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MIT: A Cheap and Easy Plan to Stop Global Warming

MIT: A Cheap and Easy Plan to Stop Global Warming | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Here is the plan. Customize several Gulfstream business jets with military engines and with equipment to produce and disperse fine droplets of sulfuric acid. Fly the jets up around 20 kilometers—significantly higher than the cruising altitude for a commercial jetliner but still well within their range. At that altitude in the tropics, the aircraft are in the lower stratosphere. The planes spray the sulfuric acid, carefully controlling the rate of its release. The sulfur combines with water vapor to form sulfate aerosols, fine particles less than a micrometer in diameter. These get swept upward by natural wind patterns and are dispersed over the globe, including the poles. Once spread across the stratosphere, the aerosols will reflect about 1 percent of the sunlight hitting Earth back into space. Increasing what scientists call the planet’s albedo, or reflective power, will partially offset the warming effects caused by rising levels of greenhouse gases.


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Entrepreneur receives funding for 'tornado' power generator

Entrepreneur receives funding for 'tornado' power generator | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Electrical engineer and entrepreneur Louis Michaud's AVEtec company has received funding from PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel's Breakout Labs program to build an experimental Atmosphere Vortex Engine (AVE). The $300,000 in startup funds is to go towards building a working engine to dispel or prove the viability of using such technology to produce electricity with virtually no carbon footprint.

 

Michaud's idea is to use a fan to blow some of the excess heat produced by conventional power plants, into a cylindrical hollow tower, at an angle. Doing so should create a circular air current, which he says will grow stronger as it moves higher. The higher it goes the more energy it draws due to differences in temperature. The result would be a controlled man-made tornado. To put it to good user, turbines would be installed at the base of the vortex to create electricity. The original test will be conducted at Lambton College in Ontario – the tower will be 131 feet tall with a 26 foot diameter. That should be enough to create a vortex about a foot in diameter – enough to power a small turbine. It's just a proof of concept, Michaud notes on his site, a real-world tower would be about 25 meters in diameter, and would be capable of producing up to 200 megawatts of power using only the excess heat generated by a conventional 500 megawatt plant. Power goes up geometrically, he says, as the size of tower grows. He adds that the cost of producing electricity this way would be about 3 cents per kilowatt hour, well below the typical 4 or 5 cents for coal plants.

 

Michaud has been investigating the idea of harnessing the power of tornado's to provide electricity for several decades but until now has had problems being taken seriously by venture capitalists. He adds that his company built and successfully tested an AVE prototype in 2009, hinting that he has no doubts that the new tower and turbines will work as advertised.


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New Evidence of Human Influence on Global Warming - Troposphere warms and stratosphere cools

New Evidence of Human Influence on Global Warming - Troposphere warms and stratosphere cools | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it
Using state-of-the-art climate models, a new study has found clear evidence of a discernible human influence on atmospheric temperature.

 

Specifically, Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and 21 colleagues found that while the troposphere — the lowest part of the atmosphere — has warmed over the past three decades, the stratosphere, which starts 5 to 12 miles above the ground, has cooled. This is exactly what you’d expect if greenhouse gases were trapping heat near the surface rather than letting it percolate upward. “This is not a new idea,” Santer said in an interview. “We did the first fingerprinting studies of the troposphere and stratosphere back in 1996.”

 

The problem back then, Santer said, was that only a couple of climate models were available for studies like this. Models are crucial in this kind of research because you can’t do controlled experiments with the planet the way doctors do when they test new pharmaceuticals. With medicines, you give some patients the drug and others a placebo, or sugar pill, and see the difference in how their illnesses respond.

 

With the climate system, by contrast, there’s only one patient, and it’s already been dosed with extra greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. So scientists like Santer do simulations of how the atmosphere should look both with and without those extra gases. Unlike in 1996, Santer and his co-authors had 20 different simulations to work with for this study, all of them state-of-the-art models developed for the upcoming major report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due out starting in 2014.

 

The obtained results mean, that the warming of the troposphere and cooling of the stratosphere can’t be explained in any other way than by the heat-trapping effects of human-generated greenhouse gases. “It was surprising to me how large the signal was,” Santer said

This is only one of the fingerprints scientists expect to see in a human–influenced climate, moreover. “In the past we’ve looked at ocean surface temperatures changes in hurricane-forming regions, patterns in atmospheric pressure; rainfall patterns, and changes in Arctic sea ice,” Santer said. All of these and more can be identified more easily and clearly with the new models. “I think these simulations are like a scientific gold mine,” Santer said. “Analysts will be exploiting them for many years to come.”


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Global warming has increased monthly heat records by a factor of five

Global warming has increased monthly heat records by a factor of five | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

“The last decade brought unprecedented heat waves; for instance in the US in 2012, in Russia in 2010, in Australia in 2009, and in Europe in 2003,” lead-author Dim Coumou says. “Heat extremes are causing many deaths, major forest fires, and harvest losses – societies and ecosystems are not adapted to ever new record-breaking temperatures.” The new study relies on 131 years of monthly temperature data for more than 12.000 grid points around the world, provided by NASA. Comprehensive analysis reveals the increase in records.

 

The researchers developed a robust statistical model that explains the surge in the number of records to be a consequence of the long-term global warming trend. That surge has been particularly steep over the last 40 years, due to a steep global-warming trend over this period. Superimposed on this long-term rise, the data show the effect of natural variability, with especially high numbers of heat records during years with El Niño events. This natural variability, however, does not explain the overall development of record events, found the researchers.


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Deadliest and Costliest Hurricanes in the US (Infographic)

Deadliest and Costliest Hurricanes in the US (Infographic) | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it
The deadliest hurricane in the period since 1851 hit Texas in 1900 and claimed 8,000 lives.

 

Hurricane Sandy, which struck the U.S. in October 2012, is estimated to have caused upward of 110 fatalities in the U.S. and $50 billion in damage (in 2012 dollars). The deadliest hurricane to strike the United States since 1851 was the Galveston, Texas hurricane of Sept. 1900. The category 4 storm claimed 8,000 lives by most reports, although the true toll may have been as high as 12,000. The costliest hurricane was the 1926 category 4 storm that hit southeast Florida in 1926. The unnamed storm caused $165 billion in damage (in 2005 dollars).

 

By comparison, 2005’s hurricane Katrina had the third-highest death toll, killing 1,200. Katrina was the second costliest hurricane, with $113 billion in damage (2005 dollars). Another extremely costly hurricane was 1992’s Andrew, which did $59 billion worth of damage in southeast Florida and Louisiana.

 

The practice of giving storms names became widespread in World War II. Initially, only female names were used, but since 1979, storms have been given both male and female names. Damage amounts and death tolls are from an August, 2011 study by NOAA entitled “The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Tropical Cyclones from 1851 to 2010 (and Other Frequently Requested Hurricane Facts.”


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