Moya Power tests sheeting material to harvest wind power from London’s Crossrail

February 14, 2018 by  
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We can harness the power of wind in a field or on the ocean, but what about in drafty train tunnels? 27-year-old Charlotte Slingsby’s startup Moya Power seeks to generate electricity capturing wind in existing infrastructure, Wired reported . The company employs a lightweight sheeting material to harvest low grade wind power. They have a pilot project underway on the London Crossrail . Slingsby pioneered Moya Power as part of an Innovation Design Engineering master’s program at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art (RCA); the description on RCA’s website describes Moya as a building material able to harvest wind energy in a variety of locations, like bridges or building facades. The statement on the project said, “The printed, semi-transparent sheets are light, low cost, versatile, and scalable.” Related: Pavegen unveils world’s first energy-harvesting smart street in London Wired described Moya as lamellae-covered plastic sheets. Moya Power’s website said the energy harvesting material “is designed to scavenge-off low grade wind energy, which is abundantly found against existing infrastructure . This involves vibrations and low speed, turbulent winds generating power 24 hours a day, which can be mounted on otherwise unused surfaces, hidden from public view.” One of those areas is the London Crossrail . The Moya material has been installed in tunnels , where wind from trains causes protrusions on the sheeting to move to generate electricity. According to Wired, the system is able to generate 10 percent of the power per square meter a solar panel can. Slingsby sees her product as one piece of a future mixture of urban power sources. She told Wired, “If we all live in cities that need electricity, we need to look for new, creative ways to generate it. I wanted to create something that works in different situations and that can be flexibly adapted, whether you live in an urban hut or a high-rise .” + Moya Power Via Wired and Royal College of Art Images via Transport for London Flickr and Moya Power/Royal College of Art

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Moya Power tests sheeting material to harvest wind power from London’s Crossrail

Clothing company removes 1,000,000 pounds of trash from global waters

February 13, 2018 by  
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Fast fashion is a dirty business, and the apparel industry is considered one of the world’s most toxic, second only to the oil industry when it comes to pollution. Some big labels are keen to tout their greenwashed textiles or “responsible” material sourcing, but few have taken measures to reduce waste. Enter  United By Blue , a sustainable fashion line that not only uses eco-friendly materials in the manufacturing of its products but has made a commitment to removing one pound of trash from global oceans and waterways for every product sold. The model, which was introduced in 2010, has so far led to the removal of 1,039,456 pounds of trash across 27 states—and counting. The initiative is wholly backed by United by Blue’s employees and like-minded volunteers looking to make a difference. Over 200 cleanups have been organized thus far, and everything from  plastic bottles , tires, appliances, to abandoned trucks have been scooped out of rivers, streams, creeks, and beaches. What’s more, United by Blue has budgeted time, resources, and money into its business plan for cleanups, and employees are paid for their contributions. Related: Billions of pieces of plastic trash are sickening the world’s coral reefs As it stands, eight million tons of plastic enter oceans each year with plastic bottles accounting for 1.5 million tons. There is almost no part of the world that has been untouched by the pollution , which endangers sea life and ends up in our food when we consume seafood that has unwittingly ingested plastic. Even scarier, in a recent study , researchers looked at more than 124,000 corals from 159 reefs in Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia, and found that plastic has ravaged the reefs. “We came across chairs, chip wrappers, Q-tips, garbage bags, water bottles, old nappies,” Joleah Lamb, a marine disease ecologist at Cornell University and lead author of the study, told the Atlantic . “Everything you see on the beach is probably lying on the reef.” Nearly 90 percent of corals that come into contact with plastic will get some sort of infection. Lamb and her colleagues reported that almost every time they lifted a piece of plastic shrouding coral, the coral was riddled with disease. Here’s hoping that more clothing companies follow United By Blue’s model so we can end this scourge once and for all. + United by Blue Via Treehugger

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Clothing company removes 1,000,000 pounds of trash from global waters

2017 was the hottest year on record for Earth’s oceans

January 29, 2018 by  
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Last year was the hottest year on record for Earth’s oceans , according to two scientists at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IAP/CAS). The increase in ocean heat led to a 1.7-millimeter global sea level rise – and other consequences like “declining ocean oxygen, bleaching of coral reefs, and melting sea ice and ice shelves.” The ocean absorbs over 90 percent of the planet’s “residual heat related to global warming ,” according to the researchers, Lijing Cheng and Jiang Zhu, whose work recently came out as an early online release in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences . While they said the increase in ocean heat content for last year happened in most of the world’s regions, the Atlantic and Southern Oceans displayed more warming than the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Related: Rising ocean temperatures are cooking the Great Barrier Reef to death According to National Geographic , the two scrutinized ocean temperature data from multiple institutions, including the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists started gathering the data during the 1950’s – and in the late 1990’s, ocean temperatures started to take off, per the publication. The IAP ocean analysis reveals “the last five years have been the five warmest years in the ocean.” National Geographic pointed out people visiting the beach probably wouldn’t notice the temperature rise, but a warming ocean could still have damaging impacts. Sea ice coverage and thickness have both taken a hit. And the window to save Earth’s coral reefs is closing quickly . The researchers said in their paper, “The global ocean heat content record robustly represents the signature of global warming…The human greenhouse gas footprint continues to impact the Earth system.” + Advances in Atmospheric Sciences Via Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences , The Guardian and National Geographic Images via Deposit Photos ,  Ant Rozetzky on Unsplash and Tim Lautensack on Unsplash

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2017 was the hottest year on record for Earth’s oceans

Doug Aitken’s mirrored underwater pavilions call attention to our deteriorating oceans

January 26, 2018 by  
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American artist Doug Aitken sank three mirrored domes into the seabed near California’s Catalina Island. Why, you ask? The artist wants swimmers to dive into the waters to get a closer look at the three reflective pavilions in order to bring attention to the deteriorating conditions of the world’s oceans. After the mirrored pavilions were constructed off-site, Aitken moored them into the seabed at differing depths to create an interactive art installation. The reflective cladding reflects and refracts the light in the water, giving off an ethereal underwater light show. Wide openings in the domes let divers and marine life swim through effortlessly. Related: Mirror-covered ‘Mirage’ house disappears into the California desert According to the artist, “Part of each structure is mirrored to reflect the underwater seascape and create a kaleidoscopic observatory for the viewer, while other surfaces are rough and rock-like. The environments created by the sculptures will constantly change with the currents and the time of day, focusing the attention of the viewer on the rhythm of the ocean and its life cycles.” The underwater art installation is a collaboration between Aitken and Parley for the Oceans , an ocean activist group that seeks to spread awareness about the dire state of our maritime environment. Aitken’s process creating and sinking the domes is a call to action for the world to wake up and see that the future of our waters is fairly bleak. + Doug Aitken Via Dezeen Images via Doug Aitken

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Doug Aitken’s mirrored underwater pavilions call attention to our deteriorating oceans

Dow scrubs up marine plastic

January 23, 2018 by  
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Dow is known for bringing chemical solutions to the market. But it also has a long history of partnering with conservation organizations to find solutions to marine plastic debris.”We’re partnering with Ocean Conservancy to develop scientific information that helps us discover where marine debris can come from and how we keep them out of the ocean,” said Jeff Wooster, sustainability director at Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics, about their 30-year relationship. 

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Dow scrubs up marine plastic

Dow scrubs up marine plastic

January 23, 2018 by  
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Dow is known for bringing chemical solutions to the market. But it also has a long history of partnering with conservation organizations to find solutions to marine plastic debris.”We’re partnering with Ocean Conservancy to develop scientific information that helps us discover where marine debris can come from and how we keep them out of the ocean,” said Jeff Wooster, sustainability director at Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics, about their 30-year relationship. 

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Trump plan to reduce marine monuments could put vital ecosystems at risk

January 2, 2018 by  
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A report from United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recommends shrinking three ocean monuments and opening them up to commercial fishing . The monuments, two in the Pacific Ocean and one in the Atlantic Ocean , are undersea treasures, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s administrator between 2009 and 2013, Jane Lubchenco, who told The Guardian , “These ‘blue parks’ harbor unique species, a wealth of biodiversity , and special habitats.” President Donald Trump may not just take aim at land-based national monuments , but at the following three marine monuments. The over 490,500-square-mile Pacific Remote Islands monument, created by George W. Bush and expanded by Barack Obama, includes largely untouched coral reefs and is “the last refugia for fish and wildlife species rapidly vanishing from the remainder of the planet,” per the Fish & Wildlife Service . The 10,156 square mile Rose Atoll monument “protects diverse marine ecosystems and the millions of wildlife dependent upon the Central Pacific.” And the 4,913 square mile Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument is the United States’ only protected area in the Atlantic Ocean, featuring underwater mountains and canyons, deep-sea coral, and endangered whales and sea turtles. Related: Patagonia is suing the Trump administration over Bears Ears: “The President Stole Your Land” In his report Zinke said, “While early monument designations focused more on geological formations, archaeological ruins, and areas of historical interest, a more recent and broad interpretation of what constitutes an ‘object of historic or scientific interest’ has been extended to include landscape areas, biodiversity, and viewsheds.” Fishing organizations aren’t always pleased about the monuments. In March, a New England coalition sued the federal government over fears fishers would be out of a job due to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument. The challenge is based on the idea Obama exceeded his authority in designating the monument. Conservation groups worry activities like seabed mining or oil drilling could be next if monuments are opened for fishing. Pew Charitable Trusts Director of U.S. Oceans, Northeast Peter Baker told The Guardian, “It shouldn’t be too much to ask to protect two percent of the U.S.’s exclusive economic zone off the Atlantic coast for future generations.” Lubchenco said, “Creation of highly protected blue parks like these monuments is beginning to re-establish the all-important balance of places to be used and places to be treasured. We need both.” Via The Guardian Images via USFWS – Pacific Region on Flickr and NOAA photo by Hatsue Bailey

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Trump plan to reduce marine monuments could put vital ecosystems at risk

Double whirlpool spotted in nature for the first time

December 27, 2017 by  
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Scientists at the University of Liverpool have observed “double whirlpools” in the natural world for the first time. Until now, the unusual fluid dynamics phenomenon had only been theoretically envisioned. While eddies, whirlpools that can span hundreds of miles in the open ocean , are not uncommon, two connected eddies spiraling in opposite directions was previously unheard of. “Ocean eddies almost always head to the west, but by pairing up they can move to the east and travel ten times as fast as a normal eddy, so they carry water in unusual directions across the ocean,” said Chris Hughes, study lead-author and University of Liverpool oceanographer. The double-whirlpools are known as modons and were suspected to exist for decades, though scientists had never acquired hard evidence of their existence. This changed when Hughes began to closely study satellite footage of the ocean surrounding Australia . “I happened to notice one little feature down in the Tasman Sea [between Australia and New Zealand] that was behaving very strangely compared to everywhere else,” Hughes told Popular Science . “Almost all these eddies drift slowly westwards, but this little feature was going quickly eastwards.” Related: Scientists find the Earth’s constant hum is coming from the ocean floor After further investigation, Hughes and his team learned that modons are not actually as rare as once thought. Satellites had been recording images of the phenomenon for decades, though scientists had not known where to look for them. Although there is still much research to be done, scientists believes that a double-whirlpool may form when two whirlpools collide with each other in the ocean. It is also possible that modons emerge as a result of friction impacting a whirlpool close to the coast. After formation, a modon casts a U-shaped underwater vortex and can endure for up to six months. Given their size and speed, modons may play an important role in ocean ecology. “My thinking is that these linked, fast moving eddies could ‘suck-up’ small marine creatures and carry them at high speed and for long distances across the ocean,” Hughes said. “You would get particular blobs of water where the biology and the conditions are totally different from the surrounding area. It’s quite possible there are shoals of particular types of fish following these eddies for their special conditions. Fish would actually actively follow the eddies by choice because of what’s in them.” Via ScienceAlert Images via DepositPhotos , NASA , University of Liverpool and Depositphotos

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NASA picks two finalists for exciting new robotic mission

December 22, 2017 by  
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NASA is planning a robotic mission for the mid-2020s, and they’ve chosen two finalists for a possible destination. One option could snag a sample from a comet nucleus, which could help us understand the origins of life and the oceans on Earth. The other could fly to Saturn’s moon Titan – which scientists think holds an ingredient for life and also has enough energy resources for a United States-sized colony. Out of 12 submitted proposals, NASA has selected two finalist concepts for their robotic mission slated for sometime in the next decade. One is the Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return (CAESAR), which would attempt to gather a sample from the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. According to NASA, comets are comprised of “materials from ancient stars, interstellar clouds, and the birth of our solar system .” Obtaining a sample could help us understand how those materials might have played a role in early Earth. Related: Saturn’s biggest moon has enough energy to power a US-sized space colony Option two is a voyage to Titan. NASA could send Dragonfly, a drone-like dual-quadcopter lander, to the ocean world near Saturn to “explore the prebiotic chemistry and habitability of dozens of sites” – some hundreds of miles apart. Dragonfly could conduct seismic studies, image landforms to delve into geological processes, and monitor surface and atmospheric conditions. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said in a statement, “This is a giant leap forward in developing our next bold mission of science discovery. These are tantalizing investigations that seek to answer some of the biggest questions in our solar system today.” Cornell University leads the team behind CAESAR, while the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory is behind Dragonfly. Both will receive funding through the end of next year to develop the ideas further, and NASA plans to pick one in 2019. Via NASA Images via NASA

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Tiny treadmills for turtle hatchlings help scientists evaluate their stamina

December 20, 2017 by  
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When baby sea turtles are born, within their first 24 hours they make the journey from nest to ocean . The trek which should take a few minutes sometimes lasts hours in urban settings where artificial light can disorient the hatchlings. Two Florida Atlantic University (FAU) scientists employed wee treadmills and little swimsuits to dig into the turtles’ swimming performance after crawling for so long – and they were surprised by what they found. Speed is crucial for turtle hatchlings, who face dangers on their way to the ocean. Their survival “depends heavily on their ability to swim,” according to FAU. But in urban settings, excess light from streets and buildings can draw the babies away from the ocean and towards land – where they might get run over by traffic, drown in a pool, or be eaten by a predator. Biological sciences associate professor Sarah Milton said in a statement, “What prompted our study was the desire to understand what happens to these hatchlings after they spend hours crawling on the beach because they are disoriented. We wanted to know if they would even be able to swim after crawling 500 meters or more, which could take them as long as seven hours to complete.” Related: Police Officer Saves Nearly 100 Baby Sea Turtles in Florida Milton and graduate student Karen Pankaew conducted what FAU described as the “first study on disorientation to examine the physiological effects of extended crawling and swimming performance.” They gathered 150 hatchlings from 27 loggerhead and 18 green turtle nests in Palm Beach County, Florida . The hatchlings walked on tiny treadmills before swimming in a tank in a specially designed swimsuit. The scientists measured oxygen consumption, lactate accumulation, and swimming breathing and stroke rates. Field studies supplemented laboratory observations. The hatchlings were placed into the ocean in their natural habitats shortly after collection. The study results completely surprised the researchers, according to Milton, who said, “We were expecting that the hatchlings would be really tired from the extended crawling and that they would not be able to swim well. It turned out not to be the case and that they are in fact crawling machines. They crawl and rest, crawl and rest and that’s why they weren’t too tired to swim.” She also said the study offers a scientific basis to back up lighting ordinances during hatching season. The Journal of Experimental Biology published the study in November. Via Florida Atlantic University Images via Pixabay and Jay Paredes

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