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Environmental Monitoring


June 2016 Issue

Modeling the Ocean’s
Biological Pump

On the ocean’s sunlit surface, phytoplankton absorb carbon during photosynthesis. A portion of that carbon filters through the marine food web before sinking into the ocean depths, where it remains for years, or even millennia. This process, known as the biological pump, significantly affects the Earth’s climate.

Timothy DeVries, an assistant professor in UCSB’s Department of Geography, received a grant from NASA and is using satellite data and oceanographic observations to construct models that address substantial uncertainties in how the ocean’s biological pump operates and how it responds to climate change. The three-year grant is part of NASA’s New (Early Career) Investigator Program (NIP) in Earth Science.

DeVries aims to correlate what the satellites see at the ocean surface with data from subsurface observations, providing further insight into photosynthesis, phytoplankton and concentrations of elements in seawater.

Updated QC Manual
For Water Level Data

The U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Quality Assurance/Quality Control of Real-Time Oceanographic Data (QARTOD) project, www.ioos.noaa.gov/qartod, has released the “Manual for Real-Time Quality Control of Water Level Data” Version 2.0, which helps data providers and operators to ensure the most accurate real-time data possible.

Water level observations covered by procedures outlined in the manual are collected in oceans and lakes in real time. Scientists use sensors that employ various technologies, including microwave radar, pressure, acoustic, GPS and laser. Most water level sensors operate from fixed platforms, for example, at tide stations that have benchmarks to ensure a stable reference point from which measurements are made.

Water level data are used for numerous critical applications, including those that contribute to safe navigation, recreational activities and input for modeling studies. These data are also essential for coastal zone management and construction, as well as weather forecasting and aiding the understanding of long-term climate trends.

175 Countries Sign
Paris Climate Agreement

Officials from 175 countries have signed the Paris Agreement on climate action in New York City, signaling a crucial milestone in international efforts to combat climate change.

The number of signatories set a new record for an international United Nations accord, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the next step is to ensure that the landmark deal enters into force as quickly as possible.

Adopted in Paris in December by 195 UN member states, the agreement’s objective is to limit global temperature rise to well below 2° C. It will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, ratify the deal.

Saga Orders Three More
Optimarin Ballast Systems

Ballast water treatment (BWT) specialist Optimarin has signed a contract with Saga Shipholding for the provision of three Optimarin Ballast Systems (OBS). Saga originally purchased an initial 26 systems from Optimarin in 2012.

The three new 2,000-cu.-m BWT units will be installed on newbuild open-hatch vessels under construction at Oshima Shipbuilding in Japan. Like the majority of the firm’s 32 current ships, the new additions will predominantly carry pulp from South America to markets in Europe and the Far East.

Winch for Vessels
Of Opportunity

A CORMAC M4C winch was supplied by MacArtney Benelux to Belgian dotOcean, specializing in sediment and soil characterization systems and instrumentation. CORMAC M4C is a customized version of the MacArtney CORMAC M modular winch series intended for use together with the dotOcean DensX sediment density profiler. DensX uses an in-situ, direct-measurement mud density method with X-ray technology and an automated winch.The Dutch Rijkswaterstaat (RWS) is the end-user of the integrated dotOcean/MacArtney solution, which is to be deployed from vessels of opportunity within the RWS fleet.

The winch design has been adapted in order for the level wind to be variable between 0° and 90°, depending on the winch position in relation to the vessel’s A-frame.

$8.5 Million Investment
In Coral Reefs

The California Academy of Sciences has announced an unprecedented $8.5 million investment in reversing the degradation and potential collapse of coral reefs worldwide. The coral reef initiative includes roughly 20 future expeditions to Earth’s most remote and unknown reefs. The initiative also involves opening an ambitious suite of museum exhibits and educational programs to the public. Nearly 75 percent of the world’s coral reefs are threatened by overfishing, habitat destruction, water pollution, climate change and ocean acidification. The Academy is also partnering with SECORE International to dramatically accelerate the world’s knowledge of coral biology and develop advanced techniques for coral reef restoration, using sexual reproduction and large-scale cultivation.

NASA Web Portal to
Monitor Sea Level Rise

Sea level rise is a critical global issue affecting millions across the planet. A new Web portal developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, gives researchers, decision makers and the public a resource to stay up to date with the latest developments and scientific findings in this rapidly advancing field of study.

The portal, “Sea Level Change: Observations from Space,” is online at https://sealevel.nasa.gov. Its key features include: “Understanding Sea Level,” a summary of decades of scientific research that has shaped our knowledge of sea level rise; an interactive data analysis tool, launching in mid-2016, that will allow direct access to NASA data sets on sea level; news highlights and feature stories with strong visual elements; an extensive library of published papers on sea level-related topics; a multimedia section with dynamic still and video imagery, and a glossary of sea level terms; and a “frequently asked questions” section maintained by sea level scientists.


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