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Record New Renewable Power Capacity Added at Lower Cost

As the cost of clean technology continues to fall, the world added record levels of renewable energy capacity in 2016, at an investment level 23 per cent lower than the previous year, according to new research published today by UN Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2017 finds that wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, small hydro and marine sources added 138.5 gigawatts to global power capacity in 2016, up 8 per cent from the 127.5 gigawatts added the year before. The added generating capacity roughly equals that of the world's 16 largest existing power producing facilities combined.

Scientists: Strong evidence that human-caused climate change intensified 2015 heat waves

Human-caused climate change very likely increased the severity of heat waves that plagued India, Pakistan, Europe, East Africa, East Asia, and Australia in 2015 and helped make it the warmest year on record, according to new research published today in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.  The fifth edition of Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspective presents 25 peer-reviewed research papers that examine episodes of extreme weather of 2015 over five continents and two oceans. It features the research of 116 scientists from 18 countries analyzing both historical observations and changing trends along with model results to determine whether and how climate change may have influenced the event.

Warming global temperatures may not affect carbon stored deep in northern peatlands, study says

Deep stores of carbon in northern peatlands may be safe from rising temperatures, according to a team of researchers from several U.S.-based institutions.And that is good news for now, the researchers said.Florida State University research scientist Rachel Wilson and University of Oregon graduate student Anya Hopple are the first authors on a new study published today in Nature Communications. The study details experiments suggesting that carbon stored in peat—a highly organic material found in marsh or damp regions—may not succumb to the Earth's warming as easily as scientists thought.

Scientists observe first signs of healing in the Antarctic ozone layer

Scientists at MIT and elsewhere have identified the “first fingerprints of healing” of the Antarctic ozone layer, published today in the journal Science.The team found that the September ozone hole has shrunk by more than 4 million square kilometers — about half the area of the contiguous United States — since 2000, when ozone depletion was at its peak. The team also showed for the first time that this recovery has slowed somewhat at times, due to the effects of volcanic eruptions from year to year. Overall, however, the ozone hole appears to be on a healing path.The authors used “fingerprints” of the ozone changes with season and altitude to attribute the ozone's recovery to the continuing decline of atmospheric chlorine originating from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). These chemical compounds were once emitted by dry cleaning processes, old refrigerators, and aerosols such as hairspray. In 1987, virtually every country in the world signed on to the Montreal Protocol in a concerted effort to ban the use of CFCs and repair the ozone hole.

Researchers find better way to 'herd' electrons in solar fuel devices

Researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have discovered a new way to optimize electron transfer in semi-conductors used in solar fuel solutions.The finding, published today in Nature Chemistry, could have a big impact on devices that convert sunlight into electricity and fuel.

Study confirms benefits of reducing the amount of chemicals you put on your body

A new study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas demonstrates how even a short break from certain kinds of makeup, shampoos and lotions can lead to a significant drop in levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in the body.The shampoos, lotions and other personal care products you use can affect the amount of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in one’s body, a new study showed.The results, published today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, came from a study of 100 Latina teenagers participating in the Health and Environmental Research on Makeup of Salinas Adolescents (HERMOSA) study.

Whales dine with their friends of the same species

For a few weeks in early fall, Georges Bank — a vast North Atlantic fishery off the coast of Cape Cod — teems with billions of herring that take over the region to spawn. The seasonal arrival of the herring also attracts predators to the shallow banks, including many species of whales.Now researchers from MIT, Northeastern University, the Institute of Marine Research in Norway, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have found that as multiple species of whales feast on herring, they tend to stick with their own kind, establishing species-specific feeding centers along the 150-mile length of Georges Bank. The team’s results are published today in the journal Nature.

West Antarctica snow accumulation increased in the 20th century

Annual snow accumulation on West Antarctica’s coastal ice sheet increased dramatically during the 20th century, according to a new study published today (Wednesday 4 November) in the American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters. The last three decades saw more snow build up on the ice sheet than at any other time in the last 300 years.The research gives scientists new insight into Antarctica’s ice sheet. Understanding how the ice sheet grows and shrinks over time enhances scientists’ understanding of the processes that impact global sea levels.The new study used ice cores to estimate annual snow accumulation from 1712 to 2010 along the coastal West Antarctic. Until 1899, annual snow accumulation remained steady, averaging 33 and 40 centimeters (13 and 16 inches) water, or melted snow, each year at two locations.

The fish that cools off by jumping OUT of the water

On hot, humid days, you might jump into water to cool down, but for the tiny mangrove rivulus fish, cooling down means jumping out of water, according to a new study from the University of Guelph.In the study published today in the journal Biology Letters, the researchers describe how these fish air-chill themselves on solid ground in order to drop their body temperatures. The researchers also found that fish exposed to higher temperatures for a week tolerated warmer water better.The fish jump out of the water to escape rising temperatures, said integrative biology professor Pat Wright, senior author of the study.

Extremely high coastal erosion in northern Alaska

In a new study published today, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey found that the remote northern Alaska coast has some of the highest shoreline erosion rates in the world.Analyzing over half a century of shoreline change data, scientists found the pattern is extremely variable with most of the coast retreating at rates of more than 1 meter a year.  “Coastal erosion along the Arctic coast of Alaska is threatening Native Alaskan villages, sensitive ecosystems, energy and defense related infrastructure, and large tracts of Native Alaskan, State, and Federally managed land,” said Suzette Kimball, acting director of the USGS.