Wind and solar farms enhance local rainfall and vegetation cover in the Sahara desert, according to a new study from an international team of researchers, including some from the University of Maryland.
Compared to fossil fuel power generation, the impact of wind and solar technology on regional climate would raise global temperatures minimally, yielding overall benefits, the authors reported in “Climate model shows large-scale wind and solar farms in the Sahara increase rain and vegetation.”
Wind farms mix warmer air from above, which creates a feedback loop in which more evaporation, precipitation and plant growth occurs. The data suggest wind farms can double daily precipitation in the Sahara.
Solar panels reduce surface reflection of light (albedo), and trigger a positive “albedo–precipitation–vegetation” feedback that leads to precipitation increases of about 50 percent, the authors report.
New Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts exhibition highlights harmful impact of digital technology on the environment
Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts’ new exhibition, “Digital Trash,” runs from Sept. 5 to Dec. 7 in the Stedman Gallery, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
“This exhibition features works that highlight that … (bring) our attention to how digital technology actually produces vast amounts of trash,” says co-curator James Brown, director of the Digital Studies Center at Rutgers University–Camden.
The Internet is “a collection of server farms gobbling up energy and spewing carbon dioxide,” Brown said. Digital devices are made from mined materials that exploit workers and economies, and are dumped without much concern for environmental impact, according to Brown.
The exhibition forces the audience to confront these and many other environmental ramifications of humans’ gadgets, he said.
“It is also a call to action: ‘How can we create more sustainable digital practices?’” said co-curator and Digital Studies Center Associate Director Robert Emmons.
World Climate Simulation Game powerful for sparking advocacy
Research published recently in PLoS ONE found that 81 percent of participants in the World Climate Simulation showed increased motivation to combat climate change, regardless of political orientation.
Prof. Juliette Rooney-Varga of the University of Massachusetts Lowell Climate Change Initiative led the study of how the role-playing game of the UN climate talks affected participants’ beliefs, emotional responses, and intent to take action on climate change.
More than 2,000 participants from eight countries and four continents, ranging from middle school students to CEOs, were in the study. Across the diverse population participation was associated with increased understanding of climate change science, a greater sense of urgency and hope, and increased motivation to learn and do more about climate change, according to Rooney-Varga.
Participants take on the roles of national delegates to the UN climate change negotiations and are charged with creating a global agreement that successfully mitigates climate change.
Co-author, Prof. John Sterman of MIT Sloan School of Management said the game works because it lets people express their own views, explore their own proposals and thus learn for themselves what likely impacts will be.