High levels of black carbon discovered in Siberia, which could speed up Arctic thaw

Black carbon accelerates climate change by darkening snow and ice to make them warm faster.

There is more soot in remote Siberia than at the edge of densely populated Europe, even though there are hardly any people there, the first in-depth study of black carbon in the region has found. In Tiksi, a small town in an isolated region of north-eastern Siberia, the levels of black carbon emitted by traffic is at higher levels than in Sweden, according to the two-year study published in the journal PNAS. Before this study, black carbon levels in this part of Russia were a blank spot on the map.

Black carbon pollution is a problem in the Arctic because it amplifies the effects of climate change. When black soot lies on white snow it increases the absorption of heat of the snow, which would otherwise be reflected back out into space. This increases the rate at which the permafrost in northern Siberia is melting. Read more.

Moon’s been getting oxygen from Earth’s plants for billions of years

The moon may carry material produced by life from Earth dating back to when plants first filled the planet’s air with oxygen, according to study of data from a Japanese lunar orbiter. A team led by Kentaro Terada of Osaka University looked at data from the Selenological and Engineering Explorer, better known as Kaguya. The researchers found that a certain kind of oxygen isotope was present in the lunar soil, an isotope that occurs on Earth.

Almost all of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere for the last 2 and a half billion years came from photosynthesis. That means the moon’s rocks have been picking up small amounts of oxygen from living things on Earth; the moon is “contaminated” with the waste products of plants, the researchers said. Read more.

Diagnostics for super-hot plasmas in fusion reactors

In the sun and other fusion plasmas, atoms of hydrogen and its isotopes are the fuel. Plasmas are gases that are so hot that electrons are knocked free of the atom, making the atoms electrically charged ions. The un-ionized atoms are called neutrals. On earth, accurately measuring neutral hydrogen concentration in plasmas could offer insights into future fusion experiments and impact the design of a future fusion-based energy source. To measure the hydrogen density, scientists need to use a calibrated measurement method. They use krypton gas, which absorbs two chunks of light energy at the same time (photons) and in turn emits another photon. The problem is that the light emitted is not at the right wavelength for accurate hydrogen density measurements. In this study, scientists discovered that xenon atoms emit light at a wavelength that calibrates well with hydrogen and improves the measurements of neutral hydrogen density. Read more.

UAEU College of Science first in region to launch groundwater reservoir radioactive isotopes distribution map

The College of Science at the United Arab Emirates University, UAEU, has recently successfully launched the first phase of groundwater radioactivity mapping in the country, in the presence of the Dean of the College of Science, Professor Ahmed Murad, the scientific research team, faculty members, and the college community. The first phase covered the eastern and northern areas of the country. The mapping of radioactivity in groundwater is a vital and innovative research project to monitor water resources and baseline radioactivity in the UAE. Read more.

Biosphere 2 isotope lab measures age of water

Did you ever wonder how old the water is that you see flowing at Sabino Dam in Arizona? Probably not, if you’re not a hydrologist. But this is an important question in relation to the water resources available in our water-stressed environment. Read more.