7,000 methane gas bubbles in Siberia on the verge of exploding

March 22, 2017 by  
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Last summer researchers revealed crazy bubbling tundra in Siberia in a surreal video. Scientists believe the weird phenomenon is caused by methane released by melting permafrost . Now around 7,000 of those bubbles are getting ready to explode. The bursts could result in small potholes – or large craters . Researchers uncovered 15 bubbles causing the ground to lurch like a waterbed on Bely Island in Siberia last summer. Then scientists found around 7,000 more bubbles on the Gydan and Yamal peninsulas. Yamal Department for Science and Innovation director Alexey Titovsky recently told The Siberian Times, “With time the bubble explodes, releasing gas. This is how gigantic funnels form.” Related: Insane video shows Siberian ground bubbling like a “wobbling waterbed” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06Xc3LtZRWo Scientists think the mysterious craters – or funnels – are connected to climate change . They think when permafrost melts, it releases methane, which causes eruptions that then result in craters. That’s the theory, anyway – Titovsky said they’re continuing to research the bubbles. He told The Siberian Times, “We need to know which bumps are dangerous and which are not. Scientists are working on detecting and structuring signs of potential threat, like the maximum height of a bump and pressure that the earth can withstand.” According to The Siberian Times, scientists are making a map of Yamal’s underground gas bubbles, which could threaten infrastructure and transport in what the publication described as a key energy production region. The Russian Academy of Science’s Ural branch also connected thawing permafrost with the phenomenon. A spokesperson told The Siberian Times of the bubbles, “Their appearance at such high latitudes is most likely linked to thawing permafrost which is in turn linked to overall rise of temperature on the north of Eurasia during the last several decades. An abnormally warm summer in 2016 on the Yamal peninsula must have added to the process.” Researchers Dorothee Ehrich and Alexander Sokolov punctured one of the 15 bubbles found last year, and found the air escaping from the bumps included 20 times more carbon dioxide and 200 times more methane than nearby air, according to EcoWatch. Via EcoWatch and The Siberian Times Images via screenshot ( 1 , 2 )

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7,000 methane gas bubbles in Siberia on the verge of exploding

Flexible new solar panel is almost 80% lighter than traditional panels

March 22, 2017 by  
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Solar panels just got a lot slimmer. Zhengrong Shi, a.k.a. the Sun King, is now marketing eArche, a super flexible, ultrathin solar panel that could stretch along building facades, atop buses, or on top of carports to charge electric cars. According to Shi, the groundbreaking panel has unlimited potential, and 40 kilowatts (kW) of the new technology has already been installed in three locations throughout Australia . eArche draws on a composite material like that utilized in airplane windows that is almost 80 percent lighter than conventional photovoltaic panels, according to RenewEconomy. Shi is distributing his new products through Australian company Energus and Hong Kong company SunMan , and believes eArche is the biggest innovation in over 10 years in the solar industry . He told RenewEconomy, “Most of the cost reductions we have seen come from manufacturing, growing efficiency, and supply chain. There has been very little innovation on products and applications, so we have decided to focus on the panel itself, which has been very rigid and heavy.” Related: SolarWindow unveils new energy-generating glass that bends Some companies haven’t been able to install solar because panels are too heavy for their buildings’ roofs, but Shi’s technology could remove that issue. Rooftop solar systems typically weigh around eight metric tons for a 100 kW array, according to The Daily Advertiser, but eArche weighs just around two metric tons for 100 kW. Shi said eArche can be custom-shaped for building roofs or walls. He told RenewEconomy, “We think governments should require all new buildings to have solar panels integrated into their structure. With this panel, it is easy to do.” SunMan also envisions the technology on RVs, yachts, vending machines, and more. Time will tell if eArche is as revolutionary as Shi thinks. The technology stands in contrast to Tesla’s proposed solar tiles , which Shi said is “the wrong way of doing it” largely due to expense and weight. Via RenewEconomy and The Daily Advertiser Images via Sunman Energy Facebook

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Flexible new solar panel is almost 80% lighter than traditional panels

Ultra-green house in Seattle marries aesthetics and sustainability

March 22, 2017 by  
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This ultra-green house for a Seattle family of four has achieved an exceptional level of sustainability without compromising on aesthetics. Shed Architecture & Design designed the Madrona Passive House as a net-zero residence for former Microsoft program manager and renowned environmental advocate Jabe Blumenthal. With a super-insulated envelope and passive design features such as heat recovery systems, photovoltaics, green roofs and stormwater and rainwater harvesting, the house minimizes its energy consumption and act as a stellar example of climate-friendly living. The 3,700-square-foot home relies on solar panels , high-performance construction and a contemporary design for its energy efficiency. A well insulated envelope which includes a Zehnder ComfoAir heat recovery ventilator that pumps fresh air into the interior contributes to its low energy consumption . This technology also recovers 90 percent of thermal energy from exhaust air for reuse inside. Rainwater from the home’s roof and the green roof on the garage goes into two cisterns via permeable pavers, while mechanical shading system and triple-pane windows regulate solar gain . The owners can also tap into the building’s real-time consumption by using the circuit-by-circuit energy monitoring system with dashboard. Related: Seattle’s Palatine Passive House consumes 90% less energy than a conventional home Achieving the world’s most demanding building energy standards – Passive House – the building is expected to also receive the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready and Living Building Challenge’s Net Zero Energy Building certifications. The project was recognized by Green Builder Media as winner of the 2016 Green Home of the Year Award in the Best Energy Efficiency category. + SHED Architecture & Design Via Green Builder Media Photos by Mark Woods

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Ultra-green house in Seattle marries aesthetics and sustainability

Wright Electric unveils revolutionary plan for 150-seat electric passenger plane

March 22, 2017 by  
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The electric car market just keeps growing, but electric planes aren’t yet a common sight. Wright Electric plans to change that with a 150-seat commercial passenger airplane powered by batteries . They presented their idea in Silicon Valley at renowned startup accelerator Y Combinator’s Demo Day yesterday – can they usher in a new era of cleaner flight? After quietly running in stealth mode, Wright Electric unveiled their business idea to a group of investors in Mountain View, California. Their plan? To disrupt the 737 market with an environmentally friendly alternative. Even though the company is just a year old, they’re well on their way to success: they hired a team NASA funded in the past to explore electric planes, and have partnered with EasyJet , a low-cost British airline, to help propel their vision. It appears Wright Electric captured the attention of the Y Combinator team; CEO Michael Seibel said, “This is one of the best hard tech teams I’ve seen.” Related: Meet Maxwell, NASA’s zero-emission 14-motor electric airplane Wright Electric’s battery-powered planes are targeted for short-haul trips, or flights with a duration of less than 300 miles: New York to Boston or London to Paris. 30 percent of existing flights are currently short-haul. How the planes are precisely powered will depend on how far battery technology advances; Wright Electric’s planes could either be all-electric or run on a hybrid system much like a Chevy Volt . There’s already interest for such airplanes: earlier in March in a blog post the company said a “high-net-worth individual wants our electric 150-seater as his fifth private jet.” Last year Airbus and Boeing sold 737-style 967 planes for around $90 million apiece, so Wright Electric has the potential to be profitable once their planes are ready. That date could still be several years away, but the company has still set an ambitious goal: make every short-haul flight electric in just two decades. Via TechCrunch Images via Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay

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Wright Electric unveils revolutionary plan for 150-seat electric passenger plane

New York City’s "floating food forest" returns next month

March 22, 2017 by  
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If you missed it the last time around, Swale New York’s “floating food forest” will be giving visitors another chance to check out its vegetative bounty starting next month. Housed on an 80-foot-long barge, the 130-by-40-foot community garden will be making calls at Hudson River Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the Bronx’s Concrete Plant Park from April 20 through November 15. The garden is free to tour—and free to harvest. Guests will be able to help themselves to a share of the mini farm’s crops, which in past iterations have included perennial favorites like cauliflower, broccoli, squash, peppers, kale, bok choy, ramps, zucchini, radicchio, and scallions. You may even find boughs laden with persimmons, bushes plump with blueberries, or trees hanging with bananas. Part farm, part art project, Swale is a response to laws that prohibit foraging for food on public lands. By taking to the water, however, the garden is bound by a different set of rules. Related: Come eat free food from this floating edible forest before it sets sail again 70 percent of the plants grown on the barge are edible. The others are to attract pollinators—including the bees that live in a repurposed piano—or keep pests away. Mary Mattingly, the artist who spearheaded the project, says that Swale brings us “one step closer to transforming our city from dependence on large-scale supply chains with little accountability.” Related: NYC’s first floating food forest to hit the Hudson River this summer She describes Swale as a “call to action” and a vision of New York City’s potential future. “By bringing together groups from varying backgrounds, we will create an environment that works together to find new ideas and answers to food security,” she said. Visitors are welcome to contribute to the garden with their own plants and seeds. It’s a joint effort, after all. “Together, we are re-imagining our city,” Mattingly added. + Swale New York

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New York City’s "floating food forest" returns next month

LEED Platinum housing development helps fight gentrification in Philadelphia

March 22, 2017 by  
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Can architects design attractive homes for developing areas that won’t feed into gentrification ? That’s what Interface Studio Architects (ISA) set off to achieve with Folsom Powerhouse, a LEED Platinum -certified development in Philadelphia. Located in the city’s rapidly developing Francisville neighborhood, the Powerhouse scheme combines environmentally friendly features with community-minded design that encourages diversity, density, and social spaces. Made up of 31 units, Folsom Powerhouse provides single-family town homes , duplexes, and two small apartment buildings at a range of prices. Although all the living options are modern in construction, Folsom Powerhouse took inspiration from an old community feature—the stoop. To create attractive street-level social spaces, ISA created “super stoops,” a sequence of entry platforms in front of the homes large enough for impromptu gatherings with steps that double as seating. Artist Jenny Sabin was commissioned to create beautiful fabricated metal handrail panels to make the stoops even more attractive. Related: Energy-positive townhouses power Boston’s grid with renewable energy The Folsom Powerhouse’s facades are made up of a patchwork of corrugated metal, timber cladding, and energy-efficient windows. Green roofs that top the buildings manage stormwater, as do the rain gardens on the street level. The corner buildings are topped with solar panels that generate electricity for the development. + Interface Studio Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Sam Oberter

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LEED Platinum housing development helps fight gentrification in Philadelphia

6 delightful tiny library designs from around the world

March 22, 2017 by  
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Children and adults can now check out books for free from tiny libraries in over 50,000 neighborhoods in 70 different countries. Some libraries are built with sustainable materials , some consider height differences between kids and grownups, while others are just plain fun. The organization behind these free exchanges, Little Free Library , recently held a Little Free Library Design Competition that drew an astonishing 300 designs from 40 countries. Check out the winners after the jump. Friendly Owlie library has eyes that glow at night Owls are commonly associated with wisdom. So an owl outline offered the perfect shape for Bartosz Bochynski’s tiny library, called Owlie. Bochynski, who is of design studio FUTUMATA in London , England, said Owlie could be constructed with affordable, sustainable materials and lit with LED lights . The friendly little library can hold around 40 tomes, some of which can be seen through the owl’s eyes which light up at night. Owlie was the judge’s choice in the competition. Related: Little Free Library: Tiny House-Shaped Boxes Let You Take a Book or Leave One Sleek little library with removable parts allows for easy customization Seth Thompson of San Francisco , California designed a little library designed for effortless rearranging. With a removable plexiglass door and shelves, the little library could accommodate a hanging flower planter, according to Thompson, and stewards can write on the door with dry-erase markers. Snøhetta San Francisco, one of the competition’s judges, described Thompson’s library as iconic, earning him the judge’s choice runner-up award. Flat-packed library is easy to assemble and includes a seat Chronicle Books , who partnered with Little Free Library for the competition, picked two winners, stipulating their choices had to weigh no more than 42 pounds, be able to be flat-packed , and be built with environmentally friendly materials. They picked Rachel Murdaugh and Clark Nexsen from Asheville, North Carolina as the winners. Nexsen and Murdaugh’s flat-packed library assembles simply and comes with instructions and hardware. It even includes a seat so patrons can peruse books before checking them out. Geometrical library assembles with just a hammer and screwdriver Lea Randebrock of Lahti, Finland nabbed the runner-up prize from Chronicle Books with this flat-packed library than can be set up onsite with a screwdriver and hammer. Randebrock said the design is intended for serial production, allowing for more tiny libraries. The Chronicle Books team noted they loved the surprise shelving inside the modern little library. Earthy Tree of Knowledge draws inspiration from nature The Little Free Library staff and founder also chose a winner and runner-up, with the help of votes from the whole Little Free Library community. Ryo Otsuka and Lin Zihao of CIRCLE in Tokyo, Japan claimed the prize with their nature -inspired Tree of Knowledge. They said they aimed to emphasize the origins of paper, a primary element of books , in their tree design. Little library in Ohio transforms into community center The 4th Street Farms Little Free Library is more than just a design concept; it’s already a fixture of its Columbus, Ohio neighborhood and has morphed into a mini community center offering a Little Food Pantry alongside books. Mural elements from local artists adorn the library, and varying shelf heights allow patrons of all ages to explore offerings. Motion sensor lighting brightens the space day or night. Nine honorable mentions include designs from Germany, China, Italy, and Ireland, to name a few. They include one shaped like a big chunk of cheese, one designed for beach use, and one inside a floating pavilion. Flip through Inhabitat’s gallery to see more of the clever designs! + Little Free Library Via Chronicle Books Images courtesy of Little Free Library

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6 delightful tiny library designs from around the world

Swedish researchers develop low-cost wood filter to purify water in refugee camps

March 22, 2017 by  
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At least 780 million people in the world lack access to clean water , a dire problem exacerbated by the increasing number of people living in poorly-equipped refugee camps . Researchers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden may have come up with a low-cost, low-tech solution: a portable wood filter that doesn’t require a power source to produce clean water. KTH scientists developed a material from wood cellulose that can trap bacteria , and are testing the material for use as a water filter. PhD student Anna Ottenhall said, “Our aim is that we can provide the filter for a portable system that doesn’t need electricity – just gravity – to run raw water through it…The bacteria-trapping material does not leach any toxic chemicals into the water, as many other on-site purification methods do.” Related: Researchers design cheap mercury-free LED foil to purify water https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NaJ2zRPleQ The wood cellulose fibers utilized are antibacterial, and are dipped in a positively-charged polymer solution to create the material, which works since bacteria and viruses are negatively charged, according to Phys.org. The harmful viruses and bacteria stick to the material, unable to get free or reproduce, and eventually die. Another benefit of this method of purification is that bacteria won’t be able to build up a resistance to it. The Swedish research team envisions their material used as a water filter in places that lack wells or infrastructure, like refugee camps or in emergencies. After use, the material can simply be burned. Bandages, packaging, and plasters could potentially draw on the material as well to dispose of bacteria in ways that don’t put toxins into the environment . KTH researchers are developing several other wood-based materials along with this wood water filter, such as see-through wood, a wood polystyrene alternative, and squishy wood batteries. Via Phys.org Images via KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Wikimedia Commons

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Swedish researchers develop low-cost wood filter to purify water in refugee camps

Trump plans to strip NASAs earth science division, promote mission to Mars

March 22, 2017 by  
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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed into law a new plan for NASA’s future . The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 calls for a $19.5 billion annual budget for the agency – not a major change from the agency’s $19.3 billion budget in 2016 – but the document seems to leave out the agency’s earth science division entirely. Trump claims this is simply a way of reaffirming the agency’s “core mission” of human space exploration, space science, and technology, but given how aggressively the new administration has gone after any agencies involved in atmospheric research, climate change denial is likely the underlying motive for the shift. Under the new act, Congressional Republicans have outlined a new roadmap for the agency’s future. The law calls on NASA to create a plan for humans to reach the surface of Mars by the 2030s, and to continue developing its Orion space capsule and its Space Launch System. The administration has also expressed a desire for NASA to return to the moon in the 2020s. Related: NASA releases startling new images showing 30 years of change on Earth What’s unclear is exactly how the new law will affect NASA’s earth science research. Trump’s proposed budget , however, may offer some clues. He hopes to cut the earth science budget by $102 million, potentially terminating a number of programs, including the   Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem  (PACE),  Orbital Carbon Observatory-3  (OCO-3),  Deep Space Climate Observatory  (DISCOVR), and  CLARREO Pathfinder missions. These four satellites help scientists monitor the Earth’s climate, weather, and oceans. While Trump may claim climate change is outside of the scope of NASA’s original research mission, that’s simply untrue. When NASA was formed in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Act explicitly called on the new agency to contribute to the “expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere.” The loss of these resources would be devastating to the larger scientific world, which often relies on NASA data for research. Related: Gov. Jerry Brown pledges to launch California’s “own damn satellite” if Trump blocks climate research It’s still far too early to know what might happen: the funding requested would be for the 2018 fiscal year, so any cuts wouldn’t be felt immediately. The proposed budget also has to be reviewed and approved by Congress before anything is set in stone. Hopefully, lawmakers will see the value in maintaining some of these programs, even if Trump doesn’t. Via Business Insider Images via   NASA

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Trump plans to strip NASAs earth science division, promote mission to Mars

Compelling new data on why we shouldn’t waste wastewater

March 22, 2017 by  
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In the face of shortages, water recycling and reuse strategies may be necessary to ensure business continuity.

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Compelling new data on why we shouldn’t waste wastewater

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