Monday, March 31, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
(NBC News) – The first thing you notice at the Spring Creek mine in Decker, Montana, is the size. It's a sprawling, 9,000-acre site in Big Sky Country near the Wyoming line.
Giant coal hauling trucks the size of two-story buildings zip around the complex with surprising ease, considering the fact that they are carrying 255 tons of coal per trip. The coal is loaded onto mile-long trains—each car carrying more than 100 tons—that leave the mine 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
At the same time, massive 13,000-ton cranes known as draglines slowly peel back strips of earth and rock 200 feet deep to reveal the rich, black, 80-foot seam of coal below. As the coal is removed, giant machines are filling the strip back in, then moving over like a gigantic lawn mower and starting the process all over again.
Despite the dizzying amount of activity at Spring Creek, production is steadily returning to what it was after the recession forced many coal producers to cut output as demand and prices slumped. Also, many utilities switched from coal to natural gas to fire their power generators plants as gas prices fell.
But the Spring Creek mine's owner, Wyoming-based Cloud Peak Energy, believes coal is poised for a comeback. The U.S. Energy Information Administration, or EIA, sees a long-term horizon for coal.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Global Warming Speeds Up Methane Emissions From Freshwater
By Tim Radford
(Climate News Network) – Methane or natural gas is a greenhouse gas. Weight for weight, it is more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a century, and researchers have repeatedly examined the contribution of natural gas emitted by ruminant cattle to global warming. But Gabriel Yvon-Durocher of the University of Exeter and colleagues considered something wider: the pattern of response to temperature in those natural ecosystems that are home to microbes that release methane.
They report in Nature that they looked at data from hundreds of field surveys and laboratory experiments to explore the speed at which the flow of methane increased with temperature.
|How it Works|
Plant uptake of CO2 is affected by temperature, and so is microbial methane production. Respiration also releases CO2. The questions the researchers set out to answer were: which gas is more likely to be released in greater quantities as temperatures rise? And is the outcome the same whether they examine the Archaea only, or all the microbes in an ecosystem, or the entire package of submerged freshwater life?
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