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News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

WASHINGTON, DC -- The American Geophysical Union (AGU) today published a collection of 27 essays as commentaries in its scientific journals highlighting the important role Earth and space science research plays in society. The essays, covering a broad swath of scientific disciplines and written by notable scientists in their fields, discuss the critical role of research, the growing importance of data and the increasing globalization of the scientific enterprise. Together, they highlight how Earth and space science research can help grow our economy and enable our society to thrive. An overview of the special collection is detailed in a blog post by AGU's journal editors, and AGU's director and assistant director of publications. The collection comes as science is increasingly under threat in the United States and around the world and ahead of Saturday's March for Science. AGU is one of nearly 200 partner organizations that have joined with science advocates, science educators, scientists and concerned citizens to advocate for evidence-based policymaking, science education, research funding and inclusivity as part of the March for Science. About 70 percent of the near-Earth objects large enough to cause severe regional damage have yet to be discovered. While the chance of an impact is small, the consequences can potentially be severe, so reasonable measures, such as finding, tracking and characterizing the asteroids should be undertaken, writes Amy Mainzer, senior research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. Snow is critical in sustaining human life. It provides water and plays a key role in the climate through its unrivaled power to cool the Earth. It is also changing rapidly. In Water Resources Research, Matthew Sturm and Charles Parr, geophysicists at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Michael Goldstein, a professor of finance at Babson College, provide a strong rationale and guidelines for accelerated snow research that will allow society to make major impending decisions related to snow resources on the soundest base and best scientific knowledge. Essential science for understanding risks from radiation for airline passengers and crews Cosmic ray fluxes will likely be the highest since the dawn of the aviation age during the upcoming solar minimum, a low point in the solar cycle when weak solar activity provides less protection against cosmic rays entering the atmosphere. Considering this, measuring high-altitude radiation doses and turning those data into useful information for aviation operators, schedulers and frequent flyers will provide support for key decisions, according to Delores Knipp, a researcher professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, in a commentary in Space Weather. A commentary in Tectonics by Timothy Stahl, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan and co-authors from the University of Michigan and the University of Colorado Boulder, explores the scientific pathways through which earthquake-resilient societies are developed. They highlight recent case studies of evidence-based decision making and how modern research is improving the way societies respond to earthquakes. Solving water quality problems in agricultural landscapes: new approaches for these nonlinear, multi-process, multi-scale systems Changes in climate and agricultural practices are putting pressure on agro-environmental systems all over the world. Patrick Belmont, an associate professor at Utah State University, and Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, a distinguished professor at the University of California - Irvine, present a perspective, gained from a decade of research and stakeholder involvement in the Minnesota River Basin, where research findings have influenced solutions and policy in directions not obvious at the outset. Their essay appears in Water Resources Research. Scientific advances in the field of coastal hydrogeology have enabled responsible management of water resources and protection of important ecosystems. To address the problems of the future, we must continue to make scientific advances, and groundwater hydrology needs to be firmly embedded in integrated coastal zone management. This will require interdisciplinary scientific collaboration, open communication between scientists and the public, and strong partnerships with policymakers, according to Holly Michael, an associate professor at the University of Delaware and co-authors, in a commentary in Water Resources Research. The simultaneous emergence of the terms "GeoHealth" and "Planetary Health" from the earth science and health communities, respectively, signals recognition that developing a new relationship between humanity and our natural systems is becoming an urgent global health priority -- if we are to prevent a backsliding from the past century's great public health gains. Achieving meaningful progress will require collaboration across a broad swath of scientific disciplines as well as with policy makers, natural resource managers, members of faith communities and movement builders around the world, write members of the Planetary Health Alliance in GeoHealth. The American Geophysical Union is dedicated to advancing the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity through its scholarly publications, conferences, and outreach programs. AGU is a not-for-profit, professional, scientific organization representing 60,000 members in 137 countries. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and our other social media channels. The following press release can be found at: https:/


News Article | April 28, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Every year, worldwide wine industry suffers losses of more than 10 billion U.S. dollars from damaged assets, production losses, and lost profits due to extreme weather events and natural disasters. A multidisciplinary European-Australian team of researchers led by James Daniell of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) examines the extent to which regions are affected by the risks and how climate change influences wine industry. At the 2017 Annual Conference of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna, Daniell presented a global risk index for wine regions. The wine regions of Mendoza and San Juan in Argentina are exposed to the highest risks due to extreme weather and natural hazards worldwide. Kakheti and Racha in Georgia come in at number 2, followed by Southern Cahul in Moldova (number 3), Northwest Slovenia (number 4), and Yaruqui in Ecuador and Nagano in Japan (number 5). These are the first results of a current worldwide study and the first release of the global risk index for wine regions presented by the head of the study, Dr. James Daniell, of the Geophysical Institute (GPI) and the Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM) of KIT at the 2017 Annual Conference of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna in the session of “Natural hazard event analyses for risk reduction and adaptation.” The EGU honored Daniell by granting him the “Early Career Scientist Award in Natural Hazards for 2017.” The study is carried out and the index is developed in cooperation with seismologists, meteorologists, and representatives of other disciplines from KIT, Australian National University, University of Adelaide, Griffith University, University of New South Wales, and University College London as well as Risklayer GmbH, a company located in Karlsruhe. The “WineRisk” website summarizes the results of the study and presents solutions for wine regions. The study covers more than 7,500 wine regions in 131 countries. There is no wine region in the world that is not exposed to extreme weather or natural disasters. Events such as frost, hail, floods, heat, drought, forest fires, and bushfires as well as earthquakes make worldwide wine industry lose more than $10 billion every year according to conservative estimations. These losses result from damaged assets, losses of production, and lost profit. “Cold waves and frost have a large impact,” James Daniell says. In the last few days, much frost occurred across Europe, with Slovakia, Bosnia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, and Czech Republic having the worst impact. Hailstorms are one of the largest yearly natural threats to European winemakers. Traditional wine countries like France and Italy have seen huge losses in the past five years due to hail and frost, with many losses being recorded in the regions of Burgundy and Piedmont. The hail losses from 2012 to 2016 in some vineyards totaled 50 to 90 percent of the value of the crop and caused long-term damage to many old vines. It is not just Europe that is affected by hail. All over the world, winegrowing regions are affected by at least one hail event per year, which can cause damage to the single vintage or to multiple vintages depending on the growth phase of the vines. According to James Daniell, hail nets can save the crop in most cases, given a large hail event. “Cost-benefit analyses generally show that the premium wines should be the ones covered by hail nets, with insurance or other cheaper methods used for other wines.” Earthquakes have the ability to knock out the infrastructure of entire wine regions for a number of years. In the past years, earthquakes struck Chile, New Zealand, and the USA, among other smaller events causing damage around the world. Over 125 million liters of wine were lost in Chile in 2010, mainly due to the failure of steel tanks. “Earthquake-resistant design could have saved many millions of liters,” Daniell says. Earthquakes also cause large losses to buildings, tanks, barrels, equipment, and chemicals. Even small earthquakes do not only cause financial loss, but also historical loss by destroying tasting rooms and rare wine collections. A few dollars investment in stabilization mechanisms, such as quake wax, zip ties or bolts, can often save millions of dollars loss. In addition, natural disasters are associated with losses of jobs and tourism. Global climate change will have both positive and negative effects on wine industry, according to the study. Researchers expect a general shift of wine-growing regions southward and northward, while some wine regions closer to the equator may be lost. Many wines may indeed improve. “The English, Canadian, and Northern China wine regions will likely increase production markedly and continue to improve their market share and quality of production,” predicts Daniell. The scientists expect that many wineries will master climate changes by changing grape varieties or harvest times. In addition, they will profit from new grape strains, innovative technologies to optimize production and reduce damage due to biological pathogens and insects, and new methods to overcome extreme weather events. The study also covers problems, such as bushfires causing smoke taint to vines. However, smaller-scale studies are required before the results can be included globally in the index. In addition, the effects of floods on vines are being explored. Nevertheless, a major volcanic eruption would likely cause the largest global impact to the wine industry, examples being the Laki eruption of 1783/84 or the Tambora eruption in 1815 which caused the famous “year without a summer” in 1816. Atmospheric changes, lack of sunlight, and global transport problems could cause major issues not only for the wine industry, other food security issues would likely be more important. Despite all these hazards, the wine industry continues to grow and diversify. “Through detailed natural hazard analysis, research can help winemakers and governments alike to prepare adequately for the natural hazards that they face and to reduce losses,” James Daniell says. The geophysicist born in Australia also developed the CATDAT database covering socioeconomic data on natural disasters. Last year, he published CATDAT statistics, according to which 8 million people died and over $7 trillion of loss were caused by natural disasters since 1900. The Biggest Wine Producers in the World and Their Main Threats:


News Article | April 27, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Every year, worldwide wine industry suffers losses of more than ten billion US dollars from damaged assets, production losses, and lost profits due to extreme weather events and natural disasters. A multidisciplinary European-Australian team of researchers led by Dr. James Daniell of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) examines the extent to which regions are affected by the risks and how climate change influences wine industry. At the 2017 Annual Conference of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna, Daniell presented a global risk index for wine regions. The wine regions of Mendoza and San Juan in Argentina are exposed to the highest risks due to extreme weather and natural hazards worldwide. Kakheti and Racha in Georgia come in at number 2, followed by Southern Cahul in Moldova (number 3), Northwest Slovenia (number 4), and Yaruqui in Ecuador and Nagano in Japan (number 5). These are the first results of a current worldwide study and the first release of the global risk index for wine regions presented by the head of the study, Dr. James Daniell, of the Geophysical Institute (GPI) and the Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM) of KIT at the 2017 Annual Conference of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna in the session of "Natural hazard event analyses for risk reduction and adaptation." The EGU honored Daniell by granting him the "Early Career Scientist Award in Natural Hazards for 2017." The study is carried out and the index is developed in cooperation with seismologists, meteorologists, and representatives of other disciplines from KIT, Australian National University, University of Adelaide, Griffith University, University of New South Wales, and University College London as well as Risklayer GmbH, a company located in Karlsruhe. The "WineRisk" website summarizes the results of the study and presents solutions for wine regions: http://www. The study covers more than 7,500 wine regions in 131 countries. There is no wine region in the world that is not exposed to extreme weather or natural disasters. Events, such as frost, hail, floods, heat, drought, forest fires, and bushfires as well as earthquakes make worldwide wine industry lose more than 10 billion US$ every year according to conservative estimations. These losses result from damaged assets, losses of production, and lost profit. "Cold waves and frost have a large impact," James Daniell says. In the last few days, much frost occurred across Europe, with Slovakia, Bosnia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, and Czech Republic having the worst impact. Hailstorms are one of the largest yearly natural threats to European winemakers. Traditional wine countries like France and Italy have seen huge losses in the past five years due to hail and frost, with many losses being recorded in the regions of Burgundy and Piedmont. The hail losses from 2012 to 2016 in some vineyards totaled 50 to 90 percent of the value of the crop and caused long-term damage to many old vines. It is not just Europe that is affected by hail. All over the world, winegrowing regions are affected by at least one hail event per year, which can cause damage to the single vintage or to multiple vintages depending on the growth phase of the vines. According to James Daniell, hail nets can save the crop in most cases, given a large hail event. "Cost-benefit analyses generally show that the premium wines should be the ones covered by hail nets, with insurance or other cheaper methods used for other wines." Earthquakes have the ability to knock out the infrastructure of entire wine regions for a number of years. In the past years, earthquakes struck Chile, New Zealand, and the USA, among other smaller events causing damage around the world. Over 125 million liters of wine were lost in Chile in 2010, mainly due to the failure of steel tanks. "Earthquake-resistant design could have saved many millions of liters," Daniell says. Earthquakes also cause large losses to buildings, tanks, barrels, equipment, and chemicals. Even small earthquakes do not only cause financial loss, but also historical loss by destroying tasting rooms and rare wine collections. A few dollars investment in stabilization mechanisms, such as quake wax, zip ties or bolts, can often save millions of dollars loss. In addition, natural disasters are associated with losses of jobs and tourism. Global climate change will have both positive and negative effects on wine industry, according to the study. Researchers expect a general shift of wine-growing regions southward and northward, while some wine regions closer to the equator may be lost. Many wines may indeed improve. "The English, Canadian, and Northern China wine regions will likely increase production markedly and continue to improve their market share and quality of production," predicts Dr. Daniell. The scientists expect that many wineries will master climate changes by changing grape varieties or harvest times. In addition, they will profit from new grape strains, innovative technologies to optimize production and reduce damage due to biological pathogens and insects, and new methods to overcome extreme weather events. The study also covers problems, such as bushfires causing smoke taint to vines. However, smaller-scale studies are required before the results can be included globally in the index. In addition, the effects of floods on vines are being explored. Nevertheless, a major volcanic eruption would likely cause the largest global impact to the wine industry, examples being the Laki eruption of 1783/84 or the Tambora eruption in 1815 which caused the famous "year without a summer" in 1816. Atmospheric changes, lack of sunlight, and global transport problems could cause major issues not only for the wine industry, other food security issues would likely be more important. Despite all these hazards, the wine industry continues to grow and diversify. "Through detailed natural hazard analysis, research can help winemakers and governments alike to prepare adequately for the natural hazards that they face and to reduce losses," Dr. James Daniell says. The geophysicist born in Australia also developed the CATDAT database covering socioeconomic data on natural disasters. Last year, he published CATDAT statistics, according to which 8 million people died and over 7 trillion US$ of loss were caused by natural disasters since 1900. The Biggest Wine Producers in the World and Their Main Threats: More about the KIT Climate and Environment Center: http://www. . Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) pools its three core tasks of research, higher education, and innovation in a mission. With about 9,300 employees and 25,000 students, KIT is one of the big institutions of research and higher education in natural sciences and engineering in Europe. KIT - The Research University in the Helmholtz Association Since 2010, the KIT has been certified as a family-friendly university. This press release is available on the internet at http://www. .


Tran T.T.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Molders N.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Molders N.,Geophysical Institute
Atmospheric Environment | Year: 2012

The Alaska-adapted WRF/Chem was used to examine the benefits of the proposed North American Emission Control Area (ECA) for air quality along the Alaska coasts. Simulations were performed alternatively assuming the emissions of 2000, and the emissions of 2000 reduced by the proposed ECA-reductions. In response to the emission reductions, reductions in sulfur (nitrogen) compounds reached up to 9km (2km) height. Reductions of sulfate- and nitrate-in-clouds were highest at the top of the atmospheric boundary layer. The strongest reductions occurred over the ECA and the international sea-lanes for sulfur- and nitrogen-compounds, respectively. Along the Gulf of Alaska, sulfur- and nitrogen-compound concentrations decreased significantly in response to the reduced ship-emissions. They decreased over Alaska despite of unchanged emissions in Alaska. PM 2.5-speciation only marginally changed in response to the reduced ship-emissions. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


News Article | December 10, 2015
Site: www.reuters.com

The likelihood of El Niño shaping up to be as disastrous as in 1997-98 is now "very low," said Ken Takahashi, the lead El Niño investigator at Peru's Geophysical Institute. "During the anomaly of 1997, coastal temperatures in Peru were almost double what they are now, so it would be very difficult to reach those levels," Takahashi said. Enfen, the Peruvian bureau tasked with forecasting El Niño, had previously forecast a 50 percent chance of a "strong" El Niño in the summer, which spans from December to March in the Southern Hemisphere. It now sees a 35 percent chance it will be strong and a 50 percent chance it will become moderate. However, Takahashi said El Niño could still bring heavy rains, especially to Peru's northern coast, and may cause a drought in Andean regions. Australia has also said that the event has shown signs of easing. A naturally occurring phenomenon, which can have widespread effects on agriculture, fisheries, water and health, El Niño is driven by warm surface water in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The World Meteorological Organization said last month that the current El Niño was already "strong and mature" and the biggest in more than 15 years.


News Article | December 14, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

SAN FRANCISCO — Though they appear to be frozen giants, glaciers and ice sheets can move and change in unexpected ways over time, according to a new database that is now tracking the movement of ice, including the extent of its melt and slow creep into the sea. With imagery and data from Landsat 8, an Earth-monitoring satellite, scientists at NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are tracking the speed of glaciers' movement and melt. These observations are in"near real time" and help to better predict how global sea levels will be affected by climate change, the researchers said. The so-called Global Land Ice Velocity Extraction (GoLIVE) project uses observations from Landsat 8, as well as historical data from older Landsat satellites. By comparing data from Landsat 8, which images the Earth's entire surface every 16 days, the GoLIVE team can track subtle changes in the glacier, such as bumps and dunes, the researchers said. Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Colorado lead for the GoLIVE project, said Landsat 8 can even capture changes in a glacier's "skin." [Photo Gallery: Life Inside a Glacier] "Not only are we able to map the glacier chunks where there are large crevices and high-contrast features, but [we can] also [map] the surface of the ice sheet even where it's smooth, down to these snow-dune features," Scambos said here Monday (Dec. 12) in a news briefing at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. "By being able to track with higher precision what the surface texture looks like, we can actually map the flowing skin of the ice sheet." Such observations were previously extremely difficult, if not impossible, for researchers to make. The first time scientists studied a surging glacier in detail, they did so via annual field research, said Mark Fahnestock, a professor in the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Scientists visited that glacier every year for 15 years, putting down stakes during each visit. They then surveyed those stakes to determine any changes in the glacier. But these very large, remote glacial systems in Alaska could experience sped-up melt events for months without scientists taking notice, Fahnestock said. "We've entered an era where instead of a pilot telling us a glacier is changing, or instead of a field party recognizing a change in one of the 242 glaciers followed, we are actually following on a month-by-month basis with Landsat 8," Fahnestock said. "We are now watching all of the outlet glaciers on Earth change in near real time." Twila Moon, a research scientist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, joked that rather than researching several glaciers over hundreds of years, the GoLIVE project allows for the study of hundreds of glaciers over several years. The project could also "launch a thousand ships" in terms of international research into glaciers, Scambos said. As a public database, the project will allow for scientists around the world to conduct more effective field research, according to the GoLIVE time, because scientists will have better "situational awareness" of a given glacier before researching it in person. One other important implication, Scambos said, is that the data makes it clear that the glaciers are melting. "By presenting the data in an easy-to-understand way, it makes it obvious what's going on in the world's eyes, and that the world is changing and that there's no attempt to hide it at all," Scambos said. "It makes it plain as day that we have a changing Earth."


Based on a unique dataset collected during a research cruise to the Irminger Sea in April 2015, a new paper reveals a strong link between atmospheric forcing, deep convection, ocean ventilation and anthropogenic carbon sequestration. The Irminger Sea, a small ocean basin between Greenland and Iceland, is known for its harsh and extreme weather conditions during winter. Research cruises that take measurements in the subpolar North Atlantic almost exclusively do so in summer, although the area is particularly interesting in the convectively active winter season. Wintertime on-board ship measurements in the Irminger Sea were collected in April 2015 by scientists from the Bjerknes Centre for Climate research, as part of the SNACS project funded by the Norwegian Research Council. The results are now published in Nature Communications by Friederike Fröb, a PhD student at the Geophysical Institute of the University of Bergen and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, with colleagues from the University of Bergen, Uni Research Bergen, the University of Toronto and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, both in Canada. Compared to the far more famous Labrador Sea where deep convection is observed almost every year, convection in the Irminger Sea is more rare, and more variable in extent and strength. The 2015 data show record winter mixed layers of 1,400m depth -- usually observed are 400m. The last time winter mixing had been that deep was probably in the mid-1990s, however, there is only indirect evidence for that; no direct measurements are available from that time. In the late 2000s, during the winters 2007/08 and 2011/12, convection down to between 800m and 1,000m was observed by ARGO floats. With the newly collected data in 2015, oxygen and carbon concentrations during active convection have been determined as well. These data show that oxygen and anthropogenic CO2 concentrations were both almost saturated with respect to the atmosphere in the upper water column. This resulted in a replenishment of depleted oxygen levels at mid-depth as well as a sequestration of large amounts of anthropogenic carbon to the deep ocean. Compared to historic cruise data in 1997 and 2003 covering the same transect as the 2015 cruise, the anthropogenic carbon storage rate almost tripled in response to the large variability in the physical climate system. The main driver for that extreme convective event in 2015 was the strong heat flux from the water column, a consequence of exceptionally strong winds that developed that winter around the southern tip of Greenland. The winter 2014-2015 was also the coldest on record in the North Atlantic, a phenomenon known as the 'cold-blob'. This cold-blob has been tied to a reduced Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation as a consequence of increased freshwater runoff from the melting Greenland Ice Sheet and the Arctic, which increases ocean stratification. Although observations of one extreme event during winter can not be used to reject a hypothesis that is based on long-term trends, global climate model predictions are definitely challenged. The ability or lack of such to resolve small scale atmospheric phenomena like the ones in the Irminger Sea might be of greater relevance to simulate convective processes in the North Atlantic than anticipated. Overall, the cruise observations reveal the strong, direct link between atmospheric forcing, oceanic heat loss, ventilation, and anthropogenic carbon storage in the Irminger Sea. Further, the cruise data shows the necessity of ongoing, continuous data collection in remote areas also during harsh seasons, allowing to study highly variable natural processes as well as the impact of anthropogenic climate change on ocean biogeochemistry.


News Article | March 28, 2016
Site: www.reuters.com

The Pavlof Volcano spews ash in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska in this handout photo released to Reuters on March 28, 2016 by Alaska Volcano Observatory. The Pavlof Volcano spews ash in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska in this U.S. Coast Guard photo taken March 28, 2016. Picture taken March 28, 2016. Mount Pavlof, one of the most active volcanoes on the peninsula, began erupting shortly after 4:00 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time on Sunday, said Jessica Larsen, coordinating scientist with the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute. "Pavlof is known to us for having a pretty quick onset to eruptions, it doesn't always give us long precursory signals," Larsen said. "If you look at some of the seismic data that we have, the intensity really ramped up pretty fast. It was quite abrupt," she said. Photos on the Alaska Volcano Observatory website showed the plume towering over the icy slopes of Mount Pavlof and drifting to the northwest. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a "red" aviation alert in response to the 20,000-foot-high ash cloud, which required that flights to be re-routed. The alert could affect local and regional air traffic, as well polar routes and cargo flights from Anchorage. Larsen said the eruption did not pose any immediate danger to nearby communities on the peninsula, which were monitoring the ash fall. The closest residential area is Cold Bay, located 37 miles (60 km) southwest of Pavlof. There have been more than 40 eruptions from Pavlof, including between May and November of 2014, when ash plumes also triggered aviation warnings. Such events can last weeks or months. "This 20,000-foot ash cloud is not unusual for Pavlof at all," Larsen said, adding that the highest recorded plume from the volcano was 49,000 feet.


News Article | December 16, 2015
Site: www.greentechmedia.com

San Diego's city council unanimously voted Tuesday to adopt a plan to power the city entirely with renewable energy by 2035, joining cities like San Francisco, Paris and Vancouver, Canada, in setting ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the next several decades. Spearheaded by Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who took office last year, San Diego's Climate Action Plan puts the city on track to halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. The city is the largest in the U.S. to adopt a 100 percent renewable energy plan. The blueprint also goes beyond California's statewide goal of 50 percent clean energy in the next 15 years. Bloomberg: Solar, Wind Shares Jump as U.S. Nears Deal on Tax Credits Shares of U.S. clean-energy companies jumped Tuesday as Congress neared a deal that would revive or extend tax credits for the wind and solar industries. SunEdison Inc., the world’s biggest renewable-energy developer, rose 13 percent at the close in New York while rooftop solar provider Sunrun Inc. gained 4.3 percent. Wind-farm builder Pattern Energy Group Inc. climbed 4 percent. While a deal still isn’t certain, Republicans and Democrats are discussing five-year renewals of the two chief clean-energy subsidies in exchange for an end to the 40-year-old ban on U.S. oil exports, two energy lobbyists familiar with the negotiations told Bloomberg. Climate Progress: After Paris Climate Agreement, Countries ‘Are Not Going Back,' Says Todd Stern Speaking just days after the announcement of a historic climate deal in Paris, Todd Stern, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, seemed pretty pleased with the international agreement that came out of the talks. “We got an awful lot of what we wanted,” Stern told ThinkProgress. “When we sat down and read through the agreement, we were sort of shaking our head a little bit.” Shaking them in disbelief, perhaps, that the deal had shaken out in a way that gave the United States practically everything it wanted, from ambitious five-year review cycles and global goals to a restructuring of the requirements demanded of developed and developing nations. SolarCity Corp. confirmed funding a group that has taken actions over the past year to discredit Arizona utility regulators, often related to their decisions about solar power. The news angered regulators, including Bob Stump, who has been a target of an extensive public-records battle. The Washington, D.C.-area based Checks and Balances Project took a deep interest in Arizona Corporation Commission members early this year, filing a number of public records requests in an attempt to highlight  close relationships between regulators and the companies that they regulate. New projections of permafrost change in northern Alaska suggest far-reaching effects will come sooner than expected, scientists reported this week at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. "The temperature of permafrost is rapidly changing," said Vladimir Romanovsky, head of the Permafrost Laboratory at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute. "For the last 30 years, the mean annual ground temperature at the top of permafrost on the North Slope has been rising," Romanovsky said. The mean annual ground temperature -- an average of all of the years' highs and lows at the Deadhorse research site -- was 17.6 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 8 degrees Celsius) in 1988, and now it's 28.5 F (minus 2 C). Researchers expect the average annual ground temperature to reach 32 F (0 C), the melting point of ice, in many areas.


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.scientificamerican.com

In the middle of a snow-draped forest in Alaska, a long four-hour drive east from Anchorage, sits a cleared 30-acre field where 180 silver poles sprout from the ground and reach 22 meters into the air. During four nights this week the poles—actually interconnected radio antennae—will spring to life after three years of dormancy, and heat the highest wisps of our atmosphere directly above. The antennas belong to the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), a former U.S. military facility near the hamlet of Gakona. The array will beam 2.1 megawatts of radio energy into the ionosphere—the region that starts at 100 kilometers above the ground, where solar photons and charged particles crash into Earth’s atmosphere. There the radio signals will excite electrons and turn them into waves of relatively hot ionized gas, or plasma, in a narrow slice of sky. The hope is to better understand activity that hampers satellites as well as some elusive features of radio wave physics. The antenna forest was originally funded by the U.S. Navy and Air Force to improve their navigation and communication signals bouncing around the planet. Since its first transmissions in 1999, however, it has been accused of doing much more. Iran blamed HAARP operations for floods, the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez charged it with triggering 2010’s devastating Haiti earthquake and legions of other conspiracy theorists have accused it of everything from mind control to stealing souls. In fact the only thing the military was interested in controlling was the hot plasma, says Bill Bristow of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who is HAARP’s chief scientist. The plasma can distort or delay satellite transmissions and GPS signals. The armed services wanted to know whether those perturbations could be manipulated from the ground to eliminate such problems, and perhaps enable new communications and radar technologies. So they built HAARP, the world’s most powerful ionosphere heater. More than a decade of experiments, however, failed to produce any major breakthroughs. Eventually the military threw in the towel. In 2014 David Walker, then deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering, told a Senate committee, “If there is not somebody who wants to take over the management and the funding of the site…we plan to do a dismantle of the system.” The pending demise caught the attention of scientists at U.A. Fairbanks’s Geophysical Institute. “We felt that there was a large investment of public money that should not just be destroyed,” Bristow says. “There’s a lot of scientific work yet to be done, so we wanted to give it a go.” The Air Force officially handed over HAARP’s keys to the institute in 2015. Now after years of repairs, upgrades and fund-raising, HAARP is about to embark on its first scientific campaign under civilian control. Much of the work is a continuation of studies that began under the military. Plasma scientists, for example, will hunt for an elusive phenomenon called two-plasma decay instability. This involves an electromagnetic signal decaying into two electron plasma waves. Understanding this instability is key to some experimental nuclear fusion reactions but it has never been observed for high-frequency radio waves. The facility is also going to be generating artificial aurorae. At full power, HAARP’s transmitter can produce a glowing plasma high in the sky that, although not as bright as the natural aurora borealis, is visible to the naked eye. Producing artificial aurorae has taught scientists unexpected lessons about how gases are ionized in the ionosphere, a process that helps protect Earth from harmful ultraviolet solar radiation. “Understanding how energy from the sun flows into the upper atmosphere is important for understanding the effect on Earth from extreme solar events,” Bristow says. And the military could not quite let go of HAARP altogether. The Naval Research Laboratory thinks it can use the ionosphere to improve spy satellite operations. The lab will be running an experiment where it bounces radio signals off the ionosphere and then back down to the sea, hundreds of kilometers over the horizon. Satellites overhead will then try to use the radio reflections from the ocean surface to detect ships or ice. Because the satellites will rely on the facility’s signals, and not their own, this method could enable them to stay cloaked from prying eyes and conserve their own energy. The success of these initial experiments will be critical in demonstrating the long-term viability of HAARP to the agencies funding the efforts along with the navy: the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy. “This beauty of HAARP is that it’s a way to turn the ionosphere into a plasma lab where we can control the knobs and timing,” says Mark Moldwin, a professor of space sciences at the University of Michigan who is not involved with the current research. “It has essentially come back from the dead and the community is hopeful that its continued operation will enable education and research opportunities.” U.A. Fairbanks says it will support the facility for about two more years. Then it could pull the plug if more sponsors are not forthcoming. But for the week ahead the biggest risk is nature itself, Bristow says: “If it’s cloudy, we won’t see the auroras, and a solar storm could wipe out our ability to do any heating at all.” There is nothing the facility can do about clouds and storms. Despite the rumors, Bristow says, HAARP has never been able to control the weather.

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