Scientists discover enough new forests to cover 60% of Australia

May 15, 2017 by  
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A new survey of the world’s dryland habitats has found a massive amount of previously unreported forests — 467 million hectares (over 1.1 billion acres), which is 45 percent more forest than found in past surveys. The newly discovered dryland forests cover an area equivalent to 60 percent of the size of Australia, putting dryland forest extent on par with tropical rainforests and boreal forests. The discovery could be good news for reversing global warming as it increases the estimates of total global forest carbon stocks by 15 gigatons to 158 gigatons — an increase of 2 percent to 20 percent. Although dryland biomes occupy more than 40 percent of the Earth’s land surface, these forests were previously difficult to spot because of the relatively low density of the trees . Technological advances have made it easier to accurately measure dryland forests as demonstrated in this survey. The scientists used Google Earth Engine to analyze high-resolution satellite images of more than 210,000 dryland sites in order to determine tree number and density. The researchers then compared samples of their findings with field information for accuracy. Related: Meet the teen planting 150 trees for every person on Earth The study’s authors point out the importance of understanding dryland forests and dryland ecosystems because climate modeling suggests these biomes could expand by 11 percent to 23 percent by the end of the century, covering more than half of the Earth’s land surface. “Considering the potential of dryland forests to stave off desertification and to fight climate change by storing carbon, it will be crucial to keep monitoring the health of these forests, now that we know they are there,” said University of Adelaide School of Biological Sciences professors Andrew Lowe and Ben Sparrow, co-authors of the study. + The extent of forest in dryland biomes Via Phys.org Images via TERN AusPlots

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Scientists discover enough new forests to cover 60% of Australia

World’s largest CO2 sink stores 27,000 grams of carbon per square meter

January 16, 2017 by  
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Natural areas that capture and store carbon on Earth are becoming an increasingly precious resource, and researchers may have found the mother of all of these in an unlikely place – a small bay in Denmark they claim holds a world-record amount of carbon . According to Phys.org , seagrass and underwater meadows have the capacity to store large amounts of carbon dioxide that has garnered the attention of scientists looking to find ways to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. While meadows of this kind of seagrass are found throughout the world, scientists have pinpointed one meadow in Denmark, which they say is the most efficient. The meadow is located in a bay called Thurøbund on the island of Thurø in the South Funen Archipelago of Denmark , a place where Professor Mariann Holmer of the University of Southern Denmark says has special conditions that add to its carbon capturing capabilities. Related: Breakthrough technology turns coal plant CO2 into baking powder Many seagrass meadows around the world have been investigated. Recently, I was part of a study investigating and measuring carbon storing capabilities of 10 seagrass meadows in the Baltic Sea. No place comes even close to Thurøbund,” says Professor Holmer . “It is a very protected bay—and also very productive. So the seagrass thrives and when the plants die, they remain in the meadow. They are buried in the sediment, and in this process, their carbon content gets stored with them. In Finland, the seagrass grows in open coast areas, which means that the dead plants are much more often washed out to sea, taking the carbon with them. Once the carbon has been taken out to the sea, it is unclear what happens to it.” To put it into perspective with some numbers, Thurøbund stores 27,000 grams of carbon per square meter, and the highest numbers found in other locations around the world have never been more than 10,000 to 11,000 grams per meter squared. Via Phys.org Images via Arnaud Abadie and James St. John , Flickr Creative Commons

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World’s largest CO2 sink stores 27,000 grams of carbon per square meter

Critics outraged by UK plan to build 1.8 mile tunnel under Stonehenge

January 16, 2017 by  
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One of Britain’s most well-known archaeological landmarks could soon have a tunnel carved below it. The government unveiled plans for a 1.8 mile tunnel running under Stonehenge as part of a $2.4 billion infrastructure investment, hoping to slash traffic plaguing the area. But not everyone is happy with the government’s plan; some experts believe a tunnel could destroy undiscovered artifacts. The British government is planning a $2.4 billion investment for the country’s A303 road, hoping to upgrade it into a “high quality, high performing route” that will improve trips for millions of people, according to the Department for Transport’s statement on the project. Part of the upgrades include a tunnel passing beneath the famous site. Officials say the tunnel would slash congestion and bolster the local economy. Related: Archaeologists reveal fresh details about 4,500-year-old “New Stonehenge” English Heritage , the charity managing more than 400 historic sites, backs the tunnel. UNESCO , which in 1986 designated Stonehenge as a World Heritage Site, say they could get behind the idea, but have not yet viewed final plans. Historian Tom Holland fears a tunnel could destroy the key historical site. He told CNN, “Recent finds show this place is the birthplace of Britain, and its origins go back to the resettlement of this island after the Ice Age. It staggers belief that we can inject enormous quantities of concrete to build a tunnel that will last at best 100 years and therefore decimate a landscape that has lasted for millennia.” Local chamber of commerce president and Amesbury Museum chairman Andy Rhind-Tutt is also against the tunnel, saying it won’t even really improve traffic and will “put a time bomb of irreversible destruction on one of the world’s greatest untouched landscapes.” The public can comment on the tunnel plan until March 5, and the government plans to announce the preferred route later in 2017. Construction could start in 2020, according to a Highways England spokesperson, and could be completed in four years. Via CNN Images via Good Free Photos and Pixabay

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Critics outraged by UK plan to build 1.8 mile tunnel under Stonehenge

Heroic dolphins could save critically endangered porpoise from extinction

January 16, 2017 by  
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Seal Team 6, a squad of dolphins trained by the US Navy to locate undersea mines and other submerged objects, may be the last, best chance of survival for the world’s most endangered marine mammal . The team of superhero cetaceans will be recruited to help locate the sixty or so remaining vaquitas in the wild, so that a small group of the porpoises may be captured and relocated to establish a captive breeding population. Distinguished by their small size and dark rings around their eyes and mouths, vaquitas are endemic to a narrow stretch in the upper regions of the Gulf of California in Mexico . The vaquitas population has been in decline for decades due to the tiny porpoise’s habit of becoming trapped in fishing nets meant for other sea creatures. While ex situ conservation , the establishment of a protected captive breeding population, is not a new idea, it remains controversial. “I don’t like this idea at all,” said Omar Vidal, director general of the World Wildlife Fund Mexico in Mexico City.”The risk of killing a vaquita while catching them is very high. With only 50 or 60 animals left, we can’t play with that.” Related: China’s ‘extinct’ dolphin may have been sighted again in the Yangtze River Despite the risks, the Seal Team 6 project, currently in planning stages, will likely commence in spring. However, the Navy and its dolphins will not be alone. “An international group of experts, including Navy personnel, have been working on two primary goals: determining the feasibility of locating and catching vaquitas, as a phase One,” wrote Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, chairman of the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita. “As a second phase, to determine the feasibility of temporarily housing vaquitas in the Gulf of California .” Vaquitas have never successfully been held and bred in captivity before, so the team will be paying particularly close attention to creating holding pens, likely located in a protected bay, that meet the specific needs of the animals . While creating a net-free, safe environment for wild vaquitas in their natural habitat remains the ultimate goal, the situation is now desperate enough to merit risk. “Given the crisis we’re in, we need to explore all of our options,” said NOAA biologist Barbara Taylor. Via Science Magazine Images via Marion Doss/Flickr and  Paula Olson/Flickr

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Heroic dolphins could save critically endangered porpoise from extinction

Icelandic power plant transforms carbon emissions into stone

June 10, 2016 by  
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In a world first, a team of engineers and scientists at Iceland’s Hellisheidi power plant have been able to capture carbon emissions and turn them into stone for storage. This new process, described in this week’s issue of the journal Science , involves mixing carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide released by the plant with water, and injecting the mixture into underground layers of basalt. Within months, the mixture is converted into rock-hard carbonate, safely storing the carbon and preventing it from entering the atmosphere. http://vimeo.com/119512256 The CarbFix Project brought together scientists from Columbia University, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Iceland, and Reykjavik Energy, the operator of the plant. Initially, scientists were concerned the process might take hundreds or thousands of years to occur naturally. Instead, large portions had mineralized into a stable form within a few months, and 95% completed the process within two years . The quick action of the process is promising — provided that a power plant is located in an area with easy access to layers of underground volcanic basalt. These conditions are perfectly suited to the seismically active landscape of Iceland, but might not work as well in other parts of the globe. Related: Crystal Compounds Used as Super-Efficient Carbon Storage Sponges There are other challenges to implementing this process widely. For one thing, the Hellisheidi plant is a geothermal energy facility, which uses turbines to process superheated water pumped from deep underground. Not only do these types of facilities produce far less carbon than a traditional coal-fired plant (only about 5%), they also have access to vast amounts of water which can be injected back underground. While sea water could be used to help sequester carbon in some facilities that burn fossil fuels , access to water may be a struggle in many regions. Still, there are many areas along the seafloors of the US coast where the process could easily be implemented. While the Hellisheidi plant has so far been able to process CO2 for about $30 per ton, it’s likely that a coal-fired power plant would end up spending closer to $130 per ton of carbon converted into stone. + The CarbFix Project Via Forbes Photos via The Earth Institute at Columbia University

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Icelandic power plant transforms carbon emissions into stone

Colorado State Study Shows Beavers Build Natural Carbon Storage Shelters

July 30, 2013 by  
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Beaver photo from Shutterstock A team of researchers from Colorado State University has discovered that when it comes to carbon capture and storage , we can learn a lot from nature’s best architect – the beaver. According to their research paper, beaver dams built in the US wetlands are able to store a “surprising amount” of carbon. Read the rest of Colorado State Study Shows Beavers Build Natural Carbon Storage Shelters Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: beaver dam , beavers , carbon capture , carbon capture and storage , carbon storage , Colorado State University , natural architecture        

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Colorado State Study Shows Beavers Build Natural Carbon Storage Shelters

US scientists plan to mitigate global warming by capturing CO2 to produce electricity

August 11, 2011 by  
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Nisha Changrani: CO2 Storage Underground CO2 storage What would you think if someone were to tell you that CO2 could be captured beneath the earth’s surface and help in generating electricity? This is about to come true; thanks to some genius scientists of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The Berkley Lab has received a staggering $5 million funding from the Department of Energy to make this project actually feasible. The scientists from Berkley Lab would be the first in the world to produce electricity using geothermally heated carbon dioxide. Initially the team proposed to insert CO2 upto three kilometers inside the sedimentary layer. Herein CO2 is expected to acquire a supercritical state at 125 degree Celsius, when it would bear the properties of both liquid and solid states. Next, it will be pumped to the surface and fed to turbine to generate electricity by thermal conversion. The residual CO2 would swoop back underground. After some time, some CO2 will seep permanently in the sediment. The turbines would be kept spinning by gushing in more CO2. These turbines are to be designed by Echogen Power Systems. Numerical methods would then be used to figure out the volume of CO2 reservoir that would evolve after a continuous pumping of carbon air into the ground. This technology will be tested in Cranfield in Mississippi wherein a couple of shipping containers with imbibed turbines will be installed. The CO2 would be sourced from a Denbury Resources operated pipeline. A group of scientists from the University of Texas will be responsible for a lifetime analysis of the impacts of the process. This project would curtail the cost of geologic carbon storage, both economically and ecologically, and give results that are equivalent. Although now, it is not exactly possible to pronounce the quantum of electricity that would be produced from this process, let us expect the best. After all, wind comes in gushes. What comes in swoosh is often called a tornado. It is better to have a sustainable development take shape of reality rather than a superfast progress that would prove harmful in the end. Ironically, that is exactly what we have been doing till today. So, let us try to improve. The rest nature would do for itself. Via: Berkeley Lab

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US scientists plan to mitigate global warming by capturing CO2 to produce electricity

Audi’s petite E1 e-tron concept spotted on the Berlin streets

August 11, 2011 by  
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DATTATREYA MANDAL: Audi E1 E-Tron Electric Vehicle The exalted Audi becomes the latest of the automotive brands to launch an exclusively eco-focused line of cars by the apt name of E. Consisting of a fleet of fuel efficient petrol, diesel and e-tron electric vehicles, the range would occur from the bantam E1 (pictured above) to low emission supercar E8 (still at conceptual stage). As for now, the E1 ultra-petite two-seater pod is what concerns us, as this truly green vehicle to be showcased at 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, was actually seen on the streets of Berlin. Picture Gallery VW 1-Liter Lives On As Audi ‘E1’ e-tron Concept Audi E1 e-tron Concept spy shots There was no official information regarding the small car, with some specifications to be divulged at the Auto Show next month on 13 September. On observation, a nigh mute engine lies under the sprightly bearing of the dainty car, thus suggesting the fact that the vehicle is in fact powered by an all-electric setup. The close width of the form also alludes to a definite seating system where the passenger has to sit directly behind the driver. Most interestingly, the unique seating arrangement also lends credence to the low emission nature of the E1. This is because such a type of setup was previously seen in Volkswagen’s (Audi’s ‘mother company’) L1 hybrid concept back in 2009. It was already touted to the most fuel-efficient car in the world at 1.38 liters of diesel per 100 km. Coming back to this, the seemingly lightweight, aerodynamic frame coupled with an efficient electric drive train would certainly guarantee a good pick-up. Given the diminutive demeanor, it can also prove to be apt for a free-flowing, sustainable romp around the tight city corners. Via: MotorAuthority

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Audi’s petite E1 e-tron concept spotted on the Berlin streets

New Map Shows Size of Forests in U.S.

April 26, 2011 by  
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A new map created by the Woods Hole Research Center shows the height, coverage and carbon storage levels of forests in the U.S.  The map was put together by using NASA satellite images from 2000-2001 as well as ground-level surveys by the USGS and USDA Forest Service. The dataset for the map includes the forest measurements amount of carbon stored in vegetation as of 2000.  The scientists involved in the project will use the map as a baseline to monitor changes in forest cover and the carbon cycle.  This will allow them to make predictions about climate change and wildfire risks, help species conservation and even regulate the timber industry. This is the first map to provide canopy height and carbon storage information at this level of detail.  You can check out the full high-resolution map and dataset here .

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New Map Shows Size of Forests in U.S.

NRDC Assesses Biochar – Says High Hopes For Carbon Storage Premature

November 29, 2010 by  
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photo: Soil Science / Creative Commons There’s been lots of back and forth in the past year on biochar , ranging from research showing it has huge potential for absorbing carbon emissions on one side, to uncertainty about its potential, to outright hostility towards the enthusiasm shown towards it–and all from people with good environmental credentials. A new report fr…

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NRDC Assesses Biochar – Says High Hopes For Carbon Storage Premature

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