environment

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Solar farms made of multiple large-scale panels are becoming increasingly efficient. This, in turn, is influencing their popularity as an alternative energy source for regional and national power grids. Despite this, a range of environmental particles and dirt types can impact on the ability of solar panels to gather energy. When this material comes into contact with solar cells, they may disrupt the panels, by either reflecting or absorbing sunlight, which in either case reduces the efficiency of the panel as a whole.

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For most of the last century, humanity has become largely dependent on antibiotics to keep wounds and immunocompromised tissue free of dangerous bacterial infections. These novel chemicals initially experienced huge success in tackling these contaminations. However, over time, a number of bacterial types, or strain, have evolved molecular strategies that invalidate the actions of many antibiotics, particularly older ones. This is known as antibiotic resistance, and is responsible for the rise of widespread strains such as MRSA.

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Hot on the heels of an announcement from the car manufacture Volvo, stating that they will be transferring all their models to hybrid or fully electric from 2019, France pledged to stop the sales of diesel and petrol cars by 2040.

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The huge iceberg set to break off, or ‘calve’ from Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf has finally broken away. Weighing in at one trillion tonnes and covering an area of around 5,800 square kilometres, it’s one of the largest icebergs ever seen and by breaking off it has significantly changed the Antarctic landscape.

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As we move towards creating a more sustainable future, the automotive industry is already taking steps to reduce its impact on the environment, including the development of electric cars such as those made by Tesla. TU/ecomotive, partnering with Eindhoven University in the Netherlands, have taken things one step further by creating the world’s first biodegradable car.

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When the blazing summer sun is out and you’re stuck in a city, there’s nothing quite like diving under the cooling canopy of a tree. These urban trees provide a vital function by increasing evaporative cooling as well as offering a shady refuge from the sun, particularly important in tropical cities.

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An estimated 23% of the world’s population now live in cities, far from the reaches of farmland, making access and the transport of fresh food an everyday struggle in terms of cost, labor and unpredictable weather conditions.

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Volcanic eruptions are incredibly dangerous, especially those from volcanoes with magma containing a high percentage of silica, as this tends to give rise to more explosive eruptions. Scientists have been looking for ways to better predict the possibility of these eruptions, with one technique centering on tracking the way in which the magma within the volcano has been heated in the past.

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Next time you watch a flock, or mummuration of starlings swoop high and low in perfect unison, or a flock of geese migrating to new feeding grounds, imagine a similar scene but with drones instead of birds. It might sound far-fetched but it’s likely to be a reality in the not-too-distant future, as scientists have been working on developing software inspired by nature in order to allow a swarm of unmanned drones to carry out aerial surveys.

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Worldwide, our oceans are at risk of being damaged by the effects of climate change. Many of us are aware that this includes increased temperatures at the surface of the ocean, but another less well-known effect is ocean acidification. This increase in acidity happens as a result of our oceans taking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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The Larsen Ice Shelf is located on the north-western side of Antarctic Peninsula, extending out towards South America. The ice shelf is made up of a number of distinct segments, which have steadily been breaking up since the 1990s. Now, one section of the ice shelf, known as Larsen C, looks set to be on the brink of collapse.

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Anouk Wipprecht is a designer and electronic wearables artist and has created a design dubbed the ‘spider dress.’ The spider dress comes complete with an Intel Edison chip that uses biosignals for protection, which is an intuitive system that uses biofeedback. It has the ability to record the user’s motions as well as their mental state.

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In the mountains on the edge of the Sahara desert in Southwest Morocco, families are leaving their villages due to severe drought conditions which have left the local population struggling to survive.

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The environmental impact of oil spills is immense, and scientists are always looking for better ways to minimize this.

Currently, for oil spills in open waters, one of the most commonly used methods is to carry out what is known as ‘in-situ burning’. This involves burning off the oil from the surface of the ocean before it has a chance to sink or move with the ocean currents and cause a huge amount of ecological damage over a large area.

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The future of humankind is dependent on the ability to overcome one of the greatest challenges it is currently facing: sustainability. Whilst the challenge is clear, the path to a successful sustainable food system is not. One question is to what degree technological development can influence the food production chain.