Ottawa, May 29 (Canadian-Media): Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, participated May 29 in the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) second in a series of ministerial roundtables that will result in the Clean Energy Transitions Summit taking place on July 9, media reports said.
Seamus O’Regan. Image credit: Facebook Page
Throughout the crisis of COVID-19 pandemic outbreak around the world, Canada's energy sector has been providing the power needed by Canadians and essential services and ensured the security and reliability of our electricity grid during the pandemic, including protecting against cyber threats.
Today’s roundtable hosted by IEA Executive Director Dr. Fatih Birol and Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth in the United Kingdom, focused on mobilizing investments for secure and sustainable power systems.
Canada’s crucial role in its increased electrification to achieve its climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement and its commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, was highlighted by Minister O’Regan.
He also highlighted Canada’s contribution to the North American energy system, importance of electricity systems to modern society, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, measures needed to ensure secure and sustainable industry investments, and the future opportunities for international cooperation and collaboration were discussed by all participants.
During the roundtable, Minister O’Regan emphasized that Canada had ensured no continental electricity disruptions during the pandemic crisis.
Committed to building a clean energy future to support our natural resource sectors through this tough economic time, government of Canada also sees to the growth of its economy and create good jobs.
“COVID-19 has changed our world, but it hasn’t dampened our resolve. We will get through this. We will build economies that are stronger and more resilient than before. With collaboration between international partners at forums like the IEA, the clean energy transition that is already underway will play a critical role in the global economic recovery,” said O’Regan.
#UnitedStates; #EarthquakeMysteryClue; #EarthAndPlanetarySciences
United States, May 27 (Canadian-Media): A new understanding of our planet's deepest earthquakes could help unravel one of the most mysterious geophysical processes on Earth, according to a study at UC Davis Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in United States.
Earthquake. Credit: CCO Public domain
Deep earthquakes—those at least 300 kilometers below the surface—don't typically cause damage, but they are often widely felt. These earthquakes can provide vital clues to understanding plate tectonics and the structure of the Earth's interior. Due to the extremely high temperature and pressures where deep earthquakes occur, they likely stem from different physical and chemical processes than earthquakes near the surface. But it's hard to gather information about deep earthquakes, so scientists don't have a solid explanation for what causes them.
"We can't directly see what's happening where deep earthquakes occur," said Magali Billen, professor of geophysics in the UC Davis Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
What's driving deep earthquakes?
Billen builds numerical simulations of subduction zones, where one plate sinks below another, to better understand the forces controlling plate tectonics. Her recent work helps explain the distribution of deep earthquakes, showing that they most often strike in regions of "high strain" where a sinking tectonic plate bends and folds.
"These models provide compelling evidence that strain rate is an important factor in controlling where deep earthquakes occur," she said.
Earthquakes that occur more than 300 kilometers below the Earth are poorly understood. UC Davis geophysicist Magali Billen modeled stresses in a sinking tectonic plate at a subduction zone. In this video, yellow regions on the sinking plate show where deep earthquakes are most likely to occur, because the plate is both strong and deforming rapidly. This work can explain why earthquakes cluster at certain depths and lead to a better understanding of the causes of deep earthquakes. Credit: Magali Billen, UC DavisThe new understanding that deformation is a major factor in deep earthquakes should help scientists resolve which mechanisms trigger deep earthquakes and can provide new constraints on subduction zone structure and dynamics, Billen said.
"Once we understand deep earthquake physics better, we will be able to extract even more information about the dynamics of subduction, the key driver of plate tectonics," she said.
Her findings were published May 27 in the journal Science Advances.
New way to study deep earthquakes
Deep earthquakes occur in subduction zones—where one of the tectonic plates floating on the surface of the Earth dives under another and is "subducted" into the mantle. Within the sinking slabs of crust, earthquakes cluster at some depths and are sparse in others. For example, many slabs exhibit large gaps in seismic activity below 410 kilometers in depth.
The gaps in seismicity line up with regions of the slab that are deforming more slowly in the numerical models, Billen said.
"Deformation is not the same everywhere in the plate," Billen said. "That's really what's new here."
Billen's research was not originally intended to investigate deep earthquakes. Rather, she was trying to understand the slow back-and forth motion of deep ocean trenches, where plates bend downward in subduction zones.
"I decided out of curiosity to plot the deformation in the plate, and when I looked at the plot, the first thing that popped in my mind was 'wow, this looks like the distribution of deep earthquakes,'" she said. "It was a total surprise."
Mimicking the deep Earth
Billen's model incorporates the latest data about phenomena such as the density of minerals, different layers in the sinking plate, and experimental observations of how rocks behave at high temperatures and pressures.
"This is the first model that really brings together the physical equations that describe the sinking of the plates and key physical properties of the rocks," Billen said.
The results cannot distinguish between possible causes for deep earthquakes. However, they do provide new ways to explore what causes them, Billen said.
"Taking into account the added constraint of strain-rate should help to resolve which mechanisms are active in the subducting lithosphere, with the possibility that multiple mechanisms may be required," she said.
The project was supported by a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and an award from the National Science Foundation. The Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics supports the CitcomS software used for the numerical simulations.
#Canada; #EqualBy30Campaign; #Sweden; #Covid19Pandemic; #CleanEnergyFuture
Ottawa, May 25 (Canadiqn-Media): The the second anniversary of the Equal by 30 campaign, co-launched by the Governments of Canada and Sweden in May 2018 was marked on May 25 by Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, May 25 marked , media reports said.
C3E Initiative. Image credit: Twitter handle
Amidst COVID-19 pandemic's unprecedented and extensive impact on global energy sector, Government of Canada remains committed to building a clean energy future that strengthens the economy, creates good jobs and supports our natural resource sectors.
Under the international Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) Initiative, Equal by 30 is a campaign is a joint effort by the Clean Energy Ministerial and the International Energy Agency to advance gender equality in the energy sector.
According to research, energy companies with diversity in leadership show higher profits, greater innovation and lower risk.
Yet women represent just 23 percent of energy sector employees and 18 percent of energy executive roles. This is significantly lower than almost any other sector.
Signatories to this global campaign, committed to take concrete actions to close the gender gap by fostering equal pay, equal leadership and equal opportunities by 2030 include industry associations, companies, non-profit organizations, and governments worldwide.
“Achieving gender equality in the energy sector isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s the smart thing to do. Through the Equal by 30 campaign we are working with like-minded countries and organizations to get there,” said O’Regan.
Besides Canada Signatories include 11 other federal governments of Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
#Austria; #Beer; #ArchaeologicalRecord; #ElectronMicroscopy
Austria, May 8 (Canadian-Media): A new method for reliably identifying the presence of beer or other malted foodstuffs in archaeological finds is described in a study published May 6, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Andreas G. Heiss from the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW), Austria and colleagues, phys.org/news reports said.
The bowl-shaped charred cereal product ("brei mit napfförmiger oberfläche") from Hornstaad--Hörnle IA.Find no. Ho 45/43-28. Top: light micrograph (red square: location of SEM subsample), bottom: SEM images. Left: patch of regularly arranged aleurone cells (A) with a conspicuous intercellular space (*) in between. L... longitudinal cells, right: fracture through the outer caryopsis layers, the multiple aleurone layers (A1 -A3) identify the material as cultivated barley (Hordeum vulgare) as do the thin-walled transverse cells (T). SE... starchy endosperm (fused remains), N? ... probably nucellus tissue, L?... probably longitudinal cells, E... epidermis (abraded).. Images: ÖAW-ÖAI / N. Gail (light micrograph), A. G. Heiss (SEM) Image Credit: Heiss et al, 2020 (PLOS ONE, CC BY)
A beverage with prehistoric roots, beer played ritual, social, and dietary roles across ancient societies. However, it's not easy to positively identify archaeological evidence of cereal-based alcoholic beverages like beer, since most clear markers for beer's presence lack durability or reliability.
To explore potential microstructural alterations in brewed cereal grains, Heiss and colleagues simulated archaeological preservation of commercially-available malted barley via charring (malting is the first step in the beer-brewing process.). They compared these experimental grains with ancient grains from five archaeological sites dating to the 4th millennium BCE: two known beer-brewing sites in Predynastic Egypt, and three central European lakeshore settlements where cereal-based foods were found in containers, but the presence of beer was not confirmed.
Using electron microscopy, the authors found their experimental barley grains had unusually thin aleurone cell walls (specific to grains of the grass family Poaceae, the aleurone layer is a tissue forming the outermost layer of the endosperm). The archaeological grain samples across all five prehistoric sites showed the same aleurone cell wall thinning.
Although there are other potential reasons for this type of thinned cell wall (such as fungal decay, enzymatic activity, or degradation during heating—all of which can be ruled out with careful analysis), these results suggest that this cell wall breakdown in the grain's aleurone layer can serve as a general marker for the malting process.
This new diagnostic feature for confirming the presence of beer (or other malted beverages/foodstuffs) in artifacts works even if no intact grains are present. A novel tool for identifying the possible presence of beer in archaeological sites where no further evidence of beer-making or -drinking is preserved, this method promises to broaden our knowledge of prehistoric malting and brewing.
The authors note: "Structural changes in the germinating grain, described decades ago by plant physiologists and brewing scientists alike, have now successfully been turned into a diagnostic feature for archaeological malt, even if the grains concerned are only preserved as pulverized and burnt crusts on pottery. A "small side effect" is the confirmation of the production of malt-based drinks (and beer?) in central Europe as early as the 4th millennium BC." Dr. Heiss adds, "For over a year, we kept checking our new feature until we (and the reviewers) were happy. However, it took us quite a while to realize that en passant we had also provided the oldest evidence for malt-based food in Neolithic central Europe."
#NewYork; #HumanHeat; #tropics; #SubTropics; #WeatherStations
New York, May 8 (Canadian-Media): Most everyone knows that humid heat is harder to handle than the "dry" kind. And recently, some scientists have projected that later in the century, in parts of the tropics and subtropics, warming climate could cause combined heat and humidity to reach levels rarely if ever experienced before by humans, phys.org/news reports said.
All-time maximum wet-bulb temperatures at selected cities, represented as differences from 35ºC, at weather stations (left bars) and estimated from ERA5 reanalysis (right bars). Values are shown as lengths (according to the scale at right) and additionally as colors, according to the following scheme: blue, <30ºC; green, <33ºC; orange, <35ºC; red, >=35ºC. As discussed in the paper, the highest values in both the mid-latitudes and deep tropics are near 30ºC, with more intense humid heat primarily limited to subtropical coastlines. Exceedances of 35ºC have occurred only along the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and Indus River Valley, but reanalysis products are not able to represent this. Image Credit: Colin Raymond (Apirl 2020) with dataset used in paper.
Such conditions would ravage economies, and possibly even surpass the physiological limits of human survival.
According to a new study, the projections are wrong: such conditions are already appearing. The study identifies thousands of previously rare or unprecedented bouts of extreme heat and humidity in Asia, Africa, Australia, South America and North America, including in the U.S. Gulf Coast region. Along the Persian Gulf, researchers spotted more than a dozen recent brief outbreaks surpassing the theoretical human survivability limit. The outbreaks have so far been confined to localized areas and lasted just hours, but they are increasing in frequency and intensity, say the authors. The study appears this week in the journal Science Advances.
"Previous studies projected that this would happen several decades from now, but this shows it's happening right now," said lead author Colin Raymond, who did the research as a Ph.D. student at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "The times these events last will increase, and the areas they affect will grow in direct correlation with global warming."
Analyzing data from weather stations from 1979 to 2017, the authors found that extreme heat/humidity combinations doubled over the study period. Repeated incidents appeared in much of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan; northwestern Australia; and along the coasts of the Red Sea and Mexico's Gulf of California. The highest, potentially fatal, readings, were spotted 14 times in the cities of Dhahran/Damman, Saudi Arabia; Doha, Qatar; and Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, which have combined populations of over 3 million. Parts of southeast Asia, southern China, subtropical Africa and the Caribbean were also hit.
The southeastern United States saw extreme conditions dozens of times, mainly near the Gulf Coast in east Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The worst spots: New Orleans and Biloxi, Miss. Such conditions also reached inland into Arkansas and along the southeastern coastal plain.
Not surprisingly, incidents tended to cluster on coastlines along confined seas, gulfs and straits, where evaporating seawater provides abundant moisture to be sucked up by hot air. In some areas further inland, moisture-laden monsoon winds or wide areas of crop irrigation appear to play the same role.
Prior climate studies failed to recognize most past incidents because climate researchers usually look at averages of heat and humidity measured over large areas and over several hours at a time. Raymond and his colleagues instead drilled directly into hourly data from 7,877 individual weather stations, allowing them to pinpoint shorter-lived bouts affecting smaller areas.
Humidity worsens the effects of heat because humans cool their bodies by sweating; water expelled through the skin removes excess body heat, and when it evaporates, it carries that heat away. The process works nicely in deserts, but less well in humid regions, where the air is already too laden with moisture to take on much more. Evaporation of sweat slows. In the most extreme instances, it could stop. In that case, unless one can retreat to an air-conditioned room, the body's core heats beyond its narrow survivable range, and organs begin to fail. Even a strong, physically fit person resting in the shade with no clothes and unlimited access to drinking water would die within hours.
Meteorologists measure the heat/humidity effect on the so-called "wet bulb" Centigrade scale; in the United States, these readings are often translated into "heat index" or "real-feel" Fahrenheit readings. Prior studies suggest that even the strongest, best-adapted people cannot carry out normal outdoor activities when the wet bulb hits 32 C, equivalent to a heat index of 132 F. Most others would crumble well before that. A reading of 35—the peak briefly reached in the Persian Gulf cities—is considered the theoretical survivability limit. That translates roughly to a heat index of 160 F. (The heat index actually ends at 127 F, so these readings are literally off the charts.) "It's hard to exaggerate the effects of anything that gets into the 30s," said Raymond.
The study found that worldwide, wet-bulb readings approaching or exceeding 30C on the wet bulb have doubled since 1979. The number of readings of 31— previously believed to occur only rarely—totaled around 1,000. Readings of 33—previously thought to be almost nonexistent—totaled around 80.
A heat wave that struck much of the United States last July maxed out at about 30C on the wet bulb, translating into heat indexes approaching 115 F in places; the highest was 122 F, in Baltimore, Md., and a similar wave hit in August. The waves paralyzed communities and led to at least a half-dozen deaths, including those of an air-conditioning technician in Phoenix, Az., and former National Football League lineman Mitch Petrus, who died in Arkansas while working outside.
It was a modest toll; heat-related illnesses already kill more U.S. residents than any other weather-related hazard including cold, hurricanes or floods. An investigation last year by the website InsideClimate News revealed that cases of heat stroke or heat exhaustion among U.S. troops on domestic bases grew 60 percent from 2008 to 2018. Seventeen soldiers died, almost all in the muggy U.S. Southeast. High-humidity heat waves in Russia and Europe, where far fewer people have air conditioning, have killed tens of thousands.
"We may be closer to a real tipping point on this than we think," said Radley Horton, a Lamont-Doherty research scientist and coauthor of the paper. Horton coauthored a 2017 paper projecting that such conditions would not take hold until later in the century.
While air conditioning may blunt the effects in the United States and some other wealthy countries, there are limits. Before the new study, one of the previously highest heat/humidity events ever reported was in the Iranian city of Bandar Mahshahr, which almost reached a 35C wet-bulb reading on July 31, 2015. There were no known deaths; residents reported staying inside air-conditioned vehicles and buildings, and showering after brief sojourns outside. But Horton points out that if people are increasingly forced indoors for longer periods, farming, commerce and other activities could potentially grind to a halt, even in rich nations-a lesson already brought home by the collapse of economies in the face of the novel coronavirus.
In any case, many people in the poorer countries most at risk do not have electricity, never mind air conditioning. There, many rely on subsistence farming requiring daily outdoor heavy labor. These facts could make some of the most affected areas basically uninhabitable, says Horton.
Kristina Dahl, a climatologist at the Union of Concerned Scientists who led a study last year warning of increasing future heat and humidity in the United States, said the new paper shows "how close communities around the world are to the limits." She added that some localities may already be seeing conditions worse than the study suggests, because weather stations do not necessarily pick up hot spots in dense city neighborhoods built with heat-trapping concrete and pavement.
Steven Sherwood, a climatologist at the Australia's University of New South Wales, said, "These measurements imply that some areas of Earth are much closer than expected to attaining sustained intolerable heat. It was previously believed we had a much larger margin of safety."
The study was coauthored by Tom Matthews, a lecturer in climate science at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. Colin Raymond is now a postdoctoral researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.