• Carbon in water must be accounted for in future climate projections

    U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists have documented that the carbon that moves through or accumulates in lakes, rivers, and streams has not been adequately incorporated into current models of carbon cycling used to track and project climate change.

  • Global learning required to prevent carbon capture, storage from being abandoned

    Governments should not be abandoning carbon capture and storage, argues a Cambridge researcher, as it is the only realistic way of dramatically reducing carbon emissions. Instead, they should be investing in global approaches to learn what works – and what doesn’t.

  • What makes a “smart gun” smart?

    Throughout the 20-year-long discussion of “smart guns,” the topic has been a lightning rod for debate between pro- and anti-gun lobbies. But too often, there isn’t substantive knowledge of the underlying technologies, their appropriate use and their design limitations. Personalized weapons technology can make a contribution to reducing death and injury from accidental or unauthorized weapons use. It is not a panacea, but it can be an option for gun buyers to ensure their weapons never fall into the wrong hands. Smart guns are not science fiction and could be a commercial reality much sooner than later.

  • The impact of rising sea levels on Rhode Island

    Climate change will bring profound changes to Rhode Island’s coastal communities in the coming decades. Scientists project sea levels to rise 3 to 5 feet in the state by 2100, and recent government projections are as high as 7 feet. Now, University of Rhode Island students are studying one community that could be hit especially hard: Matunuck. The year-long analysis by eight senior ocean engineering students is so thorough that flooding projections were made for specific structures —709 to be exact. Those home and business owners will be able to find out what could happen to their buildings during a powerful storm with rising sea levels up to five feet.

  • Dawn of the Anthropocene: five ways we know humans have triggered a new geological epoch

    Is the Anthropocene real? That is, the vigorously debated concept of a new geological epoch driven by humans. Our environmental impact is indeed profound — there is little debate about that — but is it significant on a geological timescale, measured over millions of years? And will humans leave a distinctive mark upon the layers of rocks that geologists of 100,000,000AD might use to investigate the present day? The human-driven changes to the Earth’s environment are comparable in scale to those of earlier epochs. The extraordinarily wide range of geological signals associated with the Anthropocene means comparison with earlier epochs is not straightforward, but the evidence indicates an overall magnitude of change at least as large as that which ushered in the Holocene, our current geological epoch, and most other epochs. It means that humans are moving the Earth system from the comparative environmental stability of the Holocene into a new, evolving planetary state. And the impact will be felt by all human generations to come.

  • Record December boosted 2015 to second warmest year for contiguous U.S.

    The 2015 annual average U.S. temperature was 54.4°F, 2.4°F above the twentieth century average, the second warmest year on record. Only 2012 was warmer for the United States with an average temperature of 55.3°F. This is the nineteenth consecutive year the annual average temperature exceeded the twentieth century average. The first part of the year was marked by extreme warmth in the West and cold in the East, but by the end of 2015, record warmth spanned the East with near-average temperatures across the West. This temperature pattern resulted in every state having an above-average annual temperature.

  • view counter
  • The Anthropocene: Hard evidence for a new, human-driven geological epoch

    The evidence for a new geological epoch which marks the impact of human activity on the Earth is now overwhelming, according to a recent paper by an international group of geoscientists. The Anthropocene, which is argued to start in the mid-twentieth century, is marked by the spread of materials such as aluminum, concrete, plastic, fly ash, and fallout from nuclear testing across the planet, coincident with elevated greenhouse gas emissions and unprecedented trans-global species invasions. The researchers set out to anser this question: To what extent are human actions recorded as measurable signals in geological strata, and is the Anthropocene world markedly different from the stable Holocene Epoch of the last 11,700 years which allowed human civilization to develop?

  • Professor fired for saying Muslims and Christians worship same God

    Dr. Larycia Hawkins, a teacher of political science at Wheaton College in Illinois who has lost her job after claiming that Muslims and Christians worshipped the same God, has responded to her dismissal, saying she was “flummoxed and flabbergasted” by the decision to fire her. The college initiated termination proceedings, saying Hawkins had refused to take part in “clarifying conversations” about the theological issues raised by her comments.

  • Drought, heat deleterious for global crops

    Drought and extreme heat slashed global cereal harvests between 1964 and 2007 — and the impact of these weather disasters was greatest in North America, Europe, and Australasia. At a time when global warming is projected to produce more extreme weather, a new study provides the most comprehensive look yet at the influence of such events on crop area, yields, and production around the world.

  • Current pace of environmental change unprecedented in Earth’s history

    Researchers have further documented the unprecedented rate of environmental change occurring today, compared to that which occurred during natural events in Earth’s history. The environmental change in the past “appears to have been far slower than that of today, taking place over hundreds of thousands of years, rather than the centuries over which human activity is increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels,” says a leading expert.

  • Remote-controlled robot inspects suitcase bombs

    Abandoned items of luggage are frequently found at airports and train stations. This is a case for the emergency services, which have to assume that these items might contain bombs. They must assess the potential threat quickly, avert any possible danger, and preserve evidence for criminal proceedings. In the future, police will have the support of a remote-controlled sensor system as they go about their duties. Researchers are developing this sensor suite in cooperation with industry partners and criminal investigation authorities.

  • Global electricity production vulnerable to climate change, water resource decline

    Climate change impacts and associated changes in water resources could lead to reductions in electricity production capacity for more than 60 percent of the power plants worldwide from 2040-2069. A new study calls for a greater focus on adaptation efforts in order to maintain future energy security. Making power plants more efficient and flexible could mitigate much of the decline.

  • Large and growing methane emissions from northern lakes

    Methane is increasing in the atmosphere, but many of its sources are poorly understood. Climate-sensitive regions in the north are home to most of the world’s lakes. New research shows that these northern freshwaters are critical emitters of methane, a more effective greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

  • Making cleaner fuel cells

    There is a near unanimity in the scientific community that the average temperature on the planet is rising and this is happening because of the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Radically redesigning virtually all technological infrastructure is not possible without an acceptable alternative to internal combustion engines: either electric accumulators and electric motors, or fuel cells with electric motors. Fuel cells themselves will not solve the problem of rising temperatures on the planet, but they are part of a possible solution. Researchers have developed ion-exchange synthetic membranes based on amphiphilic compounds that are able to convert the energy of chemical reactions into electrical current.

  • Snake robot range-sensing control system improves search-and-rescue performance

    Rescue operations at disaster scenes often use robots to avoid further human danger. Modelling robots on snakes can provide better access through narrow paths in rubble, but previous models which control snake robots by the head do not adequately avoid collisions between the body of the robot and surrounding obstacles. Researchers say that to be more effective in search and rescue missions, robotic snakes should comprise a series of sections joined by links which either pitch up and down or yaw through sideways turning angles.