By Daniel de la Calle
After the visit to Southern and Central Chile in early May we are catching up with some of the latest news on Ocean Acidification while preparing as well for the +20 summit at the end of June in “lindo” Rio de Janeiro.
Here are some news sifted through the web of webs:
≈≈Eastern Brazil is home to the largest rhodolith bed in the world according to a recently finished two-year study. What are rhodoliths and how does relate to Ocean Acidification? I had found these pebblely-coral-looking objects on the ocean floor or washed up on beaches everywhere all the time, but never knew what they were. This is a picture of four:
Turns out they are made of many layers of hard red algae and they “play a critical role in a healthy marine ecosystem by providing primary habitat that can yield diverse and abundant communities of fish and invertebrates of high commercial value,” as Professor Rodrigo Moura (Rio de Janeiro Federal University), co-author of the study, points out.
“Rhodolith beds face an array of threats including ocean acidification, sedimentation from land-based sources and large scale dredging and mining. Though acidification looms the largest and cannot be managed regionally, the other threats to the health of the Abrolhos shelf rhodolith bed can be managed on a local scale. The bed falls within the Abrolhos seascape, a 9,5000 square kilometer (37,000 square miles) area of ocean where Conservation International works with the Brazilian government and community organizations to conserve and manage ocean resources.
“Based on the relatively high vulnerability of coralline algae to ocean acidification, the rhodolith beds are likely to experience a profound restructuring in the coming decades,” said the lead author of the study, Gilberto Amado-Filho, a researcher at Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden. “With the Abrolhos shelf bed producing an estimated 25 million metric tons of calcium carbonate a year, its protection and continued study should be prioritized.””
≈≈Fuel for fuel lovers: “Large wind farms might have a warming effect on the local climate, research in the United States showed on Sunday [April 29th], casting a shadow over the long-term sustainability of wind power” read a Reuters piece that was lustlily repeated in delight over the internet.
“The world’s wind farms last year had the capacity to produce 238 gigawatt of electricity at any one time. That was a 21 percent rise on 2010 and capacity is expected to reach nearly 500 gigawatt by the end of 2016 as more, and bigger, farms spring up, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.
Researchers at the State University of New York at Albany analyzed the satellite data of areas around large wind farms in Texas, where four of the world’s largest farms are located, over the period 2003 to 2011.
The results, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, showed a warming trend of up to 0.72 degrees Celsius per decade in areas over the farms, compared with nearby regions without the farms.
“We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms,” the study said. The temperature change could be due to the effects of the energy expelled by farms and the movement and turbulence generated by turbine rotors, it said.
“These changes, if spatially large enough, may have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate,” the authors said.”
“More research is needed”, they said too.
It would be naive to think that alternative energy sources do not come with some cost, that there is a 100% clean source of energy to feed the needs of six billion people. I lose hope contemplating the delight and cheer with which these news (the extent of truth of this one still waiting for “more research”) are welcomed and repeated over particular blogs and sites. Is it something anyone should be happy about? Do we live in the same planet? Like the morally deprived is exalted and finds legitimation seeing others fail or sin, their clothes stained, there is no desire for betterment or personal change, just anger and ammunition for war.
I suppose all this joy must at least imply a certain amount of underlying acknowledgement of the global problem we are facing.
Please read more from the SOURCE
≈≈A test to bring back high school memories: “Are You Smarter Than a 10th Grader on Climate Change?”, from the PBS website. I hope you have the Ocean Acidification questions right.
≈≈Nature will always have the power to surprise me with its creations, wisdom and self-defense techniques. Two very different in size examples: 1Researchers have just discovered that whales may be able to protect their ears by lowering their hearing sensitivity when warned of an imminent loud sound.
“Whale hearing may be the most fascinating marine mammal sense,” says Paul Nachtigall, a biologist at the University of Hawaii who started his career studying otter vision, but soon switched to whale and dolphin echolocation. Earlier experiments by Nachtigall and his colleagues suggested that whales can actively shield their hearing from loud outgoing echolocation clicks, which can reach sound levels equivalent to a rifle fired right next to the ear. The scientists wondered if the animals could similarly protect their ears from incoming loud noises.
The team repeatedly played a short warning sound followed by a loud sound to a false killer whale working in the laboratory in a floating facility off Coconut Island at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. They measured the animal’s hearing sensitivity by placing suction-cup sensors on the skin of the whale’s head and recording the frequency of its brainwaves. Initial results indicate that the whale significantly reduces its hearing sensitivity when warned that a very loud noise is about to arrive.
“It appears as though the whales learn this pairing of warning signal and loud sound rapidly through classical conditioning,” says Nachtigall. Many human activities such as oil exploration and the use of ships’ sonar create loud noises in the ocean. If wild whales could quickly learn the meaning of a short warning sound, the technique might help lessen the impact of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals, Nachtigall notes.”
2And now watch these unbelievable carrier crabs as they use everything from rocks, corals to a sea urchin to defend themselves!:
≈≈Our friends at the Center for Biological Diversity want all of us to help them fight for the future of coral reefs by signing THIS petition to list 56 species of corals in US waters as threatened and endangered by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
≈≈It is an ad, yes, but watch this and try to keep the mouth closed: