California is experiencing now one of the worst droughts in its history. It is so extreme that state authorities restricted the water usage. A new study shows that the snow blanket that covers the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is at the lowest levels in the last 500 years. The scientists that wrote the study claim this phenomenon has much to do with global warming.
The snowpack from the Sierra Nevada is a relevant indicator of this year’s drought. The April 1 snow water equivalent or SWE was at only 5% of its historical average. “We expected it to be bad, but we certainly didn’t expect it to be the worst in the past 500 years,” said Valerie Trouet, climatologist at the University of Arizona and one of the authors of the study.
The snow that melts from the Sierra Nevada’s’ snowpack is critical in filling the water reservoirs of California, that provide 30% of the state’s drinking water, electricity and wildfire control. California has a Mediterranean climate with 80% of the precipitations (rain and snow) happening during the winter months and a dry summer season. Starting from 2012 a series of severe droughts has affected the state, causing unprecedented wild fires.
The team of scientists from the University of Arizona tried to evaluate the snowpack levels of the Sierra Nevada from 500 years ago, to see how severe this year’s drought was. They compared two parameters: the growth rings from the endemic blue oak trees and measurements of the mountains snowpack from 1930 to 1980. The blue oak’s rings are wider after a winter rich in snowfall or rain and narrower after a dry one.
“Having an ultrasensitive record of wet-season precipitation in ancient blue oak trees is a gift of nature to the modern water-dependent world,” said Dr. David W. Stahle co-author in the study. After analyzing the collected data, the team revealed that this year’s snowpack levels are occurring once every 1,000 years and that they coincide with the width of the tree’s rings. The rigs are narrower after an episode of low levels of snowpack, or winter precipitations.
The scientists pointed out that even though these kinds of events were rare in the past, due to the “anthropogenic global warming” the probability of severe drought events will increase in the near future. This means fewer winter precipitations and permanent low levels of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Range, California’s primary natural water storage system.
The paper was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
11-Year-Old Scientist Creates Lead Detector for Water.
Genius can show itself in many ways, some people have propositions, others create. It’s all a game of “Who can implement these solutions to a full extent?”. This 11-year-old girl decided to take the matters into her own hands and revolutionized the world of science and health. By creating a lead detector device, this girl contributed to end the massive contamination of the liquids in her region once and for all.
The story begins at Flint, Michigan. An 11-year-old girl named Gitanjali Rao took notice of the water crisis people were having at the time. The drinking water became contaminated with led and caused a major public health crisis.
“I had been following the Flint, Michigan, issue for about two years,” Gitanjali told ABC News. “I was appalled by the number of people affected by lead contamination in water and I wanted to do something to change this.”
When she saw the current solutions that were painfully average and slow at best. The girl decided to step up and fight this, but how? Lead isn’t that easy to detect in contaminated water, right? Well, like any inventor, she made her best effort to make this an easy process for everyone.
She told Business Insider that: “I went, ‘Well, this is not a reliable process and I’ve got to do something to change this,’ ” And so, she went on a quest to find the best solution to the problem.
First, she went to the MIT’s Materials Science and Engineering website to see “if there’s anything’s new,” she read about new technologies that could detect hazardous substances and decided to see whether they could be adapted to test for lead.
Once she found out a project that worked best, she created a device that fulfills one basic purpose: Identify lead compounds in water, portable and relatively inexpensive. And she succeeded.
The device consists of 3 essential parts: There is a disposable cartridge containing chemically treated carbon nanotube arrays, an Arduino-based signal processor with a Bluetooth attachment, and a smartphone app that can display the results. The name? Tethys, like the Greek Goddess of Fresh Water.
How does it work? The carbon nanotubes in the cartridge are sensitive to changes in the flow of electrons. Those tubes are lined with atoms that have an affinity to lead, which adds a measurable resistance to the electron flow.
Once the cartridge is dipped in water that is clean, the electron flow doesn’t change and the smartphone app shows that water is safe to drink. However, if it is contaminated water, the lead in the water reacts to the atoms, causing resistance in the electron flow that is measured by the Arduino processor. The app then shows that the water isn’t safe to drink.
This invention is such a work of art and creativity; it deserves the greatest amount of recognition. And as such, Rao was dubbed “America’s Top Young Scientist” in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge this distinction comes with a check for $25,000, more than enough compensation for saving many.
Here at GeekReply, we hope that this child genius aspires to the greatest of futures. With the recent contributions that have been helping science and health developments. People like this could be a great help for the brighter future of human society.
General Motors to Release 20 Electric Cars by 2023
There have been a lot of new pushes to take the electric cars to the next level. A lot of countries have been approving laws that will decrease the use of fuel cars for the sake of a better future. It seems like General Motors is going to add more to the plans of a greener environment where cars are usually hybrid or electric.
In a push to produce cars powered by batteries or fuel cells, General Motors laid out a strategy to vastly expand the number of electric models in the marketplace. G.M. said it would introduce two new all-electric models within 18 months as part of a broader plan toward what the company says is the ultimate goal of an emissions-free fleet. The two models will be the first of at least 20 new all-electric vehicles that G.M. plans to bring out by 2023.
G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, announced in September that the company, America’s largest automaker, expected the industry to move aggressively toward an automotive future with zero emissions, traffic accidents and highway congestion.
“General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” Mark Reuss said at a media event at the company’s technical center in the Detroit suburb of Warren. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, G.M. is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles.”
He declined to specify what type of new models will be built off the Bolt’s underpinnings, but the chief of G.M.’s electrification strategy, Pam Fletcher, said the company is focusing on the development of sport utility vehicles and car-based crossover models.
There still isn’t a set timeframe for an all-electric portfolio of products, and the company expects to continue making cars and trucks powered by gasoline engines for an indefinite period of time. But at the very least they want to make some progress like many other companies have.
California Might Ban the Sale of Non-Electric Cars
Gas-powered cars might soon be a thing of the past in California, at least if Governor Jerry Brown and chairman of the California Air Resources Board Mary Nichols have any say on the matter.
According to Bloomberg, Nichols claimed Brown is interested in banning the sale of cars (and other vehicles) that use an internal-combustion engine within the state of California. This ban is not just a response to similar proposed bans in foreign countries, including China and France; it is also designed to help California meet climate goals set by Global Automakers, which hope to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% from 1990 levels. According to Nichols, the best way to reach this goal is to “pretty much replace all combustion with some form of renewable energy by 2040 or 2050.” Replacing internal-combustion engines with electric engines just might do the trick.
While the ban won’t take effect for at least a decade, Nichols believes it might run into several legal problems. While California can create pollution laws thanks to the Clean Air Act, these laws need to be supported by waivers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, the EPA has been under attack from the Trump administration, which, according to Nichols, means California likely won’t receive an EPA waiver to enforce the ban. However, Nichols has suggested several alternatives, such as controlling of vehicle registration rules and deciding which vehicles can or can’t access state highways.
Another possible wrench in Brown and Nichols’ ban plan is if it’s feasible. Global Automakers has purportedly claimed that China’s internal-combustion engine car ban would be impossible, although, to be fair, China’s plan is much more ambitious. Instead of replacing all internal-combustion cars by 2050, China hopes to replace one-fifth of their cars by 2025, create quotas in 2018 to facilitate the replacements, and to enforce severe penalties on those who doesn’t comply. At first glance, this plan doesn’t look more ambitious, but reports indicate the number of people who own cars in China eclipses the population of California. Depending on how California plans to enforce the ban, Global Automakers might oppose it.
Nichols believes a ban on selling non-electric cars could happen as early as 2030, but we will have to wait much longer to see if the ban effectively cuts down on carbon dioxide emissions. Or if California car-owners accept the ban.
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