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Azimuth
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Scientists and engineers helping save the planet.
Scientists and engineers helping save the planet.

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 "A new study suggests the power industry is underestimating how climate change could affect the long-term demand for electricity in the United States.

The research, published today in the journal Risk Analysis, was led by the University at Buffalo and Purdue University.

It describes the limitations of prediction models used by electricity providers and regulators for medium- and long-term energy forecasting. And it outlines a new model that includes key climate predictors -- mean dew point temperature and extreme maximum temperature -- that researchers say present a more accurate view of how climate change will alter future electricity demands.

"Existing energy demand models haven't kept pace with our increasing knowledge of how the climate is changing," says the study's lead author Sayanti Mukherjee, PhD, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering in UB's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "This is troublesome because it could lead to supply inadequacy risks that cause more power outages, which can affect everything from national security and the digital economy to public health and the environment."

"The availability of public data in the energy sector, combined with advances in algorithmic modeling, has enabled us to go beyond existing approaches that often exhibit poor predictive performance. As a result, we're able to better characterize the nexus between energy demand and climate change, and assess future supply inadequacy risks," says co-author Roshanak Nateghi, PhD, assistant professor of industrial engineering and environmental and ecological engineering at Purdue".

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"For the first time, researchers have developed a data set quantifying what the social cost of carbon--the measure of the economic harm from carbon dioxide emissions--will be for the globe's nearly 200 countries, and the results are surprising. Although much previous research has focused on how rich countries benefit from the fossil fuel economy, while damages accrue primarily to the developing world, the top three counties with the most to lose from climate change are the United States, India and Saudi Arabia--three major world powers. The world's largest CO2 emitter, China, also places in the top five countries with the highest losses.

The findings, which appear in Nature Climate Change, estimate country-level contributions to the social cost of carbon (SCC) using recent climate model projections, empirical climate-driven economic damage estimations and socioeconomic forecasts. In addition to revealing that some counties are expected to suffer more than others from carbon emissions, they also show the global social cost of carbon is significantly higher than the one standardly used by the U.S. government to inform policy decisions.

Among the most-trusted contemporary estimates of SCC are those calculated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The latest figures for global costs range from $12 to $62 per metric ton of CO2 emitted by 2020; however, the new data shows SCC to be approximately $180--800 per ton of carbon emissions. What's more, the country-level SCC for the U.S. alone is estimated to be about $50 per ton--higher than the global value used in most regulatory impact analyses. This means that the nearly five billion metric tons of CO2the U.S. emits each year is costing the U.S. economy about $250 billion.

"We all know carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels affects people and ecosystems around the world, today and in the future; however these impacts are not included in market prices, creating an environmental externality whereby consumers of fossil fuel energy do not pay for and are unaware of the true costs of their consumption," said lead author, University of California San Diego assistant professor Kate Ricke, who holds joint appointments with the campus's School of Global Policy and Strategy and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Ricke added, "evaluating the economic cost associated with climate is valuable on a number of fronts, as these estimates are used to inform U.S. environmental regulation and rulemakings."

For example, claims that carbon dioxide causes relatively little harm to the economy can more easily justify rollbacks on environmental regulation".

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 "Oceanographers have identified an act of slow suffocation, as oxygen loss grows near one of the world’s richest fishing grounds, and are linking the change to human-triggered global warming.

They have measured a dramatic drop in levels of dissolved oxygen deep in the Gulf of St Lawrence, in eastern Canada, and they link this increasing strangulation to shifts – connected to climate change driven by ever higher ratios of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as a consequence of the profligate burning of coal, oil and natural gas – in the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current.

As carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas levels have risen in the past 100 years, the Gulf Stream has shifted northward, and the Labrador Current has weakened. As a consequence, according to new research in Nature Climate Change, more warm, salty and oxygen-depleted water from the Gulf Stream is getting into one of the world’s great waterways.

Lower oxygen levels have already affected the Atlantic wolffish, the researchers say. And the change is a threat to the Atlantic cod, and the Greenland halibut: two of the world’s most prized commercial catches.

“The oxygen decline in this region was already reported, but what was not explored before was the underlying cause”

“Observations in the very inner Gulf of St Lawrence show a dramatic oxygen decline, which is reaching hypoxic conditions, meaning it can’t fully support marine life,” said Mariona Claret, of the University of Washington, who led the study.

“The oxygen decline in this region was already reported, but what was not explored before was the underlying cause.”

Researchers have warned for years that warmer waters mean lower levels of dissolved oxygen, and therefore ever greater risk of “dead zones” in the world’s oceans. There has been evidence that rates of oxygen depletion are higher than expected and direct evidence that fish may be voting with their fins, by migrating northwards as the oceans heat up.

Canadian fishery authorities have been measuring the salinity and temperature in the St Lawrence seaway since 1920, and oxygen levels since 1960. The latest study finds that the changes there have been more than twice the average change of 2% measured for the Atlantic and the oceans as a whole".

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"Human-caused climate change has exposed U.S. national parks to conditions hotter and drier than the rest of the nation, says a new UC Berkeley and University of Wisconsin-Madison study that quantifies for the first time the magnitude of climate change on all 417 parks in the system.

Without action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, many small mammals and plants may be brought to the brink of extinction by the end of the century, the study shows.

The analysis reveals that over the past century, average temperatures in national parks increased at twice the rate as the rest of the nation and yearly rainfall decreased more in national parks than in other regions of the country.

At the current rate of emissions, the team projects that temperatures in the most exposed national parks could soar by as much as 9 degrees Celsius or 16 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. This rate of change is faster than many small mammals and plants can migrate or "disperse" to more hospitable climates.

"Human-caused climate change is already increasing the area burned by wildfires across the western U.S., melting glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park and shifting vegetation to higher elevations in Yosemite National Park," said Patrick Gonzalez, associate adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley and a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, a summary of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge of climate change.

"The good news is that, if we reduce our emissions from cars, power plants, deforestation, and other human activities and meet the Paris Agreement goal, we can keep the temperature increase in national parks to one-third of what it would be without any emissions reductions," Gonzalez said.

The locations of these unique ecosystems are what make them particularly exposed to climate change, Gonzalez said. Many national parks are found in deserts, high mountains or in the Arctic region of Alaska, climates that are known to be the hardest hit by global warming.

"National parks aren't a random sample - they are remarkable places and many happen to be in extreme environments," Gonzalez said. "Many are in places that are inherently more exposed to human-caused climate change."

The analysis, which includes all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and four territories in the Caribbean and Pacific, appears Sept. 24 in the journal Environmental Research Letters".

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"Katrina. Sandy. Harvey. Irma. These might be the names of your estranged aunts and uncles, but they’re also some of the worst hurricanes to hit U.S. coastlines this century.

Sandy, in particular, left its mark on New York—$72.2 billion in damage and 159 lives lost—but the next storm could be much worse. As marshlands and other natural storm barriers get swallowed up by the rising tide, coastal cities all along the seaboard become more susceptible to devastating storm surges and floods".

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"Refuges from climate change are typically understood in geographic terms: as places that, through some fortuitous circumstance of topography and local weather patterns, will provide a temperate haven for sensitive species even as global temperatures rise.

Another, less-appreciated kind of climate refuge exists. The activities of certain plants and animals create sheltered habitats within which other life can flourish — and their protective powers might be harnessed. “Habitat-former populations could be managed as a nature-based solution against climate-driven loss of biodiversity,” write researchers led by biologist Fabio Bulleri of the University of Pisa in the journal PLoS Biology.

Bulleri’s team focuses on coastal environments, and some of the species they discuss are already well-known to conservationists. Seagrasses, for example, are valued as storm buffers and fish nurseries — but Bulleri’s team says their role in shielding other species from climate-related stress has received little attention. As seagrasses absorb carbon dioxide while respiring, they lower the acidity of surrounding waters, lessening the corrosive effects of ocean acidification on reefs and shellfish.

That’s just one such instance. The researchers also describe how intertidal mussel clumps provide a bed on which vegetation can regrow after being scoured by climate-charged storms; burrowing sea cucumbers known as sandfish aerate seabeds and offset heat-driven declines in sedimentary oxygen levels; common bladder wrack algae form canopies beneath which cool temperatures prevail. Bulleri’s team call these “biogenic refugia.” Within them, species that would otherwise be doomed by harsh, fast-changing conditions can persist and perhaps adapt".

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"A species of seed-feeding fly is critically damaging the seed production of multiple orchid species, as revealed by a group of Japanese researchers. If the damage caused by this fly is occurring long-term and across Japan, these already-endangered orchid species could become unable to reproduce using seeds, and their dwindling numbers will take a large hit".

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"Despite many decades of annual brook trout stocking in one northcentral Pennsylvania watershed, the wild brook trout populations show few genes from hatchery fish, according to researchers".

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"Nature’s strength was laid bare again last week as two tropical storms marauded through Southeast Asia and the southeastern United States. Super Typhoon Mangkhut, thought to be one of the most powerful cyclones to hit the Philippines in decades, uprooted homes and turned roads into violent rivers. It killed at least 81 peoplebefore twisting its way over the South China Sea and careering into the Chinese mainland where the death toll rose further. On the US east coast, Hurricane Florence caused widespread flooding, killed at least 37people, and left millions without power. And as with Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Florence stalled over the continent, dropping ever more rain long after making landfall.

In the face of such a raw display of nature’s fury, it may seem like little can be done to lessen the blow of a hurricane. But according to new research, help in tempering the power of hurricanes could one day come from an unexpected source: offshore wind farms.

The idea of deliberately modifying the weather with wind turbines has been around for decades, but little work has been done to calculate whether or not it could really work. In 2014, a group of researchers including Cristina Archer, a civil and environmental engineer from the University of Delaware, showed how using an army of wind turbines to extract kinetic energy from the air could potentially pacify hurricanes. The team calculated that a massive array of 78,000 turbines could reduce coastal storm surges—such as the one Hurricane Katrina shoved onto New Orleans in 2005—by up to 79 percent.

In new follow-up work, Archer and her colleagues have shown the potential for wind turbines to sap the rain from hurricanes, too.

Archer’s calculations were done using a weather forecasting model into which she plugged atmospheric data from Hurricane Harvey, which drowned the southeastern United States with 100 trillion liters of waterin August 2017. She also included calculations reflecting how wind turbines affect the local atmosphere by increasing turbulence and drag. The results reveal how an array of wind turbines would affect the wind speed and direction of the oncoming hurricane, potentially reducing the downstream rainfall.

Archer’s team tested the interaction for wind farms of different sizes with varying densities of turbines. According to their calculations, a platoon of around 59,000 turbines spaced 900 meters apart would have cut the rainfall Houston experienced from Harvey by more than 20 percent".

(Posted by +rasha kamel )
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"Just before sunrise on a crisp summer morning high in a rain forest in Colombia’s Western Andes, the renowned ecologist Stuart Pimm gathered his research team over breakfast and made final plans for that morning’s journey to install motion-sensor cameras to monitor hummingbirds.

In just a few hours, the installations would be done by Andrea Kolarova, 20, who was here with other students from Duke University, where Dr. Pimm holds the Doris Duke Chair of Conservation. She was getting some advice from him and from Luis Mazariegos, founder of the Hummingbird Conservancy of Colombia.

My daughter, Alexandra, 11, a student at Saxe Middle School in New Canaan, Conn., had also been invited to participate in the Colombia project, which is how I found myself for two weeks this summer living in a cabin in this remote mountainous territory. Although not far from the town of Jardin, which is about two and a half hours from Medellin, it takes a slightly harrowing hourlong ride in an ATV along a dirt switchback road to get here".

(Posted by +rasha kamel )
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