“Solar radiation that falls on a certain point in the city varies depending on the time of day, the weather conditions, the pollution level and other variables,” explains Roberto San José, lecturer at the Technical University of Madrid (UPM). He adds, “what we have done is calculate radiation using supercomputers that simulate the vast amount of data involved in the entire atmospheric process.”
The method involves throwing up to 100,000 rays of light for just a few seconds from any position and verifying the point of collision upon reaching obstacles. Calculations are so complex that they have required the powerful machines of the Supercomputing and Visualization Center of Madrid (CEsViMa-UPM) and the Mare Nostrum supercomputer at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center to work for 72 hours in order to achieve just 6 seconds of light and shadow evolution for an area of Madrid, Spain.
In order to carry out the study, which was published in the Research Journal of Chemistry and Environment, global meteorological data provided by the USA’s National Center for Atmospheric Research has been taken. Information applying to Europe and Spain was taken from this data before homing in on a more local level. The starting point of the whole process lies in an open source of geophysical research called EULAG.
The researchers have conceived two mathematical “shadow” models in which the first supplies data to the second. One shows highly detailed, 3D images of the behaviour of radiation while the other reveals the exchange of energy that occurs in a selected area. Urban morphology plays a crucial role in the energy balance.
San José explains that “depending on urban layout, at a certain time of day there will be rays of light that collide with the tarmac, the pavement and other buildings. They are then successively reflected until they create different degrees of shadow on the surface.”
The team has set up their two models in an IT tool named SHAMO (SHAdow MOdel), a software that allows for shadows and solar radiation in any city to be quantified. In particular, cubic areas with a base of 1 km x 1 km and a height of 400 m are analysed with a resolution of 4 m.
The energy optimisation of a city
San José states that “the results can serve as a tool for sustainability and energy optimisation in cities from both an architectural (a shaded building requires more internal heating that a building in the sun) and urban planning point of view. In this sense, results can be used in the search for harmony between human and natural energy consumption.”
The researcher exemplifies this: “The heating is often turned on during the day and turned off at the night but in some cases could be the other way around. For instance, sometimes the amount of solar radiation that reaches a building is enough to keep in the warmth that has accumulated from the heating being on during the night.”
This study forms part of the European BRIDGE Project on urban metabolism, a concept that perceives the city as a living organism in search for a sustainable energy balance. The department of urban planning at Madrid City Council has already expressed their interest in the tool.
SINC Team | alfa
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19.09.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
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For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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