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Tag Archive: ocean

  1. Administration repeals National Ocean Policy that advanced holistic approach to ocean management

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    • Over the past eight years, the National Ocean Policy benefited ocean resources and the communities that depend on them by advancing a holistic and collaborative approach to management. The policy addressed key issues such as water quality, marine debris, coastal resilience and renewable energy through improved coordination across all levels of government, including federal, state and tribal representatives….

    June 19, 2018 Read full Surfrider article here

    On Tuesday, June 19, the Trump administration announced the repeal of the National Ocean Policy and issued a new executive order as a replacement. The National Ocean Policy was established by the Obama administration in 2010 based on the bipartisan recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, and sought to address the many shortcomings of our nation’s piecemeal approach to ocean management….

    …Over the past eight years, the National Ocean Policy benefited ocean resources and the communities that depend on them by advancing a holistic and collaborative approach to management. The policy addressed key issues such as water quality, marine debris, coastal resilience and renewable energy through improved coordination across all levels of government, including federal, state and tribal representatives. The policy also improved opportunities for public and stakeholder participation in decisions that affect our coasts and ocean….

    A cornerstone of the National Ocean Policy was support for regional planning bodies (RPBs) that bring together states, federal agencies, stakeholders, tribes, and the public within distinct geographic regions to advance stewardship of the ocean and coasts. In regions such as the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, West Coast, and Pacific Islands, real progress has been made to protect the coastal ecosystems we all use and enjoy by advancing smart ocean planning.

     

  2. Rising sea temperatures threaten survival of juvenile albatross

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    June 18, 2018 British Ecological Society  read full ScienceDaily article here

    Changes in sea surface temperature affect the survival of albatross during their first year at sea, resulting in a reduced population growth rate when temperatures are warmer than the current average, a new study has revealed.

    Stephanie Jenouvrier, Marine Desprez, Rémi Fay, Christophe Barbraud, et al. Climate change and functional traits affect population dynamics of a long-lived seabird. Journal of Animal Ecology, 2018 DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12827

  3. Nanoplastics accumulate in marine organisms and may pose harm to aquatic food chains

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    • The oceans may already contain over 150 million tonnes of plastic, and each year, about eight million tonnes of plastic will end up in the ocean.
    • Study results showed that after exposing the barnacle larvae to nanoplastics in both treatments, the larvae had not only ingested the plastic particles, but the tiny particles were found to be distributed throughout the bodies of the larvae

    May 31, 2018 National University of Singapore Read full ScienceDaily article here

    Plastic nanoparticles — these are tiny pieces of plastic less than 1 micrometre in size — could potentially contaminate food chains, and ultimately affect human health, according to a recent study by scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS). They discovered that nanoplastics are easily ingested by marine organisms, and they accumulate in the organisms over time, with a risk of being transferred up the food chain, threatening food safety and posing health risks….

    … It is estimated that the oceans may already contain over 150 million tonnes of plastic, and each year, about eight million tonnes of plastic will end up in the ocean. Plastics do not degrade easily. In the marine environment, plastics are usually broken down into smaller pieces by the sun, waves, wind and microbial action. These micro- and nanoplastic particles in the water may be ingested by filter-feeding marine organisms such as barnacles, tube worms and sea-squirts….

    …”Our results showed that after exposing the barnacle larvae to nanoplastics in both treatments, the larvae had not only ingested the plastic particles, but the tiny particles were found to be distributed throughout the bodies of the larvae,” said Ms Serina Lee from the Tropical Marine Science Institute at NUS, who is the second author of the paper.

    Samarth Bhargava, Serina Siew Chen Lee, Lynette Shu Min Ying, Mei Lin Neo, Serena Lay-Ming Teo, Suresh Valiyaveettil. Fate of Nanoplastics in Marine Larvae: A Case Study Using Barnacles, Amphibalanus amphitrite. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 2018; 6 (5): 6932 DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b00766

  4. Shock and Thaw—Alaskan Sea Ice Just Took a Steep, Unprecedented Dive

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    • Weather conditions and a boost from global warming led to the stunning record low ice cover in winter 2018
    • “There’s never ever been anything remotely like this for sea ice” in the Bering Sea going back more than 160 years
    • The unusual warmth continued throughout this winter, in part because of an atmospheric pattern that kept warm air and storms periodically sweeping up from the south
    • At the end of April the Bering Sea was nearly ice-free—four weeks ahead of schedule.

    By Andrea Thompson on May 2, 2018  Read full Scientific American article here

    April should be prime walrus hunting season for the native villages that dot Alaska’s remote western coast. In years past the winter sea ice where the animals rest would still be abundant, providing prime targets for subsistence hunters. But this year sea-ice coverage as of late April was more like what would be expected for mid-June, well into the melt season. These conditions are the continuation of a winter-long scarcity of sea ice in the Bering Sea—a decline so stark it has stunned researchers who have spent years watching Arctic sea ice dwindle due to climate change.

    Winter sea ice cover in the Bering Sea did not just hit a record low in 2018; it was half that of the previous lowest winter on record (2001), says John Walsh, chief scientist of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “There’s never ever been anything remotely like this for sea ice” in the Bering Sea going back more than 160 years, says Rick Thoman, an Alaska-based climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration….

    …The unusual warmth continued throughout this winter, in part because of an atmospheric pattern that kept warm air and storms periodically sweeping up from the south. One such event in February helped push the monthly temperature over the Bering and Chukchi seas some 18 to 21.5 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 12 degrees Celsius) above normal. Consequently, the Bering Sea lost half its ice extent at a time when ice should still have been growing. The storms also pushed back against the normal southward flow of ice from the Chukchi Sea into the Bering. Accompanying winds stirred up waves that kept new ice from forming, and broke up what thin ice there was….

    …“Next year will almost certainly not be this low.” But as temperatures continue to rise, he says, “odds are very strong that we will not go another 160 years before we see something like this” happen again.

  5. Record-breaking ocean heat fueled Hurricane Harvey; volume of rainfall matched volume of ocean evaporation

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    • Researchers show for the first time that the volume of ocean evaporation matched up with massive overland rainfall
    • Warmer oceans increased the risk of greater hurricane intensity and duration

    May 10, 2018 National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Read full ScienceDaily article here

    In the weeks before Hurricane Harvey tore across the Gulf of Mexico and plowed into the Texas coast in August 2017, the Gulf’s waters were warmer than any time on record, according to a new analysis led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

    These hotter-than-normal conditions supercharged the storm, fueling it with vast stores of moisture, the authors found. When it stalled near the Houston area, the resulting rains broke precipitation records and caused devastating flooding.

    We show, for the first time, that the volume of rain over land corresponds to the amount of water evaporated from the unusually warm ocean,” said lead author Kevin Trenberth, an NCAR senior scientist. “As climate change continues to heat the oceans, we can expect more supercharged storms like Harvey.”

    …As the storm progresses over the ocean, evaporating water as it goes, it leaves a cold wake in its path. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, the scientists found the cold wake was not very cold. So much heat was available in the upper layer of the ocean that, as the surface temperature was cooled from the storm, heat from below welled up, rewarming the surface waters and continuing to feed the storm.

    ….Even after Harvey made landfall, its arms reached out over the ocean, continuing to draw strength (and water) from the still-warm Gulf.

    “The implication is that the warmer oceans increased the risk of greater hurricane intensity and duration,” Trenberth said. “While we often think of hurricanes as atmospheric phenomena, it’s clear that the oceans play a critical role and will shape future storms as the climate changes.”…


    An image of Hurricane Harvey taken by the GOES-16 satellite as the storm collided with the Texas coast.
    Credit: Image courtesy NASA
    Kevin E. Trenberth, Lijing Cheng, Peter Jacobs, Yongxin Zhang, John Fasullo. Hurricane Harvey links to Ocean Heat Content and Climate Change Adaptation. Earth’s Future, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2018EF000825
  6. Big fish produce disproportionately more and bigger eggs; need to reduce fishing pressure on larger fish to maintain stocks

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    • Taking a single big fish has a bigger impact on the fish population than taking multiple small ones.

    May 10, 2018 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute read full ScienceDaily article here

    Contrary to prevailing dogma, plus-sized female fish invest disproportionately more in making eggs than smaller females. Therefore, taking a single big fish has a bigger impact on the fish population than taking multiple small ones…

    ….[Our results] tell us to reduce fishing pressure on large fish rather than smaller ones in order to maintain and replenish stocks,” said staff scientist D. Ross Robertson at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. “We need to focus on reducing fishing pressure on large fish rather than exploiting them more heavily than small fish.”…

    “….fecundity in marine fish [being] non-linear is important not only for managing commercial fish stocks to maintain and enhance their productivity, but also for understanding evolution and for managing invasive species such as lionfish, in which the big females seem to be concentrated in deep water,” said Robertson.

    Diego R. Barneche, D. Ross Robertson, Craig R. White, Dustin J. Marshall. Fish reproductive-energy output increases disproportionately with body size. Science, 2018; 360 (6389): 642 DOI: 10.1126/science.aao6868

     

     

  7. New study finds climate change threatens marine protected areas

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    • The projected warming of 2.8 degrees Celsius (or 5 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 would fundamentally disrupt the ecosystems currently located in marine protected areas.

    May 7 2018  UNC  Read full article here

    Researchers found that most marine life in marine protected areas will not be able to tolerate warming ocean temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Marine protected areas have been established as a haven to protect threatened marine life, like polar bears, penguins and coral reefs, from the effects of fishing and other activities like mineral and oil extraction. The study found that with continued “business-as-usual” emissions, the protections currently in place won’t matter, because by 2100, warming and reduced oxygen concentration will make marine protected areas uninhabitable by most species currently residing in those areas.

    The study, published today in Nature Climate Change, predicts that under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 emissions scenario, better known as the “business as usual scenario,” marine protected areas will warm by 2.8 degrees Celsius (or 5 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100.

    The study concludes that such rapid and extreme warming would devastate the species and ecosystems currently located in marine protected areas. This could lead to extinctions of some of the world’s most unique animals, loss of biodiversity, and changes in ocean food-webs. It could also have considerable negative impacts on the productivity of fisheries and on tourism revenue. Many of these marine species exist as small populations with low genetic diversity that are vulnerable to environmental change and unlikely to adapt to ocean warming…

    Bruno, John F., et al. Climate change threatens the world’s marine protected areas. Nature Climate Change (2018) doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0149-2

  8. Impacts of windfarm construction noise on harbor porpoises

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    • Researchers demonstrate how the framework can be used for spatial planning to partly mitigate population impacts of disturbances.

    May 7 2018 Read full ScienceDaily article here

    Scientists from Germany, Denmark and the UK have built a model tool to predict what happens to marine animals when exposed to noise from the construction and operation of windfarms at sea. Using the North Sea harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) population as a case study, they demonstrate how the model can be used to evaluate the impact of offshore wind farm construction noise.

    This type of noise is increasingly prevalent due to the high demand for green energy, and currently there are >900 offshore wind farms at various stages of development in Europe alone. Porpoises are strictly protected in European waters, so assessing the impacts of construction noise is critical for regulators. We demonstrate how the framework can be used for spatial planning to partly mitigate population impacts of disturbances….

    Jacob Nabe-Nielsen, Floris M van Beest, Volker Grimm, Richard M Sibly, Jonas Teilmann, Paul M Thompson. Predicting the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances on marine populations. Conservation Letters, 2018; e12563 DOI: 10.1111/conl.12563

  9. Sea turtle nesting beaches threatened by microplastic pollution

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    • Tiny pieces of plastic could be jeopardizing sensitive sea turtle nesting beaches.
    • Sand collected in the Gulf of Mexico revealed that microplastics were present at every site
    May 1, 2018  Florida State University Read full ScienceDaily article here
    For the loggerhead sea turtles that nest on the once-pristine beaches bounding the Gulf of Mexico, millimeters-thick pieces of broken down plastic — called microplastics — pose a particularly urgent threat…

    …Sand samples collected throughout the region revealed that microplastics were present at every site. More alarming, the highest concentrations of microplastics were found consistently in the dunes, where sea turtles tend to nest.

    Plastic has a tendency to retain large amounts of heat in response to comparably moderate increases in temperature. If enough plastic is present in a sandy environment, the area could experience measurable temperature increases.

    This dynamic is of particular concern in sea turtle nests, Fuentes said. For marine turtle eggs, incubation temperature is destiny….

    Sea turtles have temperature dependent sex determination, which means their sex is determined by the sand temperature,” Fuentes said. “Changes in incubation temperatures might modify the sex ratios produced on these nesting beaches, but at this stage we don’t know how much microplastic is needed to see those changes.”

    ….Fuentes remains optimistic about the future. She said that shifting attitudes could translate into positive changes in policy and behavior…..”We’re beginning to see more and more initiatives providing incentives to discourage the use of plastics. I see my students making those changes every day. It’s up to everyone.

     

     

    Valencia K. Beckwith, Mariana M.P.B. Fuentes. Microplastic at nesting grounds used by the northern Gulf of Mexico loggerhead recovery unit. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2018; 131: 32 DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.04.001

  10. Record concentration of microplastics found in Arctic

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    By Helen Briggs April 24 2018 Read full BBC article here

    ….Dr Jeremy Wilkinson, a sea ice physicist at the British Antarctic Survey, said the work, published in Nature Communications, was a “benchmark study”.

    “Microplastic particles were found throughout all cores sampled,” he said. “It suggests that microplastics are now ubiquitous within the surface waters of the world’s ocean. Nowhere is immune.”

    And Dr Jason Holt of the National Oceanography Centre said we might expect plastic waste from some European countries to eventually end up in the Arctic, due to ocean circulation patterns….