Researchers make soil experiment data available in real time

Read the full story in EnvironmentalResearchWeb.

Traditionally, the scientific world has had closed doors. Since the 17th century scientists have published their findings in learned journals, but the details of exactly what they did, how they gathered their data and what tools they used to reach their conclusions are not usually communicated beyond the laboratory walls. But times are changing. Modern technology is enabling scientists to share their data worldwide and put information into the hands of ordinary citizens. However, sharing data openly is not without its challenges.

Climate Change Is Driving Lobsters Farther North

Read the full story in CityLab.

…the lobsters have not disappeared. They’ve simply relocated northward to avoid the steamy waters. Their new choice of digs has caused havoc among Connecticut and New York fishing communities—some of which now have switched to harvesting clams and seaweed—while simultaneously creating a lobster boom in Maine.

We can watch their movement over the decades thanks to this nifty visualization from NASA, which uses data from Rutgers University’s OceanAdapt. It depicts lobster catches from the late ‘60s to 2014 off the New England coast, where the sea surface has warmed 99 percent faster than the rest of the planet’s oceans. Note that the lobsters probably are not physically trekking north in some great, 10-legged migration. It’s just that juvenile lobsters in the southern seas are less likely to survive—they’re vulnerable to heat stress and parasites—while northern waters provide a refuge.

California’s Dire Drought Message Wanes, Conservation Levels Drop

Read the full story from NPR.

Remember the California drought? It was all over the news a year ago, when the state took the unprecedented step of mandating statewide water cutbacks. The Sierra Nevada snowpack was at its lowest recorded level. Rivers and reservoirs were getting shallower and shallower. Wells in rural towns were literally running dry.

That drought is still very much a thing.

Aluminum Might Be Key to Cleaner Water

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Researchers at Lehigh University are testing an aluminum-based water softener system to replace the sodium-based systems that are predominantly used.

In an Oct. 4 report in Environmental Science & Technology, researchers have developed a new technique using aluminum ions in an effort to alleviate health and environmental concerns raised about the salt released by existing sodium-based water softening systems.

Study co-author Arup SenGupta, an environmental engineer at Lehigh University, said replacing a sodium-based water softening system with an aluminum ion based system led to a more efficient and ultimately healthier water system for both the consumer and the environment.


These Shape-Shifting Solar Panels Can Be Disguised As Tile Or Shingles

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Solar panels can drastically bring down the energy footprint of any building on which they are installed. But existing solar panels can’t be used just anywhere. These flat, fragile, and transparent panels are best placed on roofs, where they can collect the most sun without being damaged—and where they also draw plenty of attention to themselves, aesthetically altering the appearance of the buildings on which they are installed. For historic buildings, solar energy is often simply not an option.

Now, a family-run Italian solar business called Dyaqua thinks it has an answer to what some might call the architectural blight of solar panels. The company has invented what it calls “Invisible Solar” panels, though that’s a bit of a misnomer. These solar panels aren’t so much invisible as they are indistinguishable from more common construction materials, such as concrete, slate, stone, terracotta, and even wood.

Letter to the Environmental Protection Agency Requesting Fair Treatment for Energy Efficiency in Clean Energy Incentive Program Design Details

Download the document.

This letter, signed by 57 different businesses, governments and nonprofits was submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency in response to the proposed Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) for the Clean Power Plan (Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2016-0033). It requests fair treatment for energy efficiency so that credits can be earned for early investments in the same way that renewable projects can earn credit.

Making A Better Phone Battery From Beer Brewery Waste

Read the full story in Fast Company.

For every pint of beer produced by a brewery, seven pints of waste water are created. And it can’t just be washed down the drain—the waste requires extra cleaning first. But what if the gunk that comes out of that water could be used for something useful? Like, for making batteries? That’s exactly what a research team at University of Colorado Boulder is doing.

The process is simple in principal: Take brewery waste and use it to grow fibrous, mushroomy fungus, resulting in a “mycelia mat.” Then heat that mat to extreme temperatures, as if making charcoal. The resulting material can be used directly one of the electrodes in a lithium-ion battery, the kind of battery used by your smartphone or laptop.