Renewable Wind Energy Can Help Save the Planet and the Ocean’s Marine Life

Winds rarely break into the news except when they disrupt daily life. But many sports—including all boating, most hunting, archery, surfing, casting—keep us mindful of wind. Here in San Francisco, two of the most thrilling sports depend on ocean wind. From the cliffs of Fort Funston, hang gliders use the coming wind to rise as they launch over the Pacific. Homeward bound after fishing the Pacific, our party boat is usually intercepted near the Golden Gate Bridge by a kiteboard, whose rider has one arm steering his kite, flying high above and buffeted there by that potent incoming wind, while the other arm works a line steering his board. He rides our turbulent wake, zigzagging madly because his wind-driven speed is faster than our boat’s.

For thousands of years, those ocean winds drove human history. Think about sails. Beginning sometime between 3000 and 1500 BCE, the sailing ships of the Austronesian people used the wind to explore and settle most of the islands of the south Pacific. By 1200 BCE, the sailing ships of Phoenicia and other maritime civilizations used the wind to turn the Mediterranean into a marketplace. Wind powered the ships that “discovered” and looted the “New World ” from the 15th century through most of the 19th century. All the people stolen from Africa were driven by wind into slavery. Massed formations of wind-powered European warships fought to divide the world. Sails kept the sun from ever setting on the

— source | H. Bruce Franklin | Dec 4, 2021

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Humans Have Broken a Fundamental Law of the Ocean

On November 19, 1969, the CSS Hudson slipped through the frigid waters of Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia and out into the open ocean. The research vessel was embarking on what many of the marine scientists on board thought of as the last great, uncharted oceanic voyage: The first complete circumnavigation of the Americas. The ship was bound for Rio de Janeiro, where it would pick up more scientists before passing through Cape Horn—the southernmost point in the Americas—and then head north through the Pacific to traverse the ice-packed Northern Passage back to Halifax Harbour.

Along the way, the Hudson would make frequent stops so its scientists could collect samples and take measurements. One of those scientists, Ray Sheldon, had boarded the Hudson in Valparaíso, Chile. A marine ecologist at Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Sheldon was fascinated by the microscopic plankton that seemed to be everywhere in the ocean: How far and wide did these tiny organisms spread? To find out, Sheldon and his colleagues hauled buckets of seawater up to the Hudson’s laboratory and used a plankton-counting machine to total up the size and number of creatures they found.

Life in the ocean, they discovered, followed a simple mathematical rule: The abundance of an organism is closely linked to its body size. To put it another way, the smaller the

— source | Matt Reynolds | Dec 2, 2021

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Marine Oxygen Levels are the Next Great Casualty of Climate Change

Last summer, more than 100 miles of Florida’s coastal waters became an oxygen-depleted dead zone, littered with fish that could be seen even into Tampa Bay. On the other side of the country, Dungeness crabs were washing onto Oregon’s shoreline, unable to escape from water that has, in dramatic episodes, become seasonally depleted of oxygen over the past two decades.

While much of the conversation around our climate crisis focuses on the emission of greenhouse gases and their effect on warming, precipitation, sea level rise and ocean acidification, little is said about the effect of climate change on oxygen levels, particularly in oceans and lakes. Water without adequate oxygen cannot support life, and for the three billion people who depend on coastal fisheries for income, declining ocean oxygen levels are catastrophic.

As ocean and atmospheric scientists focused on climate, we believe that oceanic oxygen levels are the next big casualty of global warming. To stop this, we need to build on the momentum of the recent COP26 summit and expand our attention to the perilous state of oceanic oxygen levels—the life support system of our planet. We need to accelerate ocean-

— source | Julie Pullen | Nov 23, 2021

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High levels of toxic pollutants in stranded dolphins and whales

A study led by researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute examined toxins in tissue concentrations and pathology data from 83 stranded dolphins and whales along the southeastern coast of the United States from 2012 to 2018. Researchers examined 11 different animal species to test for 17 different substances in animals found on the shores in North Carolina and Florida.

This is the first study to date to publish a report examining concentrations in blubber tissues of stranded cetaceans of atrazine, an herbicide, DEP, (a phthalate ester found in plastics), NPE or nonylphenol ethoxylate commonly used in food packing, and triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal agent present in some consumer products, including toothpaste, soaps, detergents and toys.

They also analyzed liver samples for five non-essential elements (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, thallium), six essential elements (cobalt, copper, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc) and one toxicant mixture class (Aroclor, a highly toxic industrial compound).

— source Florida Atlantic University | Aug 6, 2020

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Warming climate will increase number of harmful algae blooms

When algae go wild, bad things can happen, especially when those algae produce toxic substances. The ripple effects can be potent and long-lasting. Examples include the so-called “dead zone” that arises periodically in the Chesapeake Bay, when decaying algal blooms suck the oxygen out of an area and threaten all plant and animal life there. Toxins produced by a 2014 algal bloom in Lake Erie polluted the water supply of Toledo, Ohio, forcing a closure of a water plant there. These harmful blooms can be deadly to water-loving dogs, cause illness in humans and wreak havoc on a region’s economy. Scientists have shown how warming temperatures contribute to an increasing number of these harmful algal blooms.

— source University of Delaware | Oct 28, 2021

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Large-Scale Ocean Circulation

Ferris Wheels are large amusement-park rides that carry us high up to provide an unrivaled view of the surroundings. They do no useful work, and are typically driven by one or more electric motors at the base. Around and around they go in a steady, ceaseless motion. Although typical Ferris Wheels do no useful work, Ferris Wheels could be repurposed as follows.

High on a cliff is a remote resort with no road access. Although people periodically ascend to or descend from the remote resort by other means, a steady stream of heat, fresh water, and food must be continuously supplied to the remote resort. A Ferris Wheel is mounted at the base of the cliff near a geothermal vent that provides a constant source of hot air. Nearby springs provide a supply of fresh water. Food is shipped in from a nearby town.

The gondolas of the Ferris Wheel have envelopes attached above them. As the gondolas pass over the geothermal vent, hot air rises, filling the envelope and pulling the gondolas

— source | 27 Sep 2021

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Sea level rose 3.1 mm each year between 1993 and 2020

The global ocean, which covers 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface and regulates the Earth’s climate and sustains life, is undergoing severe changes from natural variations, over-exploitation and anthropogenic influences, a new report has flagged. These changes caused the sea level to rise by 3.1 millimeters each year on an average from January 1993 through May 2020, according to the report The Ocean State Report 5 by the Copernicus Marine Environmental Monitoring Service.

— source | 24 Sep 2021

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Notes on Carbon Dioxide in Global Warming, Acidified Oceans, and Weathered Rocks

Like CO2 (carbon dioxide), H2O (water vapor) is a strongly heteropolar molecule — having one end with a positive electrical charge, and another end with a negative electrical charge — and absorbs outgoing Infrared Radiation (IR) from Earth’s surface, thus capturing heat in the atmosphere. Homopolar molecules like N2 (nitrogen) and O2 (oxygen) are transparent to IR. Inelastic molecular collisions redistribute that heat (as kinetic energy) to other atmospheric molecules (N2, O2, mainly) and atoms (Ar, He, trace components).

Most of Earth’s surface heat eventually diffuses into the oceans. Heat flows along the heat gradient in the negative direction from warmer air to colder water. The heat capacity (storage ability) of the oceans is IMMENSE (this is where ‘global warming’ ends up), and their heat content takes centuries to diffuse into a stable stratified distribution, rearranged by thermo-haline currents (a solar forcing effect) and by geometry (oceans as a spherical shell with warm equator and cold poles, so ocean heat diffuses poleward).

The fundamental problem of global warming is the ‘excess’ capture of outgoing IR (infrared radiation), reducing the rejection of Earth heat (originally delivered by incoming

— source | Manuel Garcia Jr | Sep 13, 2021

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Is your sunscreen killing the sea?

Sunscreen is essential to protect skin against cancer, and with many pandemic-related travel restrictions around the world starting to lift, sales are expected to rocket. Estimates vary about how much sunscreen makes it into our oceans each year. Researchers estimated that 20,000 tonnes is washed off tourists every year in the northern Mediterranean alone. between 6,000 and 14,000 tonnes are released annually in coral reef areas each year. The focus has been on two chemicals, the ultraviolet filters oxybenzone and octinoxate, though there are other troubling ingredients. Hawaii banned those UV filters from January this year, and in 2018 Palau announced broader restrictions on sunscreens containing a number of chemicals. Other regions have similar bans.

— source | 6 Aug 2021

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The ocean is losing its breath — here’s the global scope

In the past 50 years, the amount of water in the open ocean with zero oxygen has gone up more than fourfold. In coastal water bodies, including estuaries and seas, low-oxygen sites have increased more than 10-fold since 1950. Scientists expect oxygen to continue dropping even outside these zones as Earth warms. To halt the decline, the world needs to rein in both climate change and nutrient pollution. Approximately half of the oxygen on Earth comes from the ocean. However, combined effects of nutrient loading and climate change are greatly increasing the number and size of ‘dead zones’ in the open ocean and coastal waters, where oxygen is too low to support most marine life.

In areas traditionally called “dead zones,” like those in Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, oxygen plummets to levels so low many animals suffocate and die. As fish avoid these zones, their habitats shrink and they become more vulnerable to predators or fishing. But the problem goes far beyond “dead zones,” the authors point out. Even smaller oxygen declines can stunt growth in animals, hinder reproduction and lead to disease or even death. It also can trigger the

— source University of California – San Diego | Jan 4, 2018

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