Terramar's The Daily Catch

The United Nations Launches a Bold New Plan to Make Ocean Trash History

Source: The Huffington Post/Eleanor Goldberg

The way things are going now, our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050. An ambitious United Nations campaign aims to stop this from happening.

On Wednesday, UN Environment announced its #CleanSeas initiative at the Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali, Indonesia. The campaign focuses on two major sources of marine litter: single-use plastic bags and microplastics in cosmetic products. The goal is to eliminate these major sources of marine litter by 2022.

“We’ve stood by too long as the problem has gotten worse,” Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, said in a statement. “It must stop.”

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Air Pollution May Have Masked Arctic Sea Ice Loss as Far Back as the Mid-20th Century

Source: Phys.org/American Geophysical Union

Humans may have been altering Arctic sea ice longer than previously thought, according to researchers studying the effects of air pollution on sea ice growth in the mid-20th Century. The new results challenge the perception that Arctic sea ice extent was unperturbed by human-caused climate change until the 1970s.

Scientists have observed Arctic  since the mid-1970s and some climate model simulations have shown the region was losing sea ice as far back as 1950. In a new study, recently recovered Russian observations show an increase in sea ice from 1950 to 1975 as large as the subsequent decrease in sea ice observed from 1975 to 2005. The new observations of mid-century sea ice expansion led researchers behind the new study to the search for the cause.

The new study supports the idea that air pollution is to blame for the observed Arctic sea ice expansion. Particles of  that come primarily from the burning of fossil fuels may have temporarily hidden the effects of global warming in the third quarter of the 20th Century in the eastern Arctic, the researchers say.

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Humongous Crack in the Antarctic Ice Shelf Revealed in New Video

Source: LiveScience/Jeanna Bryner

A giant crack that could release a chunk of ice larger than the state of Rhode Island into the sea was captured in stunning detail in new video footage of Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf.

The stunning overhead video shows a lengthy and wide gash in the never-ending white of the ice shelf, a rift estimated to have grown to nearly 109 miles (175 kilometers) long, based on satellite data released in January. The rift is about 1,500 feet (460 meters) wide.

Scientists estimate it could take just months for that huge iceberg to break off the shelf.

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Video Credit: GeoBeats News

Don’t Let Their Youth Fool You, These Youngsters Impacted the Volvo Ocean Race

Source: Scuttlebutt Sailing News/Volvo Ocean Race Media

Age is just a number, right? Well, yes, according to some of the sailors who’ve tackled the world’s toughest ocean test. They say ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’, and this lot certainly proved that. Here, a look back at some of the most iconic young sailors in the race’s four-and-a-half decade history of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Sir Peter Blake, 1973-74, Burton Cutter, Age 24

He’s known now as one of the Race’s biggest legends, having competed five times and won once, leading Steinlager 2 to an unprecedented clean sweep of line, handicap and overall honors in 1989-90. But Blake made his first appearance in the race over a decade and a half earlier, as watch captain onboard Burton Cutter, leading them to a first leg win into Cape Town.

Liu Xue (‘Black’), 2014-15, Dongfeng Race Team, Age 21

Dongfeng’s Chinese star almost didn’t make it to the start line, quitting during training due to homesickness, and it was only some persuasion from team manager, Bruno Dubois, who convinced him to rejoin the troops a few months before the race began. He captured hearts across China, and went on to win the media war, ending the race as the most mentioned Chinese sailor online.

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Meet the Pyrosome, One of the Ocean’s Strangest Creatures

Source: Motherboard/Theresa Locker

The ocean is Earth’s last unexplored frontier, with millions of unknown species lurking in its depths. Most of those animals, though mysterious, have recognizable features: eyes, teeth, fins.

But one strange creature more closely resembles a giant, luminous condom adrift at sea. The glowing cylindrical structure floats in tropical waters and is built of hundreds, and sometimes thousands of tiny creatures. Together, the colony of animals forms the mystical glowing roll called a pyrosome.

The scale of these glowing water towers—more appropriately referred to as colonial tunicates—may make them look foreboding, but the towers are spectacular, harmless creatures that are so rarely encountered that marine researcher Rebecca Helm once called them the “unicorn of the sea.”

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Video Credit: BBC

Red State Rural America Is Acting on Climate Change – Without Calling it Climate Change

Source: The Conversation/Rebecca J. Romsdahl, University of North Dakota

President Donald Trump has the environmental community understandably concerned. He and members of his Cabinet have questioned the established science of climate change, and his choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has sued the EPA many times and regularly sided with the fossil fuel industry.

Even if the Trump administration withdraws from all international climate negotiations and reduces the EPA to bare bones, the effects of climate change are happening and will continue to build.

In response to real threats and public demand, cities across the United States and around the world are taking action to address climate change. We might think this is happening only in large, coastal cities that are threatened by sea-level rise or hurricanes, like Amsterdam or New York.

Research shows, however, that even in the fly-over red states of the U.S. Great Plains, local leaders in small- to medium-size communities are already grappling with the issue. Although their actions are not always couched in terms of addressing climate change, their strategies can provide insights into how to make progress on climate policy under a Trump administration.

‘Deliberate framing’

My colleagues and I did a survey of over 200 local governments in 11 states of the Great Plains region to learn about steps they’re taking to mitigate the effects of climate change and to adapt to them. We found local officials in red states responsible for public health, soil conservation, parks and natural resources management, as well as county commissioners and mayors, are concerned about climate change, and many feel a responsibility to take action in the absence of national policy.

In terms of framing, using wind energy is a way to improve local air quality and save money on energy, while also reducing emissions from fossil fuels.
paytonc/flickr, CC BY-SA

But because it is such a complex and polarizing topic, they often face public uncertainty or outrage toward the issue. So while these local officials have been addressing climate change in their communities over the past decade, many of these policy activities are specifically not framed that way. As one respondent to our survey said:

“It is my personal and professional opinion that the conservation community is on track with addressing the issue of climate change but is way off track in assigning a cause. The public understands the value of clean water and clean air. If the need to improve our water quality and air quality was emphasized, most would agree. Who is going to say dirty water and dirty air is not a problem? By making the argument ‘climate change and humans are the cause’ significant energy is wasted trying to prove this. It is also something the public has a hard time sinking their teeth into.”

In order to address the vulnerabilities facing their communities, many local officials are reframing climate change to fit within existing priorities and budget items. In a survey of mayors, we asked: “In your city’s policy and planning activities (for energy, conservation, natural resources management, land use, or emergency planning, etc.) how is climate change framed?” The following quotes give a sense of their strategies.

“In terms of economic benefit & resource protection. This framing was deliberate to garner support from residents who did not agree with climate change.”

“We frame the initiative as: energy savings (=$ savings), as smart growth/good planning, and as common sense natural resource management. Climate change is only explicitly referenced in our Climate Protection Plan adopted in 2009. Most initiatives fall under the “sustainability” umbrella term.“

“We mask it with sustainability, we call it P3 (People, Planet, Prosperity)”

“The initial interest in climate change came about as a result of concern about the potential for poor air quality affecting economic development in the City. Air quality and climate change were framed as being extremely related issues.”

“Climate change is framed as one of several benefits of conservation measures. Other benefits of conservation, recycling, walking, etc. include it’s ‘good for the earth’ (regardless of climate change), healthful, economical, etc.”

The results show that energy, economic benefits, common sense and sustainability are frames that are providing opportunities for local leaders to address climate change without getting stuck in the political quagmire. This strategy is being used across the Great Plains states, which include some of the most climate-skeptical areas of the country.

Local needs and values

Every region of the U.S. will need to address practical questions of how states and local communities can reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts. Under the Trump administration, it is likely any progress on U.S. climate policy will continue at these subnational levels. That’s why a variety of experts argue that we should encourage the types of pragmatic strategies now being employed by local leaders in red states.

In the Great Plains in particular, local officials are facing severe impacts from higher temperatures, which will place greater demands on water and energy.

Capturing methane gases from landfill can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be a local source of fuel for power.
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, CC BY-NC

In our research we found local leaders focus on regional and local issues such as drought, energy and flooding. These are problems that are tied to climate change, but are already a priority on the local level. And the sought-for improvements, such as energy savings, health benefit and flood management, fit well with local needs and values.

For example, Fargo, North Dakota mitigates some of its greenhouse gas emissions and created a new source of city revenue by capturing the methane from its landfill facility and selling that gas to the electricity company. The city trash is now providing renewable energy for local residents and an industrial facility.

Perhaps the question facing us is: Should we reframe climate change and other environmental problems to fit the Trump administration’s priorities with a strong focus on practical solution ideas? For example, Trump has stated that infrastructure projects will be a high priority. That could easily translate into fixing the drinking water crisis experienced by Flint, Michigan and many other cities where it is likely to happen; Trump has also highlighted mass transit, which could help reduce air pollution and carbon emissions.

With an administration eager to expand fossil fuel development and consumption, the outlook for federal action on reducing climate-altering greenhouse gases is dire. Given that, reframing climate change to address cobenefit issues seems a logical strategy, and we can look for local government leaders in red states to show the way.

Rebecca J. Romsdahl, Professor of Environmental Science & Policy, University of North Dakota

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

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Restoring Coral Reefs Is a New Priority for Ocean Resorts

Source: The New York Times/Jennifer Billock

Last April, Caterina Fattori stood on a beach in the Maldives feeling frustrated. The coral reef was bleaching, turning into a ghost reef with pale, stressed corals, and she couldn’t do a thing about it except stand there, watch, and suffer along with the reef.

Ms. Fattori is the resident marine biologist at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort. She’s heading the resort’s collaboration with a local dive team and the German Museum of Oceanography and Fisheries in an initiative called Outrigger Ozone, a program designed to rebuild and regrow damaged coral reefs off the property’s tiny island. April’s bleaching was the latest in a series of global warming– and human-related assaults on the reef; this one attacked the reef she had already worked to restore, setting back her progress significantly.

Outrigger’s Ozone began in June 2015, joining a number of other resorts working to undo the reef damage caused by large structures on the beach, climate change, land-based pollution and the impact of fishing. There’s a prevailing sentiment that beach and island resorts contribute to erosion and environmental destruction. Outrigger Konotta, along with Wakatobi Dive Resort in Balithe Andaman in MalaysiaAlila Manggis in Bali, and Taj Exotica in the Maldives, aim to do the opposite. All five run reef reconstruction and conservation programs.

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These Robots Are Investigating the Ocean’s Secrets

Source: The Atlantic/Erica Cirino

People have been exploring the Earth since ancient times—traversing deserts, climbing mountains, and trekking through forests. But there is one ecological realm that hasn’t yet been well explored: the oceans. To date, just 5 percent of Earth’s oceans have been seen by human eyes or by human-controlled robots.

That’s quickly changing thanks to advancements in robotic technologies. In particular, a new class of self-controlled robots that continually adapt to their surroundings is opening the door to undersea discovery.  These autonomous, “curious” machines can efficiently search for specific undersea features such as marine organisms and landscapes, but they are also programmed to keep an eye out for other interesting things that may unexpectedly pop up.

Curious robots—which can be virtually any size or shape—use sensors and cameras to guide their movements. The sensors take sonar, depth, temperature, salinity, and other readings, while the cameras constantly send pictures of what they’re seeing in compressed, low-resolution form to human operators. If an image shows something different than the feature a robot was programmed to explore, the operator can give the robot the okay to go over and check out in greater detail.

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Brevard County Ocean Rescue to Host Lifeguard Tryouts

Source: Space Coast Daily

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Brevard County Ocean Rescue will host the first of two open tryouts for seasonal lifeguards on Saturday, March 4.

Brevard County Ocean Rescue is looking to fill 30 positions, and those hired on as ocean lifeguards will work from March to October this year.

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Marine Worms

Source: EOL/Casey Dunn and Noah Rose

This installment of CreatureCast is the second of several contributions that were done as final projects by undergraduate students in Casey Dunn’s Invertebrate Zoology class at Brown University. In episode 4, sophomore Noah Rose delves into the bottom half of the circle of life, where dead things decompose and elements that can then be incorporated into other living organisms are liberated. Noah discusses how the many-legged worms we tend to think of as fish bait impact this process.

This podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. The video and sound work was done by Noah Rose, with music by Noah Rose.

The Encyclopedia of Life has gathered information from all over the world to create the largest repository of species known to science. Their mission is to increase awareness and understanding of living nature through an Encyclopedia of Life that gathers, generates, and shares knowledge in an open, freely accessible and trusted digital resource.

 

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