Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks

April 11, 2018 by  
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Each year, more than  1.5 million people attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. to glimpse a colorful sign of spring . But while this year’s peak bloom was in line with the 96-year average, over the long term spring is actually springing sooner — due to climate change . This change isn’t limited to the cherry blossoms, either; recently published maps from NASA Earth Observatory have revealed how much earlier the season is starting in national parks around America. The maps show the “rate of change (days per century since 1901)” for first leaf and first bloom, drawing on data published in 2016  by National Park Service (NPS) ecologists. NASA Earth Observatory looked at 276 parks to discover around three-quarters are experiencing earlier springs — and over half are seeing extreme early springs. Related: California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space The changes in national parks offer more evidence that climate change is happening now; according to NASA Earth Observatory, “…most parks are already experiencing and responding to climate-driven changes.” Parks have had to alter the timing of opening park facilities, hiring seasonal staff, and commencing control of invasive plants and pests. The National Cherry Blossom Festival has also been extended, so that it’s more likely for the peak bloom and the festival to overlap. According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival website, the event now takes place over four weekends , as opposed to the two weekends it lasted in 1994 (although the festival website didn’t specifically attribute the length to climate change). NPS climate change ecologist John Gross said, “Climate changes are affecting resources across the entire range of national parks. Earlier springs, as indicated by leaf and flowering dates, is one of the most obvious and easily understood effects of climate change.” The magnitude of change differs across the parks; for example, in Grand Canyon National Park , spring is appearing almost two weeks earlier than in 1901, according to NASA Earth Observatory. Conversely, some parts of the southeastern United States haven’t experienced as much change. + NASA Earth Observatory Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 ) and NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens , using data courtesy of Monahan, William B., et al. (2016)

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Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks

Humane Approaches to Spring Babies on Your Property

March 23, 2018 by  
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In nature, baby season usually rolls into full swing during spring. … The post Humane Approaches to Spring Babies on Your Property appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Humane Approaches to Spring Babies on Your Property

6 ways to make your life more "Hygge" – the Danish secret to happiness

December 26, 2017 by  
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Unless you are from Denmark or Norway, the concept of “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah) was likely foreign to you until the past few years when this idea of “cozying around” began gaining serious traction. In this big, loud, harsh world, many of us desire a return to good company, simple pleasures, and mindfulness in the moment, and hygge embodies these ideas and more. We’re sharing six ways to help you create this restorative state of mind beloved for centuries in Denmark (by way of Norway ). Image © @quizzically_yours 1. Host a low-key and intimate get-together Small hang-outs with friends are an ideal hygge-promoting gathering. Hygge get-togethers aren’t pretentious: think board game night , card night, or a bagel brunch in the comfort of your own home. The focus of these gatherings is on togetherness, not on spending five hours baking fussy hors d’oeuvres or desserts, so they are perfect for throwing together at a moment’s notice and are super potluck-friendly . An event that gets people absorbed in each other’s company and a low-tech activity that encourages them to detach from their phones is definitely high on the hygge scale. Linked to the concept of hygge is an appreciation of the outdoors, and Danes are known for prizing their open-air time from a young age: babies in Denmark and all over Scandinavia even take their naps outside . Take your gathering outdoors (weather permitting) to bring together the best of both worlds: huddling around an outdoor fire pit definitely fits the bill as does taking a dip in a hot tub. Image © Maria via Unsplash 2. Or make your own solo hygge experience Although hygge is often associated with cozy, candlelit get-togethers with dear friends, you can create your own hygge vibe when you are by yourself. Fredagsmys , a word from Denmark’s Nordic neighbor Sweden , is an actual term used for curling up indoors on a Friday night. So watch a movie, sit on the sofa, or make yourself some hot chocolate or tea and relax with a book (perhaps in front of a fire). Hygge is focused on the idea of enjoying and being aware of simple moments and experiences, so everything doesn’t have to be “just so”: partaking in a free flowing  yoga  practice or a nourishing  soup making  session applies. Image © Alisa Anton via Unsplash 3. Create hygge-friendly spaces in your home While it may be tempting to get caught up in the hygge-buying fever and feel the desire to suddenly possess a plethora of knit throws, cushy pillows, an array of scented candles, and more items, there’s no financial obligation required for creating a warm, comfortable, friendly space. Putting your favorite vintage and reclaimed  knickknacks on display creates a sociable, lived-in vibe. Ditto for items picked up during memorable vacations and roadtrips. If you have a home with large open spaces, consider arranging the furniture that you already own in configurations that encourage intimate tête à têtes. Even a small side table or an ottoman can be a place to gather around, set down your mug, or put your feet up. Interior designer Dani Arps for TaskRabbit suggests, “Texture and natural materials always add warmth; think chunky or nubby blankets stored in a mesh basket that sits next to a reclaimed coffee table.” Related: DIY Meditation Temple Built from Salvaged Materials Photo © Aaron Burden via Unsplash 4. Make space for quiet/meditation Mindfulness and gratitude are definitely components of a hygge mentality, and they dovetail nicely with many people’s goals of having a regular meditation practice. If sitting cross-legged and reciting a mantra isn’t your cup of tea, then consider making your cup of tea the meditation itself. Give yourself permission to really savor and enjoy your morning beverage  without feeling the need to check social media. Or take an invigorating walk with your dog by your side, soak in the tub , journal or even make a phone call to a friend or family member who you can’t connect with in person-these all align with the idea of creating a soothing and reflective practice. Since mindfulness is the goal, avoid multitasking while you are doing whatever activity you choose. Image via Inhabitots 5. Make comforting and nourishing food and drink If you were to scan Instagram, many of the images hashtagged with hygge would start to resemble each other: hands around a warm mug of something, a table laid out with humble but hearty fare, like this mushroom quinoa risotto , a bowl of oatmeal, or fruit and nut-studded granola. Another central tenet in Danish culture is spending time with family , so pulling out a favorite recipe that has been shared over generations for a family gathering is a great way to honor tradition (not to mention the fact that commonly beloved food seems to have a way of smoothing over many family riffs). A super hygge-friendly activity: create an intimate  multigenerational family cooking class with a matriarch or patriarch of the family teaching the younger set how to make a traditional family dish. A few other ideas to get you started include apple cider served in apple cups , a homemade vegan nutella-like spread , one pot sun-dried tomato and basil pasta , and a decadent vegan chocolate cake made with veggies . Image © Antonia Bukowska via Unsplash 6. Put hygge concepts to work year-round Although the idea of cozying around a fire or snuggled up on the couch with our favorites makes winter the season most associated with hygge, the concept of hygge can be employed throughout the year. After all, hygge is a mindset for making “ essential and mundane tasks dignified, joyful, and beautiful ”. To that end, going for a midsummer midnight swim, having a backyard BBQ with a few friends, taking a hike in the spring rain, or organizing a pumpkin picking and carving session could all embody this mind/body/soul-nourishing concept. Lead image ©  Worthy of Elegance via Unsplash

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6 ways to make your life more "Hygge" – the Danish secret to happiness

Snhetta unveils striking new skyscraper for Manhattans Upper West Side

November 29, 2017 by  
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Snøhetta has unveiled a handsome skyscraper for Manhattan’s prestigious Upper West Side at 50 West 66th Street. Undeniably modern yet sensitive to its historic context, the striking mixed-use tower will soar to a height of 775 feet with 125 residential units. The chamfered form, cut into an angular shape, is “evocative of the chiseled stone of Manhattan’s geologic legacy,” say the architects. Snøhetta’s skyscraper comprises luxury residences stacked on top a mixed-use podium. The residential entrance will be located on 65th Street, while the entrance to a synagogue will be located on 66th. A large terrace is placed atop the podium on the 16th floor, where the building’s residential slab is set back from the multilevel outdoor plaza. The lushly planted terrace will offer views of the Hudson River, Central Park, and the city. Related: Times Square now has double the public space The architects carved away the skyscraper to create a dynamic form with a chiseled crown. Handset and textured limestone , bronze, and glass clad the building. Construction is slated to begin in Spring 2018. + Snøhetta Via ArchDaily Images by Snøhetta and Binyan Studios

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Snhetta unveils striking new skyscraper for Manhattans Upper West Side

Renewable energy generated more power than nuclear for first time since 1984

July 7, 2017 by  
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Nuclear power has dominated alternative energy sources in the United States for decades – that is, until this spring. Statistics recently released by the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed renewable energy surpassed nuclear energy in power generation in March and April of this year. Wind , solar , and hydroelectric power made that feat possible – the first two set records for generation, while hydroelectric generation surged after heavy rainfall in the country’s West. Utility-scale renewable sources generated more power than nuclear energy in the spring of 2017 in America, and it’s the first time they’ve done so since July 1984. According to the EIA, part of the reason for this fact is nuclear power plants often undergo maintenance when electricity demand is lower, like in the spring or fall. But renewable energy is also generating more and more power in the country. Related: The U.S. just generated 10% of its electricity from solar and wind for the first time In March, hydroelectric power generated 30 billion kilowatt-hours, which is the most amount of power from hydroelectric in almost six years. California’s emergence from their drought had a role to play in that – both record precipitation and the snowpack have made the state wetter than it’s been in years, which is great for hydroelectric generation. And with more wind and solar installations, the two sources have been offering record amounts of clean energy . The EIA said between March 2016 and March 2017, wind generation increased by 16 percent, while solar generation spiked by 65 percent. Net generation from nuclear has stayed largely flat since the late 1990s, according to the EIA. Many plants have also been retired. Even so, the EIA doesn’t expect the trend to continue. They said nuclear will probably overtake renewables during this summer, and looking at 2017 as a whole, nuclear power will likely generate more energy than renewables overall. Via the United States Energy Information Administration Images via Louis Moncouyoux on Unsplash and the United States Energy Information Administration

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Renewable energy generated more power than nuclear for first time since 1984

California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space

April 14, 2017 by  
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Poppies, dune evening primrose, lupine, and other wildflowers are blanketing California in a super bloom so immense you can see it from space. After an especially wet winter, most of the state is finally drought-free – and it’s flourishing with a colorful floral array that spans miles and miles. California received above-average rainfall this year, and the state is being rewarded with several distinct super blooms. Los Padres National Forest, Carrizo Plain National Monument, and Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge are all exhibiting spectacular super blooms that can be glimpsed from space thanks to Planet Labs , a company offering stunning satellite images of Earth . Related: Death Valley springs to life with millions of flowers in rare ‘super bloom’ March saw the height of the bloom, but in some snow-covered areas like Lassen Volcanic National Park and the High Sierra, wildflowers might not arrive until June or July – so there’s still time to see the natural beauty. If you’re hoping to glimpse California’s super bloom in person, Visit California put together a list of where and when to see spring wildflowers. The California Department of Parks and Recreation also has a site with information on where and when you can see the blooms, along with phone numbers to check if the landscape is in bloom and which types of flowers are showing. Planet Labs was launched by a team of former NASA scientists, and they debuted a Planet Explorer Beta tool in March that allows the public to see satellite images for 85 percent of Earth’s terrain. In February they acquired Terra Bella , thesatellite business behind Google Earth – and they now control the world’s biggest fleet of satellites imaging the Earth. You can check out other satellite images around the world thanks to Planet Lab’s gallery , which highlights images ranging from illegal mining in Peru to sugarcane deforestation in Bolivia to the Disneyland parking lot in California. + Planet Labs Via EcoWatch and KQED Science Images courtesy of Planet Labs and KQED

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California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space

Icelands geothermal Blue Lagoon is getting an amazing new hotel this year

March 30, 2017 by  
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Travelers have been drawn to Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon for decades, eager to take a dip in the steamy, mineral-rich water nestled in the heart of a lava field. Hundreds of thousands of visitors make the journey every year to experience the magical, intensely blue pools for themselves. Now, the spa is making plans to expand into a full-fledged resort with the 62-room Moss Hotel, a new Moss Restaurant, and a new spa called Lava Cove. The man-made lagoon is filled with the waste seawater released from a nearby geothermal power station. While the water is perfectly safe for visitors to take a dip in, the high mineral content makes it unsuitable for recycling and it must be filtered through the porous rock of the lava field before it can be returned to the landscape. The lagoon gets its trademark milky blue shade from the silica, sulfur, and other minerals infused in the water, which is said to aid relaxation and heal skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema. Related: Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is an Incredible Hot Spring Spouting from the Runoff of a Geothermal Power Plant The new hotel will offer visitors stunning views with floor-to-ceiling windows and terraces leading directly to the geothermal waters. For a broader view, guests can visit the hotel’s balconies to see the stunning scenery of the lava field. The goal of the new resort is to make its connection to nature as seamless as possible. The subterranean Lava Cove spa takes advantage of the natural landscape, offering visitors the chance to explore lava corridors, waterfalls, and other geological features while they rest and relax. The new Moss Restaurant will serve up fresh, local, seasonal ingredients inspired by Icelandic cuisine, along with stunning views of the resort. The new resort is currently under construction and set to open in Autumn of 2017. + Blue Lagoon Hotel Via CNN

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Icelands geothermal Blue Lagoon is getting an amazing new hotel this year

Worlds largest passive house settlement tops off Heidelberg Village in Germany

October 12, 2016 by  
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Located on the land of a former old freight train terminal, the 116-hectare Bahnstadt celebrates sustainable architecture and diversity in its living, work, and cultural spaces all built to passive house standards for an ultra-low energy footprint. The 6,100-square-meter Heidelberg Village , located at the heart of Bahnstadt, encapsulates the urban development’s values with ecological features like passive houses, green frontages, and solar panels . Related: Germany is building world’s largest passive housing complex “Heidelberg Village represents the notion of sustainable urban planning and architecture both socially as well as environmentally,” explained architect Wolfgang Frey. “The idea behind Heidelberg Village is to attract a heterogeneous neighborhood, thereby creating an energetic, home-like living space with lots of social interaction.” The village has 100-percent handicap accessibility as well as child and elderly care. The multigenerational , heterogenous neighborhood includes 162 one-to-five room apartments, each with its own balcony. Solar panels and vertical gardens top the roof and wrap around the facade. The project is slated for completion in the spring of 2017. + Frey Architekten + Heidelberg Village Images courtesy of Frey Architekten

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Worlds largest passive house settlement tops off Heidelberg Village in Germany

California looks to its roads for new source of renewable energy

September 27, 2016 by  
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California is putting $2 million into research to determine whether gridlock can be a beneficial source of electricity . The technology at the heart of the idea is piezoelectric crystals, which could turn mechanical energy from traffic into usable electricity that can be added to the power grid. The approach seeks to harness energy that is usually wasted, thus providing an additional source of renewable energy for the state’s residents. The California Energy Commission is looking for a research facility to conduct small-scale tests on harnessing the energy that is currently being lost from vehicles traveling on the state’s roadways. Piezoelectricity uses naturally occurring crystals to capture heat generated from moving vehicles and convert it into electricity for any number of uses. The primary objective of the research will be to determine whether a cost-effective system can be installed to produce a substantial amount of energy. Related: Piezoelectric energy-generating roads proposed for California “It’s not hard to see the opportunity in California,” said Mike Gravely, the commission’s deputy division chief of energy research and development. “It’s an energy that’s created but is just currently lost in vibration.” California currently has a goal of producing 50 percent of its electricity with renewables by 2030, and the energy commission says the state is on target to reach 25 percent by the end of this year. The $2 million research fund for testing new technologies will come from the California Public Utilities Commission, which expects to award a contract in the spring. Via Phys.org Images via Wikipedia and Flickr

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California looks to its roads for new source of renewable energy

Solar-powered home in Tainan puts a modern twist on the traditional courtyard house

June 27, 2016 by  
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WLA built the Spring House for a single client who wanted a clear delineation of space between her personal living area and the rooms for entertaining guests. As a result, the 288-square-meter home is split into two interconnected sections: a three-story structure that houses the homeowner’s main living areas and is set farthest from the busy roadways on the northeast side; and a two-story L-shaped structure on the opposite side that’s mostly used for visiting friends and family. The communal areas are kept on the ground floor, while the guest bedrooms, master bedroom, and library and located on the upper levels. In keeping with the vernacular courtyard house style, the home is centered on an open-air space used as a light well for bringing natural light and ventilation deep into the building. Like its courtyard house neighbors to the north, the Spring House also makes use of wood and brick building materials. The architects combined those traditional materials with glass, concrete, and a steel framework for a contemporary finish. “The location was formerly agriculture-based settlement, and there are many local industrial factories appeared through the changing times,” said the architects. “After the completion of the high speed railway in recent years, it is becoming increasingly clear that the area is intertwined with old and new, tradition and technology, quiet and speed…such contrast characteristics, these qualities create a unique geographical character. Therefore, while we follow the example of Taiwan’s traditional architecture that combined with wood structure and load-bearing brick structure, and combine them into a modern steel structure with brick, on the one hand, we use this combination to produce a unique local architectural type whereby create the symbol of the janus characteristics of the environment on the other.” Related: Stunning South Korean Courtyard Home Balances Tradition With Modern Design The client’s desire for a self-sufficient, disaster-ready home was born from fears of climate change and seismic activity. Thus, WLA equipped Spring House with rooftop solar panels and rainwater collection . The roofs are sloped to facilitate rainwater runoff and to maximize rooftop solar exposure. Natural ventilation and solar shades were also carefully attended to as a means to mitigate Taiwan’s hot summers. + Wu & Liu Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Wu & Liu Architects , by AKIRA Photography

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