Climate change is draining the oceans of oxygen

February 16, 2017 by  
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A new study in the journal Nature has found that the amount of dissolved oxygen in the ocean is declining worldwide – and it’s a direct result of climate change. The paper was authored by researchers from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, and found that the oceans of the world have lost more than two percent of their oxygen content between 1960 and 2010. However, the losses were not spread evenly across the globe – the Arctic Ocean, in particular, has suffered the sharpest decline. Why? Global warming . The major reason is that warm liquid holds onto dissolved gas less easily, but there are other factors at play as well. Ocean stratification is becoming a major issue – normally, oxygen enters the water at the surface and mixes down, but because warm water is less dense and doesn’t sink as rapidly, the oxygen-rich water closest to the surface simply floats instead. None of this is news to climate scientists. In fact, climate models have predicted this effect might happen for years. However, this is the first study to look at millions of ocean measurements and combine them into a single analysis, proving the effect is actually happening. Related: Ocean dead zone near African coast shows lowest oxygen levels ever recorded The oceans already naturally contain “oxygen minimum zones” which can’t support much marine life, usually occupying the middle depths of the ocean. Scientists fear this shift in oxygen levels may expand those areas, and potentially create “ dead zones ” in shallow areas, effectively reducing the habitat available for marine organisms. Worse yet, the situation may end up creating a feedback loop that could actually worsen climate change. These oceanic “dead zones” tend to be areas where microorganisms that produce greenhouse gasses like nitrous oxide thrive. The study is just one more piece of evidence showing that we need to take strong action to curb climate change immediately. Via The Washington Post Images via Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons

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Climate change is draining the oceans of oxygen

Adidas Teams with Nonprofit to Turn Plastic Pollution into Shoes

January 27, 2017 by  
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The world’s oceans are in big trouble. Each year, 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean, and it’s not just harming precious marine life — it’s hurting us as well. Plastic debris in the water absorbs dangerous pollutants, and as it breaks…

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Adidas Teams with Nonprofit to Turn Plastic Pollution into Shoes

Obama shuts down all pending permits for seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean

January 9, 2017 by  
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Outgoing President Barack Obama made another last-minute effort to secure his environmental legacy last week, when he formally denied all pending permits to conduct seismic airgun blasting in the Altantic Ocean . The practice is used to search for oil and gas deposits below the ocean’s surface, but conservationists say it poses unique threats to the ocean’s wildlife, and that it can disrupt entire marine ecosystems. This new move not only protects vulnerable ecosystems from the direct effect of the tests – it also sends a message to oil and gas companies that new development in the Atlantic is not welcomed by the federal government or coastal communities. Seismic airgun testing is conducted by blasting intense bursts of compressed air into the ocean continuously for weeks or even months on end. The noise from these blasts is loud enough to be heard up to 2,500 miles away from the source and is intensely disruptive to many forms of marine life which depend on their ability to detect sound in order to communicate and survive – including fish, sea turtles, and whales. Some of these species , like the right whale , are critically endangered. This is more than simply an environmental issue: it’s also an economic problem. As Oceana has pointed out in their campaigns, research shows that seismic blasting ends up reducing catch rates of commercially valuable fish. So this decision by the Obama administration protects communities that depend on income from fishing to survive. Related: Obama creates two new western national monuments in last minute effort The decision to ban airgun blasting is one of several groundbreaking environmental decisions Barack Obama has made in the closing days of his term: he’s also shut the door on new Arctic and Atlantic drilling over the next five years, and created two new national monuments in the Western US. Via Oceana Images via Gabriel Barathieu , Green Fire Productions , and Lauren Packard

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Obama shuts down all pending permits for seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean

Incredible rooftop farm takes over Israels oldest mall to grow thousands of organic vegetables

January 9, 2017 by  
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An amazing farm has sprouted in an unlikely place—the rooftop of Israel’s oldest mall in the heart of Tel Aviv . Hidden between high-rises, “Green in the City” is a rooftop farm that produces 10,000 heads of leafy greens a month year-round using organic and hydroponic methods—no dirt required. This thriving example of urban agriculture is one of many surprising sustainable initiatives at the Dizengoff Center shopping mall , which includes bird habitat, a tree nursery, rooftop apiary, and even a bat cave for native fruit bats to call home. According to the United Nations , over 54 percent of the world’s population lives in cities, a proportion that is expected to grow to 66 percent by 2050. The challenge of producing enough food to feed the increasingly urbanized and growing population is one of the impetuses behind Green in the City, a rooftop farm launched in 2015 by Lavi Kushelevich of the hydroponics company LivinGreen and the Dizengoff Center’s sustainability department. The urban agriculture project was created to raise public awareness about the food crisis, provide affordable organic produce to Tel Avivians, and to give city dwellers the tools they need to start hydroponic gardens at home. Today the farm grows 10,000 heads of leafy greens a month year-round, with 17 different kinds of vegetables and herbs on rotation at a time, inside two greenhouses that total 750 square meters of growing space. The vegetables, which are grown from seedlings, are primarily cultivated using a Deep Water Culture foam raft system. The plant’s roots grow through holes in the floating foam rafts, which insulates the water and blocks sunlight. The water is oxygenated with an air pump and the pH and nutrient levels are carefully monitored. Thanks to these soil-less hydroponic farming methods, the vegetables are grown twice as fast with less spoilage, water usage, and land as compared to traditional agricultural practices. The vegetables are also grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, however, aren’t certified organic due to Israel’s agriculture laws that require organic foods to be grown in soil. However, organic certification isn’t the goal behind the project. Green in the City’s primary aim is to promote urban farming in Israel and beyond through educational workshops and community outreach programs. Workshops led by Lavi teach visitors how to build and use hydroponic systems at home; other workshops teach participants how to cook the fresh greens, like bok choy. The educational area includes demonstrations of Deep Water Culture systems, Nutrient Film Technique vertical and horizontal PVC pipe systems, an aquaponics system, home biogas unit, a compact Living Box greenhouse, as well as smaller hydroponic home starter kits. The hydroponic systems are developed by LivinGreen for both home and commercial use and are sold by Green in the City to help fund the initiative. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vW_5ZSqYFF0 Related: World’s largest rooftop farm sprouts 10 million pesticide-free crops each year Green in the City sells everything that they grow and the majority of the produce is sold to Tel Aviv restaurants and homes, with orders made online and shipments delivered by bicycle. A portion of the vegetables are also sold downstairs in the shopping mall through the Honesty Stand, the first model of its kind in the city, where produce and their price tags are displayed in a timber kiosk. The high-quality organically grown produce—such as chives, lettuce, basil, and celery—are sold at affordable prices thanks to the Honesty Stand’s lack of staff and reliance on an honor system and collection box. Lavi says that 80 percent of people who take produce do pay, and its high success rate has inspired him to install more Honesty Stands in the future. The Green in the City rooftop farm is still young but has already sown seeds for great success. The initiative not only provides city dwellers the means to grow their own food simply and affordably, but has also found a way to become economically sustainable with income generated through sales of vegetables, hydroponic systems, and educational workshops. The initiative also has plans for expansion, with sights set on a ground-floor urban farm in Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market. + Green in the City + Vibe Israel Tour courtesy of Vibe Israel Images © Lucy Wang

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Incredible rooftop farm takes over Israels oldest mall to grow thousands of organic vegetables

Scientists find first contagious cancer transmissible between species

June 30, 2016 by  
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Scientists have seen contagious cancer before, in Tasmanian devils, in dogs, and in soft-shell clams in Prince Edward Island. Now, researchers are adding one more occurrence to the list: a contagious, leukemia-like disease that appears to be widespread among shellfish with hinged shells, called bivalves, such as clams, mussels, and cockles. Researchers discovered evidence, for the first time ever, that this particular disease can spread between species , making it slightly more terrifying. A team of Spanish scientists initially found the cancerous phenomenon in shellfish off the coast of Galicia, Spain but other researchers working in Canada have also observed the contagious disease. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ir5H-yZONg8 Scientists learned that the disease was spreading among ocean creatures  belonging to related, but different species after a genetic analysis of the cancer cells. Cancer originates from mutated cells but are genetically similar to the host, so analyzing the cancer cells helped researchers determine their origin. So far, the disease has been found in mussels off the coast of British Columbia and in cockles and golden carpet shell clams in Spain, and it is very similar to a disease soft-shell clams in Prince Edward Island have suffered. Related: Clams could clean up oil spills without chemicals This discovery of a transmissible cancer is probably just the beginning, according to study coauthor Jim Sherry, an Environment Canada scientist based in Burlington, Ontario. “It may be more widespread in nature than we know,” he said. Instead of being very similar to the genetic makeup of their host, cancer cells of this variety are “wildly different from the host,” according to lead author Stephen Goff, a professor of microbiology at Columbia University. The cancer cells they found in golden carpet shell clams had originated in the pullet carpet shell, a related species of shellfish . “This had to be a case of cross-species transmission,” Goff said. Luckily, the scientists think the contagious cancer is a rare occurrence, and isn’t likely to spread to unrelated species. The study, published in the journal Nature , describes the nature of the contagious cancer in shellfish in Spain, Canada, and the northern United States. Via CBC Images via CUMC

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Watch thousands of giant spider crabs colonize the seafloor near Melbourne

June 17, 2016 by  
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Did you know that crabs migrate? Unlike birds that fly south for the winter to avoid the frigid cold, giant spider crabs head to the shallow waters of Australia’s southern coast in pursuit of warmth . Each year, hundreds of thousands of crabs migrate, and one scientist was lucky enough to capture video of a giant horde of spider crabs as they gathered in Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne. Crowding together like this is an odd behavior that scientists don’t completely understand, but it is quite a spectacle to behold – check out a video after the jump. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQSHfutIzh8 Australian aquatic scientist Sheree Marris, a documentary film producer and former winner of three Young Australian of the Year awards, was exploring just off the coast when she came upon a mass of the giant spider crabs that she described as several hundreds of meters long. With the crabs stacked up to 10 individuals deep, it’s impossible to know how many crabs were present. Each crab can measure up to 12 feet from claw to claw, giving them greatest leg span of any arthropod on the planet. Related: More than one-third of coral is dead in parts of the Great Barrier Reef The reason for the giant spider crabs gathering together en masse is something scientists don’t completely understand. The prevailing theory, though, is that they cluster for protection during the molting season, when they become more vulnerable to predators after shedding their hard outer shells. Certainly, a crab that strays from the crowd would be easily picked off by a dogfish or a sea turtle. An alternative theory suggests the behavior may be related to mating. Regardless of the reason for the giant spider crab mob, Marris hopes her video will help raise awareness of the diversity of marine animals off Australia’s coast, an area where many people have misconceptions about the nature of sea life. “Who would have thought something like this, that is so spectacular, could be happening in Australia on the southern shore?” she said. Via BBC Images via Sheree Marris

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Gibraltar to end one of the world’s largest balloon releases

April 8, 2016 by  
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Every year Gibraltar releases 30,000 balloons into the sky. This National Day tradition has a devastating impact on marine creatures, as an estimated 3,000 balloons spiral down to defile the ocean . In response to pressure from environmental groups, the island is finally ending this polluting practice. Read the rest of Gibraltar to end one of the world’s largest balloon releases

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World’s largest underwater restaurant installed in the Maldives

March 14, 2016 by  
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Looking for a unique dining experience on your next trip abroad? The Hurawalhi Island Resort in the Maldives just installed the world’s largest underwater restaurant, which offers breathtaking views of the sea floor. While most underwater restaurants can only accommodate about a dozen people at a time, Hurawalhi Island Resort’s new dining room will be able to seat 30 when it opens in August 2016. Read the rest of World’s largest underwater restaurant installed in the Maldives

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World’s largest underwater restaurant installed in the Maldives

Liter of Light lamps illuminate inspiring Ross Langdon Health Education Centre in Uganda

March 14, 2016 by  
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Liter of Light lamps illuminate inspiring Ross Langdon Health Education Centre in Uganda

This beached orca died with a stomach full of garbage

December 31, 2015 by  
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Local residents were delighted when a young female orca appeared near Plettenberg Bay in South Africa earlier this month, coming together to rescue the whale when she was found beached on the shore. Unfortunately, the joy of the rescue was short-lived. Only a week later, the orca was found dead . When researchers performed an autopsy to find out what killed the whale, they found her stomach was full of plastic and garbage. Read the rest of This beached orca died with a stomach full of garbage

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