Ecosystems

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.

Corals Die as Global Warming Collides with Local Weather in the South China Sea
March 23, 2017 02:45 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

In the South China Sea, a 2°C rise in the sea surface temperature in June 2015 was amplified to produce a 6°C rise on Dongsha Atoll, a shallow coral reef ecosystem, killing approximately 40 percent of the resident coral community within weeks, according to a study published in Scientific Reports this week.

Wind and waves churn the sea, flushing shallow-water coral reefs with seawater from the open ocean to help them stay cool. But according to new research from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), when the weather turns still and these natural cooling mechanisms subside, just a few degrees of ocean warming can prove lethal to the corals that live there.

Climate Change and an "Overlooked" Nutrient: Silica
March 23, 2017 02:03 PM - Barbara Moran via Boston University

Among ecologists, carbon gets all the glory. Scientists examine its critical role in plant growth and decay, they chart its contributions to greenhouse gases, and they measure its sequestration in earth, sea, and sky.

Often overlooked in all this research is the humble element silicon, or “silica,” as it’s called when found in nature. If ecologists (or biologists or biogeochemists) think of silica at all, they regard it as a bit player, a ho-hum component of rocks and sand.

Climate Change and an "Overlooked" Nutrient: Silica
March 23, 2017 02:03 PM - Barbara Moran via Boston University

Among ecologists, carbon gets all the glory. Scientists examine its critical role in plant growth and decay, they chart its contributions to greenhouse gases, and they measure its sequestration in earth, sea, and sky.

Often overlooked in all this research is the humble element silicon, or “silica,” as it’s called when found in nature. If ecologists (or biologists or biogeochemists) think of silica at all, they regard it as a bit player, a ho-hum component of rocks and sand.

Fish evolve by playing it safe
March 23, 2017 09:09 AM - University of British Columbia (UBC)

New research supports the creation of more marine reserves in the world’s oceans because, the authors say, fish can evolve to be more cautious and stay away from fishing nets.

Salmon with side effects
March 22, 2017 04:53 PM - Helmholtz Centre For Environmental Research - UFZ

Tasty, versatile, and rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids: salmon is one of the most popular edible fish of all. Shops sell fish caught in the wild, but their main produce is salmon from breeding farms which can pollute rivers, lakes and oceans. Just how big is the problem? German and Chilean scientists are working to answer this question under the leadership of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). They examined the dissolved organic compounds which enter Chile's rivers from salmon farms, and have published a report in the journal Scientific Reports, warning that these substances are placing huge strain on ecosystems and are changing entire biological communities.

Salmon with side effects
March 22, 2017 04:53 PM - Helmholtz Centre For Environmental Research - UFZ

Tasty, versatile, and rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids: salmon is one of the most popular edible fish of all. Shops sell fish caught in the wild, but their main produce is salmon from breeding farms which can pollute rivers, lakes and oceans. Just how big is the problem? German and Chilean scientists are working to answer this question under the leadership of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). They examined the dissolved organic compounds which enter Chile's rivers from salmon farms, and have published a report in the journal Scientific Reports, warning that these substances are placing huge strain on ecosystems and are changing entire biological communities.

Under the Dead Sea, Warnings of Dire Drought
March 22, 2017 04:39 PM - The Earth Institute at Columbia University

Nearly 1,000 feet below the bed of the Dead Sea, scientists have found evidence that during past warm periods, the Mideast has suffered drought on scales never recorded by humans—a possible warning for current times. Thick layers of crystalline salt show that rainfall plummeted to as little as a fifth of modern levels some 120,000 years ago, and again about 10,000 years ago. Today, the region is drying again as climate warms, and scientists say it will get worse. The new findings may cause them to rethink how much worse, in this already thirsty and volatile part of the world.

Researchers collaborate on climate change as cause of wetland die-off
March 22, 2017 08:43 AM - Nipissing University

Researchers from Nipissing University’s Geography department are part of a study published in the journal Marine and Freshwater Research that points a finger at climate change as the cause of a massive wetland die-off in Australia.

The foundation of aquatic life can rapidly adapt to global warming, new research suggests
March 21, 2017 04:11 PM - University of Exeter

Important microscopic creatures which produce half of the oxygen in the atmosphere can rapidly adapt to global warming, new research suggests.

Phytoplankton, which also act as an essential food supply for fish, can increase the rate at which they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen while in warmer water temperatures, a long-running experiment shows.

Monitoring of one species, a green algae, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, after ten years of them being in waters of a higher temperature shows they quickly adapt so they are still able to photosynthesise more than they respire.

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