NASA: CO2 snow clouds measured on Mars

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has detected carbon dioxide snow clouds on Mars.

“This reveals the only known example of carbon-dioxide snow falling anywhere in our solar system,” NASA says.

Carbon dioxide freezes at minus 125 degrees Celsius.

The snowfalls occured from clouds around Mars’ South Pole in winter.

The data from the clouds was gathered by looking at them straight overhead and sideways with the “Mars Climate Sounder,” a device which measures 9 bands of visible and infrared light.

It identified a tall carbon-dioxide cloud about 300 miles (500 kilometers) in diameter persisting over the pole and smaller, shorter-lived, lower-altitude carbon dioxide ice clouds at latitudes from 70 to 80 degrees south.

Nationwide building society gets 15,000 staff to use “online behaviour change tool”

Nationwide, a UK building society , is giving its 15,000 staff access to the Carbon Trust’s “online behaviour change tool” called Empower, to help them improve energy efficiency.

The building society is confident will result in significant annual financial and carbon savings.

A bespoke version of the Empower software will be developed, including Nationwide’s own version of Empower will feature virtual representations of familiar locations, accompanied by energy efficiency tips tailored for the building society. Advice will be provided across a variety of business areas.

It will include advice about transport options for getting to work, information about teleconferencing and advice about how employees can reduce energy consumption at home.

Employees will be encouraged to pledge how they will cut carbon.

They will be provided with additional learning tools such as “quizzes and myth-busters”, the Carbon Trust sayus.

Information and reporting on pledges will help the building society to target the most effective places to change behaviour, as well as monitor expectations and progress.

The tool helps communicate to employees how small actions they can take, such as switching off monitors and lights when they are not needed, can make a big difference across the organisation.

The advice provided to employees will be designed to complement the wider efforts to reduce carbon throughout Nationwide’s business.

“We expect that by helping their employees work in a more environmentally-friendly way Nationwide will reap both financial and social benefits,” said Richard Rugg, Director of Programmes at the Carbon Trust.

Press release

Astrium launches “greenhouse gas emissions measurement” service

Space technology company Astrium, part of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), has launched a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Measurement Service, which is available on a country and city scale.

A demonstrator pilot project has been launched in London since April 2012, with 4 ground sensors at fixed locations, aircraft measurement, satellite measurements, mobile vehicle measurements.

Astrium says it has drawn on its expertise in service delivery, satellite construction and launch, airborne platforms, gas detection sensors, GEO Information services and global communications network.

It can be used to track and quantify effectiveness of environmental control policies and climate change mitigation actions taken at international, national, regional and city levels.

“Direct measurements to verify actual greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere are now urgently needed to augment the current method of estimation from inventories of emissions sites,” Astrium says.

“The Astrium service will provide an invaluable complement to the inventory-/estimation-based (‘bottom-up’) method.”

No capital investment is required from customers.

More from Astrium


Maersk Line saves $90m in fuel costs through measurement

Container shipping giant Maersk Line says it has reduced vessel fuel costs by $90m over 3 years, by measuring energy performance of individual vessels, to raise awareness about fuel consumption. The quantity of fuel saved is 160,000 tons.

It manages the vessels by giving them a score on just 4 parameters: energy, safety, daily running costs and cooperation (best practice sharing).

Additional savings were achieved from trim optimisation (getting the optimum loading of vessels so they move easiest in the water) or load reduction.

“If you can’t measure something, you can’t control it,” says Anup Rajan, Performance Manager in Maersk Line Vessel Management.

“It is essential to realize that the scorecards are only a valuable tool if they help facilitate decision making amongst stakeholders,” he says.

Maersk is now introducing the system on vessels which it charterers in but does not own.

Each charter owner will be given a score every month.

The company has already introduced the system on its tanker fleet.

NASA research – Beijing carbon monoxide levels dropped during 2008 Olympics

Research funded by the North American Space Agency (NASA) has shown that carbon monoxide levels in the Beijing area dropped substantially between 2007 and 2008, due to traffic restrictions imposed because of the 2008 summer Olympics.

The research was conducted by the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) of Boulder Colorado, using data measured by satellite.

Data from the NCAR/University of Toronto Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite were used to obtain the carbon monoxide estimates utilized to infer the carbon dioxide emissions.

Researchers inferred the levels of carbon dioxide emissions from the carbon monoxide emissions, and calculated that the CO2 emissions also dropped by between 24,000 and 96,000 metric tons during the event.

The researchers estimated that this represents over 0.25 per cent of the global emissions cut required to stop worldwide temperature rise of over 2 degrees C by the end of the century (provided the emissions cut was continuous).

“The Beijing Olympics allowed us to actually measure what happens when people drive much less, and it turns out that it makes quite a substantial difference to our climate,” says NCAR scientist Helen Worden, the lead author.

“People may think their choice of how to commute to work doesn’t make a difference, whether driving their cars or riding their bikes. But on a large scale, it really does.”

The same study cannot be done for the London Olympics, researchers said, due to cloud conditions in London (editor’s note: actually there isn’t much cloud but traffic here is the same as usual).

 Press release


Meliá Hotels adopts WTTC system for calculating carbon footprint

Spanish hotel chain Meliá Hotels International, the world’s largest operator of holiday resorts (source Wikipedia), has adopted a carbon footprint system recently standardized by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the International Tourism Partnership (ITP).

The company says it will adopt the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) methodology 1.0 to measure and report carbon emissions.

The HCMI initiative is supported by 23 leading hotel companies worldwide including Meliá.

It aims to provide a common methodology to calculate and report in a clear and transparent way the carbon emissions generated by a hotel stay or a meeting or event.

Currently, approaches to measuring and reporting on carbon emissions vary widely, Meliá says.

This can lead to confusion amongst consumers, particularly corporate clients, looking to understand their own potential carbon footprint and meet their own goals/targets in this area.

In addition, the number of methodologies and tools in use make transparency of reporting within the hotel industry difficult to achieve.

The Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) Working Group, comprising of hotel members within ITP and WTTC, was formed in early 2011 at the request of member companies to devise a unified methodology based on available data and to address inconsistencies in hotel companies’ approaches.

The HCMI 1.0 methodology, informed by the GHG Protocol Standards, was first developed in 2011 and has since been tested in hotels of different style and size in different geographical locations and refined through a stakeholder engagement process, with input from consultants KPMG. It has also been reviewed by the World Resources Institute.

Picarro Inc to measure greenhouse gas emissions for London during Olympics

Picarro Inc, a California company which makes atmospheric measurement instruments, was selected to be the sole provider of instruments for measuring greenhouse gas emissions in London during the 2012 Olympic Games.

The instruments will be provided as part of a city scale measurement service, offered by Astrium, which is part of aerospace and defence giant EADS.

Astrium has launched an “Emissions Measurement Service” (EMS), using stationary, mobile and airborne instruments to measure greenhouse gas emissions on a city scale in real time.

It is supported by a consortium of institutions, including France’s Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE), the UK’s National Centre for Earth Observation and National Physical Laboratory (NPL) Centre for Carbon Measurement, Earth Networks, and Picarro.

At the World Economic Forum (Davos) meeting this year, Picarro demonstrated the big gaps that can exist between emissions assumptions and actual emissions measurements.

This made us all the more eager to deploy our instruments in one of the world’s largest cities to measure near real-time, per capita emissions during the world’s largest sporting event,” said Picarro CEO Michael Woelk.

“We encourage major cities to start measuring rather than self-tabulating their progress towards emission reduction goals.”

Astrium, a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS and a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services, chose Picarro as a consortium partner along with other research centers and private companies to produce its EMS.

The service will analyze carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and methane (CH4) gas concentrations to determine the CO2 equivalent emissions at a national level, with associated uncertainties, and to identify the sources of these emissions.
The London pilot combines ground measurements from a network of Picarro’s cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) instruments, including four instruments stationed around the city, an instrument on a bus measuring GHG concentrations at road level, and an instrument aboard an airplane for higher altitude measurements.

Press release