Science Newsletter #3: 21-Acre Solar Farm, Redwood Fires and Hurricane Season


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Solar Panels in Atacama Desert, Chile

Christopher Owen

Southold Town Approves Construction of 21 Acre Solar Farm

In late August, Southold Town won the bid for constructing a solar farm at the Cutchogue landfill. The trash collected at the landfill is buried underneath thick layers of soil, contributing to unhealthy air quality from the decomposing garbage and contaminated waterways. It was owned by Summit Ridge Energy, a solar company that installs solar panels and batteries to make energy more reliable, cleaner, and efficient. Initially a lease, Summit Ridge decided to put the land on the market for investment, receiving bids from 11 others as well as Southold. In addition to their experience with solar panel projects in Maryland and Massachusetts, Summit Ridge Energy will modify the landfill in order to install a 3.5-megawatt array of solar panels and a 1-megawatt battery facility (while not interfering with current landfill activity). Not only will this save thousands of people money on energy bills, but will significantly contribute to transitioning away from harmful practices to environmentally-friendly ones.


Big Basin Redwoods State Park Consumed by Wildfires

The world-renowned Big Basin Redwoods State Park in California, home to the tallest trees on the planet, was covered in flames as hundreds of Redwood trees began to burn to the ground. Over the past few weeks, the wildfires have more than doubled in size, destroyed millions of acres of forests, and started consuming the 118-year-old Redwood State Park. A tourist attraction that welcomes millions of visitors every year is now covered in ash with toppled trees lying on the ground and the plant life is non-existent. The Redwood trees in the park date back to hundreds of years ago, which have aided geologists in scientific research to determine the pre-existing condition of Earth’s ecosystem prior to the modern world. As this national disaster makes its way across the West Coast, the surrounding environment continues to be under siege as toxic gas is released into the atmosphere and the number of lives on the line sharply rises. These fires indicate how increasingly devastating natural disasters are becoming due to a lack of awareness by humans and the urgency of taking action to prevent further environmental damage.


This Hurricane Season: More Frequent and Intense Hurricanes Than Ever Before

We are in the midst of Hurricane Season, the period when hurricanes are most likely to occur and become more severe. Regions all over the world face the wrath of a hurricane from time to time, which brings damaging wind, pelting rain, and severe flooding to neighborhoods and shorelines. June through November is when meteorologists forecast these storms could grow in size, strength, and have an increased likelihood of spawning. However, in today’s world with the current climate crisis, climatologists have predicted that hurricanes, even after Hurricane Season ends, will be unprecedented in their strength and frequency. Warmer ocean temperatures foster the formation of storms and faciliate an early development from a tropical system to a categorized hurricane. Hurricanes such as Irma, Maria, Michael, Dorian (four of the most deadly and destructive hurricanes on record) made landfall within the last 3 years. As ocean temperatures continue to rise and Earth’s natural defenses (such as trees, which prevent erosion) are weakened, the intensity and frequency of hurricanes during this season will hit harder than previously seen. It serves as a reminder that climate change has a calamitous effect on our planet and must be addressed properly.