Ice melt uncovers five new islands in the Russian Arctic

October 29, 2019 by  
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Five new Russian islands have emerged from the mass melting of glaciers and sea ice in the Arctic region. The islands were first spotted in 2016 by the Russian Navy via satellite imagery and were recently confirmed and mapped during an expedition this past August and September. Frequency of ice melt glaringly warns of climate impacts that are hitting harder and sooner than anticipated. Temperature changes stemming from global warming have adversely affected the Arctic. According to a September United Nations report , glaciers, snow, ice and permafrost are diminishing “and will continue to do so.” Similarly, Arctic sea ice has declined every month, “and it is getting thinner.” If greenhouse gas emissions levels continue to rise, the UN anticipates that around 70 percent of permafrost could be lost by 2100. Related: IPCC landmark report warns about the state of the oceans, polar ice content and the climate crisis Of the five yet unnamed islands, the smallest measures 900 square meters, and the largest measures 54,500 square meters. Their emergence highlights the UN’s warning that the period from 2015 to 2019 registered the most glacier loss of any five-year timespan. “Mainly this is, of course, caused by changes to the ice situation,” confirmed Vice Admiral Alexander Moiseyev, who was the expedition leader. “Before, these were glaciers; we thought they were part of the main glacier. Melting, collapse and temperature changes led to these islands being uncovered.” The new islands are located in proximity to the Vylki glacier , off the coast of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, just northwest of the Russian mainland. Video footage provided by the Russian expedition revealed seabirds, walruses and polar bears already populating the islands’ shores. Interestingly, the shrinking northern ice cap has opened up sea lanes in the Arctic, making them more navigable. The discovery of these five new islands amidst the accelerated receding of the ice caps will therefore have geopolitical and consequent environmental implications, since the Arctic may well become, in the future, a much-contested highway and natural resource center of oil, natural gas , mineral deposits and even immense fisheries. Via CNN Image via Christopher Michel

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Ice melt uncovers five new islands in the Russian Arctic

The Ocean Cleanup reveals the Interceptor to remove plastic pollution from rivers

October 29, 2019 by  
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After recently announcing its first success at collecting plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch , The Ocean Cleanup team is widening efforts by addressing the main entry point of litter — rivers. To tackle the 1,000 rivers responsible for about 80 percent of global ocean plastic pollution, the nonprofit has deployed a new invention, the Interceptor. The Interceptor catches and collects plastic junk, preventing its flow from rivers into oceans. “To truly rid the oceans of plastic, what we need to do is two things. One, we need to clean up the legacy pollution , the stuff that has been accumulating for decades and doesn’t go away by itself. But, two, we need to close the tap, which means preventing more plastic from reaching the oceans in the first place,” shared Boyan Slat, CEO and founder of The Ocean Cleanup. “Rivers are the arteries that carry the trash from land to sea.” Related: The Ocean Cleanup has first success collecting plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch Development of the Interceptor began in 2015. As the company’s first scalable solution to stop the river rush of plastic entering oceans, the device is shaped like a catamaran and houses an anchor, conveyor belt, barge and dumpsters. It operates autonomously and can extract 50,000 kilograms of trash per day before needing to be emptied. The Interceptor is 100 percent solar-powered and operates 24/7 without noise or exhaust fumes. It is positioned where it does not interfere with vessel traffic nor harm the safety and movement of wildlife. How does it work? The Interceptor is anchored to the riverbed at the mouth of a river flowing to the ocean. With an on-board computer connected to the internet, it continually monitors performance, energy usage and component health. Guided by the Interceptor’s barrier, plastic waste flowing downstream is directed into the device’s aperture, where a conveyor belt delivers the debris to the shuttle. The shuttle then distributes the refuse across six dumpsters that are equally filled to capacity via sensor data. When capacity is almost full, the Interceptor automatically sends a text message alert to local operators to remove the barge and empty the dumpsters. The plastic pollution will be transported to local waste management facilities, and the barge will be returned to the Interceptor for another cycle. To date, three Interceptors are already operational in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. The Dominican Republic will receive the next Interceptor in the pipeline, while other countries are on the waitlist. In the United States, Los Angeles is finalizing agreements for an Interceptor of its own in the near future. A single Interceptor is currently priced at 700,000 euros (about $777,000). As production increases, Slat has said the cost will drop over time. Of course, the benefits of removing plastic far outweigh the cost of creating the devices. Slat explained, “Deploying Interceptors is even cheaper than deploying nothing at all.” + The Ocean Cleanup Image via The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup reveals the Interceptor to remove plastic pollution from rivers

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