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Displaying items by tag: oceans

The ocean floor teems with mineral treasures, but extracting them could jeopardize an unexplored alien world.

People have been clawing valuable minerals like iron and gold out of the ground for millennia. And for much of the stuff that touches our lives today—from the europium, terbium and yttrium that help illuminate the screen you are reading to the copper in the wires that power it—we increasingly depend on elements from the depths of the Earth.

But finding new deposits gets harder every year and mines are steadily growing larger, more expensive and more environmentally destructive. On land, that is.

Published in News
Friday, 15 July 2016 11:17

Why We Pretend to Clean Up Oil Spills

Six years after Deepwater Horizon spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico, we still have no idea what we're doing.

When the Deepwater Horizon well operated by BP (formerly British Petroleum) exploded and contaminated the Gulf of Mexico with at least 650 million liters of crude oil in 2010, blue-smocked animal rescuers quickly appeared on television screens. Looking like scrub nurses, the responders treated oil-coated birds with charcoal solutions, antibiotics, and dish soap. They also forced the birds to swallow Pepto-Bismol, which helps absorb hydrocarbons.

The familiar, if not outlandish, images suggested that something was being cleaned up. But during the chaotic disaster, Silvia Gaus poked a large hole in that myth.

Published in News

SEABROOK, N.H. (AP) — The cod isn't just a fish to David Goethel. It's his identity, his ticket to middle-class life, his link to a historic industry.

"I paid for my education, my wife's education, my house, my kids' education; my slice of America was paid for on cod," said Goethel, a 30-year veteran of these waters that once teemed with New England's signature fish.

But on this chilly, windy Saturday in April, after 12 hours out in the Gulf of Maine, he has caught exactly two cod, and he feels far removed from the 1990s, when he could catch 2,000 pounds in a day.

Published in News

A report mapping the benefits of ocean ecosystems aims to assist governments and businesses in making informed decisions when using marine and coastal resources.

The Atlas of Ocean Wealth, published last week, compiles data and qualitative information on the benefits of coral reefs, marshes, mangroves, seagrass meadows and oyster reefs. It finds that fish catches are declining, ocean temperatures are warming, sea levels are rising, and extreme weather events are threatening coastal habitats.

Published in News
Monday, 27 June 2016 14:53

Hidden values of open ocean

What is the value of the open ocean? While commercial fisheries may be one of the most obvious sources of economic value the ocean provides, they are not the only one.

Now a team of scientists from NOAA Fisheries and the University of California San Diego (Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Department of Economics) has for the first time attached a dollar value to several of the leading "ecosystem services" - or natural benefits - provided by the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean, an immense region stretching west from the west coasts of North and South America.

Published in News

Energy from the ocean, or "blue energy," is arguably the most underexploited power source, according to researchers in a new study.

Although the oceans contain enough energy to meet all of the world's energy needs, currently there is no effective way to harvest it economically and with reasonable efficiency.

The main problem is that ocean waves are irregular and pass by at low frequencies, whereas most energy harvesters operate best with waves that have regular amplitudes and high frequencies. Unfortunately, the calming lull of slow, unpredictable waves beating against the shore that we tend to find so peaceful is not ideal for energy harvesting.

Published in News
Friday, 10 June 2016 07:48

The Rise of Ocean Optimism

Sharing news of little wins for the environment fuels hope.

Things are far more resilient than I ever imagined. Me, green sea turtles, coral reefs blown to bits by atomic bombs. In a twist of fate that even surprised scientists, Bikini Atoll, site of one of the world’s biggest nuclear explosions, is now a scuba diver’s paradise.

Published in News
Wednesday, 08 June 2016 09:30

Out of the blue: World Oceans Day

Today marine matters will be splashed across global screens. Rightly so: the seas cover about 70% of the planet and produce more than half its oxygen. About 90% of world trade is seaborne.

Published in News

A persistent chill in the ocean off Antarctica that defies the global warming blamed for melting Arctic ice at the other end of the planet is caused by cold waters welling up from the depths after hundreds of years, scientists said on Monday.

Published in News

UPDATE: Great Barrier Reef

One of Australia’s most important natural assets, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), is being affected by the worst ever bleaching in its history, amid warmer than average water temperatures associated with this summer’s major El Niño event and against a background trend of ongoing ocean warming.

With extensive coral bleaching having been predicted as far back as October last year, Terry Hughes at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies convened the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce to document the bleaching, both from the air and at close quarters. With our survey work still ongoing, a bleak picture is emerging: more than 1,000 km of the Great Barrier Reef shows signs of significant bleaching.

Published in News
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