Breaking Waves: Ocean News

08/03/2021 - 14:58
Disease can be spread by fleas that move between animals and humans but it is preventable and treatable Surrounded by fires, parched by drought, and shut down by the pandemic – residents of California’s scenic South Lake Tahoe thought they’d endured everything. That was until this week, when the US Forest Service announced it was closing several popular sites after discovering bubonic plague in the chipmunk population. Continue reading...
08/03/2021 - 14:01
If the price of oil rises further, the firm’s move away from oil and gas output will fuel doubts BP raises dividend and unveils share buyback It’s hard to keep up with oil companies’ dividend policies. One minute they’re slashing payments to shareholders in the face of a pandemic that, supposedly, had permanently lowered the outlook for oil prices. The next they’re saying the coast is clear and divis can rise again. Shell last week provided a classic example of this stop-start approach when, having cut by two-thirds last year, it announced a 38% increase. BP offered a less chaotic picture on Tuesday but the basic plot was similar. Last year’s halving of the divi was followed by a 4% increase, rather than the previously flagged zero. Continue reading...
08/03/2021 - 13:00
Exclusive: Labour leader says prime minister’s lack of ambition risks failure of Cop26 Opinion: Britain could be taking the lead in tackling the climate crisis. Where’s the ambition? Vital UN climate talks are at risk of failure because Boris Johnson is “missing in action” while his climate spokesperson talks about freezing bread, Keir Starmer has warned. The Labour leader said there is already “dystopia” all around caused by climate breakdown, but Johnson’s ambition to tackle the scale of the crisis is irresponsibly small. Continue reading...
08/03/2021 - 12:40
The animals have suffered from drought, wildfires, habitat destruction, as well as poisoning and trapping The slender, bushy-tailed Sierra Nevada red fox will be listed as an endangered species, federal wildlife officials announced, saying its population has dipped to just 40 animals in an area of California stretching from Lake Tahoe to south of Yosemite national park. The US Fish and Wildlife Service decided against listing a distinct population of the foxes in the southern Cascade Range of Oregon and near Lassen Peak in northern California. But it said in a listing rule to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday that the Sierra Nevada segment south of Tahoe “is in danger of extinction throughout all of its range”. Continue reading...
08/03/2021 - 11:59
Energy giant raises oil price forecasts for rest of decade, but lowers them for longer term • Future dividends will raise doubts about green plans BP will hand shareholders a surprise dividend increase, and $1.4bn (£1bn) in share buybacks, after the company returned to profit after a rebound in oil prices which it believes could last for the rest of the decade. The oil giant predicted that the world’s demand for oil will reach pre-pandemic levels by the second half of next year, and lifted the value of its oil reserves by $3bn after revising its forecasts for oil prices higher for the rest of the decade. Continue reading...
08/03/2021 - 11:31
Electric cars able to do long journeys and there are increasing number of chargers on UK roads, say experts Electric car experts have rallied to the defence of the vehicles after suggestions from a government spokesperson that they were unsuitable for long journeys. Electric cars have an average range of about 200 miles, suitable for the vast majority of journeys taken on British roads, while top-range models have a more extensive range of about 250 miles. Continue reading...
08/03/2021 - 10:13
Video cut to close-up of insect making its way along a ledge during the final minutes of women’s field hockey match It was a moment of the Tokyo Olympics just made for television. But the clip raising eyebrows on Tuesday wasn’t Simone Biles capturing a medal on her return to the gymnastics arena, or Novak Djokovic throwing a tantrum on the tennis court when his own dream of gold turned sour. Instead, it was a six-legged runner. Continue reading...
08/03/2021 - 09:46
(Credit: Claire Fackler/ CINMS, NOAA) To create a comprehensive inventory of marine species in Santa Catalina Island’s Blue Cavern Point nature preserve, USC Dornsife scholars dived into kelp forests, scoured museum archives and came face-to-face with a great white shark. (From the University of Southern California/ By Margaret Crable) — Blue Cavern Point on the eastern edge of Santa Catalina Island, some 25 miles off the coast of San Pedro, California, is a hotbed of life. In the shallow edges of the water cling starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers. Farther out in deeper seas, bright orange garibaldi and giant sea bass the size of pianos make their home in rippling forests of giant kelp reaching hundreds of feet from the ocean’s surface to its floor. The area is divided into two protected areas: offshore and onshore. The onshore region encompasses the first three square miles of the preserve. Its offshore area reaches out about eight miles into deeper ocean. Since 1988, the area has been fiercely protected from fishing or specimen collection. Despite this area’s exceptional biodiversity, no one had completed a comprehensive survey of all the creatures that call these waters home. In 2015, David Ginsburg, professor (teaching) of environmental studies at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and Audrey Looby, then an undergraduate majoring in environmental studies, set out to change that. Their study, “Nearshore Species Biodiversity of a Marine Protected Area Off Santa Catalina, Island, California,” an inventory all of the species of this unique preserve, was published in the March 2021 edition of “Western North American Naturalist.” They documented more than 1,000 different kinds of marine macroalgae, plants, invertebrates and fishes. Their research also revealed that human activity and climate change appear to be altering these pristine waters. Partners in cataloguing  Their project was first inspired by a routine environmental impact inspection of the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island, where a pipe funnels seawater through the lab’s aquariums and back into nearby Big Fisherman’s Cove. As the inspection process began, Ginsburg soon discovered that no complete inventory of the marine life inhabiting the area existed. This posed a problem. “Here you have this marine-protected area and you’re supposed to know what’s in there, but no one really knows,” says Ginsburg. Only a scattering of research papers or incomplete catalogs gave an idea of the biodiversity. His interest in undertaking a more comprehensive survey was piqued. The scope of the project was intimidating, however. Cataloguing every species would require both diving for specimens and diving into archives. Simply surveying the present environment would not capture the full spectrum of what lived in the point. Some species passed in and out of the cove, were seasonal or perhaps so endangered they were rare to find in the present day. He’d have to go back and find everything that had ever been recorded in the area. “I talked to a lot of people about this,” says Ginsburg. “My friend Gordon Hendler [curator of echinoderms] at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles said, ‘You’ll never find a stopping point.’” Hendler encouraged Ginsburg to pursue the project with a more realistic goal of cataloguing as much as he could, given that anything would be an improvement. Luckily, Ginsburg would not have to go it alone. Looby received a Research Summer Undergraduate internship at the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, headquartered at USC Dornsife. She would be spending the summer on the island and readily agreed to assist with Ginsburg’s plans. Perhaps, between the two of them, such a complex study had a chance for completion. Under the sea (and into the archives) Looby’s enthusiasm was due in part to her new-found love of diving. She’d become certified thanks to USC’s AAUS Scientific Diving Course and was eager to get as much time in the water as possible. Exploring life bobbing beneath the water line was like encountering a different planet, says Looby. A neon nudibranch, a mollusc so vivid it could easily be mistaken for a Salvador Dali invention, twisted along algae covered rocks. Stingrays glided through the currents. “The first time you see them, you suddenly see the ground moving underneath you and there’s a whole fever of rays swimming along,” says Looby, who is now a fisheries and aquatic sciences Ph.D. student at the University of Florida. Ginsburg and Looby completed visual surveys of… Read the full article here: https://dornsife.usc.edu/news/stories/3519/inventory-life-catalina-blue-cavern-point/
08/03/2021 - 08:48
(Click to enlarge) Global climate change could disrupt the global conveyer belt, causing potentially drastic temperature changes in Europe and even worldwide. (Credit: NOAA) From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Cassandra Wilson, Ocean Leadership Staff  What It Was The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs held a confirmation hearing for the nomination of Ms. Monica Medina to be assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. Why It Matters The Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) is housed within the U.S. Department of State. OES’ mission is to advance national and economic security through U.S. leadership globally on the ocean, environment, science, space, and health. The assistant secretary of state for OES is an important, presidentially appointed position responsible for maintaining U.S. leadership in international agreements and cooperative efforts addressing global issues, such as climate change, fisheries and the ocean, biodiversity, and wildlife trade. A Senate-confirmed nominee has not filled this position since 2014, but with ongoing international efforts, such as the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, strengthening the United States’ ocean leadership across our key federal agencies is more important than ever. President Biden’s nominee Ms. Monica Medina (Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University) brings forth strong science and leadership credentials. This confirmation hearing was an opportunity to learn her priorities for the role and is a step towards officially confirming someone for the position. Key Points Chairman Bob Menendez (NJ) shared his view that Ms. Medina is well-suited for the role of assistant secretary of state for OES and highlighted key duties of the assistant secretary, including representing the United States at the Montreal Protocol and the Arctic Council and combatting plastic pollution and other global environmental issues. Ms. Medina shared what her priorities would be if confirmed as assistant secretary, including addressing ocean issues — such as plastic pollution; illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; disagreements over maritime claims; changes and rapid development in polar regions; and changes in ocean chemistry — as well as ensuring equitable inclusion of diverse stakeholders and the private sector when tackling issues. She additionally pledged to implement the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act (P.L. 116-224), which Chairman Menendez cosponsored, if confirmed. What’s Next The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs will vote on the nomination of Ms. Monica Medina for the role of assistant secretary of state for OES during a committee business meeting on August 4. Quotable “The ocean also needs our attention. There is too much tension, damage, and lawless behavior in the seas due to deep disagreements over a plethora of hot button issues…each of these challenges must be handled in a way that recognizes the disparity between developed and developing nations and ensures the equitable inclusion of diverse stakeholders and the private sector in our solutions.” – Ms. Monica Medina (Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University) “…throughout [Monica Medina’s] distinguished career, she has become supremely prepared for the role of assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. She has been training for it in every position in which she has served, every mission that she has fulfilled, and every discussion she’s held with key stakeholders.” – Senator Ed Markey (MA) Related Resources From The Consortium For Ocean Leadership Maximizing Ocean Momentum: Propelling NOAA Into The Future Biden Nominee Commits To Elevating Science And Scientists Senate Questions NSF Director On Agency Budget And Priorities Shoot For The (Sea) Stars Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter!
08/03/2021 - 08:44
Photo Credit – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce. From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Cassandra Wilson, Ocean Leadership Staff  What It Was The House Committee on Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, And Wildlife held a hearing on “Examining the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Proposal for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” Why It Matters The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), within the Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), within the Department of the Interior, contribute to federal efforts to understand changes in climate and weather, monitor the environment, increase coastal resilience, and enhance national biodiversity, among other efforts. As the impacts of climate change continue to threaten coastal and inland communities and marine ecosystems, it is important to understand federal agencies’ priorities and plans for mitigating and responding to threats. During this hearing, agency officials testified on the president’s FY 2022 budget request, which proposes increased funding for both NOAA and the FWS and would support advancements in climate science and observations, environmental justice, coastal resilience, and marine species protection. Key Points While much of the discussion focused on how FY 2022 funding will contribute to efforts to improve land-based water resource management and to develop solutions to the extreme drought occurring in the western Unites States, the hearing also addressed agencies’ efforts to better understand, prepare for, and mitigate climate change. Subcommittee Chair Jared Huffman (CA-2) emphasized nature-based carbon sequestration, such as blue carbon ecosystems, as an important mitigation tactic. Dr. Rick Spinrad (Administrator, NOAA) highlighted critical investments included in the president’s FY 2022 budget request, such as funding to strengthen NOAA’s foundational research capabilities; to expand the delivery of weather and climate observation data, particularly to underserved and vulnerable communities; and to cultivate a diverse climate workforce. He also announced the establishment of the NOAA Climate Council, a group  consisting of senior NOAA leaders from across the agency and aimed at improving the delivery of NOAA climate products and services. Dr. Spinrad additionally underscored proposed investments in coastal resilience, fleet support, and satellite capabilities as well as offshore wind development that would allow NOAA to work with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to further the administration’s goal to deploy 30 Gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. Mr. Stephen Guertin (Deputy Director for Program Management and Policy, FWS) shared the budget request for FWS similarly includes funding for climate science and mitigation, cross agency collaboration on renewable energy, resilience, and equity. Both Dr. Spinrad and Mr. Guertin shared support for the administration’s goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. land and ocean areas by 2030, while Ranking Member Bruce Westermann (AK-4) stated his belief that the this goal currently lacks clarity. He said for it to be successful, the administration must more transparently define the method and objectives of this effort. NOAA’s fisheries management practices were also an area of concern for several committee members. Ranking Member Westermann, along with several other Republicans, argued his view that NOAA fails to effectively integrate state, Tribal, and local ecological knowledge into federal fisheries management, resulting in redundancies between state and federal action. In response to questions on whether NOAA’s FY 2022 funding would go towards the implementation of the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-405) — a bill aimed at integrating recreational and commercial fishing management as well as state data into federal fisheries management plans — Dr. Spinrad committed to working with lawmakers to effectively implement the bill’s provisions throughout his tenure. Quotable “This budget supports NOAA’s goal of scaling up efforts to research and mitigate impacts of the climate crisis through investments in NOAA’s data, tools, and services including research, observations and forecasting, restoration and resilience, ecologically sound offshore wind development, and equity at NOAA through programs that touch everyday lives.” – Dr. Rick Spinrad (NOAA Administrator) “Administration priorities for the Service are reflected in the budget, including implementing the America the Beautiful initiative, deploying clean energy, and promoting agency-wide equity and diversity.” – Mr. Stephen Guertin (Deputy Director for Program Management and Policy, FWS) “Alongside reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, nature-based solutions are a key tool to mitigate climate change. Our nation’s natural capital can sequester and store carbon and provide critical services that are often overlooked. Blue carbon ecosystems, for example, protect coasts and shorelines, support livelihoods, and sequester 27 million tera-grams of carbon – that is equivalent to sequestering emissions from 2.6 million barrels of petroleum.” – Subcommittee Chair Jared Huffman (CA-2) “Testimonies by the Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA talk about the 30 by 30 initiative, which has now been rebranded by what the Administration now calls the America the Beautiful initiative…this effort still remains largely un-defined. We believe that conservation, not preservation, of our natural resources is the best policy and that the American people deserve transparency and clarity on this issue.” – Ranking Member Bruce Westermann (AK-4) Related Resources From The Consortium For Ocean Leadership Weathering The Appropriations Season Forecasting NOAA’s Budget Inside Interior’s Budget Maximizing Ocean Momentum: Propelling NOAA Into The Future Statement On President Biden’s NOAA Nominee Dr. Richard Spinrad Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter!