It’s getting simpler and cheaper to chill out: US scientists have developed an ultra-cool white paint that can reflect more than 95% of the sun’s rays and keep the house cooler on the hottest days. Across the Pacific in Singapore, researchers have developed a “smart window” clever enough to block the incoming sunlight and regulate the building’s internal temperature. It’s pretty good at blocking the noise from the streets, too.
A joint U.S.-European satellite, built to monitor global sea levels, lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base just after 9 a.m. Pacific Time on November 21, 2020. About the size of a small pickup truck, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will extend a nearly 30-year continuous dataset on sea surface height.
The Sentinel-6 will see details that previous sea level missions couldn’t. Existing satellites can track large phenomena stretching thousands of miles, such as the Gulf Stream and weather patterns like El Niño and La Niña. But smaller sea-level fluctuations near coastlines exceed their abilities. Sentinel-6’s higher resolution measurements will enable researchers to see finer, more complicated ocean features, especially near shorelines. It will also offer faster data turnarounds—collecting, processing, and releasing data within three hours, down from months and years. The data can be used to more quickly and accurately predict, map, and 3D model coastline changes; weather, such as hurricane intensity; ocean current fluctuations, which dissipate climate energy; and ocean topography and circulation, as movement of heat, salt, pollution, and nutrients impacts marine ecosystems.
The effects of climate change are sometimes difficult to grasp, but now a virtual reality forest, created by geographers, can let people walk through a simulated forest of today and see what various futures may hold for the trees.
The Sentinel-6 will use radar altimetry to obtain near real-time measurements of sea surface height and wind speeds, which will help scientists monitor sea level rise. The mission is a collaboration between ESA, the European Commission, EUMETSAT, NASA and NOAA, with support from the French space agency CNES.
When businessman Howard Bisla was tasked with saving a local shop from financial ruin, one of his first concerns was energy efficiency. In June 2018, he approached his local electricity provider in Sacramento, California, about upgrading the lights. The provider had another idea. It offered to install an experimental cooling system: panels that could stay colder than their surroundings, even under the blazing hot sun, without consuming energy.
Green tech is at a tipping point where it could take off explosively – just like the smartphone did. And, just like the smartphone, it could bring a revolution in how we do much more than just create energy.