Hexbyte Glen Cove Major hurdle cleared in plan to demolish 4 California dams

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This March 3, 2020, photo, shows the Iron Gate Dam, powerhouse and spillway on the lower Klamath River near Hornbrook, Calif. Federal regulators have issued on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, a draft environmental impact statement on a plan to demolish four massive dams on Northern California’s Klamath River, marking a major milestone in the largest dam removal project in U.S. history to save imperiled salmon. Credit: AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus, File

Federal regulators on Friday issued a draft environmental impact statement saying there were significant benefits to a plan to demolish four massive dams on Northern California’s Klamath River to save imperiled migratory salmon, setting the stage for the largest dam demolition project in U.S. history.

The issuing of a statement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission clears a major regulatory hurdle for the project and paves the way for public hearings on the document before a final draft is issued as soon as this summer.

A final environmental impact statement would allow the extensive preparations necessary for the nearly $500 million demolition and habitat restoration plan to begin in earnest. Dam removals could begin as early as next year if all goes smoothly, but a more likely scenario is 2024.

The aging dams near the Oregon-California border were built before current environmental regulations and essentially cut the 253-mile-long (407-kilometer-long) river in half for migrating , whose numbers have plummeted. The project on California’s second-largest river would be at the vanguard of a push to demolish dams in the U.S. as the structures age and become less economically viable and as concerns grow about their environmental impact, particularly on fish.

Regulators wrote that moving ahead with the proposal would “maximize benefits” to salmon fisheries important to local tribes and restore the landscape to a “more natural state.”

Tribes that rely on the salmon for their sustenance and culture, including the Yurok and Karuk, cheered the milestone Friday. So did commercial fishermen and environmentalists who have worked for years to bring the dams down in a region already suffering through intense drought and dwindling water supplies.

“Our culture and our fisheries are hanging in the balance. We are ready to start work on dam removal this year,” Yurok Vice Chairman Frankie Myers said in a statement.

Coho salmon from the river are listed as threatened under federal and California law, and their population has fallen by anywhere from 52% to 95%. Spring chinook salmon, once the Klamath Basin’s largest run, have dwindled by 98%.

Fall chinook, the last to persist in any significant numbers, have been so meager in the past few years that the Yurok Tribe canceled fishing last year for the first time in memory. In 2017, they bought fish at a grocery store for their annual salmon festival.

In recent years, as many as 90% of juvenile salmon sampled tested positive for a disease that flourishes when river flows are low.

“The dams are a key factor in the diseases that are wiping out entire generations of salmon,” said Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.

Project proponents have thus far overcome opposition to the plan. Some local and state officials worry about and residents who live around a large reservoir created by one of the dams have unsuccessfully sued to stop the project.

The dams don’t store agricultural water, aren’t used for flood control and aren’t part of the 200,000-acre (80,900-hectare) Klamath Project, an irrigation project further north that straddles the Oregon-California border.

If the dams remained, power company PacifiCorp would likely have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to retrofit the structures to comply with today’s environmental laws. As it is, the utility has said the electricity generated by the dams no longer makes up a significant part of its power portfolio.

The original demolition proposal foundered after regulators initially balked at allowing PacifiCorp to completely exit the project.

A historic deal reached in 2020 made Oregon and California equal partners in the demolition with a nonprofit entity called the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, which will oversee the project. That deal also added $45 million to the project’s $450 million budget after concerns that the available funds weren’t enough to cover any overruns.

Oregon, California and PacifiCorp, which operates the hydroelectric dams and is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway, each provided one-third of the additional funds.

Some critics have said governors in Oregon and California were irresponsible to assume financial responsibility for cost overruns and object that part of the project is financed by a voter-approved California water bond.



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Major hurdle cleared in plan to demolish 4 California dams (2022, February 26)
retrieved 27 February 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-02-major-hurdle-demolish-california.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Last nine years all among 10 hottest-ever, says US

Hexbyte Glen Cove

With the exception of September and December, each month of 2021 had Arctic sea ice levels in the top-10 lowest levels for those respective months, a US agency said in its annual climate report.

The nine years spanning 2013-2021 all rank among the 10 hottest on record, according to an annual report a US agency released Thursday, the latest data underscoring the global climate crisis.

For 2021, the average temperature across global surfaces was 1.51 degrees Fahrenheit (0.84 degrees Celsius) above the 20th-century average, making the year the sixth-hottest in the overall record, which goes back to 1880.

“Of course, all this is driven by increasing concentrations of heat trapping gases like carbon dioxide,” Russell Vose, a senior climatologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told reporters.

“There’s probably a 99 percent chance that 2022 will rank in the top 10, a 50-50 chance, maybe a little less, it’ll rank in the top five, and a 10 percent chance it’ll rank first” barring an unforeseen event like a major volcanic eruption or a large comet hitting Earth, he said.

Thursday itself saw mercury rise to a sweltering 123.3F (50.7C) in the coastal town of Onslow in Western Australia, making it the country’s hottest day on record.

NOAA uses the 21-year span from 1880 to 1900 as a surrogate to assess pre-industrial conditions, and found the 2021 global land and ocean temperature was 1.87F (1.04C) above the average.

A separate analysis of global temperature released by NASA had 2021 tying with 2018 as the sixth-warmest on record.

Both data sets vary very slightly from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service in their assessment, which had 2021 as the fifth warmest in records tracking back to the mid-19th century.

But the overall convergence of trends increases scientists’ confidence in their conclusions.

Increases in abundance of atmospheric greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution are mainly the result of human activity and are largely responsible for the observed increases.

Climate scientists say it is crucial to hold end-of-century warming to within a 1.5C (2.7F) rise to avert the worst impacts—from mega-storms to mass die-offs in coral reefs and the decimation of coastal communities.

At the present rate of heating, the planet might hit 1.5C in the 2030s.

“But it’s not the case that at 1.4 everything is hunky dory and at 1.6 all hell has broken loose,” said NASA climate expert Gavin Schmidt.

The impacts have been increasingly felt in recent years—including record-shattering wildfires across Australia and Siberia, a once-in-1,000-years heatwave in North America and extreme rainfall that caused massive flooding in Asia, Africa, the US and Europe.

Last year also saw nearly 700 people die in the contiguous United States due to extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Ida, and a maximum temperature in Sicily of nearly 120F, a European record if verified.

Arctic amplification

The heat records observed in 2021 came despite the year beginning in a cold phase thanks to an El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) episode across the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

Heating might have also been partly offset by the resumption of activities that created heat-reflecting aerosols, which were lower during the COVID related lockdowns of 2020, said Schmidt.

The Northern Hemisphere land surface temperature was the third highest on record. The 2021 Southern Hemisphere surface was the ninth highest on record.

Land heat records were broken in parts of northern Africa, southern Asia, and southern South America in 2021, while record-high sea surface temperatures were observed across parts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

There were no cold records broken for land or ocean areas.

Average annual Northern Hemisphere snow cover was 9.3 million square miles (24.3 million square kilometers), the seventh-smallest annual snow cover extent in the 1967-2021 .

Meanwhile, with the exception of September and December, each month of 2021 had Arctic sea ice levels in the top-10 lowest levels for those respective months.

Overall, the Arctic is heating around three times faster than the global average—adding to sea level rises and the release of more and methane from the permafrost, an effect known as “Arctic amplification.”



© 2022 AFP

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Last nine years all among 10 hottest-ever, says US (2022, January 15)
retrieved 16 January 2022
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Hexbyte Glen Cove An updated understanding of how to synthesize value-added chemicals thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove An updated understanding of how to synthesize value-added chemicals

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers have long been interested in finding ways to use simple hydrocarbons, chemicals made of a small number of carbon and hydrogen atoms, to create value-added chemicals, ones used in fuels, plastics, and other complex materials. Methane, a major component of natural gas, is one such chemical that scientists would like to find to ways to use more effectively, since there is currently no environmentally friendly and large-scale way to utilize this potent greenhouse gas.

A new paper in Science provides an updated understanding of how to add onto simple hydrocarbons like methane. Conducted by graduate students Qiaomu Yang and Yusen Qiao, postdoc Yu Heng Wang, and led by professors Patrick J. Walsh and Eric J. Schelter, this new and highly detailed is a crucial step towards designing the next generation of catalysts and finding scalable approaches for turning greenhouse gases into value-added chemicals.

In 2018, a paper published in Science described a mechanism for adding functional groups onto methane, ethane, and other hydrocarbons at room temperature using a cerium-based photocatalyst. The ability to use earth-abundant metals like cerium to create value-added chemicals was an exciting prospect, the researchers say. However, there were aspects of this study that Schelter and his group, who have been working with cerium for a number of years, wanted to understand more thoroughly.

“There were some things in the original paper that we thought were interesting, but we didn’t necessarily agree with the conclusions based on the data that they were reporting,” Schelter says. “We had an idea that what was happening in terms of the mechanism of the reaction, the steps that were involved, and the catalyst that was operative for their chemistry was different from what they were reporting.”

To run the experiments and collect the data they would need to support a new hypothesis, Schelter and Walsh applied for a seed grant from the University of Pennsylvania’s Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology. This funding supported a new collaboration between Schelter and Walsh, allowing the researchers to purchase specialized equipment and hire Yu Heng Wang, a former Penn postdoc who is now an assistant professor at National Tsinghua University in Taiwan.

Thanks to the Vagelos Institute support, the Schelter and Walsh groups were able to combine their complementary expertise in inorganic and and to conduct experiments to obtain data required to propose a new mechanism. This included synthesizing new chemicals, studying reaction rates, looking at how the photocatalyst reacted with different isotopes, and computational analysis. The researchers also isolated the proposed reaction intermediate and were able to obtain its crystal structure, an additional challenge considering that many of the compounds in this study were highly air- and moisture-sensitive.

“We are using conventional techniques to understand the system better and to give a clear mechanism,” Yang says about their approach. “Here, we are mostly using the inorganic perspective with different techniques to understand the mechanisms of the organic reaction. So, it’s a collaboration of inorganic and organic perspectives to understand the mechanism.”

After more than two years of work, the researchers were able to propose a revised mechanism that highlights the essential role of chlorine atoms. While the previous study implicated an alcohol-based intermediate, this latest study found that chlorine radicals, atoms with unpaired electrons that make them highly reactive, form a selective “trap” in the photocatalyst that can give rise to different products.

“I think the hardest part was to understand why the reactivity was happening, and we had to approach that with some unconventional thinking of these intermediate complexes,” says Walsh. “The behavior of the intermediates fits a pattern that people attribute to a radical based on oxygen, but in fact it’s really a chlorine radical that’s the active species, activating the alcohol to make it look like it’s a radical derived from the alcohol.”

Having a detailed understanding of this chemical reaction is a crucial step towards improving existing catalysts and making these and other chemical reactions more efficient. “In order to rationally develop the next generation of catalysts, we have to understand what the current generation is doing,” says Walsh. “With this information, we and others can now build on this revised mechanism and reaction pathway to push the science forward.”

And while there is more work to be done towards finding a fast, scalable reaction for methane transformation, having a detailed understanding of the mechanisms that drive this specific reaction is essential to both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and being able to use methane to create value-added products, the researchers say.

“Chemistry is at its most elegant when we can refine knowledge through expanded insight,” says Schelter. “The contribution here is about getting the right model and using it to advance to the next generation of catalysts that will be even better than the current one.”



More information:
“Photocatalytic C–H activation and the subtle role of chlorine radical complexation in reactivity” Science (2021). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.abd8408

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