Ecosystems and Biodiversity
A new study from Ocean Wise Seafood’s Laurenne Schiller into the economics of deep sea fishing has suggested that the industry isn’t important to global food security, despite what fishers say. Most high-seas fishery catch is destined for upscale restaurants and store counters in America, Western Europe, and Asia and these fishing fleets contribute less than 3% to the world’s seafood supply. Via EurekAlert!
Florida’s intensive agriculture may be the cause of “red tide” currently decimating marine life off its coasts. A red tide is a natural algal bloom that produces harmful toxins, and this one has lasted for months, killing manatees, sharks, turtles and millions of fish. The observation that red tides follow massive storms has led researchers to propose that fertilizer washed off farmland is making red tides even worse. Via National Geographic
Organophosphate pesticides are largely safe for humans because we have a gene called Paraoxonase 1 that renders then harmless. New research has shown that Marine mammals lack the ability to break down organophosphate byproducts. This is an important finding, as we need more research on the effect of pesticide run-off on mammals who live close to agricultural areas, particularly Florida’s manatees. Via Science Daily
Coral reef ecosystems are formed with the help of a symbiotic relationship between tiny animals called polyps, and algae, called zooxanthellae. This week, researchers learned that this relationship has persisted since the Jurassic period, which is much older than previously thought. The climate has changed radically over the last 160 million years, so while we may lose our wonderful reefs, some may endure and eventually recover. Via EurekaAlert!
Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical lake, hosts some 500 species of cichlid fish with a wide variety of appearances, sizes, diets, habitats and behaviours. Most of this diversity came in two waves, about 130,000 to 15,000 years ago, when cichlids from different watersheds met in the lake. This study shows how important hybridization is in species formation, and contains some useful hints on how to strengthen endangered species by breeding them with close relatives. Via Science Magazine
Water Quality and Supply
Recently in Toronto, more than 10 cm of rain fell and overwhelmed the elderly sewers of Canada’s largest city. Toronto’s outskirts have modern drains that separate surface water from household waste, but the city centre has a separate system where they combine. Large amounts of trash and raw sewage washed into Lake Ontario, raising E.Coli counts to 250 times the acceptable standard. Via The Toronto Star
For the first time, there is a reliable estimate for how much land surface is covered by rivers and streams: roughly 775,000 square kilometres, or 0.6% of the land surface that isn’t covered in ice. This is far larger than previous estimates suggested and a reliable estimate should improve our climate models. Via Science Magazine
Loss of sea ice in the Arctic, one of the areas of the planet warming most quickly, has long been a focus of climate scientists. A recent study has determined that aerosols in the Arctic, due to human pollutants, has offset 23% of Arctic warming. As we continue to reduce pollution to improve air quality, the Arctic will heat even more quickly. There is an urgent need for continuing research to understand the importance of these effects to Arctic warming. The Guardian
Energy and Power
A solar-powered aircraft has stayed aloft for 25 days at an altitude of 21,000 metres, smashing the previous record. The Zephyr has a wingspan of 25 metres and weighs less than 75kg, although larger models are being constructed. Airbus designed the vehicle for military surveillance but it could be used as a low-cost replacement for telecommunications satellites. Via CNBC