What’s happening to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot?

❝ Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is perhaps the most iconic feature of any planet in our Solar System. It’s instantly recognizable, and the massive cyclone has been swirling for so long that we’ve taken for granted that it’ll always be there. Recent observations have shown that, unfortunately, that’s not the case. The storm is dying — the latest data from the Juno spacecraft suggests it might actually be gone within our lifetimes — and a new research paper by scientists at NASA suggests that it’s actually changing in both shape and color as it enters its twilight years…

The Great Red Spot is still great. It can still swallow the entire Earth whole, which is a pretty impressive feat for any weather feature, but it’s definitely less impressive than it once was. As NASA notes, a century and a half ago it was so wide that you could fit four Earths inside of its footprint, so it’s clearly losing a lot of steam…

RTFA. Construct your own fiction; but, take the time to learn fact, as well.

“Old” Energy buys into “New” Energy

❝ A decade ago, EON SE and RWE AG were two of Germany’s most valuable companies and their businesses were roughly similar: they generated power (much of it from coal and nuclear), ran energy networks and sold electricity to end consumers.

The complex asset swap and share issue they announced over the weekend — including the divvying up of RWE-controlled Innogy SE’s assets — is the last death knell for that all-encompassing model. EON will become a company focused purely on energy networks and retail customers, while RWE will combine the two companies’ renewables businesses.

❝ If EON and RWE can prevail, other utilities may follow. Utility investors would then be able to decide what future they believe in: a world where solar and wind energy is cheap and so what matters are cash-generating networks and end-customers (EON). Or one in which the whole economy is electrified and the electricity generator is king (RWE). At least we’d have a choice.

Either road, we consumers, citizens of Planet Earth, stand a better chance for an affordable, long and healthful life.

Diesel ban approved for German cities

❝ German cities will be allowed to ban older diesel vehicles from some areas following a landmark court ruling.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig said the cities of Stuttgart and Duesseldorf could legally ban older, more polluting diesel cars from zones worst affected by pollution.

The ruling sets a precedent for other cities and analysts said it could lead to similar action across Europe…

❝ The ruling by a top federal court came after German states had appealed against bans imposed by local courts in Stuttgart and Duesseldorf…

The likelihood now is that the German government will rush to introduce some sort of national policy, to ensure at least some level of consistency across the country.

I imagine some US cities and states will take the lead here to step out ahead of an incompetent Congress and a White House that pimps for 19th Century industrial standards.

China selling off oil it no longer needs

The pace at which China exports the fuel it doesn’t want is set to jump by more than four times in 2018, according to the nation’s biggest energy producer.

That’s a harbinger of bad news for processors in the rest of Asia — from South Korea to Japan and India — who now have to contend with higher crude prices as well as the threat of the flood dragging down refining margins. Government-issued quotas to sell oil products abroad may also expand this year in order to ease a large supply glut in the domestic market, an analyst at China National Petroleum Corp. said on Tuesday.

China’s net oil-product exports — a measure that strips out imports — may climb about 31 percent to 46.8 million metric tons this year, CNPC said in its annual report released in Beijing. Shipments rose about 7 percent in 2017.

In particular, exports of diesel — also known as gasoil — are expected to soar 47 percent to 23.8 million tons in 2018 from a year earlier, according to the CNPC report.

Yup. Countries smart enough to walk away from fossil fuels, pollution, economists and politicians with fossilized brains – end up with “problems” like selling off the excess crap they no longer need or want. One of the early results from switching to renewables like wind and solar-generated electricity.

Aaaargh! The Polar vortex is coming, the polar vortex is coming!

Well, it’s coming to where I was born, where I lived [off and on] for decades. Not anymore, man [cue Frank Zappa]

❝ Unforgiving cold has punished the eastern United States for the past 10 days. But the most severe winter weather yet will assault the area Wednesday night into the weekend.

First, a monster ocean storm is taking shape, which pasted parts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina with rare ice and snow early Wednesday. By Thursday, the exploding storm will, in many ways, resemble a winter hurricane, battering easternmost New England with potentially damaging winds in addition to blinding snow. Blizzard warnings have been issued for the Virginia Tidewater region up the coast to eastern Maine, including Ocean City, Atlantic City, eastern Long Island, Boston and Portland…

❝ Specific amounts up and down the coast will depend on the exact storm track. If the storm tracks closer to the coast, snow amounts and peak wind gusts will be higher and extend farther west. But if the storm wobbles east, snow amounts as well as peak winds will decrease.

Not much of the Northeast has buried power cables. Expect outages for a spell.

Pretty much anyplace I owned or rented in New England only appealed to me if it had a fireplace. I had sufficient camping gear – including propane-fired lights, etc. – to get me through several days. I could always stay warm and comfy in front of the fireplace.

Chandra Gives Us the Elementary Nature of Cassiopeia A

❝ Where do most of the elements essential for life on Earth come from? The answer: inside the furnaces of stars and the explosions that mark the end of some stars’ lives.

❝ X-ray telescopes such as Chandra are important to study supernova remnants and the elements they produce because these events generate extremely high temperatures — millions of degrees — even thousands of years after the explosion. This means that many supernova remnants, including Cas A, glow most strongly at X-ray wavelengths that are undetectable with other types of telescopes.

Old King Coal doesn’t stand a chance

❝ Despite plummeting wholesale electricity prices in some areas of the US as well as essentially flat electricity demand in recent years, natural gas and renewable capacity is still being built…

❝ In 2016, the Energy Information Agency notes, natural gas-fired electric generation in the US increased by 3.4 percent; non-hydroelectric renewables like wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal increased by 15.7 percent; and conventional hydroelectric power grew by 7.5 percent. Coal electric generation, on the other hand, fell by 8.4 percent in 2016.

RTFA for details. Still, unless you believe the rant of fools like Trump, you shouldn’t be surprised.

Alberta energy revolution begins with largest solar project in Western Canada


Alongside the Trans-Canada Highway

There usually isn’t much to look at driving the Trans-Canada Highway through southeast Alberta, aside from the occasional bobbing pumpjack, the odd herd of cattle and the abundance of brown prairie grass.

That’s one reason why a new solar project outside the city of Brooks is so jarring. Seeing the 30-hectare site filled with solar panels is not only a sharp contrast to the landscape, but also to the province and its massive oil and gas industry.

The Brooks project, which launched last week, is the first utility scale solar facility in Western Canada, far surpassing any other solar project currently operating. This is the first of several renewable energy projects to be constructed in Alberta as the province shifts away from coal power plants.

They need a windbag like Trump to blow away the snow.

Alaska’s Permafrost is Thawing – Which Will Cause More Warming

The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as other parts of the planet, and even here in sub-Arctic Alaska the rate of warming is high. Sea ice and wildlife habitat are disappearing; higher sea levels threaten coastal native villages.

But to the scientists from Woods Hole Research Center who have come here to study the effects of climate change, the most urgent is the fate of permafrost, the always-frozen ground that underlies much of the state.

Starting just a few feet below the surface and extending tens or even hundreds of feet down, it contains vast amounts of carbon in organic matter — plants that took carbon dioxide from the atmosphere centuries ago, died and froze before they could decompose. Worldwide, permafrost is thought to contain about twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere.

Once this ancient organic material thaws, microbes convert some of it to carbon dioxide and methane, which can flow into the atmosphere and cause even more warming. Scientists have estimated that the process of permafrost thawing could contribute as much as 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit to global warming over the next several centuries, independent of what society does to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels and other activities.

RTFA. Don’t try to explain it to a Republican. They just figure this will make it easier for the companies relying on them as pimps – to drill for oil and natural gas.

Here comes an electric airplane!

❝ Electric cars and electric buses gaining ground both in terms of innovation and acceptance by the public as being the future of transportation. Models are currently being developed, tested, and rolled out around the world. These events are clear signs that EVs are well on their way to become a common sight on the road — and both companies and consumers will be better for it.

One form of transportation that has yet to see the same amount of progress is airplanes, though that isn’t to say there aren’t any projects focused on bringing the idea of electric aircraft to the skies. The problem is, passengers can’t ride in an electric plane as easily as they can an electric car. At least, not yet…

❝ Now, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and German automation company Siemens have announced a partnership to undertake a project that would convert a plane to utilize electric propulsion. The trio has dubbed the project “E-Fan X,” which involves gradually replacing the BAe 146 airliner’s gas turbines with two-megawatt electric motors…

❝ The three companies will each be in charge of separate parts of the project. Airbus will oversee the aircraft’s overall integration, which includes the control architecture of the hybrid-electric propulsion system and batteries, as well as integration with flight controls. Rolls-Royce will provide the turbo-shaft engine, two-megawatt generator, and power electronics, and Siemens will provide the two-megawatt electric motors, power electronic control unit, DC/DC converter, and power distribution system.

Good thing no one like our fake president is involved. He’d probably want the designers try to make the critter run on coal.