News: Space, Earth and Environment, Rymd- och geovetenskap, Energi och miljö related to Chalmers University of TechnologyMon, 10 Aug 2020 08:55:46 +0200 ambitious climate policy is economically beneficial<p><b>​An economically optimal climate policy is in line with the Paris Agreement’s 2-degree temperature target. This is according to a new study involving the University of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology and others. The study updates the cost/benefit analyses of climate measures made by Economics Laureate William Nordhaus.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">The economist William Nordhaus was awarded the 2018 The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for his research on climate-related questions. In particular, the prize recognized his development of the DICE model (Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy), which has gained widespread influence. When he calibrates his model, he found that an increase in the average temperature of 3.5 degrees until 2100 is economically most optimal. This new level was well above the Paris Agreement’s 2-degree target and would have resulted in extensive negative consequences for nature and society in large parts of the world.<img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/SEE/Nyheter/Daniel_Johansson_256x344px.jpg" alt="Daniel Johansson" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" style="margin:10px;width:190px;height:255px" /><br /></span><div><br /></div> <div>In a new study published in Nature Climate Change, a team of researchers in Sweden, England and Germany has updated this DICE model.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“We made a number of important changes. In part, it was about an improved calibration of how much carbon dioxide and heat is absorbed by the oceans, and in part updating calculations of how much climate damage will cost in economic terms,” says Daniel Johansson, associate professor in physics resource theory at Chalmers University of Technology, and one of the authors of the study.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>An important factor that determines what is economically optimal involves discounting or comparing future costs to current costs. Fundamentally, this is a value judgement, and in the study the research team used a large number of expert assessments of these ethical questions, which deal with how the current and future generations’ interests should be weighed against each other.</div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/SEE/Nyheter/Thomas-Sterner_256x344px.jpg" alt="Thomas Sterner" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" style="margin:10px;width:190px;height:255px" /><br /></div> <div>These changes to the model lead to the conclusion that a 1.5–2 degree increase in average temperature is economically optimal.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Nordhaus has shown the way forward in these questions, like the need for a significant price on carbon dioxide emissions throughout the world, but compared to his previous analyses, our results show that more ambitious targets can be supported with economic arguments,” says Thomas Sterner, professor of environmental economics at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>According to the researchers, in wider international climate policy discussions, the study can support climate targets in line with those adopted in the Paris Agreement and thereby increase acceptance for setting a tax on emissions that meets the adopted climate targets. The model points to a carbon dioxide tax of around USD 100 per tonne, which is in line with the current carbon dioxide tax in Sweden and four times higher than the price in EU’s emissions trading scheme, ETS.</div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/SEE/Nyheter/christian-azar_256x344px.jpg" alt="Christian Azar" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" style="margin:10px;width:190px;height:255px" /><br /></div> <div>“Achieving ambitious climate targets requires politicians to introduce a significant tax on carbon dioxide, but it also requires investments in new technology like electric cars, solar cells, hydrogen and carbon capture, to name a few examples. If this is done, it is possible to achieve ambitious climate targets like the 2-degree target. But we also must be aware that there is significant political resistance in large parts of the world, presenting us with a major challenge. This is not a simple question,” says Christian Azar, professor of physical resource theory at Chalmers University of Technology.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>For more information, please contact:</strong></div> <div><div><ul><li>Christian Azar, professor of physical resource theory at Chalmers University of Technology<br />e-mail: <a href=""></a>, telephone: +46-(0)31–772 31 32</li> <li>Daniel Johansson, associate professor of physical resource theory at Chalmers University of Technology<br />e-mail: <a href=""></a>, telephone: +46-(0)31–772 28 16</li> <li>Thomas Sterner, professor of environmental economics at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg<br />e-mail: <a href="">​</a>, telephone: +46-(0)70–816 3306</li></ul></div></div>Tue, 14 Jul 2020 07:00:00 +0200’s-largest-carbon-capture-and-storage-plant.aspx’s largest CO2 capture and storage plant launched<p><b>​Sweden’s largest test facility for carbon dioxide capture has begun operation at Preem&#39;s refinery in Lysekil. Within the pilot project the entire value chain will be analyzed – from the capture of carbon dioxide to its storage. The outcome of the project will enable more companies to use the technology and reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial;font-size:14px">“This is an important project to test CCS technology on a larger scale. Chalmers participation is about studying how the technology being tested could be scaled up. Together with research in other projects, we believe that this gives an important piece to the puzzle how Swedish industry can meet our climate goals for net zero emissions by 2045”, says Filip Johnsson, professor in sustainable energy systems at Chalmers.</span><div><span style="font-size:14px">The results of the pilot project will  be made public – in order for more companies to be able to use the technology and reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.</span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br />In</span><span style="background-color:initial"> 2020, the test facility will capture carbon dioxide from the flue gases from Preem’s hydrogen gas plant at the Lysekil refinery.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">The technology for capturing and storing carbon dioxide is an important component for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for achieving Sweden’s climate goals. For Preem, this is an important piece of the puzzle to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and to become climate neutral by the year 2045. The goal is for the tests to form the basis for a full-scale CCS plant that can be operational by 2025.<br /><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">“We see carbon capture and storage as a vital measure to reduce global carbon emissions. For Preem, a full-scale CCS plant could initially reduce emissions from our Lysekil refinery by 500,000 tonnes, which is close to a quarter of the refinery’s total carbon emissions,” says Petter Holland, CEO of Preem.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">The carbon dioxide is planned to be stored in Norway, which is leading in this area and has better geological conditions for storage than Sweden. </span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>Read more about the project:</strong></span><br /><span style="font-size:14px"><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Launch of Sweden’s largest carbon capture and storage plant</a></span><br /><br /><br /></div> <div><br /></div>Wed, 27 May 2020 09:00:00 +0200's-technology.aspx's-technology.aspxEmissions from road construction could be halved<p><b>​The construction sector accounts for a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions, in Sweden and globally. Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg studied the construction of an eight km stretch of road in detail and calculated how much emissions can be reduced now and until 2045, looking at everything from materials choice, production technology, supply chains and transport.</b></p><div><span style="background-color:initial">“We identified several low hanging fruits, and if we address those first, it will become easier and cheaper to make bigger emission reductions in the future,” says Ida Karlsson, PhD student at Chalmers, and participant in the Mistra Carbon Exit project.</span></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>The researchers evaluated opportunities for reducing emissions in an eight kilometre stretch of the Swedish highway 44 between Lidköping and Källby, which was finished in 2019. It was one of the Swedish Transport Agency’s first projects in which a complete climate calculation was made. All the materials and activities involved in its construction were calculated for their total climate impact – energy and materials used in the construction and what emissions these contribute to.<br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>“We used the contractor Skanska's climate calculation as an input for breaking down emissions by materials and activities and then analysed how much they could be reduced. What materials are used? How are they produced? What alternatives are available, and how might those alternatives develop until 2045?” explains Ida Karlsson.  </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>The climate calculation showed that the contractor would be able to reduce emissions by 20 percent compared to the Swedish Transport Agency's reference values. But the researchers also demonstrated that emissions could be halved with technology already available today – and completely eliminated by the year 2045.<br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>Ida Karlsson's research is part of the project Mistra Carbon Exit, which focuses on what are termed transformative solutions. These require both time and large investments and include, for example, production of steel, cement, concrete and asphalt without carbon dioxide emissions, as well as fossil-free or electric vehicles. Solutions are being developed and implemented, but climate-saving technologies and choices exist already today. Ida Karlsson wants to highlight four of these:</div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>• Transport optimisation</div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>• Recycling and reuse of excavation masses, asphalt and steel</div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>• Material efficiency and design optimisation</div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>• Replacement of cement clinker as a binder in concrete</div> <div><br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>“If you were to optimise the transportation of materials, excavation masses and waste, for example, large gains could be made. We could be better at transport logistics in Sweden. In addition to transporting materials and waste to and from a road construction site, many movements also take place within projects,” she explains. </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>The study ‘Reaching net-zero carbon emissions in construction supply chains - Analysis of a Swedish road construction project’ was published earlier this year in the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, and was written by Ida Karlsson together with colleague Filip Johnsson of Chalmers and Johan Rootzén, at the Gothenburg School of Business, Economics and Law.</div> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"> </h2> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Biomass an important issue</h2> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>Biomass plays an important role in both the short and long term. Many industries need biomass to reduce their emissions. It can be used for example as a fuel in the production of asphalt, cement and steel, for electricity production or as a vehicle fuel. Already today Sweden imports 95 per cent of the raw materials needed for transport biofuel because it is cheaper than using domestic material. It is hardly a sustainable solution when more and more countries import biomass. Ida believes that we need a coherent national strategy for biomass production and use.<br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>“Where there are fossil-free alternatives, such as electrification, these should be used. But then the politics must clearly steer towards such a development. Otherwise, the biomass will simply go to the one who pays the most and not to where it would have the best use.”</div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Further areas for improvement</h2> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>Another area for improvement could be the recycling of asphalt, explains Ida Karlsson.<br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>“The legislation for this has recently changed but new, more efficient ways of working are not yet fully implemented. There are also different technologies to choose from depending on the quality of the tarmac, how heavy the vehicles which travel the route are and so on. Recycling requires energy but can still reduce emissions considerably, since asphalt is largely made up of bitumen, a variant of crude oil.” <br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>Concrete is another major source of emissions. In Sweden, cement clinker is used as a binder in infrastructural concrete, but in other countries, materials such as slag from steel production or fly ash from coal-fired power plants is used as partial replacement of cement clinker, reducing emissions considerably.</div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>“Here we must dare to recognise the long positive experiences from its use in other countries, like Norway, and adopt these techniques and measures even if they have not been used before in Sweden.”</div> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"> </h2> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"> </h2> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2"> </h2> <h2 class="chalmersElement-H2">Time to take a clear path forward</h2> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>Ida Karlsson calls for clear plans, first until 2030, then onwards to 2045 as well.</div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>“If you already know what you want in 2030, you can make demands today. And then companies can also know that ‘OK, if we have to be able to meet these requirements by 2030, then we have the opportunity to invest in technology to achieve that’. Because large investments will be needed to change production and haulage operations. Then you have to make sure that there are requirements, needs, incentives and not least that there is climate neutral electricity available.”<br /></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div>“The transformative solutions - electrification, carbon capture, carbon-free steel and concrete - require time and significant investment. But if we have already picked the low hanging fruits, the cost increase for the transformative solutions need not be so great. That is why the low-hanging fruits are so important to get started with, because they make it easier cut emissions further in the future, at a lower cost.”</div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><div><strong>For more information, contact:</strong></div> <div>Ida Karlsson</div> <div>PhD student, Department of Space, Earth and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology</div> <div><a title="mail" href=""><span>​​</span>​</a><br /></div> <div>+46317726517</div></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><br /> </div> <div><strong>Text: </strong>Christian Löwhagen </div>Mon, 18 May 2020 00:00:00 +0200 drivers use the most energy<p><b>​​The number of people in each vehicle is the single most important factor explaining the energy and greenhouse gas intensity of travel. This is shown in a new study by researchers from Chalmers and University College London, who also warn that self-driving vehicles could increase both energy consumption and emissions from passenger transport.– On average, about 1.5 people travel in each car in industrialized countries. But that number could actually decrease to less than one person per car, when automated vehicles enter the market. This could lead to a tripling in light-duty vehicle energy intensity, says Sonia Yeh, at the department of Space, Earth and Environment.</b></p><div>Occupancy is a central concept when it comes to calculating and assessing energy consumption and emissions for passenger transport. If you drive a car alone, the occupancy is 1 person kilometer per vehicle kilometer, or 1pkm/vkm. With two people in the car, the occupancy rate increases to 2 pkm/vkm. But there are also trips that have fewer than one person in the car. Sonia Yeh, professor in the division of Physical Resource Theory explains:</div> <div><br /></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/SEE/Profilbilder/Sonia_Yeh_170.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px" />– In taxi travel, we don’t count the driver. For example, if a taxi driver drives 15 km to pick up a passenger,  and drive the customer 20 km to the destination, and drive another 5 km to finish the shift and go home. Since half the trips is empty, the trip average occupancy is 0.5, or 0.5 passenger kilometers for every vehicle kilometer. So the problem with taxi, some shared mobility, and automated vehicles, is that there are a lot of “empty miles” to pick up or drop off passengers or moving vehicles around. This could lead to even a tripling in light-duty vehicle energy intensity, an increase that would be difficult to compensate by fuel-saving technology.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>An increased occupancy rate in the cars would reduce both emissions and energy consumption per passenger kilometer, but the occupancy has instead decreased for the last several decades due to the increase of two car household for example. Today, there are really no examples where that trend has been broken.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>– Price based incentives, such as making single driver rides more expensive or shared rides cheaper, can be implemented. But previous studies show that people are generally not very sensitive to price, especially if they have to wait longer or if the trip takes longer. says Sonia.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>– Public transportation in Sweden has very low GHG emissions in general. To reduce transport GHG emissions further, the most effective strategies are to reduce trip distance, decarbonize fuels and increase occupancy. The current situation with the corona pandemic makes the situation trickier, as people are avoiding public transportation or shared mobility to reduce transmissions. There remains the hope for electric vehicles powered by fossil-free electricity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger transport.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Sonia Yeh and her colleague at University College London, Andreas W Schaefer's, article “<a href="">A holistic analysis of passenger travel energy and greenhouse gas intensities</a>” was recently published in Nature Sustainability.</div> <div><br /></div>Fri, 24 Apr 2020 07:00:00 +0200 satellites help us navigate<p><b>​”Have you ever encountered a situation where you did not know exactly where you are? Somewhere in the middle of nowhere and with no idea where to go? Fortunately, there was your mobile phone nearby, your small, precious device. Soon you were able to find your way out, fix yourself some decent transport, get some food, and more. And all because of the Global Navigation Satellite System, a system which we use on a daily basis and for many different purposes.” With these words begins a new animated video that Grzegorz Klopotek, Ph.D. student at Onsala Space Observatory, has created.</b></p><p>Grzegorz works with radio telescopes and space geodesy, and among other things, technology for Onsala Space Observatory's Twin Telescopes. On April 17 he defends his doctoral dissertation. In the video he explains how satellites in space help us with navigation and positioning in everyday life. How can you use your cellphone to find your way home when you get lost? ​<br /></p> <p><br /></p> <p><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Why did you produce this video? </strong></span><br /></p> <p><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></p> <p>- All Ph.D. students at Chalmers have to give a popular science presentation, before they can defend their thesis. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, there was no possibility to prepare a normal presentation with an audience. So making a film that could reach the public sounded like a good alternative.</p> <p><br /></p> <p><strong>Who should watch the video and how can it be of use to them? </strong></p> <p><br /></p> <p><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/SEE/Nyheter/Greg-video-screenshot-280.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px" />– In principle it’s for anyone who uses smartphones and who would like to know a bit more about how global navigation satellite systems work. It’s true that these systems are used most often for navigation, but they also have other applications, for example in land surveying or in Earth sciences. With the help of GNSS satellites in space, one can measure long-term changes in climate and environment, and their variation in time and space. </p> <p><br /></p> <p>At Onsala Space Observatory, Grzegorz and his colleagues study the shape, orientation and size of the Earth using space geodetic techniques such as GNSS. They also use geodetic very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI), which involves observing radio waves from distant galaxies (so-called quasars) with networks of radio telescopes. Together with observations of geodetic satellites, these measurements can be used to study the Earth, and how its atmosphere, sea level and climate change over different timescales.</p> <p><br /></p> <p>– Space-geodetic techniques, such as GNSS and geodetic VLBI, provide us also with accurate and stable global reference frames. Those reference frames are needed in order to be able to measure, describe and quantify long-term changes in climate and the environment. You can say that with space-geodetic techniques we look deep into the sky in order to find out what’s beneath our feet.</p> <p><br /></p> <p>Besides navigation, the global satellite systems have many scientific applications, Grzegorz explains.</p> <p><br /></p> <p><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/SEE/Nyheter/Grzegorz.png" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px" />– GNSS is used for instance to examine one of the Earth’s orientation parameters – so-called ’polar motion’ - and how the Earth’s shape is changing, for example movement of tectonic plates or land uplift. In Scandinavia, the biggest contribution to the land uplift comes from the phenomenon referred to as the post-glacial rebound. This effect is caused by the Earth’s crust returning to a mechanical resting state after being released from pressure from ice sheets during the last glacial period. With GNSS we can also study the atmosphere, particularly the troposphere and ionosphere. </p> <p><br /></p> <p>– At Onsala Space Observatory the technique called GNSS-R (GNSS-Reflectometry) is also used to determine sea-level height with few-centimeter-level precision. </p> <p><br /></p> <p><strong>In the video you mention that there will be even more applications for GNSS in the future. Which do you think will be the next applications we can expect? </strong></p> <p><br /></p> <p>– Autonomous driving could be the first and most obvious example. And in the near future, we can expect even better performance from GNSS for navigation purposes. </p> <p><br /></p> <p><strong>You will defend your Ph.D. thesis on April 17. What’s next for you? </strong></p> <p><br /></p> <p>– Probably research related not only to geodetic VLBI, but to space-geodetic techniques in general. A project concerning GNSS, satellite/lunar laser ranging and geodetic VLBI would sound good to me...</p> <p><br /></p> <p><a href="">Read Grzegorz’s thesis: Observations of Artificial Radio Sources within the Framework of Geodetic Very Long Baseline Interferometry here</a>. </p> <p><br /></p> <p>See <a href="">Grzegorz’s film Navigation in your hand on YouTube</a>, (subtitles are available in English and Swedish).</p> <p><br /></p>Thu, 16 Apr 2020 00:00:00 +0200 between organic and conventional agriculture need to be better<p><b>​The environmental effects of agriculture and food are hotly debated. But the most widely used method of analysis often tends to overlook vital factors, such as biodiversity, soil quality, pesticide impacts and societal shifts, and these oversights can lead to wrong conclusions on the merits of intensive and organic agriculture. This is according to a trio of researchers writing in the journal Nature Sustainability.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">The most common method for assessing the environmental impacts of agriculture and food is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Studies using this method sometimes claim that organic agriculture is actually worse for the climate, because it has lower yields, and therefore uses more land to make up for this. For example, <a href="">a recent study in Nature Communications</a> that made this claim was widely reported by many publications, <a href="">including the BBC</a> and others. </span><div><br /></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">But according to three researchers from France, Denmark and Sweden, presenting an analysis of many LCA studies in the journal Nature Sustainability, this implementation of LCA is too simplistic, and misses the benefits of organic farming. </span><br /></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div>“We are worried that LCA gives too narrow a picture, and we risk making bad decisions politically and socially. When comparing organic and intensive farming, there are wider effects that the current approach does not adequately consider,” says Hayo van der Werf of the French National Institute of Agricultural Research.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Biodiversity, for example, is of vital importance to the health and resilience of ecosystems. But globally, it is declining, Intensive agriculture has been shown to be one of the main drivers of negative trends such as insect and bird decline. Agriculture occupies more than one-third of global land area, so any links between biodiversity losses and agriculture are hugely important.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“But our analysis shows that current LCA studies rarely factor in biodiversity, and consequently, they usually miss that wider benefit of organic agriculture,” says Marie Trydeman Knudsen from Aarhus University, Denmark. “Earlier studies have already shown that organic fields support biodiversity levels approximately 30% higher than conventional fields.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Usage of pesticides is another factor to consider. Between 1990 and 2015, pesticide use worldwide has increased 73%. Pesticide residues in the ground and in water and food can be harmful to human health, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and cause biodiversity losses. Organic farming, meanwhile, precludes the use of synthetic pesticides. But few LCA studies account for these effects. </div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">Land degradation and lower soil quality resulting from unsustainable land management is also an issue – again, something rarely measured in LCA studies. The benefits of organic farming practices such as varied crop rotation and the use of organic fertilisers are often overlooked in LCA studies.</span></div> <div>Crucially, LCA generally assesses environmental impacts per kilogram of product. This favours intensive systems that may have lower impacts per kilogram, while having higher impacts per hectare of land. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/SEE/Nyheter/ChristelCederberg_230.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px" />“LCA simply looks at the overall yields. Of course, from that perspective, it’s true that intensive farming methods are indeed more effective. But this is not the whole story of the larger agroecosystem. A diverse landscape with smaller fields, hedgerows and a variety of crops gives other benefits – greater biodiversity, for example,” says Christel Cederberg of Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, (photo). </div> <div><br /></div> <div>LCA’s product-focused approach also fails to capture the subtleties of smaller, diverse systems which are more reliant on ecological processes, and adapted to local soil, climate and ecosystem characteristics. LCA needs a more fine-grained approach. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“We often look at the effects at the global food chain level, but we need to be much better at considering the environmental effects at the local <span style="background-color:initial">level,” says Marie Trydeman Knudsen. </span></div> <div><br /></div> <div>The researchers note in their study that efforts are being made in this area, but much more progress is needed. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>A further key weakness is when hypothetical “indirect effects” are included, such as assuming that the lower yields of organic agriculture lead to increased carbon dioxide emissions, because more land is needed. For example, another prominent study – from a researcher also based at Chalmers University of Technology – suggested that organic agriculture was worse for the climate, because the requirement for more land leads indirectly to less forest area. But accounting for these indirect effects is problematic. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“For example, consider the growing demand for organic meat. Traditional LCA studies might simply assume that overall consumption of meat will remain the same, and therefore more land will be required. But consumers who are motivated to buy organic meat for environmental and ethical reasons will probably also buy fewer animal-based products in the first place. But hardly any studies into this sort of consumer behaviour exist, so it is very difficult to account for these types of social shifts now,” says Hayo van der Werf. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Current LCA methodology and practice is simply not good enough to assess agroecological systems such as organic agriculture. It therefore needs to be improved and integrated with other environmental assessment tools to get a more balanced picture” says Christel Cederberg. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Read the article “<a href="">Towards better representation of organic agriculture in life cycle assessment​</a>” in Nature Sustainability. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><span style="color:rgb(33, 33, 33);font-family:inherit;font-size:16px;font-weight:600;background-color:initial">For more information, contact: </span><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Christel Cederberg, <span style="background-color:initial">Professor, Department of Space, Earth and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology</span></div> <div></div> <div>+46 31 772 22 18</div> <div>​<br /></div> Tue, 17 Mar 2020 07:00:00 +0100 reveals an aged star’s metamorphosis<p><b>​An international team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (Alma) has captured the very moment when an old star first starts to alter its environment. The star has ejected high-speed, bipolar gas jets which are now colliding with the surrounding material; the age of the observed jet is estimated to be less than 60 years. These features help scientists understand how the complex shapes of planetary nebulae are formed.</b></p><div><div><span style="background-color:initial">Sun-like stars evolve to puffed-up red giants in the final stage of their lives. Then, the star expels gas to form a remnant called a planetary nebula. There is a wide variety in the shapes of planetary nebulae; some are spherical, but others are bipolar or show complicated structures. Astronomers are interested in the origins of this variety, but the thick dust and gas expelled by an old star obscure the system and make it difficult to investigate the inner-workings of the process.</span><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div>To tackle this problem, a team of astronomers led by Daniel Tafoya at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, pointed Alma at W43A, an old star system about 7000 light years from Earth in the constellation Aquila, the Eagle.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Centrum/Onsala%20rymdobservatorium/340x/20200305_W43A_composite_72dpi_340x340.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px" />Thanks to Alma’s high resolution, the team obtained a very detailed view of the space around W43A. “The most notable structures are its small bipolar jets,” says Tafoya, the lead author of the research paper published by the Astrophysical Journal Letters. The team found that the velocity of the jets is as high as 175 km per second, which is much higher than previous estimations. Based on this speed and the size of the jets, the team calculated the age of the jets to be less than a human life-span.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Considering the youth of the jets compared to the overall lifetime of a star, it is safe to say we are witnessing the 'exact moment' that the jets have just started to shove through the surrounding gas,” explains Tafoya. “When the jets carve through the surrounding material in some 60 years, a single person can watch the progress in their life.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>In fact, the Alma image clearly maps the distribution of dusty clouds entrained by the jets, which is telltale evidence that it is impacting on the surroundings.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The team assumes that this entrainment is the key to form a bipolar-shaped planetary nebula. In their scenario, the aged star originally ejects gas spherically and the core of the star loses its envelope. If the star has a companion, gas from the companion pours onto the core of the dying star, and a portion of this new gas forms the jets. Therefore, whether or not the old star has a companion is an important factor to determine the structure of the resulting planetary nebula.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“W43A is one of the peculiar so called ‘water fountain’ objects,” says Hiroshi Imai at Kagoshima University, Japan, a member of the team. “Some old stars show characteristic radio emissions from water molecules. We suppose that spots of these water emissions indicate the interface region between the jets and the surrounding material. We named them ‘water fountains,’ and it could be a sign that the central source is a binarity system launching a new jet.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“There are only 15 ‘water fountain’ objects identified to date, despite the fact that more than 100 billion stars are included in our Milky Way galaxy,” explains José Francisco Gómez, astronomer at Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain. “This is probably because the lifetime of the jets is quite short, so we are very lucky to see such rare objects.”</div></div> <div><br /></div> <div><div>Daniel Tafoya is looking forward to new insights on these remarkable stars, which are also similiar to our Sun.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>– We believe that these stars have a lot to tell us about what happens when stars like the Sun die. They give us new knowledge about why the sky's most beautiful objects, the planetary nebulae, look the way they do. They are also telling us about how stars like the Sun return material to the galaxy that can be part of the next generation of new stars, he says.</div></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>More about the research</strong></div> <div><br /></div> <div><span></span><div>These observation results were presented in D. Tafoya et al. “Shaping the envelope of the asymptotic giant branch star W43A with a collimated fast jet” published by the Astrophysical Journal Letters on February 13, 2020.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The research team members are: <span style="background-color:initial">Daniel Tafoya (Chalmers University of Technology), Hiroshi Imai (Kagoshima University, Japan), José F. Gómez (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, CSIC), Jun-ichi Nakashima (Sun Yat-sen University, China), Gabor Orosz (University of Tasmania, Australia/Xinjiang Astronomical Observatory, China), and Bosco H. K. Yung (Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center, Poland).</span></div></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Images</strong></div> <div><strong><br /></strong></div> <div>For high-resolution images, see the press release from NAOJ: <a href=""></a></div> <div><br /></div> <div><div><span style="background-color:initial"><em>A (top) - Artist’s impression of W43A based on the Alma observation results. Diffuse spherical gas was emitted from the star in the past. W43A has just started ejecting bipolar jets which entrain the surrounding material. Bright spots in radio emissions from water molecules are distributed around the interface of the jets and the diffuse gas.</em></span><br /></div> <div><em>Credit: NAOJ.</em></div></div> <div><br /></div> <div><div><em>B - Alma image of the old star system W43A. The high velocity bipolar jets ejected from the central aged star are seen in blue, low velocity outflow is shown in green, and dusty clouds entrained by the jets are shown in orange.</em></div> <div><em>Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Tafoya et al.</em></div></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Contacts:</strong></div> <div><div> </div> <div>Robert Cumming, communicator, Onsala Space Observatory, Chalmers, 031-772 5500, 070-493 31 14,</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Daniel Tafoya, astronomer, Onsala S<span style="background-color:initial">pace Observatory</span><span style="background-color:initial">, Chalmers, 031 772 5519,</span></div> <em></em></div> <div><br /></div>Thu, 05 Mar 2020 07:00:00 +0100 000 school students will become Star Hunters<p><b>​Help a Scientist is an annual project under the auspices of the Nobel Prize Museum that brings together scientists, students and teachers. The Star Hunt is the tenth project, and it is about space and to identify stars together with three scientists based at Chalmers.</b></p><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/SEE/Nyheter/Star-hunt-Giuliana_Ruben_Jonathan.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px" />The project &quot;the Star Hunt&quot; and astronomers Giuliana Cosentino, Rubén Fedriani and Jonathan Tan at Chalmers' Department of Space, Earth and Environment have been selected for the 2020 Help a Scientist program, run by the Nobel Prize Museum. In this, the 10th edition of the Help a Scientist program, about 1 000 participating Swedish school students from about 30 schools will be the first Star Hunters as this is the first space-astronomy project offered by the program. <div><br /></div> <div><div>In the project The Star Hunt the astronomers need help finding new stars that are being born from dusty interstellar clouds in our galaxy.<br /></div></div> <div><br /></div> <div>– We have a lot of knowledge about space and the stars in our galaxy, but there are still a lot of mysteries surrounding the birth of new stars. In this project we need the students to help us understand where stars come from, the origin of stars in our galaxy - oncluding our own Sun. This way we will also learn about or own origins, says Jonathan Tan. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><div>Students will analyse images taken in a variety of wavelengths of light, from radio to x-ray, by telescopes on the  ground, in the air and in space. The scientists will provide a background to the research and instructions for  analysis of the images. <span style="background-color:initial">Each team of students will explore their  own regions of the galaxy targeting particular interstellar clouds. </span><span style="background-color:initial">​</span></div></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"> – This project is a great opportunity for us. When working with kids we usually focus on them learning while having fun, but in this case the main goal is that they actually will discover new things that are useful for us in our research, says Rubén Fedriani.<br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><a href="">Read more about the Star Hunt on the Nobel Prize Museum website​</a>. </span></div> ​Wed, 26 Feb 2020 10:00:00 +0100 astronomers and Alma study stellar fight&#39;s beautiful outcome<p><b>​A Chalmers-led team of ​astronomers have used the telescope Alma to study the remarkable gas cloud that resulted from a confrontation between two stars. One star grew so large it engulfed the other which, in turn, spiralled towards its partner provoking it into shedding its outer layers.</b></p><div><span style="background-color:initial">Like humans, stars change with age and ultimately die. For the Sun and stars like it, this change will take it through a phase where, having burned all the hydrogen in its core, it swells up into a large and bright red-giant star. Eventually, the dying Sun will lose its outer layers, leaving behind its core: a hot and dense star called a white dwarf.</span><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div>“The star system HD101584 is special in the sense that this ‘death process’ was terminated prematurely and dramatically as a nearby low-mass companion star was engulfed by the giant,” said Hans Olofsson, astronomer at Chalmers University of Technology, who led a recent study, published in Astronomy &amp; Astrophysics, of this intriguing object.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Thanks to new observations with Alma, complemented by data from the telescope Apex (Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment), Hans Olofsson and his team now know that what happened in the double-star system HD 101584 was akin to a stellar fight. As the main star puffed up into a red giant, it grew large enough to swallow its lower-mass partner. In response, the smaller star spiralled in towards the giant’s core but didn’t collide with it. Rather, this manoeuvre triggered the larger star into an outburst, leaving its gas layers dramatically scattered and its core exposed.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The team says the complex structure of the gas in the HD101584 nebula is due to the smaller star’s spiralling towards the red giant, as well as to the jets of gas that formed in this process. As a deadly blow to the already defeated gas layers, these jets blasted through the previously ejected material, forming the rings of gas and the bright bluish and reddish blobs seen in the nebula.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>A silver lining of a stellar fight is that it helps astronomers to better understand the final evolution of stars like the Sun, explains co-author Sofia Ramstedt, astronomer at Uppsala University.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Currently, we can describe the death processes common to many Sun-like stars, but we cannot explain why or exactly how they happen. HD101584 gives us important clues to solve this puzzle since it is currently in a short transitional phase between better studied evolutionary stages. With detailed images of the environment of HD101584 we can make the connection between the giant star it was before, and the stellar remnant it will soon become,” she says.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Co-author Elizabeth Humphreys from ESO in Chile highlighted that Alma and Apex, located in the country’s Atacama region, were crucial to enabling the team to probe “both the physics and chemistry in action” in the gas cloud. She added: “This stunning image of the circumstellar environment of HD 101584 would not have been possible without the exquisite sensitivity and angular resolution provided by Alma.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>While current telescopes allow astronomers to study the gas around the binary, the two stars at the centre of the complex nebula are too close together and too far away to be resolved. ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope, under construction in Chile’s Atacama Desert, “will provide information on the ‘heart’ of the object,” says Hans Olofsson, allowing astronomers a closer look at the fighting pair. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>See also ESO's press release: <a href=""></a></div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong><em>Image:</em></strong></div> <em> </em><div><br /></div> <em> </em><div><em>A. (top) </em><span style="background-color:initial"><em>​ALMA reveals the beautiful results of a struggle between two stars: a complex of gas clouds round binary star HD 101584. </em></span><span style="background-color:initial"><em>​</em></span><span style="background-color:initial"><em> The colours represent speed, going from blue — gas moving the fastest towards us — to red — gas moving the fastest away from us. Jets, almost along the line of sight, propel the material in blue and red. The stars in the binary are located at the single bright dot at the centre of the ring-like structure shown in green, which is moving with the same velocity as the system as a whole along the line of sight. Astronomers believe this ring has its origin in the material ejected as the lower mass star in the binary spiralled towards its red-giant partner.​</em></span></div> <em> </em><div><span style="background-color:initial"><em>Credit: </em></span><span style="background-color:initial"><em>ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Olofsson et al. Acknowledgement: Robert Cumming</em></span></div> <em> </em><div><br /></div> <div><strong>More information</strong></div> <div><br /></div> <div>This research was presented in a paper published in Astronomy &amp; Astrophysics: <i style="background-color:initial">HD 101584: circumstellar characteristics and evolutionary status</i><span style="background-color:initial"> </span><span style="background-color:initial">(</span><a href=""></a><span style="background-color:initial">)</span></div> <div><br /></div> <div>The team is composed of Hans Olofsson (Department of Space, Earth and Environment, Chalmers), Theo Khouri (Chalmers), Matthias Maercker (Chalmers), Per Bergman (Chalmers), Lam Doan (Department of Physics and Astronomy, Uppsala University), Daniel Tafoya (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and Onsala Space Observatory, Chalmers), Wouter Vlemmings (Chalmers), E. M. L. Humphreys (European Southern Observatory [ESO], Garching, Germany), Michael Lindqvist (<span style="background-color:initial">Onsala Space Observatory,</span><span style="background-color:initial"> </span><span style="background-color:initial">Chal</span><span style="background-color:initial">mers), Lars-Åke Nyman (ESO, Santiago, Chile) and Sofia Ramstedt (Uppsala University).</span></div> <div></div> <div><br /></div> <div>The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of ESO, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI). ALMA construction and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Chalmers and Onsala Space Observatory have been involved in Alma since its inception, building for example receivers for the telescope. Onsala Space Observatory hosts the Nordic Alma Regional Centre which provides technical expertise and supports scientists <span style="background-color:initial">in the Nordic countries who </span><span style="background-color:initial">use​​​​​ Alma</span><span style="background-color:initial">.​</span></div> <span></span><div></div> <div><br /></div>Wed, 05 Feb 2020 00:00:00 +0100 for nominations: Gothenburg Lise Meitner award 2020<p><b>​The Gothenburg Physics Centre (GPC) is seeking nominations for the 2020 Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award.  Nominations are due on Monday, 2 March, 2020.​​</b></p>​​The Lise Meitner award honors exceptional individuals for a “<em>groundbreaking discovery in physics</em>”.  <br />In addition to their scientific accomplishments, the candidates must meet the following selection criteria:<br /><ul><li>They have distinguished themselves through public activities of popularizing science and are prepared to deliver the annual Lise Meitner Lecture (middle of September).</li> <li>Their research activity is connected to or benefit activities at GPC.<br /></li></ul> Nominations should include a motivation describing the achievements of the candidate, a short biography/CV, contact details and a local contact person. <br /><br />We would also like to thank those of you who did make an effort to nominate a candidate in the past! In case your nomination has not been chosen, we encourage you to submit her or his name again. As the number of nominations has declined in recent years, we <span style="font-weight:700">strongly </span>encourage all members of GPC to nominate a candidate! Please think broadly! There are certainly outstanding candidates you either know personally or whom you would like to come here to Gothenburg.  ​<br /><br />Nominations should be sent to any member of the of the Lise Meitner Award Committee 2020: <br /><br />Dinko Chakarov <a href=""></a> <br />Hans Nordman <a href=""></a><br />Vitali Zhaunerchyk<a href="">​</a><br />Vitaly Shumeiko <a href="">​</a><br />Andreas Heinz (Chair) <a href=""></a><br /><a href=""></a><br /><a href="/en/centres/gpc/activities/lisemeitner"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />More information about Lise Meitner and the award can be found at the GPC website</a><br /><br />With best regards,<br /><br />The 2020 Lise Meitner Committee​Wed, 29 Jan 2020 07:00:00 +0100 more business as usual with respect to energy<p><b>Recently, the media reported that both investments in fossil energy and carbon dioxide emissions are increasing, though at a slower rate than before. How should we interpret this message? We had an email chat with Dr Jessica Jewell, an expert in energy transitions. Her research focuses on mechanisms of energy transitions, particularly fossil fuel phase-out and low-carbon electricity growth. This is what she responded:​</b></p><div><span style="background-color:initial"><strong><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/20190101-20190630/jessica-jewell_portrait.jpg" alt="Portrait: Jessica Jewell" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" style="margin:5px" />Fi</strong></span><span style="background-color:initial"><strong>rst, can you tell us a little about your research? </strong></span><br /></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">&quot;It's focused on political feasibility of energy transitions. I research national trends in energy use seeking to understand how individual countries respond to the global challenge of climate change given their specific national circumstances. More specifically, my research can be divided into two broad streams:<br /><br /></span></div> <div><ul><li><span style="font-size:14px">​What drives and constrains the expansion of low-carbon technologies. I have done work on nuclear power and I am now also <span></span>looking into renewable electricity investigating which countries introduce it earlier and where renewables can be expanded faster.</span></li> <li><span style="font-size:14px">What drives and constrains the decline of carbon-intensive technologies. I am measuring the global and national rates of decline in carbon-intensive sectors and comparing them to what we need to mitigate climate change; I also research social factors and mechanisms that differentiate countries that phase out fossil fuels from those that expand them.</span></li></ul></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>How to interpret these media reports about carbon dioxide emissions?</strong></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">“The use of fossil fuels is still increasing because of the increasing demand for fossil fuels. Part of this trend is easier to understand: for example, demand for oil primarily depends on the growth of transportation and there are more and more vehicles in the world, particularly in the emerging economies such as China. The vast majority of cars and trucks sold today are still driven by oil, not to mention ships and airplanes which explains rising oil demand. </span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">What is more paradoxical is that in many parts of the world, emissions from the power sector are increasing. This is particularly interesting for social scientists, because we have technical solutions to produce low carbon electricity: hydropower, nuclear power, wind and solar power. Some of these technologies are already cheaper than coal or gas in some markets. However, some developing countries are making paradoxical energy choices of investing in new coal power instead of renewables”.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>Is the emission curve broken?</strong></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">“Global emissions are growing, but at a slower rate than before. If we look at the business-as-usual emission forecasts from a few decades ago and compare them with what we have now, we can clearly see that we’re doing much better than ‘business as usual’ as it was imagined in the 1990s and the early 2000s. </span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">The global emission curve reflects the combination of distinct trends: in some countries emissions are plateauing or slowly declining and in some countries they are still growing. </span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">In other words, there is a gradual evolution of the emission curve rather than radical breaking with the past”.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"> </span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>What is politically feasible in Europe, China and the United States?</strong></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">“First of all, this depends on global technological developments and breakthroughs. Political feasibility in all three regions will be influenced by breakthroughs in different technologies such as small modular nuclear power reactors, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), batteries and hydrogen technologies. Incremental developments such as falling the cost of solar PV panels and offshore wind power will also be important in a near future; Equally important to these global factors are national socio-political circumstances which shape political feasibility what can be done in a given context. I believe three such factors are particularly critical: </span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><br /></span></div> <div><ul><li><span style="font-size:14px">How fast energy demand is growing; this mostly depends on population and economic growth in a given country and thus is difficult to change by policies. Energy demand in China is growing much faster than in the EU and the US which means that China needs much faster expansion of low-carbon energy to reduce emissions and as long as low-carbon energy grows slower than demand, emissions will keep growing<br /></span></li> <li>How fast low-carbon energy technologies can expand. For example, in recent research I and co-authors show that Europe and the United States introduced nuclear, solar and wind power earlier than China. We now need to understand what determines how fast low-carbon technologies expand. The market in China is more favorable (because it is growing), so perhaps renewables can be expanded even faster with right policies.<br /></li> <li><span style="background-color:initial">How fast we can phase-out carbon-intensive sectors. This may be even more challenging to do than expanding low-carbon energy. This is because growing a new sector brings jobs and profits and no one is in principle against it. However, phasing out an industry leads to job and economic losses, which is a political challenge. In a recent article I and co-authors explore this dilemma by looking at which countries pledge to phase out coal power. What we found out is that these countries extract and use little coal, have older power plant fleets, slow demand growth, higher incomes and exceptionally transparent governments which are able to deal with political challenges of coal phase out. There are many such countries in Europe and many of the US states have the same characteristics, so no wonder that coal use in Europe and North America is rapidly declining. In contrast, China has a very young coal power plant fleet (with an average age of only 12 years), produces most of its electricity from the domestically extracted coal, has rapidly expanding electricity demand, and less transparent government. So it is less feasible for China to phase out coal in the near term&quot;.</span></li></ul></div> <div><strong style="background-color:initial">Is there anything more you want to say?</strong><br /></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">“I joined Chalmers about six months ago and I’m so happy I did. I have been struck by the wonderful combination of inspiring intellectual interactions and a supportive working environment. Chalmers offers great opportunities for young international scholars to build on and expand their networks and science”.<br /><br />By: Ann-Christine Nordin <br />Photo: Oil field <span style="font-size:14px"></span></span><span style="background-color:initial;font-size:14px">Haizhen Du/Shutterstock​</span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><br /></span></div> <div><strong>RELATED:</strong><br /><span style="font-size:14px"><a href="/en/departments/see/news/Pages/current-pledges-to-phase-out-coal-power-are-critically-insufficient-to-slow-down-climate-change,-analysis-shows.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />​Current coal phase-out pledges are insufficient</a><br /></span><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />Jessica Jewell, Assistant Professor, Department of Space, Earth and Environment​</a></div>  ​Tue, 21 Jan 2020 09:00:00 +0100, setbacks and new Earths with Didier Queloz<p><b>​​Together with fellow Nobel laureate Michel Mayor, Didier Queloz was first to discover a planet round another sun, back in 1995. What happened next? On December 13, Didier Queloz told the story to a packed auditorium at Chalmers. About the discovery, and about how exoplanet science now is leading the world towards an even more amazing goal: the discovery of other life in the universe.​</b></p><div>It all started with world-leading engineering. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“We had been extra creative at that time, by building a new type of instrument”, Queloz explained.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>His and Michel Mayor’s team in Switzerland had built Elodie, an instrument of exquisite precision at the Observatoire de Haute-Provence in France. They weren’t expecting to discover any planets, but everything else was in place for doing precision science: an innovative system of optical fibres for maximum stability, and new, powerful microcomputers.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>The discovery of a planet, unreasonably close to the star 51 Pegasi, was a surprise for everyone. Queloz panicked, he said, sure the strange signal was a sign of a “big, big bug” in his computer program. </div> <div>“I couldn’t accept that it didn’t match. I didn’t really grasp how difficult it was to form a planet.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Could we really believe that such unexpected planets were real? For Didier Queloz, the measurements spoke for themselves and the theory was what needed to change. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Sometimes you have to do the stuff – and not listen to anyone else.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Scientists had clearly missed something important about how systems of planets form and evolve. Mayor and Queloz had started a revolution. Their first planet was followed by others, also hot and heavy and close to their stars. More like Jupiter than Earth. Migration turned out to be a key to understanding these unexpected “Hot Jupiters”. Planets move around in their systems, either that or the measurements were wrong.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>But a decade after that first discovery, the last remaining exoplanet sceptics had to give up. Europe’s space telescope Corot, and ground-based experiments Wasp and HAT, showed that exoplanets could also be found by the transit method: by measuring the tiny dimming when a planet passes in front of its sun.  </div> <div><br /></div> <div>Then came a deluge of new planets, discovered by NASA’s Kepler telescope. It became clear that planetary systems are amazingly varied, and it’s still not clear why that is.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“There’s an interesting diversity built in, and 51 Pegasi was an early hint of that,” commented Didier Queloz.</div> <div>Our solar system is typically unique, it seems. But are there other planets like Earth, and do they support life? Didier Queloz thinks we’re getting close to finding answers. Thanks to Kepler and its succcessors we know that there are lots of Earth-sized planets, and there should be many in the so-called “habitable zones” where liquid water ought to be found around stars. The only Earth-sized, rocky planets we know of today are probably not like Earth at all, Queloz cautions. Their stars are tiny, red and cool. Calling these planets “habitable” is going too far. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>The light from a sunlike star – our Sun, for example, or 51 Pegasi – is a key ingredient, Queloz believes. Chemists and biologists have studied how life can form from just twenty quite simple molecules – amino acids. The primordial “soup” will remain just a soup – Queloz is a keen cook and enjoys the culinary comparison – unless you add sunlight. New experiments have shown how ultraviolet light can help to trigger the formation of DNA on the surface of a planet. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>“The ultraviolet is needed, or the chemistry will make soup – not life”, he says with a grin.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>New telescopes will help Queloz and his colleagues find these other Earths. The Extremely Large Telescope, ELT, is one, but in space, the adventure is already starting. 18 December 2019 saw the launch of Cheops, the first of three European exoplanet satellites, and one which Queloz is scientific leader for. The next few decades will see astronomers, chemists and molecular biologists together making new discoveries about the places where life starts in space, Queloz reckons.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>“Twenty-five years ago we kickstarted something that was way, way bigger than us. It was really fun to share this with you.”</div> <div><br /></div> <div><em>Text: Robert Cumming</em></div> <div><br /></div>Tue, 17 Dec 2019 10:00:00 +0100 new satellite to study exoplanets in detail<p><b>​​The satellite CHEOPS, launched in December 2019, will observe systems with previously known exoplanets – planets which orbit other stars than the sun – in order that we can learn more about their size, composition, and atmosphere. The project is led by Nobel laureate Didier Queloz, who will visit Chalmers on 13 December.</b></p>​<span style="background-color:initial">At Chalmers, Carina Persson and her colleagues are preparing to receive and analyse the huge amounts of data that the satellite will deliver. </span><div><br /> </div> <div>“We previously believed that all systems looked more or less like ours. But the first exoplanet found by Queloz and Mayor was a Jupiter-like planet, that orbits so close to its star that its orbital period is only four days – which was very surprising,” says astronomer Carina Persson.</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>“CHEOPS will take us a step closer to answering whether our planetary system is unique in the universe. Perhaps it is really uncommon for a medium size planet such as ours to form, at just the right distance, from a star of just the right type, with the right sorts of planets around, and in the right place in the galaxy.”</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>There are two main techniques for finding and studying exoplanets. The technique which was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize measures small, regular changes in a star’s speed, which can be measured from Earth when a planet orbits the star. The technique has been used to discover many planets, and researchers can derive information on a planet’s mass, and distance from its host star. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The CHEOPS satellite will use another technique, transit photometry, to observe how a star’s light changes </div> <div>when a planet passes in front of it.  </div> <div><br /> </div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/SEE/Nyheter/Carina_Malcolm_Iskra.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" />“The advantage with CHEOPS is that we already know which planets it will investigate, and what their orbits look like. So, we know exactly where and when we should point the telescope, in order to capture several transits from the same planet,” says Carina Persson, who works closely together with colleagues Professor Malcolm Fridlund and PhD Student Iskra Georgieva.</span></div> <div><br /> </div> <div>“In general, measurements like this which have been made so far have come with large uncertainties. With CHEOPS, the precision will increase significantly. We will be able to measure the planet’s size with high accuracy, look for moons and rings and maybe even draw conclusions about what kind of atmosphere they have. If we add that to what we already know about them, we can make models of the planets’ compositions to find out if they are Earth-like or gas planets. The results can also be used to model how planets form and evolve.”</div> <div><br /> </div> <div>The three Chalmers scientists have tested and developed software with algorithms which will analyse transiting exoplanets recorded in CHEOPS’ measurements. </div> <div><br /> </div> <div>“There are so many factors that decide how planets form, and so far, we only know of one planet which supports life. The more you study other planets, the more respect you feel for our planet and life on Earth. I think that is one of the most important aspects of our work,” says Carina Persson.  </div> <div>​<br /></div> <div><i>Text: Christian Löwhagen</i></div> <div><i>This article was originally published in Swedish in <a href="/sv/nyheter/magasin/Sidor/default.aspx">Chalmers magasin</a>, 2019 nr 2. </i></div> Tue, 10 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0100 some countries do more than others?<p><b>​If we are to meet the climate goals, we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, we need to capture some of the carbon dioxide that we have already released to the atmosphere. This is a big challenge.We had a chat with climate scientist Sabine Fuss, who holds Chalmers Jubilee professorship 2019.</b></p>​<img src="/en/areas-of-advance/energy/news/PublishingImages/Sabine-Fuss_Photo-MCC.jpg" alt="Sabine Fuss" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" style="margin:5px" /><span style="background-color:initial;font-size:14px">“My research has been focused on deep decarbonisation in recent years – especially in the context of the ambitious climate goals of the Paris Agreement. In particular, I have been assessing the potential and costs of technologies and practices for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as a lead author of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C Global Warming”, says professor Sabine Fuss, head of a working group on sustainable resource management at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin. </span><div><br /><span style="background-color:initial;font-size:14px"></span><div><span style="font-size:14px">She is also one of Chalmers´ four Jubilee Professors in 2019. The Department of Space, Earth and Environment is her host. </span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>What has the cooperation with the scientist at Chalmers meant to you? </strong></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">“Just coming out of the IPCC process and having developed a lot of expertise on deep decarbonization pathways and carbon removal technologies, I brought with me both bottom-up knowledge and a systems perspective of the Paris challenge. Being an economist by background, I hope that I managed to complement the expertise of my Chalmers colleagues, jointly taking the work I had previously done further. In particular, we took first steps at conceptualizing the policies needed to move towards implementation, benefiting both from the exchange with the very experienced Chalmers researchers as well as ongoing reflections on the Swedish plans to go carbon-negative”, she says.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">In the near future, she hope to take these insights back to the international context and also return to Chalmers for the International Conference on Negative Emissions next May.<br /><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">” It has been a great pleasure and benefit for us to have Sabine here”, says Daniel Johansson, Associate Professor, Department of Space, Earth and Environment at Chalmers.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">He has known Sabine since 2007 when both were at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis IIASA in Austria. They collaborated in a project on investments in electricity production carried out given uncertainty in future CO2 prices.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">“Sabine has since then developed into one of the leading researchers in the world on issues related to investments under uncertainty as well as on issues related to negative CO2 emissions. It was her focus on the latter subject that was the main reason why she came here as a Jubilee professor”, says Daniel. <br /><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>How can we achieve negative emissions? </strong></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">“We can remove CO2 emissions from the atmosphere in very different ways. For example: </span></div> <div><ul><li><span style="font-size:14px">Planting new forests leads to sequestration of CO2 through photosynthesis, </span></li> <li>Absorbing CO2 directly from the ambient air by means of a chemical reaction with subsequent geological storage. </li> <li>As a hybrid option, BioEnergy generation can be coupled with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), so that the CO2 sequestered in the additionally grown biomass does not escape into the atmosphere but is instead captured and locked away”, Sabine Fuss says.</li></ul></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">Sabine says we have to keep in mind that practices and technologies, which are associated with additional needs for land, for example for afforestation or growing biomass for BECCS, have been debated controversially. This is because land is a finite resource that will also be needed for other policy goals such as conserving biodiversity, producing food for a growing population, and so on. <br /><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">“But they can indeed complement each other: by composing a careful portfolio of options, we can decrease risks to a certain extent. The best way to mitigate climate change remains to avoid emitting CO2 in the first place, of course!” </span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>If we have to be carbon-negative must some countries do more than others?</strong></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">“Carbon-neutrality is a necessary condition for keeping our option to reach the 1.5°C target open. However, uncertainties surround the amount of CO2 that we are still allowed to emit, the so-called carbon budget. This makes it difficult to predict exact years in which carbon-neutrality must be reached. If we are to be carbon-neutral around mid-century, we will need to remove any emissions that still occur after that point. Who exactly will need to go carbon-negative depends on technology and potential as much as distributional considerations”, Sabine Fuss explains. </span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">The implementation will ultimately happen in industry and individual companies, but politicians will have to set the governance framework and create the incentives. </span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>What concrete action do you see as a first step?</strong></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">“An enquiry of the scope carried out in Sweden at the moment – which maps out both technology roadmaps and policy options – is needed to move forward. Close interaction of government, industry and society will be needed to determine the viable pathways to carbon-neutrality”. </span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">Fossil Free Sweden is an initiative to encourage business sectors to draw up their own roadmaps as to how they will be fossil free while also increasing their competitiveness. Currently, thirteen roadmaps have been handed over to the Swedish Government and more are in progress.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>What role can researchers take to drive the development?</strong></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px">“Researchers can help the dialogue described above by compiling the relevant knowledge and mapping the different pathways to 1.5°C. In our work we find that there is a gap in knowledge when it comes to implementation of carbon removal technologies and practices and active research is needed to enable policymakers and industry to take the next steps”.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><strong>RELATED:</strong></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />Professor Sabine Fuss</a></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><a href="/en/research/our-scientists/Pages/Jubilee-Professors.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />More about Chalmers´ Jubilee Professors</a></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />The 2nd International Conference on Negative CO2 Emissions</a></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />Roadmaps for fossil free competitiveness</a></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial;font-size:14px"><a href="/sv/styrkeomraden/energi/kalendarium/Sidor/Carbon-neutral-or-carbon-negative.aspx"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" alt="" />Carbon-neutral or carbon-negative? Can we still keep global warming below 1.5°C?​</a></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial;font-size:14px"></span><span style="font-size:14px">Together with Christian Azar and Ottmar Edenhofer, she wrote an debate article in Svenska Dagbladet: </span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />&quot;No, the UN Climate Panel does not recommend nuclear power&quot;.</a> (Swedish)</span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />CCS (Wiki)</a></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:14px"><a href=""><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />BECCS (Wiki)</a></span></div> <div><br /></div> ​By: Ann-Christine Nordin, <br />Photo Sabine Fuss: David Ausserhofer.</div>Tue, 26 Nov 2019 00:00:00 +0100! Researchers call for more rigor concerning indirect effects of environmental policies<p><b>​“Leakage” is a term commonly used to describe the effects an environmental policy has outside the targeted area or country. But since these effects can be both negative and positive, intended or unintended, Chalmers researchers Mairon G Bastos Lima and Martin Persson now propose a clearer definition of these effects and understanding of how they take place, something that future environmental policies would benefit from.</b></p><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/SEE/Profilbilder/Mairon_G_Bastos_Lima_170.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px" />–<span style="background-color:initial"> Up to now, leakage has been the kind of concept that people use very vaguely, assuming that others will grasp it the same way. But the more clearly defined and standardized something is, the better and more consistent the analysis will be, says Mairon G Bastos Lima, at Chalmers department for Space, Earth and Environment.</span><div><br /><span style="background-color:initial"></span><div>In the recently published paper “Leakage and boosting effects in environmental governance: a framework for analysis” Mairon, Martin and Belgian colleague Patrick Meyfroidt at the Catholic University of Louvain identify several key insights about leakage. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>As defined in the paper, leakage is when an environmental policy, be it area protection or climate protection, has an indirect negative impact elsewhere on the same issue it is trying to address. For instance, if stricter climate policy in one place causes industry displacement and increased emissions elsewhere, possibly negating any overall benefits. Or if conservation policy in one area leads to greater deforestation in another. </div> <div><span style="background-color:initial"><br /></span></div> <div><span style="background-color:initial">​An example of the opposite, a “boosting effect”, is when an environmental policy in one country influence </span><span style="background-color:initial">another country to adopt similar or matching policies that create further effects or even synergies. </span></div> <div>Becoming more aware of such indirect effects and understanding how they work is extremely important from a policy-maker point of view. </div> <div><br /></div> <div>– If you try to understand how your policy will play out in a greater context, you can deliberately plan for a policy design that will produce synergies with other policies already in place, and deliberately create such boosting effects, says Mairon. </div> <h3 class="chalmersElement-H3">Really unintentional or not? </h3> <div>Today, leakage is often assumed to be always unintentional, but in their studies Mairon and his colleagues have observed several examples of the opposite.  </div> <div><br /></div> <div>– Science studies as well as news reports often assume that leakage is always unintentional. However, we have done some assessments and can show that some policies have been put in place in full awarenress that they would likely affect other countries and regions. This can be done on purpose to serve political or industrial interests in their own country. We have seen this take place both around the Amazon in Brazil and in Southeast Asia.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>– If such a thing can happen intentionally, as part of policy planning, you need to understand why they are doing that and what could be done to address such actions. If you assume that leakage is always unintentional, you are never going to have adequate recommendations to give, because you didn’t grasp from the start why they were doing it. We have seen this take place both around the Amazon in Brazil and in Southeast Asia.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Read more in the paper: “<a href="">Leakage and boosting effects in environmental governance: a framework for analysis</a>”, published in the journal: Environmental Research Letters. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><em>Text: Christian Löwhagen</em>.</div> <div><br /></div> </div>Thu, 21 Nov 2019 00:00:00 +0100