Breaking Waves: Ocean News

04/20/2014 - 09:28
One million cubic metres of waste near Sellafield are housed at a site that was a mistake, admits Environment Agency Continue reading...
04/20/2014 - 02:29
I treasure my clothes, rarely throwing anything out. How do I get my teenage girls to adopt these values? Email [email protected] with your ethical dilemma Continue reading...
04/18/2014 - 16:21
Decision ostensibly due to Nebraska supreme court case Project likely to be significant issue in November midterms Continue reading...
04/18/2014 - 15:00
Aberystwyth: This week, the ISS has been appearing with reassuring precision and hurtling eastwards in uncanny silence Continue reading...
04/18/2014 - 10:36
As the first barrels head for Europe, we cannot afford and do not need new sources of harder to reach fossil fuels Continue reading...
04/18/2014 - 10:08
President’s Corner This week we unveiled a website to help BBC solicit stories and filming opportunities for their upcoming seven-part series follow-up to Blue Planet entitled Ocean: New Frontiers.  As you might imagine, this is a wonderful opportunity for our community to share their excitement, passion and discoveries of the ocean with upwards of a billion people in almost 200 countries.  So, if you have any great ideas or interesting upcoming cruises, please share these opportunities with our colleagues at BBC. Earlier this week I attended a workshop aimed at developing a science plan for the northern Atlantic and Arctic oceans to support the Galway Declaration, an agreement forming a research alliance between the U.S., Canada and the European Union. The workshop, sponsored by NSF and organized by the Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry program, brought together scientists from the U.S., Canada, and Europe to explore science gaps and existing programs that could become priority foci and leveraged partnerships under a trans-Atlantic research program. The Horizon 2020 framework in the EU already provides a mechanism to fund scientific research in support of the trans-Atlantic research alliance. The science plan produced from this workshop could help to inform decisions on future proposals under that framework, as well as in the U.S.  While no new money was promised in the U.S., NSF and NASA are supportive of trans-Atlantic research and will be considering options to coordinate existing mechanisms nationally and internationally. The workshop report and science plan is anticipated to be circulated in draft form in August. I also participated in an eventthis week regarding lessons learned about restoration in the Gulf of Mexico region after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and whether these lessons are relevant to the development of oil and gas resources in the Arctic and other offshore areas.  It was a robust discussion about what’s been happening, what we’ve learned and what we believe needs to change to make us better prepared for the next spill.  While there is a lot of money being sent to the Gulf to study the spill and restore the ecosystems, I feel we need to stay vigilant to ensure that efforts are coordinated and guided by the best science available. I hope you all enjoy this spring holiday season. Bob  
04/18/2014 - 09:39
This week we unveiled a website to help BBC solicit stories and filming opportunities for their upcoming seven-part series follow-up to Blue Planet entitled Ocean: New Frontiers.  As you might imagine, this is a wonderful opportunity for our community to share their excitement, passion and discoveries of the ocean with upwards of a billion people in almost 200 countries.  So, if you have any great ideas or interesting upcoming cruises, please share these opportunities with our colleagues at BBC. Earlier this week I attended a workshop aimed at developing a science plan for the northern Atlantic and Arctic oceans to support the Galway Declaration, an agreement forming a research alliance between the U.S., Canada and the European Union. The workshop, sponsored by NSF and organized by the Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry program, brought together scientists from the U.S., Canada, and Europe to explore science gaps and existing programs that could become priority foci and leveraged partnerships under a trans-Atlantic research program. The Horizon 2020 framework in the EU already provides a mechanism to fund scientific research in support of the trans-Atlantic research alliance. The science plan produced from this workshop could help to inform decisions on future proposals under that framework, as well as in the U.S.  While no new money was promised in the U.S., NSF and NASA are supportive of trans-Atlantic research and will be considering options to coordinate existing mechanisms nationally and internationally. The workshop report and science plan is anticipated to be circulated in draft form in August. I also participated in an event this week regarding lessons learned about restoration in the Gulf of Mexico region after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and whether these lessons are relevant to the development of oil and gas resources in the Arctic and other offshore areas.  It was a robust discussion about what’s been happening, what we’ve learned and what we believe needs to change to make us better prepared for the next spill.  While there is a lot of money being sent to the Gulf to study the spill and restore the ecosystems, I feel we need to stay vigilant to ensure that efforts are coordinated and guided by the best science available. I hope you all enjoy this spring holiday season. Bob
04/18/2014 - 09:10
(Click to enlarge) An international team of scientists has discovered new relationships between deep-sea temperature and ice-volume changes to provide crucial new information about how the ice ages came about. (Credit: © biolphoto / Fotolia) An international team of scientists has discovered new relationships between deep-sea temperature and ice-volume changes to provide crucial new information about how the ice ages came about. (From ScienceDaily) – Researchers from the University of Southampton, the National Oceanography Centre and the Australian National University developed a new method for determining sea-level and deep-sea temperature variability over the past5.3 million years. It provides new insight into the climatic relationships that caused the development of major ice-age cycles during the past two million years. The researchers found, for the first time, that the long-term trends in cooling and continental ice-volume cycles over the past 5.3 million years were not the same. In fact, for temperature the major step toward the ice ages that have characterised the past two to three million years was a cooling event at 2.7 million years ago, but for ice-volume the crucial step was the development of the first intense ice age at around 2.15 million years ago. Before these results, these were thought to have occurred together at about 2.5 million years ago. The results are published in the scientific journalNature. Co-author Dr Gavin Foster, from Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton, says: “Our work focused on the discovery of new relationships within the natural Earth system. In that sense, the observed decoupling of temperature and ice-volume changes provides crucial new information for our understanding of how the ice ages developed. “However, there are wider implications too. For example, a more refined sea-level record over millions of years is commercially interesting because it allows a better understanding of coastal sediment sequences that are relevant to the petroleum industry. Our record is also of interest to climate policy developments, because it opens the door to detailed comparisons between past atmospheric CO2 concentrations, global temperatures, and sea levels, which has enormous value to long-term future climate projections.” The team used records of oxygen isotope ratios (which provide a record of ancient water temperature) from microscopic plankton fossils recovered from the Mediterranean Sea, spanning the last 5.3 million years. This is a particularly useful region because the oxygen isotopic composition of the seawater is largely determined by the flow of water through the Strait of Gibraltar, which in turn is sensitive to changes in global sea level — in a way like the pinching of a hosepipe. As continental ice sheets grew during the ice ages, flow through the Strait of Gibraltar was reduced, causing measurable increases in the oxygen isotope O-18 (8 protons and 10 neutrons) relative to O-16 (8 protons and 8 neutrons) in Mediterranean waters, which became preserved in the shells of the ancient plankton. Using long drill cores and uplifted sections of sea-floor sediments, previous work had analysed such microfossil-based oxygen isotope records from carefully dated sequences. The current study added a numerical model for calculating water exchange through the Strait of Gibraltar as a function of sea-level change, which allowed the microfossil records to be used as a sensitive recorder of global sea-level changes. The new sea-level record was then used in combination with existing deep-sea oxygen isotope records from the open ocean, to work out deep-sea temperature changes. Lead author, Professor Eelco Rohling of Australian National University, says: “This is the first step for reconstructions from the Mediterranean records. Our previous work has developed and refined this technique for Red Sea records, but in that location it is restricted to the last half a million years because there are no longer drill cores. In the Mediterranean, we could take it down all the way to 5.3 million years ago. There are uncertainties involved, so we included wide-ranging assessments of these, as well as pointers to the most promising avenues for improvement. This work lays the foundation for a concentrated effort toward refining and improving the new sea-level record.” Noting the importance of the Strait of Gibraltar to the analysis, co-author Dr Mark Tamisiea from the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton adds: “Flow through the Strait will depend not only on the ocean’s volume, but also on how the land in the region moves up and down in response to the changing water levels. We use a global model of changes in the ocean and the ice sheets to estimate the deformation and gravity changes in the region, and how that will affect our estimate of global sea-level change.”  
04/18/2014 - 09:06
(Click to enlarge) Mangroves in Everglades National Park: Will they be swamped by future sea-level rise? (Credit: René M. Price) Miami could know as early as 2020 how high sea levels will rise into the next century, according to a team of researchers including Florida International University scientist Rene Price. (From ScienceDaily) – Price is also affiliated with the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, one of 25 such NSF LTER sites in ecosystems from coral reefs to deserts, mountains to salt marshes around the world. Scientists conclude that sea level rise is one of the most certain consequences of climate change. But the speed and long-term height of that rise are unknown. Some researchers believe that sea level rise is accelerating, some suggest the rate is holding steady, while others say it’s decelerating. With long-term data showing that global sea levels are steadily rising at 2.8 millimeters per year, and climate models indicating that the rate could accelerate over time, Price posed a question to colleagues: How soon will Miami residents know what sea levels will be in the year 2100? “In Miami, we’re at the forefront of sea level rise,” Price says. “With the uncertainty in what we currently know, I was looking for information that could help us plan better for the long-term.” Price and a team of international researchers set out to answer the question. They analyzed data from 10 sea level monitoring stations throughout the world. They looked into the future by analyzing the past. The researchers examined historical data to identify the timing at which accelerations might first be recognized in a significant manner and extended projections through 2100. The findings are published in this week’s issue of the journal Nature Communications. “Sea level rise will have major effects on natural and built coastal environments,” says David Garrison, program director in NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences, which co-funds the NSF LTER network with NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology. “Being able to detect and predict the pace of sea level rise is critical to being able to adapt to future changes in coastal regions,” says Garrison. Price says the information provided should offer some comfort to those living with this uncertainty. “Our results show that by 2020 to 2030, we could have some statistical certainty of what the sea level rise situation will look like,” she says. “That means we’ll know what to expect and have 70 years to plan. In a subject that has so much uncertainty, this gives us the gift of long-term planning.” Conservative projections suggest that sea level could rise by .3 meters by 2100, but with acceleration, some scientists believe that number will be closer to 1 meter. “Areas of Miami Beach could experience constant flooding,” says Price. “The Everglades and mangroves may not be able to keep up. Mangroves are very important to South Florida, and their loss would likely mean more land erosion. “We could see large portions of the Everglades taken over by the ocean. Areas that are freshwater today could become saltwater by 2100.” As cities, including Miami, continue to plan for long-term solutions to sea level rise, Price says she was surprised to discover that in the span of 20 years, scientists would be in a position to predict the long-term situation for Miami and other coastal areas across the planet. Scientists should continue to crunch the numbers every decade, says Price, creating more certainty in long-term planning–and helping develop solutions for a changing planet.  
04/18/2014 - 09:00
Climate change is making the news for a number of reasons, including Showtime’s new series called "Years of Living Dangerously." The rise in greenhouse gas emissions is responsible for climate change, and the majority of scientists agree that most of the increase is caused by human activity. That said, there is a bit of good news when it comes to U.S. GHG emissions. The Los Angeles Times reports that greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. decreased by 3.4 percent from 2011 to 2012. The report is based on the EPA's recently released inventory, which cites "multiple factors" for the decrease in emissions — including reduced emissions from electricity generation, fuel efficiency in vehicles, a decrease in the price of natural gas and reductions in miles traveled.