The Blue Files | Episode 14

[As featured in Episode 14]

What’s in a forecast?

It’s hard to imagine, but you can add inaccurate weather forecasts to the long list of impacts due to the Coronavirus. 

Weather agencies around the world rely on constant weather data that is gathered by thousands of planes flying overhead to help project weather forecasts. That crucial data has been cut by as much as 80%, since most flights have been grounded. However, Lauren Gaches from NOAA, a main weather agency in the United States, says they are finding ways to compensate by using valuable aircraft data from cargo and package carriers. 

It should also be noted that billions of observations from other sources including  weather balloons, surface weather observation networks, radar, and satellites  are also routinely used. However, one study conducted by a European weather agency concluded that removing all aircraft data from weather models reduces accuracy by 15%.

Green Snow

Scientists are predicting green snow in parts of the Antarctic Coast.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey, have created the first ever, large-scale map of microscopic algae as they bloomed  along the Antarctic Peninsula coast. Scientists identified over 1600 separate blooms of green algae on the snow surface, covering almost 2 square kilometres.

Green snow alga is microscopic when measured individually, but when the organisms grow simultaneously, they turn the snow bright green and can even be spotted from space, according to a published study in the Nature Communications journal. Indicators are that this ‘green snow’ is likely to spread as global temperatures increase, which may lead to further snow melt as the dark green snow will absorb more light than it reflects.

Million-Mile Battery

The auto race is on. General Motors has announced that they are “almost there” on producing a million-mile electric vehicle (EV) battery.

Current EV batteries typically last 100-200,000 miles.  

Tesla is also getting ready to introduce a long rumoured lower-cost, longer-lasting battery for its electric vehicles by early 2021.

Long range batteries are expected to lower the cost per kilowatt hour to under $100. Many experts believe that reaching that mark would allow Tesla or other automakers to sell electric vehicles for the same prices as gasoline-powered ones, making them far more accessible. Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US and fourth largest globally.

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