Research Picks – August 2016

Predictable wind power

One of the perennial problems of wind power is knowing how strongly the wind will blow if at all during any given time. Weather forecasts provide brought regional indicators of wind speed and direction, but a more precise way to determine likely changes hour-by-hour is needed to maximise power output from turbines whether land based or out at sea and to ensure safety when wind speeds pick up. Researchers at the American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates have developed a computer algorithm that can help bring some semblance of order to the chaos that is wind speed. Their hybrid prediction technique outperforms individual forecasting algorithms developed by others over the last decades.

Osman, A.H., Hassan, M.S., Marzbani, F. and Landolsi, T. (2016) ‘One-hour-ahead wind power forecast using hybrid grey models‘, Int. J. Operational Research, Vol. 27, Nos. 1/2, pp.212-231.

Watery experiencescapes

There has been an increasing movement towards the exploration and (re)development of waterway sites and their surroundings for leisure, recreation and tourism, according to researchers in Sweden. They have now looked at how selected Nordic destinations might be strategically developed as “experiencescapes”, drawing on different water and edge of water sports and events, museums using outreach and storytelling and other activities. They point out that the success of such projects relies on all those involved working together to compete against other established tourist and leisure destinations.

Olsson, A.K. (2016) ‘Canals, rivers and lakes as experiencescapes – destination development based on strategic use of inland water‘, Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp.217-243.
Climate variability and disease

Climate variability affects the spread of disease, whether through the effects of drought, flood, or other conditions. Ultimately, according to research from six regions of Kenya, this has an impact on economic wellbeing. Malaria, respiratory tract infection, typhoid, pneumonia and diarrhoea are the major diseases that afflict residents of the Lake Victoria basin, the researchers report. Frequency of disease is highest in the flood-prone region of Budalang’i and lowest in Bomet, which has relatively good, stable weather conditions. “The findings reveal the often unseen subtle effects of adverse climatic conditions on economically vulnerable communities,” the researchers explain. This should help inform the work of those involved in developing flood and drought prevention and mitigation strategies, as well as those involved in public awareness campaigns. Given the increasing problem of global climate change, this is becoming more urgent.

Ofulla, A.V.O., Gichere, S.K., Olado, G.O., Abuom, P.O., Anyona, D.N., Othero, D.M., Matano, A-S., Gelder, F.B., Dida, G.O., Ouma, C., Owuor, P.O., Amayi, J.B. and Kanangire, C.K. (2016) ‘Effects of regional climate variability on the prevalence of diseases and their economic impacts on households in the Lake Victoria basin of Western Kenya‘, Int. J. Global Warming, Vol. 10, Nos. 1/2/3, pp.332-353.
Tuning into telemedicine

India could exploit the gaps between television stations in the radio frequency electromagnetic spectrum, the so-called “white space” for telemedicine applications and so sidestep the short-range systems like Bluetooth and ZigBee as well as the cell phone network, for which infrastructure may not always exist nor service be reliable. Delivery of remote healthcare services and sharing of medical knowledge could be carried in this white space for the benefit of patients and healthcare provides even in the most far-flung village. In an initial investigation PSG College of Technology has developed a transceiver that might be used to send data from an ECG, electrocardiograph, across the airwaves carried on these otherwise unused white space frequencies.

Mohandass, S. and Umamaheswari, G. (2016) ‘Tapping TV white space spectrum for telemedicine applications in India‘, Int. J. Telemedicine and Clinical Practices, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp.224-237.

Author: David Bradley

Award-winning, freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England.