Skip to main content


Showing posts from March, 2016

When will rooftop solar be cheaper than the grid?

Changing river path seen through satellite images

Sedimentary geologist Zoltan Sylvester downloaded Landsat data using Earth Explorer and strung together images of the Ucayali River to see the changes over thirty years. Thanks to the Landsat program and Google Earth Engine, it is possible now to explore how the surface of the Earth has been changing through the last thirty years or so. Besides the obvious issues of interest, like changes in vegetation, the spread of cities, and the melting of glaciers, it is also possible to look at how rivers change their courses through time. You have probably already seen the images of the migrating Ucayali River in Peru, for example here. This river is changing its course with an impressive speed; many – probably most – other rivers don’t show much obvious change during the same 30-year period. What determines the meander migration rate of rivers is an interesting question in fluvial geomorphology. The data that underlies Google Earth Engine is not accessible to everybody, but the Landsat

Norway’s national parks

100-Year-Old Frost Maps Show How Climate Change Has Shifted the Growing Season in the U.S.

"Average Dates of Last Killing Frost in Spring," William Reed Gardner, Charles Franklin Brooks, and F.J. Marschner (1916).  "Average Dates of First Killing Frost in Fall," William Reed Gardner, Charles Franklin Brooks, and F.J. Marschner (1916). Via

Crops grown for food (green) versus for animal feed and fuel (purple)

Just 55% of the world's crop calories are actually eaten directly by people. Via

World population split in half

Sleep temperature

Average nigth temperatures differ a lot: UK (15.2°) - Romania (20.2°) Via

North America's Natural Treasures

Tree cover of North America Map of protected areas in North America National Parks of Canada National Parks in the U.S.

World population history, an interactive site that lets you explore the peopling of our planet from multiple perspectives – historical, environmental, social and political. It is about the 2,000-year journey of human civilization and the possible paths ahead to the middle of this century. The genesis of this project was World Population, a simple, yet powerful, video animation of “dots on a map” representing population changes through time. First produced by Population Connection (Zero Population Growth at that time) over 40 years ago, the video became a popular teaching resource. This spawned new editions that have been viewed in classrooms, museums and boardrooms worldwide. The new 2015 version is viewable here in six languages and contains the latest population projections. But, what if, you could go beyond the video animation to discover more about the trends that have shaped population growth? What if you could zoom into the population map to learn more about the places illu

Timeline of the Aral Sea (1960 - 2014)

Forest composition across Canada

Canada’s forests contain many tree species. Grouping species according to genus makes it easier to see where trees of different types are dominant. For example, moving northward from Canada’s most densely populated areas in Ontario and Quebec, one passes first through maple-dominated forests, then through birch, and on into the spruces (including black spruce, white spruce and others) that dominate the boreal zone, a broad sweep of land from Yukon to Newfoundland. The forests around Canada’s prairies are dominated by poplars (including trembling aspen and balsam poplar), but these species can also be found almost anywhere in Canada. Pines, too, are common throughout Canada, but are especially dominant in areas where forest fires have occurred frequently. The West Coast is dominated by forests of giant hemlocks, cedars and Douglas-firs, whereas the forests of the East Coast are heavily mixed and species rich. Faded colours represent less densely forested areas. A silhouette is

Pollution Index 2016

Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change.Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light. Pollutants, the components of pollution, can be either foreign substances/energies or naturally occurring contaminants. Pollution is often classed as point source or nonpoint source pollution. The major forms of pollution are listed below along with the particular contaminant relevant to each of them:        1. Air pollution: the release of chemicals and particulates into the atmosphere. Common gaseous pollutants include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrogen oxides produced by industry and motor vehicles. Photochemical ozone and smog are created as nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons react to sunlight. Particulate matter, or fine dust is characterized by their micrometre size PM10 to PM2.5.       2.Light pollution: includes light trespass, over-illumination

A Global View of Methane

For a chemical compound that shows up nearly everywhere on the planet, methane still surprises us. It is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, and yet the reasons for why and where it shows up are often a mystery. What we know for sure is that a lot more methane (CH4) has made its way into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Less understood is why the ebb and flow of this gas has changed in recent decades. You can find the odorless, transparent gas miles below Earth’s surface and miles above it. Methane bubbles up from swamps and rivers, belches from volcanoes, rises from wildfires, and seeps from the guts of cows and termites (where is it made by microbes). Human settlements are awash with the gas. Methane leaks silently from natural gas and oil wells and pipelines, as well as coal mines. It stews in landfills, sewage treatment plants, and rice paddies. The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite offers one satellite

All the operating electric power plants in the U.S. and the types of fuel they use

Coal used to generate electricity represents about 30 percent of U.S. emissions driving climate change. The plan, which has been temporarily blocked by the Supreme Court, aims to cut carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Low natural gas prices have been driving utilities away from coal for most of the last decade as the nation’s shale gas and fracking boom flooded the market with gas. Prior to 2008, coal generated half the nation’s electricity. Today, it generates less than 30 percent. Renewable energy sources are also playing a role in the transition away from coal. More new wind and solar plants are expected to become operational in 2016 than new natural gas plants. More than 16 gigawatts of wind and solar power generating capacity are expected to be built this year - enough to power roughly 12 million homes. About 8 gigawatts of natural gas power generating capacity will be built in 2016. Via

Light pollution in Europe: 1992 vs. 2010

Europe at night: 1992 vs. 2010 Increase (red) and decrease (blue) in illumination in Europe between 1992 and 2010

California drought map (2011 - 2016)

NASA guide to air-filtering houseplanys

It won't surprise you to hear that the majority of people spend the bulk of their time indoors, whether it's at home or working in an office environment. As such, it’s important to ensure that air quality is of a high standard, something that regular houseplants can help achieve. Back in 1989, NASA conducted a Clean Air Study in association with Associated Landscape Contractors of America, in an effort to find the most effective common indoor plants for filtering harmful toxins and pollutants from the air. Their results have stood the test of time, and the most effective air filtering plants can be found below.

Winter temperatures compared to the 1981 - 2010 average

Winter temperatures (December 2015-February 2016) compared to the 1981-2010 average. It was the contiguous U.S.’ warmest winter on record.

Chicago Growth (1830 - 2030)

February 2016: Global Significant Climate Events Map

GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE February 2016 average global land and ocean temperature was the highest for February since records began in 1880. ARCTIC SEA ICE EXTENT February 2016 sea ice extent reached a record low for the second consecutive month. February 2016 sea ice extent was 7.5 percent below the 1981 -2010 average—the smallest February sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979. ANTARCTIC SEA ICE EXTENT February 2016 sea ice extent was 9.5 percent below the 1981 -2010 average— the smallest February extent since 2011 and the sixth smallest February sea ice extent on record. TROPICAL CYCLONE WINSTON (February 7th-March 3rd 2016) Maximum winds - 285 km/hr Winston was one of the strongest cyclones to make landfall on Fiji on record. Winston caused significant damage as it hit the island as a Category 5 storm. FINLAND Wetter-than-average conditions were observed across Finland in February. Some locations received two to three times the monthly average. Overal

Which U.S. cities are at risk for a Zika outbreak?

So far in the United States, there have been 193 cases of Zika, all of them associated with travel or sexual transmission. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no one has yet gotten the virus locally, meaning there haven’t been any cases transmitted by U.S. mosquitoes. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the Zika virus’s primary ride. During the winter, the U.S. isn’t a very hospitable environment for the insects, with the exceptions of southern Florida and southern Texas. But it’s now March, and as the weather gets warmer, the mosquitoes can creep farther north. In a new study published in PLOS Currents: Outbreaks, researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) looked at 50 U.S. cities where the weather could support Aedes aegypti in warmer months. Zika Risk Levels for U.S. Cities Yellow cities are low-risk, orange are moderate, and red are high. The size of the dot over th

First map of sea surface height

Sea level anomalies from February 12-22, 2016. The U.S./European Jason-3 satellite has produced its first map of sea surface height, which corresponds well to data from its predecessor, Jason-2. Higher-than-normal sea levels are red; lower-than-normal sea levels are blue. El Nino is visible as the red blob in the eastern equatorial Pacific (Credits: NASA/JPL Ocean Surface Topography Team) Jason-3, a new U.S.-European oceanography satellite mission with NASA participation, has produced its first complete science map of global sea surface height, capturing the current signal of the 2015-16 El Niño. The map was generated from the first 10 days of data collected once Jason-3 reached its operational orbit of 830 miles (1,336 kilometers) last month. It shows the state of the ongoing El Niño event that began early last year. After peaking in January, the high sea levels in the eastern Pacific are now beginning to shrink. Launched Jan. 17 from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, Ja

Gallup 2016 Global Emotions Report

The Global Emotions 2016 report presents the results from Gallup’s latest measurements of people’s positive and negative daily experiences, based on nearly 147,000 interviews in 2015 with adults in 140 countries. Positive Experience Index Questions • Did you feel well-rested yesterday? • Were you treated with respect all day yesterday? • Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday? • Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday? • Did you experience the following feelings during a lot of the day yesterday? The Positive Experience Index score is the mean of all valid affirmative responses to these items multiplied by 100. County-level index scores range from zero to 100. Higher scores mean that positive emotions are more pervasive in a country. These scores strongly relate to people’s perceptions about their living standards, personal freedoms and the presence of social networks. Negative Experience Index Questions • Did you experience the following feelings during a lot

Mapping Indonesia’s fires and logging rights

Kalimantan: Remaining forest cover (green), palm oil concessions (blue), coal mining (purple), forest fires over the past 12 months (orange dots). Indonesia’s logging and plantation rights, fire hotspots and deforestation alerts will be mapped as a result of an ongoing Greenpeace Indonesia investigation into one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems. The new interactive map comes shortly after the Indonesian province of Riau was forced to declare a state of emergency as fires returned to the region in 2016. Forest fires in Indonesia – often linked to deforestation – have been branded the worst environmental disaster of 2015, with widespread impacts on air pollution and climate change. The interactive map of company concession information in Indonesian forests – and how it relates to peatlands, fire hotspots and deforestation alerts – has just been published online. Orangutan habitats The map brings together data on concessions held by logging, palm oil, pulp and minin

Americans in danger from rising seas could triple

The number of Americans who could be displaced by rising seas will triple by the end of this century. That’s the stark new conclusion of scientists who studied the impact of climate change on coastal areas. As many as 13.1 million people in the United States will be in the path of flooding by 2100, three times the current population that resides in low-lying coastal areas, according to the paper published online Monday in Nature Climate Change. The researchers took into account rapid population growth along the coasts in a way never done before.  "Populations are very dynamic by their very nature," says demographer and lead author Mathew Hauer of the University of Georgia. "You can end up with an obsolete assessment very quickly" in a study that doesn't fully capture the change already underway, he says. Counties under threat By 2100 U.S. coastal population are expected to face serious challenges due to projected 5.9-foot (1.8-meter) sea-level rise.

Indoor gardening with hydroponics

KRYDDA/VÄXER series makes it easy to grow your own indoor garden all year round. You don’t need soil, sunlight or even a spot outside! How does it work? Just keep an eye on the water level and that's it.

How to Grow Potatoes in a Bucket

A fun way to learn about growing potatoes in a bucket! Potatoes, potatoes in a bucket You think its silly, I say "bucket" Its all the rage from Nashville to Nantucket I just wanna grow potatoes in a bucket Now all you need is some good old soil and a potato with eyes that you combine into a bucket with holes and you leave it all outside So a stem and leaves will start to grow and roots will form and grow potatoes Below and it just keeps on goin, Hey when its gonna stop? So just keep adding more soil until you get to the top and at the end the leaves will turn brown you dump em' out and see what you've found its potatoes, hey! What do you know? It's just that easy folks did you know was that easy? Potatoes, potatoes in a bucket. You think its silly. I say "bucket". Its all the rage from Nashville to Nantucket I just wanna grow potatoes in a bucket POTATOES! potatoes in a bucket You think its silly I say &

Dogs riding tortoises

The funny videos of a dogs riding tortoise. Baby Sea Lion Rides a Turtle in Galapagos.

Wall of birds

The mural, titled "From So Simple a Beginning," is a one-of-a-kind celebration of the world of birds. Envisioned by Cornell Lab ornithologists to showcase biodiversity and evolutionary change, the project features species from all surviving bird families alongside a select group of extinct ancestors. It takes a big painting to do justice to the phenomenal history and diversity of birds. The Cornell Lab and Ink Dwell studio have combined efforts on the mural covering about 3,000 square feet (280 square meters) of wall space in the Lab’s Visitor Center. The mural gives you the chance to meet an outstanding representative of each of the bird families of the world. Each of the 243 representatives is meticulously painted in life-sized, colorful detail to showcase the unique character of the s

Yearly changes in sea level, in millimeters

Sea levels creep higher and higher Here’s where the water meets the road: Melting ice raises sea levels, and so does heat, because warmer water naturally expands. Scientists say that the last time the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was this high, seas were significantly higher than they are now — estimates range from less than 10 feet to more than 100. What does this gauge show? Worldwide, sea level is more than three inches (83 millimeters) higher than it was in 1993, according to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which measures sea level using lasers. Many scientists predict that levels will rise an additional two to four feet by the end of this century. What’s the problem? Clearly, higher water means the potential for massive flooding, not just for coastlines but for people who live on low-lying land — which means about a third of the U.S. population. Higher sea level also means storm surges can roll farther inland, a growing danger when hurricanes are predicted to be

Tracking changes to China's northeast coastline with false-color landsat imagery

NASA and USGS’s Landsat satellites captured dramatic changes in China’s coastline at the mouth of the Yellow River from 1979 through 2015. This reshaping of the landscape is a result of modifications to the flow and sediment supply of the Yellow River, as well as extensive engineering efforts to control flooding and protect coastal development. In these false-color images, vegetation is shown in red, water is in blue, and exposed ground is in beige. Use the time slider below to watch the changes: Full-screen map Between 1979 and 1995, the delta grew into a southeast-bending arc, about 15 km (10 mi) wide. By 2000, the tip of the delta had eroded away, as a newly-cut channel diverted the river’s flow to the northeast. The 2015 image shows that the river continues to deposit massive amounts of sediment into the Bohai Sea while it builds the new delta. The Yellow River is the most sediment-rich river in the world, carrying 1.6 billion tons of silt annually. It is the second longes

Network Earth

A giant web that almost every creature depends on others for survival. This networks are so complex that is difficult to predict how resilient they might be to changing conditions.

Hobbit style eco friendly house

This is the amazing Hobart style built from scratch for just 150 pounds. Resourceful Michael Buck created the cup home at the bottom of his garden.

Different paleoclimates compared to modern climate

Anthropogenic transformation of the terrestrial biosphere