- From our focus last month on a collection of random and fun technological advances, in January we look at renewable wind energy.
Here are three ideas to make wind turbines more efficient. This turbine funnels low velocity wind into a smaller and more powerful energy-generating stream. Academics are working on this new design to increase wind turbine output with taller and stronger concrete bases. And this idea creates turbine blades which are invisible to radar, opening up the possible areas for these massive installations.
Finding new places for wind farms will help to expand the potential of this renewable energy source. Floating turbines on large lakes and near-shore oceans and seas are a popular idea and were first tested in the USA in 2012. Or how about this idea which literally creates wind at the water-air interface? Another way to increase the reach of wind energy is finding better ways to store the power that is generated for peak usage hours and this carbon-based catalyst battery might be just the solution the industry has been looking for.
Finally, here are three articles examining the interface of wind energy and the environment. This research looks at vertical wind turbines which were inspired by studying the movements of schooling fish. Do wind farms have an impact on local temperature fluctuations? Or how about on local bat populations?
- Continuing our monthly look at global weather trends as reported by NOAA here, the average temperature across the planet from January to November 2014 was the warmest period ever on record; with the average land temperature alone the 6th warmest ever recorded. The South, Midwest and East Coast of the United States continue to be global-standouts as cooler than normal locations. Another interesting anomaly in November was snow cover in Canada at the second largest extent on record for the month.
- Into the coldest month of the year we head, so in honor of that my Google search this month was, “coldest month and GIS.” If you sift through the results, you might find this paper by Abbadi Girmay Reda which looks at temperature variability since 1980 in Ethiopia. Specifically, it found an increasing temperature trend in the coldest months of the year. Reda also discusses possible implications of these temperature changes on local agricultural systems.
- From the heart of the Midwest we travel northwest to the Rocky Mountain state of Montana with a preview of their largest city’s online GIS resources, Billings. Unfortunately, the city itself has little more than a placeholder GIS website that can be found here. Thankfully, the county of Yellowstone, which includes Billings, has a rather robust GIS site. The best feature is their online map with a wide variety of layers to toggle on and off as well as a nice suite of tools and search options. You can also find a list of downloadable PDF maps here. What is missing from the site is a way to access the shapefiles used to create the online maps.
Brock Adam McCarty