Breaking Waves: Ocean News

08/28/2015 - 11:16
Each year, the award for the top winning teams at the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) Finals Competition is an experiential trip that provides these teams with unique, hands-on field and laboratory experiences in the marine sciences. The trips expose students to science professionals and career opportunities, while enriching their understanding and stewardship of the ocean. These trips were made possible through funding from the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society. The 2015 NOSB national champions from Boise High School (Idaho) were awarded a weeklong trip to southeast Alaska. The trip started in Juneau, AK where the team kicked off the week with tide pooling (a theme for the trip!) on Douglas Island. The students spent the next three days in Juneau visiting the NOAA Auke Bay Lab, touring the DIPAC hatchery and the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. The team boarded NOAA’s R/V Sashin to conduct a humpback whale survey. While aboard, they also collected plankton samples and spotted some seals and sea lions. They learned hands-on about the bioenergetics research at Auke Bay and the salmon research at the Auke Creek weir. Next, they learned about Juneau Ice Field ecology and research and got a bird’s eye view by helicopter ride to Mendenhall Glacier. The Juneau portion of the trip rounded out with hook and line sampling for pink salmon alongside Auke Bay researchers. The team then headed off to Sitka, where they toured the Sitka Sound Science Center and learned of the aquarium outreach and hatchery research they do. While in Sitka, they also visited the University of Alaska Southeast campus and went snorkeling (in wetsuits, of course!) in the Sitka Sound. The trip wrapped up with more tide pooling and hiking amongst Alaska native totem poles. The team from Dexter High School (Michigan) placed second and received a five-day trip to the coast of Texas. In Corpus Christi, the team was provided a behind the scenes tour of the Texas State Aquarium, a meeting with staff of the Port of Corpus Christi and a tour of the USS Lexington. The students spent an entire day with the staff and researchers at the HARTE Research Institute, exploring the labs and learning about marine genomics, fisheries and benthic sampling research. The University of Texas Austin Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas treated the team to a boat ride with a morning of snorkeling in grass beds in the bay. Their last day was a relaxing one, spent at Padre Island National Seashore where they spent the majority of the morning and afternoon enjoying the water. Congratulations to both teams on their NOSB Finals accomplishment this year.
08/28/2015 - 10:51
Newcastle is the seventh council in Australia to announce it will shun fossil fuels, reports the Sydney Morning Herald Newcastle city council in Australia has voted to exit holdings in the big four banks if they continue to fund fossil fuel projects. About 80% of the Australian city of Newcastle council’s $270m investment portfolio is held in the big four banks, mostly through term deposits. Those investments are spread evenly across the big four. But after the council passed a motion on Tuesday, six votes to five, it will dump holdings in the banks for more “environmentally and socially responsible” institutions when deposits come up for renewal. Continue reading...
08/28/2015 - 10:50
This week, I have an important announcement about the transition in the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI).  Mike Kelly, the current Vice President & Director of OOI, will be joining the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute as the Director of Marine Operations. Although we are very sorry to see Mike head west, we are excited about the exceptionally qualified individual who will replace Mike as the new OOI Vice President & Director.  James Kelly (“Jim”) – no relation to Mike – will join Ocean Leadership in mid-September.  Jim currently serves as a Program Manager for Oceaneering International.  Jim has a strong background with management of large projects and government procurements, both as a civil servant and within industry.  He has technical expertise specific to OOI from his work within the Department of Defense (DoD).  With his current position at Oceaneering International, he manages a wide variety of DoD programs, including numerous Office of Naval Research (ONR) Seabasing programs and NAVSEA Submarine Rescue initiatives.  Prior to his current position, Jim was a Cable Ship Operations Program Manager in the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.  He is a retired U.S. Naval Reserve Officer and holds an M.B.A. and a B.S. in Marine Transportation. We also welcome Eric Buch to Ocean Leadership as the new OOI Operations & Maintenance Manager.  Eric joins us at the critical stage of transitioning from construction to O&M.  OOI has completed the marine construction deployments, and are in the process of completing the cyberinfrastructure build by October. Eric is a retired US Navy Commander, with experience developing and operating complex systems for meteorology, oceanography and intelligence.  He has served tours afloat with a carrier battle group, as well as shore-based overseas deployments.  Eric graduated from the US Naval Academy and holds Masters degrees in Meteorology & Physical Oceanography, as well as National Security and Strategic Studies. We are pleased that Mike and Jim will overlap their time here at Ocean Leadership, creating a seamless transition during this time of change.  Please join me in thanking Mike for all of his hard work and dedication to the OOI and welcoming Jim during this exciting period of the program.  I am looking forward to this new OOI phase, as the OOI vision truly becomes a working wired reality, creating real-time, science-driven ocean observations.  For an OOI construction and data status update, click here. Have a wonderful weekend and take time to enjoy the remainder of summer.  Sherri
08/28/2015 - 10:38
(Click to enlarge) A 2012 satellite image shows a dust storm blowing over the Sea of Japan out to the North Pacific. (Credit: NASA) Each spring, powerful dust storms in the deserts of Mongolia and northern China send thick clouds of particles into the atmosphere. Eastward winds sweep these particles as far as the Pacific, where dust ultimately settles in the open ocean. This desert dust contains, among other minerals, iron — an essential nutrient for hundreds of species of phytoplankton that make up the ocean’s food base. (From ScienceDaily) — Now scientists at MIT, Columbia University, and Florida State University have determined that once iron is deposited in the ocean, it has a very short residence time, spending only six months in surface waters before sinking into the deep ocean. This high turnover of iron signals that large seasonal changes in desert dust may have dramatic effects on surface phytoplankton that depend on iron. “If there are changes to the sizes of deserts in Asia, or changes in the way people are using land, there could be a larger source of dust to the ocean,” says Chris Hayes, a postdoc in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS). “It’s difficult to predict how the whole ecosystem will change, but because the residence time [of iron] is very short, year-to-year changes in dust will definitely have an impact on phytoplankton.” The team’s results are published in the journal Geochemica et Cosmochimica Acta. Co-authors include Ed Boyle, a professor of ocean geochemistry at MIT; David McGee, the Kerr-McGee Career Development Assistant Professor in EAPS; and former postdoc Jessica Fitzsimmons. Certain species of phytoplankton, such as cyanobacteria, require iron as a main nutrient to fuel nitrogen fixation and other growth-related processes. Hayes estimates that up to 40 percent of the ocean contains phytoplankton species whose growth is limited by the amount of iron available. As desert dust is one of the only sources of oceanic iron, Hayes wanted to see to what extent changing levels of dust would have an effect on iron concentrations in seawater: Does iron stick around in surface waters for long periods, thereby making phytoplankton less sensitive to changes in incoming dust? Or does the mineral make a short appearance before sinking to inaccessible depths, making phytoplankton depend much more on seasonal dust? To get answers, Hayes and his colleagues traveled to Hawaii to collect ocean samples at a station called ALOHA, the site of a long-term oceanography program conducted by the University of Hawaii. In September 2013, the team took a half-day cruise into open ocean, and then spent two weeks collecting samples of ocean water at varying depths. The researchers acidified the samples and transported them back to the lab at MIT, where they analyzed the water for both iron and thorium — a chemical element that is found in dust alongside iron. As it’s difficult to determine the rate at which iron sinks from the ocean’s surface to deep waters, Hayes reasoned that thorium might be a reasonable proxy. Read the full article here:
08/28/2015 - 10:21
Damp basements, cracked walls and wallpapers dotted with mould patches – life in the town built on marshland is getting sticky, reports De Standaard With street names such as Gijzelaarsweg (Hostage Way), Politiek Gevangenenlaan (Political Prisoners’ Avenue) and Helden Plein (Heroes’ Square), the Ghent suburb of Malem is a place of highs and lows. Especially a place of lows. Malem is one of the lowest-lying areas of the province: a marshy area west of Ghent, picturesque, but inexorably embraced by the Leie (or Lys) river. It’s an embrace that increasingly resembles a stranglehold and, despite the strong foundations of the social housing built in 1952, the water climbs up into the houses. The basements are damp, walls cracked and mould patches dot the wallpaper. Renovation in 2008 has been of little help. Continue reading...
08/28/2015 - 10:09
Bugs are a greener alternative source of protein, but US consumers are still grossed out by eating crickets. Will companies be able to make insect farming viable? Chapul, Exo and Jungle – three protein bars making their way to supermarket shelves – have one thing in common: crickets. All three include cricket flour, which is touted by their manufacturers as an environmentally friendly alternative to milk or soy protein. Continue reading...
08/28/2015 - 10:09
CP Foods condemns, in the strongest possible terms, all aspects of human trafficking and slavery, and we take this opportunity to reassert our strong commitment to human rights and a sustainable supply chain. In light of a recent lawsuit filed in California (Costco and CP Foods face lawsuit over alleged slavery in prawn supply chain, 19 August ), CP Foods would like to provide further detail on the actions we have been taking to ensure traceability and humane and sustainable practices throughout our shrimp (prawn) supply chain. Continue reading...
08/28/2015 - 10:08
Third region in England gets a go-ahead despite protests and controversial results of pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset The government will extend the badger cull to Dorset as part of a drive to limit tuberculosis in cattle, it was announced on Friday. The announcement follows controversial pilots in Gloucestershire and Somerset running over the past two years, with Natural England issuing licences to companies that permit six weeks of continuous culling in the three areas until January. George Eustice, minister of state for farming, said: “England has the highest incidence of [bovine] TB in Europe and that is why we are taking strong action to deliver our 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease and protect the future of our dairy and beef industries. Continue reading...
08/28/2015 - 09:37
Thai vets conduct health checks on 14 orangutans before their repatriation to Indonesia. Most of the animals have been confiscated from the entertainment business in Phuket; others were recovered from smugglers. The orangutans are being examined to ensure they are free of diseases and are expected to return to Indonesia in September Continue reading...
08/28/2015 - 09:30
(Click to enlarge) Tourists make their way across Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge on the Causeway coast, north of Belfast April 8, 2015. (Credit: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters) Sea levels worldwide rose an average of nearly 3 inches (8 cm) since 1992, the result of warming waters and melting ice, a panel of NASA scientists said on Wednesday. (From Reuters / by Irene Klotz) — In 2013, a United Nations panel predicted sea levels would rise from 1 to 3 feet (0.3 to 0.9 meters) by the end of the century. The new research shows that sea level rise most likely will be at the high end of that range, said University of Colorado geophysicist Steve Nerem. Sea levels are rising faster than they did 50 years ago and “it’s very likely to get worse in the future,” Nerem said. The changes are not uniform. Some areas showed sea levels rising more than 9 inches (25 cm) and other regions, such as along the U.S. West Coast, actually falling, according to an analysis of 23 years of satellite data. Scientists believe ocean currents and natural cycles are temporarily offsetting a sea level rise in the Pacific and the U.S. West Coast could see a significant hike in sea levels in the next 20 years. “People need to understand that the planet is not only changing, it’s changed,” NASA scientist Tom Wagner told reporters on a conference call. “If you’re going to put in major infrastructure like a water treatment plant or a power plant in a coastal zone … we have data you can now use to estimate what the impacts are going to be in the next 100 years,” Wagner said. Low-lying regions, such as Florida, are especially vulnerable, added Michael Freilich, director of NASA’s Earth Science Division. ”Even today, normal spring high tides cause street flooding in sections of Miami, something that didn’t happen regularly just a few decades ago,” Feilich said. More than 150 million people, mostly in Asia, live within 3 feet (1 meter) of the sea, he added. The biggest uncertainty in forecasting sea level rise is determining how quickly the polar ice sheets will melt in response to warming temperatures. Read the full article here: