2017’s Greenest Cities in the U.S.

October 30, 2017 by  
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Anchorage, Alaska, has more green space than any city in … The post 2017’s Greenest Cities in the U.S. appeared first on Earth911.com.

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2017’s Greenest Cities in the U.S.

As the permafrost thaws, entire villages may be forced to move

October 17, 2017 by  
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Thawing permafrost is set to radically alter the landscape of northern parts of the United States. Roads, homes, and infrastructure built atop permafrost can crack or collapse as it melts. And whole villages may have to relocate. Vladimir Romanovsky, University of Alaska in Fairbanks geophysics professor, told the BBC “by now there are 70 villages who really have to move because of thawing permafrost.” Permafrost covers almost 90 percent of Alaska – so if the thawing keeps up, people will have to leave their homes as building foundations and infrastructure collapse. Sewer and water lines buried in permafrost can also break as the frozen soil melts. Villages that depend on lakes for water can be hit as nearby permafrost thaws and a lateral drain happens. Related: Tiny Alaskan village votes to abandon 400-year-old ancestral home because of climate change Some people are already seeing impacts. Materials engineer for Northern Region of the Alaska Department of Transportation Public Facilities Jeff Currey told the BBC, “We are seeing some increased maintenance on existing roads over permafrost. One of our maintenance superintendents recently told me his folks are having to patch settling areas on the highways he’s responsible for more frequently than they were 10 or 20 years ago.” United States Geological Survey research indicates that villages, such as Kivalina in the southwest part of the state, will have to move away within the coming decade. Romanovsky said it could cost around $200 million to move a 300-person village. And permafrost holds a large amount of carbon , which stands to be released into the air. Romanovsky said, “Theoretically if this carbon is released to the atmosphere, the amount of CO2 will be three times more than what is in there [in the atmosphere ] now.” And it would be difficult to refreeze permafrost in our lifetime. Via the BBC Images via Andrea Pokrzywinski on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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As the permafrost thaws, entire villages may be forced to move

Google maps the solar system for armchair space travelers

October 17, 2017 by  
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Google has recently added 12 celestial bodies to its Google Maps application. Although armchair space travelers have been able to virtually cruise around the Moon and Mars for years, the list of planets and moons to discover now includes Mercury, Venus, the dwarf planets of Ceres and Pluto, six of Saturn’s moons, and three moons of Jupiter, including Io and Europa. The additional content would not have been possible without Cassini, the recently deceased spacecraft that captured hundreds of thousands of images as it traveled the galaxy over the past two decades. To compile these digital versions of objects in our solar system, the team at Google Maps used images captured by NASA, ESA, and other space agencies and combined them to create a seamless scrollable map, if enough high quality images were available, or a general overview of the planet or moon. Through these maps, earthbound space travelers can explore the mountains , valleys, and wide open plains of planets like Mars or moons like Titan. To reach the outer space section of Google Maps, all you have to do is zoom out far enough from Earth. Related: Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is almost ready to launch into outer space Many of the images used to create the Google Maps of our solar system were gathered through the Cassini-Huygens mission, commonly referred to as Cassini for the Cassini orbiter probe which traveled from Earth to Saturn. Huygens refers to the Huygens lander, which achieved the first landing ever in the outer solar system when it arrived on Saturn’s moon of Titan in 2005. In its 20-year flight,  Cassini  captured countless, invaluable photographs of the solar system and was widely recognized as a “mission of firsts” for the way in which its discoveries revolutionized the way we understand our solar system. Thanks for  Cassini, Google’s Maps are filled with breathtaking images for people to explore from wherever there is Internet access. Via New Atlas and Google Images via Google Maps

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Google maps the solar system for armchair space travelers

Why Alaska’s vanishing permafrost worries researchers

August 24, 2017 by  
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Permafrost is losing in the battle against climate change . Even as we attempt to mitigate climate change by reducing fossil fuel use, researchers say thawing permafrost could make our atmosphere 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit hotter over the next few centuries. Parts of Alaska’s permafrost are especially vulnerable: the New York Times reports a large amount of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge’s permafrost could disappear by the middle of the century. Permafrost could contain around double the amount of carbon in our atmosphere right now. And it’s melting. Scientists from the Woods Hole Research Center , recently studying Alaska’s permafrost, think its fate could be the most urgent of the effects of climate change. As permafrost thaws, microbes convert some of its material into methane and carbon dioxide, which could lead to more warming. Related: Dramatic disintegration of Canadian permafrost threatens huge carbon release Woods Hole scientists set up a temporary field station in July in the wildlife refuge to drill permafrost cores to analyze for carbon content. Deputy director Max Holmes told The New York Times permafrost loss “has all kinds of consequences both locally for this region, for the animals and the people who live here, as well as globally.” Land can slump when permafrost melts, damaging infrastructure . The process of permafrost thawing can alter the landscape, prompting lakes to drain or leading to elevation changes that impact water flow through the land. Scientists haven’t pinned down an exact number of how much carbon is being released from permafrost, but one estimate puts it at 1.5 billion tons a year for emissions averaged during the rest of the century. That’s about the amount generated every year by burning fossil fuels in the United States right now. Scientists also aren’t decided on when – or how much – of Alaska’s permafrost will go. And it would likely take thousands of years for the full depth of permafrost to melt entirely. But University of Alaska researcher Vladimir Romanovsky told The New York Times recent work has revealed permafrost “is not as stable as people thought.” Via The New York Times Images via NPS Climate Change Response on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Why Alaska’s vanishing permafrost worries researchers

Nanoleaf’s Terra light wall paints Arctic landscapes with 1,200 color-changing LEDs

July 3, 2017 by  
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Nanoleaf – creators of the first modular smart light – recently unveiled a mesmerizing light wall at Alaska ‘s Anchorage Museum that evokes remote Arctic landscapes. “Terra” is made up of 1,200 Nanoleaf Aurora LED panels, which display beautiful imagery of sunsets and polar bears with over 16 million colors. Terra is Nanoleaf’s largest Aurora installation to date – it’s made from 1,200 triangular panels that can be connected together like LEGO bricks. Related: Add a splash of ‘living paint’ to your walls with Nanoleaf’s new LED light panels Thanks to improvements made by Nanoleaf, Aurora panels now offer voice control with Amazon Alexa, IFTTT integration, and an open API – which was used to create Terra’s moving arctic imagery. “The belief that lighting should be a more joyful experience was largely what inspired the Aurora,” said Nanoleaf CEO & Co-Founder Gimmy Chu. “Even though many people only see light as a function, we know that light is vital in creating the right ambiance. We wanted to give that experience back to the user, and hopefully inspire more creative ways of using light in a space – which is exactly what we’ve seen with ‘Terra’ at the Anchorage Museum. We see the Aurora as the ultimate tool for self-expression.” + Nanoleaf

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Nanoleaf’s Terra light wall paints Arctic landscapes with 1,200 color-changing LEDs

Code red aviation alert after Bogoslaf volcano erupts in Alaska

May 29, 2017 by  
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The highest aviation alert was issued on Saturday after a volcano on Alaska’s Bogoslof Island erupted. As a result of the code “red” alert, pilots were instructed to fly at least 35,000 ft., and possibly as high as 45,000 ft, above the volcano to prevent its fiery ash from melting parts of the plane . According to the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), the volcano that erupted is part of the Aleutian Island chain. Not long after a code “red” was issued, it was downgraded to a code “orange.” “We actually went to color code red this afternoon because of numerous lightning detections and increased seismic signals,” said Jeffrey Freymueller of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska. Flights transiting from Asia to North America were most affected. Freymueller added that lightning in the Aleutians is often caused by volcanic plumes. “The combination of lightning and seismic data allowed us to go to red within about half an hour of the start of the eruption,” he said. In total, the eruption lasted for approximately 50 minutes. Related: Iceland’s “Thor” volcano power plant can generate 10X more energy than oil or gas wells Because the eruption is very recent, “Bogoslof volcano remains at a heightened state of unrest and in an unpredictable condition,” says a report issued by the Observatory. It went on to say that “additional explosions producing high-altitude volcanic clouds could occur at any time.” This is the eighth documented eruption at Bogoslof , which reportedly began its sequence in December, 2016. The last occurred in 1992. Via CNN Images via Pixabay , Mapbox Screenshot

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Code red aviation alert after Bogoslaf volcano erupts in Alaska

March for Science: What You Need to Know

April 21, 2017 by  
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2017 is shaping up to be the Year of the March, and Earth Day will get an inaugural march to add to its festivities: the March for Science. Millions of people are expected to join in, from places as far apart as Anchorage, Alaska, to Wangdue,…

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March for Science: What You Need to Know

BP oil and gas spill near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under control

April 18, 2017 by  
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A BP oil and gas well in Alaska blew out late last week, uncontrollably spilling crude oil and gas just around 60 miles away from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge . The well was out of control through the weekend. The Arctic oil spill happened just days before the seven year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Last Friday morning the BP oil and gas well in the Prudhoe Bay area started leaking natural gas from the well while crude oil sprayed out onto the drilling-well pad. On Saturday the oil spray halted, but natural gas continued to spew throughout the weekend. Frigid temperatures made it difficult for teams to shut the well down. Oil service company Boots and Coots finally plugged a damaged pipe and pumped a saltwater solution into the well to kill it – after it had vented natural gas for three days. Related: Alaska gas leak endangering beluga whales won’t be fixed until the ice melts It’s unclear what caused the oil and gas spill. 1.5 acres near Deadhorse were affected, and native communities were notified. No injuries were reported. Natural gas production hasn’t been kind to Alaska recently. Around 210,000 cubic feet of gas per day poured out from a pipeline near Cook Inlet for almost four months; last Friday Hilcorp Alaska said a temporary repair finally halted the leak. And the recent spill doesn’t look good for BP; April 20 will mark the seven year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill which killed 11 people and harmed wildlife. Sierra Club’s Alaska Program Director Dan Ritzman said in a statement, “Oil companies continue to treat Alaska with reckless abandon, threatening its pristine waters, wildlife, and communities. Big Oil has repeatedly proven it can’t drill for fossil fuels safely…It’s past time that Donald Trump and his friends in the fossil fuel industry put Alaska ahead of corporate polluter’s profits which only threaten the state’s beauty and environment .” Via EcoWatch and The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and BP Facebook

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BP oil and gas spill near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under control

Snow-free images of Arctic polar bears show the harsh reality of climate change

December 29, 2016 by  
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When Patty Waymire headed to Barter Island, Alaska a few months ago, she expected to take lots of photographs of polar bears frolicking in freshly fallen snow. However, once the photographer arrived at her destination, a stark reality became evident. Not only was there no snow for frolicking, but there was no ice to be seen either. The typically snow-covered island was warm and dry, and the water’s edge was met with sandy beaches rather than icy ground. Waymire took photos anyway, capturing still frames of the ever-unfolding saga that pits climate change against the survival of one of the Earth’s most majestic creatures. One of Waymire ’s images—aptly entitled “No Snow, No Ice” (above)—shows a lone polar bear perched at the edge of a brown, sandy shoal which should have been white with snow at that time of the year. That startling photograph won an honorable mention in the 2016 National Geographic Photographer of the Year contest in the Environmental Issues category. Monica Corcoran, director of the photography contest, noted that the polar bear appears to be “in a meditative Buddha stance” which contributes to the image’s impact. Related: Photo of frail polar bear illuminates the tragedy unfolding in the Arctic Alaska’s Barter Island is situated off the state’s northern coast in the Arctic. The relatively small island has served as a major trading hub and was also home to a large whaling village prior to 1900. All the while, polar bears have roamed the island’s icy shores doing what polar bears do: hunting prey, raising young, and just living. In early October, at the time of Waymire’s visit, the island would normally have been covered in snow, according to locals. However, unusually warm weather all year has ushered in a less-than-impressive autumn and winter, and the resulting scene of fluffy white polar bears cast against drab brown dirt inspired the California-based photographer to show the world what climate change really looks like. In a series of 33 images , Waymire documented several Barter Island polar bears, including some young cubs, both on land and in the water. Without a date stamp, one might think the photographs were captured in the midst of the warmest summer months, because there is not a single snowflake or ice crystal visible in any of the images. But, since we know the photos are from October, we must accept the sad reality that they represent: an ever-changing climate in which even the coldest climes are not exempt from global warming. For now, the Barter Island polar bears are surviving, but with the growing impact of climate change on their habitat and food sources, it’s only a matter of time before they disappear just like the snow. + Patty Waymire Photography Images via Patty Waymire

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Snow-free images of Arctic polar bears show the harsh reality of climate change

Old potato barns come back to life as a pair of modern and stylish homes

December 29, 2016 by  
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An old potato barn doesn’t sound like an appealing place to live, but Eindhoven-based Houben & Van Mierlo Architecten managed to work their magic and transform those spaces into modern and stylish abodes for two families. Located in the rapidly developing Amsterdam Noord neighborhood, the pair of neighboring buildings were gutted and transformed with contemporary materials and furnishings; however, the architects preserved much of the open-plan layout and the industrial character. Although the two transformed potato barns sit side by side, they were built during different times. One barn was built using hybrid construction techniques in the Second World War, while the second barn was constructed in the 1960s using steel construction, wooden floors, and a concrete stone facade. Despite their differences, both homes were gutted, extensions removed, and revamped into airy loft-style living spaces that celebrate the original barn constructions , from the raw steel structures to existing timber boards. Related: Former factory site in rural Amsterdam to be reborn as a modern neighborhood In addition to housing for two families, the renovated barns also include a new in-house photo studio for the famous photography duo Scheltens & Abbenes who helped realize the modern finish of their house and studio interior. “In the arrangement of these spaces, the original constructions of the barns have remained visible,” write the architects. “Together with the new plastered cement screed floor, they define the basic character of these interiors. Furthermore, the finish is simple yet stylishly designed and realized, whereby the characteristics of a robust industrial past go hand in hand with a modernist interior of art and design fittings.” + Houben & Van Mierlo Architecten Via ArchDaily Images via Houben & Van Mierlo Architecten

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Old potato barns come back to life as a pair of modern and stylish homes

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