Scientists discover Antarctica is covered in rivers

April 20, 2017 by  
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For decades, scientists have known that summertime brings liquid meltwater to Antarctica’s ice sheets. But until now, they’ve had no idea just how extensive the continent’s network of rivers, streams, ponds, and waterfalls really is. A new analysis by scientists at  Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has found that warmer months cause far more extensive melting than previously thought. That could be a problem as global temperatures continue to rise. Surface water can damage the ice shelves , weakening them and causing them to collapse into the ocean. Some of the channels identified in this survey allow meltwater to run harmlessly off into the sea, but in other areas, standing water can be a huge problem. In 2002, more than 2,000 lakes on the Larsen B ice shelf drained through the ice into the ocean below, causing the entire area to rapidly disintegrate. Related: Scientists warn rapidly-melting glacier in West Antarctica could cause serious global havoc The presence of water on the frozen continent does not yet appear to be the cause of widespread problems—but there’s also the possibility that warmer temperatures are causing sub-surface ice melt. Unfortunately, that phenomenon has been researched in far less detail, so it’s unclear exactly what effect it will have on the ice and rising sea levels in the future. Via Phys.org Images via NASA and Wikimedia Commons

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Scientists discover Antarctica is covered in rivers

Majority of Americans support Paris climate deal as Trump reconsiders pulling out

November 25, 2016 by  
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A new survey shows strong bipartisan support in the US for staying in the Paris climate agreement that formally commits its 193 signatories to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avert dangerous climate change. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll of 2,061 Americans finds that 71 percent agree that the US should participate in the pact, including a majority of Republicans (57 percent), Democrats (87 percent) and Independents (68 percent). President-elect Donald Trump has previously stated that he believes climate change is a hoax and that he intends to pull the US out of the Paris climate deal as soon as he takes office. However, in a potentially major reversal if he holds to it, Trump told New York Times reporters during a visit to the Midtown Manhattan newsroom that human activity is connected to climate change and that he would keep an open mind on the landmark climate accord. Related: Al Gore reaches out to work with Donald Trump on climate change On the link between human activities and climate change, Trump said that “I think there is some connectivity. Some, something. It depends on how much.” And when pressed on the Paris climate deal, Trump said that “I’m looking at it very closely. I have an open mind to it.” While this is a stunning reversal on his previous positions regarding man-made global warming, it remains to be seen whether Trump will change his policies that currently advocate for more oil, coal and natural gas at a time when many climate experts are warning that we have no carbon budget left and that we must keep remaining hydrocarbon reserves in the ground to sustain a livable climate. Trump’s new stance accepting human-induced climate change also goes against the climate deniers and fossil fuel industry insiders placed on his transition team and cabinet. The survey’s lead author Dina Smeltz, a senior fellow on public opinion and foreign policy at the Chicago Council, told The Washington Post that “an increasing percentage of Republicans now say that some gradual action should be taken” to address climate change concerns and that the American public “has been growing in their support for mitigating climate change.” + Chicago Council survey: Growing support in US for some climate action Via The Washington Post Lead image via Wikimedia , others via Wikimedia

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Luxembourg bar renovation mimics Japanese origami for a low footprint

November 25, 2016 by  
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The new structure that envelops the existing building looks like a folded sheet of paper that allows the interior to open up to the natural surroundings. Lightweight and self-supporting, the wooden structure helps orientate the bar and eating areas toward the outside and guides views to the tall tree stalks, while allowing the possibility of changing the project in the future. Related: Reclaimed Wood Clads This Japanese Izakaya’s Origami-Like Interior in Montreal The architects also refurbished the existing kitchen and eating area on the ground floor and formed a smoking area with a fireplace and small dining area. They partly removed the lateral outdoor terrace and replaced it with a white sand beach. + Metaform architects Via v2com Photos by Steve Troes Fotodesign

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Luxembourg bar renovation mimics Japanese origami for a low footprint

1.5 billion birds disappear from North Americas skies

September 16, 2016 by  
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A startling survey of North American skies reveals there are 1.5 billion less birds flying about than there were decades ago. Some species’ populations have recently become threatened , while others are projected to be nearly decimated within the next 40 years. An array of factors, mostly human-induced, are responsible for the alarming drop. “It’s the death of a thousand cuts,” stated the survey’s co-author Judith Kennedy, of Environment Canada. “We’re really getting down to the dregs of some of these populations.” Numerous government, environmental, and university-based agencies combined to conduct the most comprehensive, up-to-date Partners in Flight survey, which follows trends in continental bird populations . Related: 9 things you can do to help wild birds this summer 86 species of birds were classified as threatened by habitat loss, climate change , and plummeting population sizes. These include the Canada warbler and evening grosbeak, whose numbers have dropped 92 percent since 1970. Even the beloved snowy owl has experienced a 64 percent dip. Logging of forests, pesticides in grasslands, and an overabundance of cats – who kill an estimated 2 billion birds per year – all contribute to the downfall of the continent’s birds. Birds help human populations by gobbling up pesky insects and pollinating plants. Kennedy stresses the importance of making changes in our behaviors that affect native bird populations, stating, “It’s too late for us to worry when we’re down to the last few hundred.” Via The Star Images via Flickr , Wikipedia

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1.5 billion birds disappear from North Americas skies

USGS, EPA investigate link between underground wastewater disposal and Oklahoma’s largest earthquake

September 7, 2016 by  
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On Saturday, a magnitude 5.6 earthquake shook north central Oklahoma , prompting the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to investigate whether the quake was caused by the oil and gas industry’s practice of underground wastewater disposal . The quake, which is reportedly the largest in the state’s history, damaged some buildings but there have been no reports of injuries or deaths. Many environmental scientists have long suspected that industrial activities like this are linked to, and can even cause, earthquakes, and hopefully soon the USGS will have answers about what is happening in Oklahoma. Saturday’s earthquake occurred near the city of Pawnee at 8:03 a.m. local time and was reportedly felt in six surrounding states. The quake was somewhat unusual because it occurred on a fault that seismologists didn’t even know existed. In fact, the fault that triggered the quake runs perpendicular to the larger well-known fault system. This is the key feature of the earthquake that piqued the interest of USGS researchers, who suspect that human activity may be partially responsible for kicking off the tremor. The Environmental Protection Agency is also investigating the causes and implications of the earthquake. Related: Surge of earthquakes in Oklahoma puts fracking under fire “Without studying the specifics of the wastewater injection and oil and gas production in this area, the USGS cannot currently conclude whether or not this particular earthquake was caused by industrial-related, human activities,” the USGS said in a statement. “However, we do know that many earthquakes in Oklahoma have been triggered by wastewater fluid injection.” State regulators at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission have ordered oil and gas operators to shut down 35 disposal wells that may have contributed to this weekend’s earthquake in what Governor Mary Fallin has called “a mandatory directive.” The wells located within five miles of a 10-mile section of the fault linked to the quake, and they have been ordered to shut down within seven days, and all the other wells must be shut down within 10 days. Last year, a series of earthquakes in Oklahoma had many scientists and environmentalists pointing fingers at fracking, the common practice in the oil and gas industry of injecting high-pressure liquids underground to open fissures, in an effort to gain access to oil and gas. As industry activity in the state has steadily grown, so too have the number of earthquakes measuring at least 3.0 on the Richter scale. After the  magnitude 5.1 quake between Tulsa and Oklahoma City in February, 2015 , residents feared that the worst was yet to come. With this weekend’s quake now being called the strongest ever in the state, and plenty of oil and gas industry drilling ongoing, nobody is sure at this point what to expect next. Via Fox News and USGS Images via USGS and Shutterstock

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USGS, EPA investigate link between underground wastewater disposal and Oklahoma’s largest earthquake

Newly discovered ‘ghost galaxy’ full of dark matter is as big as the Milky Way

August 26, 2016 by  
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Astronomers have discovered, with the aid of some powerful telescopes, a galaxy made up mostly of dark matter . Dragonfly 44, as it has been named, is roughly the same size as our Milky Way but with far fewer stars. Rather, the galaxy appears to be composed largely of dark matter, which does not emit light or interact with electromagnetic radiation. Although there is much more to learn about the mysterious dark galaxy, scientists’ initial findings have surprised astronomy experts more than once. Studies of Dragonfly 44 began with curiosity, as many deep space explorations do, after it was identified last year as little more than a smudge-like spot on an image of the Coma Cluster of galaxies captured by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (above left). Right away, astronomers knew they had to investigate, and time-lapse images captured by the Gemini North telescope (above right) show the galaxy’s diffuse nature. “Very soon after its discovery, we realized this galaxy had to be more than meets the eye. It has so few stars that it would quickly be ripped apart unless something was holding it together,” Yale University astronomer Pieter van Dokkum, lead author of the study, told Phys.org. Related: Newly discovered dwarf galaxy may be falling into the Milky Way More powerful equipment was needed to get a better look, so the team turned to the W.M. Keck Observatory and the Gemini North telescope , in Hawaii, for help. Van Dokkum’s team was able to measure the velocity of stars in Dragonfly 44 by comparing images taken over six nights. Star velocity is a key element in gaining an understanding of the composition of a far-away galaxy, because it can help convey the galaxy’s mass. A higher velocity suggests a galaxy of higher mass. Knowing that the galaxy had very few stars (and thus not much light) but a mass closer to that of the Milky Way, researchers concluded that the newly discovered galaxy must be comprised mostly of dark matter . “Amazingly, the stars move at velocities that are far greater than expected for such a dim galaxy. It means that Dragonfly 44 has a huge amount of unseen mass,” said co-author Roberto Abraham of the University of Toronto. Further studies of Dragonfly 44 may help scientists finally come to an understanding of what dark matter actually is, which has eluded researchers since its existence was first suggested nearly a century ago. A paper on the initial study of Dragonfly 44 was recently published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. Via Phys.org Lead image via Dean Rowe ; additional image via Pieter van Dokkum, Roberto Abraham, Gemini, Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

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Newly discovered ‘ghost galaxy’ full of dark matter is as big as the Milky Way

Dyson is releasing a combination air purifier, bladeless fan, and space heater for $599

August 26, 2016 by  
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Thanks to Dyson ’s newest innovation, you will only need one outlet to run an air purifier , cooling fan, and space heater. The Pure Hot + Cool Link combines all three devices into one , saving space and money. Dyson integrated its Cool bladeless fan, Hot heater, and Pure Cool Link air purifier into one multipurpose, climate-controlling product. The Pure Hot + Cool Link uses the same revered HEPA filter used in other products, which is said to remove 99.97 percent of bothersome air particles. Nasty smells, pet dander, pollen, mold, and other forms of pollution are safely filtered away. Related: Dyson has developed an LED lamp that lasts for 37 years Hot or cool air can be dispersed throughout an entire room or in a targeted blast toward your reading corner. Auto mode can be enabled to take the guess work out of creating a comfortable environment and the whole system can be controlled with a smartphone app. The app also monitors air quality and can turn on its sleep function for quiet filtering. The $599 device will be available online starting September 8 and will hit stores on September 18, 2016. + Dyson Via  Gizmodo Images via  Dyson

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Dyson is releasing a combination air purifier, bladeless fan, and space heater for $599

A swarm of earthquakes rattles central California

July 19, 2016 by  
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A series of small earthquakes rattled central California , beginning Sunday evening and continuing into Monday, but the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says there is no cause for alarm. The phenomenon, called an earthquake swarm, is actually fairly common in regions with a high level of geological activity (such as California). Despite the number of quakes—18 or more within a day’s time—the strongest registered a magnitude 3.7, which is not very strong as earthquakes go and no significant damage has been reported. With a sharp increase in earthquake activity, one might wonder whether bigger quakes are on the way. But USGS reports that swarms like this have not been connected to larger earthquakes occurring in the same region. The agency’s definition of an earthquake swarm, or seismic swarm , is actually fairly loose, referring simply to a cluster of small quakes happening in one area with no requirement for a set time period. The quakes don’t even have to occur along the same fault line to be considered part of the swarm. Related: Chance of California megaquake within next three decades increases The earthquake swarm in California may already be over, or additional tremors may still be on the horizon, but it’s unlikely they will lead to anything more substantial. Yellowstone National Park has seen a number of earthquake swarms over the years, with the largest happening in 2004, 2009, and 2010. That most recent swarm included more than 2,000 quakes over the course of a month. Although several registered a magnitude over 3.0, the swarm didn’t lead to any type of larger earthquake or other catastrophic event. Via Gizmodo Images via Shutterstock and  USGS

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A swarm of earthquakes rattles central California

‘Largest-ever’ new map of universe shows 1.2 million galaxies

July 18, 2016 by  
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A new map reveals our universe is more massive than we realize. Astronomers with the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), a Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) program, measured the galaxies in the universe in a ” volume of 650 cubic billion light years ” and created a map with a staggering 1.2 million galaxies. Not only does the map give us new perspective on the vastness of the universe, it helps astronomers measure mysterious dark energy. The 3D map is the “largest-ever” of its kind and brings together around 10 years of work. One of the team leaders, New York University physics professor Jeremy Tinker, said in a press release, “We have spent a decade collecting measurements of 1.2 million galaxies over one quarter of the sky to map out the structure of the Universe…This map has allowed us to make the best measurements yet of the effects of dark energy in the expansion of the Universe. We are making our results and map available to the world.” The rectangle in the image above includes just 10 percent of SDSS-III’s dataset. Related: Scientists found oxygen in a galaxy 13.1 billion light years away The dense map shown above may look like a collection of stars , but each of those dots is actually one galaxy from six billion years ago. This image only shows 3 percent of the entire dataset gathered by SDSS-III. Yellow dots are galaxies closest to Earth, and purple dots are the galaxies furthest away. There isn’t data available for the gray patches. How do these maps provide insight into dark energy, the theoretical force propelling the universe’s expansion? Well, BOSS measures sound waves from the “young Universe” – when the universe was around 400,000 years old – and these sound waves helped astronomers make their map. They used the map to measure dark energy, which they believe is ” driving the accelerated expansion of the Universe .” As Tinker noted, it’s one of the best measurements we’ve ever been able to make of dark energy. The astronomers submitted their research to the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society . Via Gizmodo Images via Daniel Eisenstein and the SDSS-III collaboration and Jeremy Tinker and the SDSS-III collaboration

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‘Largest-ever’ new map of universe shows 1.2 million galaxies

Indian state attempts to plant record 50 million trees in 24 hours

July 12, 2016 by  
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The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh recently attempted to break the world record for the highest number of trees planted in a 24-hour period. As part of a concerted effort to combat climate change , officials in the country’s most populous state are hoping to smash Pakistan’s 2013 record of 847,275 trees planted in one day by planting 50 million trees. The Associated Press quoted the state’s Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav, as saying that “the world has realized that serious efforts are needed to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of global climate change. Uttar Pradesh has made a beginning in this regard.” Yadav made the comments to volunteers gathered in the city of Kannauj, 250 kilometers (155 miles) southwest of the state capital, Lucknow. More than 800,000 people across the state were given millions of saplings to plant at designated spots along roads, rail tracks and forested areas. Related: India plans to spend $6.2 billion to create new forests At the Paris climate talks last December, the Indian government pledged to increase forest cover to 95 million hectares (235 million acres) by 2030. The government has earmarked $6.2 billion for the effort and is encouraging all 29 states to start tree-planting drives similar to Uttar Pradesh. Senior forest official Sanjeev Saran told the Associated Press that the tree-planting sites would be monitored through aerial photograpy to see how many saplings were growing. Usually only around 60 percent of saplings survive, officials said, with the rest succumbing to disease or lack of water. According to the most recent Forest Survey of India  statistics published in 2013, 5.96 percent of Uttar Pradesh is forested area and the forest cover across the country is at 21.23 percent. The government’s goal is to increase forest cover to 33 percent, sequestering 2.5 billion tons of carbon. Via Treehugger Images via Wikipedia

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