Deceptive December
Friday, November 30, 2012
By Daniel de la Calle

December in the Southern Hemisphere equals summer heat and the end of the school year, but thanks to the winds from the north we still get snowflake and icicle lighting on the streets of Rio de Janeiro and the ever-present image of that famous obese man promising presents, provokingly overdressed with those boots and red coat.

Let's begin this confusing month with our classic news update on Ocean Acidification and the state of the world's seas:

≈≈≈≈This past Tuesday Governor Chris Gregoire made Washington State the first to adopt a policy to take on Ocean Acidification after signing an executive order underscoring the importance of recommendations from her Blue Ribbon Panel On Ocean Acidification.  The order signed by Gregoire, whose term will end in January, calls on the state to invest more money in scientific research, curb nutrient runoff from land, and push for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions on a regional, national and global scale.
“A healthy ocean is critical to our health and our coastal economies.  We have learned that human caused emissions of carbon dioxide are dramatically altering the ocean’s chemistry at an alarming rate.  These emissions, mostly resulting from burning fossil fuels, are now threatening our ocean ecosystems. Ocean acidification is yet another reason to quickly and significantly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide across the planet,” said Gregoire.
“Let’s get to work,” Gregoire told  audience at the Seattle Aquarium, adding that she would propose that the legislature reallocate $3.3 million in state funding to pay for research and other actions. “Let’s lead the world in addressing this global challenge.”
Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel strategic response on PDF
SOURCE 1
SOURCE 2

Mending the Nets (State Library of Florida)

≈≈≈≈Scientists from NOAA, British Antarctic Survey, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of East Anglia discovered severe dissolution of the shells of living pteropods in the Southern Ocean during a science cruise in 2008.
The team examined an area of upwelling, where winds cause deep cold water to be pushed upwards from around 1,000 meters to the surface of the ocean.  Upwelled water is usually more corrosive to a particular type of calcium carbonate (aragonite) that pteropods use to build their shells.  The point at which this occurs is known as the "saturation horizon".  The team found that the combined influence of ocean acidification and natural upwelling meant that in some areas the saturation horizon was around just 200m - the upper layer of the ocean where pteropods live.
"Co-author and science cruise leader, Dr Geraint Tarling from BAS, said: “Although the upwelling sites are natural phenomena that occur throughout the Southern Ocean, instances where they bring the ‘saturation horizon’ above 200m will become more frequent as ocean acidification intensifies in the coming years. As one of only a few oceanic creatures that build their shells out of aragonite in the polar regions, pteropods are an important food source for fish and birds as well as a good indicator of ecosystem health. The tiny snails do not necessarily die as a result of their shells dissolving, however it may increase their vulnerability to predation and infection consequently having an impact to other parts of the food web.”"
The results of the study are published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
SOURCE 1
SOURCE 2

≈≈≈≈Interested in carrying out your own Ocean Acidification lab research and experiments?  The University of Washington offers hourly usage of their Ocean Acidification Environmental Laboratory.  There is even a self-service option available to those experienced with carbonate chemistry measurements.  Contact the OAEL Manager, Dr. Michael O'Donnell for guidance on fee structure and the application process.
MORE INFO

≈≈≈≈Digging around I found this 16 minute piece of Brad Warren speaking about Ocean Acidification at the 2012 NW Straits Marine Resource Committee Annual Meeting, held in Port Townsend, Washington.

SOURCE

≈≈≈≈Serge Dedina has put up a list at the Coronado Patch with what he sees as "the top coastal issues we need to address in 2013 and beyond".  The list includes climate change, Ocean Acidification, coastal restoration, sand replenishment, marine protected areas and coastal pollution. Read the article HERE

≈≈≈≈The Smithsonian Magazine recently published the results of new research done by Georgia Institute of Technology revealing how corals send out chemical signals to recruit the help of goby fish in removing toxic seaweed.  If turtle weed, a toxic seaweed that causes bleaching, gets tangled up on coral branches "the researchers worked out how the coral contacts the gobies to let them know that they need their hedges trimmed. Once the coral gets hit with chemicals from the invading turtle weed, it releases its own chemical signal—an emergency call to gobies—within 15 minutes. And, within another 15 minutes or less, gobies receive the message and swoop in to nibble away at the encroaching foliage."
"It’s also possible that such subtle chemical signals could be disrupted by ocean acidification. Clownfish and damselfish raised in seawater with the acidity scientists predict we’ll see in the year 2050 have trouble identifying scents in seawater to find their homes or avoid predators. If these gobies have similar problems, the impacts of acidification on reef communities could be greater than expected."
READ MORE of this interesting article talking about the importance of biodiversity.

≈≈≈≈Short CBS8 video on Ocean Acidification and a lecture series that took place last month at Birch Aquarium in San Diego, California. San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com
SOURCE

≈≈≈≈Scientists from the University of Rhode Island are using a 264,000-gallon salt water tank at the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory to simulate the surface of the Arctic Ocean.  They hope to understand how diminishing ice coverage will affect the concentrations of atmospheric gases.  You can read more about their work in THIS Wired Magazine article by Jeffrey Marlow and/or watch the time-lapse video of an ice-coverage experiment:


≈≈≈≈Postdoctoral Fellowships:  The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center offers postdoctoral fellowships for applicants interested on either of two projects:
"1)Effects of diel-cycling hypoxia and pH on estuarine fish, shellfish and food webs. This project is based in Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Coastal Bays and includes laboratory experiments, field studies and modeling components. We’ve developed a laboratory system that is capable of simulating daily cycles of dissolved oxygen and pH in up to 5 simultaneous treatments. Strong collaborations with management agencies facilitate field experiments and sampling.
2)Mangrove ponds as a model system to study acidification. This work takes advantage of the Smithsonian’s network of field stations in Belize and Panama and could be expanded to FL as well.
"
Fellowship information can be found at http://www.serc.si.edu/pro_training/fellowships/postdoc.aspx. The deadline is January 15.

≈≈≈≈The folks at Infographicsmania have created a cool graphic about oceans carbon pollution that can be downloaded or shared HERE


≈≈≈≈The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) signed a letter of intent to expand the range of their joint research projects on November 13th. Possible future cooperation will likely include research on Ocean Acidification and deep sea exploration.
SOURCE

≈≈≈≈Check out the WORLD CLOCK for the year 2012 to see in real time population increases across various regions and worldwide, what the major causes of death and illness are, our global food production and consumption, CO2 emissions, deforestation, extinction of species or energy consumption (to name but a few).

Screenshot of the World Clock

≈≈≈≈International Conference on Arctic Ocean Acidification to be held in Bergen, Norway, 6-8 May 2013.
"The Conference will present the results of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) assessment on Arctic Ocean Acidification, lead by Richard Bellerby, Howard Browman and Lars-Otto Reiersen.
Conference Organisers are AMAP, Institute for Marine Research (IMR), Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), and University of British Columbia (UBC).
"
PDF with more information.
SOURCE
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13 News for the 31st
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
By Daniel de la Calle

Three years ago you really needed to scrape at the bottom of the barrel to come up with news on the web about Ocean Acidification.  Today I am "only" posting 13 items and have to leave at least 10 more out:
≈≈≈≈64% of the waters existing outside national jurisdiction, the "high seas", are yours.  And mine. As John Platt rightly writes in a recent Mother Nature Network article, "according to the United National Law of the Sea Convention, these unregulated bodies of water — and the fish and minerals they contain — belong to all of mankind and should be used to serve the common good."
The new TerraMar Project wants to protect those high seas.  If you visit their site you can claim a parcel of the ocean, take a virtual dive with Google, friend a marine species or find interesting educational projects. Although the main purpose of the website is to celebrate the oceans, the website does address the various threats to life inside those waters, from plastic pollution to illegal dumping, from overfishing and whaling to Ocean Acidification.
VISIT THEIR WEBSITE and BECOME A CITIZEN
SOURCE

≈≈≈≈Sweden wants trash and wants it badly.  The Scandinavian nation is facing an unusual problem since their waste-to-energy program began running out of source material.  20% of Sweden's district heating comes from garbage incinerators, but they are not producing enough waste to feed it on their own, so 800,000 tons of trash are being imported every year from neighboring European countries (mainly for those new rich, the Norwegians) to power plants.  That is how Norway has ended paying Sweden to take their trash and then receives the residue polluted ashes, filled with heavy metals, back to bury in home soil.
You can read or listen to the original PRI information HERE.

≈≈≈≈A CBS news piece about Ocean Acidification and oyster farming in Washington State.


≈≈≈≈The Smithsonian announced this week the launching of a $10 million project to study coastal marine biodiversity and ecosystems around the world over a long period of time.
"The Tennenbaum Marine Observatories will be the first worldwide network of coastal ecological field sites, standardizing measurements of biological change. By studying sites with Smithsonian experts in biology, ecology and anthropology, and using technologies like DNA sequencing, the project will provide an unprecedented understanding of how marine biodiversity is affected by local human activities and global change, such as ocean warming, acidification and rising sea levels."
"The project will have five field sites: the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md., on the Chesapeake Bay, the Institution’s marine station at Fort Pierce, Fla., Carrie Bow Cay in Belize and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s two locations in Panama—Bocas Del Toro on the Caribbean and Naos station on the Pacific. As the project grows, the Smithsonian will establish additional research sites with collaborators around the globe to monitor coastal ocean health, with the goal of at least 10 new sites within the next decade."

SOURCE at ARTDAILY.ORG

≈≈≈≈Mussels could lose their anchor with Ocean Acidification: FHL's Emily Carrington's lab presented a study at the Third International Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World last month that showed how the silky threats (byssus fibers) glueing mussels to one another and to rocks become significantly weaker in water with a pH lower than 7.6.  Water temperature seems to also be a major factor, "with threads about 60 percent weaker in 77 degree Fahrenheit water than in cooler 65 degree water. READ MORE about mussels’ sticky substance and why researchers think it can offer important insights for developing new adhesives."
Nice NPR audio piece on byssal threats HERE.

PHOTO CREDIT: EMILY CARRINGTON FOR INSIDESCIENCE.ORG
SOURCE

≈≈≈≈Interdisciplinary symposium on Ocean Acidification in Hong Kong from 11-14th of December, 2012.
SYMPOSIUM SCHEDULE
Tuesday (Dec. 11th 2012)
 Opening ceremony and mixing party (starts at 4.30 pm)
Wednesday (Dec. 12th 2012) 
Climate change: coastal warming, acidification and hypoxia
Coastal aquaculture and fisheries in a changing climate
Coastal climate change: a physiological perspective
Larval life in the changing coastal oceans
Thursday (Dec. 13th 2012) 
Biomineralization: a materials engineering perspective
“OMICS”: a powerful tool in modern ecology research
The forum for collaborative coastal acidification research
Symposium Banquet
Friday (Dec. 14th 2012) 
Graduate students perspectives on multidisciplinary OA research
How to write and publish brilliant research papers—tips from experts
More information and registration HERE

≈≈≈≈Interesting Op-Ed piece on the NY Times a couple weeks ago about "How to Catch Fish and Save Fisheries".  Environmental ministers from numerous countries met last week to, for a second time, try to reach an agreement that protects 10% of the world's oceans.  As Carl Safina and Brett Jenks point out, the situation around the world is dire, but there is still hope because we have not reached a point of no return yet. The biggest challenge, but also a big portion of the solution is in the hands of small-scale fisheries and the expansion of TURF (Territorial User Rights Fisheries) reserves.
THE PIECE

PHOTO: STATE LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES OF FLORIDA

≈≈≈≈To study and be able to predict the effects of Ocean Acidification on commercial fisheries NOAA announced last September grants for a total $1.6 million over the next three years for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, The State University of New York at Stony Brook and the University of Washington.
Read more details on the NOAA site

≈≈≈≈The University of Southern Mississippi and Liquid Robotics are carrying out an Ocean Acidification study in the Gulf of Mexico.  Physical oceanographer Dr. Stephan Howden, of the University of Southern Mississippi is using the Liquid Robotics Wave Glider to measure CO2 and dissolved oxygen levels, pH, water temperature, conductivity, air temperature, barometric pressure and wind speed and direction on a route around the Mississippi River Delta.  Data is being reported in near-real time and is available on the GCOOS Data Portal so you, from your home, can follow its course and see the results right now. Just a click away.

≈≈≈≈In early October "National Science Foundation’s research team successfully retrieved data from a sensor (SeaFET) they had deployed in Antarctic waters at the end of previous research season. It will provide critical baseline data on the changes in chemistry or acidification in those remote seas and will also be first of its kind about the relative acidity–expressed as pH–of the waters in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica."
"Deployed by divers under the sea ice and left in place at the end of the 2011-2012 Antarctic research season, the sensor gathered data through the month of June, which is the height of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Data gathering ended when the instrument’s battery failed in the frigid waters. Having a pH baseline will provide an important benchmark for scientists to begin to test whether certain species have the physiological and genetic characteristics to adapt to projected change."

SOURCE at BEFOREITSNEWS.COM

PHOTO CREDIT: NSF/UCSD

≈≈≈≈Two scientists at Western Washington University's Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes have received a $543,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the impacts of Ocean Acidification on organisms that form the base of the oceanic food web. The "new project will examine how the production and storage of fats in phytoplankton exposed to acidic conditions affect the reproduction of one of its principal predators, the copepod. Copepods are an important component in the oceanic food web, since they are fed upon by finfish, shellfish larvae and other marine animals such as herring, Dungeoness crab, and filter feeders such as baleen whales and whale sharks. Copepods are prevalent both locally in the Salish Sea and in global oceans."
SOURCE

≈≈≈≈It's not for everyone, that's true, but if you wished to listen to a part or the whole five and a half hour "webinar of the seventh and final meeting of the Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification" you will be overjoyed to find it HERE.

≈≈≈≈"A postdoctoral position is available in the Geology and Geophysics Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution starting in February 2013. The position is part of an NSF-funded project to determine the compounded impacts of ocean acidification, warming, and oxygen depletion on the health, survival and growth of benthic foraminifera. The successful candidate will work with the PI to set up the experimental system, conduct a long-term experiment, process samples, analyze data, and write a manuscript(s). The material to be studied will be bathyal foraminifera to be collected on a research cruise in May or June 2013; the successful applicant will join this approximately one-week cruise."
APPLY (Postdoctoral Investigator Ocean Acidification, job 12-10-04
SOURCE
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The Crossing Of The Andes
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
By Daniel de la Calle

You can fool and distract yourself in the days leading to a trip, go through the motions of packing, closing doors and taking cabs in hypnotic discipline, behave in such a drowsy way during the flight that the experience nears teletransportation, but when the captain's voice comes in the speaker commanding everyone to buckle up in preparation for crossing the Andes you immediately wake up with the strength of a pound of caffeine and Chile surfaces in your mind, solid and unequivocal.
I had never buckled up to go over mountains.  But then again, these were the Andes, daisy chaining in time everything from the Incas to "Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors"and encompassing in space over 7,000 kilometers of mountains, high plateaus and volcanoes; the true backbone of the South American continent.  Sure, the Himalayas are the Himalayas, with all the 7000 and 8000 meter summits in the world, but when it comes to names nothing resonates higher or sounds steeper than the Andes.
The Chile I saw and walked on below was at times not what I expected.  Downtown Santiago could be in Madrid or even Paris and Southern Chile is at times a slightly poorer and much wilder mirror image of Germany and Switzerland.  City streets nationwide are taken by literally thousands of stray dogs.  They are so many and so large only after some time you come to accept none of them lives in a home.  Maybe as consequence, there are very few dog owners. Any city street corner in Chile
But reaching closer to our documentary and its subject, when looking at a map one would think that Chile and Chileans face the Pacific Ocean for over 4,500 kilometers of straight coastline, but the truth is that the country has its back to it and what they face are the wine valleys, fruit farms and mineral-rich soil before and into the striking Andean peaks.  Sure, you will find in its waters some of the best fishing grounds in the world, and they are the second producers of salmon worldwide, but culturally, historically, gastronomically and economically the Pacific is mostly ignored and taken as a frontier.  After arriving in Puerto Montt for our three scheduled screenings at the Diego Rivera theater I walked into a 30 aisle supermarket and found a plethora of kuchen and wurst, many of the smells from my Bavarian grandmother's kitchen, Argentinian veal steaks (some fed with Chilean fish meal!), but no fish section at all.  Nothing, not even salmon.  Ten steps away from waters filled with barnacles the size of your fist, "shoe mussels" (deservedly called so by locals) and fish farms that export worldwide, buying any of it fresh was not an option.
The two school screenings went very well, drawing kids from towns within a two hour radius.  Some had to even cross lakes on ferry boats to get to the theater those two mornings.  The students from a Puerto Varas school, a beautiful town sitting at the foot of lake Llanquihue, had been doing these past few months some lab experiments on Ocean Acidification, so they were the most knowledgeable and interested (measured by the number of questions raised at least) of all.  These events with students are not just about the specific problem of acidification, they are about nature, preservation, the environment, the threats to life and about having that become part of the school curriculum.  Living in such beautiful, almost unspoiled surroundings I felt I had to explain that in fact most of the world does not look that way and is not in such condition, that no matter how accustomed they might be they should not take any of it for granted. They are very fortunate to wake up every morning with wilderness at the doorstep, surrounded by clean water, fertile land, and glacier mountains tops. Idyllic, and it is very good to hear a foreigner praise and envy it.The youngest kids walking into the Diego Rivera Theater
The evening screening for adults usually shows where there is friction in the region, the cracks on the wall that go unnoticed to the mere visitor, so I am very lucky because this way of traveling puts me in a very privileged position. In the case of Puerto Montt the not so sunny side was primarily the environmental damage caused by the salmon industry.  There is a long, repeated history of pollution and abuse by salmon farms in the area, and also much resentment because the economic benefits have not stayed in the area either.  And the fishing fleet had not done things any better.  It seems to have historically been in the hands of Spanish and Japanese companies with little scruples and immense greed (those two, always going hand in hand).  Since I am a Spaniard, a local fisherman and a young historian both spoke about the atrocities my ancestors had done since the XVI Century and about the ones my fellow countrymen are still doing, obliterating the ocean bottoms, trawler fishing the waters empty.  It is hard to know what to say in these cases, when one becomes a forced representative of his country of origin or of the first world in general and I am told I have no right to defend preservation, to deprive their country's economy of developing and preach the opposite of what my nation has done and still does. No matter how much I despise flag waving and tribal chest pounding, it is not hard to also see how it can itch to have an "outsider" deliver certain messages, so my hope, I guess, is that soon the young audience from the morning screenings will be the one speaking and demanding changes everywhere.  Also in beautiful Southern Chile. View from Puerto Varas of Lake Llanquihue and the Osorno Volcano
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End Of April News
Friday, April 27, 2012
By Daniel de la Calle

»The Center for Biological Diversity has launched a new Endangered Oceans campaign in the US to save our sea life from the "unprecedented threat" of Ocean Acidification.  The website is WWW.ENDANGEREDOCEANS.ORG and they want to call on "the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to produce a national action plan to tackle ocean acidification".  You can sign their petition HERE and you can learn how some species are already being harmed by Ocean Acidification and how others will soon follow suit HERE.

»Australia's "Foreign Minister Bob Carr has announced the government will provide $1 million to a participation fund to help small island developing states participate in the Rio+20 conference in June.
The conference will include debate on how to sustainably manage the world's oceans.
"Small island developing states live most directly with the disastrous reality of climate change," Senator Carr said on Thursday.  "Now they are facing an additional threat from ocean acidification."  Senator Carr said it was crucial that the nations with so much at stake should be able to have their voices heard.  "Declining ocean water quality is already killing fish, other marine species and marine vegetation," he said."
SOURCE

»North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher video about the effects that carbon dioxide emissions have on sea invertebrates.


»"Researchers at  Seattle and Oregon State University have definitively linked an increase in ocean acidification to the collapse of oyster seed production at a commercial oyster hatchery in Oregon, where larval growth had declined to a level considered by the owners to be "non-economically viable."
A study by the researchers found that elevated seawater carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, resulting in more corrosive ocean water, inhibited the larval oysters from developing their shells and growing at a pace that would make commercial production cost-effective. As atmospheric CO2 levels continue to rise, this may serve as the proverbial canary in the coal mine for other ocean acidification impacts on shellfish, the scientists say."
Results of the research were published in early April in the journal Limnology and Oceanography.
SOURCE

»NBC News piece on the danger of extinction for 56 coral species from water warming and Ocean Acidification:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

SOURCE

»German scientists Kai T. Lohbeck, Ulf Riebesell and Thorsten B. H. Reusch have published on Nature.com a an article about the "Adaptative evolution of a key phytoplankton species to Ocean Acidification".  The researchers examined the ability of the world's single most important calcifying organism, the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi, to evolve in response to Ocean Acidification.  They say: "Specifically, we exposed E. huxleyi populations founded by single or multiple clones to increased concentrations of CO2. Around 500 asexual generations later we assessed their fitness. Compared with populations kept at ambient CO2 partial pressure, those selected at increased partial pressure exhibited higher growth rates, in both the single- and multiclone experiment, when tested under ocean acidification conditions. Calcification was partly restored: rates were lower under increased CO2 conditions in all cultures, but were up to 50% higher in adapted compared with non-adapted cultures. We suggest that contemporary evolution could help to maintain the functionality of microbial processes at the base of marine food webs in the face of global change."
Read more about it on the SOURCE page.
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Protection
Monday, March 19, 2012
By Daniel de la Calle

»Could the protection of marine areas be counterproductive? That is what Professor Ray Hilborn, from the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences, believes. Professor Hilborn stated in late February during an interview for an Australian radio station.  You can read the transcript HERE and listen to the interview HERE.
While some of his arguments are somewhat interesting I could not agree less with them.  Protecting land, lakes, rivers and seas is always a good idea and has proven to be visibly effective: beneficial. To claim that this will increase fish and seafood demand from parts of the world (China, Thailand or Brazil) where fishing and farming is not properly done just means some measures need to be taken about food imports.  The rest is demagogic.  The US, Australia or the EU could easily ban such imports, take measures, work with producing countries on production and quality control, impose sanctions.  To affirm that marine reserves do nothing other than appease people's consciences and deviate us from global problems like Ocean Acidification is first of all not true.  Since when is a good policy the one responsible for bad practices in other areas?  We could perfectly well be protecting marine areas while we finally began taking worldwide factual measures.  I simply cannot see how setting up good examples and leaving some parts of the world in peace from the stress we cause upon them is in any way detrimental.  Let's move the discussion to terra firma: would Professor Hilborn suggest to act in the same fashion in his country's National Parks? Should hunting and controlled farming be allowed in Yosemite and Yellowstone?  I think the problem for the nth time is that we persist in looking at the seas of the world with different eyes from the way we see land, that is why we continue using them as "magical" dumps and we are depleting them in the style hungry teenagers go through their parent's fridges some Saturday nights.

»The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service this week "for failing to develop a recovery plan for two species of coral, elkhorn and staghorn, that live off the coast of Florida and the Caribbean.  Although these corals have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 2006, the Fisheries Service still has not yet developed a crucial, and legally required, recovery plan to avoid extinction and secure their future survival."
Both elkhorn and staghorn corals were in fact the first species to be protected under the Endangered Species Act back in 2006 due to the threat of global warming and Ocean Acidification.  In a few decades they have declined by more than 95%. Photo: Elkhorn and Staghorn corals
SOURCE

»Mobile marine reserves as means for protection in the future.  This is the proposal conservationists brought forth at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, Canada.  How would this work out?  The mobile marine reserves would use GPS tracking devices to follow endangered marine animals such as sharks, leatherback turtles or albatross and the areas with the highest populations would be temporarily closed down to trawlers and industrial fishermen.  As Professor Larry Crowder of Stanford University expressed at that meeting, "Less than 1% of the ocean is protected at this point, and these marine parks tend to be built around things that sit still like coral reefs and seamounts. But tracking studies show that many, many organisms - fish, marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds and sharks - respond to oceanographic features that don't have a fixed point. These features are fronts and eddies that may move seasonally, from summer to winter, and from year to year based on oceanographic climate changes like El Nino or the Pacific Decadal Oscillation."
The idea is no doubt interesting; whether it is realistic or not depends more on national and international regulation, since the technology is already available.
SOURCE

»The Atlantic Ocean Alliance has launched a campaign to protect Antarctica's ocean through the world's largest network of marine reserves.  The Antarctic Ocean contains waters from the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and for this reason some scientists do not consider it a separate ocean.  Although this part of the world is largely untouched and unexplored it faces several environmental problems derived from climate change, overfishing, ultraviolet radiation and Ocean Acidification.  The area the Atlantic Ocean Alliance wants to conserve is the Ross Sea.  The protection network would cover roughly 3.6 million square kilometers between Antarctica and New Zealand.  It is seen "as a first step towards establishing a comprehensive network of marine reserves and MPAs around Antarctica.” The proposal was presented to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a body made up of representatives from 24 nations and the European Union that is precisely focusing on protecting marine areas in the Antarctic this year.
To read more you can download their PROPOSAL HERE and sign their PETITION HERE
This is their video:
SOURCE

»PROTECTION: Massive Attack/Everything But The Girl

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President Obama And The Giant Pteropods
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

By Daniel de la Calle

 

A couple news for the first half of the week:

»US President Barak Obama's weekly address this past Saturday was a remarkable attempt at pushing for a more environmental and alternative energy agenda while making it sound like the opposite.  Speaking from a jet-engine factory Mr. Obama seemed to be talking about aircraft manufacture on American soil, about national oil production being at an 8-year high and about the opening of millions of acres for oil drilling, but all that wrapping was the necessary "spoonful of sugar" to once again try to make the renewable, clean and efficient energy "medicine" go down the reluctant American public.  It is worth watching everywhere, here in Europe as well; we are talking about the place where 20% of the world's oil gets burned:


»Sculptor Cornelia Kubler Kavanagh recently created "The Pteropod Project: Charismatic Microfauna", a series of 12 sculptures enlarged over 3,000 times of our friend and co-protagonist in A Sea Change, the "winged foot" pteropod.  To make it come to life she collaborated with Dr. Gareth Lawson, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Read an essay by Ms. Kubler on The Pteropod Project HERE

If you live in NYC you will also have the chance to see the exhibit at the Blue Mountain Gallery May 22 - June 16 2012.

© 2011 Cornelia Kubler Kavanagh. All Rights Reserved

 

»A SEA CHANGE screening in Kansas City tonight (Tuesday March 13t) at 7PM, at the Bragg Auditorium (All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church).
DIRECTIONS


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News In Pairs Like Castanets
Monday, February 27, 2012
By Daniel de la Calle

Maybe influenced by the traditional Spanish music I was listening to while writing, here are some news in twos:

Ω   There are two billion tonnes of fish in the oceans, which is about 660 pounds/300 kilograms for each human being on the planet.  Villy Christensen, ecosystem modeller with the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science said the problem is that half of that biomass is made of smaller fish living in the mesopelagic zone (extending in the oceans to a depth of 1,000 meters) that are not commercially fished.  "Small open-ocean fish, nice for whales to eat", he said.  The last forty years have also seen a decline of roughly 55% in commercially fished species that measure at least three feet.  "There's been a drastic composition change.  This is global, this is for everywhere," affirmed Christensen, calling for more research to better manage fisheries and stocks.
SOURCE

Ω   Also at the AAAS annual meeting and also from the University of Columbia Fisheries Centre, Professor William Cheung presented some predictions generated with computer simulators that accounted for increases in acidification and temperature and decreasing oxygen levels.  "What we find is that if we just look at warming, the animals will shift their distribution, because for fish and for some of the shellfish, they like to live in a certain temperature of the water, and if water gets warmer, they will very likely move to a higher latitude or move north, so that they can find cooler water to live," Cheung said.  "In addition, with less oxygen and with more acidic waters in some regions, that may also reduce their capacity for growth, so overall it may actually reduce the potential catch in some regions of the world."  For example, in the Norwegian Sea, ocean warming by itself may result in a 15 per cent increase in fisheries catch potential. However, accounting for  acidification and de-oxygenation, the increase turns to a decrease of 15 per cent, and the region from a “winner” to a “loser.”
SOURCE
SOURCE 2

Ω   Session number 9 at the XXXII SCAR Open Science Conference, July 16-19 2012, in Portland, Oregon, will be on Ocean Acidification in the Southern Ocean. "Presentations are invited on new Southern Ocean understanding (from observational, experimental and modeling approaches) on the scale of past, present and future ocean acidification; responses of marine organisms and ecosystem structure, functioning and biodiversity; perturbations to biogeochemical cycling and feedbacks to the climate system; and the societal and policy challenges of ocean acidification."
Further information on the conference can be found HERE
SOURCE

Ω   Continuing on the Southern Ocean, an international committee of experts is meeting this month to begin the implementation of a new observing system for its study.  Understanding of the Southern Ocean, a key player in the climate and ecosystem functioning of the planet, has always been hampered by lack of data.  This is why the science community has established the Souther Ocean Observing System (SOOS).  Some of their priorities will be to determine the role of this ocean on the planet's heat and freshwater balance, to establish its overturning circulation and its role in the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet, as well as its contribution to sea-level rise, to foresee the future of Antarctic sea ice, the future and consequences of carbon uptake and the impacts of global change on ecosystems.
SOURCE

Ω   USA President Barack Obama requested a 5% budget increase for the National Science Foundation in the year 2013.  The NSF Director Subra Sursh detailed last February 13 the $7.373 billion budget, "emphasizing that new knowledge resulting from federal investments in science and technology is needed to ensure the nation's future prosperity and global competitiveness," as says their website.
Reading down the highlights for 2013 I found:
"$203 million for the Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability portfolio, which includes priority work on clean energy alternatives, sustainable chemical and manufacturing practices, water conservation, ocean acidification, natural disaster prediction and response and understanding the changes occurring in coastal and Arctic ecologies."
SOURCE

Ω   A Montana-based company by the name of Sunburst Sensors just received a $2.5 million contract from the National Science Foundation to provide 110 of their Submersible Autonomous Moored Instruments (SAMI) for a sensor network that over the next three years will be deployed off the coast of North America.  It is all part of the 30-year Ocean Observation Initiative.
The sensors are designed to track pH levels and the amount of dissolved carbon dioxide in water to monitor Ocean Acidification.
SOURCE

Ω   Youtube video titled "Ocean Acidification: Where will all the seashells go?"


Ω   And a second video on Ocean Acidification found on the Vancouver Sun website HERE
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Reconsider Your Shrimp
Thursday, February 23, 2012
By Daniel de la Calle

» Williams College, in Williamstown, Mass. is hosting an Oceans Symposium and next Monday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m., Elizabeth Kolbert, staff writer at The New Yorker, will lead a discussion following a showing of A Sea Change, Imagine a World Without Fish.

» Beautiful new documentary on the oceans is out this year: The Last Reef, Cities Beneath The Sea. Go to their website (www.thelastreef.co.uk) and read how this project, that started out as a 3D "macro movie based in Palau", turned into an alarm call on the biggest threat to coral reefs worldwide: Ocean Acidification.


» Reconsider your shrimp.  A one pound bag of frozen shrimp raised on a typical Asian fish farm produces an astounding one ton of CO2.  At a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science biologist J. Boone Kauffman (Oregon State University) developed the comparison to help the public understand the environmental impact of land use decisions.  "The carbon footprint of the shrimp from this land use is about 10-fold greater than the land use carbon footprint of an equivalent amount of beef produced from a pasture formed from a tropical rainforest."
Mr. Kauffman said 50 to 60 percent of shrimp farms are located in tidal zones in Asian countries, mostly on cleared mangrove forests.  The farms are inefficient, producing just one kilogram of shrimp for 13.4 square meters of mangrove, while the ponds created are abandoned in just three to nine years because disease, soil acidification and contamination destroy them.  After abandonment, the soil takes 35 to 40 years to recover.
LINK to the original article, from Agence France Presse.

» Lecture on Ocean Acidification and the Future of Native Oysters in California Estuaries taking place tomorrow, February 24, at noon at Stanford University. It is sponsored by Hopkins Marine Station. More info HERE.

» And from the other side of the Atlantic, "Analyses of the effects of Ocean Acidification on the larval development of Crassostrea gigas", AKA Pacific oyster on Ms. Patrícia Barros Masters Theses. Info HERE.

» New video filled with European flair on Ocean Acidification, the EPOCA program and the public's awareness on the issue.


» Post Doctoral position at IMR.  The Institute of Marine Research has a 3 year position as postdoctoral researcher on the effects of Ocean Acidification on marine zoooplankton, with special emphasis on krill. The position is located in Bergen, Norway. Find out about qualifications and further details HERE.

» The Second UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme annual science meeting will take place at the University of Exeter from Monday, April 16th to Wednesday, April 18th.  If you are a UKOARP particiant you can register online HERE.  For further reading, click HERE.
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Videos Of Present & Future Inventions
Saturday, February 04, 2012
By Daniel de la Calle

This weekend I wanted to take a look at inventions, some that look like science fiction but are in fact here with us now, other technologies that still need years or decades in development to be functional but that look promising, ingenious, and cheap simple ideas that are changing the lives of people around the world right now.
Our grandparents were forced to be thrifty, to recycle out of scarcity and high costs.  During the last hundred and some years we had the tremendous luck of living during the age of oil, industrial production and microchips.  Comfort, luxury and leisure time reached the majority of the population in richer countries and energy and manufacture were cheaper than ever.  But as we start to understand the environmental impact of our modern lifestyle and the finiteness of natural resources modern day inventors, engineers and businesspeople are looking at life, at the world we have created, in a more critical and ingenious way, not taking certain things for granted.  This is so exciting, probably the most hopeful news in these times of not many optimistic prospects.  Like a beginner athlete, the room for improvement is so vast that we should expect huge leaps forward in every area where energy use and product reuse comes into play.
Ok, without further ado, here are some fun videos to lighten up the weekend:

»Spray on solar cell technology could turn every window around the world into a solar panel.  In fact, every painted surface could capture energy, and if the technology was sensitive to infrared light, even overcast days would produce power:

 

»Way further out there: what if all our roadways were a source of energy.

 

»Something a bit less expensive than resurfacing all existing roads with solar panels: The Isang Litrong Liwanag, or "liter of light", or "bottle bulb". Invented by a mechanic in the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Thousands are being installed Philippine roofs and around the globe. So simple and effective: water, a touch of bleach, an empty plastic bottle… and a catchy song.

 

»The Prius, the Volt, now the Nissan Leaf, maybe delivered in the "City of St. Petersburg", the new cargo ship with a semispherical prow that cuts wind resistance and is expected to save 800 tons of fuel consumption per year (I just read that each the largest cargo ships emit the same air pollution as 50 million cars!).

 

»A Danish hotel offers a free meal to any guest that produces 10 watt hours on their electricity generating bicycles. A number of times I went to spinning classes and felt like an extra in some 1920s futuristic film about enslaved societies, sweating buckets in semi darkness, surrounded by maddening music.  The energy there was just turning into heat, but why not tap into it? If nothing else, to make us all more aware of how much you need to perspire to maintain 400 watts of energy with our legs.  At the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers you can earn a $40 meal in roughly 15 minutes because they are very nice and pay top dollar for each little watt, but if you wanted to save those same $40 from your next electricity bill you would find yourself pedaling nonstop for a year.

 

»Continuing with bicycles and for pure absurd weekend fun: a way to expand the use of your power drills at home:


To wrap these two last videos up with some serious information, what Wikipedia says about energy efficiency on one of the greatest inventions of humankind:
"The bicycle is extraordinarily efficient in both biological and mechanical terms. The bicycle is the most efficient human-powered means of transportation in terms of energy a person must expend to travel a given distance. From a mechanical viewpoint, up to 99% of the energy delivered by the rider into the pedals is transmitted to the wheels, although the use of gearing mechanisms may reduce this by 10–15%. In terms of the ratio of cargo weight a bicycle can carry to total weight, it is also an efficient means of cargo transportation.
A human traveling on a bicycle at low to medium speeds of around 10–15 mph (15–25 km/h) uses only the energy required to walk. Air drag, which is proportional to the square of speed, requires dramatically higher power outputs as speeds increase. If the rider is sitting upright, the rider's body creates about 75% of the total drag of the bicycle/rider combination. Drag can be reduced by seating the rider in a more aerodynamically streamlined position. Drag can also be reduced by covering the bicycle with an aerodynamic fairing.
In addition, the carbon dioxide generated in the production and transportation of the food required by the bicyclist, per mile traveled, is less than 1/10 that generated by energy efficient cars.
When the average speed of a US car commute is expanded to include the time required to deal with all associated costs of driving, cycling is 2.7 times faster, assuming an average cycling commute speed of 10 mph (15 km/h), according to calculations done by Ivan Illich in the 1970s."

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A List of Lists
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

By Daniel de la Calle

 

We are still in January, the month of lists and resolutions for the remaining 11 months or the rest of our lives.  Here I list of some of those lists:
The Center for Biological Diversity announced their Top Ten priorities for 2012. Here is the list:
1    Save the Endangered Species Act.
2    Protect more species.
3    Save wolves.
4    Stop Arctic drilling.
5    Expand awareness of overpopulation.
6    Defend polar bears.
7    Fight Climate Change.
8    Stem the tide of Ocean Acidification.
Quoting what they write about Ocean Acidification:
"As oceans absorb carbon dioxide, or CO2, seawater chemistry changes and the water becomes more acidic. According to scientists, the oceans have become about 30 percent more acidic due to human CO2 emissions — and this spells trouble for ocean life. First of all, ocean acidification depletes seawater of the compounds that organisms need to build shells and skeletons, impairing the ability of corals, crabs, seastars, sea urchins, plankton and other marine creatures to build the protective armor they need to survive. To make matters worse, fish and other ocean organisms may be adversely affected from the rise in acidity in their ocean habitat. Fish are common ocean prey, and plankton are at the base of the ocean food chain, so when these animals suffer, so do the countless animals that eat them. Ocean acidification could disrupt the entire marine ecosystem.
Since ocean acidification is one of the gravest threats to marine biodiversity, the Center is tackling it head on, and has launched an initiative to protect our oceans from CO2 pollution. The Clean Water Act is the nation’s strongest law protecting water quality, and we’re using the tools provided by this law to stop pollution causing ocean acidification as well as to improve water-quality standards and monitoring for pH. In 2007, we petitioned eight coastal states to declare ocean waters impaired under the Clean Water Act due to ocean acidification, which would require those states to limit CO2 pollution entering waters under their jurisdiction, helping to reduce the devastating effects of ocean acidification. The same year, we also petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to impose stricter pH standards for ocean water quality and publish guidance to help states protect U.S. waters from acidification. Finally, in spring 2009, the agency for the first time invoked the Clean Water Act to address the acidification crisis, calling for data to use for evaluating water-quality criteria under the Act. But when it failed to take action against ocean acidification in Washington state waters — which are in violation of the state’s already lax water-quality standard for pH — we were forced to sue the agency in spring 2009. Thanks to our landmark lawsuit, the next year the EPA recommended that coastal states begin addressing ocean acidification under the Clean Water Act.
We also advocate for the protection of species affected by ocean acidification, most notably elkhorn coral and staghorn coral, which comprise much of the rapidly declining coral reefs of Florida and the Caribbean. These corals were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2006 as a result of a Center petition, and in September 2007, we sued the National Marine Fisheries Service to speed designation of critical habitat. While elkhorn and staghorn corals are the first species to be listed because of vulnerability to global warming, they unfortunately won’t be the last. The Center will continue to defend our ocean’s life and oppose the pollution that threatens it."

9    Safeguard wildlife and people from pesticides.
10   Protect public lands from dirty energy projects.
Plus a link to their page on the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Treehugger's David DeFranza made a list of "Ten marine species on the brink of mass extinction due to Ocean Acidification". We had to have it here:
1    Blue Sea Slugs
2    Pteropods


3    Brittle stars
4    Squids
5    Shirmp
6    Oysters
7    Sea Urchins
8    Abalones
9    Corals
10   Clown Fish

Greepeace's blacklist of irresponsible fishing operators and the companies behind them.
 They say: "This database is a convenient tool for national fisheries administrators, and anyone interested to quickly check on the compliance status of a foreign vessel trying to unload its catch in port, seeking services in port, seeking a fishing license or to register or flag in a country. Greenpeace also encourages retailers and suppliers to use the database to ensure the fish they source do not come from pirate fishing vessels or from companies involved in such activities."

Vermont Law Top Ten environmental watch list 2012.
Vermont Law School, which has one of the top-ranked environmental law programs in the USA, just released its second annual Top 10 Environmental Watch List of issues and developments that should be closely followed in 2012.
1    With Republicans Attacking the EPA, 2012 Could Be a Turning Point for Environmental Regulation
   EPA and White House Clash Over Ozone Standards
3    Powder River Basin’s Abundance of Coal at the Epicenter of Energy Development
4    Activists Claim Victory, Temporarily, on Disputed Keystone XL Pipeline
5    EPA, Transportation Department Step Up Sector-by-Sector Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
6    Federal Appeals Court Settles Roadless Rule…for Now
7    Fukushima Fallout Affects Global Energy Security, Cost, Safety, Grid Reliability
8    U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Bid to Regulate Greenhouse Gases Under Federal Common Law
9    Landmark Settlement Under the Endangered Species Act
10   Combating Climate Change Through Enforcement: EPA v. TVA

The US Government list of popular New Year's resolutions with some resources and personal encouragement to achieve your goals:
1    Drink Less Alcohol
2    Eat Healthy Food
3    Get a Better Education
4    Get a Better Job
5    Get Fit
6    Lose Weight
7    Manage Debt
8    Manage Stress
9    Quit Smoking
10    Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
11   Save Money
12   Take a Trip
13   Volunteer to Help Others

NOAA's list of coastal counties in the USA (PDF).

If you read this far you deserve to know that a couple of the links are arbitrary when not preposterous.


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