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Environmental Monitoring


November 2016 Issue

ABS Updates Ballast
Water Treatment Guide

ABS has updated its “Guide for Ballast Water Treatment” at www.eagle.org to support industry in the design and installation of ballast water management solutions that meet both regulatory and operational requirements. The update comes as industry is addressing the technical challenges brought about by the recently ratified International Maritime Organization (IMO) Ballast Water Management Convention.

The IMO requirements for ballast water management enter into force September 8, 2017. Central to these changes is the requirement that vessels use approved ballast water management systems.

Ocean Acidification Leads
To Reef Zooplankton Loss

Tropical coral reefs lose up to two-thirds of their zooplankton through ocean acidification, according to a German-Australian research team that examined two reefs with carbon dioxide seeps off the coast of Papua New Guinea, where volcanic carbon dioxide escapes from the seabed, lowering the water’s acidity to a level that scientists predict for the future of the oceans.

The researchers believe that the decline in zooplankton is due to the loss of suitable hiding places, resulting from the changes in the coral reef community due to increasing acidification. Instead of densely branched branching corals, robust mounding species of hard coral grow, offering the zooplankton little shelter. The impact on the food web of the coral reefs is far-reaching because these micro-organisms are an important food source for fish and coral.

CODAR to Help Refine
US Tsunami Warnings

CODAR Ocean Sensors Ltd. is under contracted partnership to refine SeaSonde HF radar outputs that will provide useful warnings of approaching tsunamis off U.S. coasts. Directed from the Tsunami Warning Center (TWC) in Palmer, Alaska, and co-sponsored by NOAA/National Weather Service Tsunami Program Office’s Tsunami Research Advisory Council and NOAA/NOS U.S. IOOS, the aim is to optimize detection while reducing false alarms. CODAR’s q-factor detection algorithm will be installed and run in in real time on four SeaSondes operating in New Jersey, correlating false alarms with external influencers such as background currents, radio interference and noise.

Near-real-time ASCII files of q-factor spikes from the four radars will be sent to TWC in Palmer to allow feedback from TWC to improve CODAR algorithm and NOAA decision thresholding and permit site-specific performance assessment.

Toxins Take to
Warm Ocean

A new study connects the unprecedented West Coast toxic algal bloom of 2015 that closed fisheries from southern California to northern British Columbia to the unusually warm ocean conditions, nicknamed “the blob”, in winter and spring of that year, the American Geophysical Union reported.

This identifies a link between ocean conditions and the magnitude of the toxic bloom in 2015 that resulted in the highest levels of domoic acid contamination in the food web ever recorded for many species.

The 2015 harmful algal bloom was dominated by a single species of diatom, Pseudo-nitzschia australis, normally found farther south off California. Warm water favors its growth. By early 2015 the warm “blob” had moved toward shore and spread all along the West Coast. Warmer water creates less dense surface water that is more likely to stay floating on the surface, where it can become depleted in nutrients.

Domoic acid can cause gastrointestinal distress, seizures, memory loss and even death.

The blob was a one-time event not due to global warming, but it indicates what could happen with warmer waters due to climate change. Ocean climate cycles could help understand and better predict the emergence of toxic algal blooms.

Survey of Great Pacific
Garbage Patch

The Ocean Cleanup Project is developing technology to extract plastic and other debris floating in the world’s oceans. The technology relies on ocean currents to transport the plastic toward collection arrays that concentrate the material so it can be extracted and recycled. The project is focused on the “great garbage patch” in the Pacific Ocean approximately 1,500 naut. mi. from the U.S. West Coast.

Validation of the ocean plastic transport models is a requirement for the next phase of the project. This will be achieved by deployment of drifter buoys from a long-range Lockheed C130 Hercules aircraft. Teledyne Optech’s CZMIL (Coastal Zone Mapping and Imaging Lidar) successfully carried out the first in a series of low-speed, low-altitude survey flights across the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Optech HydroFusion software suite combines this lidar data with information from the CZMIL’s RGB camera and an ITRES SASI-600 short-wave infrared sensor to create the first 3D visualization of the patch and help identify the number, size and type of plastic objects present. Fastwave’s Voyager drifter was used to track the surface layer of the ocean where the debris is concentrated.

Niskin Bottle for Marine
Science Investigations

Prince Andrew School, a secondary school on the British island of St. Helena, has received a donation of a 5L Niskin bottle from Ocean Scientific International Ltd. (OSIL). This will enable the school to participate in environmental investigations, including the ASC global microplastics project.

Measurements of salinity, temperature, pH and dissolved nutrients will be taken and the data fed into several investigations. Samples will also be taken at various depths and sent to the ASC project, which analyzes samples sent from locations in oceans around the world to assess plastic pollution.

The Niskin bottle will also be used for marine science courses that have started on the island. The hope is to generate sufficient interest to train a local to assist the island’s Marine Division to monitor, manage and protect the local marine environment.


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