Posts tagged with "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency"

Hurricane symbol illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

The 2021 Hurricane Report

Author and climate scientist Bill Pekny says the 2021 hurricane season began early this year, and the forecast is to be active all season long. He explains how this compares to previous seasons, why it is the way it is…and why we shouldn’t assume hurricanes are worsening.

The 2021 hurricane season is upon us again. And according to Bill Pekny—who has an extensive background of tracking hurricanes and studying science—says it’s living up to its preseason prediction of being an active, but not unprecedented, year.

“These days there is a lot of unwarranted fear that these types of storms are getting more frequent and more severe,” says Pekny, author of A Tale of Two Climates: One Real, One Imaginary (Two Climates LLC, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-73493-960-6, $34.59). “This is a misconception driven by the fact that we measure storms in terms of economic damage.”

“We continue to build more and more high-dollar homes, hotels, and resorts in high-risk coastal areas,” he explains. “When hurricanes do make landfall, they naturally create more property damage with higher price tags. In other words, the real culprit is more development, not more hurricanes. People just conflate these two issues.”

He says the experimental reality is that hurricanes in the North Atlantic basin, which includes the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico areas, are not trending worse in either frequency or intensity over “climatological” (30 year) time scales. The same is true on a global scale. Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded, “Hurricanes have not become more numerous in recent years.” And, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) data shows there has been “no increasing trend in tropical cyclone or hurricane numbers.”

Pekny says storms have intrigued him all his life. (“As a young scientist back in 1969, I had the truly unique experience of flying into the teeth of one as a RADAR meteorologist/crewmember with the renowned U.S. Navy Hurricane Hunters,” he notes.) What he’s learned is that, despite great strides in the technology that allows us to track and measure storms, not much has changed with respect to the storms themselves.

Still, from the much shorter-term “weather” perspective, this looks to be an active hurricane season in the North Atlantic basin, says Pekny. Here is his latest check on tropical cyclone activity this season in the northern hemisphere as of July 19, 2021:

Pekny’s analysis of hurricane season

Basin – Named Storms – Names Storm Days – Hurricanes – Hurricane Days – Major Hurricanes – Major Hurricane Days – Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE)

N Atlantic (Includes Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico) – 5 – 13.75 – 1 – 1.50 – 0 – 0.00 – 12.8

NE Pacific (out to Hawaii) – 7 – 20.00 – 2 – 6.75 – 1 – 2.75 – 34.9

NW Pacific – 3 – 8.50 – 1 – 1.00 – 0 – 0.00 – 7.0

N Indian – 2 – 6.00 – 2 – 3.25 – 1 – 1.50 – 13.8

Total – 17 – 48.25 – 6 – 12.50 – 2 – 4.25 – 68.5

Source: Colorado State University, Department of Atmospheric Science, Tropical Meteorology Project

It’s been a fairly active hurricane season to date, at least with regard to the number of named storms (17 this year, as compared to the historical average of 14.1, at one-fourth of the way through the six-month hurricane season).

In terms of another cyclone metric—Named Storm Days—there’s been a noticeable increase in the number of short-duration tropical storms (those lasting less than two days). Meanwhile, storms lasting longer than two days have not shown a noticeable increase. The long-lasting storms are the most devastating ones.

Another metric around intensity/severity is Accumulated Cyclone Energy, or ACE. It is a measure of the kinetic energy of hurricanes, and is directly tied to sustained hurricane windspeed. Over the long haul, ACE has been trending downward, and it’s no different this year—relatively calm in terms of kinetic energy.

Only one tropical storm in the North Atlantic basin, and not even a hurricane-level storm at that, has made a meaningful landfall this season. It was Tropical Storm Elsa, which earlier this month dumped a significant amount of rain as it passed northeasterly over Florida and then up the Atlantic seaboard before dying out.

What determines how active this hurricane season will be?

Common ingredients in the recipe for hurricane development are a combination of a weather disturbance and thunderstorm activity as seeds for a tropical storm; warm ocean water to power the storm; and low vertical wind shear to prevent the storm from breaking up as it traverses the ocean. Those conditions, and especially the expected continuance of low vertical wind shear in the North Atlantic basin, favor hurricane development throughout this season.

In other words… “Be prepared for another active hurricane season, just like last year,” says Pekny.

About the Author:

Bill Pekny is the author of A Tale of Two Climates: One Real, One Imaginary. He holds physics M.S. and B.S. degrees from Georgia Tech and DePaul University, plus graduate study in physical meteorology and numerical analysis at Florida State University and the University of Utah, and a visiting scholar appointment at the Ginzton Laboratory of Applied Physics at Stanford University.

Bill’s career in science spans over 50 years in the U.S. Armed Forces and the aerospace industry.

His career highlights include: Project Stormfury with the U.S. Navy Hurricane Hunters; applied atmospheric physics and meteorology research; LASER RADAR development; new product testing in various atmospheric environments; aviation optics and electronics; global climate research; and more.

For more information, please visit: Two Climates.

About the Book:

A Tale of Two Climates: One Real, One Imaginary (Two Climates LLC, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-73493-960-6, $34.59) is available from major online booksellers.

Illustration by Samantha Miduri for use by 360 MAGAZINE

Colonial Chemical Wins EPA Green Chemical Awards

Suga®Boost surfactants consume less energy to create, are biodegradable, and are derived from plant-based materials, with performance that demonstrates potential to replace EO-containing surfactants such as SLES and APEs. This surfactant group is also a winner in the 2021 EPA Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Program, specifically in the focus area of The Design of Greener Chemicals. Colonial Chemical is being recognized for developing Suga®Boost surfactant blends that use more environmentally friendly chemicals than traditional cleaning surfactants.

Many surfactants used in traditional cleaners are derived from petroleum-based raw materials and pose several issues including high environmental toxicity or a need for high-energy processes in their manufacture. One group of chemicals often found in cleaners is alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified this class of chemicals as toxic to aquatic organisms, especially because they bioaccumulate in mollusks, soils, and sediments. Additionally, APEs can mimic natural hormones and induce endocrine disruption in aquatic and land organisms.

Colonial Chemical discovered that blends of functionalized alkyl polyglucoside (APG) surfactants provide cleaning performance that is equal to or better than APEs while avoiding environmental issues related to aquatic toxicity, endocrine disruption, and carcinogenic impurities. Suga®Boost surfactants are blends of derivatized APGs prepared by attaching functional groups such as sulfonate, phosphate, quaternary ammonium, glycinate, and citrate. Suga®Boost blends do not yield toxic substances as they biodegrade. They are mild and safe for the formulator and end-user. Lastly, Suga®Boost blends require less energy to manufacture and require only water as a solvent during manufacture and cleanup.

These functionalized APG surfactants have the potential to replace EO-containing surfactants worldwide. Suga®Boost and its underlying chemistry have the potential to expand into wipe products, disinfecting cleaners, dishwashing, carpet cleaning, and fabric care.

EPA recognized the winners during the virtual American Chemical Society Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. This year’s awards have special meaning because it is also the 25th anniversary of the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. During the quarter-century of the Green Chemistry program, EPA and the American Chemical Society, which co-sponsor the awards, have received more than 1,800 nominations and presented awards to 128 technologies that decrease hazardous chemicals and resources, reduce costs, protect public health and spur economic growth. Winning technologies are responsible for annually reducing the use or generation of hundreds of millions of pounds of hazardous chemicals and saving billions of gallons of water and trillions of BTUs in energy.

“Green chemistry is one way to provide solutions to some of the significant environmental challenges we’re facing today, like exposure to toxic chemicals, dependence on non-renewable sources, and climate change,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Michal Freedhoff. “The innovative technologies we celebrate today are great examples of how green chemistry is protecting our environment, preventing pollution at its source, and keeping U.S. business globally competitive by creating more sustainable products.”

People, Prosperity and the Planet

Student Teams from Cornell University and New Jersey Institute of Technology Awarded $45,000 EPA Grant for Innovative Technology Projects

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $45,000 in funding for three student teams through its People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) grants program. Student teams from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Cornell University are receiving funding to develop sustainable technologies to help solve environmental and public health challenges.

“EPA’s P3 grants program supports the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These students are able to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to real-world environmental problems that require innovative solutions.”

“Students at New Jersey Institute of Technology and Cornell University are creating affordable, sustainable solutions to the real issues we are challenged by in Region 2,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “These students are applying science and cutting-edge technology to tackle important environmental threats to our lakes and the quality of our drinking water.”

Grantees include student teams from the following universities:

  • New Jersey Institute of Technology – Newark, N.J.: The student team from NJIT is devising a sustainable process based on reactive nanobubbles technology to control and mitigate harmful algal blooms.
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology – Newark, N.J.: The student team from NJIT is developing a novel device that will remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) from drinking water.
  • Cornell University – Ithaca, N.Y.: The student team from Cornell University is developing a pump with the goal of zero electricity drinking water treatment.

The P3 competition challenges students to research, develop and design innovative projects that address a myriad of environmental protection and public health issues. The Phase I teams will receive grants of up to $15,000 each to fund the proof of concept for their projects.

The Phase I recipients will attend the TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo in Boston, Mass., on June 17-18, 2019, to showcase their research. They can then apply for a Phase II grant that provides funding up to $100,000 to further the project design.

These students, who represent the future workforce in diverse scientific and engineering fields, are following in the footsteps of other P3 teams. Some of these teams have gone on to start businesses based on ideas and products developed through their P3 project. In 2018, a previous P3 Phase I awardee from Oklahoma State University (OSU) leveraged P3 funding to initiate their research to develop a cost-effective approach to enhance energy efficiency in wastewater treatment. In furthering their P3 project, OSU transformed the research into a business plan and won the Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition with its startup business plan for Contraire, a predictive analysis control system designed to provide near real-time wastewater test measurements. Amongst 15 other teams, OSU pitched their business plan to a panel of Canadian business leaders and received multiple inquiries from investors.

More Information

To learn more about the P3 projects, visit here

For more information on the P3 Program, visit here

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Cleanup of Contaminated Soil and Sediment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that cleanup work will begin this summer to address soil and sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at the Dewey Loeffel Landfill Superfund site in the town of Nassau, N.Y. The General Electric Company (GE) will remove contaminated soil and sediment, replace it with clean backfill, restore the stream channel, and re-plant trees and shrubs. The work will begin this summer and will be completed this fall.

“Superfund is at the very core of EPA’s mission and this important cleanup work will address one potential source of contamination at the Dewey Loeffel site,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “EPA is working closely with the community and is expanding its efforts to involve stakeholders as we advance this cleanup forward working closely with our state and local government partners.”

EPA will hold a public information session on July 17 in Nassau to provide an overview of the recently completed field investigation activities and the upcoming cleanup. EPA will also discuss the opportunity for the formation of a community advisory group (CAG) for the site. A CAG is made up of members of the community and is designed to serve as the focal point for the exchange of information among the local community and EPA, the state regulatory agency, and other pertinent federal agencies involved in cleanup of the Superfund site.

A public information session will begin at 6:00 p.m., with a formal presentation beginning at 7:00 p.m. Members of the project team will be available to answer questions about current and planned project activities.

Public Information Session:

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Open House: 6 – 7 p.m., Presentation: 7 p.m.

St. Mary’s Church

Parish Hall (behind the church)

26 Church Street, Nassau, N.Y.

Background:

The stream to be addressed, technically known as Tributary T11A, is a 1,900-foot stream which flows into the Valatie Kill. The sediment and adjacent shoreline soil of Tributary T11A is contaminated with elevated levels of PCBs, which serve as a potential ongoing source of contamination to downstream areas, such as Nassau Lake. In September 2017, the EPA, working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), reached an agreement with GE to conduct the T11A cleanup.

Between 1952 and 1968, an estimated 46,000 tons of industrial waste material generated by several Capital District companies was sent to the Dewey Loeffel Landfill site. The waste included industrial solvents, waste oil, PCBs, scrap materials, sludge and solids. From 1980 until the site was added to the federal Superfund list in 2011, numerous investigations and cleanup actions were performed at the site by GE and the NYSDEC. The cleanup work in Tributary T11A is an immediate action that is being taken to address contaminated soil and sediment in the tributary while the EPA’s long-term comprehensive study of the site continues.

For more information about the Dewey Loeffel Landfill Superfund Site, please visit www.epa.gov/superfund/dewey-loeffel-landfill.

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