Climate change and volcanic eruptions could lead to years without summer

October 31, 2017 by  
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Scientists warn that if climate change continues at its current pace, oceans may lose their ability to reduce atmospheric effects from volcanic sulfur and aerosols as they have done in the past. This means that volcanic eruptions in the future may lead to “years without summer,” as occurred in 1815 after the April eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia . New research led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the US both confirms that specific eruption’s role in altering the global climate and the role that future eruptions might play if the ocean’s temperature continues to be affected by melting sea ice and rising global temperatures. The researchers used data from Community Earth System Model’s (CESM) Last Millennium Ensemble Project, which provides simulations of Earth’s climate based on the geological record from 850 through 2005, to determine that the Mount Tambora eruption caused a notable cooling event on the global climate. Sulfur dioxide sent into the atmosphere became sulfate particles known as aerosols and reflected light away from the Earth. This resulted in a so-called “year without summer,” in which crops across North America and Europe suffered tremendous losses due to cold temperatures and blocked sunlight. Related: Two giant volcanic eruptions formed Yellowstone’s iconic caldera The oceans played an important role in returning the climate to relative normalcy through a process in which the colder water of the ocean sinks while warmer water rises to the surface, helping to warm the surrounding land and atmosphere . However, due to changing ocean temperatures resulting from climate change, if an eruption similar to Mount Tambora were to occur in 2085, the ocean would be less able to bring about climate stabilization. Study author Otto-Bliesner wrote, “The response of the climate system to the 1815 eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora gives us a perspective on potential surprises for the future, but with the twist that our climate system may respond much differently”. + Nature Communications Via Alphr Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Climate change and volcanic eruptions could lead to years without summer

This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

October 31, 2017 by  
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Ljubljana-based firm Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti has built a beautiful contemporary home in Maui that provides striking views of the expansive coastline. The home’s unique angular roof – which is twice the size of the building itself – was designed to mimic the rugged surrounding landscape, and it doubles as an expansive open-air terrace . Located in the West Maui Mountains, the 5,000-square-foot home was built with locally-sourced materials whenever possible – including beach sand, which was integrated into the plaster finish applied to the interior walls. The building consists of five semi-separate “mini houses” arranged in an elongated u-shape that provides perfect ocean views from every angle. Related: Timber Chimney House gives farmhouse vernacular a modern twist At the heart of the design is the irregular roof, whose elongated, “choppy” angles are actually more than a unique design whim. The roof’s large shape provides protection against the area’s strong sun and wind conditions. Additionally, the roof extends generously over the structure’s perimeter in various areas, creating several shaded outdoor nooks. And just for fun, one section of the roof slopes to ground level, enabling the occupants to easily climb on top to enjoy the jaw-dropping ocean views. Clad in wooden slats, the roof will weather over the years with a green-hued grey patina , further embedding the structure into its idyllic surroundings. + Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti Via Dezeen

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This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

October 31, 2017 by  
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Comments Off on This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

Ljubljana-based firm Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti has built a beautiful contemporary home in Maui that provides striking views of the expansive coastline. The home’s unique angular roof – which is twice the size of the building itself – was designed to mimic the rugged surrounding landscape, and it doubles as an expansive open-air terrace . Located in the West Maui Mountains, the 5,000-square-foot home was built with locally-sourced materials whenever possible – including beach sand, which was integrated into the plaster finish applied to the interior walls. The building consists of five semi-separate “mini houses” arranged in an elongated u-shape that provides perfect ocean views from every angle. Related: Timber Chimney House gives farmhouse vernacular a modern twist At the heart of the design is the irregular roof, whose elongated, “choppy” angles are actually more than a unique design whim. The roof’s large shape provides protection against the area’s strong sun and wind conditions. Additionally, the roof extends generously over the structure’s perimeter in various areas, creating several shaded outdoor nooks. And just for fun, one section of the roof slopes to ground level, enabling the occupants to easily climb on top to enjoy the jaw-dropping ocean views. Clad in wooden slats, the roof will weather over the years with a green-hued grey patina , further embedding the structure into its idyllic surroundings. + Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti Via Dezeen

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This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

New Harvard study links pesticide consumption with reduced fertility in women

October 31, 2017 by  
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When trying to get pregnant, many women adopt a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables . But it turns out they may be compromising their chances — unless the produce is organically grown. According to a new study published in  the journal JAMA Internal Medicine , women who ate 2.3 servings or more of high- pesticide -residue fruits and vegetables had an 18 percent lower probability of getting pregnant and a 26 percent lower probability of giving birth to a live baby. 325 women between the ages of 18 and 45 participated in the study. CNN reports that they were already undergoing infertility treatment with assisted reproductive technology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Researchers gave the women diet questionnaires and recorded their height, weight, overall health, intake of supplements, and residential history. They then analyzed each woman’s pesticide exposure by determining whether the fruits and vegetables she consumed were treated with high or low levels of pesticides — chemical concoctions that are sprayed on fruit to protect plants (and humans) from mold, fungi, rodents, insects, and weeds. The scientists analyzed the pesticide levels based on reports from the US Department of Agriculture’s  Pesticide Data Program . Strawberries typically top the list as the #1 sprayed fruit, whereas avocados , onions, dried plums, corn and orange juice are typically low in pesticide residue. The results were disturbing: compared to women who ate less than one daily serving of high-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables, those who ate more than 2 servings were 26 percent more likely to have a miscarriage. “Most Americans are exposed to pesticides daily by consuming conventionally grown fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Yu-Han Chiu, first author of the study and research fellow in the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “There have been concerns for some time that exposure to low doses of pesticides through diet, such as those that we observed in this study, may have adverse health effects, especially in susceptible populations such as pregnant women and their fetus, and on children. Our study provides evidence that this concern is not unwarranted.” Related: Facial deformities in Ugandan apes linked to pesticide use The researchers also determined that consuming low-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables was associated with increased odds of pregnancy and giving birth. “Although we did find that intake of high-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables were associated to lower reproductive success, intake of low-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables had the opposite association,” Chiu said. The researcher concluded: “A reasonable choice based on these findings is to consume low-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables instead of high-pesticide-residue ones. Another option is to go organic for the fruits and vegetables known to contain high pesticide residues. It is very important to keep in mind that, as far as we are aware, this is the first time that this association is reported, so it is extremely important that our findings are replicated in other studies.” + JAMA Internal Medicine Via CNN Images via Pixabay ,  Reader’s Digest ,  HerFamily.ie

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New Harvard study links pesticide consumption with reduced fertility in women

CO2 levels in Earths atmosphere hit a record high in 2016

October 30, 2017 by  
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2016 was a year for breaking records — and not all of them were good. Each of the first six months of 2016 set a record as the warmest month in the modern temperature record – and a new report shows that CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere hit their highest point in 800,000 years. “The abrupt changes in the atmosphere witnessed in the past 70 years are without precedent,” said the report published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Every year, the Geneva-based organization compiles data for its annual greenhouse gas report. While reviewing 2016’s data, it cited a combination of “human activities” and “a strong El Niño event” as the reasons why CO2 levels increased so abruptly. CNN reports that the last time Earth experienced similar levels of concentrated CO2 in the atmosphere was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer and the sea level was 10-20 meters higher than it is now. “Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions , we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century, well above the target set by the Paris climate change agreement,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “Future generations will inherit a much more inhospitable planet.” In 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement , which outlines specific emissions targets each nation must meet to prevent climate change from worsening. The United States, under President Donald Trump’s leadership, is the only developed nation that hasn’t agreed to join the Paris accord. As a result, some US states have joined together and set their own emissions goals that are in line with the Paris treaty. Related: The world will run out of breathable air unless carbon emissions are cut In October, the UN Environment Programme will release a separate Emissions Gap Report. This report keeps track of the policy commitments each country has made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also analyzes how present policies will meet 2030 goals. “The numbers don’t lie. We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed,” said Erik Solheim, head of the UN Environment Programme. “The last few years have seen enormous uptake of renewable energy , but we must now redouble our efforts to ensure these new low-carbon technologies are able to thrive. We have many of the solutions already to address this challenge. What we need now is global political will and a new sense of urgency.” + World Meteorological Organization Via CNN Images via Pexels, Pixabay

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CO2 levels in Earths atmosphere hit a record high in 2016

Two giant volcanic eruptions formed Yellowstone’s iconic caldera

October 27, 2017 by  
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Researchers now believe the sprawling Yellowstone caldera was created by two massive eruptions from the supervolcano that occurred approximately 630,000 years ago. Geologists from the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) made this discovery when they uncovered new evidence of the two massive eruptions in the Santa Barbara Basin, which was uniquely suited to capture a long-lasting record of volcanic activity. The record suggests these two closely spaced eruptions from the Yellowstone supervolcano altered the planet’s climate in the wake of an ice age and created the 45 x 30 mile Yellowstone caldera that can be seen today. The evidence for the two massive eruptions was found in two layers of ash and shell sediments off the coast of Santa Barbara, California . 630,000 years ago, the underwater conditions of the Santa Barbara Basin were ideal for preserving records of volcanic activity because of a nutrient-rich environment which allowed single-celled organisms known as foraminifera to thrive. The microscopic shells of the foraminifera contain temperature-sensitive oxygen isotopes, which allows scientists to determine the temperature of the sea at a particular point in the past. Related: NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth Based on the record of foraminifera shells, researchers determined that the Santa Barbara Basin cooled approximately 3 degrees Celsius after each of the super-eruptions, due to ash and volcanic gases in the atmosphere blocking sunlight. Although the world at the time was warming in the wake of an ice age, the two eruptions delayed this climate shift significantly. “It was a fickle, but fortunate time,” said Jim Kennett, geologist and lead author of the study published by the Geological Society of America . “If these eruptions had happened during another climate state we may not have detected the climatic consequences because the cooling episodes would not have lasted so long.” Via New Atlas Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Two giant volcanic eruptions formed Yellowstone’s iconic caldera

We need a ‘Marshall Plan’ to rebuild the Caribbean

October 24, 2017 by  
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If we don’t plan on building a more resilient Caribbean, today’s emergencies will become tomorrow’s normal — and the region will spiral downward.

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We need a ‘Marshall Plan’ to rebuild the Caribbean

Packaging’s role in Walmart’s Project Gigaton

October 16, 2017 by  
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Noodling around with a hypothetical package of pasta sauce reveals the big impact of a single change of materials.

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Packaging’s role in Walmart’s Project Gigaton

Standing at the crossroads of the climate crisis

October 14, 2017 by  
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Three simple, psychological ways to deal with society’s climate calamity. One of them leads to positive change. Which will you choose?

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Standing at the crossroads of the climate crisis

Mysterious giant hole cracks open in Antarctica

October 11, 2017 by  
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A giant hole the size of Maine or Lake Superior has suddenly appeared on the surface of Antarctica and scientists are not quite sure how it came into being. “It looks like you just punched a hole in the ice,” said atmospheric physicist Kent Moore, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus. The sudden emergence of this hole, for the second year in a row, has confounded scientists, whose access to the site is limited. “This is hundreds of kilometers from the ice edge,” said Moore. “If we didn’t have a satellite, we wouldn’t know it was there.” Known as a polynia, the observed phenomenon occurs when open ocean water is surrounded by solid sea ice, leading to changes in the surrounding ice and below. This particular polynia has been known to scientists since the 1970s, though they were unable to fully investigate in the past. “At that time, the scientific community had just launched the first satellites that provided images of the sea-ice cover from space,” said Dr. Torge Martin, meteorologist and climate modeler. “On-site measurements in the Southern Ocean still require enormous efforts, so they are quite limited.” Related: New Antarctic farm will grow produce despite temperatures of -100 degrees F This is the second year in a row in which the reported polynia hole has opened in Antarctica, “the second year in a row it’s opened after 40 years of not being there,” according to Moore. While some may feel that climate change is behind this unusual occurrence, Moore cautions further study before drawing any conclusions. However, climate change certainly can influence the structure of sea ice and polynia. “Once the sea ice melts back, you have this huge temperature contrast between the ocean and the atmosphere ,” said Moore explained. “It can start driving convection.” This can result in polynias, fueled by warmer water rising to the surface, lasting longer than previously observed. Regardless of its origins, the reported polynia offers additional information for the study of climate. “For us, this ice-free area is an important new data point which we can use to validate our climate models,” said Moore. “Its occurrence after several decades also confirms our previous calculations.” Via Motherboard Images via  meereisportal.de , Jeff Schmaltz/LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response/Jesse Allen/NASA , and  MODIS-Aqua via NASA Worldview; sea ice contours from AMSR2 ASI via University of Bremen

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Mysterious giant hole cracks open in Antarctica

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