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A Wonderful New Tool to Detect Climate Change

Not all Smartphone "apps" are ominous--some of them are wonderful (and fun!). Here's another lifesaving app (but it's NOT on your phone): researchers have designed and built a mobile research facility to trace and identify the origin of greenhouse gases.

In addition to pinpointing the chemicals' location, the unique mobile facility can help researchers learn whether the gases are biogenic (coming from plant sources) or anthropogenic (coming from man-made sources). But once you've located the polluter, what do you do about it? Atmospheric chemist Hope Michelsen says, "To figure out whether emissions reduction policies are effective, we need a way to measure emissions by emissions sector, such as power generation or transportation. We currently don't have the tools in place to do these types of measurements, so we hope our idea can be part of the solution."

Maybe one day this will be a Smartphone app, but right now the mobile system consists of two moving van-sized trucks, each equipped with instrumentation and equipment. Included are instruments that measure greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), and species co-emitted with greenhouse gases, such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), and other traditional pollutants. Atop each truck sits an antennae-like mast that draws in air, sends it down into the truck, and distributes it to the various instruments, including a mass spectrometer that sorts out hydrocarbons and helps to distinguish between emission sources, which can range from traffic to pine trees. Michelsen says, "Elected officials who have enacted new policies to help reduce unwanted greenhouse gas emissions could conceivably find a mobile facility to be of great use. To figure out whether emissions reduction policies are effective, we need a way to measure emissions by emissions sector, such as power generation or transportation. We currently don't have the tools in place to do these types of measurements, so we hope our idea can be part of the solution."

We all need to do our part to fight climate change. Whitley decided that what he could do was to write a book about it, so he penned "The Coming Global Superstorm" with radio host Art Bell. You can now get this famous book--one of the things that changed the climate perception worldwide--from the Whitley Strieber Collection--and you'll get an autographed bookplate, designed by Whitley, along with it! Did you know that "The Key," about the stranger who alerted Whitley to climate change, has become a best-seller? You can get it at your bookstore or from the Whitley Strieber Collection. And if you want to be among the FIRST people to get a copy of Whitley's sequel to Communion, "Solving the Communion Enigma," you can pre-order it now!



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