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Giant Floating Boom Designed to Collect Trash from Ocean Finally Working

Our ocean cleanup system is now finally catching plastic, from one-ton ghost nets to tiny microplastics!

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FILE - A ship tows the Ocean Cleanup Project's first buoyant trash-collecting device toward the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco en route to the Pacific Ocean, Sept. 8, 2018. VOA

After several initial failures, a giant floating boom designed to collect trash from the ocean is finally working.

The Ocean Cleanup Project, created by a 25-year-old Dutch university dropout, has begun collecting items ranging in size from as large as commercial fishing nets to as small as 1 millimeter pieces of plastic from the area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch located halfway between California and Hawaii.

“Our ocean cleanup system is now finally catching plastic, from one-ton ghost nets to tiny microplastics! Also, anyone missing a wheel?” Boyan Slat tweeted.

The 600-meter-long free-floating boom has a tapered 3-meter-deep screen that acts like a coastline to trap the estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that form the patch, while allowing marine life to swim under it.

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The Ocean Cleanup Project, created by a 25-year-old Dutch university dropout, has begun collecting items ranging in size from as large as commercial fishing nets. Pixabay

An underwater parachute anchor was added to the boom after it failed to trap any trash in the sea last year. The anchor slowed down the boom to allow it to passively catch the trash while moving with the currents.

Using sensors and satellites, the boom communicates with scientists to let them know when it is time to send out a boat to pick up the collected trash for recycling.

The environmental nonprofit Ocean Conservancy estimates between 600,000 and 800,000 metric tons of fishing gear is abandoned or lost in the oceans every year. Another 8 million metric tons of plastic trash such as bottles, bags and toys flow annually into the ocean from beaches, rivers and creeks.

Slat said the next move will be to design a bigger, stronger boom that will be able to collect trash for a year or more before a ship is sent out to empty it.

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“There’s a lot of work still ahead of us,” he said. (VOA)

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Deep Sea Life Under Threat as Global Warming Reaches Ocean Depths: Research

Animals living in the deep ocean are more exposed to climate warming and will face increasing challenges

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Global warming
Global warming is seriously affecting deep sea life. Pixabay

Even though the deeper layers of the ocean are warming at a slower pace than the surface, animals living in the deep ocean are more exposed to climate warming and will face increasing challenges to maintain their preferred thermal habitats in the future, warn researchers. The study led by the University of Queensland in Australia and published in the Nature Climate Change, looked at how ocean life was responding to climate change.

“We used a metric known as climate velocity which defines the likely speed and direction a species shifts as the ocean warms,” said study researcher Isaac Brito-Morales. The international team of researchers calculated the climate velocity throughout the ocean for the past 50 years and then for the rest of this century using data from 11 climate models. “This allowed us to compare climate velocity in four ocean depth zones – assessing in which zones biodiversity could shift their distribution the most in response to climate change,” Brito-Morales said.

The researchers found climate velocity is currently twice as fast at the surface because of greater surface warming, and as a result, deeper-living species are less likely to be at risk from climate change than those at the surface. “However by the end of the century, assuming we have a high-emissions future, there is not only much greater surface warming but also this warmth will penetrate deeper,” Brito-Morales said.

Global warming
Researchers believe that action must be taken to aggressively manage carbon emissions and global warming. Pixabay

In waters between a depth of 200 and 1000 metres, The research showed climate velocities accelerated to 11 times the present rate.”And in an interesting twist, not only is climate velocity moving at different speeds at different depths in the ocean, but also in different directions which poses huge challenges to the ways we design protected areas,” Brito-Morales added. The research team believed action must be taken to aggressively manage carbon emissions.

“Significantly reducing carbon emissions is vital to control warming and to help take control of climate velocities in the surface layers of the ocean by 2100,” said study researcher Anthony Richardson. “But because of the immense size and depth of the ocean, warming already absorbed at the ocean surface will mix into deeper waters,” he added.

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This means that marine life in the deep ocean will face escalating threats from ocean warming until the end of the century, no matter what we do now. “This leaves only one option – act urgently to alleviate other human-generated threats to deep-sea life, including seabed mining and deep-sea bottom fishing,” the authors wrote. (IANS)

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A Nuclear War Between India and Pakistan Can Pose a Threat To Ocean Life, Says Study

A lingering question is whether the survivors could still get food from the sea

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Ocean
For the study, published in Geophysical Research Letters journal, the researchers looked at how climate changes stemming from nuclear war would affect the ocean life. Pixabay

A nuclear war between India and Pakistan could worsen the impact of ocean acidification on corals, clams, oysters and other marine life with shells or skeletons, says a study.

“We found that the ocean’s chemistry would change, with global cooling dissolving atmospheric carbon into the upper ocean and exacerbating the primary threat of ocean acidification,” said the study’s co-author Alan Robock, Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University in the US.

For the study, published in Geophysical Research Letters journal, the researchers looked at how climate changes stemming from nuclear war would affect the oceans.

They used a global climate model in which the climate reacted to soot (black carbon) in smoke that would be injected into the upper atmosphere from fires ignited by nuclear weapons. They considered a range of hypothetical nuclear wars, including a relatively small one between India and Pakistan and a large one between the US and Russia.

Excess carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels enters the ocean and reacts with water to form carbonic acid, which decreases ocean pH (makes it more acidic) and lowers levels of carbonate ions. Corals, clams, oysters and other marine organisms use carbonate ions to create their shells and skeletons, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A more acidic ocean makes it harder to form and maintain shells and skeletons. The massive amount of smoke from a nuclear conflict would block sunlight and cause global cooling, the study said.

The cooling would temporarily boost the pH in the surface ocean over five years and briefly lessen the decline in pH from ocean acidification. But the cooling would also lead to lower levels of carbonate ions for about 10 years, challenging shell maintenance in marine organisms, said researchers.

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A nuclear war between India and Pakistan could worsen the impact of ocean acidification on corals, clams, oysters and other marine life with shells or skeletons, says a study. Pixabay

“We have known for a while that agriculture on land would be severely affected by climate change from nuclear war,” Robock said. “A lingering question is whether the survivors could still get food from the sea. Our study is the first step in answering this question,” Robock added.

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The next step is to combine projected changes in ocean chemistry with projected changes in temperature and salinity and assess their impacts on shellfish and fish stocks throughout the oceans, he said. (IANS)

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Neutralizing Ocean Acidification Possible with this Surf Wax Formula

Activists create surf wax formula to neutralize ocean acidification

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Ocean
Environmentalists have developed a surf wax that will reduce acidification in ocean. Pixabay

Australian environmental activists said on Tuesday that they have developed a surf wax formula that helps neutralize ocean acidification.

SmartWax, a brand manufacturing the formula, comes with the image of global leaders that deny climate change, such as US President Donald Trump, the non-profit responsible for the project, Clean Ocean Foundation Australia, told Efe news.

Surfers commonly apply the wax on the board before going into the sea as it helps to prevent them slipping.

From January 2020, they will also include the face of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

About 25 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions, one of the planet’s major polluters, are absorbed by oceans, contributing to their acidification and endangering marine life and ecosystems.

Surf Wax
This surf wax should be applied on the surfing board. Pixabay

According to Unesco data, if measures are not taken to reverse its effects before 2100, more than 50 per cent of marine life will be extinct.

“We can no longer afford to sit by and watch our oceans turn to acid and marine environments turn into a wasteland. SmartWax shows that we can all shape a better future for our ocean if we stick to it,” Clean Ocean Foundation CEO John Germill said in a statement.

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This wax, made from a natural substance capable of neutralizing ocean acids, will contribute towards small gradual changes to try to get the sea waters back to their natural pH levels.

With about 35 million surfers worldwide, Clean Ocean estimated that if all surf-board wax brands used their formula, it could help treat about 112 million liters of seawater per day. (IANS)