New study casts light on climate change and oceanic oxygen levels
August 10, 2014 09:55 AM - University of South Carolina via ScienceDaily
A commonly held belief that global warming will diminish oxygen concentrations in the ocean looks like it may not be entirely true. According to new research published in Science magazine, just the opposite is likely the case in the northern Pacific Ocean, with its anoxic zone expected to shrink in coming decades because of climate change. An international team of scientists came to that surprising conclusion after completing a detailed assessment of changes since 1850 in the eastern tropical northern Pacific's oxygen minimum zone (OMZ). An ocean layer beginning typically a few hundred to a thousand meters below the surface, an OMZ is by definition the zone with the lowest oxygen saturation in the water column. OMZs are a consequence of microbial respiration and can be hostile environments for marine life.
What happens immediately after an oil spill?
August 9, 2014 08:51 AM - Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, via EurekAlert
The fate of oil during the first day after an accidental oil spill is still poorly understood, with researchers often arriving on the scene only after several days. New findings from a field experiment carried out in the North Sea provide valuable insight The immediate aftermath of an oil spill The fate of oil during the first day after an accidental oil spill is still poorly understood, with researchers often arriving on the scene only after several days. New findings from a field experiment carried out in the North Sea provide valuable insight that could help shape the emergency response in the immediate wake of disasters.
Paint dust pollutes the oceans
August 8, 2014 09:51 AM - Erik Stokstad, Science
Even when the sea looks clean, its surface can be flecked with tiny fragments of paint and fiberglass. That's the finding from a study that looked for plastic pollution in the uppermost millimeter of ocean. The microscopic fragments come from the decks and hulls of boats, and they could pose a threat to tiny creatures called zooplankton, which are an important part of the marine food web. The discovery is "continuing to open our eyes to how many small synthetic particles are in the environment," says Kara Law, an oceanographer who studies plastic pollution at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and wasn’t involved in the study.
Can water-polluting drugs have a positive effect on fish?
August 8, 2014 08:13 AM - Editor, ENN
Many studies have shown that personal care products, like toothpaste, shampoo, and other drugs that we use and get into our wastewater have negatively affected fish populations, disrupting their endocrine systems. But can there be any positive effects? A new study shows that one antianxiety drug that made its way into a lake in Sweden has in fact, positively affected the Eurasian perch population, making them bolder, less social, and more active than unexposed fish, ultimately reducing their mortality rates.
Mercury in the oceans increasing
August 6, 2014 05:29 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Although the days of odd behavior among hat makers are a thing of the past, the dangers mercury poses to humans and the environment persist today. Mercury is a naturally occurring element as well as a by-product of such distinctly human enterprises as burning coal and making cement. Estimates of "bioavailable" mercury—forms of the element that can be taken up by animals and humans—play an important role in everything from drafting an international treaty designed to protect humans and the environment from mercury emissions, to establishing public policies behind warnings about seafood consumption.
A Second Use for Cigarette Butts
August 5, 2014 12:10 PM - Editor, ENN
It is estimated that as many as 5.6 trillion used-cigarettes, or 766,571 metric tons, are deposited into the environment worldwide every year. That's a lot of litter, especially when it takes 18 months to 10 years for cigarette filters to degrade! However, these butts may have a newly discovered second use as a group of South Korean scientists have converted these cigarette leftovers into a high-performing material that could be integrated into computers, handheld devices, electrical vehicles and wind turbines.
Toledo, Ohio water problems
August 3, 2014 09:14 AM - Codi Kozacek, Circle of Blue
The City of Toledo has issued a "Do Not Drink" advisory for residents served by Toledo Water after chemical tests confirmed the presence of unsafe levels of the algal toxin Microcystin in the drinking water plant’s finished water. The advisory, spanning three counties in Ohio and one in Michigan, leaves more than 400,000 people in the Toledo area without drinking water. "Do not drink the water," Melanie Amato, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Health, told Circle of Blue. "You can shower in it, bathe in it, but do not try to ingest it. That means no washing dishes; you can brush your teeth with it as long as you don’t swallow any water, but we recommend using bottled water for that as well."
Study predicts climate change and pollution will combine to impact food production
August 2, 2014 09:50 AM - EcoRI News staff
Many studies have shown the potential for global climate change to cut food supplies. But these studies have, for the most part, ignored the interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution -- specifically ozone pollution, which is known to damage crops. A new study involving researchers at MIT shows that these interactions can be quite significant, suggesting that policymakers need to take both warming and air pollution into account in addressing food security.
Drilling in the Dark
August 1, 2014 08:54 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison
As production of shale gas soars, the industry's effects on nature and wildlife remain largely unexplored, according to a study by a group of conservation biologists published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on August 1. The report emphasizes the need to determine the environmental impact of chemical contamination from spills, well-casing failure, and other accidents. "We know very little about how shale gas production is affecting plants and wildlife," says author Sara Souther, a conservation fellow in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "And in particular, there is a lack of accessible and reliable information on spills, wastewater disposal and the chemistry of fracturing fluids. Of the 24 U.S. states with active shale gas reservoirs, only five maintain public records of spills and accidents." The 800 percent increase in U.S. shale gas production between 2007 and 2012 is largely due to the use of hydraulic fracturing. Also called fracking, the process uses high-pressure injection of water, laden with sand and a variety of chemicals, to open cracks in the gas reservoir so natural gas can flow to the well.
Nesting Implications for the Northern Gulf Loggerhead
July 31, 2014 10:29 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, a massive response to protect beaches, wetlands, and wildlife occurred. Nonetheless, because of the spill, extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats were reported and many studies have been conducted to quantify the affects of the oil spill on specific species. One study in particular which started in the wake of the spill looks at the nesting of loggerhead sea turtles in the northern Gulf and how their feeding areas have been not only affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill, but by commercial fishing operations, and areas used for oil and gas extraction.