Monday, April 26, 2010

Ocean Acidity Skyrocketing

The National Research Council has some pretty grim and sobering things to say about the state of the world's oceans.

The oceans have become more acidic in the last few years than at any time in human history. Oceans absorb about one-third of all human-generated carbon dioxide emissions, including those from burning fossil fuels, cement production and deforestation, the NRC report says.

From the Santiago Times:

“The chemistry of the ocean is changing at an unprecedented rate and magnitude due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions,” the U.S. National Research Council said. “The rate of change exceeds any known to have occurred for at least the past hundreds of thousands of years.”

Ocean acidification eats away at coral reefs, interferes with some fish species' ability to find their homes and can hurt commercial shellfish such as mussels and oysters by reducing their ability to make their protective shells.

When carbon dioxide is absorbed by the oceans, it reacts with sea water to form carbonic acid. Unless human carbon dioxide emissions are curbed, oceans will grow more acidic, the report said.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ocean Floor Rising 13 Feet A Day?

There's a Coral Sea tsunami station located at 14.803 S 153.585 E (14°48'9" S 153°35'6" E), and it's been in "event mode" ever since the large earthquakes recently occurred in the area. Apparently, the buoy is being triggered by anomalous water column height above the sea floor, and the data seems to show that the ocean floor beneath the buoy is rising at the alarming rate of thirteen feet per day. View the Coral Sea tide chart here.

The location is also close to the Vanuatu Islands, which have been abruptly volcanically hyperactive for several months now.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Deepest Undersea Vent Discovered in Caribbean

From Discovery:

Over three miles down in the ocean, where the Caribbean Sea's warm blue waters fade into lightless black, scientists have found something bizarre and wonderful: the deepest active hydrothermal vent system on the planet.

As incredible as the find itself are the details: the smokers spew water hot enough to melt lead. The smokers' waters are so packed with minerals that their two-story high chimneys are basically made of iron and copper ore. An and around the vents gardens of strange bacteria flourish.

The existence of life thriving in this, the most inhospitable conditions ever recorded, virtually proves the potential for life to exist on other planets, which often are composed of similar mineral-rich boiling chemical soups.

And just last month, a NASA team discovered higher life forms surviving beneath a 600-foot-deep Antarctic ice sheet.

Clearly, life is - and can be - everywhere and anywhere.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

7.1 Earthquake in Solomon Islands

From Xinhua:

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck the Solomon Islands on Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported Sunday with no immediate tsunami alert or reports of damage.

The Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) quoted USGS as saying the quake's epicenter was 52 km deep, 97 km southwest of the Solomon Islands' Kira Kira in the Pacific Ocean. It hit at 8:40 p. m. local time.

ABC quoted Pacific Tsunami Warning Center as saying there was no destructive widespread tsunami threat, but it warned " Authorities in the region of the epicenter should be aware of this possibility and take action."

Friday, April 2, 2010

8.0 Earthquake Reported, Retracted

The USGS sent out an email report regarding an 8.0 quake near Higey, La Altagracia, Dominican Republic, but the internal link was broken.

Going directly to the USGS website shows no mention of the quake. Neither does a quick check of web, news, and blogosphere, which mainly consists of other people going "what the heck just happened?"

(Update: Apparently the report is indeed false.)

Undersea Volcano Could Destroy Italy

From The Australian:

Europe's largest undersea volcano could disintegrate and unleash a tsunami that would engulf southern Italy "at any time", a prominent vulcanologist has warned.
The Marsili volcano, which is bursting with magma, has "fragile walls" that could collapse, Enzo Boschi told the leading daily Corriere della Sera.

"It could even happen tomorrow," Prof Boschi, president of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said

"Our latest research shows that the volcano is not structurally solid, its walls are fragile, the magma chamber is of sizeable dimensions," he said.

"All that tells us that the volcano is active and could begin erupting at any time."

The event would result in "a strong tsunami that could strike the coasts of Campania, Calabria and Sicily," Prof Boschi said.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lord Howe Island's Bleached Reef Proves Climate Change

From ABC Australia:

Parts of the world's most southerly coral reef are under threat after it suffered its largest-recorded bleaching event.

Lord Howe Island is well known for its pristine environment and natural beauty.

The island's isolation has allowed it to develop unique and endemic marine life and the waters contain an unusual mix of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate corals.

But since January the waters around Lord Howe have experienced unusually warmer temperatures. The average rose by two degrees Celsius and the corals are showing the first signs of extensive bleaching.

And unlike the Great Barrier Reef, where corals have been known to recover, the genetically unique reef at Lord Howe could take decades to regenerate.

Peter Harrison from the Southern Cross University says it is the most significant bleaching event ever recorded at Lord Howe Island.

"The significance of this is that Lord Howe Island has the southern-most coral reef, so when that starts to see signs of extensive coral bleaching we know that the climate is definitely changing," he said.