07 November 2013

This Week in Water

Big stuff doing this week! We'll be focusing primarily on ocean matters.

The biggest? The massive "Super Typhoon" Haiyan bearing down on the Philippines. Called "one of the most intense tropical cyclones in world history, with sustained winds an incredible 190 mph."

Oh yeah, Fukushima is still a hot mess, presenting a global threat that requires a global response. Some are calling for TEPCO to be shut down for failure to effectively manage the March, 2011, nuclear meltdown disaster which resulted from the earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast—that and the cover-up of the true extent of the damage. Engineers are preparing to remove the first of thousands of nuclear fuel rods from one of the flood-destroyed reactors (No. 4). The other 3 reactors are still too 'hot' to carry out this operation. Meanwhile, radioactive water continues to flow into the Pacific Ocean. And some fear a future quake in Northern Japan could trigger a disaster that would decimate Japan and potentially cause the evacuation of the U.S. West Coast.

Is the ocean broken? Some are seeing signs. If not already dead, it seems to be dying a slow death.

According to an article in Science magazine, the Pacific is warming faster than at any time in at least the past 10,000 years.

And, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), sea levels are rising at unprecedented rates.

Here's a map from National Geographic showing what the world's coastlines would look like in the event of a complete melt of Greenland and other land-based ice regions. It's not pretty.

Russia and China are blocking efforts by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctica Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to create two ocean sanctuaries in Antarctica to protect the pristine wilderness.

The use of sonar to map potential undersea oilfields killed 100 melon-headed whales near Madagascar.

Starfish are dying horribly along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to California, and no one seems to know how or why.

Over a million tons of debris from the Fukushima tsunami—a floating junkyard island roughly the size of Texas—is drifting just 1700 miles of the U.S. west coast.

SXSW Eco 2013 (not the one you think) is a gathering of professionals and activists attempting to come up with solutions to the complex challenges facing civil society from the destruction and deterioration of our ocean environments.

Oysters are reclaiming ancient reefs in Chesapeake Bay. That's a good thing. "Oysters ... act as filters, providing a valuable clean up service. Nitrous phosphate runoff from wastewater, agriculture and storm runoff has broadened the bay's "dead zone" dramatically ... killing marine life. In a process called denitrification, the mollusks gulp down nitrogen, algae and sediment and spew out cleaner, clearer water. An acre of oysters can filter 140 million gallons of water an hour and remove 3,000 pounds of nitrogen a year" according to scientists at the University of Maryland. Texas would like to be able to do the same thing.

Chile is investing in tide-driven power plants.

Scientists from Hawaii and Australia believe certain genetically-selected 'super corals' can help de-acidify ocean reefs.

The U.S. EPA has launched an initiative to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans. Barnacles can help consume and degrade the tons of plastics littering the oceans.

Jellyfish are proliferating as a result of warming seas and increasing acidification. "Jellyfish blooms — the term for giant swarms of jellyfish — have also been responsible for nuclear shut downs in California, Florida, Israel, Scotland, India, and Japan, where one plant has reported removing as much as 150 tons of jellyfish from its system in one day. In 1999, a jellyfish bloom clogged the cooling system of a major coal-fired plant in the Philippines, leaving 40 million people without power. And in 2006, in a nigh unprecedented act of aggression, jellyfish in Brisbane, Australia, afflicted the massive nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan with an “acute case of fouling,” clogging its cooling systems and forcing it to leave the harbor." In response, some Korean scientists are attempting to build robots to exterminate them.

UPDATE: Russia dropped piracy charges against Greenpeace protestors, but has charged them with hooliganism which still entails years in prison.

Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepherd, arrived in the U.S. after 15 months at sea as a fugitive from Costa Rican justice over charges stemming from a confrontation with shark-finners on the high seas.

The U.S. Navy launched its first "all-electric" ship, the Zumwalt. Its four gas-turbine generators are the extent of its internal combustion engines. Its commander? Capt. James A. Kirk. I kid you not. (No Tiberius, though)


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Here's some water...the ducks are leaving its vicinity in search of bread, which they are sure I have. Good thing the car that came along was prepared to hit the breaks!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

By the way, Avast has gone back to not hating goggle maps anymore.

I guess it was just a tiff...