Canada’s last Arctic ice shelf has collapsed

August 10, 2020 by  
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The Milne Ice Shelf, the largest remaining intact ice shelf in Canada, has collapsed. According to researchers studying the Milne Ice Shelf, the ice shelf collapsed in just two days at the end of July and lost about 40% of its area. This ice shelf sits at the fringe of Ellesmere Island in the northern territory of Nunavut. For the past 30 years, the Arctic has warmed twice as fast as the global rate. The Arctic’s warming reached new levels this year, causing polar ice to hit its lowest levels in 40 years. Though ice caps melting in the heat has become more frequent, this year’s record temperatures caused unprecedented melting and disintegration of bigger ice shelves. Related: Antarctica reaches record high temperature “Above normal air temperatures , offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice shelf break up,” The Canadian Ice Service said on Twitter. The area affected by the ice shelf breaking is significantly large. According to researchers, the shelf area shrank by 80 square kilometers — an area roughly 20 square kilometers larger than New York’s Manhattan Island. “This was the largest remaining intact ice shelf, and it’s disintegrated, basically,” said Luke Copland, a glaciologist at the University of Ottawa and Milne Ice Shelf researcher. The research team lost a campsite and several instruments when the ice shelf collapsed. According to one of the researchers, Derek Mueller of Carleton University in Ottawa , the team has noticed signs of collapse while working on the ice shelf. Mueller says the team was lucky to not be on the ice shelf when it collapsed. Given that the collapse swept away an entire campsite, the team would have faced a similar fate. Researchers now warn that the Arctic can expect more ice melting if global temperatures continue to increase. This year, the Arctic experienced temperatures rising 5 degrees Celcius above the 30-year average. If global warming continues, Arctic ice could melt entirely into the sea over time. Via Huffpost Images via Pixabay

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Canada’s last Arctic ice shelf has collapsed

This tiny house is insulated with cork and powered by solar

August 10, 2020 by  
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Eco-friendly company The Tiny Housing Co. has added The Natura tiny home to its portfolio of unique designs. The tiny house is powered by 1000W solar panels and built out of natural materials such as cork and wood, making it sustainable from the inside out. Starting at just over $65,000, the design of The Natura is aimed at being as sustainable as possible. The company already includes solar paneling with all of its homes, but it also offers an additional “eco” package with 2000W solar panels and a wood-burning stove. The improved panels mean that occupants can generate enough power to run appliances solely from solar, and the wood-burning stove is connected to underfloor heating to reduce heating costs when coupled with the already-installed efficient insulation. Related: Solar-powered cork house pursues healthy, sustainable living Wood paneling makes up the exterior, while the facade features a thick corkboard layer to create a breathable, fire-retardant area near the loft-style, king-sized bedroom. The organic aesthetic of the exterior is complemented by the inside, which is complete with luxurious modern fixtures, soft tones and natural light. Clean water is filtered from an under-sink system, and energy-efficient appliances help keep utility costs down. As is essential in a minimalist home, there are plenty of space-saving features as well, such as hidden storage under the stairs, between the walls and under the bed. Tight insulation is achieved in the walls, floor and roof using rockwool, lightweight XPS boards and cork. Rockwool is a rock-based mineral fiber usually composed of volcanic basalt rock and recycled steel or copper byproduct, and XPS boards (or polystyrene) does not result in harmful waste with its manufacture. According to the company, these materials can also help reduce harmful VOCs and other chemicals that can come with more common home insulation. + The Tiny Housing Co. Images via The Tiny Housing Co.

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This tiny house is insulated with cork and powered by solar

Antarctica’s seafloor is leaking methane, scientists confirm

July 23, 2020 by  
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For the first time, scientists have confirmed that methane leaking is from Antarctica’s sea bed. They say the  methane  is likely escaping into the atmosphere. According to the EPA, in 2018, methane accounted for about 10% of U.S. human-driven greenhouse gas emissions. But the Antarctica leak may be beyond human influence or control. Scientists believe that immense quantities of methane are stored under  Antarctica’s  seafloor. They don’t know the leak’s cause, but global warming probably isn’t to blame, since the Ross Sea has not yet warmed significantly. Related: Antarctica reaches record high temperature Decaying, thousands-of-years-old algae deposits likely create the methane. Usually, microbes consume undersea methane before it reaches the atmosphere. But the  ecosystem  around the Antarctica leak has been slow to produce the methane-eating microbes, making for an inadequate methane biofilter beneath the vast West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Current climate change models don’t allow for this lag time between seepage and microbe development, which could lead researchers to overly-optimistic conclusions. Divers first noticed the methane seep in 2011, but  scientists didn’t start investigating until 2016, studying it in detail both onsite and in the laboratory. Scientists regard the methane release from permafrost regions and frozen underwater stores as a key indicator that  global warming  can no longer be stopped. “The methane cycle is absolutely something that we as a society need to be concerned about,” said Andrew Thurber, the Oregon State University scientist who led the research. “I find it incredibly concerning.” The new research,  published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B , places the methane seep at a site called Cinder Cones in McMurdo Sound. The patch is about 70 meters long. “The delay [in microbes consuming methane] is the most important finding,” Thurber said. “It is not good news. It took more than five years for the microbes to begin to show up and even then there was still methane rapidly escaping from the  sea  floor.” + The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Antarctica’s seafloor is leaking methane, scientists confirm

New map exposes secrets of Antarctica’s green snow

May 28, 2020 by  
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Antarctica’s peculiar green snow is spreading, according to researchers who have created the first large-scale map of microscopic algae growing on the chilly, southernmost continent. As the climate warms, snow algae is becoming a more and more important terrestrial carbon sink. “This is a significant advance in our understanding of land-based life on Antarctica, and how it might change in the coming years as the climate warms,” study leader Matt Davey, faculty member of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences, said. “Snow algae are a key component of the continent’s ability to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.” Related: Antarctica reaches record high temperature The study’s researchers, from University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey, explained the lay of the Antarctic land. “In the limited terrestrial ecosystems of Antarctica , all photosynthetic organisms will make a significant contribution to the ecology of their habitat,” the scientists wrote in their paper, which is published in Nature Communications . With only about 0.18% of Antarctica’s continental area ice-free, there’s very little exposed ground for traditional vegetation. Thus, evolution got creative and developed snow algae. Expeditions in the 1950s and 1960s first described the green and red patches on and below the snow surface. Since then, researchers have learned that Antarctica’s diverse algal species are important for nutrient and carbon cycling. “Considering that a single snow algal bloom can cover hundreds of square meters, snow algae are potentially one of the region’s most significant photosynthetic primary producers, as well as influencing nutrient provision to downstream terrestrial and marine ecosystems ,” the researchers wrote. Researchers combined their own measurements on the ground with satellite images taken between 2017 and 2019 to map the algae. They found that algae grows in “warmer” areas along the Antarctica coastlines and west coast islands, where temperatures in the continent’s summer months rise just a hair over 0 degrees Celsius. Marine birds and mammals also influence the algal distribution, as their excrement is a natural fertilizer. More than 60% of algal blooms were within 5 kilometers of penguin colonies. Lead author Andrew Gray explained, “As Antarctica warms, we predict the overall mass of snow algae will increase, as the spread to higher ground will significantly outweigh the loss of small island patches of algae.” + Nature Communications Via University of Cambridge Images via Gray, A., Krolikowski, M., Fretwell, P. et al. / Nature Communications (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License)

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New map exposes secrets of Antarctica’s green snow

New map exposes secrets of Antarctica’s green snow

May 28, 2020 by  
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Antarctica’s peculiar green snow is spreading, according to researchers who have created the first large-scale map of microscopic algae growing on the chilly, southernmost continent. As the climate warms, snow algae is becoming a more and more important terrestrial carbon sink. “This is a significant advance in our understanding of land-based life on Antarctica, and how it might change in the coming years as the climate warms,” study leader Matt Davey, faculty member of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences, said. “Snow algae are a key component of the continent’s ability to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.” Related: Antarctica reaches record high temperature The study’s researchers, from University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey, explained the lay of the Antarctic land. “In the limited terrestrial ecosystems of Antarctica , all photosynthetic organisms will make a significant contribution to the ecology of their habitat,” the scientists wrote in their paper, which is published in Nature Communications . With only about 0.18% of Antarctica’s continental area ice-free, there’s very little exposed ground for traditional vegetation. Thus, evolution got creative and developed snow algae. Expeditions in the 1950s and 1960s first described the green and red patches on and below the snow surface. Since then, researchers have learned that Antarctica’s diverse algal species are important for nutrient and carbon cycling. “Considering that a single snow algal bloom can cover hundreds of square meters, snow algae are potentially one of the region’s most significant photosynthetic primary producers, as well as influencing nutrient provision to downstream terrestrial and marine ecosystems ,” the researchers wrote. Researchers combined their own measurements on the ground with satellite images taken between 2017 and 2019 to map the algae. They found that algae grows in “warmer” areas along the Antarctica coastlines and west coast islands, where temperatures in the continent’s summer months rise just a hair over 0 degrees Celsius. Marine birds and mammals also influence the algal distribution, as their excrement is a natural fertilizer. More than 60% of algal blooms were within 5 kilometers of penguin colonies. Lead author Andrew Gray explained, “As Antarctica warms, we predict the overall mass of snow algae will increase, as the spread to higher ground will significantly outweigh the loss of small island patches of algae.” + Nature Communications Via University of Cambridge Images via Gray, A., Krolikowski, M., Fretwell, P. et al. / Nature Communications (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License)

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New map exposes secrets of Antarctica’s green snow

UNStudio to transform Gyeongdo Island into a sustainable tourism destination

May 28, 2020 by  
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UNStudio has unveiled a masterplan to transform South Korea’s Gyeongdo Island into a new, 470,000-square-meter leisure destination that puts the spotlight on nature. The design celebrates the island’s natural beauty by orienting development around carefully framed landscape views — a design approach borrowed from ancient Korean garden design. The high-density development, which ranges from an affordable family resort to private villas, will follow passive solar and bio-design principles to minimize energy use. Commissioned by client YKDevelopment, the redevelopment of Gyeongdo is part of a plan to turn the island into “Asia’s number one marine and coastal tourism destination”. Located in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, Gyeongdo sits 2 kilometers southeast of the city of Yeosu, the main tourist hub in the Namhae region that is renowned for beautiful, green islands and ocean views. UNStudio’s masterplan aims to highlight the island’s rich biodiversity by creating three developments along the island, each informed by a distinct garden concept with different trees, flowers and other vegetation. Related: UNStudio installs new energy-generating facade for solar producer Hanwha’s HQ Built on either side of a “green backbone” for conservation, the three developments will be nestled within areas of reconstructed forest. The three neighborhoods include the Gyeongdo Gateway at the island’s main entrance; the Sunrise Waterfront on the east side of the island; and Sea Breeze Coast at the island’s southern point. Gyeongdo Gateway will house the main port, a cable car station, marina and bridge, an entertainment center, shopping mall and a waterside boardwalk. The quieter Sunrise Waterfront will serve as the island’s “leisure heart” and will include a four-star hotel and condos. The Sea Breeze Coast neighborhood is located in the most secluded part of the island and will offer a five-star hotel and a series of private villas. All of the buildings will be thoughtfully embedded into the landscape to follow the natural terrain and passive solar principles. Visitors and residents will have access to a seamless public transportation system to easily and sustainably move about the island. + UNStudio Images by Plomp (NL) and Flying Architecture (CZ) via UNStudio

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UNStudio to transform Gyeongdo Island into a sustainable tourism destination

UNStudio to transform Gyeongdo Island into a sustainable tourism destination

May 28, 2020 by  
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UNStudio has unveiled a masterplan to transform South Korea’s Gyeongdo Island into a new, 470,000-square-meter leisure destination that puts the spotlight on nature. The design celebrates the island’s natural beauty by orienting development around carefully framed landscape views — a design approach borrowed from ancient Korean garden design. The high-density development, which ranges from an affordable family resort to private villas, will follow passive solar and bio-design principles to minimize energy use. Commissioned by client YKDevelopment, the redevelopment of Gyeongdo is part of a plan to turn the island into “Asia’s number one marine and coastal tourism destination”. Located in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, Gyeongdo sits 2 kilometers southeast of the city of Yeosu, the main tourist hub in the Namhae region that is renowned for beautiful, green islands and ocean views. UNStudio’s masterplan aims to highlight the island’s rich biodiversity by creating three developments along the island, each informed by a distinct garden concept with different trees, flowers and other vegetation. Related: UNStudio installs new energy-generating facade for solar producer Hanwha’s HQ Built on either side of a “green backbone” for conservation, the three developments will be nestled within areas of reconstructed forest. The three neighborhoods include the Gyeongdo Gateway at the island’s main entrance; the Sunrise Waterfront on the east side of the island; and Sea Breeze Coast at the island’s southern point. Gyeongdo Gateway will house the main port, a cable car station, marina and bridge, an entertainment center, shopping mall and a waterside boardwalk. The quieter Sunrise Waterfront will serve as the island’s “leisure heart” and will include a four-star hotel and condos. The Sea Breeze Coast neighborhood is located in the most secluded part of the island and will offer a five-star hotel and a series of private villas. All of the buildings will be thoughtfully embedded into the landscape to follow the natural terrain and passive solar principles. Visitors and residents will have access to a seamless public transportation system to easily and sustainably move about the island. + UNStudio Images by Plomp (NL) and Flying Architecture (CZ) via UNStudio

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UNStudio to transform Gyeongdo Island into a sustainable tourism destination

BAS breaks ground on energy-efficient Discovery Building to study climate change in Antarctica

February 26, 2020 by  
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To establish Britain as a world leader in the fight against climate change, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has broken ground on the new Discovery Building at Rothera Research Station, its largest facility for ongoing climate-related research in Antarctica. Designed by Hugh Broughton Architects (HBA) as part of the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Partnership, the new operations building and ongoing modernization efforts will follow a bespoke BREEAM accreditation and assessment system to ensure that the upgraded facility meets the highest environmental standards. Located on a rocky promontory at the southern extremity of Adelaide Island, the Rothera Research Station has operated year-round since its opening in 1975 and serves as a major logistics center for all BAS operations on the continent. The new cutting-edge facility — named The Discovery Building to commemorate the discovery of Antarctica in 1820 by the British naval officer Edward Bransfield — will consolidate the existing facility by replacing a series of scattered buildings that are too outdated or costly to maintain. Spanning an area of 4,500 square meters, the two-story building will comprise preparation areas for field expeditions, a central store, medical facility, offices, recreational spaces, workshops and areas for plant. Related: Antarctica reaches record high temperature To minimize environmental impact, The Discovery Building will feature an energy-efficient, aerodynamic design oriented into the prevailing wind. A snow and wind deflector — the largest of its kind in Antarctica — will channel air at higher speeds down the leeward face to minimize snow accumulation. The exterior composite insulated metal panels will be tinted a pale blue in reference to the Antarctic sky and to minimize impacts of degradation from high levels of UV. Triple glazing will let in natural light while ensuring an airtight envelope. Health and wellness for field staff is also considered in the design. Vibrant colors, transparent glazed screens between spaces and access to natural light will help mitigate the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the long, dark Antarctic winters. Open-plan workspaces and break-out areas will help foster collaboration. The Discovery Building is expected to finish construction in 2023. The project was designed with BAM Nuttall Ltd and its team, design consultants Sweco, Hugh Broughton Architects as well as with Ramboll acting as BAS’s Technical Advisers and with its team Norr and Turner & Townsend. + Hugh Broughton Architects Images via Hugh Broughton Architects

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BAS breaks ground on energy-efficient Discovery Building to study climate change in Antarctica

January 2020 was the hottest January on record

February 14, 2020 by  
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Citing 141 years of records, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has called last month the hottest January of all, to date. Meanwhile, the 10 warmest January temperatures all took place this century, since 2002, highlighting the accelerated climate crisis . Typically, the first month of the year is the coldest. But recent recordings reveal significantly warmer average temperatures. As NOAA reported, “January 2020 marked the 44th consecutive January and the 421st consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average.” Related: Antarctica reaches record high temperature NOAA also found that “The January global land and ocean surface temperature was the highest on record at 2.05 degrees F (1.14 degrees C) above the 20th-century average. This surpassed the record set in January 2016 by 0.04 of a degree F (0.02 of a degree C).” Last month registered 2.70 degrees F above average for the Northern Hemisphere, while the Southern Hemisphere docked at 1.40 degrees F above average. This was closely tied to a considerable lack of snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere. Yet another worrisome trend is that both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice coverage were significantly diminished. According to NASA, 97% of publishing climate scientists recognize human activity as the culprit in the alarming uptick of global temperatures — specifically the burning of fossil fuels , the misuse of land by logging and animal husbandry for the meat industry — all of which increase concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. These runaway global temperatures have had far-reaching repercussions, such as creating climate extremes, unpredictable precipitation, retreating glaciers, sea level rise , ecosystem imbalances and endangerment of many flora and fauna. If left unmitigated, the climate crisis will start to adversely affect humans further by disrupting food supplies, causing property damage, burdening economies, inciting population displacement and compounding the magnitude of public health issues. + NOAA + NASA Image via Angie Agostino

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January 2020 was the hottest January on record

DIY sweet treats for Valentines Day

February 14, 2020 by  
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From pesticide residue on cut flowers to the questionable ingredients in conversation hearts, standard-issue Valentine romance won’t cut it for your earth-conscious sweetie. But don’t worry, you can make DIY treats that are delicious, personalized and easier on the environment than conventional Valentine’s Day candy. Fair-trade ingredients The best Valentine’s Day candy starts with fair-trade ingredients. Cocoa is one of the most important fair-trade items, as 90% of the global cocoa supply comes from small family farms in tropical places. The 6 million farmers earning their living through growing and selling cocoa beans are vulnerable to pressures that drive the market price down. If you buy chocolate bars and chips that are Fair-Trade certified, you know that the farmers are being fairly paid for their work. Since 1998, this program has invested about $14 million into cocoa-producing communities in places like Peru, Ecuador, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Many other ingredients besides cocoa are covered by the fair-trade certification system. Some of these items that you might use in Valentine’s Day recipes include sugar, coffee, honey, tea and fruits like bananas . Simple Valentine’s Day treats Does the intricacy of the treat reflect your love for your partner? Not necessarily. Even if you’re challenged by lack of time and/or kitchen skills, you can still produce a thoughtful and tasty Valentine’s Day gift. Related: 14 vegan and vegetarian Valentine’s Day dinner ideas Three-ingredient vegan chocolate pots contain only chocolate, dates and almond milk. You melt unsweetened chocolate in a microwave, throw it in a blender with the dates and almond milk, then refrigerate until it solidifies. The trickiest thing is remembering that you’ll need to refrigerate it for at least four hours, so plan ahead. Get the full recipe here . Another option for those who have trouble juggling multiple ingredients, this three-ingredient velvety chocolate fruit dip combines coconut cream, cacao powder and maple syrup. Just add a fourth ingredient — some fruit — and you’ll be ready for Valentine’s Day. Try bananas, mango slices or chunks of pineapple for best results. Does your darling love ice cream? The simplest vegan ice cream consists of two ingredients: cocoa powder and bananas, both of which you can get fair-trade certified. You just need a blender or food processor and a freezer. Want to jazz it up? Add coconut, berries or nuts. Prefer to be even more minimalist? Make a one-ingredient ice cream of bananas only. Chocolate delicacies For a more traditional Valentine’s Day candy gift — but still vegan and fair-trade — make your own vegan chocolate salted caramels . You can get really romantic by shaping them into hearts. What if your love is not only vegan, but a gluten-free raw foodie? A vegan chocolate almond cheesecake with a gluten-free crust is an excellent solution to this Valentine’s Day gift-giving challenge. This recipe tops the cheesecake with cocoa nibs and extra almonds. Perhaps cookies are your loved one’s favorite treat. These heart-shaped chocolate sugar cookies are vegan and gluten-free. You’ll need heart-shaped cookie cutters and a rolling pin for this recipe. Fancy and fruity desserts It’s hard to fathom, but not everybody rates chocolate as their favorite. Some people don’t like it at all and would even prefer fruit ! If your partner values berries over cocoa, whip up a raw strawberry cashew cream tart . The crust is made of dates, coconuts and almonds, and the filling is strawberry cashew cream. Remember that strawberries usually top the dirty dozen list of produce that you should buy organic, so shop accordingly. No pesticides for your valentine! Strawberry donuts with jam frosting make for a sweet Valentine’s Day breakfast. If you like decorating, you can heap on the pink frosting and arrange freeze-dried strawberry bits or candy sprinkles. Related: 9 ways to have an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day Few vegan desserts involve dusting off your blowtorch. But this vegan crème brûlée recipe made with coconut milk will awe and impress your partner, especially when they see you welding that blowtorch in the name of love. Flowers for those who don’t like sweets What if your partner doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth? Cut flowers are a Valentine’s Day staple, but they are notoriously pesticide-ridden, and many flower farms don’t treat workers or the environment well. If you’re concerned about sustainable practices in the floral industry, the internet provides a few tools. For California-grown flowers, you can look at Bloomcheck , which measures wildlife protection, air and soil quality and impact on workers and community. Rainforest Alliance monitors South America , with more than 1.3 million farms using Rainforest Alliance methods to protect local ecosystems and workers. Veriflora vets farms in the whole western hemisphere. A low-key Valentine’s Day Sometimes Valentine’s Day is the worst time to go out to dinner or to dessert shops. The stress of making reservations and battling a sea of lovers can put a damper on romance. Instead, consider celebrating at home with a simple, homemade dinner followed by DIY treats. Whipping up dinner together is a good way to show your love and is much more personal than making a reservation. Images via Shutterstock

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