• Impact: Earth! Web site calculates asteroid impact effects on Earth

    Purdue University researchers unveils the Impact Earth! Web site; the site allows visitors to use a calculator to calculate the potential damage a comet or asteroid would cause if it hit the Earth; visitors enter parameters such as the diameter of the impact object, its density, velocity, angle of entry, and where it will hit the Earth, and the site estimates the consequences of its impact, including the atmospheric blast wave, ground shaking, size of tsunami generated, fireball expansion, distribution of debris, and size of the crater produced

  • Drought may threaten much of globe within decades

    A new study, based on twenty-two computer climate models and a comprehensive index of drought conditions, as well as analyses of previously published studies, finds that most of the Western Hemisphere, along with large parts of Eurasia, Africa, and Australia, will be at risk of extreme drought this century; in contrast, higher-latitude regions from Alaska to Scandinavia are likely to become more moist

  • NOAA: Global temperature ties for warmest on record

    The first nine months of 2010 tied with the same period in 1998 for the warmest combined land and ocean surface temperature on record (the records go back to 1880); this value is 1.17 F (0.65 C) above the twentieth century average; Los Angeles set a new all-time maximum temperature on 27 September when temperatures soared to 113 F;

  • With rising sea levels, the time for adapting is now

    Coastal development has accelerated over the past fifty years; many of the world’s megacities are situated at the coast and new infrastructure worth billions of dollars is being constructed; these developments assume that the stable sea levels of the past several millennia will continue — but this assumption is no longer true

  • Ocean-landing asteroid will create huge ozone holes

    To date, 818 asteroids that are at least 1-km wide have been discovered on orbits that could take them close to Earth; if a 1-km wide asteroid were to land in the ocean, it would create a big splash, throwing 42 trillion kilograms of water and vapor — enough to fill sixteen million Olympic-sized swimming pools — across an area more than 1,000 kilometers wide and up to hundreds of kilometers above the Earth’s surface; this will result in the destruction of the ozone layer above the Earth’s atmosphere, exposing humans, animals, and plants to civilization-threatening levels of UV radiation

  • Large parts of the world are drying up

    The soils in large areas of the Southern Hemisphere, including major portions of Australia, Africa, and South America, have been drying up in the past decade as a result of intensified “evapotranspiration” — the movement of water from the land to the atmosphere

  • Scientists: More than 4 million barrels of oil entered Gulf

    Scientists conclude that following the 20 April explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon well, 4.4 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico; knowing the total volume of oil is critical to understanding how much oil could be lurking in the Gulf and nearby marshes — a highly contentious issue

  • Worldwide groundwater depletion rate accelerating

    In recent decades, the rate at which humans worldwide are pumping dry the vast underground stores of water that billions depend on has more than doubled; if water was siphoned from the Great Lakes as rapidly as water is pumped out of underground reservoirs, the Great Lakes would go bone-dry in around 80 years

  • Insect-size air vehicles to explore, monitor hazardous environments

    High-performance micro air vehicles (MAVs) are on track to evolve into robotic, insect-scale devices for monitoring and exploration of hazardous environments, such as collapsed structures, caves and chemical spills

  • Geoengineering may affect different regions differently

    Geoengineering approaches would succeed in restoring the average global temperature to “normal” levels, but some regions would remain too warm, whereas others would “overshoot” and cool too much; in addition, average rainfall would be reduced

  • The U.S. military prepares for the coming conflicts triggered by climate change

    The popular debate surrounding “global warming” is rife with emotion and has paralyzed U.S. policymakers; military planners, however, remain divorced from the emotional content of the topic, looking at possible future scenarios and conducting planning to address the associated challenges and threats arising from sharp changes in climate

  • New cement absorbs CO2

    Concrete — the essential material used by the world’s $3.8 trillion construction industry — accounts for 5 percent of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions; each ton of cement emits about 800 kg (1,763 lb.) of CO2 during manufacture — and every year, some 3 billion tons of cement turn into nearly 30 billion tons of concrete, a British start-up has devised a new cement — based on magnesium silicates rather than limestone — that absorbs and stores CO2 when it is produced

  • Oregano reduces atmosphere-damaging emissions of methane by gassy cows

    Cows account for 37 percent of methane gas emissions caused by human activities, such as agriculture; the EPA says that compared to carbon dioxide, methane has 23 times the potential to create global warming because of the gas’s absorption of infrared radiation, the spectral location of its absorbing wavelengths, and the length of time methane remains in the atmosphere; researchers find that the addition of oregano to cow feed cuts the amount of methane emitted by belching cows by 40 percent; the oregano also improves milk production

  • Scientist offers better ways to engineer Earth's climate to blunt global warming

    A Canadian scientist suggests two novel geoengineering approaches to limit the effects of climate change on Earth: “levitating:” engineered nano-particles, and the airborne release of sulphuric acid; both ideas are more refined than, and have advantages over, another geoengineering concept developed by geoengineers: mimicking volcanic eruptions by injecting massive amounts of sulphur dioxide gas into the upper atmosphere

  • Obama to pare down list of export-controlled technologies

    For many years, academic institutions and businesses in the United States have complained about the long list of technologies that the U.S. government considers too sensitive to export without a license; last week, President Obama announced that administration would pare down the list of export-controlled item; businesses and universities are happy, but some in the arms-control community are not happy