Flood frequency of the Amazon River has increased fivefold

September 21, 2018 by  
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New data suggest that flooding in the Amazon River has dramatically increased by as much as five times in both intensity and frequency in the last 100 years. Scientists analyzed data points from the past century and believe the increase in flooding is linked to global warming. Scientists have measured the river’s water levels for 113 years at the Port of Manaus in Brazil . Over time, they found that large flooding events and extreme droughts have gone up over the past 20 to 30 years. In the early part of the century, massive floods only happened about once in every 20-year period. That number has increased to one major flood every four years. Related: High tide coastal flooding in US has doubled in the past 30 years The researchers believe the uptick is related to an oceanic system called Walker circulation, which describes air currents created by temperature fluctuations and pressure changes in the ocean , specifically in tropical locations. The Pacific Ocean has been cooling while the Atlantic Ocean has been getting warmer, which creates these circulating air currents. These changes are affecting the surrounding environment, including precipitation in the Amazon basin. Scientists are not sure why the Atlantic Ocean has been warming up. They do, however, believe that global warming is contributing to the temperature changes, but in a more indirect way. They theorize that global warming has shifted wind belts farther south, which pushes warm water from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. This creates an opposite effect of El Niño and results in more rainfall in the Amazon. Flooding along the Amazon River lasts weeks on end. Not only does it spread disease and contaminate water supplies, but it also destroys farms and homes. Right now, there is no indication that the flooding will decrease. This past year, water levels rose above the flood range, and scientists believe the water levels will only get higher as the years progress. Via EurekAlert! Images via Dave Lonsdale and NASA

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Flood frequency of the Amazon River has increased fivefold

Charming home uses local, natural materials to pay homage to a chestnut tree

September 21, 2018 by  
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Young Czech architecture firm Valarch Studio has completed a modest yet elegant family house built largely of timber to reference the property’s old chestnut tree in the garden. Named the Chestnut House, the home spans a compact footprint of just 840 square feet and comprises two sections: a larger living area and a smaller, green-roofed technical area united via a multifunctional vestibule. All building materials were locally sourced whenever possible with an emphasis on natural materials. When Valarch Studio was tapped with turning the small site, a former recreation area, into a place for a family home, the team’s attention was captured by the large chestnut tree growing in an overrun field. The architects decided to use that tree as a focal point for the property and allowed it to dictate the orientation and overall atmosphere of the home. “The dark brown house surrounded by the lush green landscape mirrors a chestnut breaking out of its thorny green shell,” the architects said. “It is built of raw, untreated wood with burnt lining to complement the solid chestnut tree.” Timber also lines the minimally detailed interiors, which are fitted with large windows that flood the rooms with natural light and frame views of the lush outdoors. The interior layout is split into two sections joined together with a vestibule that includes wood storage and extends into an outdoor covered terrace with seating. The living areas, located at the heart of the home, are housed in a double-height space with a small loft guestroom above. The master suite and kid’s bedroom are located on the north side of the house. Related: Compact Karst House offers a contemporary twist on classic countryside living in Slovenia Completed for a cost of approximately $160,000 USD, the Chestnut House was built with wood framing and a steel skeleton and elevated on iron and concrete supports. + Valarch Studio Photography by Jakub Skokan and Martin T?ma / BoysPlayNice

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Charming home uses local, natural materials to pay homage to a chestnut tree

2018 hurricane season may be worse than last year

May 16, 2018 by  
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Hurricanes Harvey , Irma  and Maria devastated communities in the southern U.S. and Puerto Rico in 2017, and together resulted in around $265 billion in damage. Will the U.S. and Caribbean face more brutal storms this year? Forecasts of 2018’s looming hurricane season predict it could be more active than average — and you can start preparing for it now. North Carolina State University  researchers report that 14 to 18 named tropical storms and hurricanes could form in the Atlantic basin in 2018. In comparison, the average for named storms from 1950 to 2017 was 11. The researchers said of 14 to 18 storms, seven to 11 could become hurricanes, in contrast to the average of six. Three to five storms could turn into major hurricanes. Researchers at Colorado State University anticipate similar numbers.  They forecasted 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes in the Atlantic basin. Related: How to Prepare Your Home and Family for a Hurricane or Superstorm According to The Guardian and a study led by  Pacific Northwest National Laboratory that was  published earlier this month , Atlantic storms are intensifying quicker than they did 30 years ago. Colorado State researchers said there is a “slightly above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall” in the Caribbean and the coastline of the continental U.S. The U.S. might not see the same levels of destruction this year, but people should still be prepared. “As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them,” Colorado State researchers said. “They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.” Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. You can start preparing right now — Inhabitat created a guide for getting your home and family ready for hurricanes and  superstorms . + North Carolina State University + Colorado State University Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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2018 hurricane season may be worse than last year

The Gulf Stream is the weakest it’s been in 1,600 years – here’s why that’s really bad news

April 12, 2018 by  
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The Gulf Stream current, which serves as an important regulator of weather and climate along the Atlantic Ocean, is now the weakest it has been in at least 1,600 years. This dramatic slowing of the current, known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc), could usher in extreme shifts in weather patterns, such as more brutal European winters, rapid sea level rise on the American East Coast , and the disruption of essential tropical rainstorms. Suddenly, the 2004 climate-change disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, which depicted the dramatized consequences of a Gulf Stream slowdown, seems less science fiction, more predictive of a future plagued by catastrophic climate change. Although scientists have been aware of Amoc’s slowdown since 2004, two recent studies paint a more complete picture of just how dramatic this weakening has been. “The [current] climate models don’t predict [an Amoc shutdown] is going to happen in the future,” Dr. David Thornalley, leader of one of these recent studies published in the journal Nature , told the Guardian . “The problem is how certain are we it is not going to happen? It is one of these tipping points that is relatively low probability, but high impact.” Thornalley’s team gathered and analyzed sediments from North Carolina ‘s Cape Hatteras, as well as shells of marine animals at various Atlantic sites, to determine the full impact of the current slowdown. The study concludes that climate change has played at least a significant role in the weakened Amoc. Related: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing at an exponential rate Also published in Nature , the second study used thermometer data from the past 120 years to reach a similar conclusion: Amoc is about 15 percent weaker than it was in 400 AD. While the second study places much of the blame on climate change , the first study also cites natural climate variability as a contributing factor to Amoc’s slowdown. Regardless of its causes, the weakening is recognized in both studies as a potentially destabilizing phenomenon. “If we do not rapidly stop global warming, we must expect a further long-term slowdown of the Atlantic overturning,” second study co-author Alexander Robinson told the Guardian . “We are only beginning to understand the consequences of this unprecedented process – but they might be disruptive.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1 , 2)

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The Gulf Stream is the weakest it’s been in 1,600 years – here’s why that’s really bad news

Boeing’s new hypersonic plane could circle the globe in 3 hours

February 5, 2018 by  
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Boeing has developed a hypersonic plane that is faster than a speeding bullet. So fast, in fact, that it could circle the globe in just three hours, according to the manufacturer. The plane is designed to use its own shockwaves to increase its speed, and it could herald an entirely new era of flight. The plane was revealed last month, though we are just now getting real details about what it is like. The hypersonic plane is a ‘waverider’ style, which means that it uses the shock waves it creates to increase its speed. It is being developed as a reconnaissance or strike plane, and if it enters production, it will be the fastest plane ever produced, hitting speeds of Mach 5 or higher (that’s a mind-bending 3,836 mph). The development of a hypersonic plane could change the way we engage in warfare, because it means that a threat could arrive so quickly, there would only be minutes to identify it and prepare a defense. It also means that if it were developed as a passenger plane you would be able to travel anywhere across the Atlantic in an hour, and anywhere across the Pacific in two hours. It would go more than twice as fast as the Concorde . Related: Skreemr concept jet aims to fly 5 times as fast as the Concorde Aviation fans are calling the unmanned aircraft “Son of Blackbird,” because it is expected to be the successor of the legendary Lockheed Martin-developed Blackbird SR-71 plane. Some people speculate that it is being called “Valkyrie II” within the industry. Lockheed Martin and Boeing have been locked in a battle to develop hypersonic travel. Lockheed Martin has also been developing its own hypersonic plane, called the SR-72. Only time will tell who breaks the speed barrier first. Via Daily Mail and Popular Mechanics Images via Lockheed Martin and Boeing

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Boeing’s new hypersonic plane could circle the globe in 3 hours

Humans have already dumped 400,000 pounds of trash on the Moon

January 31, 2018 by  
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Pollution isn’t just Earth’s problem anymore. Despite not having established a permanent lunar residency, humans have already managed to dump 400,000 pounds of trash on the Moon . Much of this debris has been left behind over the twelve trips by humans to the lunar surface. Earthbound scientists figured out long ago that bringing the lunar visitors home would be cheaper and simpler if as much equipment as possible were left behind. Add in debris accumulated over unmanned missions and we have ourselves something of a lunar junkyard orbiting overhead. It’s important to remember that the trash we have left behind on the Moon does not exist in a vacuum. There is an enormous amount of space waste floating around our planet. Over 21,000 pieces of trash, from spacecraft fragments to disabled satellites, orbit the Earth. Most of the Moon’s trash was the result of crashed spacecraft , of which there are over 70. The remainder of the debris is a mish-mash oddly documenting humanity’s short lunar tenure. Because it is easier to return to Earth with as little weight as possible, each moon landing has permanently dropped a 22,700-pound Lunar Lander on the surface, as well as other modules, craft, or miscellaneous materials associated with that particular mission. Waste from low-gravity golf games as well as literal human waste (all 96 bags of it) litter the Moon’s face. Related: Super blue blood moon eclipse to occur next week for the first time in 150 years To be fair, we haven’t left only waste. A small aluminum memorial left by the crew of Apollo 15 to honor fallen astronauts stands on the silent lunar landscape. The feather dropped in Apollo 15’s “hammer-feather drop” experiment also remains. Even though the Apollo 1 mission never made it to the Moon, as it was shut down prematurely after three astronauts were killed during a training exercise, a patch from the unlaunched mission found its way to the lunar surface too. Via Gizmodo and the Atlantic Images via NASA (1)

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Humans have already dumped 400,000 pounds of trash on the Moon

Trump plan to reduce marine monuments could put vital ecosystems at risk

January 2, 2018 by  
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A report from United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recommends shrinking three ocean monuments and opening them up to commercial fishing . The monuments, two in the Pacific Ocean and one in the Atlantic Ocean , are undersea treasures, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s administrator between 2009 and 2013, Jane Lubchenco, who told The Guardian , “These ‘blue parks’ harbor unique species, a wealth of biodiversity , and special habitats.” President Donald Trump may not just take aim at land-based national monuments , but at the following three marine monuments. The over 490,500-square-mile Pacific Remote Islands monument, created by George W. Bush and expanded by Barack Obama, includes largely untouched coral reefs and is “the last refugia for fish and wildlife species rapidly vanishing from the remainder of the planet,” per the Fish & Wildlife Service . The 10,156 square mile Rose Atoll monument “protects diverse marine ecosystems and the millions of wildlife dependent upon the Central Pacific.” And the 4,913 square mile Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument is the United States’ only protected area in the Atlantic Ocean, featuring underwater mountains and canyons, deep-sea coral, and endangered whales and sea turtles. Related: Patagonia is suing the Trump administration over Bears Ears: “The President Stole Your Land” In his report Zinke said, “While early monument designations focused more on geological formations, archaeological ruins, and areas of historical interest, a more recent and broad interpretation of what constitutes an ‘object of historic or scientific interest’ has been extended to include landscape areas, biodiversity, and viewsheds.” Fishing organizations aren’t always pleased about the monuments. In March, a New England coalition sued the federal government over fears fishers would be out of a job due to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument. The challenge is based on the idea Obama exceeded his authority in designating the monument. Conservation groups worry activities like seabed mining or oil drilling could be next if monuments are opened for fishing. Pew Charitable Trusts Director of U.S. Oceans, Northeast Peter Baker told The Guardian, “It shouldn’t be too much to ask to protect two percent of the U.S.’s exclusive economic zone off the Atlantic coast for future generations.” Lubchenco said, “Creation of highly protected blue parks like these monuments is beginning to re-establish the all-important balance of places to be used and places to be treasured. We need both.” Via The Guardian Images via USFWS – Pacific Region on Flickr and NOAA photo by Hatsue Bailey

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Trump plan to reduce marine monuments could put vital ecosystems at risk

"This is unprecedented": Irish Minister of State for Flood Relief on tropical storm Ophelia

October 16, 2017 by  
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When you hear the word ‘ hurricane ,’ you probably don’t think about Ireland . But Tropical Storm Ophelia, which has been downgraded from its status as a hurricane, is on a path towards the country, with warnings of high seas, power outages , and hazardous conditions. Minister for Flood Relief Kevin Moran said at a Dublin press conference, “This is unprecedented.” An Atlantic hurricane has been whirling towards the United Kingdom . Although Ophelia is an ex-hurricane, the Irish Meteorological Service, Met Éireann , is warning of violent and destructive wind gusts that could reach between 120 and 150 kilometers per hour (km/h), or around 75 to 93 miles per hour (mph). They said heavy rain and storm surges in some coastal areas will lead to flooding , posing a danger to human property and lives. Related: How Hurricane Irma changed the colors of these Caribbean islands As many as 100,000 homes and businesses in the country have lost power, as power lines have been knocked down. An Electricity Supply Board spokesperson said earlier today many of the power lines are still live and asked people to stay away. The Met Éireann said at Cork Airport, wind gusts of 124 km/h, or 77 mph, were recorded; at Fastnet Rock wind gusts were 176 km/h, or 109 mph. The United Kingdom Met Office issued an amber weather warning for Northern Ireland, southwest Scotland, Strathclyde, and Wales. They issued yellow warnings for 11 locations, including western areas in England and Yorkshire. A status red weather warning applies to all cities and counties in Ireland, according to prime minister Leo Varadkar, who told people to stay indoors. Speaking of Debbie, the largest storm recorded in the history of Ireland in the 1960’s, he said, “The last time we had a storm this severe 11 lives were lost so safety is our number one priority.” Via The Guardian Images via NOAA/NASA Goddard Rapid Response Team and Met Éireann on Twitter

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"This is unprecedented": Irish Minister of State for Flood Relief on tropical storm Ophelia

A puzzle-like aluminum faade wraps around Bergens National Academy of the Arts

October 16, 2017 by  
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Snøhetta ’s recently completed National Academy of the Arts in Bergen is wrapped in an innovative prefab façade made of raw aluminum elements . The new facility is built to withstand the rainy climate of the Norwegian west coast and offer a durable, robust space where KMD’s 350 art and design students can learn and collaborate under one roof. The building replaces the former Bergen Academy of Art & Design (KHiB) and assembles the previously scattered faculty buildings under one roof. It has two main axes–one internal, dedicated to students and staff, and one external, open to the public. Related: Snøhetta unveils spectacular makeover for nation’s second-largest waterfall The most prominent features of the building are in the large project hall situated at the point where the two axes cross. The entrance is connected to a large outdoor plaza which makes the building inviting and engaged in a dialogue with Bergen’s city center. Related: Iridescent hand-folded metal panels clad Snøhetta’s Learning Center at Toronto’s Ryerson University Prefab raw aluminum elements clad the building’s exterior, with 900 varied sized seawater-durable crude aluminum elements protruding from the wall at varying distances. Large cantilevered box-shaped windows punctuate the rhythm of the metal surface. The crude aluminum surfaces can withstand the rainy coastal climate and will gradually weather and oxidize, heightening the variations in colors and textures. + Snøhetta Lead photo by Trond Isaksen

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A puzzle-like aluminum faade wraps around Bergens National Academy of the Arts

Huge battery in the UK holds the energy equivalent of 500K smartphone batteries

October 16, 2017 by  
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A large new battery storage project could help the United Kingdom’s grid handle power from more renewable sources . The 10 megawatt (MW) lithium-ion battery , on the grounds of a biomass plant in Sheffield, is contained inside four 40-foot shipping containers . It can hold the same amount of energy as around 500,000 smartphone batteries. UK energy company E.ON installed the battery , called the Blackburn Meadows battery for its location at the Blackburn Meadows biomass plant, and connected it to the grid . They said in their statement the battery has the same power as around 100 family cars. Related: Tesla nears halfway mark on world’s largest battery installation in South Australia The Blackburn Meadows battery is one of the first of what The Guardian described as a fleet of industrial-scale battery plants. National Grid, the firm that owns England and Wales’ electricity transmission network, requested new technologies to help keep the grid balanced, a challenge as more renewable sources come online – since the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. The large batteries are a response to that request. When supply is high, the batteries can store power, and when supply drops, they can provide power. National Grid commercial development manager Leon Walker said in a statement, “Using battery storage is a significant development for managing the national grid. It’s an ultra-fast way of keeping electricity supply and demand balanced. Over four years we estimate that this service will save the system operator around £200 million.” While the Blackburn Meadows battery is currently one of the largest in Britain, The Guardian pointed out it won’t be long before others even bigger are built. They said British Gas’ parent company Centrica is building a 49MW battery facility, and EDF Energy is also building one that’s the same size. Their article included a graphic saying renewables provided almost 30 percent of the UK’s power between April and June of this year. Via The Guardian and E.ON Images via E.ON and Darren Cool / E.ON

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