Friday, October 16, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Dead Sea located between Israel & Jordan is 1300 feet below sea level. Its salinity is 10 times that of the Mediterranean Sea making life in the Dead Sea impossible. Only certain bacteria and algae capable of surviving its extreme climate have managed to sustain. Dead Sea’s salinity is caused by the absence of any rivers originating from it. Most rivers only drain to the Dead Sea (feeding it with salt from the surroundings) and the only respite for the collected water is evaporation which concentrates the salt content considerably. However, rising temperatures (accelerating evaporation) aren’t solely responsible for Dead Sea’s declining levels. Water use in the surrounding areas has increased steadily and the outgoing water volume is not compensated enough by the incoming rivers that seem to be narrowing by contamination.
Water from the Dead Sea is useless for human use or industrial purposes directly due to its high salinity. However desalination plants have made Dead Sea waters usable. It is a good source of hydroelectricity. (The falling levels have raised pumping costs! )
Thus the Dead Sea which allowed humans to float on; is shrinking, leaving some treacherous sink hole amidst its receded areas. A controversial solution to this problem is building a canal that linked the red and dead sea. Red Sea is considerably less saline and the water added to the Dead Sea will require treatment to make it more saline! They intend to use the wastes from desalination plants to fill the Dead Sea. Some environmentalists are concerned of the effects of this artificial watering of the Dead Sea and understandably raised their voicea when the neighboring countries wanted to abandon pilot testing of this experiment and proceeding to large scale refilling!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
TOI once again introduced this new technology to me. Seeding was a term that was familiar only when used in context of agriculture and farming. To manipulate the constituents of clouds to enable more precipitation sounded bizarre! Research on this topic revealed that cloud seeding is an old technique that is currently being exacted. Cloud Seeding efforts were initiated by Dr. Vincent J. Schaefer at NY in 1946; when he was attempting to create clouds in a lab experiment. The experiment was carried out in a chilled chamber that was further cooled by dry ice. Dry ice was the accidental catalyst as the ice crystals ultimately provided a nucleus around which droplets of water coalesced that would produce rain.
Static Method/Cold Rain Process:
Presence of clouds is indispensable for producing rainfall. Cloud seeding merely increases the potential of causing greater precipitation. Ice crystals required for ‘Natural Rain’ (ensuing from unseeded cloud), are formed when cold water comes in contact with dust particles in the atmosphere. These ice crystals act as a nucleus that attracts formation of water droplets around it. Water droplets coalescence around these ice crystals and increase in size until they are large enough to detach causing rain!
Cloud seeding is expected to provide substitutes of such ice crystals which ultimately exploits greater proportion of water vapor in the cloud. The seeding effort done using silver iodide (it is similar to ice crystals in structure)is expected to achieve maximum coalescence of water vapor engendering more rainfall.
Warm Rain Process: For cloud formation in tropical climate that do not reach freezing point
In tropical climates, water droplets form around a “hygroscopic particle” such as dust which acts a nucleus around which droplets coalescence until they are large enough to detach and cause rain. Calcium chloride is used as a substitute to attract more water droplets achieve greater precipitation.
1. Seeding is a controversial method because it is a relatively new technology which is still evolving and is therefore not popular among some scientists. Others insist of its credibility and quote that “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence; sometimes it can just take a long time for clear evidence to accumulate.”
2. Cloud seeding is used in Russia to clear the skies to prevent rainfall on special occasions. The Russians apparently crave for clear weather and hence attempt to “empty” their skies by inducing premature rainfall. They use a mixture of silver iodide, cement and liquid nitrogen to seed their clouds. However, last year, cement dislodged for seeding purposes failed to fragment and fell through the atmosphere to the ground in a solid form destroying private property!
For additional information please refer the SOAR (Seeding Operations & Atmospheric Research ) website that specializes in weather modification services and details atmospheric research technologies.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
However, I recently came across this article in the newspaper(I will make it a point to cite sources next post onwards) that claimed global warming to be an official suspect for decreasing wind power. According to the text, global warming causes faster heating of the poles which further leads to a lower temperature gradient between the poles and the equator. This temperature gradient that is primarily responsible for causing wind currents is thereby reduced producing lesser winds and consequently lesser wind energy. This situation puts mankind in a catch-22 situation as ironically, wind energy seems to be affected by the very problem it is discovered to restrain.
Wind Energy has shown tremendous promise for a greener tomorrow in the aftermath of the burnout of fossils or at the time man cannot afford to use it anymore. It is alternately known as the cleaner fuel at par with solar energy.
In Texas itself, wind energy is gaining importance as greater number of wind turbines are being set up tapping into the abundant wind energy. I worked on a project (with Arc GIS) that mapped wind farms in the Northeastern counties of Texas. I am very happy to report that since 2006 the number of wind turbines has more than tripled. I will shortly upload a picture that shows the increase in number of windmills across various counties in Northeast Texas.
Something to think about. If we do not bring our collective and individual carbon footprints in check, we may end up exhausting or seriously affecting our sources of alternative fuels.
I intend to make this a slightly less personal blog by presenting my views on ' 'The environment' and hence the header: Green + Gossips = Greenossips!
I have read a variety of articles both in scientific journals and newspapers that have stirred a genuine interest in certain fields and mild concern in some respects. I will be introducing these subjects here in an attempt to think aloud and assort my thoughts.