This year’s ozone hole could be the smallest it has been in 30 years

September 17, 2019 by  
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For decades, scientists have closely observed the ozone layer , which protects Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This year, just in time for World Ozone Day, the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) announced the state of the ozone hole — its size is the smallest it has been in the past 30 years. Ozone is created in our atmosphere when the sun’s high-energy UV rays rupture the stable covalent bonds of atmospheric oxygen (O2) molecules, transforming them into free radicals. Free radical oxygen atoms, being charged particles, readily react with other oxygen molecules to form ozone (O3). In nature, ozone molecules continually cycle so that they form and re-form at equilibrium. Related: The ozone is finally healing and could be completely repaired by 2060 However, the late 1970s saw scientific acknowledgment that pollutants from industrial and consumer emissions of chlorofluorocarbons ( CFCs ) prevent the normal balanced reformation of ozone, foreshadowing a weakened ozone layer. By 1985, the first recognized “ozone hole” — a patch of thin ozone layer in the upper atmosphere — was detected, alarming scientists and policy makers alike. Two years later, in August 1987, the Montreal Protocol , a landmark international agreement, banned production and use of ozone-depleting substances. A few weeks afterward, the United Nations designated September 16 as International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer — more commonly known as World Ozone Day — to spread awareness for stewardship of our planet’s fragile ozone layer. Since then, scientists and researchers, like those at CAMS and the intergovernmental World Meteorological Organization (WMO), have meticulously tracked the ozone hole. Daily readings are documented thanks to a worldwide cooperative network of stations. Interestingly, the WMO projected that a recovery of the ozone layer to pre-1970s levels might be foreseeable around the year 2060. But this year’s findings could alter those projections. The 2019 hole is appearing to be the smallest size it has been in the past three decades, and its behavior has been intriguing. A polar vortex in early September affected the hole’s opening, then displaced the hole so that it was off-center and “far from the pole.” “This year, we have seen that the ozone hole has been particularly unusual,” said Antje Innes, senior scientist at CAMS. “Although it started growing relatively early, at the beginning of September, a sudden warming of the stratosphere disturbed the cold polar vortex that gives rise to the ozone hole.” The deputy lead at CAMS, Richard Engelen, shared that the small size of this year’s ozone hole is encouraging, but there is still a need for further study. “Right now, I think we should view this as an interesting anomaly,” Engelen said. “We need to find out more about what caused it.” + CAMS Via BBC Image via CAMS

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This year’s ozone hole could be the smallest it has been in 30 years

Robotic fish offer a solution to controlling invasive species

September 17, 2019 by  
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Invasive species have become a growing environmental challenge, causing serious harm to ecosystems. An interdisciplinary team from New York University (NYU) and the University of Western Australia is utilizing robotic fish to curb the damaging effects of invasive species by scaring the invaders enough so that they reproduce less. For the study, the invasive species in question are mosquitofish. The enormous environmental impact that mosquitofish have unleashed has led the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to list them amongst the world’s 100 most-harmful invasive exotic species. Related: Invasive longhorned tick could spread disease across the US What makes mosquitofish a successful invasive species? For one, in their new environments, they no longer contend with their primary predators, the largemouth bass. This allows mosquitofish populations to burgeon. Secondly, mosquitofish have high genetic variability, permitting them to acclimate and adapt quickly. They spread exponentially throughout their new environment, often displacing local fauna by out-competing for the same food or even preying on them. To address the challenge of invasive mosquitofish, lead researcher Maurizio Porfiri of NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, together with a team of collaborators, has conducted biomimicry experiments in the laboratory using biologically inspired robotic fish. The robot fish act as predators, simulating largemouth bass, to provoke mosquitofish stress responses. Stressing the invasive mosquitofish depletes their energy reserves and, in turn, disrupts their reproduction rates. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study using robots to evoke fear responses in this invasive species ,” Porfiri explained. “The results show that a robotic fish that closely replicates the swimming patterns and visual appearance of the largemouth bass has a powerful, lasting impact on mosquitofish in the lab setting.” Porfiri is no stranger to biomimetic robotics. For over a decade, Porfiri has designed and deployed robotic fish, studying their interactions with live fish to glean new insights into animal behavior. This recent research moves the scientific community closer toward realizing the potential of aquatic robots in assisting with environmental protection efforts. “Further studies are needed to determine if these effects translate to wild populations , but this is a concrete demonstration of the potential of robotics to solve the mosquitofish problem,” confirmed Giovanni Polverino, Forrest Fellow at the University of Western Australia’s Department of Biological Sciences and lead author of the paper. “We have a lot more work going on between our schools to establish new, effective tools to combat the spread of invasive species.” + Journal of the Royal Society Interface Image via NYU

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Robotic fish offer a solution to controlling invasive species

Antarctic ozone layer shows "first fingerprints of healing"

July 1, 2016 by  
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Nearly 30 years ago, almost every country in the world signed the Montreal Protocol to ban chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in refrigerators, aerosols, and dry cleaning. The chlorine in CFCs was said to interact with ozone in the atmosphere to deplete the ozone layer. MIT scientist Susan Solomon’s work helped provide the impetus for the Montreal Protocol, and now she’s the lead author on a study recently published in Science revealing the Antarctic ozone layer may be healing at last. Each year around August, the ozone hole begins to open, and is typically fully formed in October. In the past, scientists have usually scrutinized the ozone hole in October, but Solomon and her team – which includes five other scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and the University of Leeds in the UK – decided to switch their focus to September. According to Solomon , “September is a better time to look because chlorine chemistry is firmly in control of the rate at which the hole forms at that time of the year.” The team tracked September ozone hole data between 2000 and 2015. They looked at satellite measurements of ozone and at meteorological changes. Related: New invention uses fluorescent lights to remove air pollution and stinky odors Their findings provide a lot of hope. Chlorine levels in the atmosphere are dissipating, and the ozone hole is shrinking. September’s ozone hole has diminished by over 4 million square kilometers, which is almost ” half the area of the contiguous United States .” The scientist team did see an ozone depletion spike in 2015, but were able to link it to a volcano eruption in Chile. Solomon thinks the ozone hole might even close up in the middle of this century. Solomon said , “We can now be confident that the things we’ve done have put the planet on a path to heal…Science was helpful in showing the path, diplomats and countries and industry were incredibly able in charting a pathway out of these molecules, and now we’ve actually seen the planet starting to get better. It’s a wonderful thing.” Via Phys.org Images via NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Pixabay

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Antarctic ozone layer shows "first fingerprints of healing"

The Earth’s Ozone Layer Increases for the First Time in 35 Years

September 12, 2014 by  
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Good news, everyone – a new United Nations report shows that the Earth’s ozone layer has increased for the first time in 35 years. The report credits the recovery in part to the phasing out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) following the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987. Scientists discovered that the ozone layer was thinning above Antarctica in the 1970s, damaging crops and putting people at risk for skin cancer from harmful ultraviolet rays. Read the rest of The Earth’s Ozone Layer Increases for the First Time in 35 Years Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Antarctic , CFCs , chemicals , chlorofluorocarbons , earth , montreal protocol , ozone layer , UN

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The Earth’s Ozone Layer Increases for the First Time in 35 Years

Scientists Discover Four New Ozone-Damaging Chemicals in the Atmosphere

March 10, 2014 by  
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Since the famous Montreal Protocol banning CFC’s and HCFC’s was signed in 1987, the public seems to have largely forgotten about the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica. However scientists from the University of East Anglia just identified four more ozone-damaging chemicals, and these compounds are also potent greenhouse gasses . Read the rest of Scientists Discover Four New Ozone-Damaging Chemicals in the Atmosphere Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: antarctica , CFC , cfc113a , dr johannes laube , Europe , greenhouse gas , greenland , hcfc , montreal protocol , ozone hole , ozone layer , tasmania , university of east anglia        

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Scientists Discover Four New Ozone-Damaging Chemicals in the Atmosphere

Harvard Study Find Strong Summer Storms Could Damage Ozone Layer Over US

July 27, 2012 by  
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Cyclone Photo from Shutterstock Even though large areas of the US are experiencing extreme drought conditions , aggressive summer thunderstorms have also swept across parts of the nation – and according to a team of scientists at Harvard University , those storms may be damaging the ozone layer . The Harvard scientists believe that rising levels of carbon dioxide and methane may be increasing the severity of these storms, and they may have found the first significant connection between climate change and ozone layer destruction. Read the rest of Harvard Study Find Strong Summer Storms Could Damage Ozone Layer Over US Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: atmospheric storms , CFCs , harvard university , ozone layer , ozone layer destruction , summer storms , water vapor

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Harvard Study Find Strong Summer Storms Could Damage Ozone Layer Over US

Diem Chau Carves Pencil Tips Into Incredible Miniature Animal Sculptures!

July 27, 2012 by  
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Diem Chau Carves Pencil Tips Into Incredible Miniature Animal Sculptures!

Design Flaw Restricts View at Zaha Hadid’s Olympic Aquatic Center

July 27, 2012 by  
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Spectators eager to catch a glimpse of the famous young diver Tom Daley at the Olympic Games might be a little bit disappointed. The Telegraph reports that the 10 meter diving platform is barely visible from many of the seats, for which spectators paid between £30-£50 – a considerable sum. An award-winning project, the Aquatic Center designed by Zaha Hadid was approved by LOCOG two years ago, according to a statement released by her office, and comes with 3,000 more seats than originally required. Of those, 2,400 are unsaleable. Read the rest of Design Flaw Restricts View at Zaha Hadid’s Olympic Aquatic Center Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Aquatic Center , Design , eco design , form , function , green design , London , Olympic 2012 , sustainable design , zaha hadid

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Design Flaw Restricts View at Zaha Hadid’s Olympic Aquatic Center

Barbie’s First Dream House Was a Tiny Studio Apartment Made from Cardboard

July 27, 2012 by  
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Before Barbie went platinum blonde and traded up for a mega-mansion made from pink plastic, she was just like many of us city dwellers living it up in a modest apartment with minimal furnishings . Spotted at MoMA’s new exhibit, Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000 , this 1960s design dollhouse is in fact Barbie’s first ever Dream House. With its modern furniture and surprisingly efficient use of a small space (ok, so it doesn’t have a kitchen… or bathroom), it definitely caught our eye, and our curiosity for this relic was piqued — check out what we learned ahead. Read the rest of Barbie’s First Dream House Was a Tiny Studio Apartment Made from Cardboard Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: barbie apartment , barbie doll house , barbie dream apartment , barbie dream house , barbie dream studio , barbie studio , Barbie’s First Dream House , cardboard barbie dream house , modern barbie house , the first barbie accessories , the first barbie house

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Barbie’s First Dream House Was a Tiny Studio Apartment Made from Cardboard

How Republicans saved the ozone layer

March 27, 2012 by  
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The new documentary "Shattered Sky" reminds us that conservative leaders — not just liberals — have historically played key roles in protecting the environment. Why has conservation become a Democrat issue?

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How Republicans saved the ozone layer

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