AltaSea: Trending Newsletter

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

UPCOMING EVENTS

HERE’S THE BLUE DEAL

The Benefits of Healthy Oceans (AltaSea)

When the oceans are healthy, they sustain life on earth by providing oxygen production, ecosystem services, and climate regulation. Over the past century, human activity has increasingly altered the environment, imposing strains on the ocean that threaten its ability to provide these crucial benefits. But if we choose to reduce our impact on the natural world, we can continue to reap the rewards that come from prioritizing a protected, thriving ocean.

Preparing for a Future Marked by Sea Level Rise (AltaSea)

The new Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) states that human-driven climate change is “very likely” the primary driver of increased rates of sea level rise over the last fifty years. Even if humans reduce greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with scientific recommendations, our emissions to date will still warm the oceans and melt ice sheets—making it likely that the global sea level will rise 12 inches above its year 2000 level by 2100.

MARINE SCIENCE

Satellites Spot Oceans Aglow With Trillions of Organisms (The New York Times)

The ocean has always glowed.

The Greeks and Romans knew of luminous sea creatures as well as the more general phenomenon of seawater that can light up in bluish-green colors.

Charles Darwin, as he sailed near South America on a dark night aboard the H.M.S. Beagle, encountered luminescent waves. He called it “a wonderful and most beautiful spectacle.” As far as the eye could see, he added, “the crest of every wave was bright” — so much so that the “livid flames” lit the sky.

Now, scientists report that ocean bioluminescence can be so intense and massive in scale that satellites orbiting five hundred miles high can see glowing mats of microorganisms as they materialize in the seas.

Reporting on the State of the Climate in 2020 (NOAA)

A new State of the Climate report confirmed that 2020 was among the three warmest years in records dating to the mid-1800s, even with a cooling La Niña influence in the second half of the year. New high temperature records were set across the globe. The report found that the major indicators of climate change continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet. Several markers such as sea level, ocean heat content, and permafrost once again broke records set just one year prior. Notably, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere also reached record highs in 2020, even with an estimated 6%–7% reduction of CO2 emissions due to the economic slowdown from the global pandemic.

A Climate Solution Lies Deep Under the Ocean—But Accessing It Could Have Huge Environmental Costs (Time)

Scattered three miles deep along the floor of the central Pacific are trillions of black, misshapen nuggets that may just be the solution to an impending energy crisis. Similar in size and appearance to partially burned charcoal briquettes, the nuggets are called polymetallic nodules, and are an amalgamation of nickel, cobalt, manganese and other rare earth metals, formed through a complex biochemical process in which shark teeth and fish bones are encased by minerals accreted out of ocean waters over millions of years.

Marine biologists say they are part of one of the least-understood environments on earth, holding, if not the secret to life on this planet, at least something equally fundamental to the health of its oceans. Gerard Barron, the Australian CEO of seabed-mining company the Metals Company, calls them something else: “a battery in a rock,” and “the easiest way to solve climate change.”

SUSTAINABLE AND INNOVATIVE BUSINESS

The blue economy: an ocean of opportunity (Responsible Investor)

Our ocean is critical for human existence – it provides at least 50% of oxygen on Earth, has absorbed 30% of anthropogenic carbon emissions, and is vital for maintaining our life-supporting climate.

But lack of understanding and mismanagement has led to severe negative impacts that put at risk the long-term sustainability of our oceans and the livelihoods that depend on them. A recent report suggests that the costs of climate change impacts on the ocean alone could be an additional $322bn a year by 2050. Another estimated that global GDP growth is expected to decrease by 10% if we continue on the same climate trajectory.

As ocean stakeholders begin to build momentum around transitioning to a more sustainable blue economy, investors have the opportunity to help turn the tide. Challenges create the opportunity for companies to excel and, with an estimated value of $2.5trn in 2015, the scale of the ocean opportunity is sizable – both in supporting sectors in transition, and the activities driving innovation. We believe that it is the companies solving the world’s biggest challenges that will outperform.

In the swim (Unmanned Systems Technology)

As climate change continues to have dramatic effects on weather patterns, ecosystems, rivers and so on around the world, developing new ways to monitor and study their impacts – while conducting sustainable aquatic business – is critical to devising ways to mitigate them. Aquaai has developed a solution with a highly unusual architecture for such monitoring, which has seen particular uptake in the aquaculture market.

Tiny Robots Could Clean Up Microplastic Pollution (Scientific America)

Microplastics—minuscule, hard-to-degrade fragments of clothing fibers, water bottles and other synthetic items—have made their way into air, water and soil around the world.

Now new research published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces shows a way to promote their deterioration, at least in water, with technology on an even smaller scale: microrobots. When added to water along with a bit of hydrogen peroxide, the bacterium-sized devices glom onto microplastic particles and begin breaking them down.

EDUCATION

‘Shark Attack Files’ Carlee Jackson: Marine Biology Needs More Women of Color (Black Girl Nerds)

Early in August, this writer had the fortuitous opportunity to have an online interview with an actual marine biologist in the field, Carlee Jackson. Jackson is not only a marine biologist but is also a sea turtle conservationist and shark expert who is championing diversity in the world of science. Catch Jackson in Shark Attack Files, where she educates viewers on how to coexist with sharks.

Jackson speaks on her experiences and the challenges she overcame as a minority during schooling/training. She also co-founded the non-profit MISS (Minorities in Shark Sciences), which is aimed at encouraging women of color to pursue a career in shark sciences. Carlee has a message for POC and women, she wants to educate and recruit you to join her in the field of marine biology.

From Ocean to Table: Sardines Tainted With Microplastics (Cal State Fullerton)

In a basement laboratory, Cal State Fullerton biology graduate student Chelsea Bowers dissects Pacific sardines and blends them into a creamy “shake.”

It won’t go well with a burger and fries, but her hope is that the concoction of sardine stomach and muscle tissues will help find solutions to microplastic contamination of ocean life.

Bowers’ ongoing research studies how such marine pollution may be affecting Pacific sardines, an essential part of the oceanic food chain and a commercial food fish that ultimately leads to our dinner tables.

Best Environmental Books (Green That Life)

Some of these Best Environmental Books are ones that I’ve read and found life-changing. Others are recommendations from trusted sources — I always welcome recommendations.

COMMUNITY

Tim McOsker & Mike Galvin On LA’s Blue Economy Potential (Verdexchange)

VX News spoke to AltaSea CEO Tim McOsker and Port of LA’s Mike Galvin about the innovative industries and partnerships transforming San Pedro Bay into a vibrant waterfront innovation ecosystem that drives regional economic development, creates good jobs, and preserves ocean sustainability.

Long Beach Creative Group Seeks Submissions for ‘Ocean’ Exhibition (Random Lengths News)

The Long Beach Creative Group or LBCG has announced an open call for Ocean, an exhibition of paintings, drawings, sculpture and mixed media. In its press release, the LBCG Board said it is eager to see how its community experiences the ocean, whether imaginatively, nautically, scientifically (environmental, biological, ecological), or for entertainment.

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