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Environmental Monitoring


September 2013 Issue

2D Scientific Survey in Russian Barents
Petroleum Geo-Services (Lysaker, Norway) has acquired 8,840 kilometers of 2D data in the Russian Barents Sea and Kara Sea. The 2D survey, conducted in partnership with Geology Without Limits, began in 2012 using the vessel Akademik Lazarev. The scientific research survey is part of a multiyear, reflection seismic program, which includes increasing knowledge of the regional geology, tying the sedimentary basins, exploring interesting geological structures and identifying potential well locations.

The scientific research conducted in 2012 showed that the northern part of the Kara Sea indicates oil dominance in hydrocarbon presence.

The Kara Plate is one of the least explored regions of the Barents-Kara Shelf. Geophysical investigations began during the 1970s and the first offshore drilling started in the early 1980s. The area is ice-bound for the majority of the year.

The Kara Sea is a complex mosaic of basins and platforms, having undergone intercontinental sedimentation from 240 million years ago to 60 million years ago, after which it bordered the developing Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Availability of thick Paleozoic carbonate complexes makes the Kara Plate similar to the Timan-Pechora Plate, which is one of the main oil producing regions of Russia.

In the context of exploration of the region, there are many structures which have been revealed in deposits of Paleozoic systems, with both anticlinal and stratigraphic and lithological potential traps.

Grant Funds HRI Research of Sea Level Rise
The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has received a $790,000 grant from the Houston Endowment for a project to map and evaluate the effects of sea level rise on the upper Texas coast and develop tools to address the issue.

The program will forecast changes to the environment caused by sea level rise and also examine the socioeconomic impacts and public policy options for living with a rising sea. Since 1908, the tide gauge at Pier 21 on Galveston Island has recorded a rise in relative sea level of about 2 feet. Roughly 1 foot of this rise is due to a global increase in ocean water volume caused by climate change, with the remainder caused by local land subsidence. The amount of relative sea level rise across the greater Houston area varies because of differences in how much the land is sinking.

This phenomenon makes Houston and the surrounding areas more vulnerable to damage from hurricanes and other environmental changes. The study will assess the growing vulnerability of Houston and its surrounding counties to the adverse consequences of sea level rise.

1 Million Hours of Wave Data Recorded
The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Lowestoft, England) has acquired more than 1 million hours and 2 million records of wave data. That equates to approximately 114 years worth of data.

These data were collected mostly in areas where maritime operations like heavy shipping, fishing traffic and operational wind farms occur and harsh environmental conditions exist.

Conditions at a site west of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, during February 2013 saw recorded wave heights of up to 16.4 meters.

Monitoring the marine environment using autonomous systems provides a cost-effective approach to data acquisition. It is possible to deploy interactive and autonomous platforms that acquire and telemeter a range of biological, chemical and physical environment parameters.

This information can be used to influence marine management decisions, and modeling and forecasting can be delivered.

OSIL Produces New Giant Snow Catcher
OSIL (Havant, England) has added a giant snow catcher to its existing range of oceanographic equipment.

The snow catcher provides a means of collecting delicate biological material from the water column, or marine snow. The benefits of the snow catcher are that it allows a large volume of seawater to be captured and subsequently concentrated through controlled separation with minimal turbulence to produce an undamaged concentrated sample of biological matter.

The snow catcher is lowered to a depth where the unit is then closed using an on-deck messenger. Once the snow catcher is recovered, the unit is left, allowing the delicate particles of biological matter to sink to the bottom of the chamber. Where the overlying water has been released, through taps at the side of the unit, a concentrated sample of undamaged marine snow is left behind. To increase visibility and analyze the sample, the biological material is collected in a transparent chamber.

OSIL currently manufactures two versions of the snow catcher. The existing model is able to collect a sample of up to 100 liters. The giant snow catcher, which has the capacity to capture 300 liters, is useful for when a larger sample is needed, such as when studying areas of low biological wealth.

The snow catcher has been used in carbon flux studies, marine snow analysis and the examination of the food chain.

Atmospheric Rivers Potential Cause of Extreme Precipitation
The narrow bands of water vapor in the atmosphere, or atmospheric rivers, have been linked to extreme rainfall in western North America. According to a study in Geophysical Research Letters, atmospheric rivers could also be the cause of excessive precipitation in Western Europe.

Looking at data from 1979 to 2011, researchers compared atmospheric rivers with daily precipitation. Using an algorithm, the scientists identified more than 400 atmospheric rivers during the time frame they were investigating. The days that saw the highest levels of precipitation fell on either the same day or directly after the occurrence of an atmospheric river, with mountainous regions having the highest correlation.

In some areas, eight of the 10 days with the most precipitation coincided with atmospheric rivers.


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