Scientific American on why Sandy's bigger because of climate change Yes, Sandy would have happened without climate change, but it was stronger and more damaging because of global warming. "Hurricane Sandy got large because it wandered north along the U.S. coast, where ocean water is still warm this time of year, pumping energy into the swirling system. But it got even larger when a cold Jet Stream made a sharp dip southward from Canada down into the eastern U.S. The cold air, positioned against warm Atlantic air, added energy to the atmosphere and therefore to Sandy, just as it moved into that region, expanding the storm even further."
New York Times on how oysters used to protect New York shores Before Europeans arrived, oysters built a kingdom on the shores of New York. They broke up waves before water could pound the shores, and their natural water filtration allowed water marshes to grow, which held shores in with strong root structures. A full oyster population could help New York weather storms. But water pollution has killed the population, and even though they'll never return to their original size, a return of oysters can only help in future storms.
Treehugger on the storm and resilient design Sandy is a reminder that resilience matters in urban design. High rises may have emergency generators, but what happens when fuel runs out? Good windows and natural ventilation help buildings last through longer periods without power or loss of heating fuel. "We have to learn from that past and design our buildings and cities the way we did before there was oil and electricity, because not only are those energy sources going to be getting really expensive, they are going to be getting a lot less dependable as our climate chaos continues."
Wired UK on Netherlands' future glow-in-the-dark roads Netherlands will install some smart highways by mid-2013 that feature glow-in-the-dark road markings, weather indicators, and wind-powered lights. The paint will charge during the day and glow at night, and snowflakes will show up on the ground when the temperature dips. "The idea is to not only use more sustainable methods of illuminating major roads, thus making them safer and more efficient, but to rethink the design of highways."
Houston Chronicle on seafood safety in the Gulf "Could hydrocarbons from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion be building up in people through the seafood they commonly eat?" Researchers are still looking into the question and will be testing people living in the region for "polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which dissolve in fat and have the potential to be stored in human fat, sometimes with harmful consequences." A relatively quick cell test will be able to determine whether the explosion is still affecting residents of the area via seafood.