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Weekly Water News
Portugal powers itself entirely from renewable energy, scientists explore how marine animals see underwater, and more in this week's report.
Posted on April 13, 2018
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Every week, Ocean Wise combs the headlines to bring you the most fascinating ocean news from around the world. Read on!

Ecosystems & Biodiversity

Ever wanted to see through the eyes of a mantis shrimp? Researchers at the University of Illinois and Washington University are conducting studies using a specialized camera with GPS technology to do just that. This camera’s design will collect data on how light is polarized when it passes through water, how pollution affects it, and how marine animals navigate underwater. Via EurekAlert!

Over the past five years, 90% of seagrass meadows along the Indonesian archipelago have been extensively damaged, mostly by sediment and nutrient run-off. Researchers from Wales show that better land use and replanting vegetation on river banks can make a significant difference to the flow of pollutants into the sea. Via EurekAlert!

Plastics

A 25-year-long study of marine debris trawled of the seabed near the UK has shown a dramatic decline in the number of plastic bags in the North Sea, with numbers down 30% since 2010. Could this be the result of small fees for plastic bags across Europe, including the UK in 2015? Or is it a result in composition changes in plastic bags? The good news is tempered by an increase in plastic ghost gear, lost fishing nets and lines. Via BBC

Water Ways

Researchers pieced together a 500-year history of Mississippi river flooding using deep -core samples of lake and marsh sediment. Over the last century, engineering projects meant to facilitate navigation and implement flooding countermeasures have led to 75% of the historical increase in flood size and intensity. Restoring pre-industrial flood patterns may reduce the impact of flooding in the future. Via EurekAlert!

The Murray-Darling basin plan, a joint agreement between several parts of the Australian government, was designed to restore the health of Australia’s inland river system. Although supported by aboriginal groups and environmentalists, the plan is strongly opposed by agricultural interests, and after more than five years it has made little progress in restoring water flows. The plan is under review. Via The Guardian

That springtime smell of rainfall, wet soil and blossoms actually has a name: petrichor. It mostly comes from the decay of palmitic acid and stearic acid, originating from plant matter, that are released from the soil by light rain after long, dry periods. Our noses are extremely sensitive to traces of this soil bacteria that give beets that earthy flavour and petrichor. Via  American Chemical Society (video)

Climate Change

Just a one-degree rise in air temperature has an outsized impact on Arctic lakes, way more than ecologists predicted. Increased glacial meltwater is running into the high Arctic’s Lake Hazen, decreasing visibility and giving way to algal blooms. Arctic char  are struggling to find food and decreasing in numbers. Via University of Alberta

While Nova Scotians were shoveling themselves out of an early-spring snowstorm this week, Atlantic coastal waters were weirdly balmy. Over 200 kilometres off the East Coast of Canada, water temperatures measured a weirdly warm 14°C. Last year, warm waters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence Seaway led to tragic events, like the appearance and death of a dozen North Atlantic Right Whales, struck by ships and entangled in fishing gear. Via CBC

Renewable Energy

The Norwegian government is at work on electrifying all short haul-flights by 2040. Air transportation contributes to 5% of carbon emissions, while hybrid or electric flights would both lower operating costs and noise. Norway has also committed to zero-emission vehicles on the road no later than 2025. Via EurekAlert!

The shipping industry’s carbon emissions are substantial, so the Stena Line is converting its ferry between Sweden and Denmark to hybrid technology. Diesel engines are very inefficient when running at low output, so Stena has fitted a 1000 KWh battery in a freight container on deck that can drive the engines and bow thrusters while docking the ferry.  Eventually, this battery is planned to power the ferry for most of the 50 nautical mile journey. Via Maritime Executive

For the first time in at least 40 years, Portugal generated more renewable energy than it needed this March. Energy from renewable sources made up 104% of mainland electricity consumption last month, although fossil fuels were used to occasionally top up the electricity supply. Wet and windy weather meant output from hydroelectric dams and wind turbines was high, with wind and hydropower together producing 97% of Portugal’s energy needs. Via The Independent

 


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