In the atmosphere of an exoplanet just 111 light-years away, astronomers have just made a highly exciting discovery: they’ve detected water.
As much as 50 percent of the atmosphere of K2-18b could be water vapour. But unlike other giant exoplanets on which atmospheric water has been detected, K2-18b is a super-Earth. It could be rocky, like Earth, Mars and Venus.
Not only could this discovery help us to understand the atmospheres of habitable zone exoplanets in general, but those of habitable zone rocky exoplanets in close orbit around red dwarf stars. Read more
From the NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION and the “tree huggers nightmare” department
Billions of gallons of water saved by thinning forests
Too many trees in Sierra Nevada forests stress water supplies, scientists say
There are too many trees in Sierra Nevada forests, say scientists affiliated with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory (CZO).
That may come as a surprise to those who see dense, verdant forests as signs of a healthy environment. After all, green is good, right? Not necessarily. When it comes to the number of trees in California forests, bigger isn’t always better.
That’s in part because trees use lots of water to carry out basic biological tasks. In addition, they act as forest steam stacks, raking up water stored in the ground and expelling it as vapor into the atmosphere, where it’s accessible to humans and forest ecosystems only when it falls back to Earth as rain and snow. Read more
IIASA researchers have led work to develop new pathways showing how the world can develop water and energy infrastructure consistent with both the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
The new analysis is one of the first to develop such global pathways. Meeting the Paris Agreement climate targets, to limit global warming to well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, is vital to avoid catastrophic climate change. However, the Paris Agreement also demands that mitigation decisions consider impacts on the SDGs. The SDGs, agreed in 2015, have the aim of ending poverty as well as protecting the environment. The SDGs cover a variety of areas, including hunger, energy, equality, education and health, as well as water and energy. Read more
We have comets and asteroids to thank for Earth’s water, according to the most widely-held theory among scientists. But it’s not that cut-and-dried. It’s still a bit of a mystery, and a new study suggests that not all of Earth’s water was delivered to our planet that way.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe, and it’s at the center of the question surrounding Earth’s water. This new study was co-led by Peter Buseck, Regents’ Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and School of Molecular Sciences at Arizona State University. Read more
Not that you could tell by looking at it, but the glass of water sitting on your desk contains two different kinds of water molecule rotating in subtly different ways.
A recent experiment managed to separate them, discovering one is much better at reacting than the other. We don’t expect this ‘better’ water to become a market hit, but the method behind the discovery is a boon for quantum chemistry. Chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland took a mix of good old dihydrogen monoxide particles and used electrostatic fields to sort them according to their total nuclear spin. Read more