New legislation protects NY waters from waste

June 25, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Dumping

Large industrial water users will have to get a state permit for water withdrawals under a bill that was a top priority for environmental groups this legislative session.

The Water Withdrawal Permitting Program bill was passed by the Assembly as part of its Earth Day package this spring and won unanimous approval in the Senate Thursday. It awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

The measure requires anyone with the capacity to withdraw more than 100,000 gallons of water per day to first obtain a permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said implementing a statewide program to monitor the large-scale withdrawal of water is consistent with actions being taken in other states and is supported by both the environmental and business community.

For more Rochester, N.Y. news go to the website www.whec.com.

Article source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43437070

NASA Set to Launch Salt-Measuring Satellite Tomorrow

June 9, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Secrets of the Ocean

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 9:23 p.m. to note the new launch time and date.

NASA is gearing up for the launch of its new Aquarius observatory, which will help map out the links between Earth’s climate and the saltiness of its oceans.

Aquarius is slated to blast off Friday (June 10) at 10:20 a.m. EDT (1420 GMT) atop a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. NASA had originally scheduled the launch for June 9, but the space agency announced Wednesday evening that it had pushed the liftoff back a day to work out some software issues with the rocket’s flight program.

The $287 million Aquarius/SAC-D will join 13 other NASA satellite missions devoted to studying Earth from above. But Aquarius will bring something new to the table, researchers say. Its precise measurements should allow unprecedented insights into global patterns of precipitation, evaporation and ocean circulation — key drivers of our planet’s changing climate.

“In order to study these interactions between the global water cycle and the ocean circulation, the piece that we’re missing is ocean salinity,” Gary Lagerloef, Aquarius principal investigator at Earth and Space Research in Seattle, said in a briefing Tuesday. “And that’s the gap that Aquarius is designed to fill.”

[ Video: Sea Salt Changes Ripple Around the World ]

Understanding ocean salinity

On average, the world’s oceans are 3.5 percent salt. That concentration doesn’t vary much; extremes range from 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent at various spots around the globe, Lagerloef said.

However, even such subtle differences can have big impacts. Salinity levels strongly influence ocean temperatures and circulation patterns, which themselves affect the exchange of water and heat between the oceans and Earth’s atmosphere.

So measuring ocean salinity precisely is important to better understand and predict Earth’s climate, researchers said.

“Aquarius, and successor missions based on it, will give us, over time, critical data that will be used by models that study how Earth’s oceans and atmosphere interact, to see trends in climate,” Lagerloef said in a statement. “The advances this mission will enable make this an exciting time in climate research.”

Until now, most ocean salinity measurements have been taken from ships and buoys. Such readings tend to be sparse and patchy; some regions of the globe, including the southern oceans, receive very little attention.

“What the satellite does is give you a systematic measurement over the whole globe,” Lagerloef said. Aquarius is expected to take measurements for at least three years. Its readings will complement and extend the efforts of the European Space Agency’s Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission, which launched in November 2009.

Sniffing salt from above

Shortly after liftoff, the Aquarius/SAC-D spacecraft is to settle into orbit 408 miles (657 kilometers) above Earth. Researchers will monitor the satellite’s behavior for 25 days, to make sure everything is working properly. Then they’ll begin to ready Aquarius for measurement-taking.

“It’s worth the wait, to check it out completely,” said Amit Sen, the Aquarius project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

When it’s up and running, Aquarius will use a set of three precise radiometers to measure microwave emissions coming from the ocean surface. Certain characteristics of these emissions are affected by salinity, so analyzing the readings will reveal just how salty the observed patch of ocean is.

Aquarius also boasts a scatterometer, which will use radar to measure waves at the ocean surface. Rough seas can create “noise” that confuses or degrades the salinity signal; the scatterometer will help researchers correct for this impact.

As Aquarius zips around the Earth every 90 minutes, it will take continuous salinity readings in a swath about 250 miles (400 km) wide and create a global salinity map every seven days. It will be able to detect salinity differences as small as 0.02 percent. That’s the equivalent of an eighth of a teaspoon of salt in a gallon of water, researchers say. [ The World's Biggest Oceans and Seas ]

Launch outlook looks good

Assuming NASA fixes the software bug, the outlook for a Friday launch is good. The weather should cooperate for tomorrow’s liftoff; NASA currently pegs the chances of a launch-delaying weather violation at 0 percent.

Aquarius/SAC-D is blasting into space aboard a Delta 2 rocket operated by the firm United Launch Alliance (ULA).

NASA recently  lost two other Earth-observing satellites, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory and the Glory spacecraft, to problems during
launches provided by Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp. However, NASA officials said those failures played no part in using with ULA for the Aquarius/SAC-D launch. The decision to go with the Delta 2 was made eight or nine years ago, Sen said.

Aquarius is one of eight instruments aboard the spacecraft. The other equipment will observe fires and volcanoes, map sea ice and collect a wide range of other environmental data.

The mission is a collaboration between NASA and the Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), Argentina’s space agency. The project also involves the participation of Brazil, Canada, France and Italy.

Mike Wall is a senior writer for SPACE.com, a sister site of OurAmazingPlanet. You can folllow him on Twitter: @michaeldwall.Follow
SPACE.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

© 2011 OurAmazingPlanet. All rights reserved. More from OurAmazingPlanet.

Article source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43339373

American Teens’ Knowledge on Climate Change

April 19, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Global Warming

Today the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication released a new report entitled “American Teens’ Knowledge of Climate Change” based on a national study of what teens aged 13-17 understand about how the climate system works, and the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to global warming. This research provides an assessment of how much American teens have learned about climate change in and out of school. For comparison, they also report how teens’ knowledge compares with that of American adults. The report is available online here.

Overall, they found that 54 percent of American teens believe that global warming is happening, but many do not understand why. In this assessment, only 6 percent of teens have knowledge equivalent to an A or B, 41 percent would receive a C or D, and 54 percent would get an F. Overall, teens know about the same or less about climate change than adults. The study also found important gaps in knowledge and common misconceptions about climate change and the earth system. These misconceptions lead some teens to doubt that global warming is happening or that human activities are a major contributor, to misunderstand the causes and therefore the solutions, and to be unaware of the risks. Thus many teens lack some of the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about climate change both now and in the future as students, workers, consumers, homeowners, and citizens. For example, only:

  • 54% of teens say that global warming is happening, compared to 63% of adults;
  • 35% of teens understand that most scientists think global warming is happening, compared to 39% of adults;
  • 46% of teens understand that emissions from cars and trucks substantially contribute to global warming, compared to 49% of adults;
  • 17-18% have heard of coral bleaching or ocean acidification, compared to 25% of adults.

However, American teens have a better understanding than adults on a few important measures. For example:

  • 57% of teens understand that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, compared to 50% of adults;
  • 77% of teens understand that the greenhouse effect refers to gases in the atmosphere that trap heat, compared to 66% of adults;
  • 52% of teens understand that carbon dioxide traps heat from the Earth’s surface, compared to 45% of adults;
  • 71% of teens understand that carbon dioxide is produced by the burning of fossil fuels, compared to 67% of adults.

Meanwhile, like adults, large majorities of teens incorrectly think that the hole in the ozone layer and aerosol spray cans contribute to global warming, leading many to incorrectly conclude that banning aerosol spray cans or stopping rockets from punching holes in the ozone layer are viable solutions. However, many teens, like adults, do understand that switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is an important way to reduce global warming.

Only 29 percent of teens say they have thought “a lot” or “some” about global warming, compared to 52 percent of adults. Likewise, only 19 percent of teens say that global warming is extremely or very important to them personally, compared to 27 percent of adults.

American teens also recognize their limited understanding of the issue. Fewer than 1 in 5 say they are “very well informed” about how the climate system works or the different causes, consequences, or potential solutions to global warming, and only 27 percent say they have learned “a lot” about the issue in school.

Importantly, 70 percent of teens say they would like to know more about global warming. Likewise, 75 percent say that schools should teach our children about climate change. Finally, teens are much more likely than adults to visit zoos, aquariums, natural history, science or technology museums than adults, suggesting that informal education venues are important places for teens (and adults) to learn about complex issues like climate change.

Article source: http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2011/04/18/american-teens-knowledge-on-climate-change/

Antarctic glacier mission seeks global climate clues

January 30, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Global Warming

  • Iceberg collision could affect global ocean circulation
  • Scientists on mission to Antarctica to study aftermath
  • Team studies impact of rising acidity on animals with shells

By David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia

SINGAPORE, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The breaking off of a Luxembourg-sized iceberg in Antarctica could affect ocean circulation patterns and be a harbinger of changes to come from global warming, scientists on a mission to the frozen continent say.

Last February, a 2,500 sq km (965 sq m) iceberg broke off from a giant floating tongue of ice from the Mertz Glacier after being rammed by an even larger iceberg.

The ice tongue, sticking out into the Southern Ocean, had acted like a dam, preventing sea ice from moving into a permanently open section of water to the west.

But now with the ice tongue gone due the collision, scientists fear it could trigger changes to the behaviour of a major part of global ocean circulation patterns that shift heat around the globe via myriad currents at the surface and along the bottom.

The area around the glacier tongue, since halved in length by the collision, and to the west are one of the few places around Antarctica where dense, salty water is formed and sinks to the depths of the ocean, said mission leader Steve Rintoul on Monday.

Article source: http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL3E7CV0CN20110131

New findings could help scientists monitor how corals adapt to global warming

January 30, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Global Warming

Young staghorn coral that fluoresce redder are less likely to settle and develop into coral polyps than their greener peers, University of Texas at Austin biologists have discovered.

The finding may help scientists monitor how corals adapt to global warming because the less likely coral larvae are to settle, the more likely they will disperse from their reef of origin.

“By simply looking at the color of a larval population, we may soon be able to say which larvae are going to be long-range dispersers and which will be short-range dispersers,” says Mikhail “Misha” Matz, assistant professor of biology. “Under global warming, we expect a lot of evolution of this particular life history trait.”

Matz says researchers expect to see long-range dispersers starting to win, because the corals need to shift to cooler latitudes.

The research was published this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

For the study, Matz and his colleagues crossed different color morphs of the small staghorn coral, Acropora millepora, and exposed the offspring larvae to a settlement cue ground-up calcareous red algae. The scientists observed that larvae inheriting redder fluorescent color from their parents were less likely to settle and metamorphose into reef-building polyps than greener larvae.

Coral response to the settlement cue is under strong genetic control, but it’s not clear yet how that is linked with fluorescence.

Matz says the correlation between settlement and fluorescence could be completely random, that the genes that determine color and the genes that determine settlement are only next to each other in the chromosome and have no functional connection. In that case, they would simply be inherited together.

Alternatively, fluorescence could somehow be related genetically to the capacity of larvae to sense the proximity of a coral reef, and thus have a more direct correlation.

Matz and his colleagues will be investigating these two possibilities in further research. But in either case, Matz says the color of coral larvae fluorescence could serve as a viable marker as to whether they are settlers or swimmers.

The big question still remains as to why corals fluoresce in such spectacular colors.

“Bright, multicolored fluorescence of reef-building corals is one of the most spectacular and least understood visual phenomena in the ocean,” says Matz, “and we still have no idea what purpose it serves. But our discovery is a really good lead towards determining the function of fluorescence.”

Additional contact:
Lee Clippard, public affairs
512-232-0675
lclippard@mail.utexas.edu

Published on: 2011-01-30

Article source: http://7thspace.com/headlines/371300/new_findings_could_help_scientists_monitor_how_corals_adapt_to_global_warming.html

Greenland Ice Sheet Experiences Record Melt

January 22, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Featured, Global Warming

New research shows the ice sheet is melting

The Greenland ice sheet, a vast body of ice covering 80% of the country, experienced a record melt in 2010.

The remote island of Greenland is at the coal face of global warming. The Greenland ice sheet makes up around one-twentieth of the worlds ice. In 2010 much of Greenland experienced unusually warm weather, extending the annual melting season by 50 days.

Research published by the City College of New York’s Cryospheric Processes Laboratory shows that since 1979 the area subject to melting in Greenland has been increasing at a rate of 17,000 kilometers square each year. This means that an area the size of France melted in 2010 which would not have melted three decades ago.

Greenland's icesheets experience record melt - M. Tedesco/WWFThe Greenland ice sheets annual melt started exceptionally early in 2010 and extended exceptionally late, lasting from the end of April to mid-September. The studys co-author Marco Tedesco, director of the Cryospheric Processes Laboratory, explained that this was caused by above-normal near-surface air temperatures.

The teams research was based on satellite data and ground observations, as well as data collected by automated weather stations installed by the Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht in 2003.

If the entire 2,850,000 km3 of the Greenland ice sheet were to melt, global sea levels would rise by a catastrophic 7.2 meters. The 2010 melt beats the previous record set in 2007. Eight of the largest melts on record happened between 1998 and 2010.

2010 was the warmest year on record for Nuuk, Greenlands capital city. It is projected that local warming in Greenland will exceed 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) before the end of this century. Continued warming such as this would see the Greenland ice sheet cross a threshold where long-term melting is inevitable.

Canyon over the ice sheet formed by meltwater - M. Tedesco/WWFThese new findings come as the United States grapples with its funding of international climate change initiatives. A recently released budget plan prepared by the Republican Party includes a provision to eliminate all taxpayer subsidies to the United Nationals Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to New York Times environment reporter Andrew C. Revkin, dont look for the vital 21st-century energy quest, let alone a reality-based approach to global warming, to begin within the borders of the United States.

The ice in the Greenland ice sheet is up to 130,000 years old, making it an important record of past climatic conditions. Scientists have been able to drill 4 kilometers deep ice cores, providing an accurate snap shot of global climate changes, ocean volumes and volcanic eruptions.

By area Greenland is the worlds largest island. Its population totals less than 57,000, making it the least densely populated country or dependency in the world.

Article source: http://www.suite101.com/content/greenland-ice-sheet-experiences-record-melt-a336236

Coral spreading northward in Japan as ocean temperatures rise

January 22, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Global Warming

Corals that inhabit warm ocean areas are spreading northward in Japan’s coastal waters, apparently due to global warming, researchers have announced.

According to a research team from the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Ibaraki Prefecture and the Kushimoto Marine Park Center in Wakayama Prefecture, the northern limits of the habitats of several species of coral lying mostly near the Nansei Islands south of Kyushu have been moving northward at a “unprecedented speed” of up to 14 kilometers per year.

The unusual phenomenon is thought to have been caused by rising sea temperatures associated with global warming. As corals serve as the home for various marine plants and animals, researchers fear a possible change in the regional ecosystem.

In the sea around Japan, average water temperatures in winter have risen by 1.1 to 1.6 degrees Celsius over the past century. Out of nine species of corals that the research team analyzed, four that live in tropical waters have so far spread northward. One of the four species was observed inhabiting the area near Kagoshima Prefecture’s Tanegashima island in 1988, but was found to have spread 280 kilometers northward to Nagasaki Prefecture’s Goto Islands 20 years later.

Article source: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110122p2a00m0na019000c.html

Clean Water Act suit to proceed against Seward coal facility

January 21, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Dumping

A Clean Water Act lawsuit alleging violations by the Seward Coal Loading Facility was allowed to go forward Jan. 10 by federal district Judge Timothy Burgess.

The coal facility, jointly operated by Alaska Railroad Corp. and Usibelli coal mine subsidiary Aurora Energy Services, has been a sore spot for Seward residents who say the coal dust from operations creates both a nuisance and a public health hazard.

Alaska Railroad Corp. and Aurora Energy Services were denied their bid for dismissal by Burgess.

The lawsuit, filed last January by Trustees for Alaska on behalf of the Sierra Club, Alaska Center for the Environment and Alaska Community Action on Toxins, alleges that a conveyor system delivering coal to export vessels allows coal to fall directly into Resurrection Bay along the length of the conveyor system to the loading facility, as well as from the belt after it loops back underneath itself.

Trustees for Alaska said coal dust from the stockpiles, railcar dumping facility, stacker/reclaimer, ship loader and the conveyor systems fall into Resurrection Bay. There are also concerns over Aurora Energy plowing snow that is allegedly contaminated with coal dust, as well as storm water that flows directly into Resurrection Bay.

The coal dust also blows off the facility’s two massive coal stockpiles into the bay, covering nearby fishing charter boats, other vessels and nearby neighborhoods with dust and debris.

“We are pleased that the Court will allow the case to move forward and address the pollution problems at the coal facility in Seward,” said Trustees for Alaska attorney Brian Litmans in a statement. “The facility is unable to contain the coal dust and keep coal from going into Resurrection Bay, which violates the law and is an ongoing nuisance and health issue.”

The statement from the consortium of plaintiffs also stated Seward was covered with coal dust both on Dec. 10 and Dec. 22.

Last July, the railroad and Aurora reached a joint compliance order with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to pay a $220,000 fine, with most of that money going toward the cost of dust mitigation measures.

Three supplemental environmental projects ordered by DEC were completed on schedule in 2010 and include the installation of additional dust suppression equipment including spray bards, high-pressure spray nozzles and a sealed chute and fogging system on the stacker/reclaimer.

According to Alaska Railroad Corp. vice president for corporate affairs Wendy Lindskoog, another $540,000 in capital expenditures are planned for 2011 regarding dust suppression projects.

Lindskoog said it is company policy to not comment on ongoing litigation.

The Seward coal loading facility, which is located on land owned by the Alaska Railroad, was originally built in 1984 as an economic development project to sell coal to world markets.

Suneel Alaska Corp., the purchaser of the coal for the Korean domestic market, negotiated with the state for construction of the coal dock and a loan from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities built the dock and Suneel installed the conveyor and loading systems.

Railroad officials said their participation was limited to leasing waterfront property for the facility and transporting the coal from Healy to Seward under a contract with Suneel.

Suneel and its successor, Hyundai Merchant Marine, continued to purchase coal and operate the facility through the 1990s and into the early 2000s, with AIDEA becoming a co-owner of the facility in 1995.

Hyundai remained the lessee on the property and operated the facility until January 2007, when the railroad entered into an operating agreement with Aurora Energy Services.

Since then, railroad officials said, the Alaska Railroad and Aurora Energy Services have spent more than $1 million on safety, operational and environmental improvements, including significant environmental upgrades to deal with coal dust.

Andrew Jensen can be reached at andrew.jensen@alaskajournal.com.

Article source: http://www.alaskajournal.com/stories/012111/oil_cwasp.shtml

Lipinski Helps Lead Bipartisan Effort to Protect the Great Lakes

January 21, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Dumping

The following information was released by the office of Illinois Rep. Daniel Lipinski:

In a bipartisan effort to protect Lake Michigan, Congressman Dan Lipinski and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk were joined today by Sen. Dick Durbin and Congressman Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth) to announce they will introduce legislation that will increase fines for dumping sewage into the Great Lakes. Congressman Lipinski has worked with Sen. Kirk on similar legislation over the last two Congresses.

“After working on this legislation over the past two Congresses, I believe we’ve assembled a strong, bipartisan core of support that will enable us to see it signed into law,” Lipinski said at a press conference at the Shedd Aquarium. “The Great Lakes are our region’s most precious natural resource, providing drinking water for 30 million people, unmatched recreational opportunities, and a livelihood for many. Yet each year brings news of more beach closings and swimming bans. We can’t allow the dumping of billions of gallons of raw sewage into the same waters that we use for drinking, swimming, boating and fishing. We need to deter polluters while investing in projects that improve water quality, and this bill accomplishes that.”

The Great Lakes Water Protection Act would more than double fines for sewage dumping to $100,000 a day per violation and make it harder for offenders to avoid fines. Money collected from fines would flow to a Great Lakes Clean-Up Fund created by the legislation to generate financial resources for the Great Lakes states to improve wastewater treatment options, habitat protection, and wastewater treatment systems.

“By joining forces on this important piece of legislation, we believe we can keep our Great Lakes-the crown jewel of the Midwest - clean and safe,” Sen. Kirk said. “Not only does Lake Michigan provide millions of us with our drinking water, it is a vital economic engine to the entire region.”

“Our duty to future generations of Illinoisans is to protect the environment in which we live,” Rep. Dold said. “There is much we can do right here at home by protecting Lake Michigan and its ecosystem. I’m proud to join with Congressman Lipinski and Senators Kirk and Durbin to work in a bipartisan manner to ensure our Great Lakes remain the crown jewel of the Midwest.”

Great Lakes beaches had over 3,000 days worth of closings and advisories last year, and Illinois beaches had warnings or closings 10 percent of the time. Chicago has taken many steps to limit sewer overflow, including such projects as the Deep Tunnel. Other cities dump directly into the Great Lakes. Detroit traditionally has been one of the worst offenders, dumping an estimated 13 billion gallons of sewage into the Great Lakes annually, figures show.

“On Monday, I invited Rep. Dold to cross the aisle and sit with me during the State of the Union next week, and he readily agreed,” Congressman Lipinski said. “That same spirit of unity and bipartisanship is what brought us all together to work on this bill. The American people want to see partisan bickering replaced with productive debate and problem-solving. Democrats and Republicans will always have their differences, but we must find ways to work together for the good of the country. This bill shows that bipartisan cooperation on substantive issues is very much possible.”

(January 21, 2011)

###

Article source: http://www.waterworld.com/index/display/news_display/1344233772.html

Devices to monitor lake water quality

January 21, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Dumping

BANGALORE: In its efforts to check the deteriorating quality of water in the lakes across the city due to indiscriminate dumping of waste and discharge of sewerage into the catchment areas, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) is exploring the possibility of installing programmed devices to monitor the water quality in the lakes round the clock.

At present, the KSPCB is testing the accuracy of the devices offered by a private agency in Ulsoor lake, Sankey Tank and Bellandur Lake. According to the sources the cost of each device is expected to vary from `515 lakh according to the parameters that the device is expected to monitor. At present, the devices installed are monitoring the temperature, pH value, dissolved oxygen, total dissolved solids and turbidity. According to the readings obtained from these devices the water quality is acceptable in Ulsoor Lake and Sankey Tank and bad in Bellandur lake.

The KSPCB Member Secretary M S Gouder said, “We are also thinking of testing these devices for more parameters like E.coli [bacteria] and heavy metals. After the accuracy of these devices are proved, we will consider them in the lakes and coordinate with the other governmental agencies to maintain them in good condition as these devices will help us understand if anything is going wrong.”

According to Gouder these devices will be useful in monitoring the water quality automatically round the clock in the newly rejuvenated lakes as most of them are situated in the outskirts or the newlyadded areas of the city. They are also expected to help the concerned authorities to prevent the flow of sewerage or dumping of waste into the lakes by alerting them when the quality of water starts deteriorating.

Programmed sensors are inserted into the lakes and each sensor monitors a particular parameter and transmits the data to the centralised server every fifteen minutes. The data is later processed and updated on the website and transmitted to the concerned officials periodically.

Article source: http://expressbuzz.com/cities/bangalore/devices-to-monitor-lake-water-quality/241452.html

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