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Energy storage brings a renewable energy future one step closer

Renewable energy sources promise to address many of the energy challenges facing society: They derive power from inexhaustible supplies of sunlight and wind and have the capability to meet a substantial portion of global electricity demands without adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. However, renewable power supplies must first overcome one inherent drawback: variability.

29 Sep 2013

Think differently: renewable hydrogen generation

Most of the existing solutions for renewable energy storage represent riffs on our current energy infrastructure. They are either inherent to existing fuel sources (concentrated solar power), or linked directly to the grid (flywheels, pumped storage and compressed air energy storage). But what if the future looks radically different from today, as history has often shown it can? What if the future of energy is based on hydrogen produced by renewable energy sources?

29 Sep 2013

A hurricane by any other name: How Sandy changed the way we issue storm warnings

As last year's Superstorm Sandy bore down on the Northeast, storm watchers could tell it would be worse than anything seen in decades, but the storm warnings were missed by many. One disconnect came from strict protocols about how federal agencies issue warnings. Since the devastating storm, federal officials have been revising their protocols to avoid a repeat situation. Will it be enough?

13 Sep 2013

Building resource corridors in Afghanistan: A solution to an interminable war?

Afghanistan has been ravaged by decades-long conflicts that have left it economically depressed, but the country also holds a potentially huge natural resource base. Some estimates have put the value of the resources — copper, gold, coal, oil, gas, industrial minerals, rare earth minerals and more — between $1 trillion and $3 trillion.

02 Sep 2013

Digitizing Earth: Developing a cyberinfrastructure for the geosciences

That geoscientists are notorious hoarders should come as no surprise. After all, geoscientists collect and study nothing less than Earth itself. Over the last four decades, massive amounts of digital data have begun streaming in from a growing number of satellites and sensors unceasingly monitoring the earth, atmosphere and oceans. Geoscientists are awash in data and, at the same time, have access to ever-increasing computing power. Together, these advances have precipitated fundamental changes in the way earth science is done, leading to the proliferation of computer-based data visualization and modeling — especially 3-D and 4-D modeling.

18 Aug 2013

Rescuing data from the dark

Along with the proliferation of techniques and technologies to deal with Big Data — the large volumes of data coming in from global sensors and satellites that can require supercomputers to crunch — geoscientists are also addressing the collection and integration of what could be termed small (or mainstream) data.

14 Aug 2013

Travels in Geology: Journeying through Cuba's geology and culture

It’s not every day that you get the chance to go to Cuba, so when I found out that the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) was offering an organized trip there in March 2013, I jumped at the opportunity. The excursion — nearly two weeks of exploration of our southern neighbor’s geology and culture — did not disappoint.

28 Jul 2013

Getting there and getting around in Cuba

Because of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, U.S. citizens must go through a travel agency licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department that provides “people-to-people” travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens. Because booking with this type of travel agency is required, the U.S. State Department’s website on visiting Cuba is a great place to start: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1097.html.

28 Jul 2013

Mapping field camp's past and present: Exploring a mainstay of geoscience education

Every spring, troops of geoscience students set out to observe firsthand the minerals, rocks, folds, faults, unconformities, ore bodies and other features that populate the geological landscape. And by this time each summer, they (and the instructors brave enough to have accompanied them) have mostly returned home, sporting unkempt hair and sun-tanned limbs. These students — after putting knowledge and skills learned over several years to the test — are the latest group to have survived the rigors of geology’s enduring rite of passage: field camp.

22 Jul 2013

Home sweet home for field campers

With a few exceptions — including available meal choices and entertainment options for when students have limited free time — accommodations at today’s field camps haven’t changed all that much, at least in the last few decades. Depending on the camp, however, lodging ranges from log cabins to college dorms to motels to the occasional traveling camps that still live and work out of “tent cities.”

22 Jul 2013

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