tagged w/ Oceanography
From site: "Since we have such an active community of armchair oceanographers and spreadsheet Glaciologists here, I thought it would be useful to speak to the real thing, the people who actually spend time on the ocean, on the ice sheets, do the measurements, and come back to share that knowledge with us. I had just that opportunity at the American Geophysical conference in December.
I spoke to Josh Willis, Oceanographer with NASA at the Jet Propulsion Lab – Josh is one of best known young ocean scientists on the planet. He pointed me to the recent Kemp et al study of tidal marshes on the US East coast, which has produced a long record of sea level over the last 2000 years, complete with a very Hockey-stickish uptick during the last 200 or so.
Jason Box of the Byrd Polar Center at Ohio State was there, presenting evidence of acceleration in Greenland ice loss over the last 200 years. His bottom line – “If we talk 10 years from now, my expectation is that Greenland will be losing roughly double what it is now.”
I round out the video with takes from old pros lead NASA scientist Jim Hansen and Admiral David Titley, the US Navy’s Chief Oceanographer.
More at the link
And you can time it to the second how long it will take for the usual suspects who follow me to appear...They actually think they are converting people to believing their denier "religion" over actual scientists who are measuring the oceans and glaciers and what is right in front of our eyes. Laughable.From site: "Since we have such an active community of armchair oceanographers and... more
Los Angeles Times...
Pacific Ocean study finds fish tainted by plastic
June 30, 2011 | 4:38 pm
Southern California researchers found plastic in nearly 1 in 10 small fish collected in the northern Pacific Ocean in the latest study to call attention to floating marine debris entering the food chain.
The study published this week by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego estimated that fish in the northern Pacific Ocean are ingesting as much as 24,000 tons of plastic each year.
Although the research found a lower percentage of affected fish than previous studies, it is the latest to quantify how many fish are eating marine garbage — most of it confetti-sized flecks of discarded plastic — that has accumulated in vast, slow-moving ocean currents known as gyres.
The results came from a 2009 voyage a group of graduate students made to the so-called Pacific garbage patch, an area of high concentration of fragments of floating garbage about 1,000 miles off the California coast. Researchers cast nets into the water and collected 141 fish, mostly lanternfish measuring just a few inches, and took them to a laboratory in San Diego to dissect.
Scientists found plastic debris in 9.2% of their stomachs, much of it broken down into multicolored fragments smaller than a human fingernail. However, they believe the actual proportion of fish that have consumed plastic is significantly higher.
“We can’t tell how many fish ate plastic and died, how many fish ate plastic and regurgitated it or passed it out of their intestines,” said Rebecca Asch, a Scripps doctoral candidate in biological oceanography and one of the study's authors.
Because the widespread lanternfish is a common food source for larger fish, the study raises concerns that plastics and pollutants they contain, could be making their way up the food chain into seafood ingested by humans.
Scripps found a lower rate of plastic ingestion than previous research, such as a study by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation that found plastic in the stomachs of 35% of fish in the same general area of the Pacific.
Past studies may have been inflated by keeping nets in the water for longer periods, giving fish the chance to eat bits of plastic swept up in the nets with them, Scripps scientists said.
In their study, they tried to minimize that by towing their net only 15 minutes at a time. They stressed that their study broadly concludes the same thing: garbage is present in the food chain.
“We’re still finding a substantial amount of plastic,” Asch said. “It should be zero.”
Photo: Two lanternfish and several bits of plastic collected in 2009 during the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition. Credit: J. LeichterLos Angeles Times...
Pacific Ocean study finds fish tainted by plastic
June 30,... more
Japan dumps thousands of tons of radioactive water into sea
By the CNN Wire Staff
April 4, 2011 9:47 a.m. EDT
A Tokyo Electric Power Company picture from April 2 shows water gushing from the cracked concrete shaft.
Tokyo (CNN) -- Japan began dumping thousands of tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean on Monday, an emergency move officials said was needed to curtail a worse leak from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
In all, about 11,500 tons of radioactive water that has collected at the nuclear facility will be dumped into the sea, officials said Monday, as workers also try to deal with a crack that has been a conduit for contamination.
The radiation levels were highest in the water that was being drained from reactor No. 6, the officials said.
These are the latest but hardly the only challenges facing workers at the embattled power plant and its six reactors, which have been in constant crisis since last month's ruinous earthquake and tsunami.
Officials with Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant, proposed the release of excess water that has pooled in and around the Nos. 5 and 6 reactors into the sea. But most of the dumped water -- 10,000 tons -- will come from the plant's central waste treatment facility, which will then be used to store highly radioactive water from the No. 2 unit, an official with the power company said.
The water in reactors Nos. 5 and 6 is coming from a subdrain and wasn't inside the building itself, officials said. Tests suggest that groundwater is the source of the contamination in these two units, but they are not certain.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano called the dumping "unavoidable." The liquid was most likely contaminated in the process of trying to cool nuclear fuel rods.
The scope of the dump was staggering.
"For an idea about how much is 11,500 tons, one metric ton is 1,000 kilograms or about 2,200 pounds, which is close to an English ton. Water is about 8.5 pounds per gallon, so one ton is about 260 gallons," said Gary Was, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan. "So 11,500 tons is about 3 million gallons. A spent fuel pool holds around 300,000 gallons. So this amount of water is equivalent to the volume of roughly 10 (spent fuel pools)."
It could take 50 hours to dump all the water, Tokyo Electric said.
The dumping of so much radioactive water into the ocean conjures fears of mutated sea life and contamination of the human food chain, but one expert said the radiation will be quickly diluted, minimizing risk.
"What we have to watch is how these materials accumulate in food products and then could be consumed by people," something that can be monitored, said John Till, president of Risk Assessment Corp.
"The ocean is so vast that this material would dilute very rapidly and I wouldn't see any lasting effects at all," he said.
The build-up of water could cause problems around the nuclear facility, which is 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Tokyo, Edano said Monday.
Authorities have made a priority of dealing with water from the No. 2 unit, some of which has been gushing into the sea through a crack in a concrete shaft.
"The radioactivity level is very high near the No. 2 reactor, and we know this. We have to stop the leak as early as possible to prevent this from going into the sea," Edano said. "The radioactivity level is much less in the water from the Nos. 3 and 4 units."
Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency officials said Monday night that the hope is that pumping out the No. 2 reactor turbine plant will lower the water level enough that contaminated liquid won't be able to reach the sea.
"I am not able to say for certain whether or not this will be the last discharge, but we certainly would like to avoid releasing any such water into the sea as much as possible," agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said.
Officials were still awaiting test results to confirm the water pouring into the ocean is leaking from the highly radioactive No. 2 reactor.
"We don't know clearly, but we feel it is somehow leaking from Unit 2," Nishiyama said. Even if the water is confirmed to have come from the reactor, neither Tokyo Electric nor government officials know how it is making its way from the reactor to the leaking pit, he said.
Once the water is pumped out of the waste treatment reservoir, the agency believes it can safely transfer the water from the basement of the No. 2 turbine plant to the reservoir without further leaks, he said.
Though Japanese officials say the water being discharged is less radioactive than the water now leaking into the sea, its top concentration of radioactive iodine-131 is 20 becquerels per cubic centimeter, or 200,000 becquerels per kilogram. That's 10 times the level of radioactivity permitted in food. But since it's being dumped into the Pacific, it will be quickly diluted, according to Dr. James Cox, a radiation oncologist at Houston's MD Anderson Cancer Center and a CNN consultant.
Reactors No. 1 and No. 3, which have lower levels of water, need to be drained as well. Tokyo Electric's plan is to pump that water to other storage tanks, including some that still need to be set up.
Attempts to fill the 20-centimeter (8-inch) crack outside the No. 2 reactor's turbine building -- on Saturday by pouring in concrete, then Sunday by using a chemical compound mixed with sawdust and newspaper -- were not successful.
Japan dumps thousands of tons of radioactive water into... more
The Pacific region’s all countries have gotten tsunami warning. Only Canada and United States are the two countries where this warning is not applicable. All other islands come under warning of this tsunami. This tsunami has been issued after the striking of an earthquake in Japan. A few days ago, Japanese issued another warning but US officials had rejected that warning. But this time, the tsunami warning has come from Americans. This warning will include Hawaii, South American Countries and Mexico in its range.The Pacific region’s all countries have gotten tsunami warning. Only Canada and... more
Imagine the ocean as a giant swimming pool - devoid of topographical features like seamounts and trenches and with smooth walls instead of jutting continental shelves or jagged coastlines.
If you're in the community of oceanographers who model the large-scale circulation of the oceans, that's pretty much how you have to imagine them.Their size and complexity have presented a stiff challenge to those who would dare to try to mimic on computers how water moves and understand ocean dynamics. The challenge is to write computer code sophisticated enough to capture the myriad variables that move a unit of water from one place to another. What ocean modelers have traditionally ended up with is something that looks like a rudimentary computer game like Pong when what they desire is the resolution of an Xbox.
But in a new age of supercomputing, ocean circulation modelers are making first steps in seeing their subject as it really is. Christopher Wolfe and Paola Cessi, physical oceanographers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, have come up with an explanation for the way water moves in layers between the poles. The researchers are taking advantage of a new ability to simulate ocean dynamics at a scale of a few kilometers.
Though that may still sound like a pixilated picture, its improved realism in portraying intermediate-sized phenomena such as large swirls known as eddies is allowing the researchers to revise long-standing theories of large-scale circulation, which in turn could help the world understand what keeps warm places warm and cold places cold. Some would say the epiphany is happening not a moment too soon. There is increasing evidence of rapid melt-off of ice sheets in the world’s two biggest repositories, Antarctica in the south and Greenland to the north, spurring climate modelers to devise a number of what-if scenarios. The evidence has triggered a variety of doomsday theories that a freshwater dump would disrupt the climate patterns we’ve grown accustomed to, plunging temperate areas of the world, especially Europe, into frigidity.
Now Wolfe and Cessi have made enough progress to be able to advance theories of what two big puddles of fresh water at either end of the ocean would do to ocean circulation. In most of the scenarios they come up with, the effects on global climate would be significant.
“At this point, based on global climate predictions, circulation could either speed up or slow down or do nothing,” said Wolfe, a postdoctoral researcher. “That’s something we’d really like to know and that’s the question we’re trying to answer.”
If winds and differences in the buoyancy of water are what set oceans in motion to begin with, eddies are like the flywheels that keep the motion going. Without a realistic understanding of eddies, oceanographers can’t really simulate the oceans at the speeds at which water really moves. So Wolfe and Cessi elected to try to produce a computer simulation, using supercomputers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif, Argonne National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. They obtained 20,000,000 CPU-hours and used a model that is highly faithful to the movement of eddies in real life. They also decided, however, to leave their computerized ocean in more or less the shape of a rectangular swimming pool and shrink its scale to about half its real size, creating what Cessi dubs a “hobbit ocean.” The computational power needed to simulate eddy activity and include a geographically-correct basin would require a devotion of resources still not available among the world’s supercomputers.
But Cessi and Wolfe say the high-resolution view of eddies produces a significantly more realistic view of how oceans move than anyone has been able to replicate so far. Already the two believe that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that large-scale circulation patterns adjust over decades or centuries rather than over thousands of years, which implies that changes in circulation are something that we could conceivably witness within a few generations rather than at some point in the distant future. Cessi notes with pride that the pair’s modeling approach has sped up the oceans from a molasses pace to something a little runnier, not real water yet but maybe more like maple syrup.
"Our contribution was to resolve scales as small as five kilometers," said Cessi. "I don't think anyone has done a calculation with such high resolution and for an extended period of time."
The Scripps scientists chose this course after noticing that many oceanographers have in recent decades explored what would happen if Northern Hemisphere ice sheets were to suddenly melt and dump loads of freshwater into surrounding oceans. Doing so, they have concluded that an infusion of fresh water slows circulation in the Atlantic.
But for unknown reasons, few have considered the equally plausible scenario that a warming world would create a similar melt-off in Antarctica as well. The two discovered that if Antarctic melt produced a larger amount of freshwater, the circulation would speed up.
Recent observations suggest that these are not hypothetical scenarios. The opposing ice masses are melting at an accelerating rate. A 2009 analysis showed that in Greenland, the rate of annual mass loss increased from 137 gigatons per year in 2002-03 to 286 gigatons per year between 2007 and 2009. In Antarctica, the mass loss increased from 104 gigatons per year between 2002 and 2006 to 246 gigatons per year between 2006 and 2009.
cont.Imagine the ocean as a giant swimming pool - devoid of topographical features like... more
* U.S. NEWS
* JULY 2, 2010
Florida Sees New Threat to Its Beaches
Deepwater Drilling Project in Cuban Waters Set to Launch Next Year Could Kick Off a Spate of Exploration in the Region
Photo: A Norwegian tanker approaching Havana last month. Several global oil companies have signed leases to explore in Cuban waters, where the U.S. Geological Survey has said there could be substantial stores of oil.
Florida has long fought to prevent oil drilling anywhere near its white sandy beaches. But as the state continues to deal with oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill washing up on its shores, it faces a new threat: deepwater drilling in nearby Cuban waters.
Maria Ritter, a spokeswoman for Spanish oil company Repsol YPF SA, said it plans to drill off Cuba, about 60 miles south of Key West, Fla., early next year. If successful, this would likely kick off a spate of exploration. Only one deepwater well has been drilled in Cuban waters, by Repsol in 2004. The effort found oil but not enough to justify commercial development.
Since then, the U.S. Geological Survey has said there could be a substantial amount of untapped oil off the Cuban coast, whetting the appetite of several global oil companies that have signed exploration leases.
U.S. companies won't participate because of a longstanding trade embargo against Cuba. Repsol plans to use a floating drilling rig being refurbished in a Chinese shipyard, similar to the Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP PLC that caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Mexico in April. Almost all parts and components in the rig to be used by Repsol are from non-U.S. companies.
The Obama administration has sought a six-month ban on deepwater drilling in U.S. waters to reassess risks and establish new safety procedures if necessary. But any new rules wouldn't reach Repsol's project in Cuban waters.
A spill there, even one significantly smaller than the continuing BP spill, could turn into an economic and environmental nightmare for Florida. Some oceanographers say the oil would likely be carried up Florida's Atlantic Coast, the heart of its tourism industry.
"We have one of the world's largest coral reefs and a protected marine sanctuary there," said Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) "We should not be drilling there."
Cuba's state oil firm, Union Cuba Petroleo, could not be reached for comment. Ms. Ritter, the Repsol spokeswoman, declined to comment on the project beyond confirming plans for the rig. Repsol has operations in many parts of the world, including the U.S. portion of the Gulf of Mexico.
Drilling off Florida in U.S. waters has been banned by federal moratorium for decades. To protect the state's tourism-based economy, Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running for the U.S. Senate as an independent, is floating a proposal for an amendment to the Florida constitution to ban offshore drilling there permanently.
It's not clear what U.S. or Florida officials could do to stop oil exploration in Cuba. The U.S. controls coastal waters up to 200 miles from its shores, but under a 1977 treaty it agreed to divide the Straits of Florida equally with Cuba. That means Repsol can drill a deepwater well about the same distance from Key West, Fla., as the Deepwater Horizon was from the Louisiana coast.
The rig headed for Cuban waters has five rams in its blowout preventer, each designed to help shut off an out-of-control well. The Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer had only four.
In the event of a spill in Cuban waters, many ships, equipment and personnel from the U.S. Gulf Coast could be prevented from helping because of the embargo. But that may be changing. A Treasury Department spokeswoman said some U.S. firms involved in oil cleanup have been issued licenses to travel to Cuba in case oil from the continuing spill hits beaches there.
Cuba's efforts to promote offshore oil exploration appear close to paying off. Cuba imports about 110,000 barrels of oil daily and produces an additional 52,000 barrels, mostly from onshore and shallow-water fields, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Ms. Ritter said Madrid-based Repsol plans to drill a new well near the 2004 well as soon as the rig—called the Scarabeo 9—is ready. Construction of Scarabeo 9 is expected to be complete at the end of 2010 or early 2011, said a spokesman for Enis SpA, an Italian company that controls the rig. Repsol's partners on the well include Norway's Statoil ASA and the overseas arm of India's state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corp. Eight other foreign oil companies hold offshore leases in Cuban waters.
—Angel Gonzalez contributed to this article.* U.S. NEWS
* JULY 2, 2010
Florida Sees New Threat to Its Beaches
Here's some theoretical background to the news stories unfolding presently around the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The author put a lot of information into this science fiction novel that basically describes how mankind is destroying the oceans - and, how an intelligence other than ours could be fighting back. That's where the fantasy of the author comes in. But, other than that, some of the detailed descriptions in the book seem to be frighteningly accurate, in today's light. For example, you get to understand why it is important to leave the frozen Methane where it is, at the bottom of the ocean. You don't want it to melt, because if it does, tectonic plates can start moving and cause tsunamis.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Swarm_Here's some theoretical background to the news stories unfolding presently around... more
On April 25, 2010, just five days after the BP Deep Horizon oil rig exploded, Reef Check, The Perry Institute for Marine Science and Ocean Rehab Initiative Inc. responded to protect threatened critical wetland ecosystems.
Collaboratively, these institutions of marine research and conservation developed the Pre-Oil Volunteer Survey, whose methodology is now widely used across the Gulf of Mexico and Greater Caribbean by groups including USGS, USCG, NOAA, EPA, DEP, The Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation and others.
Scientists agreed that the survey methodology must be easy to teach and understand, be at little or no cost to perform, and provide real and significant results for science. In fact, you may even own most of the equipment needed for the survey, like a camera, GPS, tape measure, magic marker and plastic cards.
To date, hundreds of volunteers have surveyed critical habitats for oil-threatened species in their native wetlands (estuaries, sea grasses, mangroves, lagoons, rivers, inlets, reefs and beaches) along South Florida, from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to Indian River County. Just this week, teams surveyed reefs in Palm Beach and Martin County, and were pleased to discover a healthy reef system.
Residents up and down the coast have volunteered their time to aid during the largest environmental catastrophe in U.S. history. Current and future volunteers are not only divers, but come from all backgrounds: children, elderly, activists, government employees, retired and working citizens.
To support conservation efforts and learn more about the methodology and volunteer opportunities in Florida, contact William via email at www.oceanrehab.org or call 561-308-8848.On April 25, 2010, just five days after the BP Deep Horizon oil rig exploded, Reef... more
In 2002, ocean explorer Gale Mead was the first person to see and film the profusion of life 200 feet down on Salt Dome Seamount -- just 16 miles from where the BP oil well is now gushing out of control. Mead (daughter of oceanographer Sylvia Earle) describes the corals and fish she saw and the devastation that the oil is likely causing in a place that no other human has ever been.In 2002, ocean explorer Gale Mead was the first person to see and film the profusion... more
A recently published study, intended to provide data to commercial fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico so they maximize their catch of Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares, whilst avoiding bycatch of critically endangered Atlantic (Northern) Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, suggests that the Deepwater Horizon oil leak may devastate the endangered Atlantic bluefin population, causing it to completely collapse or possibly go extinct.A recently published study, intended to provide data to commercial fisheries in the... more
New oil plume evidence uncovered
By John Couwels, CNN
June 7, 2010 1:38 a.m. EDT
St. Petersburg, Florida (CNN) -- As if the pictures of birds, fish and animals killed by floating oil in the Gulf of Mexico is not disturbing enough, scientists now say they have found evidence of another danger lurking underwater.
The University of South Florida recently discovered a second oil plume in the northeastern gulf. The first plume was found by Mississippi universities in early May.
USF has concluded microscopic oil droplets are forming deep water oil plumes. After a weeklong analysis of water samples, USF scientists found more oil in deeper water.
"These hydrocarbons are from depth and not associated with sinking degraded oil but associated with the source of the Deep Horizon well head," said USF Chemical Oceanographer David Hollander.
Through isotopic or microscopic fingerprinting, Hollander and his USF crew were able to show the oil in the plume came from BP's blown out oil well. The surface oil's so-called fingerprint matched the tiny underwater droplet's fingerprint.
"We've taken molecular isotopic approaches which is like a fingerprint on a smoking gun," Hollander said.
BP has not commented on the latest development but in the past denied underwater oil plumes exist.
"The oil is on the surface," said BP's Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward. "There aren't any plumes."
Yet BP's Managing Director Bob Dudley said recently, "We're all absolutely taking these ideas seriously and looking at them."
Scientists on board the university's research vessel Weatherbird II were not able to find the dissolved hydrocarbon or oil by sight. Instead the crew received sensor signatures from the equipment deployed into the water since the plumes appear to be clear.
USF is unsure on the exact size of the plumes.
"There are indications this is fairly wide spread," said the USF oceanographer. "There is probably more than one leg of this plume."
Scientist are concerned what effect the oil, not to mention the dissolvents used to break up the oil, will have on marine life.
Laboratory tests show bacteria has begun eating some elements of the dissolved hydrocarbons. But the effect on fish "is what needs to be understood," said Hollander. "We are in unchartered territory."
Water samples collected by USF were sent to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration labs. NOAA has yet to comment on their conclusions.
NOAA and USF will hold a joint press conference Tuesday morning at the university's S.t Petersburg's campus to release their final findings.New oil plume evidence uncovered
By John Couwels, CNN
June 7, 2010 1:38 a.m. EDT... more
In late summer, the plankton bloom is at its height. Vast shoals of herring gather to feed on it, diving birds round the fish up into a bait ball and then, along comes a ...In late summer, the plankton bloom is at its height. Vast shoals of herring gather to... more
A scuba diver captured this interesting footage of a group of Chinaman Leatherjacket fish attacking and killing an Octopus, in Jeris Bay, Australia, in this is an amazing display of animal behavior.A scuba diver captured this interesting footage of a group of Chinaman Leatherjacket... more
This fascinating video captures a glimpse of the weird and wonderful animals that live in the aphotoc zone. The aphotic zone (aphotic from Greek prefix ἀ- + φῶς "without light") is the portion of a lake or ocean where there is little or no sunlight. It is formally defined as the depths beyond which less than 1% of sunlight penetrates. Consequently, bioluminescence is essentially the only light found in this zone. Most food comes from dead organisms sinking to the bottom of the lake or ocean from overlying waters.This fascinating video captures a glimpse of the weird and wonderful animals that live... more
Some 80 to 90 percent of undersea creatures make light -- and we know very little about how or why. Bioluminescence expert Edith Widder explores this glowing, sparkling, luminous world, sharing glorious images and insight into the unseen depths (and brights) of the ocean.Some 80 to 90 percent of undersea creatures make light -- and we know very little... more
Seemingly frozen in mid-swim, this "plastinated" giant squid is one of two awaiting their public debuts later this month.
Plastination, which replaces fat and body fluids with silicone, has been carried out on a giant squid before (picture), but the two newly plastinated squid are "the most lifelike specimens yet," said New Zealand squid expert Steve O'Shea.
O'Shea, of the Auckland University of Technology, donated the giant squid, which had been found washed up on a New Zealand beach in 2004, to the Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg, Germany. The institute is led by anatomist Gunther von Hagens, who invented the preservation process.
The force behind the "Body Worlds" museum exhibitions, von Hagens's organization has plastinated elephants, humans, and other animals (see pictures of plastinated humans from another group). But the giant squid—rare, delicate, and boneless—were the institute's biggest plastination challenges yet, O'Shea said.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/03/photogalleries/100326-plastination-giant-squid-pictures/#giant-squid-plastinated-complete-side-view_17681_600x450.jpgSeemingly frozen in mid-swim, this "plastinated" giant squid is one of two... more
Underwater videographer, underwater photographer, and author, Annie Crawley joined Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Project Kaisei aboard the New Horizon on a 3 week long expedition to the North Pacific Gyre. They collected data to help find a solution to the "Plastic Vortex" forming in the Pacific Ocean.Underwater videographer, underwater photographer, and author, Annie Crawley joined... more
Footage from the Kaisei, one of two research vessels Project Kaisei sent to the North Pacific Gyre in August, 2009 to study the extent of the marine debris problem in the gyre, the impact it may be having on marine life and the food chain, and to find ways to catch and recover some of the debris for a larger clean-up effort.Footage from the Kaisei, one of two research vessels Project Kaisei sent to the North... more
Scripps scientist Miriam Goldstein talks about the SEAPLEX expedition to the North Pacific Gyre and how shocked she was to find the amount of plastic on the ocean's surface when she was floating around in a skiff.Scripps scientist Miriam Goldstein talks about the SEAPLEX expedition to the North... more
A group of hunters aboard a small boat out of the tiny Alaska village of Wainwright were the first to spot what would eventually be called "the blob." It was a dark, floating mass stretching for miles through the Chukchi Sea, a frigid and relatively shallow expanse of Arctic Ocean water between Alaska's northwest coast and the Russian Far East. The goo was fibrous, hairy. When it touched floating ice, it looked almost black.http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1911517,00.html?xid=rss-topstorieshttp://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1911517,00.html?xid=rss-topstories
But what was it? An oil slick? Some sort of immense, amorphous organism adrift in some of the planet's most remote waters? Maybe a worrisome sign of global climate change? Or was it something insidious and, perhaps, even carnivorous like the man-eating jello from the old Steve McQueen movie that inspired the Alaskan phenomenon's nickname? (Read Richard Corliss' review of The Thing, a sci-fi film set in the Arctic.)
The hunters got word to the U.S. Coast Guard, which immediately sent two spill response experts to fly over the mass, which looked sort of rusty from the air. They also approached it by boat. The North Slope Borough, the local government for the vast and sparsely populated cap of Alaska, sent its own people out the main village of Barrow to have a look. They scooped up jars of the stuff for analysis in a state lab in Anchorage.
"We responded as if it were an oil product," says Coast Guard Petty Officer Terry Hasenauer. "It was described to us as an oil-like substance, thick and lingering below the surface of the water. Those characteristics can indicate heavy, degraded oil, maybe crude oil, or possibly an intermediate fuel oil." Meanwhile, the story spread over the internet like an oil-spill, giving lots of people a queasy feeling.
Test results released Thursday showed the blob wasn't oil, but a plant — a massive bloom of algae. While that may seem less dangerous, a lot of people are still uneasy. It's something the mostly Inupiat Eskimo residents along Alaska's northern coast say they could never remember seeing before.
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1911517,00.html?xid=rss-topstoriesA group of hunters aboard a small boat out of the tiny Alaska village of Wainwright... more