Rebuilding a resilient, renewable Caribbean

September 19, 2017 by  
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Instead of reconstructing the existing electricity grid, we can leapfrog ahead with technologies that make the Caribbean region less vulnerable to future storms.

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Rebuilding a resilient, renewable Caribbean

The ozone problem is back with a vengeance

September 19, 2017 by  
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The Montreal Protocol should have nixed the ozone-eating chemicals damaging the ozone layer over Antarctica. 30 years on, atmospheric chemists aren’t so sure.

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The ozone problem is back with a vengeance

Sinking land, rising risk for world’s 340 million delta residents

August 29, 2017 by  
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Conventional infrastructure doesn’t cut it when it comes to flood risk.

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Sinking land, rising risk for world’s 340 million delta residents

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

Frank Gehry’s twisting, mountainous skyscraper takes shape at LUMA Arles

August 24, 2017 by  
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New photos of Frank Gehry ‘s tower at LUMA Arles show a mountainous, twisting structure taking shape on the 16-acre site in France. The tower will house a variety of functions, including research facilities, workshop and seminar room, as well as artist studios . The building is expected to be completed in spring 2019. The 9,000-square-metre stainless steel tower sits on LUMA Arles, a large site previously occupied by 19th century railroad workshops. Today, this area is undergoing a rehabilitation process helmed by New York-based Selldorf Architects, while Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets plan to create a beautiful park adjacent to Gehry’s mountain-like tower . Related: Gehry Partners unveils plant-covered offices for Los Angeles LUMA Arles will function as an experimental contemporary center where artists and researchers can collaborate on a variety of multidisciplinary projects. Swiss pharmaceutical heiress and contemporary art collector Maja Hoffmann leads the cultural project, expected to cost around €100 million, and is the Executive Director of LUMA Arles and President of the LUMA Foundation. + LUMA Arles + Gehry Partners Via World Architecture Community Photos by Victor Picon , via LUMA Arles

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Frank Gehry’s twisting, mountainous skyscraper takes shape at LUMA Arles

Elon Musk reveals first official photo of the SpaceX space suit

August 24, 2017 by  
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Elon Musk surprised fans on Instagram by sharing the first official photo of the SpaceX space suit. In the caption, he teased details about the suit, mentioning that it definitely works and was tested to double vacuum pressure. Musk admitted that it was “incredibly hard” to balance the suit’s look and function. “First picture of SpaceX spacesuit,” Musk wrote on Instagram. “More in days to follow. Worth noting that this actually works (not a mockup). Already tested to double vacuum pressure. Was incredibly hard to balance esthetics and function. Easy to do either separately.” First picture of SpaceX spacesuit. More in days to follow. Worth noting that this actually works (not a mockup). Already tested to double vacuum pressure. Was incredibly hard to balance esthetics and function. Easy to do either separately. A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on Aug 23, 2017 at 12:59am PDT Though Musk failed to mention the specific purpose of the suit, The Verge suggests they are to be worn by astronauts when riding inside the SpaceX Dragon Capsule. Because they are pressure suits, they are not meant for spacewalks. Rather, the gear is designed for astronauts to wear during transport – just in case the capsule depressurizes. NASA astronauts will also don the suits for the commercial crew program, when SpaceX starts launching people to and from the International Space Station . Related: NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth The helmet and sleek aesthetic of the suit make it look as if it’s ready to debut in a sci-fi flick. At the same time, it pays homage to “old school” space suits NASA astronauts wore to the moon. Within days, more information on the new SpaceX suit will be revealed. Via The Verge , CNBC Images via SpaceX , Elon Musk

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Elon Musk reveals first official photo of the SpaceX space suit

Singapore Night Festival dazzles crowds with 13 stunning light installations

August 21, 2017 by  
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The Singapore Night Festival is back and it’s pulling out all the stops for its 10th anniversary. Attracting crowds of over 500,000, the annual light festival bonanza transforms the city into a carnival of arts and culture with family-friendly activities, interactive installations, and pop-up eateries across two weekends from August 18 to August 26. Created to follow this year’s theme of “Ten Magical Years,” the iconic Night Lights exhibition brings to life 13 Instagrammable light installations. The Singapore Night Festival comprises five zones sprawled out from Cathay Green and Chijimes to Armenian Street and Waterloo Street. The festival has grown to become Singapore’s largest outdoor performing arts festival and includes artists from a variety of backgrounds, from acrobats to musicians. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, many performing artists that participated in previous years were invited back for the weeklong festival. Related: Amsterdam’s annual Light Festival brightens the city’s winter nights This year’s Night Lights exhibition includes 13 installations , including the signature highlights—interactive light installations that transform the facades of the Singapore Art Museum and the National Museum of Singapore into art. Artists from around the world were invited to create installations, which include EZ3kiel’s Convolutions, Karel Bata’s The Tree That Blinked, and LiteWerkz x 3M’s Tessellations of Time. This year, festivalgoers can also explore the event with free-to-rent bicycles provided by Hello, Bicycle! The festival concludes on August 26. + Singapore Night Festival Images by Singapore Night Festival 2017

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Singapore Night Festival dazzles crowds with 13 stunning light installations

Global ocean circulation may be slowing down due to Arctic ice loss

August 16, 2017 by  
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Humanity is entering a phase of grave uncertainty as rising temperatures wreck havoc on our planet. Researchers from Yale University and the University of Southhampton have found evidence that Arctic ice loss may be having a negative impact on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) , the largest ocean circulation system on the planet. A complex system not easily explained by talking heads scoring political points, AMOC helps regulate ocean and atmospheric temperatures – and its collapse would have repercussions that not even scientists can properly predict. “The ongoing decline of Arctic sea ice exposes the ocean to anomalous surface heat and freshwater fluxes, resulting in positive buoyancy anomalies that can affect ocean circulation,” the researchers wrote in a new study published recently in Nature . “It is found that on decadal timescales, flux anomalies over the subpolar North Atlantic have the largest impact on the AMOC, while on multi-decadal timescales (longer than 20 years), flux anomalies in the Arctic become more important. These positive buoyancy anomalies spread to the North Atlantic, weakening the AMOC and its poleward heat transport. Therefore, the Arctic sea-ice decline may explain the suggested slow-down of the AMOC and the ‘Warming Hole’ persisting in the subpolar North Atlantic.” Related: How climate change could alter the environment in 100 years So what does this mean? Trevor Nace, a geologist, explains for Forbes : “This process whereby water is transported into the Northern Atlantic Ocean acts to distribute ocean water globally. What’s more important, and the basis for concern of many scientists is this mechanism is one of the most efficient ways Earth transports heat from the tropics to the northern latitudes. The warm water transported from the tropics to the North Atlantic releases heat to the atmosphere, playing a key role in warming of western Europe…” Since this is largely unprecedented, it is uncertain exactly what will happen if the AMOC collapses, or how it will affect global weather patterns. But we do know that even small shifts in climate can result in dramatic changes – evidenced by the growing number of droughts, floods and other natural disasters worldwide. In November, temperatures in the Arctic were 20C degrees higher than normal, according to an Arctic Resilience Report . The best way to slow down this trend is to release fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which requires a shift away from burning fossil fuels and other carbon-producing industries. And that requires leadership. Via Forbes Images via NOAA, NASA

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Global ocean circulation may be slowing down due to Arctic ice loss

Luxury Tree Villa communes with breathtaking nature in India

August 16, 2017 by  
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A picture-perfect getaway roosts in the treetops of west India. Architecture BRIO completed the Tree Villa, a two-story luxury getaway on the cliff of a 160-acre “treesort.” Set within the rich river landscape of Tala near the Kuda caves, the treehouse -like glass dwelling offers an immersive experience within a forested tropical setting. Architecture BRIO built the Tree Villa around existing mature trees, which grow up and through the roof, deck, and fencing, and give the structure its treehouse-like appearance. The dwelling blends into its surroundings with its thatched roof , predominately timber palette, and clean modern design. The architects wrapped the elevated Tree Villa in full-height glazing to optimize views of Tala’s stunning scenery. Tie-dyed bordered sheer curtains filter harsh sunlight during the day. The Tree Villa accommodates four adults and two children. The elevated ground floor is surrounded by an expansive timber deck and comprises a large luxurious bedroom, bathroom with mirrored slats, and a spiral staircase to the upper floor. The larger upper level also features a large timber deck in addition to a second bedroom, loft bed for children, living area, kitchen, dining room, west-facing patio, and a semi-outdoor bathroom that’s dramatically pierced by the enormous brand of an old Garuga fruit tree. The modern and minimalist open-plan interior and lack of walls reinforces the immersive experience in nature. Related: Bamboo-Veiled Dormitory by Architecture BRIO The architects write: “The volumetric compositions of partly white, partly reflective and transparent surfaces within a wooden framework animate and lighten up the space. It questions conventional definitions of exterior and interior and reinterprets notions of privacy and exposure within a hospitality environment. The spatial composition in an otherwise traditional tropical roof structure lends a sense of softness, sensuality, intimacy and complexity, making it a perfect setting for a retreat into the wilderness of Tala.” + Architecture BRIO Via ArchDaily Images © Photographix

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Luxury Tree Villa communes with breathtaking nature in India

Antarctica’s newest iceberg may destabilize the entire ice shelf

August 3, 2017 by  
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For eighteen months, scientists and concerned citizens waited for a giant iceberg to break off the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica. On July 12, the highly-anticipated event finally occurred . Because the iceberg, named A68, was predominantly submerged in the water before it detached, the event did not dramatically raise sea levels — phenomena which would propel natural disasters. While this is fortunate, it turns out the iceberg saga isn’t over: cracks are spreading towards a location that is paramount to the stability of the remaining ice shelf . For months, satellites have been capturing footage of the region to track the effects of climate change . After A68 broke off the shelf, satellites continued to track its movements. According to new data published by the University of Leeds, the structure has drifted approximately 3.1 miles (5km) away from its initial location. When the event finally took place, Larsen C lost about 10 perfect of its area; at least 11 smaller icebergs — some up to 8 miles (12 km) long — were also formed. NewAtlas reports that as the network of cracks continues to sweep across Larsen C, the number of icebergs will keep increasing. Related: Dubai firm wants to tow icebergs from Antarctica for fresh water Said Anna Hogg, a researcher at the University of Leeds: “The satellite images reveal a lot of continuing action on Larsen C Ice Shelf. We can see that the remaining cracks continue to grow towards a feature called Bawden Ice Rise, which provides important structural support for the remaining ice shelf. If an ice shelf loses contact with the ice rise, either through sustained thinning or a large iceberg calving event, it can prompt a significant acceleration in ice speed, and possibly further destabilization. It looks like the Larsen C story might not be over yet.” As Inhabitat previously reported, A68 is not a direct result of climate change . In fact, the process happens quite naturally during the life cycle of ice shelves. However, it is possible that it is breaking away progressed faster than normal due to changing environmental conditions . “Although floating ice shelves have only a modest impact on of sea-level rise, ice from Antarctica’s interior can discharge into the ocean when they collapse,” said Hilmar Gudmundsson, a researcher from the British Antarctic Survey. “Consequently we will see increase in the ice-sheet contribution to global sea-level rise. With this large calving event, and the availability of satellite technology, we have a fantastic opportunity to watch this natural experiment unfolding before our eyes. We can expect to learn a lot about how ice shelves break up and how the loss of a section of an ice shelf affects the flow of the remaining parts.” The findings were published in the journal Nature Climate Change . + University of Leeds Via NewAtlas Images via Pixabay

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