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Research project proposes turning CO2 into stone under the sea – Vancouver Sun

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Geologists know that the Earth’s systems naturally turn CO2 into solid carbonates, it’s a matter of figuring out how to engineer the process at a large scale.

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University researchers want to test the idea that large amounts of carbon dioxide could be captured from the air offshore and injected into basalt aquifers deep beneath the ocean floor where it will solidify, essentially into stone.

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A demonstration project won’t be cheap, $30 million to $60 million, but the consortium, which includes the University of Victoria, wants to figure out if this could be a game-changing technology in the race to stall climate change at 1.5ºC of warming.

“This is critically important,” said Kate Moran, project lead for the initiative under the name Solid Carbon, about carbon-capture technology. “By the middle part of the century or earlier, it has been demonstrated by the science community that we need to be removing CO2 from the atmosphere in order to keep the planet habitable.”

This test, planned for 2024, would involve injecting 10,000 tonnes of CO2 into a basalt aquifer within the Cascadia basin, 200 kilometres off the coast of Vancouver Island and under 2,700 metres of water. If it works as well as they hope, however, Moran said the technology could be developed into an industry that sequesters more than the equivalent of all of Canada’s emissions from transportation on an annual basis.

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The Cascadia basin’s capacity, however, is much, much greater, she added.

What scientists know is that when CO2 is injected into porous basalt aquifers, the gas reacts with minerals in the rock to form solid, stable carbonates in a process known as basalt carbonation.

“You can look at these rocks, I have one here on my desk from southern Alberta, and it’s clear that basalt is naturally carbonated by the Earth’s systems,” said lead scientist Ben Tutolo, a geologist from the University of Calgary.

Their quest is to engineer ways of doing so faster.

Researchers with Solid Carbon also know that artificially injecting CO2 into basalt will work, because an Icelandic company called Carbfix has already been doing it, but above ground by injecting CO2 dissolved in water into rock.

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Most of the world’s basalt is beneath the ocean, Moran said, and Canada has a ready-made lab to test the process in the Cascadia basin, where Oceans Network Canada has a deep-sea observatory that is already continuously monitored.

The test would likely involve ships and equipment already used by the oil and gas industry in extraction, Moran said, with offshore service companies already having expressed interest in supporting the experiment through in-kind contributions.

At production level, Moran said Solid Carbon is developing scenarios that would match direct-air-capture technology — similar to the system being developed by the firm Carbon Engineering in Squamish — powered by renewable energy. Such plants would be based on offshore rigs or drilling ships to capture and store CO2 in a whole new industry, where Canada could be “the know-how hub in the world,” Moran said.

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Tutolo estimated that an industry that captures and sequesters about one gigatonne of CO2 annually, which is equivalent to more than all of Canada’s 750 megatonnes of emissions now, is a possibility.

The catch with carbon-capture technologies is cost, said Chris Severson Baker, Alberta director for the energy think-tank the Pembina Institute.

“The problem with these types of things is not that it isn’t technologically feasible, (it’s that) it’s so expensive to do,” Severson Baker said.

Carbon capture is sometimes viewed as a distraction that gets in the way of actually cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but Severson Baker said scientists acknowledge that emissions reductions alone won’t get countries to the goal of net-zero by 2050.

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“I think a couple more summers of fires and floods and people are going to start to say, ‘OK, what can we do to actually make things better on this planet?’ ” Severson Baker said. “But a lot of things are going to have to happen before people are willing to spend that kind of money sucking carbon out of the atmosphere.”

In the meantime, Moran said research still needs to be done now so such technologies can be ready when they’re really needed.

“One can imagine, as we prove this particular concept — and it is needed to keep the planet habitable for humans,” carbon capture could be a “bridge” industry for skilled workers already in the oil and gas sector.

“It’s beautifully suited for that purpose, right?”

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Bird reports rose during lockdowns | Cornell Chronicle – Cornell Chronicle

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Around 80% of bird species examined in a new study were reported in greater numbers in human-altered habitats during pandemic lockdowns, according to new research based on data from the eBird program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

In the paper, “Reduced Human Activity During COVID-19 Alters Avian Land Use Across North America,” published Sept. 22 in Science Advances, researchers compared online eBird observations from the United States and Canada from before and during the pandemic. They focused on areas within about 100 km of urban areas, major roads, and airports.

Vast amounts of data from a likewise vast geographic area were vital for this study. The researchers used more than 4 million eBird observations of 82 bird species from across Canada and the U.S.

“A lot of species we really care about became more abundant in human landscapes during the pandemic,” said study senior author Nicola Koper of the University of Manitoba, which led the research. “I was blown away by how many species were affected by decreased traffic and activity during lockdowns.”

Reports of bald eagles increased in cities with the strongest lockdowns. Ruby-throated hummingbirds were three times more likely to be reported within a kilometer of airports than before the pandemic. Barn swallows, a threatened species in Canada, were reported more often within a kilometer of roads than before the pandemic.

A few species decreased their use of human-altered habitat during the pandemic. Red-tailed hawk reports decreased near roads, perhaps because there was less roadkill when traffic declined. But far more species had increased counts in these human-dominated landscapes.

The authors filtered pandemic and pre-pandemic eBird reports so that the final data sets had the same characteristics, such as location, number of lists, and level of birdwatcher effort.

“We also needed to be aware of the detectability issue,” said co-author Alison Johnston, assistant director of the Center for Avian Population Studies and Ecological Data in the Lab of Ornithology. “Were species being reported in higher numbers because people could finally hear the birds without all the traffic noise, or was there a real ecological change in the numbers of birds present?”

The study tested whether better detectability might be a factor in the larger bird numbers reported. If it was, the scientists expected that to be more noticeable for smaller birds, which are harder to detect beneath traffic noise. However, effects were noticed across many species, from hawks to hummingbirds, suggesting that the increased numbers were not only caused by increased detectability in the quieter environments.

“Having so many people in North America and around the world paying attention to nature has been crucial to understanding how wildlife react to our presence,” says lead author Michael Schrimpf, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Manitoba. “Studies such as this one rely on volunteer birdwatchers, so if you enjoy watching wildlife, there are many projects out there, like eBird and iNaturalist, that can use your help.”

The study was funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada with in-kind support provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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SpaceX Crew Dragon cupola provides awe-inspiring view of the Earth from space – Californianewstimes.com

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Holy Molly.

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Give a few seconds (or a minute or two if needed) to startle and gaze at the Earth’s scenery from the recently launched SpaceX Crew Dragon above.

on Wednesday, As part of the Inspiration4 mission, four civilians were blown up in a three-day orbital stay.Tied to the SpaceX Crew Dragon with one of the upgrades: Cupola. The transparent dome at the top of the Dragon Capsule provides the Inspiration 4 crew with the best views of the Earth that up-and-coming astronauts can dream of. This is the first time a cupola has been installed on a dragon. Dragons typically carry astronauts and cargo to the ISS, with docking ports at the top instead of windows.

A short video posted to the SpaceX Twitter account hours after the launch shows the cupola’s transparent dome against the Earth, which is a pale blue marble.

As the Crew Dragon orbits from a height of 585 kilometers (more than 360 miles), our planet is exposed to the sun and slowly roams around the orbs.

Inspiration 4’s crew (commander Jared Isaacman, doctor’s assistant, childhood cancer survivor Haley Arseno, aerospace engineer Chris Sembroski, African-American geology professor Sian Proctor) are in orbit for three days. Ride and stare at the cupola and the earth.

And did you say that the cupola is right next to the dragon’s toilet? Yeah, the view of the earth should be visible from the crew dragon’s bathroom. Isaacman told insiders Toilets are one of the few places where you can separate yourself from others with privacy curtains and have the best toilet windows of mankind. “When people inevitably have to use the bathroom, they will see one view of hell,” he said.

Astronauts who have been to space often talk about a phenomenon called the “overview effect.” Looking at the planet from above, the idea is that the way we think about the planet and the mass of humankind that depends on it will change. There may be a lot of revelation at the end of the Inspiration 4 journey, as I don’t know if they thought of it while sitting in the can.

The mission is the first mission to take off from the Florida coast on Wednesday night and be launched with four civilians. It is expected to return to Earth on Saturday and land in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX Crew Dragon cupola provides awe-inspiring view of the Earth from space Source link SpaceX Crew Dragon cupola provides awe-inspiring view of the Earth from space

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Oldest human footprints in North America found in New Mexico – Al Jazeera English

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Fossilised footprints dating 23,000 years push back the known date the continent was colonised by thousands of years.

Footprints dating back 23,000 years have been discovered in the United States, suggesting humans settled North America long before the end of the last Ice Age, according to researchers.

The findings announced on Thursday push back the date at which the continent was colonised by its first inhabitants by thousands of years.

The footprints were left in mud on the banks of a long-since dried up lake, which is now part of a New Mexico desert.

Sediment filled the indentations and hardened into rock, protecting evidence of our ancient relatives, and giving scientists a detailed insight into their lives.

The first footprints were found in a dry lake bed in White Sands National Park in 2009. Scientists at the United States Geological Survey recently analysed seeds stuck in the footprints to determine their approximate age, ranging from 22,800 to 21,130 years ago.

“Many tracks appear to be those of teenagers and children; large adult footprints are less frequent,” write the authors of the study published in the American journal Science.

“One hypothesis for this is the division of labour, in which adults are involved in skilled tasks whereas ‘fetching and carrying’ are delegated to teenagers.

“Children accompany the teenagers, and collectively they leave a higher number of footprints.”

Researchers also found tracks left by mammoths, prehistoric wolves, and even giant sloths, which appear to have been approximately at the same time as the humans visited the lake.

Historic findings

The Americas were the last continent to be reached by humanity.

For decades, the most commonly accepted theory has been that settlers came to North America from eastern Siberia across a land bridge – the present-day Bering Strait.

From Alaska, they headed south to kinder climes.

Archaeological evidence, including spearheads used to kill mammoths, has long suggested a 13,500-year-old settlement associated with so-called Clovis culture – named after a town in New Mexico.

This was considered the continent’s first civilisation, and the forerunner of groups that became known as Native Americans.

However, the notion of Clovis culture has been challenged over the past 20 years, with new discoveries that have pushed back the age of the first settlements.

Generally, even this pushed-back estimate of the age of the first settlements had not been more than 16,000 years, after the end of the so-called “last glacial maximum” – the period when ice sheets were at their most widespread.

This episode, which lasted until about 20,000 years ago, is crucial because it is believed that with ice covering much of the northern parts of the continent, human migration from Asia into North America and beyond would have been very difficult.

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