1 The filthy air conundrum on Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:49 pm
BBC Magazine Diagram - Normal Pattern and Inversion weather conditions
The final frontier for solar energy - BBC Science/Technology News - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - Scientists are assessing the possibility of embarking on a space engineering project that would eclipse the effort to construct the International Space Station. - By Judith Burns - Science producer, BBC News - 7 December 2007.
The man making 'wind bags' - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - By Brady Haran BBC News - Seamus Garvey wants to "store the wind". - He believes the future of energy is storing it as compressed air in giant bags under the sea. - And a major power company has invested in the scheme. - Professor Garvey, a long-time proponent of compressed air, feels vindicated by the research grant. - 26 March 2008.
The war on global warming - Why raising awareness will never be enough to recruit UK householders - NESTA - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - That global warming is the most pressing problem facing our planet is a message hitting home with UK householders. Yet there remains a gulf between understanding the issues - and taking personal action to help prevent them. Here Mike Nye, Senior Research Associate at the University of East Anglia, outlines some of the innovation necessary to change a nation's behaviour.
The wrong way to a warmer world? - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - BBC Radio 4's Analysis: The wrong way to a warmer world? will be broadcast on Thursday, 3rd April 2008 at 20:30 and repeated on Sunday 6th April at 21.30 BST. - Mitigation and adaptation. Two words we're going to have to get used to in the latest battle over climate change. - Over the past few years the key debate has been about the science - is the world really hotting up and, if so, are humans responsible? - There's still a minority of sceptics who question the idea of man-made global warming. The consensus, though, is that the earth is getting warmer - and that humans have helped turn up the thermostat. - The new debate that's splitting scientists, economists and politicians is not about whether the world is getting hotter but about how we should respond.
Tidal Power: Severn Estuary - Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - The tidal energy resource in the Severn Estuary provides the largest potential of all the UK’s estuaries for renewable electricity generation. Previous studies, including the recent report from the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) ‘Turning the Tide: Tidal Power in the UK’ indicate that up to 5% of the UK’s electricity demand could be met by harnessing the tidal energy that exists within the estuary.
Tidal Power - Sustainable Development Commision - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - The UK's outstanding tidal resources could provide at least 10% of the country’s electricity. The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) has carried out a comprehensive study of tidal power in the UK, including an evaluation of proposals for a Severn barrage. Our report, 'Tidal Power in the UK', includes a series of recommendations to Government on how to develop our tidal resource, and emerging tidal technologies, to provide secure, low carbon electricity for the long term..
Time for the IT crowd to go green - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - Despite the many benefits they bring, society's growing dependence on computers is taking its toll on the environment, says Steve Nunn. In this week's Green Room, he calls for a "strategic shift" in mindsets to curb IT's growing impacts. - VIEWPOINT - Steve Nunn BBC Science/Nature - 24 September 2007.
Times Online - Environment News - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Tipping elements in the Earth's climate system - Timothy M. Lenton, Hermann Held, Elmar Kriegler, Jim W. Hall, Wolfgang Lucht, Stefan Rahmstorf, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber - The term "tipping point" commonly refers to a critical threshold at which a tiny perturbation can qualitatively alter the state or development of a system. Here we introduce the term "tipping element" to describe large-scale components of the Earth system that may pass a tipping point. We critically evaluate potential policy-relevant tipping elements in the climate system under anthropogenic forcing, drawing on the pertinent literature and a recent international workshop to compile a short list, and we assess where their tipping points lie. An expert elicitation is used to help rank their sensitivity to global warming and the uncertainty about the underlying physical mechanisms. Then we explain how, in principle, early warning systems could be established to detect the proximity of some tipping points. - February 7, 2008.
Transport for Greater Bristol - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - A step change in powers and investment is required to meet Bristol's transport needs and the challenges of congestion, climate change, quality of life and air quality, building on good practice from around the country.
Turning the Tide, Tidal Power in the UK - Sustainable Development Commision - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - If fully exploited, tidal power has the potential to generate 10% of the UK's electricity. This report examines in-depth the propositon for a Severn Barrage and also the possible application of tidal range, tidal stream and tidal lagoon technologies at other sites around the UK.
UK e-Science All Hands Meeting: Virtual globes visualise the Earth's environment - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - Research Councils UK: UK e-Science Programme Press Release - UK e-Science All Hands Meeting: Virtual globes visualise the Earth’s environment - An environmental scientist has won an award for showing how virtual globes, such as Google Earth, can be used to visualise complex scientific data and reveal new insights into environmental processes. Dr Jon Blower from the University of Reading and colleagues were awarded ‘Best Paper’ at the UK e-Science All Hands Meeting in Nottingham this week for their paper describing how such virtual globes can aid scientific research and communicate results to a wide public. "This is more than just eye candy", said Dr Blower. "Visualisation is extremely important for revealing new information about environmental processes from the local level right up to the global scale." - Google Earth is a computer-based 3D representation of the Earth on which you can superimpose your own information. Based on satellite imagery, it can also show you, rather alarmingly, an image of your house from space. The Reading scientists have used it, however, to visualise two or more scientific datasets simultaneously.
Research Councils UK - The image above shows how the passage of Hurricane Katrina affected sea surface temperature in the Gulf of Mexico. One dataset shows sea surface temperature, with red colours being warmer. The other tracks the passage and intensity of the hurricane, with red dots representing greater intensity. "The image shows that the hurricane caused the sea on the right-hand side of the storm to cool, which is where the strong winds would have caused upwelling of colder subsurface water," says Dr Blower. "You can also see the hurricane grow in strength as it picks up energy from the warm ocean." A video revealed precisely how the storm and the sea affect each other.
UK forecasts to zoom in on towns - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - Weather forecasters will soon be able to zoom in on regions that are the size of a town, UK meteorologists have said. - BBC Science News - 26 July 2007.
UK homes urged to 'leave it off' - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - By Richard Black - Environment correspondent, BBC News website - Britons are being asked to "leave it off" later this month, to show that cutting home energy use can have an impact on climate change. - During E-Day, which begins on 27 February, people will be asked to switch off electrical items not in use. - The National Grid will assess what difference it makes to electricity consumption, and power companies will offer support for home insulation. - 5 February 2008.
UK in 'delusion' over emissions - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - By Roger Harrabin BBC environment analyst - The UK has been living under a delusion over its claim to be cutting greenhouse gases, according to two reports that will shake the climate change debate. - They show that instead of falling since the 1990s, UK greenhouse emissions have been growing in line with the economy. - This is dependent on emissions from aviation, shipping and imported goods being counted. - At the moment they are excluded under the internationally-agreed system for carbon accounts. - Both reports are from the respected Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) based at the University of York. - 31 July 2008.
UK 'may miss 2020 target for CO2' - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - Further promises by the UK government to meet greenhouse gas targets look unlikely to be met, a think tank says. Cambridge Econometrics was one of the first to forecast that the government would miss its target to cut CO2 by 20% for 2010. - By Roger Harrabin - BBC environment analyst - 23 August 2007.
UK renewables policy 'inadequate' - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - BBC News - The UK government is unlikely to meet its target of 10% of electricity being generated by renewable sources by 2010, a committee of MPs has warned. - The Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Select Committee called the policy inadequate and was disappointed by an apparent "lack of urgency". - It added that the wait for planning consent was "too lengthy", and access to the national grid was "too limited". - 19 June 2008.
BBC Science/Nature - UK renewables policy 'inadequate'
UK set for 15% renewables target - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - By Roger Harrabin - Environment analyst, BBC News - The EU wants to create a low-carbon economy across Europe - The European Union is expected to tell the UK that 15% of energy needs must be met from renewable sources by 2020. - 18 January 2008.
UK 'should end biofuel subsidies' - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - The government should stop funding biofuels and use the money to halt the destruction of rainforests and peatland instead, a think tank has said. - Policy Exchange said the switch would have a bigger impact on climate change because trees and peatland remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. - The government currently spends £550m annually on biofuel subsidies. - 26 August 2008.
UK 'to ignore' EU pollution plea - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - By Roger Harrabin BBC Environment Analyst - The government will ignore a plea from the EU to create a clean technology fund from a levy on pollution, BBC News has learned. - Instead the UK wants to divert the proceeds of the levy - which could stretch to £1bn a year - into general Treasury funds. - It will mean that all UK energy users, including households, will pay part of their energy bills to the Treasury. - Wednesday, 23 January 2008.
UK's first emissions zone begins - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - BBC News Website - The most heavily polluting lorries are facing charges of £200 per day to enter Greater London as Britain's first low emission zone (LEZ) comes into force. - The £49m scheme uses cameras to check all lorries over 12-tonnes entering the zone against a database of vehicles certified as meeting EU exhaust limits. - 4 February 2008.
Unravelling the sceptics - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] - By Richard Black - Environment correspondent, BBC News website - Deciphering the positions of climate sceptics can be a puzzle - What do "climate sceptics" believe? - 12 November 2007.
Universe Today - 2007 was Tied for the Second Hottest Year on Record - Written by Fraser Cain. You weren't imagining things, 2007 really was an unseasonably hot year. In fact, it was tied with 1998 for the second hottest year on record. All in all, the 8 warmest years have all occurred since 1998, and the 14 warmest years since 1990. This mini-record was announced by NASA climatologists this week. - January 18th, 2008.
Universe Today - Arctic's Oldest and Thickest Ice is Melting Away - Written by Fraser Cain - It's been a strange year for the Arctic. During the summer, high temperatures melted away vast regions of the Arctic sea ice, opening up the Northwest Passage for the first time. But then this winter has been unusually cold, bringing back large large areas of sea ice. So what's going on? Is the Arctic recovering, or is Global Warming marching on? - The big problem studying global warming is that the temperatures and local climate can fluctuate. Over the short term, in some regions, you can have unseasonably warm or cold temperatures. Here in Vancouver, we had one of the coldest, snowiest winters I've ever seen. - March 19th, 2008.
Universe Today - Are We Living in a New Geologic Epoch? - Have humans changed our planet Earth so much in the past 200 years that we are now living in a new geological age? A group of geologists believes this is the case. They have formally proposed designating a new geologic epoch, the Anthropocene, which would encompass the past 200 years or so of geologic history. The action is appropriate, they say, because during the past 2 centuries, human activity has caused most of the major changes in Earth's topography and climate. - Written by Nancy Atkinson - January 29th, 2008.
Universe Today - Be A Carbon Hero - Written by Nancy Atkinson - NASA is quite proud of its 'spinoffs', technology developed for NASA’s needs in space needs that in turn contribute to commercial innovations that improve life here on Earth. And rightly so. Just as a quick example, improvements in spacesuits have led to better protection for firefighters, scuba divers and people working in cold weather. But the list of NASA spinoffs is quite extensive. - Just like NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) has a Technology Transfer office to help inventors and businesses use space technology for non-space applications. The latest invention touted as an ESA spinoff is a small hand-held device called a Carbon Hero that might help make people more aware of the carbon footprint they are leaving behind due to vehicle emissions. - February 25th, 2008. - ESA Technology Transfer Programme - ESA Press Release - Tracking your carbon footprint.
Universe Today - Break Up of Antarctic Ice Shelf - Written by Nancy Atkinson - If anyone is denial about climate change possibly occuring on Earth, please take a look at this. This animation highlights the rapid loss of ice recently on the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Between February 28 and 29, 2008 an area of about 400 sq km disintegrated into large and small icebergs within 24 hours. As a result of the recent collapse, the remaining shelf, which totals about 14 500 sq km, is now only supported by a 6 km strip of ice. This strip is already rifted, and the remaining strip is in danger of breaking up as well. - March 28th, 2008.
Universe Today - Could Nitrogen Pollution Give Tropical Flora a Much Needed Boost? - Written by Ian O'Neill - Global warming and subsequent climate change is directly linked with human activity on our planet. The greenhouse effect is amplified by our need for energy, burning fossil fuels and pumping vast quantities of CO2 into our atmosphere. To make things worse, the plants that form the Earth's "lungs" in the tropics are being destroyed on a massive scale, so less carbon dioxide can be scrubbed from the air. However, it's not all bad news. Industry and agriculture also generate large amounts of excess nitrogen pollution and scientists now believe that this nitrogen (a main ingredient for fertilizer) may help to increase tropical plant growth by up to 20% - February 6th, 2008.
Universe Today - Double the Hurricanes, Half the Fun - Researchers are reporting that the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes has doubled over the last century. 100 years ago, the Atlantic saw 6 severe storms a year, and now it experiences 15. The study concludes that warmer sea surface temperatures are to blame; changing wind patterns from global warming are fueling the increase in hurricanes. - August 1st, 2007.]