A biweekly round-up of news and trends important to the AltaSea community.
What El Niño Means for Other Parts of the Planet (Science Friday)
When you hear about El Niño the first thing you probably think is rain. While that may be true for parts of California, and it seems less and less likely that those parts include Southern California, El Niño has different effects on the rest of the world. In Peru it’s depleting fish stocks, in Costa Rica it’s affecting the incidence of snake bites, and in East Africa it may be driving up malaria deaths. This podcast features guests from NOAA, Harvard and the World Health Organization.
How Our Warming Ocean Is Altering Fisheries (Pew Charitable Trusts)
Recent research is providing a clearer picture of how ocean ecosystems are being transformed. Results from a study published in September show how warming ocean temperatures and pressure from fishing combine to stress fish populations and drive a species to the brink of extinction. Another study found that as warm waters reduce the concentration of phytoplankton, there is less food for juvenile fish that rely on it, thus hurting their chances of making it to adulthood to procreate. These findings mean it’s critical to set limits regularly to prevent overfishing; the faster the environment shifts, the less harvesting it takes to drive the population to extinction.
Longest Global Coral Bleaching On Record Isn’t Over Yet (Climate Central)
It’s been a rough couple of years for coral, which have suffered major die-off due to increased water temperatures. This is the third global bleaching event on record; the previous two were also tied to El Niño years. But the trend goes beyond El Niño, with a steady increase in water temperature leaving coral weakened. Kim Cobb, a coral expert at Georgia Tech, is particularly interested in Christmas Island, a small island right in the middle of the warmest waters off the coast of Australia. She is using crowdfunding to pay for a trip to the island to collect data she hopes will shed light on how this reef has evolved through this warming trend.
Sustainable and Innovative Business
Microsoft is housing its newest data centers in a surprising place: the bottom of the ocean. Though putting expensive hardware at risk for water damage seems like a terrible idea at first, it could actually be genius. One of the most costly aspects of operating data servers is keeping them from overheating. That’s where the ocean, with its cool waters, comes in. By placing servers in waterproof capsules, Microsoft can reduce costs by taking advantage of the natural temperature of the ocean. They are also considering adding turbines to harness electricity from tidal energy to help power the systems. The product is still being tested and any potential negative environmental impacts, like warming the surrounding water, still need to be evaluated.
Visitors to the Spanish island of Lazarote might find something surprising the next time they go scuba diving. Artist Jason deCaires Taylor has created Europe’s first underwater museum, installing a series of statues on the sea floor. The pieces are made from environmentally-friendly concrete and help form an artificial reef, acting as a breeding site for local species. Now that sounds like a fun museum to visit.
‘Citizen Scientists’ use Drones to Map El Niño Flooding (Mercury News)
The Nature Conservancy is taking advantage of the rise in drones by enlisting owners to help monitor the flooding and coastal erosion that come with El Niño. Geotagged high-resolution images taken by “citizen scientists” will help create 3-D maps that will allow scientists to determine if predictive models about coastal flooding are accurate, proving that drones are good for more than just annoying your neighbors.
Water capture and storage is a hot issue in Los Angeles with the ongoing drought and Mayor Garcetti is supporting investments to improve it. Last week the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) broke ground on a new 110 million gallon underground reservoir. LADWP says that the new reservoir will help the city meet regulatory obligations and provide reliable, quality drinking water to local citizens. Building the infrastructure comes at a high price — $230 million for this reservoir alone — so Mayor Garcetti is asking the LA City Council to approve a rate hike to continue rebuilding the city’s aging system.
PortTechEXPO 2016 (PortTech)
The 6th annual PortTech EXPO is coming March 10 at CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles. The event brings together innovators and entrepreneurs; port and transportation executives, investors, sponsors and service providers; and academic, corporate and civic leaders for global networking opportunities. It features live demonstrations and interactive displays about the latest and greatest advancements in environment, energy and more. The exhibit “Clean Tech Cool Tech: Innovations for Ports and Beyond” looks especially interesting.
San Pedro Red Car Will be Part of New Ports O’ Call Plans (Long Beach Press Telegram)
Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino shared updates about various projects, including AltaSea, at a waterfront update held last Wednesday at CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles. Among the updates was the announcement that San Pedro’s popular Red Car will return as a feature of the new Ports O’ Call — a decision made after great public outcry when it was taken out of service in September. Buscaino also shared that plans are moving forward on Wilmington’s waterfront promenade, landslide development at the Cabrillo Marina and construction of a town square on San Pedro’s waterfront. “While progress sometimes feels slow,” Buscaino said, “the waterfront already has seen several improvements and more are coming.”