"This is unprecedented": Irish Minister of State for Flood Relief on tropical storm Ophelia

October 16, 2017 by  
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When you hear the word ‘ hurricane ,’ you probably don’t think about Ireland . But Tropical Storm Ophelia, which has been downgraded from its status as a hurricane, is on a path towards the country, with warnings of high seas, power outages , and hazardous conditions. Minister for Flood Relief Kevin Moran said at a Dublin press conference, “This is unprecedented.” An Atlantic hurricane has been whirling towards the United Kingdom . Although Ophelia is an ex-hurricane, the Irish Meteorological Service, Met Éireann , is warning of violent and destructive wind gusts that could reach between 120 and 150 kilometers per hour (km/h), or around 75 to 93 miles per hour (mph). They said heavy rain and storm surges in some coastal areas will lead to flooding , posing a danger to human property and lives. Related: How Hurricane Irma changed the colors of these Caribbean islands As many as 100,000 homes and businesses in the country have lost power, as power lines have been knocked down. An Electricity Supply Board spokesperson said earlier today many of the power lines are still live and asked people to stay away. The Met Éireann said at Cork Airport, wind gusts of 124 km/h, or 77 mph, were recorded; at Fastnet Rock wind gusts were 176 km/h, or 109 mph. The United Kingdom Met Office issued an amber weather warning for Northern Ireland, southwest Scotland, Strathclyde, and Wales. They issued yellow warnings for 11 locations, including western areas in England and Yorkshire. A status red weather warning applies to all cities and counties in Ireland, according to prime minister Leo Varadkar, who told people to stay indoors. Speaking of Debbie, the largest storm recorded in the history of Ireland in the 1960’s, he said, “The last time we had a storm this severe 11 lives were lost so safety is our number one priority.” Via The Guardian Images via NOAA/NASA Goddard Rapid Response Team and Met Éireann on Twitter

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"This is unprecedented": Irish Minister of State for Flood Relief on tropical storm Ophelia

A puzzle-like aluminum faade wraps around Bergens National Academy of the Arts

October 16, 2017 by  
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Snøhetta ’s recently completed National Academy of the Arts in Bergen is wrapped in an innovative prefab façade made of raw aluminum elements . The new facility is built to withstand the rainy climate of the Norwegian west coast and offer a durable, robust space where KMD’s 350 art and design students can learn and collaborate under one roof. The building replaces the former Bergen Academy of Art & Design (KHiB) and assembles the previously scattered faculty buildings under one roof. It has two main axes–one internal, dedicated to students and staff, and one external, open to the public. Related: Snøhetta unveils spectacular makeover for nation’s second-largest waterfall The most prominent features of the building are in the large project hall situated at the point where the two axes cross. The entrance is connected to a large outdoor plaza which makes the building inviting and engaged in a dialogue with Bergen’s city center. Related: Iridescent hand-folded metal panels clad Snøhetta’s Learning Center at Toronto’s Ryerson University Prefab raw aluminum elements clad the building’s exterior, with 900 varied sized seawater-durable crude aluminum elements protruding from the wall at varying distances. Large cantilevered box-shaped windows punctuate the rhythm of the metal surface. The crude aluminum surfaces can withstand the rainy coastal climate and will gradually weather and oxidize, heightening the variations in colors and textures. + Snøhetta Lead photo by Trond Isaksen

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A puzzle-like aluminum faade wraps around Bergens National Academy of the Arts

Hurricane Irma as seen from the International Space Station

September 6, 2017 by  
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NASA captured an astonishing video of Hurricane Irma from space. Soon after the National Hurricane Center upgraded Irma to a Category 5 storm , the International Space Station’s external cameras caught what NASA described as a dramatic view of the hurricane . Irma has already smashed records – meteorologist Philip Klotzbach said on Twitter earlier this morning Irma has broken the Atlantic record previously held by 1980’s Hurricane Allen for Accumulated Cyclone Energy produced during 24 hours. Hurricane Irma is currently moving over Caribbean islands, and looks to be en route to Florida with winds reaching up to 185 miles per hour. As the International Space Station orbited the Earth, the station’s cameras shot the hurricane from multiple angles, showing how truly massive it is. According to weather forecaster Liam Dutton , Hurricane Irma is so large it would cover both Ireland and the United Kingdom. Related: Category 5 Hurricane Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever Most of the people on Antigua and Barbuda lost power, and in Antigua around 1,000 people spent the night in shelters, according to ABS TV and Radio director of news Garfield Burford. He said the winds posed a major threat, and that a few rooftops had already blown away. Around 1,600 people reside on Barbuda, where the eye of Hurricane Irma passed over. Irma – des images de Saint Barth @ParisMatch pic.twitter.com/KhbYgMr6ha — Pauline Lallement (@pau_lallement) September 6, 2017 The hurricane also hit Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy, causing blackouts and flooding . French Overseas Territories Minister Annick Girardin was quoted by AFP as saying Hurricane Irma has resulted in major damage on multiple Caribbean islands. French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told reporters of Saint Martin, “We know that the four most solid buildings on the island have been destroyed which means that more rustic structures have probably been completely or partially destroyed.” Image d'un hôtel à #StMartin après le passage #IRMA #ouraganIRMA via @guadeloupe_1ere pic.twitter.com/im6ORYro8m — La1ere.fr (@la1ere) September 6, 2017 According to The Guardian, Tropical Storm Jose, which is the weather system following Hurricane Irma, is forecast to turn into a hurricane by tonight. Via Reuters , The Guardian , and NASA Images via screenshot and screenshot

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Hurricane Irma as seen from the International Space Station

Japan’s new mushroom solar farms produce sustainable energy and food

September 6, 2017 by  
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Japan’s agricultural sector could find a much-needed boost with an innovative approach to growing that combines solar power generation and mushroom cultivation. Sustainergy , a Tokyo -based renewable-energy startup, in collaboration with Hitachi Capital and Daiwa House Industry , is determined to generate a total 4,000 kilowatts of solar power on two underutilized farm sites in Japan. Not only would the 2,000 kw output at each site stand as the largest of any similar facility in the country, the solar sites will serve another agricultural purpose: the cultivation of cloud-ear mushrooms, which require little sunlight, underneath the solar panels. In previous years, a reduced feed-in tariff kept potential entrepreneurs from seeking to convert land for solar purposes. However, in 2013, regulations were relaxed to ease the transition, though the government continued to insist that this land still be used for agriculture in some form. As Japan’s workforce ages and its young people primarily move into urban areas for job opportunities, much of the country’s farmland is unused, with some estimates claiming that about 10 percent of agricultural land is abandoned. If all of Japan’s abandoned agricultural spaces were converted to include solar power generation, the Ministry of Environment estimates that these projects could generate 70,000 megawatts, which would be enough energy to power 20 million households. Related: These amazing zero-waste buildings were grown from mushrooms 1.2 billion yen ($11 million) will be invested in the initial mushroom-solar sites in Miyagi Prefecture in northeast Japan. If this project proves successful, the collaborating companies plan to open up the concept to farmers and utilities across Japan, with Hitachi Capital providing panels and equipment to farmers for free, to start. This would allow farmers to become self-sufficient in their energy needs and earn a supplemental income. Additionally, mushroom cultivation would prove to be a big boost for local food; most cloud ear mushrooms consumed in Japan are currently imported from China . The solar-mushroom farms are expected to yield 40 tons of edible mushrooms while the power generated could be sold annually for 140 million yen ($1.27 million). Via Nikkei Images via Nikkei, Depositphotos , Wikimedia ,  iamme ubeyou/Flickr , and Alpha/Flickr

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Arctic warming likely turned Harvey into "an extreme killer storm"

August 31, 2017 by  
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Melting Arctic ice and spiking temperatures don’t just affect the northernmost part of Earth. According to Cornell University professor Charles Greene, they can also impact storms , like Hurricane Harvey, that are thousands of miles away – prompting them to stall or meander. He said in a statement, “What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. Just like Superstorm Sandy , Arctic warming likely played an important role in making Hurricane Harvey such an extreme killer storm.” Greene said warming in the Arctic slows jet streams, or global air currents, impacting the nature of big storms like Harvey, which so far has poured around 24.5 trillion gallons of rain on Texas and Louisiana. Researchers can be reluctant to say exactly how climate change might have altered a certain storm, though many agree rising sea levels can cause higher surges, while higher temperatures in the air and sea surfaces will thrust more water into the atmosphere, which then falls as precipitation. Related: 7 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey Gizmodo spoke to several other scientists, and at least one, climate scientist Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was unsure warming had a significant role in Harvey. Penn State University climate scientist Richard Alley told Gizmodo, “Mostly, this is weather – big, dangerous weather, but still weather. But, because of global warming the ocean is a little higher than it otherwise would be, and that made the storm surge higher.” Meanwhile Greene compared Harvey to Superstorm Sandy, which also lingered instead of swerving out to the ocean as he said 90 percent of most late-season hurricanes do. He said, “ Houston would have suffered much less damage if Category 4 Hurricane Harvey had just crashed through the city and petered out in West Texas. But instead, the storm system is stalled in place and just continues to dump record amounts of rainfall from the Gulf on the city.” Via Huffington Post South Africa and Gizmodo Images via NASA and Army National Guard photo by Lt. Zachary West

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Arctic warming likely turned Harvey into "an extreme killer storm"

Damaged Oroville spillway in California prompts mass evacuations

February 13, 2017 by  
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Winter storms continue to drench California , and over the weekend people living near Oroville in Northern California faced a crisis. After officials noticed a hole in the emergency spillway at the United States’ tallest dam , around 180,000 residents were ordered to evacuate , some given just one hour to flee their homes. Flooding in the area had been a threat for around a week as the reservoir behind Oroville Dam reached capacity. When the main spillway started eroding, officials opened an emergency spillway that’s never been used since the dam was built in the 1960’s. But then officials noticed the hole, and ordered evacuations on Sunday. Some residents had just one hour’s notice before officials feared the auxiliary spillway could fail, which could precipitate “an uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville,” according to the National Weather Service . Related: Record winter storm pounds California Late Sunday reservoir water levels finally lowered, providing a bit of a respite. But officials said evacuations should continue, and conditions are still perilous. Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed a state of emergency on Sunday for three counties , saying in a statement, “I’ve been in close contact with emergency personnel managing the situation in Oroville throughout the weekend and it’s clear the circumstances are complex and rapidly changing.” During the night evacuation shelters were still being outfitted with blankets and beds, according to NPR. Gizmodo reports residents of Oroville, Wheatland, Marysville, Plumas Lake, Hallwood, and Olivehurst were told to evacuate. According to the Los Angeles Times, if the emergency spillway failed, large amounts of water could gush into the Feather River, which travels through downtown Oroville. Flooding and levee failures would likely follow in the wake of a spillway failure for miles south of the Oroville Dam. Many communities could be flooded if that were to happen. Via NPR , the Los Angeles Times , and Gizmodo Images via California Department of Water Resources Facebook and Wikimedia Commons

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Historic tram depot reborn as chic co-working space and restaurant in Amsterdam

February 13, 2017 by  
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As if charming canals and beautiful bicycle paths weren’t reasons enough to visit Amsterdam, the cosmopolitan city just welcomed another beautiful landmark with a gorgeous multipurpose space for both work and play. Converted from a former tram depot in Amsterdam west by design firm Studio Modijefsky , the cavernous Kanarie Club is a stunning example of adaptive reuse that’s refreshingly modern without compromising the building’s historic integrity. Although Amsterdam is better known for its canals, the city also prides itself on its extensive tram network still in use today. To pay tribute to the old trams, the architects carefully preserved elements of the De Hallen tram depot, formerly used to service broken trams, during the restoration process. The new interior pays homage to the materials and color palette of the 19th century tram depot, from the custom-made furniture that mimics the vintage design of old electric tram seats to the tram signage and language adopted for the restaurant signage. The architects bring greater attention to the old trams with light-integrated arches and enclaves aligned with the tram rails in the ground. Tall vaulted ceilings, skylights, and large windows fill the venue with natural light, while the open layout adds to the sense of spaciousness. Exposed brick, industrial lighting, and multiple references to the tram depot’s history give the space an industrial chic vibe, while the bold colors, strings of light, and tropical plants gives it a playful edge. The centrally located bar placed atop a platform forms the focal point of the venue. Level changes help delineate different spaces. During the day the Kanarie Club functions more as co-working space and is outfitted with lockers, charging points, and built-in USBs. The space also has restaurant amenities and a kitchen. Related: Old potato barns come back to life as a pair of modern and stylish homes The most playful space in the Kanarie Club is the Pool Bar, a lounge area with a blue-painted pool that has no water. Studio Modijefsky writes: “The concept is taken from the squatters who used to live in the old tram depot before its renovation, they used the leaking water from the ceiling to create an inside pool for themselves. The new pool however will not be filled with water. With round comfy cushions and a splash of blue everywhere, it’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a cocktail. Made out of blue rubber with a stroke of matching tiles, the pool is complimented with a typical pool railing and a wavy mirror element on the bar lift. Pool signs and graphics with a direct reference to swimming pool rules have been used in the space to emphasize the identity of this part of the interior.” + Studio Modijefsky Images by Maarten Willemstein

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Historic tram depot reborn as chic co-working space and restaurant in Amsterdam

Designers float plan to cover Toronto’s CN Tower with clip-on condos

February 13, 2017 by  
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CN Tower in Toronto , Canada once held the title of world’s tallest freestanding structure until China’s Canton Tower and the Burj Khalifa overtook it. Now design firm Quadrangle has come up with a new vision for the 1970’s building: to cover it in modular Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) condominiums . The wooden residential pods would cling to the outside of the tower between wind-shielding wings. Once a broadcasting tower, the CN Tower today is mainly a tourist attraction, with a restaurant and hands-free walk on a ledge 116 stories above ground. Honoring what Quadrangle calls Toronto’s “tradition of reinvention and exploration,” the design team dreamed up a new use for the tower. Instead of just visiting occasionally, people could call the CN Tower home, enjoying life in condominiums featuring breathtaking views of the Canadian metropolis. Related: Taiwan’s first CLT building paves way to greener alternatives to concrete and steel Quadrangle says the condominiums could be offered in several sizes so people could pick the layout best for them. Supports drilled into the concrete tower would allow the pods to taper as they crept up the side of the building. In their press release Quadrangle said, “Dynamic shapes will evolve from the varying sizes of the units, with staircases creating sharp diagonal incisions in the otherwise cube-like structures.” The studio settled on CLT for the building material , saying it is sustainable, beautiful, and versatile. Using CLT, the condominiums could be snapped together onsite, making for quick construction that wouldn’t disrupt tourist activities too much. The design has its critics. Treehugger pointed out while the tower could probably hold the pods, and the idea very well could revitalize the old building as intended, CLT may not be the best material for the job since it weighs around 31 pounds per cubic foot and would require cladding and insulation. + Quadrangle Via Dezeen and Treehugger Images courtesy of Quadrangle

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Designers float plan to cover Toronto’s CN Tower with clip-on condos

Record winter storm pounds California

January 24, 2017 by  
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California is battling one of the strongest winter storms the state has seen in years, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in 50 counties. After a brutal five-year drought , the state needs rain but the severe weather has also led to mudslides, flooding, and evacuations. Southern California in particular has been hit with a deluge of rain , breaking records in some areas. Los Angeles County coastal areas received most of the brunt of the storm. Long Beach Airport actually saw a new rainfall record of 3.87 inches. National Weather Service meteorologist Brett Albright said some parts of southern California received up to four inches. He told the Los Angeles Times, “Today was very intense. It’s not a normal event…It’s not often we see higher rainfall totals on the coast than in the mountains.” Related: California storms could herald the end of punishing historical drought The storms continue the trend of more rain than usual in California. Since October 1, 2016, downtown Los Angeles has received over 13 inches of rain, which is 216 percent more than normal for this time period, or around 6.26 inches according to the National Weather Service. Swaths of southern California experienced extreme events connected to the storm. Rockslides in Malibu closed roads. In Isla Vista, close to Santa Barbara, a patio and a cliff crashed into the ocean. Residents were told to evacuate in Duarte, Glendora, and parts of Santa Barbara County and Orange County, where 2016 wildfires left behind burned areas that are more susceptible to mudslides. One death in Pomona has been likely connected to the storm; a driver lost control of their car and crashed while driving in heavy rain in the afternoon. Rainfall is supposed to continue into this week, and some areas could see four to six inches of rain during the next couple of days. The state of emergency will help secure state and federal funds to help those struggling with what Gov. Brown called “conditions of extreme peril.” Via the Los Angeles Times Images via Flickinpicks on Flickr and nosha on Flickr

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Record winter storm pounds California

California storms could herald the end of punishing historic drought

January 13, 2017 by  
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Californians may finally receive some relief from the drought they’ve grappled with for five brutal years. Recent storms drenching the state with rain and snow could enable at least Northern California to leave the drought in the past. National Weather Service specialist Tom Fisher said Southern California is seeing the highest rainfall “in at least five years,” while Northern California experiences their highest rainfall “in at least 10 years.” The United States Drought Monitor said Northern California has at last escaped the drought, but Southern California is still grappling with dry conditions. About 30 percent of that region is still experiencing extreme or exceptional drought. Other officials warned it may be too early to claim a full victory over the drought, as California weather conditions can change. Los Angeles Department of Water Resources spokesperson Ted Thomas said the state sometimes begins with a wet winter, only to see dry conditions prevail later on in the season. According to the US Drought Monitor, over 26 million people are estimated to live in areas still dealing with drought. Related: 713 trillion gallons of water discovered under drought-stricken California The extreme conditions have inspired California farmers to come up with creative ways to store water . Terranova Ranch general manager Don Cameron flooded the ranch’s vineyards during the winter, allowing all that water to seep underground to replenish aquifers. As it rarely rains during California summers, and during the drought farmers couldn’t obtain the water they needed from surface reservoirs, they often had to pump water out of the earth to water their crops. But as the drought persisted, wells dried up, and aquifers were depleted. Cameron’s idea worked – the water sank into the ground and didn’t harm the crops on the way down. Other farmers are working with University of California, Davis groundwater hydrologist Helen Dahlke to apply the innovative yet simple method of water management as storms dump water on the state. Cameron told NPR, “This is going to be the future for California. If we don’t store the water during flood periods, we’re not going to make it through the droughts.” Via Phys.org and NPR Images via James Daisa on Flickr and Bob Dass on Flickr

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