May 11, 2016
A biweekly round-up of news and trends important to the AltaSea community
Ocean deoxygenation is a well-established member of the “negative effects of climate change” gang threatening our oceans. But the damage from it may be worse than previously thought. A new study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research finds that climate change-driven oxygen loss is already detectable in certain swaths of ocean and will likely be widespread by 2030 or 2040, including in the areas surrounding Hawaii and off the West Coast of the U.S. mainland. As oxygen is lost, fish and crabs die off. Scientist Michael Mann said, “We have yet another reason to be gravely concerned about the health of our oceans, and yet another reason to prioritize the rapid decarbonization of our economy.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just discovered a new jellyfish near the Mariana Trench. The Mariana Trench is the deepest part of the ocean, and the jellyfish was discovered floating a whopping 2.3 miles beneath the surface. It looks like something out of a science fiction movie, but it’s real.
Scientists’ ‘Robo Mermaid’ Explores Ocean Depths (Opposing Views)
Scientists at Stanford University have invented OceanOne, a robotic mermaid that can swim to depths too dangerous for humans. The project was first conceptualized by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia as a way of monitoring coral reefs in the Red Sea, which are too deep for human divers. Though the deep sea can be reached with robotic submersibles, OceanOne provides a greater level of robotic ability and control. Oussama Khatib, a professor at Stanford, said, “You can feel exactly what the robot is doing. It’s almost like you are there.”
SUSTAINABLE AND INNOVATIVE BUSINESS
Adidas to Launch Shoe Collection From Recycled Plastic (Women’s Wear Daily)
If this story sounds familiar, that’s because it is. We reported on Adidas’ new shoe in our very first issue of AltaSea: Trending! The story is back in the news now because last summer the shoe was simply a prototype, but since then Adidas has been working to develop the materials further and is now promising to deliver a consumer-ready range of footwear and apparel made from ocean plastic in 2016. Adidas is also working to increase their sustainability, with an ultimate goal to create infinitely recyclable materials that have the exact same properties as new raw materials, a program they are calling “Sport Infinity.” The company has been making great strides in this effort: in addition to their new materials they have changed their manufacturing process to be more environmentally-friendly.
It may look like a UFO that landed in the ocean, but it’s actually an eco-friendly home. Italian yacht-maker Jet Capsule has created a new sustainable, floating home that can move slowly around the world thanks to an electric motor powered by onboard solar panels. A water generator is used for converting rain or seawater into freshwater, which can then be used for drinking or watering a vegetable garden located on the deck. Get yourself a fishing pole and you could experience truly off-grid living in the not so distant future.
A new Virtual Reality documentary capturing underwater research and explaining how sperm whales see, feel and hunt using echolocation is now available to anyone with a smartphone. The Click Effect takes viewers underwater following activist Fabrice Schnöller as he works to prove whales and dolphins are sentient. Virtual Reality enhances the beautiful sights and sounds and creates a truly transportative effect. VR could be a great new means to provide an immersive educational experience, but whether it should be used with children is still a subject of debate – a topic covered in depth in this recent Fast Company article. A 2009 study done at Stanford University found that half of children who participated in a VR experience interacting with a whale later thought the event really happened.
Well, it’s official, El Niño was a dud. What few clouds there are at least have a silver lining: the warm waters and high tides have provided a wealth of data for California scientists about how climate change is expected to affect coastal areas. Water along the coastline was about 20 centimeters higher than average because water molecules expand as temperatures rise, leading to erosion and even flooding. Sea levels are expected to rise further as temperatures continue to warm and the ice caps melt, so scientists around the region were able to use this year’s El Niño as a case study for things to come.
The erosion that caused sand to wash away from Cabrillo Beach has lead to a new form of art: stacks of rocks. About 60 skillfully balanced stacks of rocks showed up on the beach in late April. No one is sure who is responsible, but other rock towers have been spotted up and down the coast. Mike Schaadt, executive director of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium said, “I’ve seen rock towers out there before, but I’ve never seen so many in my 27 years at Cabrillo Beach.”
Fast Lane to Future (Los Angeles Business Journal)
The future is happening in Los Angeles today. From cutting-edge engineering and technical innovation (rockets, cars, and medical research) to complex public-policy issues (affordable housing, congestion, and inequality). These opportunities and challenges are as broad and diverse as the region’s population, placing Los Angeles at the forefront of a global economy that must find ways to generate economic growth, quality jobs, and a sustainable planet.