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Chemists ID Catalytic 'Key' for Converting CO2 to Methanol

Results from experiments and computational modeling studies that definitively identify the "active site" of a catalyst commonly used for making methanol from CO2 will guide the design of improved catalysts for transforming this pollutant to useful chemicals.

Cryo-Electron Microscopy Achieves Unprecedented Resolution Using New Computational Methods

Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM)--which enables the visualization of viruses, proteins, and other biological structures at the molecular level--is a critical tool used to advance biochemical knowledge. Now Berkeley Lab researchers have extended cryo-EM's impact further by developing a new computational algorithm instrumental in constructing a 3-D atomic-scale model of bacteriophage P22 for the first time.

New Study Maps Space Dust in 3-D

A new Berkeley Lab-led study provides detailed 3-D views of space dust in the Milky Way, which could help us understand the properties of this dust and how it affects views of distant objects.

Single-Angle Ptychography Allows 3D Imaging of Stressed Materials

Scientists have used a new X-ray diffraction technique called Bragg single-angle ptychography to get a clear picture of how planes of atoms shift and squeeze under stress.

New Feedback System Could Allow Greater Control Over Fusion Plasma

A physicist has created a new system that will let scientists control the energy and rotation of plasma in real time in a doughnut-shaped machine known as a tokamak.

Towards Super-Efficient, Ultra-Thin Silicon Solar Cells

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UPTON, NY--Even plants have to live on an energy budget. While they're known for converting solar energy into chemical energy in the form of sugars, plants have sophisticated biochemical mechanisms for regulating how they spend that energy. Making oils costs a lot. By exploring the details of this delicate energy balance, a group of scientists from the U.

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A new technique synchronized high-energy electrons with an ultrafast laser pulse to probe how vibrational states of atoms change in time.

Rare Earth Recycling

A new energy-efficient separation of rare earth elements could provide a new domestic source of critical materials.

Two-Dimensional MXene Materials Get Their Close-Up

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Three SLAC Employees Awarded Lab's Highest Honor

At a March 7 ceremony, three employees of the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory were awarded the lab's highest honor ­- the SLAC Director's Award.

Dan Sinars Represents Sandia in First Energy Leadership Class

Dan Sinars, a senior manager in Sandia National Laboratories' pulsed power center, which built and operates the Z facility, is the sole representative from a nuclear weapons lab in a new Department of Energy leadership program that recently visited Sandia.

ORNL, HTS International Corporation to Collaborate on Manufacturing Research

HTS International Corporation and the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have signed an agreement to explore potential collaborations in advanced manufacturing research.

Jefferson Lab Director Honored with Energy Secretary Award

Hugh Montgomery, director of the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab), was awarded The Secretary's Distinguished Service Award by the Secretary of Energy earlier this year.

New Projects to Make Geothermal Energy More Economically Attractive

Geothermal energy, a clean, renewable source of energy produced by the heat of the earth, provides about 6 percent of California's total power. That number could be much higher if associated costs were lower. Now scientists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have launched two California Energy Commission-funded projects aimed at making geothermal energy more cost-effective to deploy and operate.

Southern Research Project Advances Novel CO2 Utilization Strategy

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy has awarded Southern Research nearly $800,000 for a project that targets a more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly method of producing some of the most important chemicals used in manufacturing.

Harker School Wins 2017 SLAC Regional Science Bowl Competition

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Francis Alexander Named Deputy Director of Brookhaven Lab's Computational Science Initiative

Alexander brings extensive management and leadership experience in computational science research to the position.

Kalinin, Paranthaman Elected Materials Research Society Fellows

Two researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sergei Kalinin and Mariappan Parans Paranthaman, have been elected fellows of the Materials Research Society.

Two PNNL Researchers Elected to Membership in the National Academy of Engineering

Two scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will become members of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering.


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Modeling the "Flicker" of Gluons in Subatomic Smashups

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Microbial Activity in the Subsurface Contributes to Greenhouse Gas Fluxes

Natural carbon dioxide production from deep subsurface soils contributes significantly to emissions, even in a semiarid floodplain.

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How Moisture Affects the Way Soil Microbes Breathe

Study models soil-pore features that hold or release carbon dioxide.

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The Future of Coastal Flooding

Better storm surge prediction capabilities could help reduce the impacts of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes.

Estimating Global Energy Use for Water-Related Processes

Scientists find that water-related energy consumption is increasing across the globe, with pronounced differences across regions and sectors.


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Increasing Rainfall in a Warmer World Will Likely Intensify Typhoons in Western Pacific

Article ID: 667164

Released: 2017-01-04 14:05:02

Source Newsroom: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

  • Credit: Balaguru and Leung/PNNL

    Super typhoon Haiyan bears down on the Philippines in 2013

RICHLAND, Wash. -- An analysis of the strongest tropical storms, known as super typhoons, in the western Pacific over the last half-century reveals that they are intensifying. Higher global temperatures have enhanced global rainfall, particularly over the tropical oceans. Rain that falls on the ocean reduces salinity and allows typhoons to grow stronger.

"This work has identified an extremely important region affected by this, the western tropical Pacific known as Typhoon Alley. These storms are really destructive over that region," said oceanographer Karthik Balaguru of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who published the work in a recent issue of Nature Communications.

The unique contribution of this work is that it identifies the need to study upper ocean salinity in addition to temperature in examining the intensity of typhoons.

Typhoons -- the same storms as their Atlantic cousins known as hurricanes -- normally have a natural check on how intense they grow. The storms rely on heat from the ocean to build. Their strong winds whip up the ocean surface. This churns the ocean and brings deeper colder water to the surface, which cools off the surface and reduces the typhoon's power.

Previous studies suggested that as the planet warms, so does the surface of the ocean. As the temperature difference between surface ocean water and deeper water increases, ocean churning by typhoons cools the surface more strongly, which ultimately might decrease the intensity of tropical storms in the future.

But freshwater is less dense than saltwater. A warmer atmosphere brings more rainfall to the ocean than a cooler one. This freshwater collecting on top prevents the churning, keeping the surface warmer. Thus, a lack of ocean water mixing might mean a more intense storm.

Previously, studies that focused on global warming's effect on typhoons did not generally include the salinity factor, so Balaguru and colleagues at PNNL, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology decided to incorporate it. This allowed them to look at the effect of freshwater on the ocean both in the past and the future.

They focused on the western Pacific Ocean, where almost a third of tropical storms form. First they looked at the salinity of the top layer of ocean. They saw that between 1958 and 2013, the ocean there did become less salty during typhoon season, and most of this decrease was in the top 50 meters of ocean. A quick overlay of the storms showed that the storm tracks fell along the areas of lower salinity.

To explore further, they looked at how the salinity changes affected the strength of super typhoons, storms that are as strong as category 4 or 5 hurricanes. To do so, they looked at the wakes of cold water the super typhoons left on the ocean as they passed, and how the wakes correlated with salinity. The results showed that in the regions of ocean that were less salty, the storms produced wakes that were not as cold.

The team then analyzed which of the two competing factors -- the intensity bump from a decrease in salinity or the intensity snag from a larger ocean temperature gradient -- played a bigger role in modulating the intensity of the super typhoons. They found that the influence of salinity was about 50 percent stronger than the ocean temperature effect on the intensity of super typhoons. Super typhoons are most affected by the changes because they rely strongly on ocean’s heat as their fuel.

Plugging the relationships into climate model projections for the future, the team found that as greenhouse gases and temperature rise, the increase of rainfall over the oceans will ultimately lead to more intense storms. In addition, the team found this effect using almost 20 different climate models. This consistency gives the researchers confidence in the result.

"Already this effect is intensifying, and it gets worse in the future," said Balaguru. "The reason why this is so significant is that it's happening with the worst storms on the planet. Not only are they intense, but they are very, very big. It's happening in a really important region, to mostly small islands in the Pacific, such as the Philippines, Taiwan and other Oceania Islands. Besides, typhoons also impact many East Asian countries. And there is sea level rise in the background, a double whammy effect on top."

This work was supported by the Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

###

Reference: Karthik Balaguru, Gregory R. Foltz, L. Ruby Leung & Kerry A. Emanuel. Global warming-induced upper-ocean freshening and the intensification of super typhoons, Nature Communications November 25, 2016, doi: 10.1038/NCOMMS13670. (http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13670)

Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,400 staff and has an annual budget of nearly $1 billion. It is managed by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. As the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information on PNNL, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.