NASA’s Johnson Space Center goes ‘Gangnam Style,’ New Maps of the Earth at Night, and One Year Since Gray Wolf’s Return to California

EarthzineBest of Syndication, Original

For the last Best of Syndication for the year 2012, we reflect on just a few of the exciting news items we’ve recently syndicated, including NASA and NOAA’s collaborative release of an amazing new map of Earth at night, the one-year anniversary of California’s first wild wolf in some 90 years entering the state, and NASA’s scientific take on the popular “Gangnam Style” video.

The year’s end also saw the hopeful conclusion of the United Nation’s annual climate conference in Doha, which extended the Kyoto Protocol until 2015 despite the omittance of two major greenhouse gas emitters, while researchers out of the University of Alberta, Canada, proffered some novel ways to utilize the porous nature of egg shells in efficient energy storage.

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Photo of a cracked eggshell. Photo: Getty ImagesEggshells for Energy Storage – Originally Published by IEEE Spectrum

Owners of electric cars may soon be driving on eggshells, if David Mitlin has anything to say about it. Mitlin, a professor of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada, is working on a way to turn waste eggshell membranes and egg whites into materials for high-performance supercapacitors.


Satellite imagery of Delhi. Credit: NASA Earth ObservatoryOld Night Vision Meets New – Originally Published by NASA Earth Observatory

In early December 2012, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a series of new views of the Earth at Night. The data was acquired over nine days in April 2012 and 13 days in October 2012. It took 312 orbits to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth’s land surface and islands. This new data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.


Satellite image of the Earth. Credit: NASA GOES Project via AFP/Getty Images The Year in Space – Originally Published by the Washington Post

In 2012, scientists captured stunning images of Hurricane Sandy, the transit of Venus, the Martian surface and more.


Satellite image of a snoy Italy. Creidt: ESASnow Cover Hits Record Low – Originally Published by the ESA

A new analysis of snow cover observed by satellites shows record lows in Eurasia for June each year since 2008. In addition, three of the past five years have seen record low cover in North America – the lowest June snow extent since satellite observations began some 45 years ago. June snow cover is found to be falling much faster than expected from climate models, and is disappearing even quicker than summertime Arctic sea-ice.


Image of arctic storm. (Image: Neodaas/Dundee satellite receiving station)Violent polar storms help control the world’s weather – Originally Published by New Scientist

Polar storms are among the most vicious weather systems on the planet, but we may soon be wishing there were more of them. These mini-hurricanes occur in the Arctic winter, when freezing air flows out of the region and over the warmer Atlantic Ocean. As the Arctic warms in the coming decades, there are expected to be fewer of them.


Photo of OR-7 in California. Credit: APWolf OR-7 has been in California for a year now – Originally Published by Wildlife News

The announcement of the Pacific Wolf Coalition coincides with the one-year anniversary of the first wolf, OR-7, in California in nearly 90 years. Wolves are making a comeback in the Pacific West. Here, as elsewhere in the lower 48, wolves were driven to regional extinction decades ago.


Screenshot fro NASA's Johnson Style parody video. Credit: NASANASA Johnson Style (Gangnam Style Parody) – Originally Published by NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA Johnson Style is a volunteer outreach video project created by the students of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. It was created as an educational parody of Psy’s Gangnam Style. The lyrics and scenes in the video have been re-imagined in order to inform the public about the amazing work going on at NASA and the Johnson Space Center.


Conference President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah of Qatar, center, explains a point to delegates on the last day of the UN climate change conference, December 8, 2012 (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin) Environment News Service ( Outcome: Kyoto Protocol Lives, Global Climate Deal by 2015 – Originally Published by ENS

At the UN’s annual climate change conference just concluded in Doha, 194 countries agreed to an extension of the Kyoto Protocol through 2020. But the second phase still omits the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters ‰ÛÒ China and the United States. Without agreement at Doha the protocol would have expired in just 23 days.


Image showing the number and intensity of fires in the USA. Credit: NASA Earth ObservatoryU.S. Wildfires 2012 – Originally Published by NASA Earth Observatory

Records maintained by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and NASA both indicate that 2012 was an extraordinary year for wildfires in the United States. NIFC statistics show that more than 9.1 million acres had burned as of November 30, 2012—the third highest total in a record that dates back to 1960. Also notable: despite the high number of acres burned in 2012, the total number of fires—55,505—was low, the least on the NIFC record. Average fire size in 2012 was the highest on the record.