Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Why tropical storm Harvey is showing Texas no mercy

Posted: August 28, 2017 by oldbrew in News, weather

Image credit: Houston Chronicle


“The problem with Harvey is that it is trapped,” an atmospheric scientist and tropical storm expert tells Gizmodo. One fear is that Harvey could drift back out to sea and then return again with renewed force.

Right now, Houston is in the midst of a catastrophic flood disaster as tropical storm Harvey, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on the central Texas coastline Friday night, continues to unleash torrents over the Houston/Galveston metropolitan area.

Harvey is expected to drop an additional 15 to 25 inches of rainfall over the next few days, which, combined with 1-2 feet of rain that fell over the weekend, has created a “worse than worst case scenario for Houston,” and could lead to some of the highest rainfall totals the nation has ever seen.

After making landfall, they tend to dissipate quickly, losing energy and organization as they blow across cooler, drier, inland air masses. What makes Harvey both incredibly dangerous and highly unusual is that it has barely budged over the last few days, channelling nonstop belts of rainfall from sea to land.

“There is virtually no precedent for such a slow-moving system maintaining at least tropical storm strength along the Texas coast for five days,” meteorologists Jeff Masters and Bob Henson wrote yesterday on their weather and climate science blog, Category 6.

So, why won’t Harvey leave Texas alone?

“The problem with Harvey is that it is trapped,” Phil Klotzbach, atmospheric scientist and tropical storm expert at Colorado State University, told Gizmodo in an email.

Continued here.

Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley, suspended from a crane during her recovery from Charleston Harbor, 8 August 2000 [image credit: Barbara Voulgaris, Naval Historical Center]


The Hunley was the first combat submarine to sink a warship, in 1864. It was very basic, being designed for a crew of eight, seven to turn the hand-cranked propeller and one to steer and direct the boat. Its discovery in 1995 was described by the Director of Naval History at the Naval Historical Center as “probably the most important find of the century.” ‘Tens of thousands’ attended an official funeral in Charleston, South Carolina in 2004, including all five branches of the U.S. armed forces.

A full 22 years after their bodies were discovered, scientists have come up with an explanation for the mysterious deaths of the crew of the Civil War submarine the H. L. Hunley 150 years ago, reports the IB Times.

The Confederate crew of eight were found seated in their stations on the hand crank that powered the ship. They showed no sign of struggle or trying to escape. They also displayed no sign of physical injury. The bilge pumps hadn’t been used and they hadn’t tried to escape through the air hatches.

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Russian response to the 2013 protest


They got off lightly compared to their Russian fiasco in 2013, as The Barents Observer points out. Probably cheap publicity given the level of fines.

Each of the six activists got from 25,000 to 30,000 Norwegian kroner (€2,700 to 3,200) in fine by the police in Tromsø.

It was last Thursday the activists protested the Norwegian oil company Statoil’s drilling in the Barents Sea. With kayaks, some of the protesters went inside the 500-metres safety zone around the rig «Songa Enabler» at the Korpfjell prospect.

Located 415 kilometres from mainland Norway, the drilling is the northernmost to be explored this season.

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Brew or battery charge?


Another potential snag for electric car owners in a hurry, as Auto Express reports.

Electric vehicle owners may not be able to rapidly charge their car at home at the same time as boiling a kettle, National Grid has warned.

The grid operator said that using a fast charger, which can be installed at home to reduce charging times, is likely to trip a house’s main fuse if used simultaneously with other ‘high demand’ items such as kettles, ovens and immersion heaters.

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LA street [image credit: theatlantic.com]


Whether this is anything more than a gimmick remains to be seen. It’s described as an experiment ‘to reduce the heat island effect’.

Can a splash of gray pavement paint help combat global warming?

In Los Angeles, where summer temperatures regularly surpass 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), workers are coating streets in special gray treatments in a bid to do just that, as Phys.org reports.

The City of Angels, home to four million people, is the first major city to test the technology. Normal black asphalt absorbs 80 to 95 percent of sunlight, while the gray “cool pavement” reflects it—dramatically lowering ground temperature and reducing urban street heat, advocates of the method say.

During a demonstration of the technique, Jeff Luzar—sales director at GuardTop, which markets the product—showed how applying the paint could drop street temperatures by about 12 degrees Fahrenheit after just one coat.

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Former Tilbury power station


If this goes ahead it’s likely to be finished years before the troubled Hinkley Point nuclear plant.

German utility RWE has commenced the planning process for the construction of a 2.5 GW gas-fired power plant in Essex, England, reports Power Engineering International.

If the development is to proceed it would be a big boost for the UK energy system, as old coal and nuclear plants are being taken out of the equation.

RWE is starting the planning process to build a 2.5 GW gas power plant in Tilbury, Essex on the site of a former biomass station in what could be a potential boost to the UK energy system.

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Volvo to go all electric from 2019

Posted: July 5, 2017 by oldbrew in Emissions, News, Travel
Tags:


The internal combustion engine will still be on offer, as autofreaks.com reports, but what the headline means is that there will be at least some element of electric propulsion, including electric-only models, in every Volvo from 2019. Will other car makers follow?

Volvo today announced that every model it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor, marking the historic end of cars that only have an internal combustion engine (ICE) and placing electrification at the core of its future business.

The announcement represents one of the most significant moves by any car maker to embrace electrification and highlights how over a century after the invention of the internal combustion engine electrification is paving the way for a new chapter in automotive history.

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California’s Big Sur coast – ‘considered one of the finest images’ by Wikipedia


The end of the California drought hasn’t been all good news for everyone, due partly to what may be ‘the largest mudslide in the state’s history’.

A massive landslide that went into the Pacific Ocean is the latest natural disaster to hit a California community that relies heavily on an iconic coastal highway and tourism to survive, and it adds to a record $1 billion in highway damage from one of the state’s wettest winters in decades, reports SFGate.

The weekend slide in Big Sur buried a portion of Highway 1 under a 40-foot layer of rock and dirt and changed the coastline below to include what now looks like a rounded skirt hem, Susana Cruz, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Transportation, said Tuesday.

More than 1 million tons of rock and dirt tumbled down a saturated slope in an area called Mud Creek. The slide is covering up about a one-quarter-of-a-mile (0.40-kilometer) stretch of Highway 1, and authorities have no estimate on when it might re-open. The area remains unstable.

“We haven’t been able to go up there and assess. It’s still moving,” Cruz said. “We have geologists and engineers who are going to check it out this week to see how do we pick up the pieces.”

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Instant beach


Nature reverses its own vanishing trick on the western Irish coast. The ‘freak tide’ seems to have lasted ten days.

An entire Irish beach that was washed away 33 years ago has reappeared – virtually overnight thanks to a freak tide, as ITV News reports.

The beach near the village of Dooagh, on Achill Island, vanished in storms in 1984 when waves washed away all the sand. Almost all the village’s hotels, guesthouses and cafes shut down because all that was left was rocky terrain.

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sand were dumped on the beach over ten days in April during a freak tide, re-creating a 300m-long beach.

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Map readers required?


H/T Climate Depot

Another story from the ‘Climate change causes everything’ file. Fortunately Colombia has not over-reacted.

TODAY VENEZUELA – Venezuela tried to downplay its illegal entry of troops into Colombia this week by claiming the constantly changing direction of a river near the border accidentally led the soldiers beyond their jurisdiction.

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said the Venezuelan soldiers entered Colombia’s eastern department of Arauca as a result of the Arauca River, which she said is constantly changing its flow and direction.

A diplomatic commission still has to clarify the incident, which is reportedly expected in the coming hours.
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French anti-pollution car stickers


A colour-coded badge of honour or shame for every car under new French regulations. UK MoT certificates won’t do for city visitors.

UK drivers planning to go to France in the coming months are going to require new ‘clean air’ stickers or face on-the-spot fines for failing to display them, as CLM reports.

Paris, Lyon and Grenoble introduced the new Crit’Air scheme in January to tackle vehicle pollution in their city centres, with another 22 towns and cities said to be planning to follow suit over the next few years.

The scheme requires all vehicles to clearly display an air quality certificate windscreen sticker, or vignette, according to how much they pollute.
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The satellites won’t land as the surface pressure – 92 times that of Earth – and heat of Venus would destroy them. Instead they will look for a ‘mysterious substance’ thought to be lurking in its atmosphere.

NASA has spent $3.6 million to build 12 small satellites to explore the planet Venus in search of a mysterious substance that absorbs half the planet’s light, reports The Daily Caller.

The CubeSat UV Experiment (CUVE) mission will launch the satellites to investigate atmospheric processes on Venus. The 12 satellites vary in size. One is less than four inches across and weighs a few ounces. Another weighs 400 pounds.
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Planetary detective work [credit: superwasp.org]


Pattern recognition is still best left to humans it seems.

You don’t need to be a professional astronomer to find new worlds orbiting distant stars, as Phys.org reports.

Darwin mechanic and amateur astronomer Andrew Grey this week helped to discover a new exoplanet system with at least four orbiting planets. But Andrew did have professional help and support.

The discovery was a highlight moment of this week’s three-evening special ABC Stargazing Live, featuring British physicist Brian Cox, presenter Julia Zemiro and others.
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Size comparison of GJ 1132 b (aka Gliese 1132 b) with Earth [credit: Wikipedia]


Early indications from models suggest that ‘an atmosphere rich in water and methane would explain the observations very well.’

Astronomers have detected an atmosphere around the super-Earth GJ 1132b, reports the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.

This marks the first detection of an atmosphere around a low-mass Super-Earth, in terms of radius and mass the most Earth-like planet around which an atmosphere has yet been detected.

Thus, this is a significant step on the path towards the detection of life on an exoplanet. The team, which includes researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, used the 2.2 m ESO/MPG telescope in Chile to take images of the planet’s host star GJ 1132, and measuring the slight decrease in brightness as the planet and its atmosphere absorbed some of the starlight while passing directly in front of their host star.

While it’s not the detection of life on another planet, it’s an important step in the right direction: the detection of an atmosphere around the super-Earth GJ 1132b marks the first time an atmosphere has been detected around a planet with a mass and radius close to that of Earth (1.6 Earth masses, and 1.4 Earth radii).
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What could possibly go wrong? Like all pumped storage, every ‘refill’ uses more electricity for the pumping than is generated by its water release. The UK is also looking to develop similar schemes. The motivation is the intermittency of renewables.

The German state of North-Rhine Westphalia is set to turn its Prosper-Haniel hard coal mine in Bottrop into a 200 MW pumped-storage hydroelectric plant reports PEI.

The facility will act like a battery and will have enough capacity to power more than 400,000 homes, according to state governor Hannelore Kraft.

Other mines may also be converted after Prosper-Haniel because the state needs more industrial-scale storage as it seeks to double the share of renewables in its power mix to 30 per cent by 2025, she said. North-Rhine Westphalia generates a third of Germany’s power.
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Image credit: liveandletsfly.com


Wake turbulence rules for A380s require other aircraft to observe minimum separation distances of 5-8 miles in a variety of situations.

A harrowing freak air accident that has only just been revealed saw an Airbus A380 commercial jetliner flown by Emirates cause a much smaller business jet passing beneath it to flip upside down and plummet thousands of feet, reports the IB Times. The incident is a sharp reminder of why passengers should always wear their seat belts.

According to information obtained by the Aviation Herald, on the morning of 7 January an Emirates Airbus A380-800 was flying from Dubai to Sydney. While the aeroplane was en route over the Arabian Sea, roughly about 630 nautical miles southeast of Muscat, a Bombardier Challenger 604 business jet operated by German carrier MHS Aviation passed by 1,000ft beneath it.
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Mount Etna: BBC crew caught up in volcano blast 

Posted: March 16, 2017 by oldbrew in News, volcanos

Mount Etna, Sicily


Etna is known to be very active but this may have been an unusually large eruption by its own standards.

A BBC team and a number of tourists have suffered minor injuries after being caught up in an incident on the erupting volcano Mount Etna in Sicily, reports BBC News.

“Many injured – some head injuries, burns, cuts and bruises,” tweeted BBC science reporter Rebecca Morelle. Lava flow mixed with steam had caused a huge explosion, which pelted the group with boiling rocks and steam, she said.

About eight people had been injured, with some evacuated from the mountain by rescue teams, she added.
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Artist’s impression of Dogger Bank island [credit: The Independent]


The construction agreement is planned to be signed on 23 March 2017, reports The Independent.

A vast artificial island is to be built at Dogger Bank in the North Sea, complete with a harbour, airstrip and homes, to help provide a vast new supply of renewable energy, under plans drawn up by two companies with the blessing of the European Union.

The North Sea Wind Power Hub would act as a hub for offshore wind turbines and a new place to put solar panels, according to the German and Dutch arms of electricity firm TenneT and Danish company Energinet. The firms will sign a deal creating a consortium to develop the plan further in Brussels on 23 March in the presence of European Energy Union Commissioner, Maos Sefcovic.

Torben Glar Nielsen, Energinet’s Danish technical director, said: “Maybe it sounds a bit crazy and science fiction-like, but an island on Dogger Bank could make the wind power of the future a lot cheaper and more effective.”
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s-bahn
Hard to see bus and train operators giving 40 days of discounts to ‘help the climate’ as so-called climate experts fondly imagine. Pollution, congestion and climate fears all get rolled into one issue.

For years German cities have suffered under the effects of polluted air, mainly caused by diesel cars. But now that it’s nearly the Christian season of abstaining before Easter, experts have a novel solution, as The Local explains.

The Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) and other climate protectionists are encouraging Germans to go on a ‘car fast’ for the season of Lent leading up to Easter.

Katrin Dziekan of the UBA suggested special discounts on Deutsche Bahn and regional train services could be offered to those who abstain from cars for the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter.
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Channel Tunnel [image credit: BBC]

Channel Tunnel [image credit: BBC]


The project is described as ‘vital’, which may raise questions about the present state of these two national grid systems. The idea that it will help support increased electric car use – that’s one of its claims – is a bit weak as so few people want them.

A major new project to install an interconnector linking the electricity markets of Britain and France via the Channel Tunnel has just put down its foundations, reports PEI.

The foundation stone of the Folkestone Converter Station was laid on Thursday by Jesse Norman, UK Minister for Industry and Energy. The ElecLink 1 GW Direct Current link is expected to cost around £580m.

The project will generate approximately 300 new jobs during the construction phase together with ongoing jobs needed for the operations and maintenance throughout the life of the project.
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