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and Catherine Ganter, Senior Climatologist, Australian Bureau of Meteorology
RELATED: La Niña is officially coming
NOW WATCH: This is a weather system in a box
Air pollution in urban areas is getting worse.
Between 2008 and 2013, global urban air pollution levels rose by 8%.
Some 80% of all urban areas have air pollution levels above what's considered healthy by the World Health Organization, a new report said Thursday. The rate is even more dismal for cities with more than 100,000 people in low- and middle-income countries: The report found that 98% of those areas had unhealthy air.
The most harmful pollutant to human health is called PM 2.5, particle matter smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter that's found in soot, smoke, and dust. PM 2.5 is especially dangerous because it can get lodged in the lungs and cause long-term health problems like asthma and chronic lung disease.
PM 2.5 starts to become a major health problem when there is more than 35.5 micrograms (µg) of PM 2.5 per cubic meter of air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. But the World Health Organizations recommends keeping yearly average PM 2.5 levels three times lower than that.
The most polluted cities on Earth have anywhere between 11 and 20 times that amount — based on the new WHO data from cities that collect it — and you might be surprised which make the top 15 list this year.
15. Kanpur, India - 115 µg/m3 of PM 2.5
Kanpur, India has 11 times the annual mean of PM 2.5 that's considered healthy. The pollution is attributed to industrial activity in the area as well as motor vehicles.
TIE 13. Shijiazhuang, China - 121 µg/m3 of PM 2.5
Shijiazhuang, the largest city in China's Hebei province, owes its high air pollution to industrial activity in the area. It's been so bad, in 2014 a man tried to sue the government over the smog in the city.
TIE 13. Dammam, Saudi Arabia - 121 µg/m3 of PM 2.5
Dammam, a city in Saudi Arabia's eastern province, is the sixth largest city in the country. Its high air pollution stems in part from the oil industry in the area.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Nobody in the United States paid much attention when the Chinese government released new dietary guidelines earlier this month.
But hidden within them is a provision that could slash carbon emissions from livestock, according to the group Climate Nexus citing a forthcoming report from WildAid.
China is saying something simple and straightforward, something that the US government has never been able to bring itself to say: Eat less meat.
If 1.3 billion Chinese people follow the guidelines and eat just 200 grams of meat and eggs a day — instead of increasing their meat consumption as expected — it would prevent a lot of greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere. And when we say “a lot” we mean on the order of 1.5 percent of global emissions. That’s like zeroing out Mexico’s carbon emissions every year.
The Chinese dietary guidelines don’t say anything about greenhouse gasses, only about health. The government issued them as part of a campaign against obesity. Even so, in a statement responding to the news, food and climate expert Jonathan Foley underlined the importance of dietary changes.
“Reducing our meat consumption — especially red meat — even a little bit can have profound impacts on the future of the planet,” Foley said.
With the world’s population expected to exceed nine billion by 2050, scientists are working to develop new ways to meet rising global demand for food, energy and water without increasing the strain on natural resources.
Organizations including the World Bank and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization are calling for more innovation to address the links between these sectors, often referred to as the food-energy-water (FEW) nexus.
Nanotechnology – designing ultrasmall particles – is now emerging as a promising way to promote plant growth and development.
This idea is part of the evolving science of precision agriculture, in which farmers use technology to target their use of water, fertilizer and other inputs. Precision farming makes agriculture more sustainable because it reduces waste.
We recently published results from research in which we used nanoparticles, synthesized in our laboratory, in place of conventional fertilizer to increase plant growth. In our study we successfully used zinc nanoparticles to increase the growth and yield of mung beans, which contain high amounts of protein and fiber and are widely grown for food in Asia.
We believe this approach can reduce use of conventional fertilizer. Doing so will conserve natural mineral reserves and energy (making fertilizer is very energy-intensive) and reduce water contamination. It also can enhance plants' nutritional values.
Impacts of fertilizer use
Fertilizer provides nutrients that plants need in order to grow. Farmers typically apply it through soil, either by spreading it on fields or mixing it with irrigation water. A major portion of fertilizer applied this way gets lost in the environment and pollutes other ecosystems. For example, excess nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers become “fixed” in soil: they form chemical bonds with other elements and become unavailable for plants to take up through their roots. Eventually rain washes the nitrogen and phosphorus into rivers, lakes and bays, where it can cause serious pollution problems.
Fertilizer use worldwide is increasing along with global population growth. Currently farmers are using nearly 85 percent of the world’s total mined phosphorus as fertilizer, although plants can uptake only an estimated 42 percent of the phosphorus that is applied to soil. If these practices continue, the world’s supply of phosphorus could run out within the next 80 years, worsening nutrient pollution problems in the process.
In contrast to conventional fertilizer use, which involves many tons of inputs, nanotechnology focuses on small quantities. Nanoscale particles measure between 1 and 100 nanometers in at least one dimension. A nanometer is equivalent to one billionth of a meter; for perspective, a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
These particles have unique physical, chemical and structural features, which we can fine-tune through engineering. Many biological processes, such as the workings of cells, take place at the nano scale, and nanoparticles can influence these activities.
Scientists are actively researching a range of metal and metal oxide nanoparticles, also known as nanofertilizer, for use in plant science and agriculture. These materials can be applied to plants through soil irrigation and/or sprayed onto their leaves. Studies suggest that applying nanoparticles to plant leaves is especially beneficial for the environment because they do not come in contact with soil. Since the particles are extremely small, plants absorb them more efficiently than via soil. We synthesized the nanoparticles in our lab and sprayed them through a customized nozzle that delivered a precise and consistent concentration to the plants.
We chose to target zinc, which is a micronutrient that plants need to grow, but in far smaller quantities than phosphorus. By applying nano zinc to mung bean leaves after 14 days of seed germination, we were able to increase the activity of three important enzymes within the plants: acid phosphatase, alkaline phosphatase and phytase. These enzymes react with complex phosphorus compounds in soil, converting them into forms that plants can take up easily.
When we made these enzymes more active, the plants took up nearly 11 percent more phosphorus that was naturally present in the soil, without receiving any conventional phosphorous fertilization. The plants that we treated with zinc nanoparticles increased their biomass (growth) by 27 percent and produced 6 percent more beans than plants that we grew using typical farm practices but no fertilizer.
Nanofertilizer also has the potential to increase plants' nutritional value. In a separate study, we found that applying titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles to tomato plants increased the amount of lycopene in the tomatoes by 80 to 113 percent, depending on the type of nanoparticles and concentration of dosages. This may happen because the nanoparticles increase plants' photosynthesis rates and enable them to take up more nutrients.
Lycopene is a naturally occurring red pigment that acts as an antioxidant and may prevent cell damage in humans who consume it. Making plants more nutrition-rich in this way could help to reduce malnutrition. The quantities of zinc that we applied were within the U.S. government’s recommended limits for zinc in foods.
Next questions: health and environmental impacts of nanoparticles
Nanotechnology research in agriculture is still at an early stage and evolving quickly. Before nanofertilizers can be used on farms, we will need a better understanding of how they work and regulations to ensure they will be used safely. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already issued guidance for the use of nanomaterials in animal feed.
Manufacturers also are adding engineered nanoparticles to foods, personal care and other consumer products. Examples include silica nanoparticles in baby formula, titanium dioxide nanoparticles in powdered cake donuts, and other nanomaterials in paints, plastics, paper fibers, pharmaceuticals and toothpaste.
Many properties influence whether nanoparticles pose risks to human health, including their size, shape, crystal phase, solubility, type of material, and the exposure and dosage concentration. Experts say that nanoparticles in food products on the market today are probably safe to eat, but this is an active research area.
Addressing these questions will require further studies to understand how nanoparticles behave within the human body. We also need to carry out life cycle assessments of nanoparticles' impact on human health and the environment, and develop ways to assess and manage any risks they may pose, as well as sustainable ways to manufacture them. However, as our research on nanofertilizer suggests, these materials could help solve some of the word’s most pressing resource problems at the food-energy-water nexus.
Hurricane season is right around the corner, and we could be seeing more hurricanes this year than we have in the past few years.
Starting June 1, we'll officially be in the five-month period where hurricanes are most likely to happen in the Atlantic Ocean.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects a "near-normal" hurricane season with about 10-16 named storms (this includes everything from tropical storms to hurricanes traveling faster than 150 miles per hour). That "near-normal" prediction would mean there could me more hurricanes in the Atlantic this year than there have been the past few, which were considered "below normal."
Here are the names you can expect to see in the coming months:
Still, the NOAA expressed a lot of uncertainty in their predictions.
“This is a more challenging hurricane season outlook than most because it’s difficult to determine whether there will be reinforcing or competing climate influences on tropical storm development,” Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the NOAA said in a statement.
It will depend a lot on how the La Niña weather pattern plays out, if it materializes at all. Right now, the NOAA is on a La Niña watch.
Elsewhere, the central basin of the Pacific Ocean is looking at a 40% chance of having either a near-normal or above normal season and is looking at about 4-7 tropical cyclones, while the eastern basin has a 40% chance of near-normal and 30% chance of below normal with about 13-20 storms.
DON'T MISS: La Niña is officially coming
Relative temperature and salinity variations within seawater of the same density. Warmer, saltier ocean water is considered spicy while cooler, fresher water is minty.
Climate change will spice up the Arctic Ocean, researchers report in the April Journal of Physical Oceanography.
Seawater that is both salty and cold is the most dense, and therefore sits deep in the ocean.
Unlike the rest of the world’s oceans, in the cold Arctic, the density of seawater is almost entirely determined by saltiness rather than temperature.
That’s because at near-freezing temperatures, hydrogen atoms hold water molecules together, so as temperatures rise, water expands less rapidly — and therefore temperature has less of an effect. This means that as long as it’s saltier, warmer seawater can sink below colder seawater in the Arctic Ocean.
As the region warms, however, temperature will have a stronger influence on Arctic seawater density than it does now. That change will mean warmer, saltier water will rise to the same depth as cooler, fresher water. The spiciness boost will make it more difficult for warm water to enter the deep ocean.
With more heat held at the surface, the fate of sea ice is uncertain. The sea ice–growing season could be delayed each fall, but once the season progresses, lower ocean temperatures could boost sea ice.
One thing is clear, says Yale University oceanographer Mary-Louise Timmermans, who coauthored the study: “The way the Arctic Ocean works will change.”
Erin Schrode is a 25-year-old Democrat running for a seat in the House of Representatives. Should she win the 2nd Congressional District in California, she would be the youngest woman ever elected to the United States Congress.
While she has expressed support for Bernie Sanders, Schrode compares her campaign to Donald Trump's, as she considers herself a political outsider.
"Our campaign is certainly tapping into that energy that you see on both sides of the aisle. Supporting Sanders, supporting Trump — of the outsider, the ignored, the excluded, the disenfranchised, the people who have never seen themselves represented in government," Schrode told INSIDER.
In terms of her campaign, the excluded group Schrode wants to represent is that of millennial voters. And though her critics see her age as a liability, Schrode views it as a strength.
"Our generation is revolutionizing every sector of society, using technology and innovation in science, in communication," Schrode explained. "Where is that approach in politics?"
Schrode has unbridled confidence in her peers, claiming that millennials are more willing to take risks, not as beholden to special interests, and capable of working across the aisle.
She says the millennial voice is needed in the political landscape, and she may be right, as the average age for members in the House of Representatives is 57.
However, she not only wants to see more young people in politics, but more women as well.
"Don't vote for me because I’m young, and don’t vote for me because I’m a woman. But young people are better equipped to lead the future of the state," Schrode said. "And women, progressive female voices, do result in better policy."
Schrode faces a tough primary opponent — the incumbent Democrat, Jared Huffman, who's running for his third term in office. Huffman, 52, told INSIDER that Schrode is playing "identity politics" by asking his constituents not to consider her age or gender, then turning around and "justifying her candidacy entirely based on her young age and her gender by claiming these things make her inherently 'better.'"
One thing is for sure: the young politician has been busy building a personal brand over the last few years. Eleven years ago, while still a teenager, Schrode co-founded Turning Green, a student-led non-profit organization promoting global sustainability. Schrode says it was her work as an environmental activist, in which she encountered policy roadblocks over and over again, that got her into politics.
While the environment is a central component of her platform, her campaign is about more than that. She's also fighting for better public health and reproductive health, financial reform in education, paid leave for mothers, gender equality, and criminal justice reform.
Though she doesn't have experience as a lawyer, or legislating on the state level, or years serving in Congress like her opponent, Schrode thinks her background uniquely qualifies her for a Congressional seat.
"Are years behind a corporate desk, in a law office, or walking the halls of Washington, D.C. more valuable than boots on the ground, activism, education, and entrepreneurship?" Schrode asked.
No matter what happens in this election, Schrode says she is planning on living her life as a public servant, whether it's through activism or government office.
"Well, I've got to wait 10 years to run for president, so there’s that, but really this is about purpose, not a position."
Written and produced by A.C. Fowler
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - A small craft beer company in South Florida is trying to make a big impact on oceanic pollution with biodegradable, edible packaging in an eco-friendly twist to protect marine life.
The plastic rings used to package what is perhaps the planet's most popular alcoholic beverage is a menace to birds, turtles and other sea creatures that get tangled in the rings or mistake them as food, say experts.
More than a million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals die from plastic pollution every year, according to UNESCO.
Edible packaging and utensils are not new, but applying the concept to beer packaging is. Since releasing a marketing video earlier this month, the idea has received a good deal of attention.
"I have over 150 different breweries - including the large guys - wanting to get on board right away," said Chris Gove, the owner of Saltwater Brewery, a small craft beer company in Delray Beach, Florida.
Saltwater Brewery would not disclose exactly which brands had already expressed interest in the eco-friendly packaging, but said "rest assured, the world's players are catching on."
According to media reports, Denmark-based Carlsberg, one of the world's largest brewers, has expressed interest in the eco-friendly packaging solution.
The idea and prototypes, developed by Gove in partnership with New York-based ad agency We Believers, could potentially have a significant environmental impact if the rings were adopted for industry-wide use. An estimated 69 billion cans of beer are consumed annually.
The edible rings are made from wheat and barley used during the brewing process. The spent grains, normally sold off as cattle feed, are treated with additives and pressed to form the rings. The molding process, says Gove, is proprietary and the company has filed for patents.
"This packaging goes beyond recycling and strives to achieve zero waste," said Marco Vega, co-founder of We Believers.
The team is exploring how to scale up production. Even at a slightly higher price point, Gove believes people will pay the difference to protect the oceans.
With summer soon in full swing, Gove is going to brew a lot of beer, content in the knowledge that its packaging could feed a turtle, as opposed to harming it.
"We have run the numbers and it looks very cost-effective, especially on the scaling side since the breweries have already invested in it," said Gove.
(Reuters) - Researchers in the United States and Canada have located 39 unreported sources of major pollution using a new satellite-based method, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.
The unreported sources of toxic sulfur dioxide emissions are clusters of coal-burning power plants, smelters and oil and gas operations in the Middle East, Mexico and Russia that were found in an analysis of satellite data from 2005 to 2014, NASA said in a statement on Wednesday.
The analysis also found that the satellite-based estimates of the emissions were two or three times higher than those reported from known sources in those regions, NASA said.
Environment and Climate Change Canada atmospheric scientist Chris McLinden said in a statement that the unreported and underreported sources accounted for about 12% of all human-made emissions of sulfur dioxide.
The discrepancy could have "a large impact on regional air quality," said McLinden, the lead author of the study published in Nature Geosciences.
A new computer program and improvements in processing raw satellite observations helped researchers at NASA; the University of Maryland, College Park; Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Environment and Climate Change Canada detect the pollution, according to the U.S. space agency.
The researchers also located 75 natural sources of sulfur dioxide in the form of non-erupting volcanoes that are slowly leaking the toxic gas.
Although the sites are not necessarily unknown, many volcanoes are in remote locations and not monitored, so the satellite-based data is the first to provide regular annual information on these volcanic emissions, NASA said.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Scott Malone and Lisa Von Ahn)
If you drive — or even if you don't — fuel prices are probably on your mind.
But paying more at the pump isn't the only thing that people are concerned about. They're also increasingly aware that relying on gasoline is terrible for the planet.
As far back as 1826, people have been researching alternatives to highly polluting gasoline. A brief history of biofuel shows that, in that year, a new environmentally friendlier option hit the market: ethanol. It was made by converting parts of plants into energy.
Ethanol soared in popularity during World War II as a result of fuel demands, but it never became the dominant source.
But here's the problem: It's always been more expensive than lead fuel. On top of that, countless companies have failed to keep promises of big improvements in ethanol, leading to a "boy who cried wolf" stigma surrounding the science.
But a new project is closer than ever to solving that dilemma.
Xylome researcher Thomas Jeffries and a team of supporters from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) have tapped into a wild new source for ethanol production. They found that a yeast — S. passalidarum — living inside beetle guts is super efficient at converting xylose, a plant sugar, into energy. A little bit of engineering has made it even more efficient.
Timothy Donohue, principal investigator at the GLBRC and a microbe expert, says that "bacteria prefer to eat sugars like glucose and tend either not to metabolize xylose or do so very slowly and poorly."
This is a problem considering that it means a waste of resources within the plant materials.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists other alternative fuels, such as methane and electricity from wind. It's true that neither of these produce as much emissions — wind doesn't produce any — as the CO2 released by the burning of lead fuel, but they aren't perfect, either.
Methane is released into the atmosphere at a lower rate, but it is also much more potent than CO2, enabling it to trap more heat and further global warming.
And wind energy may seem glamorous from the outside, but it's got its own flaws as well. Wind turbines result in mortality of birds and bats in a plethora of ways, including direct collision, habitat fragmentation caused by the need for space, and sudden changes in air pressure around the turbines leading to traumatic injury.
Few options seem to be able to compete with the combination of environmental friendliness and efficiency that Xylome's new product hopes to provide.
The more xylose that microbes will eat, the more fuel that can be produced (in this case, ethanol). Xylome is using these improved microbes to enhance ethanol production, thus providing more fuel per ton of biomass that is processed. This will also enhance profitability of making other fuels or chemicals from xylose in the future.
The new method works for not only the traditional corn crops, but also different types of grasses and wood and the nonedible parts of plants. This means that ethanol production isn't depleting an ever-demanded food supply. An even bigger bonus is that existing manufacturing locations will be used for the new production rather building new ones. Win-win for the environment!
The process is expected to totally change the economic dynamics of ethanol, as these strains will allow companies to better convert xylose into a host of products. The new method will make its public debut on June 20 to 23 at the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Summer is coming and green bonds are blooming.
Issuers of such bonds promise to use the proceeds on environmentally friendly projects. There are no hard and fast parameters for what a green bond can fund, but they cover areas like renewable energy, deforestation, green buildings, clean transportation and water treatment.
"An increasing number of investors find the concept fun, a win-win, a kind of no-brainer," Suzanne Buchta, managing director of green bonds at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told Business Insider. "I think they like to devote their fixed income dollars into things like cleaner air, more open space, better biodiversity protection and better use of resources."
Global green bond issuance stands at $21.7 billion so far in 2016, up 78% from $12.1 billion issued in the same period last year. That's a record high, according to a note circulated by Dealogic, and the volume of green bonds has already reached 59% of the total in 2015.
Most of the bonds were sold by global agencies like the World Bank, but an increasing number of financial institutions and private companies are joining in.
For example, Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the top bookrunner for global green bonds so far this year with a 13.5% market share. That's followed by Guotai Junan Securities Co and Haitong Securities, according to Dealogic.
Apple issued $1.5 billion in green bonds in February. Automakers have also tapped the green bond market amid growing demand for electric cars. Toyota Motor Corp. sold $1.6 billion in green bonds to fund its hybrid-gas electric models. Zhejiang Geely, which makes London taxis, raised $400 million in green bonds that were oversubscribed by nearly 6 times, according to Bloomberg News.
"My view is that once you have a leader come to the sector, others will follow," Buchta said.
Chinese banks are getting in on the act too, as the government is supporting green bonds as a way to finance its environmentally-friendly initiatives, such as building clean-power generators. China issued $7.9 billion in green bonds in the first quarter of this year. That's nearly half of the quarter's total global volume and makes China the top issuer for the first time, according to credit rating agency Moody's.
"There's significant momentum on the heels of adopting the climate agreement in Paris at end of 2015," Henry Shilling, a senior vice president at Moody's, told Business Insider. "It requires capital reallocation to meet those commitments — which involves trillions of dollars in renewable energy and low carbon investments — and green bonds play an important role."
Moody's expected green bonds volume to reach $50 billion this year. We've already seen an uptick in the first quarter and if that trend persists, issuance could beat Moody's projections and hit a new high at $70 billion by the end of 2016, Shilling said.
Low-lying, coastal cities are in hot water. As temperatures keep rising, so do sea levels, and that means that big chunks of major U.S. cities will be submerged in the centuries to come.
Miami, for one, has been spending millions of dollars dealing with recurring flooding. And researchers estimate that it will be submerged in the next few decades. New Orleans is in a similar position.
New York City is also facing a significant threat: According to a 2015 report, the city could experience up to a 6-foot rise in sea levels in the 21st century. A new interactive visualization by Landscape Metrics illustrates exactly what that means for the city’s residents and its infrastructure. Their website explains:
Previous sea level rise maps have shown the areas of cities that could be underwater in the future. However, our visualization goes one step further by providing information on what occupies those areas. Our project tracks the number of people, schools, transportation facilities, and waste treatment facilities that would be inundated by a sea level increase of up to 5 feet.
A 5-foot rise, for example, would affect nearly 1,500,000 people...
...more than 350 schools...
…and around 250 transport (below, top) and waste-management (below, bottom) facilities.
These pictures paint a disheartening picture of the future of cities. But keep in mind the words of Michael Berkowitz, the president of the 100 Resilient Cities initiative, who recently told CityLab that, with respect to climate change, “cities are piloting different solutions to different problems all the time.” The hope now is that these city-driven solutions are readily accepted and implemented in time.
The Red Bull Cape Fear surfing competition, the most insane and possibly dangerous event on water, started off Sydney yesterday following a weekend of huge storms.
The comp is on today off Cape Solander, at Botany Bay National Park, near Sydney airport, and the surfing scene is already talking about it being one of the most insane and scary contests they’ve ever witnessed.
The ultimate winner was Australian rising star Russell Bierke, 18, from the NSW South Coast. Here’s a look at his form yesterday.
Australian contest director and big wave surfer Mark Mathews says the surf there is “the heaviest and most dangerous wave in the world” and he decided to hold the comp over the weekend after checking the forecast, which he said was the best he’d seen since 2001.
As the massive east coast low pounded the coastline, 16 of the world’s most fearless surfers were being towed onto the 6-metre waves by jet skis in 8 yesterday, before things got too wild even for these guys and the comp was postponed until Tuesday.
Not long after Sydneysider and competition leader Justen “Jughead” Allport posted a 9-point ride he suffered a wipeout that left him with a cut to his head. He was sent to hospital and is in a satisfactory condition.
Among the brave souls competing in the invitation-only yesterday was 16-year-old local Riley Laing. Bra Boys Koby and Jai Abberton are among those competing today on 2-3 metres waves.
Here’s a summary of the action from Monday.
Here are some shots from the action, courtesy of Red Bull.
Cape Fear champion Russell Bierke hits the face on Monday.
Bierke defied Poseidon
Bierke bails while the going's still good
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's parliament has agreed on a goal to cut the country's net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030, moving the target forward by 20 years, an official at the national assembly said on Tuesday.
To achieve this goal, oil and gas producing Norway will have to lower its carbon output or purchase carbon credits to offset its emissions.
In 2008, Norway set a similar target of reaching so-called carbon neutrality by 2030, but later pushed the goal back to 2050 when international negotiations failed to reach a global deal to fight climate change.
Members of parliament's energy and environment committee unanimously agreed on Tuesday to move the target to 2030 in response to the Paris climate accord forged late last year, the committee advisor said.
"It's obviously a very ambitious goal, but all political parties represented on the committee agree on that," he added.
Preliminary data in May showed that Norway's greenhouse gas emissions rose by 1.5 percent to the equivalent of 53.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2015, topping the 51.9 million in the benchmark year of 1990.
The 2030 goal "means that Norway will have to purchase carbon credits abroad, however it's not clear what kind of credits will be available after 2020," said Stig Schjoelset, head of carbon analysis team at Thomson Reuters.
Norway could reduce its emissions by introducing more electric vehicles or supplying electricity from the national grid to offshore oil and gas platforms to reduce their use of gas turbines, officials said.
The country already generates more than 95 percent of electricity from hydropower plants, meaning there is limited scope for further emission cuts in the power sector.
For travelers with the gleam of the Big Apple in their eye, nothing seems better than New York City in the summertime.
Restaurants have outdoor seating, there are festivals all over town, and you don't have to worry about bringing your jacket to Top of the Rock.
But long-time city dwellers know the horror behind the mystique: those awful smells that dominate every daily commute to and from the office.
Here's why it's hard to escape the stench of the city in the heat of summer.
New York City has the highest population density in the US, and with 8,550,405 people roaming the nation’s melting pot, it’s bound to get smelly.
A census conducted in July 2015 showed that the city had a population density of over 27,000 people per square mile. To put that into perspective, the US, on average, holds only 80 people per square mile. That much combined body odor alone could be enough to scare anyone away.
With such an insanely huge number of people living in just one city, it should come as no surprise that there is also an insanely huge amount of garbage produced.
Although residents of the city produce 12,000 tons of waste every day, New York City doesn’t have any of its own landfills or incinerators. Garbage piles up in dumpsters until it can all be taken across the Hudson River to be incinerated in New Jersey, or, if possible, recycled locally and overseas.
But even after most of this waste has been incinerated across the river, strong winds can still carry the stench back over to the city on a hot day.
The sheer amount of garbage isn’t the only problem. There also has to be a way to get all of it out of the city. Diesel trucks carry garbage out of Manhattan 7.8 million times each year. Let this sink in: That’s the same as driving around the earth 312 times, and that's just for one city.
All this driving only adds to pollution and the greenhouse effect, causing the city to become warmer and smellier as time continues.
You may also be wondering why those subway vents on every block smell so much more putrid on a steamy summer day. Or how it is possible to smell a food cart from all the way down the street.
It turns out the combination of heat and humidity allow bacteria to grow faster and smells to travel further. Increasing temps mean molecules move faster, resulting in enzymes speeding up metabolism and cells quickly increasing in size. Heat is bacteria’s best friend.
So when you get stuck with one those incredibly humid days, smells become only more potent. The water in the air causes these odors to dissolve, trapping them longer than if it were a dry day outside.
To many, New York is the city of dreams, but you have to be willing to accept it for the good, the bad, and the smelly.
It's hot out. Record-breaking hot. This April was the warmest April on record. It was the 12th month in a row to set a new record.
Calling it a trend would be an understatement. This warming is relentless.
But miserably hot summers aren't even the worst problem facing us in the coming decades.
Here are some of the craziest ways climate change will change the US as we know it:
As oceans get warmer and northern sea ice begins to melt, sea levels will rise, increasing the frequency of floods. That's because as water warms, it grows in volume. And land ice, such as that of mountain glaciers and giant ice sheets, melts.
Summer will be more like ... death. That's because climate change lengthens summer months and makes them hotter. By the 2050s, New York City could see as many as seven heat waves per year, with about two months' worth — or as much as twice what we currently experience — of days where the maximum temperature is at or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
As climate change drives up temperatures, wildfire seasons in the western US will begin to start earlier, last longer, and be more intense.
Source: National Wildlife Federation
See the rest of the story at Business Insider