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Environment

WIPP: Safe Havens Increases Underground Safety

on December 1, 2015 - 12:35pm
Safe havens provide life-saving shelter for underground workers in the event of an emergency. Courtesy photo
 
WIPP News:
 
The WIPP site has made significant safety improvements. Recently, eight underground safe havens (or refuge chambers) were delivered to the site and will be downloaded into the WIPP underground prior to the restart of waste disposal operations.
 
The safe havens are about 28 feet long, 8 feet wide and 7.25 feet high and weigh approximately 19,000 pounds.
 
Each unit is equipped to house 20 people for at least 36 hours in the event of an emergency where workers may not be able to

Public Invited To Trails Webinar Thursday

on December 1, 2015 - 12:04pm

COMMUNITY News:

All interested community members are invited to "The Role of Trails in Healthy Community Design" - a live webinar from American Trails  11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3 at the Los Alamos Nature Center, 2600 Canyon Road

The webinar will begin promptly at 11 a.m. and attendance is free.

American Trails is a national trails education and advocacy non-profit. The webinar presenter will be Mark Fenton, a transportation, planning, and public health consultant, author, PBS television host, and active transportation advocate.

Walkable, bike-friendly communities can improve

Local To Global: How Los Alamos County's Good Government Helps Mitigate Climate Disruption

on December 1, 2015 - 9:33am
By JODY BENSON
Los Alamo Sierra Club

The United Nations initiated their Climate Talks in Paris Monday despite the Daesh/ISIS attack Nov. 13.

The refusal to postpone the international meeting accentuates the fact that the world thinks the climate issue is at least as important (or even perhaps what exacerbates) terrorism. Most leaders recognize climate as the most critical concern humans will confront into the next century. Actually, these leaders recognize that this is the most critical issue for humans right now. 

We in Los Alamos know first hand about how climate change has disrupted

Udall Statement On New Mexico Unit Agreement

on December 1, 2015 - 8:08am
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall
 
SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement Monday, Nov. 23, on the Secretary of the Interior's decision to further evaluate the impacts and costs of any potential New Mexico Unit Agreement to the Central Arizona Project:
 
"Today's decision means the Interior Department will move forward with a legally required process to establish a framework for federal participation to study the environmental cost of diverting water from the Gila River.

SFI Seminar: 'Garden - As Symbolic Link Between City And Nature' 3:30 p.m. Today

on December 1, 2015 - 8:06am
Curtis Carter, Marquette University
 
SFI News:
 
Santa Fe Institute (SFI) seminar "Garden: As Symbolic Link Between City And Nature" is set for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1, at Noyce Conference Room in Santa Fe.
 
Abstract: My topic for discussion will address a particular issue: the role of garden as a symbolic link between nature and urban environments.  Garden is one of the elements that significantly enhances the aesthetics of a city environment. Yet this element has received relatively little attention in philosophical aesthetic theory.
 
This topic is intended as one small step toward addressing

Smart Grid Demonstration Project Update Dec. 2

on December 1, 2015 - 7:41am
SIERRA CLUB News:
 
Was yours one of the households that participated in the photovoltaic/micro-grid project? Would you like to see the date and discuss the future of possible projects? 
 
Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities Manager Tim Glasco will discuss the U.S.-Japan Demonstration Smart Grid Project that was undertaken in Los Alamos.
 
Project partners included Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the DPU.
 
Through the construction of a micro-grid on North and Barranca Mesas, project partners demonstrated

Udall, Heinrich Welcome Passage Of New Law To Foster Innovation, Increase Competitiveness Of U.S. Space Industry

on November 30, 2015 - 11:13am

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall

U.S. SENATE News:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich praised passage of the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act to modernize commercial space regulations and encourage competitiveness in the industry.

Udall and Heinrich are longtime champions of modernizing U.S. policies governing commercial spaceflight. The bill, which President Obama signed last week, provides an essential legal framework that will enable New Mexico’s commercial spaceflight industry to grow in the years ahead. 

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich

The new law will extend

Prescribed Burns On Santa Fe National's Forest Jemez And Cuba Ranger Districts During December

on November 30, 2015 - 9:42am
SFNF News:
 
SANTA FE  Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest are planning to conduct three pile burns on the Jemez and Cuba Ranger Districts sometime between Nov. 30 and Dec. 30. 
 
That window is dependent on the amount of snowfall on the ground as well as other favorable conditions, including fuel moisture levels, air quality and weather forecasts, and may be extended into 2016.  
 
Once ignitions begin, they are expected to last two to three days.
 
The planned prescribed burns will treat:
  • 486 acres in Joaquin Canyon eight miles west of Jemez Springs;
  • 35 acres on Thompson Ridge nine miles

Learn About Longest-Running Citizen Science Project In The World 7 p.m. Tuesday At Nature Center

on November 29, 2015 - 9:33am

Mouser Williams. Photo by Minesh Bacrania

PEEC News:

Local wildlife photographer, birder and occasional electrical engineer Mouser Williams will give a presentation at the Los Alamos Nature Center at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1 about the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count program.

The talk will cover the historical origins of the bird count, how it has grown in the last 116 years, and how scientists take advantage of such a rich database of bird population data. The Christmas Bird Count is coming to Los Alamos for the first time since 1953, and Dr.

Heinrich Continues Call For Wildfire Budget Fix

on November 28, 2015 - 8:57am
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich
 
SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C.  During a U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) underscored the need to increase wildfire suppression efforts and continued his call for wildfire funding reform.
 
The hearing focused on a review of previous wildfire seasons to inform and improve future federal wildland fire management strategies.
 
The committee heard testimony from U.S. Government Accountability Office Director for Natural Resources and Environment Team Anne-Marie Fennell.
 
Last month, Heinrich initiated a 

Small Business Profile: PEEC Gift Shop Celebrates The Natural World

on November 28, 2015 - 7:47am
PEEC Executive Director PEEC Katie Watson outside the new Los Alamos Nature Center. Photo by Chris Clark/ladailypost
 
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post

If there is one stand-out quality in Los Alamos, it would be the community’s spectacular scenery and all the flora and fauna that goes with it.

For more than 10 years, the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) has strived to educate, celebrate, preserve and explore all the natural wonders of this community.

Sandra West, marketing manager for PEEC, explained the organization was founded in 2000, “by a group of dedicated

Learn About Los Alamos Smart Grid Project At Sierra Club Meeting Dec. 2

on November 26, 2015 - 10:42am

SIERRA CLUB News:

The public is invited to attend the December meeting of the Sierra Club of Los Alamos at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2 in Room 230 of the UNM-Los Alamos Student Center (Bldg. 2). The speaker is Tim Glasco of the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities.

Glasco will discuss the U.S.-Japan Demonstration Smart Grid Project that was undertaken in Los Alamos. Project partners included Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities.

Through the construction of a

Udall, Heinrich Urge LWCF Reauthorization, Funding Before Year Ends

on November 25, 2015 - 6:57am
SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and a bipartisan coalition of 12 other senators sent a letter asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to include the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) along with full mandatory funding in one of the bills Congress must pass before adjourning for the year.
 
“The LWCF is funded with offshore oil royalties and was designed not to use taxpayer dollars.

SCEC Improves Understanding Of Earthquake Hazards With Supercomputers, Achieves Societal Impacts

on November 25, 2015 - 6:54am
SCEC News:
 
LOS ANGELES  Decision-makers from various sectors now have better knowledge to assess and mitigate earthquake risk owing to high-performance computing research by the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), headquartered at the University of Southern California.
 
On Thursday at the 2015 International Conference for High Performance Computing, Network Storage, and Analysis (“Supercomputer 2015”) in Austin, Texas, SCEC Director Tom Jordan will present an invited talk on the societal impacts of SCEC’s research and development in using supercomputers.
 
“By using the nation’s

ARPA-E Awards Tibbar Plasma Technologies Of Los Alamos $3.5M For Transformational Energy Technology

on November 24, 2015 - 11:19am

Tibbar Plasma Technologies owner Richard Nebel and colleague Bill Gibson standing next to 'the machine.' Courtesy photo

BUSINESS News:

Los Alamos based company, Tibbar Plasma Technologies Inc, announced today that it was awarded $3.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

The funding will be used to develop plasma-based AC-DC electrical transformers for High Voltage DC Electrical Transmission.

“Plasma-based electrical transformers have the potential to reduce the cost of transforming power by a factor of 2x-10x.

SDSS J103842.59+484917.7: Where Alice In Wonderland Meets Albert Einstein

on November 23, 2015 - 10:11pm

This group of galaxies has been nicknamed the 'Cheshire Cat' because of its resemblance to a smiling feline. Some of the cat-like features are actually distant galaxies whose light has been stretched and bent by the large amounts of mass contained in foreground galaxies. This is an effect called 'gravitational lensing,' predicted by Einstein's Theory of General Relativity that is celebrating its 100th anniversary. X-rays from Chandra show that the two 'eye' galaxies and the smaller galaxies associated with them are slamming into one another in a giant galactic collision.Credit/X-ray:

Fractal Show At The Planetarium Friday

on November 22, 2015 - 8:08am
Fractals. Courtesy/PEEC

PEEC News:

Enjoy an evening out and journey into the never-ending world of fractals in the Los Alamos Nature Center Planetarium 7 p.m. Friday, Nov.27. This show incorporates math, science, art and nature in a full-dome planetarium show featuring original music.

This spectacular show starts promptly at 7 p.m. and seating is limited. Tickets may be purchased by phone or at the nature center and are only $10 for adults and $8 for children. This fractals show will run on the fourth Friday of each month, and is suitable for audiences ages 4 and up.

For more information

SFI: 'Disturbance Ecology Meets Macroecology...' Nov. 23

on November 21, 2015 - 6:43am
Erica Newman, University of California, Berkeley
 
SFI News:
 
The Santa Fe Institute (SFI) holds seminar "Disturbance Ecology Meets Macroecology: A new method for cross-system comparisons of ecosystems in transition" for 12:15 p.m., Monday Nov. 23, at Collins Conference Room in Santa Fe. 
 
Abstract: Natural disturbances increase heterogeneity and diversity of ecosystems, while anthropogenic changes often decrease ecosystem complexity and diversity.
 
To a disturbance ecologist, factors such as the type, size, and seasonality of disturbances explain patterns on the landscape;

Los Alamos Technology Gains National Backing

on November 19, 2015 - 1:16pm

Descartes Labs artificial intelligence can race through mountains of data and read a landscape in seconds. An early emphasis for this technology is in evaluating and predicting agricultural output, like these irrigated fields near Roswell. Courtesy/2015 NASA/LANDSAT

 

By ROGER SNODGRASS
Los Alamos Daily Post

Los Alamos pixels and Los Alamos dots were both riding high this week.

Descartes Labs, Inc., a one-year-old company specializing in satellite imagery recognition and analysis, announced Tuesday that it had raised $5 million in a venture capital round, thanks to a group of investors

Regional Coalition Of LANL Communities Discusses Consent Order Negotiations With NMED And EM-LA

on November 19, 2015 - 12:24pm

RCLC News:

HERNANDEZ -- The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC) hosted representatives from the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the Los Alamos Environmental Management Field Office (EM-LA) to discuss the Consent Order agreement guiding the regulatory environment for cleanup of legacy nuclear waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn gave an overview of the current consent order and expected changes to the upcoming version to be signed, and EM-LA Manager Doug Hintze presented the new campaign approach that will be utilized to clean up

WIPP Conducts Limited Scope Performance Tests

on November 19, 2015 - 6:45am
Members of the WIPP Emergency Operations Center participate in a drill, simulating an emergency occurrence at the WIPP Facility. Courtesy/WIPP
 
WIPP News:
 
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) Emergency Operations Center staff conducted a series of Limited Scope Performance Tests (LSPT) Nov. 3‐4, designed to evaluate the readiness of the Emergency Response Organization (ERO) and the Emergency Operations Center.
 
A series of four exercises were conducted (i.e. earthquake, radiological release, etc.) to thoroughly test the ERO system and staff. The U.S.

Electric Vehicle Cross-Country Driver Visits Los Alamos Nature Center

on November 18, 2015 - 4:15pm

Brian Kent and his electric car this morning during a visit to the Los Alamos Nature Center. Photo by Chris Clark/ladailypost.com

 

By Rebecca Shankland
Los Alamos
 
Brian Kent, tired of hearing people say that they couldn't take road trips in their Leaf all-electric vehicles, decided to drive his Leaf cross country, visiting every state capital, and even planting trees in every state to offset the small amount of carbon required to generate electricity for the vehicle.
 
Wednesday Kent checked his charging station possibilities and found one at the Los Alamos Nature Center.

Bandelier Pile Burning Along N.M. 4 Wednesday

on November 17, 2015 - 2:29pm

Pile burning at Bandelier. Courtesy/nps.gov

BANDELIER News:

With the arrival of snow providing good conditions, the fire crew at Bandelier National Monument is planning to burn about 30 piles of fuel materials Wednesday, Nov. 18. 

The piles are along N.M. 4 between Ponderosa Group Campground and the Bandelier entrance, totaling about 5 acres. Visitors may see smoke at a number of locations just off the highway, including one near the entrance station. There should be little impact on Juniper Campground, and none in the Visitor Center area. The operation is expected to only take one day.

New Climate Model Predicts Likelihood Of Greenland Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise, And Dangerous Temperatures

on November 16, 2015 - 1:28pm

Greenland ice loss. Photo by Matthew Hoffman/LANL

LANL News:

A new computer model of accumulated carbon emissions predicts the likelihood of crossing several dangerous climate change thresholds.

These include global temperature rise sufficient to lose the Greenland Ice Sheet and generate seven meters of long-term sea level rise, or tropical region warming to a level that is deadly to humans and other mammals.

"The model is based on idealized representations of societal, technological and policy factors," said lead researcher Jeremy Fyke, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Theoretical

Roger This: Science And Politics Mix It Up

on November 15, 2015 - 9:15am

Courtesy/NOAA

Roger This: Science And Politics Mix It Up

By ROGER SNODGRASS
Los Alamos Daily Post

A new “hockey stick” argument erupted this summer on Capitol Hill, as Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Science Committee faced off with officials of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the last several months over a climate study published in Science magazine in June 2015.

The new study, “Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus,”offered a revised version of historical land and sea temperatures that used new data

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