Warming seas could shift fish habitats out of the reach of some fishers

May 18, 2018 by  
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Climate change is doing more than causing  sea levels to rise or sea ice to dwindle — it’s pressuring  fish to move far away from their typical habitats. Warming waters have already prompted some fish to migrate south or north. As the climate continues to change, marine species’ shifts could be challenging for fisheries as the fish potentially move into new areas altogether — some hundreds of miles away. Fish are already seeking more favorable habitats in a changing world, and a team of six scientists at institutions in the U.S. and Switzerland decided to predict how they might move in the future. In research published this week in PLOS One , the team modeled the habitat of 686 species. Ecologist and co-author Malin Pinksy of Rutgers University told NPR they have high certainty for how far around 450 of those species will shift in the future. Related: Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time “We found a major effect of carbon emissions scenario on the magnitude of projected shifts in species habitat during the 21st century,” lead author James Morley of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said in a statement . “Under a high carbon emissions future we anticipate that many economically important species will expand into new regions and decline in areas of historic abundance.” Some species might just shift a few miles. But others might move so far that they become out of reach for some fishers. For example, the Alaskan snow crab could move north as far as 900 miles. A shift of just a couple hundred miles could place lobster or other fish out of the range for fishers with small boats — and limited time and fuel. The scientists aren’t sure when the shifts might happen; it depends on how much the waters warm. But the movement could pose challenges for resource management — co-author Richard Seagraves, formerly with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council , told NPR that states get a catch limit, or quota, for fish. The catch limit is based on where the fish were decades ago. Seagraves said, “Some of the Southern states are having trouble catching their quota, and states to the north have more availability of fish.” + PLOS One Via NPR and EurekAlert! Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Warming seas could shift fish habitats out of the reach of some fishers

In the UK, wind energy provides more power than nuclear for the first time

May 18, 2018 by  
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For the first time, wind energy provided more power than nuclear energy to the United Kingdom grid. In the first three months of 2018, wind provided 18.8 percent of all power; only  natural gas was a larger energy source. This milestone may herald the arrival of an energy economy in which renewable energy is the most cost effective option. During the first three months of the year, there was even one point — the night of March 17 — when wind energy provided nearly half of the electricity used in the U.K. Even during extremely cold weather, the wind farms continued to provide energy. Meanwhile, two of the U.K.’s eight nuclear plants were nonoperational due to maintenance, while another was offline because seaweed was stuck in its cooling system. In the last three months of 2017, wind and solar combined had contributed more to the U.K. power supply than nuclear did. Now, wind is capable of outperforming nuclear all on its own. “There’s no sign of a limit to what we’re able to do with wind in the near future,” Dr. Rob Gross, co-author of a report on wind power’s recent success, told The Guardian . Wind energy received a major boost last December when a power cable between Scotland and northern Wales came online, allowing energy produced by Scotland’s wind farms to be shared across a wider range. “It is great news for everyone that rather than turning turbines off to manage our ageing grid, the new cable instead will make best use of wind energy,” RenewableUK executive director Emma Pinchbeck told The Guardian. Related: UK fracking measures could make exploratory drilling “as easy as building a garden wall” Even as the U.K. reaches new heights in its renewable energy production, it has faced a steep decline in renewable energy funding in recent years. Investment in renewable energy suffered a 56 percent decrease in 2017. “Billions of pounds of investment is needed in clean energy, transport, heating and industry to meet our carbon targets,” Mary Creagh, Labour Member of Parliament and chair of the environmental audit committee, said. “But a dramatic fall in investment is threatening the government’s ability to meet legally binding climate change targets.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Virtual reality helps scientists plot the ideal urban green space

April 16, 2018 by  
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Green spaces offer urban residents the chance to escape the concrete jungle and experience nature’s restorative benefits — if those spaces are well-designed. North Carolina State University researchers found vegetation density can impact a person’s feeling of safety, depending on where green space is located, and immersive virtual reality helped them test perceptions. Virtual reality doesn’t only offer an escape into fantastical images. NC State University researchers employed VR to explore different types of urban green spaces . Researchers captured 360-degree, high-resolution images of a city park and downtown plaza in Raleigh with a robot , and manipulated vegetation to create multiple environments. Related: How virtual reality can help paraplegic patients learn to walk again They discovered virtual visitors to the downtown plaza wanted vegetation to surround them. Doctoral student and landscape architect Payam Tabrizian said in the university’s statement , “In an urban setting, being enclosed by vegetation feels restorative. It can serve as a shield from the urban environment and create a kind of refuge where people can sit and relax for a while. People preferred urban environments that were very green and being enclosed in vegetation didn’t seem to bother them that much.” But the opposite was true in the park . Tabrizian said, “In the neighborhood park setting, people preferred the opposite in terms of vegetation density and arrangement. It seems that people have enough green surrounding them and want to know what’s happening around them. When you enclose them with vegetation, they don’t like it. They feel unsafe.” Immersive virtual reality could assist landscape designers in testing new designs or exploring how they might improve urban green spaces. “As landscape designers, the instinct is to want to make changes, but sometimes leaving things as they are may be the best,” Tabrizian said. “This technology allows us to design a true experiment in which we control the variables, without ever planting or moving a tree .” The Journal of Environmental Psychology published the research online earlier this year. + North Carolina State University + Journal of Environmental Psychology Images via North Carolina State University

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LEED Gold lab by the ocean can withstand flooding and hurricane-force winds

February 20, 2018 by  
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GLUCK+’s new research facility for Duke University boasts beautiful coastal views as well as impressive eco-friendly credentials. Recently crowned LEED Gold , the Dr. Orrin H. Pilkey Research Laboratory in Beaufort, North Carolina features a slew of sustainable elements from use of recycled materials and reduced water use to energy-efficient heating and cooling technologies designed to cut energy costs by 30 percent. The state-of-the-art facility’s most salient sustainability feature, however, is the engineering behind the building’s ability to weather storm surges and hurricane-force winds. Located on the southern tip of Pivers Island, Pilkey Research Laboratory is the first new research building constructed at Duke University Marine Laboratory since the 1970s. In response to current concerns of sea level rise and other extreme weather, GLUCK+ made weatherproofing the 12,000-square-foot lab a priority. To protect against storm surges, the building is made up of a series of boxy volumes of varying sizes arranged in a pinwheel formation. In a nod to the waterfront campus’ existing buildings, the lower volumes are clad in cypress, whereas white cement board covers the upper volume. Related: GLUCK+’s Green-Roofed Pavilion Pool House Melts Into the Landscape of Lake George, NY The asymmetrical volumes are centered on an area called the Collisional Commons, a public meeting area for informal interactions. Here, views of the coastline can be enjoyed through full-height glazing that also opens up to outdoor seating. All regularly occupied rooms also have access to surrounding views and abundant natural light and ventilation. Faculty offices, a PhD bullpen, teaching lab, a video conference room and service spaces surround the commons. The laboratories with equipment-intensive research spaces are housed in the upper level. + GLUCK+ Via Dezeen Images by Paul Warchol

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LEED Gold lab by the ocean can withstand flooding and hurricane-force winds

Amazon to install large-scale solar systems on 50 facilities by 2020

March 3, 2017 by  
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Amazon just announced plans to install 41 megawatts worth of solar power on the roofs of its US facilities this year. The project is part of amazon’s larger initiative to install solar systems on 50 of its order fulfillment facilities around the globe by 2020. “As our fulfillment network continues to expand, we want to help generate more renewable energy at both existing and new facilities around the world in partnership with community and business leaders,” said Dave Clark, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. “We are putting our scale and inventive culture to work on sustainability—this is good for the environment, our business and our customers. By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers. It’s a win-win.” The solar projects planned for this year will see a total of 41 megawatts installed on the rooftops of Amazon facilities in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Nevada and Delaware. Depending on various factors, the solar installations could provide the facilities with up to 80% of the energy needed to run. Related: Amazon’s new Prime Air delivery drone is part helicopter, part airplane https://youtu.be/R7tMiQcF9tY According to Amazon, the company is also working on other clean energy projects – including a wind farm in Texas and a network of wind and solar farms in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. It’s also possible some of this power could be used to energize other initiatives Amazon is working on – such as the eventual delivery of orders by drones , and the company’s plans to build a giant floating warehouse in the sky from which the drones would work. Via Businesswire Images via Amazon/Businesswire

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Amazon to install large-scale solar systems on 50 facilities by 2020

Discreet new home in North Carolina acts like a gateway to the surrounding wilderness

January 5, 2017 by  
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The cypress-clad Carolina Hillside House perches over a thick forest near North Wilkesboro’s Kerr Scott Lake, providing stunning views of untouched nature. ARCHITECTUREFIRM designed the building as a habitable gateway that connects an abandoned logging road, the only access to the house, with the surrounding wilderness. The house is located above North Wilkesboro’s Kerr Scott Lake and is accessed by an abandoned logging road. Clad in untreated cypress that acquires a beautiful patina over time, the house blends into its wooded surroundings. Related: Snøhetta’s New Library at North Carolina State University Aims for LEED Silver A large opening separates the main living area and sleeping quarters, forming a sheltered patio with a beautiful outdoor fireplace . This space provides sensational views of the surrounding forest and allows the owners to enjoy the outdoors even during harsh winters. + ARCHITECTUREFIRM Via Uncrate Photos by James Ewing

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Discreet new home in North Carolina acts like a gateway to the surrounding wilderness

New Toyota concept takes the wheel when drivers get sleepy

January 5, 2017 by  
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The 2017 Consumer Electronics Show kicks off this week in Las Vegas, with an increasing number of automakers using the show to showcase their latest technological innovations. This year, Toyota is giving the world a look at the future with its Concept-i vehicle which can not only drive itself, but also uses Artificial Intelligence to build a relationship with the driver. According to Toyota, the Concept-i is designed from the inside out to give the vehicle a warm and friendly user experience. While its interior looks spacious and inviting, the more significant part of the Concept-i is its advanced artificial intelligence system that builds a relationship with the driver that is stronger than learning driving patterns and schedules. The Concept-i is designed to use multiple technologies to measure emotion, mapped against when and where the driver travels around the world. Related: Chrysler unveils all-electric self-driving Portal car In addition, the AI system uses advanced automated vehicle technologies to enhance driving safety. Under certain conditions, drivers will have the choice of automated or manual driving based on their personal preference, but the Concept-i also has the ability to fully take over if the driver’s engagement declines. The system monitors driver attention and road conditions, with the goal of increasing self-driving support as necessary. The warm and friendly part of the Concept-i starts with a next-generation user interface that serves as a platform for the vehicle’s AI Agent, nicknamed “Yui”. Instead of displaying important information on a digital screen, Yui uses lights, sounds and even touch to communicate critical information. Colored lights in the foot wells indicate whether the vehicle is in automated or manual drive, projectors in the rear deck project views onto the seat pillar to help warn about blind spots and a next-generation head up helps keep the driver’s eyes on the road. The Concept-i’s exterior also displays information, like “Hello” to greet the driver and passengers as they approach the vehicle. The rear of the concept communicates to other drivers about upcoming turns or warn about a potential hazard, while the front communicates whether the Concept-i is in automated or manual drive. Toyota hasn’t announced any production plans for the Concept-i, but Toyota does expect to start on-road evaluation within the next few years in Japan. + Toyota All images @Toyota

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New Toyota concept takes the wheel when drivers get sleepy

Your future clothes could turn body heat into electricity

September 18, 2016 by  
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Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed lightweight wearable tech that can harness your body heat and turn it into electricity. The system comprises a layer of thermally conductive material that feeds body heat through a centrally located thermoelectric generator; a separate polymer layer helps retain body heat. The system is only two millimeters thick and could be integrated into everyday clothes, like t-shirts.

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North Carolina home embodies the spirit of Raleigh’s first progressive street car neighborhood

July 28, 2016 by  
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The design doesn’t aim to mimic the architecture of the surrounding buildings, but tries to embody the spirit of the neighborhood. Four levels of living spaces are framed by two board-framed concrete walls that stretch from the public sidewalk into the site and the private service access area. A multi-level circulation gallery hall flows through the house and the site, establishing a strong connection between interior and exterior spaces. Related: Net-zero passive home in North Carolina can power an electric car with solar The main living room is flexible and extends out towards the garden. This space offers views of several other areas of the house, creating a fluid spatial arrangement. A metal staircase connects all four levels and lead up onto the rooftop terrace which provides views of the neighborhood. + Alphin Design Build + North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) Via Architect Magazine Photos by James West / JWest Productions

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Efficient "ice battery" provides 24/7 cooling for your home

July 28, 2016 by  
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The eco-friendly and cost-effective “ice battery” method of residential indoor climate control has been around for more than a decade, but one company still believes it is the answer to inefficient air conditioning units. California-based Ice Energy is the company that makes Ice Bears for both residential and commercial installations. The cooling units promise to save home and building owners a ton of money, while providing reliable cool air with a smaller environmental impact than traditional air conditioning. The system is based on a simple concept—ice is cold and can make air cold, too—but the sophisticated system is both smart and flexible to respond to the demands of a modern world. The company has lofty claims for its ice-based cooling units, saying the Ice Bear system “reduces peak cooling electricity by 95 percent for up to 6 hours a day” resulting in energy savings up to 40 percent overall. The efficient unit essentially makes ice, a low energy task, and then uses it to cool your home’s air. Ice Bear can reportedly get four hours of cool air from its ice with the compressor shut off, which means it uses a lot less energy than a traditional air conditioner. Related: BeCool HVAC system generates energy while keeping buildings cool The Ice Bear, which is installed outside just like traditional central air conditioning units, can integrate with a home’s duct system or use a ductless mini-split system for homes lacking ductwork. It’s a smart system, too, designed with remote monitoring and control capabilities, as well as a host of reporting features that allow homeowners to see graphical representations of their energy usage. Via Treehugger Images via Ice Energy

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