June 8, 2016 Edition
A monthly round-up of news and trends important to the AltaSea community.
Hydrothermal Vents Are Way More Important Than We Thought (Popular Science)
The mystery of hydrothermal vents is beginning to unravel as recent research reveals just how important these underwater environments are to the ocean ecosystem. Hydrothermal vents are fissures in the planet’s surface that emit geothermally heated water, often found near tectonic activity such as volcanoes and hotspots. The vents are both habitats and food sources for many species and play a key role in maintaining the local food chain. Researchers are calling for more attention and research for hydrothermal vents, which are threatened by human activities such as oil and gas exploration and bottom-trawling fishing.
Did you know that GPS doesn’t reach underwater? The ocean is the globe’s last unchartered territory, but Darpa (the research arm of the Pentagon) is seeking proposals for a new solution to navigate the deep seas. The solution will most likely be communication through sound waves, which will “revolutionize underwater navigation in a way that is similar for what GPS did for above water,” says Neil Adams, director of defense systems at Draper, a nonprofit research lab working on the technology. The acronym for the proposed solution could be one of the military’s best: “Posydon,” or Positioning System for Deep Ocean Navigation.
New research from the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explains why all of the Earth’s oceans are rising in temperature except in Antarctica: the unique currents around the South Pole are continually pulling ancient water up to the surface, seawater that has never experienced fossil-fuel related climate change. The research reveals that regional patterns of warming trump the idea of “global warming” and are largely shaped by ocean currents, allowing for more accurate predictions in the future.
SUSTAINABLE AND INNOVATIVE BUSINESS
If you enjoy a refreshing beer but are concerned about the deadly impact the typical six-pack plastic ring packaging has on marine life, here’s something to drink to. Saltwater Brewery, a small craft brewery in Florida, teamed up with a New York agency to create edible six-pack rings made of grains left over from the brewing process, so turtles and seabirds can snack on something that won’t hurt them if it ends up in the ocean. The company hopes it will start a trend for other producers to create sustainable packaging while maintaining a high-quality product. Cheers!
Last year, employment in green energy grew five percent, to 8.1 million jobs worldwide, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Technologies with growing employment rates include wind energy, small hydropower, geothermal energy and most notably, solar power — especially in Kenya, Bangladesh and India. IRENA says jobs in solar energy now outnumber jobs in the coal mining, oil and gas industries combined. Women in particular are expected to benefit from the increase in renewable energy sector jobs, which will offer opportunities far beyond those available to women in the conventional energy industry.
Adrian Grenier on How ‘Entourage’ Inspired Him to Give Back & Working with the Lonely Whale Foundation (Michigan Avenue Magazine)
Hollywood has been up to good, or at least HBO star Adrian Grenier has. Known for his role on the hit series “Entourage,” Grenier recently launched the Lonely Whale Foundation to raise awareness for ocean health, an initiative related to the documentary film 52: The Search for the Loneliest Whale, which we covered in a previous issue of AltaSea: Trending. Through the foundation, Grenier seeks to educate younger generations, especially those who don’t live near the coast, by incorporating “empathy and environmentalism” into the kindergarten curriculum of a Chicago school. Grenier said his foundation is making a special announcement today, on World Ocean Day!
Governor Jerry Brown has issued an executive order to make permanent some of the recent emergency water cuts in California. For one, cities must submit reports of monthly water use, conservation and enforcement to state officials. But other restrictions have been eased, and experts worry that it’s too soon, especially because California’s drought is nowhere near over, and may never be.
As we put away our umbrellas and roll up our ponchos until the next El Niño, the National Weather Service explains why this year’s predicted rains turned out to be a flop for Southern California. “The Blob,” an unrelated warming of waters along the west coast, seems to have diverted storms up north, and rising global temperatures ensured a good dump of rain in the Bay Area, leaving SoCal fairly dry. Though indicators predicted that February 2016 would be the year’s wettest month, it was the driest in 30 years.
Portion of Santa Monica Beach Part of Dune Restoration Project (Santa Monica Lookout)
The Bay Foundation is leading a pilot project to restore coastal dunes, including a stretch of the Santa Monica State Beach north of the city boundary. The ecosystem and wildlife of Santa Monica beaches feel the impact of more than 17 million annual visitors. The effort will aim to restore native plant and animal species through a natural, low-cost approach that will also address future sea level rise and coastal flooding related to climate change.
A recent shark attack in Newport Beach has raised concerns of the increase of great white sharks in the region. Marine biologists are tracking more juvenile great whites as a result of warming waters and an abundance of fish just off the coast. As a protected species, great whites have no predators and swim just 100 feet from the beach. The 52-year-old woman was training for a triathlon when she was attacked in late May but survived. Typically, great white sharks are skittish and stay away from swimmers.