Supervolcano in Italy is "becoming more dangerous" as magma builds beneath the surface

September 19, 2017 by  
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Like the super volcano in Yellowstone National Park , experts have been preparing for the eruption of the Campi Flegrei volcano near the Bay of Naples, in Italy for some time. Now, a new study published in Scientific Reports has renewed fear that it could erupt very soon. Reportedly, the area has been “restless” since minor eruptions began in the 1950s, and now experts have pinpointed magma building up beneath the surface. The eight-mile-wide circular formation, known as a caldera, last erupted in 1538. Researchers with the University of Aberdeen, the INGV Osservatorio Vesuviano, the RISSC lab of the University of Naples and the University of Texas at Austin used seismological techniques to determine when the volcano may erupt again. After scores of tests, they learned that there is a hot zone under the Italian city of Pozzuoli that extends into the sea . While the implications of this finding are not completely understood, it is suspected that the low amount of seismic activity in the area since the 1980s may mean pressure is building within the caldera, making it more dangerous. Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home—and you can stay overnight Said Researcher  Luca De Siena  of the University of Aberdeen, “During the last 30 years the behavior of the volcano has changed, with everything becoming hotter due to fluids permeating the entire caldera.” De Siena’s main concern is that the entire region around Naples would be impacted by its eruption. This is because the underground network of chambers that feed magma into the volcano extend more than 100 square kilometers outside of suburban areas in Naples . “Whatever produced the activity under Pozzuoli in the 1980s has migrated somewhere else, so the danger doesn’t just lie in the same spot, it could now be much nearer to Naples which is more densely populated,” De Siena said. “This means that the risk from the caldera is no longer just in the center, but has migrated. Indeed, you can now characterize Campi Flegrei as being like a boiling pot of soup beneath the surface,” De Siena added. “What this means in terms of the scale of any future eruption we cannot say, but there is no doubt that the volcano is becoming more dangerous.” Volcanic area #CampiFlegrei around Naples Italy. Not just Mount Vesuvius. https://t.co/5H00AD6Jz6 pic.twitter.com/6B2xuQpDPa — Blynne Olivieri (@BlynneO) September 13, 2017 Co-author Dr. Christopher Kilburn , director of the University College London Hazard Center , is certain an eruption is imminent. He said, “By studying how the ground is cracking and moving at Campi Flegrei, we think it may be approaching a critical stage where further unrest will increase the possibility of an eruption, and it’s imperative that the authorities are prepared for this.” Researchers say citizens should make emergency preparations in case the Campi Flegrei volcano erupts again. + Scientific Reports Via Phys  Images via Pixabay  and Deposit Photos

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Supervolcano in Italy is "becoming more dangerous" as magma builds beneath the surface

Explosions rock Houston-area chemical plant following Hurricane Harvey flooding

August 31, 2017 by  
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Several explosions at a Houston-area chemical plant were reported on early Thursday morning, reportedly related to its loss of power. Black smoke billowed from the Arkema Inc. chemical plant in Crosby, Texas as blasts rocked the site, which remains submerged under six feet of floodwater. The Arkema plant is one of many in the region; this part of Texas is home to the one of the densest concentrations of pipelines, refineries and chemical plants in the country. The storm damage is certain to exacerbate the public health threat of Hurricane Harvey long after the rain has stopped. On Tuesday, prior to the explosions, officials ordered a mandatory evacuation zone for a 1.5 mile radius surrounding the plant. The Arkema plant was shut down before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the Houston-area, though 11 employees remained behind to service the facility. As the unprecedented floodwaters pushed in, the remaining team was evacuated as fumes began to pour out of the powerless plant. Several deputies from the Harris County Sheriff’s office were hospitalized for inhaling toxic chemicals . Related: 7 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey Arkema produces organic peroxides, compounds with a wide variety of applications, from construction materials to pharmaceuticals. Usually the volatile chemicals are kept under control through cold storage. However, without power , there is no refrigeration. “As the temperature rises, the natural state of these materials will decompose. A white smoke will result, and that will catch fire,” Arkema spokesperson Janet Smith told press. Arkema was previously mandated by the EPA to produce a report outlining the potential risks of the plant and plans for worst-case scenarios, which, according to Arkema’s submitted report, could potentially impact 1.1 million residents over a distance of 23 miles. However, the company reports that it is incorporating “multiple layers of preventative and mitigation measures” to ensure that the worst does not come to pass. Via Time and Washington Post Images via Google Maps

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Explosions rock Houston-area chemical plant following Hurricane Harvey flooding

Hurricane Harvey may have totaled up to 500,000 cars

August 30, 2017 by  
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Hurricane Harvey didn’t just devastate homes and businesses – it may also have totaled up to half a million cars. An estimated 500,000 Texan vehicles will likely be scrapped, leading to a massive sales wave of new and used cars in the near future. Compared to the fallout of other major storms, such as Hurricane Sandy , the density of totaled vehicles in Houston is staggering. Cox Automotive — the company behind Kelly Blue Book and Autotrader — told CNBC that nearly 500,000 vehicles are likely to be totaled. Reportedly, “scores” of trucks and cars had water up to their windows and, in some cases, over the hood and roof. Said Jonathon Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive, “This is worse than Hurricane Sandy . Sandy was bad, but the flooding with Hurricane Harvey could impact far more vehicles.” 250,000 vehicles were scrapped in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy battered New York and New Jersey. Related: 1,200 dead, millions homeless due to flooding in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh Whenever a hurricane hits, it leaves a legacy of damaged property, industrial waste, raw sewage, and oil spills – and the repercussions of Hurricane Harvey will be felt for many months. According to Ryan Maue with Weatherbell, 11 trillion gallons of rain dumped on the state during the actual storm ; by the time the weather dissipates completely, that number is expected to increase to 25 trillion gallons of rain. In total, 30,000 people sought temporary shelter and 450,000 are expected to seek assistance from FEMA . Via Jalopnik , CNN , CNBC Images via Defense.gov

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Hurricane Harvey may have totaled up to 500,000 cars

Harvey forces National Weather Service to add new color to its rainfall map

August 29, 2017 by  
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By now everyone knows that Texas is still suffering from the aftermath of the potent Category 4 Hurricane Harvey that swept into the region over the weekend. After the natural disaster dumped more than 30 inches on the state and unleashed winds as strong as 130 mph, causing widespread destruction, weather forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS) had no choice but to add another color to their rainfall map. Lavender now represents “unfathomable” amounts of rain. In some Texan cities, rainfall is predicted to exceed 50 inches. This is the heaviest rainfall to result from a landfalling tropical storm or hurricane on record in U.S. history, reports Mashable . The NWS warns that catastrophic flooding is likely to continue and recommends that residents of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana stay off the roads. #Harvey in perspective. So much rain has fallen, we've had to update the color charts on our graphics in order to effectively map it. pic.twitter.com/Su7x2K1uuz — NWS (@NWS) August 28, 2017 Experts claim that it is more than likely climate change exacerbated Hurricane Harvey. The Guardian reports that rising sea levels attributable to global warming likely caused the storm to surge half a foot higher than it would have been just a few decades ago. Warming ocean waters also play a role in the uptick of such fierce storms. Sea surface temperatures in the region have risen about 0.5 degrees Celsius (close to 1 degrees F) over the past decade; according to the Clausius-Clapeyron equation , there is a roughly 3 percent increase in average atmospheric moisture content for each 0.5 degrees C of warming. As a result of sea surface temperatures being warmer in the location where Harvey intensified, there was 3-5 percent more moisture in the atmosphere. This, too, intensified the storm. Related: Trump’s USDA staff told to use ‘weather extremes’ instead of ‘climate change’ Though scientists have warned that unsustainable habits would propel climate change and result in worsening  natural disasters , few have heeded the advice and implemented change. It isn’t too late for humanity to invest in renewable technologies and reduce the collective carbon footprint but there isn’t much time before a “tipping point” is reached. Learn more here . Via Mashable , The Guardian Images via Pixabay , National Weather Services

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Harvey forces National Weather Service to add new color to its rainfall map

Drone video offers sneak peek at BIGs LEGO House, set to open next month

August 29, 2017 by  
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After four years, the long-awaited LEGO House is set to open next month—and we can’t wait! Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group , this larger-than-life LEGO building is a treat for the eyes with its 21 interlocking LEGO-like parts and stunning keystone on top. Set to open to the public on September 28, the 130,000-square-foot building will offer free and paid “experiences” all centered around play and exploration in Billund, Denmark. LEGO’s drone video shot earlier this summer shows off the building near completion. The company recently carried out a “test visit” where LEGO employees and their families were invited to try out the building for the first time. Nicknamed ‘Home of the Brick,’ the museum is dedicate to LEGO-themed experiences in all aspects of the building including its many interactive exhibitions, three restaurants, conference space, store, and 22,000-square-foot public square . One of the biggest highlights is a 50-foot-tall, 20-ton “Tree of Creativity” made of over 6.3 million LEGO bricks. Related: BIG’s LEGO House tops out with opening date in September The Home of the Brick is expected to accommodate 250,000 visitors annually. To keep the center open to the community , the interior LEGO Square will be publicly accessible and select activities will be free to the public. Visitors with tickets can explore the four color-coded Experience Zones, each with larger-than-life interactive exhibits that embody the brand’s “Learning Through Play” philosophy. Advance tickets can be purchased on the LEGO House website . + LEGO House + BIG Via ArchDaily

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Drone video offers sneak peek at BIGs LEGO House, set to open next month

6 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey

August 28, 2017 by  
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Tropical Storm Harvey is battering the Houston area, affecting over 6.8 million people . With so many people and pets displaced and suffering, you may be wondering how you can help. Whether you live close to the disaster area or on the other side of the world, here are a few great ways you can support people hit by the devastating storm . Donate to a food bank or another charity There are several charities out there you can support financially as they work to help Tropical Storm Harvey victims. Food banks can also use donations in the aftermath of Harvey. You can donate online to the Central Texas Food Bank . Or donate to the San Antonio Food Bank ; according to SBNation, some displaced Houston locals will be relocated to San Antonio. SBNation has a list of more local charities here . Related: INFOGRAPHIC: How social media can save lives in a disaster Donate to the Salvation Army The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services is on the ground to help out both first responders and locals. The organization is offering shelter at Salvation Army locations in the area, and as of earlier this week had served over 3,000 meals, drinks, and snacks via their mobile kitchens. You can help out right now by texting STORM to 51555 or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY. You can donate online here or send donations to The Salvation Army, PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301. Open up your home through Airbnb If you live in Texas and can share your space, Airbnb has a page for urgent accommodations in the wake of Harvey. They waive service fees for those impacted, and allow locals to list their homes so people can find a place to stay for free. You can find shelter or list your space here . Donate blood You can donate blood to help people affected by the crisis as well. South Texas Blood & Tissue Center has been calling for blood donations – you can get in touch with them at 210-731-5590. They also posted a list of locations to donate on their Facebook page, including addresses and donation hours. According to the post, Houston is asking for more than 2,000 units of blood from blood centers, so if you live in South Texas, consider finding a place to donate blood. Donate the use of your boat If you live in the area, you can help by volunteering the use of your boat. Get in touch with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office by calling 713-881-3100. Help rescue furry friends Let’s not forget the animals and pets impacted by the disaster. You can donate to the Houston SPCA , which is providing animal rescue and relief. Donate online here . Call 713-869-7722 if you need help. Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) is another Texas-based organization that’s been helping shelters in the path of Harvey to transport animals to APA! As of the weekend, they’d brought more than 235 animals to their facility. If you live in the Austin area, you can help by fostering animals or donating supplies like cat litter, leashes, or brooms. You can also donate online here . APA!’s address is 1156 West Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX 78703 and their phone number is 512-961-6519. Images via Harris County Sheriff’s Office Facebook , Salvation Army , Lars Plougmann on Flickr , Connect for Life Facebook , Austin Pets Alive! Facebook , National Guard Photo by Lt. Zachary West , and

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You can build one of these tiny backyard offices in less a week for under $7000

August 17, 2017 by  
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Austin-based Sett Studio designs tiny offices that take conventional workspaces to task. These micro-offices can be used for a variety of applications – and they can be set up in no time for an affordable price. The firm’s newest design, named NOVI, is perfect for those looking for a mobile outdoor workspace – and the DIY version can be built for just $6800. As the tiny living concept is gaining in popularity, an increasing number of people are taking that idea to the office with  flexible spaces that bring them closer to nature. This year, Sett Studio is launching a new concept that weds their award-winning contemporary design with an affordable price. The NOVI DIY can be built by anyone with little to no construction experience. The firm provides full sets of instructions on how to assemble the unit. Related: Tiny workplace on wheels can make each day at the office different! Users can choose to built the structure themselves or hire a contractor. Sett Studio can build the entire project on side and have the unit completed in under a week. The DIY unit costs $6800 and is currently available only in Austin , Texas. + Sett Studio

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You can build one of these tiny backyard offices in less a week for under $7000

Revolutionary glass building blocks generate their own solar energy

August 17, 2017 by  
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There’s a new building block in town, and it generates its own clean energy. Researchers from Exeter University developed new glass blocks that are embedded with small solar cells . Not only do the blocks generate energy, but they also provide thermal insulation and allow natural light to enter buildings. Called Solar Squared, the blocks are embedded during the manufacturing process with an array of optical elements that focus sunlight on tiny solar cells . The blocks are made to ensure maximum solar absorption, even in tricky urban areas. “The modular design is completely scalable, and allows for seamless architectural integration,” according to an Exeter press release . “The streamlined nature of the technology enables it to be embedded in conventional construction materials, meaning that its applications are myriad.” Professor Tapas Mallick and Dr Hasan Baig, along with IIB Research Commercialization Manager Jim Williams, hope their patent-pending design will revolutionize the construction industry . Related: Tesla’s new solar roof is actually cheaper than a regular roof “Deployment of standard solar technology is limited by the large area requirement and the negative visual impact,” said Dr Baig from the Environment and Sustainability Institute in Cornwall. “We wanted to overcome these limitations by introducing technologies that become a part of the building’s envelope. We now have the capability to build integrated, affordable, efficient, and attractive solar technologies as part of the building’s architecture, in places where energy demand is highest, whilst having minimal impact on the landscape and on quality of life.” There are challenges, though. Dr Baig says it’s difficult to communicate how the building product serves a dual purpose, and that expectations of price should reflect the same. “People tend to make comparisons with standard solar panels found on roof tops but it’s necessary to also include the value of the underlying building material in order to quantify the value proposition.” For this reason, the group aims to ensure that Solar Squared will cost less than conventional glass blocks with the added cost of electricity . They are currently seeking test sites and investors – in case you know someone who can take this to the next level. + Solar Squared, Exeter University Via New Atlas

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Revolutionary glass building blocks generate their own solar energy

Prototype 9 is a retro electric roadster with the Nissan Leaf’s heart

August 17, 2017 by  
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Infiniti is bringing us back to the 1940s with its Prototype 9 roadster, which is set to debut this month at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. On the outside the Prototype 9 is a sexy retro concept – but under the skin it’s all about the future, since it’s powered by the next-generation Nissan Leaf’s electric powertrain. “Prototype 9 celebrates the tradition of ingenuity, craftsmanship and passion of our forebears at Nissan Motor Corporation, on whose shoulders we stand today,” stated Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President, Global Design. “It started as a discussion: What if Infiniti had created a race car in the 1940s? If one were to imagine an open-wheeled Infiniti racer on the famous circuits of the era, such as Japan’s Tamagawa Speedway, what would that look like?” Related: Why the new Nissan Leaf won’t need a brake pedal The Prototype 9 is powered by Nissan’s new EV powertrain, which mates a 30 kWh battery with a prototype electric motor. The electric motor generates 148 hp and drives the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. The Prototype 9 has a top speed of 105.6 mph, and reaches 62 mph in 5.5 seconds. It also has a maximum EV range of 20 minutes if you drive it really hard on a track. While the Prototype 9 is going to debut later this month, we won’t have to wait too long to see the next-generation Nissan Leaf. The 2018 Nissan Leaf is scheduled to debut on September 5. Images @Infiniti + Infiniti

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Prototype 9 is a retro electric roadster with the Nissan Leaf’s heart

The devastating reason Mumbai dogs are turning blue

August 17, 2017 by  
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Lately, blue stray dogs have been spotted running around Navi Mumbai, India , and it’s no laughing matter. Inadequate waste treatment at a local river has allowed dye to leach into the water, turning dogs who wade in a bright blue color. To add to the concern, the pollution is likely harming fish and birds who rely on the water resource. Residents began noticing blue dogs roaming the streets and were prompted to bring a complaint to the local authorities, asking that the water pollution be controlled. “It was shocking to see how the dog’s white fur had turned completely blue,” said Arati Chauhan , who runs the Navi Mumbai Animal Protection Cell. Related: What’s the deal with this green cat? According to the Hindustan Times , “the levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) — the concentration of oxygen required to sustain aquatic life — was 80 milligram a litre (mg/L). Levels of chloride, which is toxic, harms vegetation, aquatic life and wildlife, were also high. “Allowing the discharge of dye into any water body is illegal. We will take action against the polluters as they are destroying the environment,” said Anil Mohekar of MPCB in Navi Mumbai. According to Arati Chauhan, she and others have been working with local authorities to assure that the problem is cleaned up and prevented in the future. Via the Hindustan Times and Boing Boing Images via Arati Chauhan/ Deepak Gharat

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The devastating reason Mumbai dogs are turning blue

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