Ecosystems

Marine Species Distribution Shifts Will Continue Under Ocean Warming
May 27, 2017 11:15 AM - Northeast Fisheries Science Center - NOAA

Scientists using a high-resolution global climate model and historical observations of species distributions on the Northeast U.S. Shelf have found that commercially important species will continue to shift their distribution as ocean waters warm two to three times faster than the global average through the end of this century. Projected increases in surface to bottom waters of  6.6 to 9 degrees F (3.7 to 5.0 degrees Celsius) from current conditions are expected.

The findings, reported in Progress in Oceanography, suggest ocean temperature will continue to play a major role in where commercially important species will find suitable habitat. Sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Maine have warmed faster than 99 percent of the global ocean over the past decade.  Northward shifts of many species are already happening, with major changes expected in the complex of species occurring in different regions on the shelf, and shifts from one management jurisdiction to another. These changes will directly affect fishing communities, as species now landed at those ports move out of range, and new species move in.

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WPI, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the U.S. Coast Guard Successfully Test a Novel Oil Spill Cleanup Technology
March 24, 2017 02:22 PM - Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Tests conducted this week of a novel technology that can greatly accelerate the combustion of crude oil floating on water demonstrated its potential to become an effective tool for minimizing the environmental impact of future oil spills. Called the Flame Refluxer, the technology, developed by fire protection engineering researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) with funding from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), could make it possible to burn off spilled oil quickly while producing relatively low levels of air pollutants.

The tests of the Flame Refluxer were conducted this week by WPI and BSEE at the United States Coast Guard’s Joint Maritime Test Facility on Little Sand Island, located in Mobile Bay. WPI is the first university to work on research at the facility since it reopened in 2015. The tests involved controlled burns of oil in a specially designed test tank on the island.

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SPOTLIGHT

Birds sing shorter songs in response to traffic noise

Taylor & Francis Group via EurekAlert!

Birds sing differently in response to traffic noise, which potentially affects their ability to attract mates and defend their territory, according to research published in Bioacoustics. The study found that a species of North American flycatcher sings shorter songs at a lower range of frequencies in response to traffic noise levels. The researchers suggest traffic noise reduction, for example through road closures, is a viable option for mitigating this effect.

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