- As we do every now and then in this short snippet on technological updates, we turn our attention to fun and random advances that fit no broad category.
First, a few improvements that might make our homes more comfortable and/or sustainable places to live in. It appears that USB power sources could save a considerable amount of energy as they convert AC to DC electricity more efficiently. Or how about piping some nice, natural sunlight into interior or otherwise dark rooms during the daytime? This idea is a novel approach to reducing the amount of energy used to bleach our laundry.
And now a few technologies that can make our 1’s and 2’s more sustainable, such as this solar-powered toilet that can turn waste into biochar (a biological charcoal). Or this idea which uses urine to create power in disaster zones. Perhaps cow manure could be a source of clean water and fertilizers in rural communities?
Finally, we close with an idea that is just plain weird and fun, whereby used cigarette butts are converted into an energy-saving coating for parts in computers, portable electronics and even wind turbines.
- Just released, the NOAA global climate report confirms that March 2015 was the warmest March in the 136 years of record keeping. The global temperature was 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th Century average. It was also the third highest departure from average of any month in 136-year record. One notable stand out continues to be the record to near-record cold across the USA’s East Coast and South.
- Summer is basically here and the snow melt is on in the Rocky Mountains, so in honor of this yearly transition, my Google search of the month was, “GIS and snow melt.” And while the paper that caught my attention dealt with snow melt not in the mountains or even in nature, it focused on urban snow melt – a rather unique topic. This paper by Annette Semadeni-Davies uses GIS to show the differences in regional and local snow melt as influenced by the unique conditions created by urban and suburban settings.
- From our New England stop in last month’s review of local government GIS websites, we travel a few hours south to the mid-Atlantic state of New Jersey and their largest city, Newark. Our first Internet destination in this exploration was a very basic departmental website with links to a webmap as well as contact information for the GIS team. Apparently the GIS team will help gather spatial datasets together. To put it bluntly, the web map is absolutely atrocious – few of the buttons seem to do anything and the only way I could find any spatial information was searching by address, and that information was scant at best. There is also a reference to this state-run GIS website but, again, searching here yielded no results. All in all, this was a frustrating exploration and one of the worst city GIS sites we have seen.
Brock Adam McCarty