- Last month, our focus was on advancements in battery technology; and in October we look at advancements in solar energy as it seems like nearly every day major strides are being made forward.First, here is a set of ideas that will improve the materials used to make solar cells. This idea came out in 2012 so it is a bit dated but still a cool idea on how to produce more than one electron of energy from a single photo with quantum solar dots. This idea from 2013 employs a holographic layer over traditional silicon solar cells to boost their efficiency. And this article from 2014 was the first time I saw a mention of perovskite solar cells which are all the rage today given the low-cost of this material.
Now a few ideas to improve solar cells by tweaking the housings that contain them or hold them in place. Moving panels to follow the sun’s movement in the sky is not a novel idea, but this one uses changes caused by heat as the panels absorb energy to bow the material towards the most intense sun. One way to make solar panels more efficient is to convert heat from the sun into infrared light that can be converted to energy, this improved material allows this process to continue at temperatures much higher than possible today. And then this idea would improve solar cell efficiency by focusing the sun’s energy through microscopic cones in the panels’ lenses.
Finally, a few fun articles for those folks thinking of installing solar panels on their homes or places of employment. It appears that solar rooftop installations and shade grown plants go hand in hand. The WWF has concluded that conservation and installation of a solar farm are not contradictory goals. And here is an easy-to-use solar calculator to see how much you can save from installing panels of your own.
- If you had to guess, you might assume climate records tumbled in August 2015 again. And well you would be correct as the latest NOAA Global Climate report Here are a few of the records that fell and the warming trends that continued: August 2015 was the warmest August in the 136-year record; six of the eight months reported on in 2015 have broken their 136-year temperature record; this is the third warmest month in the 136-year record; and five of the ten warmest months on record fall in 2015. This month’s climate report also features information on the strengthening El Niño.
- October is National Dessert Month and in honor of this my Google search was, “GIS and fudge.” If you scroll through the results you might come on this paper written by a group of authors, Douglas Fudge being one of them (yes, I know, sorry, this is a bit of a letdown on the term fudge; but seriously no one is writing papers on GIS and desert!), about tuna migratory patterns. This paper is widely cited in a variety of recent publications so it seems likely it was ground-breaking work when published in 2001.
- From the Mountain West we travel to the Midwest for a review of Ohio’s largest city’s, i.e. Columbus, online GIS resources. We are happy to report that the online GIS resources for Columbus are quite robust! They offer a set of predefined web maps that can be accessed here. For the more advanced users, GIS vector and raster files can be downloaded for free here. Columbus even offers streaming WMS imagery services.
Brock Adam McCarty
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