October 10, 2013 |
Diamonds are forever, unless you're on Saturn or Jupiter. Loads of the super-hard precious stones may be floating among the gas giants' fluid layers and melted into liquid further into their depths, say a pair of planetary scientists. The research, being presented at the Division for Planetary Sciences conference this week in Denver, sprang from very humble beginnings - soot in Saturn's atmosphere, said Kevin Baines, a planetary scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and one of the work's coauthors.
September 4, 2013 |
Black soot from 19th century homes and factories in Europe hastened the end of the Little Ice Age and caused glaciers in the Alps to retreat decades sooner than they would have otherwise, according to a new study. The black carbon particles caused the snow to absorb more heat, speeding up the melting process. As a result, the glaciers beneath the snowpack were exposed earlier in the year, giving them more time to melt. And glacial ice melts faster than snow, because it is darker.
July 10, 2013 |
Wildfires such as the Yarnell Hill blaze in Arizona may be warming Earth's atmosphere far more than previously thought, according to a study by Los Alamos National Laboratory. Researchers at the Department of Energy facility normally chase fires throughout the western U.S., to measure their atmospheric effects. But in 2011, they took advantage of a conflagration that came to their doorstep - the Las Conchas fire that burned more than 150,000 acres and briefly caused the evacuation of the sprawling facility in the New Mexico desert.
January 12, 2013
Re "Joining the EPA's war on soot," Editorial, Jan. 2 The Times notes that "coal plants and diesel engines have begun the work of reducing soot" but left out how much has been accomplished. According to the California Air Resources Board, particulate-matter emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks declined from 7.5% of all such emissions in the entire state in 1990 to 3.8% in 2008 and will be just 1.6% in 2020. The diesel truck share of particulate-matter emissions in the South Coast Air Basin decreased from 7% in 2005 to 3% in 2011.
December 28, 2012
Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, did not produce the record some had hoped for, as she was continually held back from her ambitious regulatory plans by business and political opponents. And even her last major action - she announced last week that she is leaving her post - is overdue but still welcome. The EPA is demanding of local governments a 20% reduction in soot emissions. If it is successful in producing those results, the new standards will save thousands of lives and reduce the nation's healthcare costs by billions of dollars.
December 14, 2012 |
Citing the need to strengthen safeguards to public health, the Obama administration announced the strictest standards in 15 years for soot, the fine particles emitted by power plants and diesel vehicles that contribute to haze and respiratory ailments. The Environmental Protection Agency tightened the limit, called the national ambient air quality standards for fine particles, to 12 micrograms per cubic meter for the annual average level of fine particulate matter from the standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter last set in 1997.