All posts tagged: research scientist

We’ve Made a Cosmic Choice for Earth’s Oceans

We’ve Made a Cosmic Choice for Earth’s Oceans

[ad_1] Even after nearly three months of winter, the oceans of the Northern Hemisphere are disturbingly warm. Last summer’s unprecedented temperatures—remember the “hot tub” waters off the coast of Florida?—have simmered down to a sea-surface average around 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the North Atlantic, but even that is unprecedented for this time of year. The alarming trend stretches around the world: 41 percent of the global ocean experienced heat waves in January. The temperatures are also part of a decades-long hot streak in the oceans. “What we used to consider extreme is no longer an extreme today,” Dillon Amaya, a research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Physical Sciences Laboratory, told me. The situation is expected to worsen. Research suggests that by the end of the century, much of the ocean could be in a permanent heat wave relative to historical thresholds, depending on the quantity of greenhouse gases that humans emit. Many other changes will unfold alongside those hot ocean temperatures: stronger hurricanes, rising sea levels, unmanageable conditions for marine life. Our …

AI’s Carbon Emissions Are About to Be a Problem

AI’s Carbon Emissions Are About to Be a Problem

[ad_1] In Facebook’s youth, most of the website was powered out of a single building in Prineville, Oregon. That data center, holding row upon row of refrigerator-size racks of servers filled with rows of silicon chips, consumed huge amounts of electricity, outstripping the yearly power usage of more than 6,000 American homes. One day in the summer of 2011, as reported in The Register, a Facebook exec received an alarming call: “There’s a cloud in the data center … inside.” Following an equipment malfunction, the building had become so hot and humid from all the electricity that actual rain, from a literal cloud, briefly drenched the digital one. Now Facebook, or rather Meta, operates well more than a dozen data centers, each much bigger and more powerful than the one in Prineville used to be. Data centers have become the backbone of the internet, running Amazon promotions, TikTok videos, Google search results, and just about everything else online. The thousands of these buildings across the world run on a shocking amount of electricity—akin to the …

Would You Drive an Extra Five Minutes to Save the Planet?

Would You Drive an Extra Five Minutes to Save the Planet?

[ad_1] All my life, I thought there was just one way to get to my hometown’s ShopRite: right on Fair Street, right on Gleneida Avenue, right into the parking lot. That was until I plugged ShopRite into Google Maps. Now I had two options. I could turn right into the parking lot in front of the grocery store or, if I felt compelled, enter closer to Gold’s Gym and cut across the asphalt sea. Either route would take four minutes, the app said, but the latter earned the Google Maps eco-mode seal of approval: a little green leaf. A blurb informed me that I would save 6 percent gas by turning into the lot before, rather than after, the spot where my mom takes Bodypump classes. I could do my part to save the world. It’s been two years since Google announced its Maps eco-routing feature. For all trips by car in the U.S., Canada, and much of Europe, the app defaults to recommending the most environmentally friendly route, as long as it’s not that …

Earth’s Hot Oceans Are a Cosmic Tragedy

Earth’s Hot Oceans Are a Cosmic Tragedy

[ad_1] The ocean off the coast of southern Florida is having a long, hot summer. For weeks, surface temperatures hovered around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, before dropping to the 80s last week. The world’s third-largest barrier reef is dying, and scientists are fishing out coral samples and bringing them to the cool safety of laboratory tanks. One spot along the coastline hit triple-digit temperatures last month, conditions you would expect inside a hot tub. Some coastal Floridians skipped their usual dips in the ocean because it didn’t seem appealing anymore. Marine heat waves—periods of persistent and anomalously high temperatures of surface seawater—have materialized in other parts of the world too. The surface temperatures of about 44 percent of Earth’s oceans are currently experiencing extreme heat, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Some of that warming is to be expected, because 2023 is an El Niño year. But “all of these marine heat waves are made warmer because of climate change,” Dillon Amaya, a research scientist at NOAA’s Physical Sciences Laboratory, told me. June was …