Search Results for Tag: research
A climate-friendly future? Impressions of Masdar City
Today I paid a visit to Masdar City 17km from the centre of Abu Dhabi, set up in 2006 with the aim of being “one of the most sustainable cities in the world”, according to Masdar. Masdar was set up as a commercially driven renewable energy company and a strategic government initiative. The city is powered entirely by renewable energy and the buildings are designed to maximize energy efficiency.
This is an impression of the iconic architecture of Masdar around a pleasantly cool courtyard. (The modest gentleman on the couch is Sultan Aal Ali, in charge of Masdar’s development).
In the years since the vision of a sustainable, purpose-built city at the heart of a desert state was first launched, a lot of the enthusiasm seemed to have gone out of the project, at least in the view of a lot of media. That is one reason why I was keen to have a look at what is happening there today. I will be writing an article for our website on this in the next couple of weeks, so for today I’d just like to share some pictures, thoughts and impressions with you.
Incidentally, as part of the World Future Energy Summit and at the ceremony announcing the 2013 Zayed Future Energy Prize here last night, the ICE connection was brought up again by the President of Iceland, Olafur Ragran Grimsson.
He was chairman of the prize jury and was talking about those connections between the record melt of the Arctic ice and the push for renewables here in the oil-rich Gulf region. Yes! The message seems to have arrived on the global stage.
Anyway, to Masdar City:
Using the sun to cool Masdar. Normally, air-conditioning would be one of the highest electricity-guzzlers and emissions producers. The architecture uses window-to-wall ratio, insulating building materials, shading and other means to keep buildings cool – and uses sun power to do the rest.
A modern version of a cooling wind-tower, to bring cold air to the courtyard. These towers have a long tradition in the region. They look great as well.
Hi-tech lab for nano-technology research at the Masdar Institute. The city is developing around the university complex.
This is the centre-piece of the brand-new 2nd phase of the Masdar Institute. The city is a work in progress. Today I was one of the first journalists to be allowed into the new development without safety helmet and boots for construction site safety.
Beautiful places, beautiful people! One of my guides from Masdar’s communications department against the background of a wall constructed from desert sand. Thanks!!!
Driverless public transport, using magnetic technology. Felt a little like sci-fi, but definitely got us across the complex. Not sure if it will catch on, but it was quite an experience.
I could go on all night, but will save the rest for a later date. There is plenty of building work going on. The German company Siemens will soon be moving in to its new headquarters in Masdar. Other companies are also planning to move in. The International Renewable Energy Association IRENA will ultimately have its headquarters here.
So far, students are the only residents. Seems a bit extravagant, which is one of the criticisms levelled at the eco-city in the past. But from what I saw today, things seem to be finally moving forward. EU Commissioner Connie Hedegard, who also visited Masdar today, told me Masdar was “leading by example”. She’s very positive about what’s happening in the region in terms of the growing interest in renewables. There’s a long way to go, she says – but stresses that applies to all of us.
Still seats available at this Masdar café today.
DateJanuary 16, 2013 | 6:08 pm
China to step up polar activities in 2013
I am finding people increasingly interested in the Arctic and Antarctic as climate change opens up more prospects of getting at the natural resources in the region or using it for transport. The latest example of top-level international interest is an announcement by China. Beijing is planning to launch its 30th expedition to the Antarctic region this year as well as its 6th Arctic expedition. This interest is not new, but clearly intensifying. (See China’s Arctic ambitions spark concern).
According to China Daily, quoting a document released at a maritime work conference on Thursday, the country is also planning to build more Antarctic research bases. There are plans to put more resources into planes for scientific expeditions and to “ensure the quality of newly-built icebreakers”.
The paper also refers in particular to “the protection of the country’s strategic interests in the Arctic region”. Now there is some food for thought.
Increasing international political and strategic interest in the Arctic will be on the agenda at the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsö, Norway, starting January 21st. Watch this space.
DateJanuary 11, 2013 | 3:16 pm
I have written a lot about the melting Arctic ice on the Ice Blog. This spectacular photo shows a channel carved into the Greenland ice sheet by melt water. It was taken by Ian Joughlin from the University of Washington, co-author of the study on melting polar ice (see Ice Blog post from 30.11.12) and lead author of an article on factors that cause ice sheets to lose mass. It goes without saying (almost) that we need to reduce emissions to halt the process. (Come on Doha negotiators). A new study has come up with an additional suggestion. Atmospheric scientist Mark Jacobsen and his colleagues suggest airlines could help slow Arctic melting by stopping international flights from crossing over the Arctic circle.
DateDecember 5, 2012 | 3:08 pm
Climate sceptics lose court case in New Zealand
Now here’s an interesting little snippet for a Friday afternoon. I was interested to read that New Zealand’s High Court has ruled against climate sceptics who took a government agency to court because it said the temperature had risen in the past century. The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) had concluded that the country’s climate had warmed almost one degree Celsius between 1909 and 2009. A private group called the “New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust” took the agency to court, saying NIWA’s methodology was flawed and the findings not peer reviewed. But the judge disagreed, saying the institute had used internationally recognised and credible scientific methodology. A group of climate change scientists from New Zealand universities welcomed the court verdict and described it as “bizarre” that a small group of scientists should go to court to question the basic science of climate change which, they, say, has been established for well over a century. “Almost all scientists active in climate research agree that human activity is causing the climate to change”. New Zealand’s glaciers have been retreating over the last century. The scientists also cite rising sea levels and the clear reduction of the Arctic sea ice.
“This misguided action of a small group adds confusion to a simple issue — the world is warming and future generations of New Zealanders will have to deal with the consequences,” the scientists’ statement said. – And they won’t be the only ones, adds the ice blogger up here in the northern hemisphere, working on a story on climate change and the North Sea and the ongoing mega-melt of the Arctic sea ice.
DateSeptember 7, 2012 | 2:16 pm
Arctic COLD War? – The Russian Perspective
A Russian research vessel accompanied by a nuclear-powered ice-breaker has set off for the Arctic on a 100 day mission to collect data to support the country’s bid to expand its continental Arctic shelf territory. There are 76 scientists on board.
I was interested to read the Russian view of the importance of the Arctic against the background of melting ice on the website of the Voice of Russia.
DateJuly 13, 2011 | 9:39 am