AltaSea: Trending – August 7, 2019

A monthly round-up of news and trends important to the AltaSea community.


Robert Ballard found the Titanic. Can he find Amelia Earhart’s airplane? (National Geographic)

Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared more than 80 years ago, on July 2, 1937, during the second to last leg of their around-the-world flight. After taking off from Lae, New Guinea, in Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E, the pair aimed for tiny Howland Island, just north of the Equator. But they couldn’t find it, and despite many attempts, no one has been able to find them.

Now Robert Ballard, the man who found the Titanic, is planning to search for signs of the missing aviators. On August 7, he’ll depart from Samoa for Nikumaroro, an uninhabited island that’s part of the Micronesian nation of Kiribati. The expedition will be filmed by National Geographic for a two-hour documentary airing October 20.

AltaSea is proud to be the Pacific Coast home of Dr. Ballard and his amazing team at Ocean Exploration Trust.

Researchers Find a Simpler Pattern of Ocean Warming (The Harvard Gazette)

Something odd happened in the oceans in the early 20th century. The North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific appeared to warm twice as much as the global average, while the Northwest Pacific cooled over several decades.

Atmospheric and oceanic models have had trouble accounting for these differences in temperature changes, leading to a mystery in climate science: Why did the oceans warm and cool at such different rates in the early 20th century?

Now, research from Harvard University and the U.K.’s National Oceanography Centre points to an answer as mundane as a decimal point truncation and as complicated as global politics. Part history, part climate science, the research corrects decades of data and suggests that ocean warming occurred in a much more homogenous way.

Progress and Planning in Understanding Ocean Acidification (EOS)

Earth’s oceans are absorbing more and more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, causing ocean acidification (OA) that has harmful consequences for many marine organisms. Among other impacts, this acidification can throw food webs out of balance and negatively affect fisheries upon which humans rely.

The Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) is an international collaboration to observe ocean acidification (OA) worldwide, identify drivers of OA and its impacts on marine ecosystems, and provide biogeochemical data to optimize OA modeling and projections. The Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) is an international collaboration to observe OA worldwide, identify drivers of OA and its impacts on marine ecosystems, and provide biogeochemical data to optimize OA modeling and projections. Since its inception in 2012, GOA-ON has built a community of scientists through international workshops and regional training sessions intended to define priorities and approaches that advance these efforts. The 2019 international workshop, the fourth of its kind, was hosted in Hangzhou, China, by the State Key Laboratory of Satellite Ocean Environment Dynamics (SOED), part of the Second Institute of Oceanography within the Ministry of Natural Resources, and was attended by 270 participants from 60 countries.


Plastics Or People? At Least 1 Of Them Has To Change To Clean Up Our Mess (National Public Radio)

The avalanche of plastic waste that’s rolling over land and sea has inspired numerous potential solutions. Some involve inventing our way out of the mess by creating new kinds of natural materials that will harmlessly degrade if they’re thrown away.

Others say it might be quicker to change people’s throwaway behavior instead.

Among the first group is Stephen Mayfield. He’s a chemist who figured out how to turn various kinds of algae into raw plastic — polyurethane plastic. Then he turns it into stuff people want.

“What are the most important polyurethane products on the planet?” he asks. “Well, if you are from UC San Diego, they’re surfboards.”

Mayfield is a lifelong surfer whose lab in San Diego is walking distance from the beach. He works out of what looks like a machine shop on the University of California campus. His surfboards got him some attention (the mayor of San Diego has one), but that’s not what he really wants to make.

A Teen Scientist Figured out How to Suck Microplastics from the Ocean. There May Be Hope for Humanity. (Mother Jones)

On Monday, Fionn Ferreira, an 18-year-old from Ireland, took home the top prize—which includes, in addition to a lifetime of bragging rights, a $50,000 educational scholarship—at the Google Science Fair for his project on microplastic pollution.

Microplastics are plastic fragments less than 5 millimeters in size and they pose serious environmental and a public health risks. They are ubiquitous, having contaminated the most remote places of the world, including France’s Pyrenees mountains and the bottom of the Mariana Trench; they can be found in tap water and inside marine mammals and fish. While it’s not yet clear how microplastics affect human health, it’s safe to say they are of great concern to scientists.

Environmental ingenuity: These creative business ideas aim to be both sustainable and successful (

Picture this: Out in the open ocean, rows of farmed kelp spanning an area about the size of Mexico. Once harvested and processed, this rapid-growing seaweed would be turned into a fuel that you could pump into your car. No more relying on fossil fuels that take millions of years to form—and whose emissions into the atmosphere are the biggest contributor to the Earth’s rising temperatures.

Reams of scientific evidence including a recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—a nonpolitical assessment by 91 scientists from 40 countries—paints a stark picture for the economy, health and the environment if aggressive steps to reign in global warming are not taken in the next decade.

To tackle the challenge, USC Dornsife researchers have been testing creative solutions, from kelp biofuel to entirely new energy economies to redesigning waste. These solutions can be both entrepreneurial and profitable, creating innovative business models that can fuel jobs and a healthy economy while also saving the planet.


Mark Gold: California’s New Deputy Sec. For Oceans And Coastal Policy And Dir. Of The Ocean Protection Council (VERDEXCHANGE)

Despite the grandeur of California’s vast neighbor to the west, the Pacific Ocean is a vulnerable and sensitive resource facing threats on multiple fronts: from rising sea levels and ocean acidification to overfishing and marine pollution. The California Ocean Protection Council is a state agency tasked with managing efforts to protect the vitality of this rich resource and the ecosystems and economies that rely on it. In this interview, new Deputy Secretary for Oceans and Coastal Policy and Director of the Ocean Protection Council, Mark Gold, speaks to his time as Associate Vice Chancellor for the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA and what he hopes to accomplish at the council. The veteran California water maven discusses opportunities for research collaboration and innovation to address the challenges facing the state’s ocean resources and highlights AltaSea as an unprecedented and extraordinary project that is leading the way.

Planet Ocean: Earth’s last frontier (Engineering and Technology)

With most of the ocean seabed unmapped, Earth’s last frontier of terrestrial discovery has become a focus of activity for explorers, scientists, cartographers and environmentalists.

Ask any explorer what there is left to explore and, apart from the vast cosmos about which we know virtually nothing, the most frequent answer will be “the ocean depths”. This is because, while the planet’s dry surface has been mapped down to the last metre, we know very little about the topography of the bottom of our oceans. Water covers 70 per cent of the globe and yet, by some estimates, only 10 per cent of the ocean floor has been explored to a significant degree. The race is now on to map the entire seabed by the end of the next decade.

“Knowledge of the oceans is more than a matter of curiosity. Our very survival might hinge on it,” said US President John F Kennedy more than half a century ago. And yet today ocean exploration is, in funding terms at least, something of an overlooked enterprise when compared with space.

Your Questions About Food and Climate Change, Answered (The New York Times)

How to shop, cook and eat in a warming world.

The world’s food system is responsible for about one-quarter of the planet-warming greenhouse gases that humans generate each year. That includes raising and harvesting all the plants, animals and animal products we eat — beef, chicken, fish, milk, lentils, kale, corn and more — as well as processing, packaging and shipping food to markets all over the world. If you eat food, you’re part of this system.

Gender gap in STEM fields could be due to girls’ reading skills, not math ability (The Los Angeles Times)

Why don’t more girls grow up to become scientists and engineers? It’s not that they’re bad at math, a new study argues. It’s that they’re even better at reading.

This comparative advantage in reading is the primary reason why women are outnumbered by men in technical fields, according to a report published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study authors, economists Thomas Breda of the Paris School of Economics and Clotilde Napp of the French National Center for Scientific Research, came to this conclusion by analyzing survey data from 300,000 high school students in 64 countries around the world.


Eco/Shark Tours (El Porto Shark)

August 12 and August 30

Come join El Porto founder, Apryl Boyle, a working marine researcher, to see what really happens when they are out doing their work. Conduct water quality sampling, eDNA collection, animal surveys, and hopefully see some Mako sharks and -maybe- just maybe a White! Limited to 10 people $195 per person or $185 when you book 2 or more. Families welcome!

For more information, click here.

Celebrate Non-Profits Sail (Los Angeles Maritime Institute)

August 17 from 5:00pm – 7:30pm 

Take a leisurely sail through San Pedro Bay on a Tall Ship. Come relax and get a different perspective of San Pedro. All ticket proceeds go to Los Angeles Maritime Institute’s TopSail Youth Program, an AltaSea educational partner.

Tickets are $60 for adults, $30 for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased online or call 310-833-6055.

LA Fleet Week (LA Fleet Week)

August 30 – September 2

LA Fleet Week is an annual, multi-day celebration of our nation’s Sea Services held on the LA Waterfront at the Port of Los Angeles over the extended Labor Day Weekend. Free to the public, the event features active duty ship tours, military displays and equipment demonstrations, live entertainment, aircraft flyovers, STEM Expo for kids of all ages, annual Conquer the Bridge Labor Day 5.3-mile walk/run over the Vincent Thomas Bridge, 5 on 5 Basketball Tournament, rigorous Obstacle Course (new!) and Galley Wars culinary cook-off competition between Sailor, Marine and Coastguard teams.  Lots of fun for the entire family.

For more information, click here.

LA Fleet Week Education Forum Hosted by AltaSea (AltaSea)

August 29th from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

AltaSea has been invited to host an Education Forum during Fleet Week co-hosted by Battleship IOWA. Our event takes place Thursday, August 29th from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm at Space455, 455 West 6th Street, San Pedro, 90731.

We are hosting two panels:

  • Blue Technology is Vital to Understanding the Ocean
  • Viable Solutions to Ocean Pollution

The panelists represent industry, academia, armed forces and non-profit organizations.

Please join AltaSea at Space455 for this professional symposium. There is no fee associated with the event. Questions to Robin Aube at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *