Month: October 2013

  • Wind Turbine Arrangement: Staggering Results

    Location and organization apparently matters after all! Or at least that is what Cristina Archer, Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware has discovered with regard to wind turbine efficiency. Dr. Archer headed up a team of researchers from UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment to conduct studies on the effects of various wind turbine organizational placement patterns. Using a wind farm near Sweden for the basis of their study, they compared existing tightly paced, grid-like layouts to six alternate configurations. They tried multiple spacing distances in various styles of rows: straight arrays, linear but equal offsets and a staggered theatre style where any turbine in front does not obstruct the view from any one behind.

  • Renewable energy revolution will require better management of metals

    If we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, scientists say global society will need a rapid and aggressive replacement of fossil fuel energy for renewable, such as solar, wind, geo-thermal, and tidal. While experts say a renewable revolution would not only mitigate climate change but also likely invigorate economies and cut life-threatening pollution, such a revolution would not come without challenges.

  • Climate change to disrupt soil nutrients in drylands

    The increased aridity expected this century as a result of change may disrupt the balance of key soil nutrients with a knock-on effect on soil fertility threatening livelihoods of more than two billion people, a study finds. The drop in nitrogen and carbon concentrations that occurs as soils become dryer could have serious effects on ecosystem services such as food, carbon storage and biodiversity, according to the Nature paper published today.

  • The mystery of the disappearing elephant tusk

    Give it a few thousand years, and tusks could completely disappear from the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). The beautifully smooth, elongated ivory incisors neatly bordering a long trunk are iconic in the public mind. The reigning hypothesis is that tusks evolved to help male elephants fight one another, as demonstrated when males compete over females in estrus. However, a recent study published in the journal Animal Behaviour has shown that tusks may not be key factors in tussles, at least as far as elephants are concerned.

  • School Bus Company Fined $33K for Excessive Idling

    Watch out idlers – they’re coming for you! Anti-idling laws on the federal, state, and local level are rapidly growing across the US in an effort to cut back on the billions of gallons of fuel that are wasted each year by idling vehicles. While it is difficult to patrol these idlers, especially on a local level, most states have laws against idling, with California taking the lead for the most codes and regulations. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also taking action against companies that violate federally-enforceable motor vehicle idling limits. The latest culprit – North Reading Transportation (NRT), a Methuen company that operates school buses and provides student transportation services in several Massachusetts communities.

  • The Ozone hole seems to be getting smaller

    Remember the Ozone hole? Decades ago it was a big concern. It was getting bigger and bigger and our emissions of ozone-depleting substances was identified as the main reason. It continues to get smaller as anthropogenic emissions continue to be reduced. It was slightly smaller in 2013 than average in recent decades, according to NASA satellite data. The ozone hole is a seasonal phenomenon that starts to form during the Antarctic spring (August and September). The September-October 2013 average size of the hole was 8.1 million square miles (21 million square kilometers). For comparison, the average size measured since the mid-1990s when the annual maximum size stopped growing is 8.7 million square miles (22.5 million square kilometers). However, the size of the hole in any particular year is not enough information for scientists to determine whether a healing of the hole has begun.

  • A Green Halloween Starts with a Green Pumpkin

    Pumpkins are a huge part of the Halloween experience. We exhume the contents of our pumpkins and carve spirited faces into their walls for delightfully festive jack-o-lanterns. But what we do with the insides and the actual jack-o-lantern at the end of the season is often tragically wasteful. More often than not we toss our pumpkin guts, seeds and later on the actual jack-o-lantern into our household trash causing a huge volume increase in our household waste. With a little forethought though, a pumpkin can be much more beneficial to our environment and our tummies. Below are some suggestions for what to do with your pumpkin—all of it—both before and after Halloween.

  • Fossil Toes

    Anthony Martin, paleontologist at Emory University in Atlanta, GA recently discovered two fossilized footprints presumably made by a landing bird during the Early Cretaceous period at Dinosaur Cove in Victoria, Australia. This discovery marks the oldest known bird tracks in Australia.

  • GM Crops Causing a Stir in Washington State, Mexico, and Hawaii

    Courts, councils, and voters across North America are weighing in on genetically modified (GM) crops this month In Washington state, voters are beginning to cast ballots in favor of or opposing Initiative 522, which would mandate that all GM food products, seeds, and seed stocks carry labels in the state.

  • Africa’s biggest wind farm opens

    Africa’s biggest wind farm, at Ashegoda in Tigray, Ethiopia, is being inaugurated today after a three year construction period. This marks the completion of the last of three construction phases. The 120 MW wind farm has already injected 90 MWh of electricity into Ethiopia’s power grid since commissioning began earlier this year, and is expected to produce a total of 400,000 MWh per year hereafter.