Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Lithium ion battery


Of course the ‘could’ in the headline tells us this has yet to be proven beyond the laboratory, and many of these battery claims seem to fizzle out in the end, or may be overtaken by newer ideas. But a professor here is saying: “We’ve opened up a new chemical space for battery technology”.

A research team led by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, has opened the door to using metals other than cobalt in lithium-based batteries, and have built cathodes with 50 percent more lithium-storage capacity than conventional materials, reports EurekAlert.

Lithium-based batteries use more than 50 percent of all cobalt produced in the world. These batteries are in your cell phone, laptop and maybe even your car.

About 50 percent of the world’s cobalt comes from the Congo, where it’s largely mined by hand, in some instances by children.

But now, a research team led by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, has opened the door to using other metals in lithium-based batteries, and have built cathodes with 50 percent more lithium-storage capacity than conventional materials.

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Earth’s atmosphere [image credit: BBC]


“These results are going to require rewriting the textbooks,” according to the research program director.

Not all of the nitrogen on the planet comes from the atmosphere, according to a UC Davis study in the journal Science. Up to a quarter comes from Earth’s bedrock. 

The discovery could greatly improve climate change projections, says Eurekalert. 

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Sprites, elves and jets [image credit: NOAA / BBC]


While speculation about theoretical dark matter and big bangs may be more popular, there’s plenty still to learn about these observed near-Earth electrical phenomena.

A new mission aboard the International Space Station is taking storm chasing to new heights, reports BBC News.

Thunderstorms are some of the most spectacular events in nature, yet what we can see from the surface of our planet is only the beginning.

There are bizarre goings on in Earth’s upper atmosphere, and a new mission aims to learn more about them.

Launched to the International Space Station on Monday, the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) will observe the strange electrical phenomena that occur above thunderstorms.

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Levee breach on the Mississippi river [image credit: Wikipedia]


This shows once again that glib claims about climate-related flooding due to ‘extreme weather’ should be treated with great caution, or even suspicion. The reality is that other factors are at work.

A new study has revealed for the first time the last 500-year flood history of the Mississippi River, as Eurakalert reports.

It shows a dramatic rise in the size and frequency of extreme floods in the past century — mostly due to projects to straighten, channelize, and bound the river with artificial levees.

The new research, led by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), also uncovered a clear pattern over the centuries linking flooding on the Mississippi with natural fluctuations of Pacific and Atlantic Ocean water temperatures.

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Distant galaxies [image credit: phys.org]


Does the exception prove the rule, or is the rule on shaky ground? Nobody knows.

Scientists have imaged a “transparent” galaxy that may have no dark matter, reports BBC Science.

An unusually transparent galaxy about the size of the Milky Way is prompting new questions for astrophysicists.

The object, with the catchy moniker of NGC1052-DF2, appears to contain no dark matter.

If this turns out to be true, it may be the first galaxy of its kind – made up only of ordinary matter. Currently, dark matter is thought to be essential to the fabric of the Universe as we understand it.

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Artistic interpretation of the flooding of the Mediterranean through the Gibraltar Strait, 5.3 million years ago [image credit: Paubahi @ Wikipedia]


“We may be dealing with the one of the largest floods that ever occurred on our planet,” said the lead author of the study.

It was the most abrupt environmental change, at a planetary scale, since the end of the Cretaceous, says Discover magazine.

One of the largest floods in Earth’s history may have deluged the Mediterranean Sea more than 5.3 million years ago, leaving behind a mass of debris roughly the size of Greece’s largest island, Crete, researchers say.

Scientists investigated a roughly 640,000-year span of time starting nearly 6 million years ago when the Mediterranean became a hyper-salty lake.

This so-called Messinian salinity crisis “was the most abrupt environmental change, at a planetary scale, since the end of the Cretaceous — that is, a sudden mass extinction, including dinosaurs, due to a meteorite impact,” said study lead author Aaron Micallef, a marine geoscientist at the University of Malta.

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Antarctic sea ice is still expanding [image credit: BBC]


The conclusion offered here is that ‘something must be fundamentally wrong with the climate models, for their predictions to be so far off from the observed sea ice trends’. No wonder climate alarmists focus on the Arctic.

Over the past several years, many researchers have examined the spatial extent of sea ice around Antarctica, says CO2 Science, consistently reporting an increasing trend (see, for example, our reviews on the previously published works of Yuan and Martinson, 2000, Watkins and Simmonds, 2000, Hanna, 2001, Zwally et al., 2002, Vyas et al., 2003, Cavalieri et al., 2003, Liu et al., 2004, Parkinson, 2004, Comiso and Nishio, 2008, Cavalieri and Parkinson, 2008, Turner et al., 2009, Pezza et al., 2012, Reid et al., 2013, Reid et al., 2015, Simmonds, 2015, He et al., 2016 and Comiso et al., 2017).

The latest study to confirm this ongoing expanse comes from the South American research team of De Santis et al. (2017).

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Image credit: BBC


They say ‘the next step is to work on scaling up the system and boosting its efficiency’.

MIT-developed system could provide drinking water even in extremely arid locations, says MIT’s News Office.

It seems like getting something for nothing, but you really can get drinkable water right out of the driest of desert air.

Even in the most arid places on Earth, there is some moisture in the air, and a practical way to extract that moisture could be a key to survival in such bone-dry locations. Now, researchers at MIT have proved that such an extraction system can work.

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UK winter weather forecast [image credit: BBC]


So says a new study, which also has the benefit of being topical. The current weak solar cycle is highlighted.

Periods of extreme cold winter weather and perilous snowfall, similar to those that gripped the UK in a deep freeze with the arrival of the ‘Beast from the East’, could be linked to the solar cycle, pioneering new research has shown.

A new study, led by Dr Indrani Roy from the University of Exeter, has revealed when the solar cycle is in its ‘weaker’ phase, there are warm spells across the Arctic in winter, as well as heavy snowfall across the Eurasian sector, reports Phys.org.

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Spiral galaxy [image credit: BBC]


Researchers refer here to ‘regularity in galaxies’.

Astronomers have discovered that all galaxies rotate once every billion years, no matter how big they are, reports Phys.org.

The Earth spinning around on its axis once gives us the length of a day, and a complete orbit of the Earth around the Sun gives us a year.

“It’s not Swiss watch precision,” said Professor Gerhardt Meurer from the UWA node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).

“But regardless of whether a galaxy is very big or very small, if you could sit on the extreme edge of its disk as it spins, it would take you about a billion years to go all the way round.”

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Image credit: ScienceDaily


It seems there was ‘a distinct increase in sea ice extent’ at some point in time that led to a switch to longer ice age intervals, but the reason(s) for it are not known.

Researchers from Cardiff University have revealed how sea ice has been contributing to the waxing and waning of ice sheets over the last million years, says Phys.org.

In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, the team have shown for the first time that ice ages, occurring every 100,000 years, are accompanied by a rapid build-up of sea ice in the Earth’s oceans.

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Is this how it works? [image credit: politics.ie]


An obvious problem with studies like this is that as soon as natural climate variation is invoked – to explain the lack of expected warming from so-called greenhouse gases – the argument that such gases could be a dominant factor in climate processes is then severely weakened to say the least. It is in effect an admission that such variations could cause warming as well as cooling. How long can a ‘hiatus’ last before it becomes the status quo?

Reinforcement of Climate Hiatus by Decadal Modulation of Daily Cloud Cycle
– By Jun Yin and Amilcare Porporato, Princeton University
H/T The GWPF

Based on observations and climate model results, it has been suggested that the recent slowdown of global warming trends (climate hiatus), which took place in the early 2000s, might be due to enhanced ocean heat uptake.

Here we suggest an alternative hypothesis which, at least in part, would relate such slowdown to unaccounted energy reflected or re-emitted by clouds.

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Image credit: NOAA


Another attempt to shed light on this recurring but tricky to predict climate phenomenon.

For decades, scientists have observed the phenomena known as El Niño and La Niña, says Phys.org. Both significantly impact the global climate and both pose a puzzle to scientists since they’re not completely understood.

Now, a new study clarifies some of the obscurity surrounding El Niño and La Niña, which together are called the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

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Cyclones in Jupiter’s atmosphere [image credit: NASA]


Octagon and pentagon (8:5) shapes at the poles, with groups of cyclones in a 9:6 (= 3:2) polar ratio. Fascinating.

Jupiter’s poles are blanketed by geometric clusters of cyclones and its atmosphere is deeper than scientists suspected, says Phys.org.

These are just some of the discoveries reported by four international research teams Wednesday, based on observations by NASA’s Juno spacecraft circling Jupiter.

One group uncovered a constellation of nine cyclones over Jupiter’s north pole and six over the south pole. The wind speeds exceed Category 5 hurricane strength in places, reaching 220 mph (350 kph).

The massive storms haven’t changed position much—or merged—since observations began.

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NASA image of the day: Sun’s quiet corona [credit: NASA/SDO]


‘Magnetic’ seems to mean ‘electromagnetic’ in this report. There’s a definition of an Alfvén wave here.

Scientists at Queen’s University Belfast have led an international team to the ground-breaking discovery that magnetic waves crashing through the sun may be key to heating its atmosphere and propelling the solar wind, as Phys.org reports.

The sun is the source of energy that sustains all life on Earth but much remains unknown about it. However, a group of researchers at Queen’s have now unlocked some mysteries in a research paper, which has been published in Nature Physics.

In 1942, Swedish physicist and engineer Hannes Alfvén predicted the existence of a new type of wave due to magnetism acting on a plasma, which led him to obtain the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1970.

Since his prediction, Alfvén waves have been associated with a variety of sources, including nuclear reactors, the gas cloud that envelops comets, laboratory experiments, medical MRI imaging and in the atmosphere of our nearest star – the sun.

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Scottish offshore wind project [image credit : urbanrealm.com]


Researchers have discovered what common sense thinking has led many people to believe anyway, namely that sales pitches and reality can be quite far apart when it comes to renewable technologies and reliable electricity supplies.

A variety of models predict the role renewables will play in 2050, but some may be over-optimistic, and should be used with caution, say researchers.

The proportion of UK energy supplied by renewable energies is increasing every year; in 2017 wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectricity produced as much energy as was needed to power the whole of Britain in 1958, says EurekAlert.

However, how much the proportion will rise by 2050 is an area of great debate. Now, researchers at Imperial College London have urged caution when basing future energy decisions on over-optimistic models that predict that the entire system could be run on renewables by the middle of this century.

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Tavan Bogd Mountains in Mongolia [imagecredit: Altaihunters @ Wikipedia]


Why glaciers are not always climate thermometers.

High in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, the climate is so dry and cold that glaciers shrank during the last ice age. Dating of rock deposits shows how glaciers in this less-studied region behave very differently as the climate shifts.

The simple story says that during the last ice age, temperatures were colder and ice sheets expanded around the planet, says EurekAlert.

That may hold true for most of Europe and North America, but new research from the University of Washington tells a different story in the high-altitude, desert climates of Mongolia.

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Flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey 2017 [image credit: BBC]


This looks like another way of saying nobody can be sure what is natural variation and what – if anything – isn’t, when it comes to rainfall patterns at least. Or if they think they can work something out, it would have to be over a lot longer period than currently available data allows. Result: decision makers must fly blind as Phys.org suggests – probably by making assumptions based on poorly-performing climate models.

New research from The Australian National University (ANU) and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science suggests natural rainfall variation is so great that it could take a human lifetime for significant climate signals to appear in regional or global rainfall measures.

Even exceptional droughts like those over the Murray Darling Basin (2000-2009) and the 2011 to 2017 Californian drought fit within the natural variations in the long-term precipitation records, according to the statistical method used by the researchers.

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Image credit: metlink.org


One finding was ‘that in the state of Florida alone urban heat island effects cause an estimated $400 million in excess costs for air conditioning’. Of course in somewhere cold like Alaska such effects would likely be beneficial.

The way streets and buildings are arranged makes a big difference in how heat builds up, study shows.

The arrangement of a city’s streets and buildings plays a crucial role in the local urban heat island effect, which causes cities to be hotter than their surroundings, researchers have found.

The new finding could provide city planners and officials with new ways to influence those effects, says MIT News.

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Fiji beach [image credit: travelonline.com]


H/T The GWPF

The oceanographer Nils-Axel Mörner challenges the IPCC and warnings about sinking islands, in a recent interview.

Mr. Mörner, you have recently visited the Fiji islands in South Pacific several times in order to research changes on the coasts and sea levels. Why Fiji?

Nils-Axel Mörner: I knew there would be a science conference in New York in June 2017 that focused on sea level changes in Fiji. In addition, it was known that the island nation would chair the 23rd World Climate Conference, which took place last November in Bonn. Thus, Fiji moved into the focus of interest. It was said that the rising sea level had done a lot of damage there. I wanted to check with my own eyes if that is true.

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