Posted on August 4th, 2015

Apollo News Snippets – August 2015

  • From our focus on the very cool super-material, graphene, this month I turn my attention to innovations in wind power technology.

First, here are a few ways to improve the efficiency of current wind turbine designs. This idea improves wind turbine efficiency by placing a second, smaller set of blades on the structure; while this idea improves efficiency with an active real-time monitoring system that makes tweaks to the position and more of turbine blades. GE thinks that adding a dome to the front of a wind turbine rotor can improve its efficiency.

One of the biggest expenses to constructing a wind turbine are the rare earth elements used in the magnetic direct-drive power systems. Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University believe that nanoparticles of iron, carbon and cobalt could provide a low-cost alternative; while USDOE researchers have synthesized a low-cost alloy of neodymium, iron, boron, cerium and cobalt which could be substituted for magnetic rare earth elements.

Finally, here are three research topics which focus on the interaction of wind turbines and the nature that surrounds them. It appears that grassland birds abandon their mating grounds when they are in close proximity to wind turbines. This windless turbine could save the lives of many airborne insects and birds. And could painting wind turbine blades purple help to reduce wildlife deaths?

The June 2015 temperature departure from average map. You can see significant warmth spread across the entire globe with temperature records set on every continent other than Australia. The only notable area cooler than average was over northern India and Nepal. (Map Credit: NOAA)

  • The June 2015 NOAA Global Climate Report is out and I am beginning to sound like a broken record as the combined land and water temperature for the month was the highest in the 136-year record. The twelve month period from July 2014 to June 2015 was also the hottest ever on record, with temperatures 1.49 degrees Fahrenheit above average. This record surpasses that set last month for a 12-month period by just one one-hundredth of a degree Fahrenheit.
  • On August 16, 1777, American forces pushed back the Red Coats in the Battle of Bennington during the Revolutionary War, and in honor of this feat, my Google Search this month was, “GIS and Battle of Bennington”. If you scroll through the results, you might find this news story about a National Park Service grant to preserve various battlefields across the USA, including $80,000 to develop a GIS database of the Battle of Bennington.
  • From the East Coast, we head south to the coastal state of North Carolina for a review of their largest city’s online GIS resources, Charlotte. And wow, I have to say that the Charlotte (combined with the County of Mecklenburg) GIS site is amazing, it covers all the aspects one might expect. First, there is a very easy to use online map with a huge array of layers that can be toggled on and off. For advanced GIS users, you can download source spatial files from this site. There is a nice list of additional online GIS resources for the region; and finally, they even support custom map requests. Nice job Charlotte!

Brock Adam McCarty
Map Wizard
(720) 470-7988

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