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01 Oct

Boasting more than 3,000 square feet in solar panels, the all-electric SolarImpact yacht is said to be able to cruise without a time limit -- if the weather cooperates and operators aren't in too much of a hurry.

As it is, the yacht's onboard battery can deliver as many as 10 hours of cruising power, with more available when sunshine can be harnessed to replenish the 800-kWh cell. Given a day with abundant sunshine, the panels can collect upwards of 320 kWh.

While the boat's all-electric power systems can push it to a top speed of 22 knots, operators who are willing to cruise along at a little less than a quarter of that speed can circumnavigate the world in about six months...as long as the course doesn't include too many land interruptions.

29 Sep

Although Antarctica is an important part of the planet, playing an essential role in climate change, not nearly enough information is known about it. In fact, one scientist recently pointed out that until recently, we had better maps of Mars than we did of Antarctica.

That has now changed. Working together, a team of researchers at Ohio State University recently created the most detailed map of Antarctica in existence. However, putting together the map, called the Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA), was a bit of a challenge. The team had to compile all of the information provided by satellites flying over the area, which involved matching high-resolution images up to make sure the layout was captured accurately.

27 Sep

It may be known as the world’s largest hot desert, but the Sahara could soon feature lush vegetation and plenty of rain. It will all be courtesy of solar and wind farms the size of Canada, generating enough energy to actually increase the temperature in the region by 1-2 degrees Celsius. Once natural vegetation is in place, even more cooling will take place, a recent study found.

A team of scientists were able to simulate the effects that 79 terawatts of solar panels would create, combined with 3 terawatts of wind turbines. They found that such a system would increase precipitation by 1.12 millimeters per day, which meant 16 more inches of rain per year. For the driest parts of the Sahara, that’s 16 times more than what those areas normally see.

25 Sep

A slew of data would seem to indicate that they are.

According to a report from Popular Science, scientists have not always been entirely sure whether climate change has worsened major weather events such as cyclones and hurricanes. Recently, though, scientists seem certain that global warming has indeed intensified the characteristics of storms.

23 Sep

The new system, developed by masters students at the University of Stuttgart, incorporates drones as an inventive type of architecture that can change its shape as the sun travels across the sky.

The project, known as the Cyber Physical Macro Materials endeavor, is made up of several panels that, together, form a kind of free-standing roof. The system uses magnets to attach one panel to others, and also makes use of built-in sensors, communication equipment, and shading elements.

The panels attach to drones by taking advantage of a communications network that lets them adapt to their surroundings. The system can be programmed to shift and change in response to the sun's movements to provide shade to a specific area at all times of the day. A different algorithm can be used to pick up on the number of people occupying the shaded space so that the drones and panels can again adjust to best keep everyone shaded and cool.

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