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Environmental Monitoring


April 2013 Issue

Namura MIBS VLCC Gets Design Approval from ClassNK
ClassNK (Tokyo, Japan) has granted approval in principle (AIP) to the minimal ballast water ship (MIBS) very large crude carrier (VLCC) design developed by Namura Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. (Osaka, Japan) in cooperation with the Shipbuilding Research Centre of Japan.

Namura's new MIBS VLCC design addresses the International Maritime Organization's new ballast water management regulations via the use of a new hull form, which greatly reduces the amount of ballast water necessary for safe operations. The MIBS design reduces the weight of ballast water required in normal ballast conditions by 65 percent, paving the way for the use of smaller ballast water treatment systems and reducing fuel consumption.

This new MIBS design builds on a previous nonballast water ship (NOBS) design project promoted by the Japan Ship Technology Research Association as part of a Japanese national project. While the NOBS project succeeded in creating tanker designs that could operate without the need for ballast water, the extremely wide hull shape limited its commercial applications. The MIBS design incorporates features from the NOBS design, with a flatter bottom and standard breadth hull. This allows for a dramatic reduction in the amount of ballast water needed, while maintaining the dimensions of a standard VLCC.

AIP is an essential step in the process of bringing novel concept designs into practical use. The AIP certifies that the revolutionary hull design satisfies all international requirements for hull strength and safety, the same as more traditional tanker hull designs.

NOAA Updates Arctic Charts Due to Ice Loss
NOAA's Office of Coast Survey has issued an updated Arctic Nautical Charting Plan to improve inadequate chart coverage for Arctic areas experiencing increasing vessel traffic due to ice diminishment. The update came after consultations with maritime interests and the public, as well as with other federal, state and local agencies.

'As multi-year sea ice continues to disappear, vessel traffic in the Arctic is on the rise,' said RAdm. Gerd Glang, NOAA Coast Survey director. 'This is leading to new maritime concerns about adequate charts, especially in areas increasingly transited by the offshore oil and gas industry and cruise liners.'

'Given the lack of emergency response infrastructure in remote Arctic waters, nautical charts are even more important to protect lives and fragile coastal areas,' Glang said.

Commercial vessels depend on NOAA to provide charts and publications with the latest depth information, aids to navigation, accurate shorelines and other features required for safe navigation in U.S. waters. But many regions of Alaska's coastal areas have never had full bottom bathymetric surveys, and some haven't had more than superficial depth measurements since Captain James Cook explored the northern regions in the late 1700s.

'Ships need updated charts with precise and accurate measurements,' said Capt. Doug Baird, chief of Coast Survey's marine chart division. 'We don't have decades to get it done. Ice diminishment is here now.'

NOAA plans to create 14 new charts to complement the existing chart coverage. For example, seven of the charts will complete chart coverage from the Alaska Peninsula to Cape Lisburne at the edge of the North Slope, and more charts support the future maritime transportation infrastructure in the coastal areas north of the Aleutian Islands.

Arctic Ice Decline Causes Greater Storm Surges
Recent declining summer sea ice extent over the Arctic Ocean, a climatic shift driven by rising air temperatures, is causing surface winds to have increased contact with the ocean waters, in turn increasing the size of surface waves, according to a study published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Researchers also anticipate that ongoing climate change will increase the strength and frequency of Arctic summer and fall storms. Together, these climatic shifts are expected to lead to an increase in both the frequency and size of storm surges, flooding events that can dramatically affect Arctic coastal regions.

Supporting the theoretical expectation that storm surges will increase with climate change, the study reconstructed an approximately 400-year-long record of storm surge activity as recorded by lake-bed sediments that the researchers collected from three lakes in the Mackenzie Delta, which experienced a 1999 storm surge event that covered more than 12,000 hectares of the landscape in seawater, killing local vegetation and disrupting the freshwater ecosystems. Much of this northern ecosystem has yet to recover from the event.

The authors found that the magnitude and frequency of storm surges have increased over the past 150 years and that these changes track shifts in temperature and sea ice. They found that the 1999 storm surge event had the largest effect in at least the past 400 years. The Mackenzie Delta is rich with natural resources and, hence, is the focus of potential future resource development projects. The authors suggest that these trends in storm surges should be taken into account when considering Arctic infrastructure development.

Chelsea Tech Fluorometers In Use To Study Antarctic Phytoplankton
For the last 10 years,'Professor Andrew McMinn and his team from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies ' University of Tasmania have been using a Chelsea Technologies Group Ltd. (Surrey, England) FastOcean Fast Repetition Rate fluorometer to gain insight into primary production, photosynthesis and photosynthetic health in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic.

The base of the Antarctic food chain is phytoplankton and single-cell algae, which are the foundation for the whole Antarctic ecosystem. Phytoplankton photosynthesize and produce oxygen. Marine photosynthesis is responsible for approximately half the oxygen in the atmosphere.

Changes in sea ice extent and thickness will have massive effects on the phytoplankton and algae in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic regions. The researchers are investigating how these changes will play out and how they will influence these photosynthetic organisms that are crucial to the region's ecosystem.


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