Thursday, November 12, 2020
4 min read

Thursday, November 12, 2020

It's 56 degrees in Ethridge today. Here's the news—

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How Some Skinks Lost Their Legs and Then Evolved New Ones

Veronique Greenwood, New York Times (Tweet)

And the timing of limb gains and loss across the family tree of skinks in the Philippines appears to sync up with shifts in the local climate, which could have changed the texture of the soil where they lived. Sixty million years ago, when the skinks first lost their limbs, the area was much drier.

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California Is Trying to Jump-Start the Hydrogen Economy

Ivan Penn and Clifford Krauss, New York Times (Tweet)

But unlike electric cars, which have large batteries, these cars have hydrogen tanks and fuel cells that turn the gas into electricity. Five years after earning his doctorate in 2008, he founded First Element Fuel, which operates 21 hydrogen fueling stations, including a four-pump unit at an Arco gas station in Fountain Valley, about a 10-minute drive from U.C. Irvine.

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States With Most Energy Star Certified Homes

Michael Kolomatsky, New York Times (Tweet)

It’s drawn from the latest annual report (2019) examining the share of new single-family homes built achieving Energy Star certification in the 50 states and the Washington, D.C. To achieve Energy Star certification — which can come with tax credits for builders and homeowners — a new home must do more than just use certain appliances.

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Warming May Make Hurricanes Weaken More Slowly After Landfall

Henry Fountain, New York Times (Tweet)

In the study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, Lin Li and Pinaki Chakraborty of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan analyzed data from North Atlantic hurricanes that made landfall from 1967 to 2018, looking at the decay in intensity, or wind speed, of the storms in the first day after hitting land. Comparing the data on decay with changes in sea-surface temperatures, and then using simulations of hurricanes moving onto land, the scientists discovered what they say is the link: Rising ocean temperatures linked to global warming are causing the storms to weaken more slowly, even after storms move away from the source of the moisture.

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New Technology Claims to Pinpoint Even Small Methane Leaks From Space

Paul Tullis, New York Times (Tweet)

Given the fact that oil and gas operations are known to leak methane, and the increase in methane in the atmosphere has occurred concurrently with the boom in drilling, they seemed a natural place to look. Sure enough, methane emissions from oil and gas operations have consistently been found, in research over the past several years, to be far higher than the industry and the Environmental Protection Agency were estimating.

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Sizing Up Trump’s Legacy

Coral Davenport and Veronica Penney, New York Times (Tweet)

And while we don’t know if climate change will bring more or fewer hurricanes in the future, scientists are already recording slower, wetter storms than ever before. “The better way to say it is, we have all this evidence that this is the kind of thing that’s going to happen more often,” said James P. Kossin, a climate scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who spoke with me for an article this week on how storms are changing.

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Training Facial Recognition on Some New Furry Friends: Bears

Lesley Evans Ogden, New York Times (Tweet)

Once trained from 3,740 bear faces, deep learning went to work “unsupervised,” Dr. Clapham said, to see how well it could spot differences between known bears from 935 photographs. Before the era of deep learning, “we tried to imagine how humans perceive faces and how we distinguish individuals,” said Alexander Loos, a research engineer at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology, in Germany, who was not involved in the study but has collaborated with Dr. Clapham in the past.

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Eta Targets Florida, Again

Christina Morales, New York Times (Tweet)

MIAMI — Tropical Storm Eta briefly regained hurricane strength southwest of Florida on Wednesday, as forecasters warned of storm surge, strong winds and heavy rainfall along the state’s Gulf Coast. The hurricane had weakened to a tropical storm and was about 115 miles southwest of Tampa at 1 p.m. Wednesday, with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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How One Firm Drove Influence Campaigns Nationwide for Big Oil

Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times (Tweet)

To arrive at that conclusion, scientists say, the report tallied data from the Environmental Protection Agency that the agency itself states does not represent overall emissions: The numbers, which are reported by the energy industry about a limited number of compressor stations and other facilities, do not include emissions from the area’s thousands of wells. The StratCom group studied environmental protesters on behalf of the driller Apache Energy.