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Archive for December, 2013

Figure 2: To analyze polystyrene pellets, researchers used an advanced analytical technique to separate components of the polystyrene from PAHs that were absorbed by the polystyrene.. The figure above is an example of data they received from the method. Each compound is represented by a mark on the plot. PHE, ANT, and CHR are abbreviations for three PAHs - phenanthrene, anthracene, and chrysene - which were impossible for researchers to see using their typical analysis techniques.

Double Trouble: Marine Plastic Debris Absorbs Toxic Pollutants

Recently, you may have heard that scientists have discovered small plastic particles floating in the open ocean and in the Great Lakes. The presence of these tiny plastic pieces is a cause of concern on its own, but did you know that plastic can also interact with other forms of marine pollution? Researchers at San Diego State University deployed small plastic pellets in San Diego Bay to determine whether plastics absorbed or released pollutants as they floated in the water. Their findings suggest that polystyrene may pose a more serious threat than other plastics.

(Fig 2).  To confidently identify a seal in video sequences, ideally two or three characteristic markings or features could be observed on the seal.

This Time Around, Humans Aren’t the Bad Guys in the Salmon Fishery

Salmon fishing is a huge industry in the Baltic Sea. So it comes as no surprise that when a predator starts attacking the fishing nets, a change must occur. In this case, the gray seals targeting the salmon nets are portrayed as the bad guys.

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Why lions can thank wildfires for the African Savanna

Sediment records show that wildfires caused the initial expansion of grasslands in Africa during the Miocene (8 million years ago) allowing the African Savanna to evolve into the spectacular ecosystem we know today.

Ash distribution model of probability for disrupted take-off and landing.

If Popocatépetl volcano blows, prepare for a few nights stuck in the airport.

Plinian eruptions have a high degree of material fragmentation, generating high altitude ash plumes that can travel far from the vent site. The impacts of these types of eruptions include hazards such as human health concerns, roof collapses, disruption of terrestrial communications, and the jeopardization of air travel.

Fig 2: Rock lobster, Jasus lalandii

Diamonds and Diversity: How mining waste is laying waste to marine communities.

With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are still scrambling to find gifts for friends and loved ones. Jewelry stores become inundated with shoppers looking to make a statement, and what makes a bigger statement than a diamond? Well, that is if it isn’t a conflict diamond. Even if the salesman assures you your diamond hasn’t financed insurgency, you may want to think twice as it appears diamond mining is causing a decline in the number of coastal marine species.

The Christmas tree coral (Antipathes dendrochristos). In situ red and white color variants of Christmas tree coral colonies within the Southern California Bight. These coral colonies were found at 300 m depth and were approximately 50 cm tall (Fig. 1; Huff et al. 2013).

A unique, underwater niche for Christmas trees

Who would have thought that the Southern California Bight is a great place for Christmas trees to grow? Scientists have an inkling that a few key environmental factors influence underwater Christmas tree location and growth. Dr. David Huff and his research team are interested in accomplishing this via habitat modeling.

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Riding the Waves of Change: A Revised Beach Cycle for Mixed Sand and Gravel Beaches

A seasonal cycle of sand volume for typical sand beaches has been described for decades. This cycle does not hold true for beaches of mixed sand and gravel compositions. The highlighted study revises the beach cycle based off of observations during a year of strong storms. Improving our understanding of how the beach responds and recovers from powerful storms is the first step to protecting our vulnerable coastal communities.

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Is Aragonite Saturation State (Ωa) the Best Way to Describe Calcification Rate?

Nearly every scientific report concerning the effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs describes changes in calcification as a function of the aragonite saturation state (Ωa). Is this the best parameter that we can use to represent calcification condition? Are there any other options?

Figure 1: Yearly production of electrical energy by wind farms globally.  The red line is the doubling time, three years.

Environmental Blow from Wind Farms

Wind farms are an ideal source of electrical power because of their ability to provide an environmentally low-impact fuel source at a low cost. Over the past few decades, global wind farm production has grown exponentially and will continue to rise into the future. Unfortunately, reported cases of environmental impacts continue to arise; what was once viewed as an eco-friendly fuel source is gaining scrutiny from nearby communities.

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Cuttlefish camouflage: A new method for studying the masters of disguise

Squid, octopus, and cuttlefish are considered masters of disguise in the ocean. But how do they do it? A recent study by Goodwin and Tublitz tested a new technique to study cuttlefish camouflage using image analysis software.

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