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Nuke plant seized after sea contaminated 

Near Matera  (ANSA) – Potenza, April 13 – An Italian nuclear plant in the process of being decommissioned was impounded Friday after the nearby sea was found to be contaminated. The ITREC plant at Rotondella near Matera in Basilicata was found to be pouring contaminated run-off water into the Ionian Sea.
Three water collection tanks and the run-off pipe were seized in a probe by Potenza prosecutors.
Possible charges in the case are environmental pollution, misrepresentation, illegal waste disposal and illegal waste trafficking, judicial sources said……http://www.ansa.it/english/news/general_news/2018/04/13/nuke-plant-seized-after-sea-contaminated-4_ccf1d514-352a-4efb-8b42-1f61bf3f97e4.html

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April 16, 2018 Posted by | Italy, oceans | Leave a comment

Human-caused global warming has contributed to extraordinary change in warm Atlantic current

Guardian 11th April 2018 , The warm Atlantic current linked to severe and abrupt changes in the
climate in the past is now at its weakest in at least 1,600 years, new research shows.

The findings, based on multiple lines of scientific evidence, throw into question previous predictions that a catastrophic
collapse of the Gulf Stream would take centuries to occur. Such a collapse
would see western Europe suffer far more extreme winters, sea levels rise
fast on the eastern seaboard of the US and would disrupt vital tropical
rains.

The new research shows the current is now 15% weaker than around
400AD, an exceptionally large deviation, and that human-caused global
warming is responsible for at least a significant part of the weakening.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/11/critical-gulf-stream-current-weakest-for-1600-years-research-finds

April 14, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Rapid increase in ocean heatwaves, especially near Australia

‘Concerning’: Marine heatwaves increasing, especially near Australia, https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/marine-heatwaves-australia-tasman-sea-climate-20180410-p4z8qq.html, By Peter Hannam, 

Marine heatwaves are increasing in their frequency and duration at an accelerating rate in many parts of the world, especially around Australia, a team of international scientists has found.

The number of oceanic heatwave days a year has increased by 54 per cent in the past century globally, the researchers determined, using data of sea-surface temperatures from long-established sites and satellites.

“We have seen an increasing trend in the frequency and duration [of marine heatwaves], and that trend has accelerated in the past 30 years or so,” said Lisa Alexander, associate professor at University of NSW’s Climate Change Research Centre, and an author of the paper published in Nature Communications on Wednesday.

Rather than a precursor, the number of heatwave days may even be an underestimate of what is to come as the planet warms, Professor Alexander said. “We could see it accelerated even more, given what we’ve seen recently,” she said.

Episodes of extreme heat over land have been studied more closely than those beneath the waves. Oceans, though, not only absorb about 93 per cent of the additional heat being trapped by rising greenhouse gas levels, they are also the main driver of the Earth’s climate.

Thank goodness we have the oceans as this massive sink [for both heat and carbon dioxide] but they are also changing too, and we tend to forget that,” said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, an author of the paper and also a researcher at the UNSW CCRC.

Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick likened the oceans to the tropics, where temperatures typically move within a narrow band. Even moderate increases can have big impacts on humans and ecosystems alike.

The paper, which defined heatwaves as at least five consecutive days with sea-surface temperatures in the top 10 per cent of warmth over a 30-year period, found such events were on the increase in most parts of the world.

Global hot spots

Australia was home, along with the north Pacific and north Atlantic, of some of the global ocean hot spots.

While coral bleaching from extended heat over the Great Barrier Reef and elsewhere in recent years had drawn international attention, many other regions had seen “substantial ecological and economic impacts”, as fishing and tourism industries they support were hit, the paper said.

For instance, an extreme event off the Western Australia coast in 2011 led to large-scale effects in the Ningaloo region. Kelp forests south of Ningaloo were hammered and are yet to recover.

“You only need to have that one event to have this complete shift in the ecological environments,” Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick said, noting such changes have tended to be less dramatic on land.

“Will it ever change back? Have we reached the point of no return for certain marine environments?” she said. “There are a lot of unknowns there, but it’s quite concerning.”

Coral bleaching events have garnered much of the attention but many other marine species, including kelp forests off Tasmania, can be vulnerable to changing conditions.

“[Corals] are the sort of poster child for ecological change, and other systems aren’t maybe as pretty to look at,” Professor Alexander said. “But [others] are equally as important in the ecosystems and food chains”.

Tasman Sea heat

The westward boundaries of the continents tend to be where oceans are warming fastest, including off the east Australian coast.

The Tasman Sea had experienced an increase in heatwave events even before this past summer’s record burst, that fell outside the researchers’ period of study.

In a special climate statement released last month by the Bureau of Meteorology and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the agencies found the south Tasman Sea recorded sea-surface anomalies of as much as 2.12 degrees last December and 1.96 degrees in January.

Those readings were compared with a 1981-2010 baseline – and broke the record for those months by about a degree – an unusual departure from the norm for ocean readings.

April 14, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Warm water underneath Antarctica’s great ice sheet is eroding it

Antarctica retreating across the sea floor, EurekAlert , UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS , 3 April 18  Antarctica’s great ice sheet is losing ground as it is eroded by warm ocean water circulating beneath its floating edge, a new study has found.

Research by the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at the University of Leeds has produced the first complete map of how the ice sheet’s submarine edge, or “grounding line”, is shifting. Most Antarctic glaciers flow straight into the ocean in deep submarine troughs, the grounding line is the place where their base leaves the sea floor and begins to float.

Their study, published today in Nature Geoscience, shows that the Southern Ocean melted 1,463 km2 of Antarctica’s underwater ice between 2010 and 2016 – an area the size of Greater London.

The team, led by Dr Hannes Konrad from the University of Leeds, found that grounding line retreat has been extreme at eight of the ice sheet’s 65 biggest glaciers. The pace of deglaciation since the last ice age is roughly 25 metres per year. The retreat of the grounding line at these glaciers is more than five times that rate.

The biggest changes were seen in West Antarctica, where more than a fifth of the ice sheet has retreated across the sea floor faster than the pace of deglaciation……….https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/uol-ara032918.php

April 4, 2018 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Russia’s sunken submarine- still with nuclear weapons

In 1989, Russia Left a Nuclear Submarine Dead in the Ocean (Armed with Nuclear Weapons) National Interest , Kyle Mizokami , 27 Mar 18 

Komsomolets sank in 5,250 feet of water, complete with its nuclear reactor and two nuclear-armed Shkval torpedoes. Between 1989 and 1998 seven expeditions were carried out to secure the reactor against radioactive release and seal the torpedo tubes. Russian sources allege that during these visits, evidence of “unauthorized visits to the sunken submarine by foreign agents” were discovered.

In the mid-1980s, the Soviet Union constructed a super submarine unlike any other. Fast and capable of astounding depths for a combat submersible, the submarine Komsomolets was introduced in 1984, heralded as a new direction for the Soviet Navy.

Five years later, Komsomolets and its nuclear weapons were on the bottom of the ocean, two-thirds of its crew killed by what was considered yet another example of Soviet incompetence.

The history of the Komsomolets goes as far back as 1966. A team at the Rubin Design Bureau under N. A. Klimov and head designer Y. N. Kormilitsin was instructed to begin research into a Project 685, a deep-diving submarine. The research effort dragged on for eight years, likely due to a lack of a suitable metal that could withstand the immense pressures of the deep. In 1974, however, the double-hulled design was completed, with a titanium alloy chosen for the inner hull.

Project 685, also known as K-278, was to be a prototype boat to test future deep-diving Soviet submarines. The Sevmash shipyard began construction on April 22, 1978 and the ship was officially completed on May 30, 1983. The difficulty in machining titanium contributed to the unusually long construction period.

K-278 was 360 feet long and forty feet wide, with the inner hull approximately twenty-four feet wide. It had a submerged displacement of 6,500 tons, and the use of titanium instead of steel made it notably lighter. It had a unique double hull, with the inner hull made of titanium, that gave it its deep-diving capability. The inner hull was further divided into seven compartments, two of which were reinforced to create a safe zone for the crew, and an escape capsule was built into the sail to allow the crew to abandon ship while submerged at depths of up to 1,500 meters.

……….On April 7, 1989, while operating a depth of 1266 feet, Komsomolets ran into trouble in the middle of the Norwegian Sea. According to Norman Polmar and Kenneth Moore, it was the submarine’s second crew, newly trained in operating the ship. Furthermore, its origins as a test ship meant it lacked a damage-control party.

A fire broke out in the seventh aft chamber, and the flames burned out an air supply valve, which fed pressurized air into the fire. Fire suppression measures failed. The reactor was scrammed and the ballast tanks were blown to surface the submarine. The fire continued to spread, and the crew fought the fire for six hours before the order to abandon ship was given.

 ………. Only four men had been killed in the incident so far, but after the submarine sank many men succumbed to the thirty-six-degree (Fahrenheit) water temperatures. After an hour the fishing boats Alexi Khlobystov and Oma arrived and rescued thirty men, some of whom later succumbed to their injuries. Of the original sixty-nine men on board the submarine when disaster struck, forty-two died, including Captain First Rank Vanin.

Komsomolets sank in 5,250 feet of water, complete with its nuclear reactor and two nuclear-armed Shkval torpedoes. Between 1989 and 1998 seven expeditions were carried out to secure the reactor against radioactive release and seal the torpedo tubes. Russian sources allege that during these visits, evidence of “unauthorized visits to the sunken submarine by foreign agents” were discovered.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.

This first appeared back in 2016.   http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/1989-russia-left-nuclear-submarine-dead-the-ocean-armed-25090

 

March 27, 2018 Posted by | oceans, Russia, wastes, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Russia’s underwater nuclear graveyard – a great place for fishing?

Russia’s Arctic nuclear dump may become promising fishing area https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/ecology/2018/03/russias-arctic-nuclear-dump-may-become-promising-fishing-area

Thousands of containers with radioactive waste were dumped in the Kara Sea during Soviet times. Now, Russia’s Federal Agency for Fishing believes it’s a good idea to start fishing. By Thomas Nilsen March 15, 2018

“We shall present soon a program on development of promising fishing in the Kara Sea,” said Sergey Golovanov at the 5th international conference of fishing in the Arctic, organized in Murmansk this week. He is quoted by news agency TASS.

Golovanov is head of the Science and Education Department with the Federal Agency for Fisheries and has a background from PINDRO, the Marine research institute in Murmansk.

According to Gulovanov, the Kara Sea’s advantage for the fishing industry is that it is a shelf sea, it does not border any territorial waters of other nations. “This is why Russia can have own fishing regulations there,” he said according to TASS.

In 2013, a Norwegian-Russian joint study expedition to the dump-site of K-27 concluded that it is feasible to lift the ill-fated submarine from the seabed. Although dumped 30 years ago, the hull of the submarine is intact.

Several other areas of the Kara Sea were also visited by the science expedition.

Nuclear weapons testing

Additional to the nuclear waste dumped across the Kara Sea, the waters are also next to the Soviet Union’s largest testing area for nuclear weapons. At Novaya Zemlya, 79 nuclear- and hydrogen bombs where detonated in the atmosphere between 1955 and 1962. In the period from 1963 to 1990 another 35 warheads were tested in tunnels under ground. Today, most of Novaya Zemlya is closed off miitary area.

At the conference in Murmansk, nothing was said about the Kara Sea being the main dumping ground for nuclear waste during Soviet times. No other oceans worldwide have more dumped radioactive waste than Russia’s Arctic Kara Sea.

Here, there, everywhere

17 ships and barges loaded with radioactive waste are dumped here. So are 17,000 containers with radioactive waste. Even worse, along the east coast of Novaya Zemlya is 16 nuclear reactors dumped, six of them with spent uranium fuel still on board.

With the breakup of the Soviet Union, both the military Northern Fleet and the civilian icebreakers stopped dumping waste at sea.

Entire nuclear sub dumped in 1982

On shallow waters in the Stepovogo Bay on the southeast coast of Novaya Zemlya, an entire nuclear-powered submarine, the K-27, was dumped in 1982.

The submarine had then been laid-up for more than 15 years after one of the two troublesome reactors suffered a severe leakage of radioactive gasses and inadequate cooling causing extensive fuel element failures.

Dumping the entire submarine at sea was done in what the Soviet reactor engineers and scientists believed would be a safe way to avoid leakages of radionuclides into the marine environment.

The two on board reactors are liquid-metal cooled and contain spent nuclear fuel, 800 kilograms of uranium to be precise.

Both Russian and Norwegian radiation experts have repeatedly warned that failing to lift the submarine eventually one day will cause leakages of radioactivity into the Kara Sea. A worst-case scenario has even pointed to the danger of an uncontrolled chain reaction that could be triggered inside the reactor in case sea water one day starts to leak in through the protecting cover that today isolates the compartment holding the two reactors.

In 2013, a Norwegian-Russian joint study expedition to the dump-site of K-27 concluded that it is feasible to lift the ill-fated submarine from the seabed. Although dumped 30 years ago, the hull of the submarine is intact.

Several other areas of the Kara Sea were also visited by the science expedition.

Nuclear weapons testing

Additional to the nuclear waste dumped across the Kara Sea, the waters are also next to the Soviet Union’s largest testing area for nuclear weapons. At Novaya Zemlya, 79 nuclear- and hydrogen bombs where detonated in the atmosphere between 1955 and 1962. In the period from 1963 to 1990 another 35 warheads were tested in tunnels under ground. Today, most of Novaya Zemlya is closed off miitary area.

March 17, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, oceans, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Hazards of Russia’s radioactive trash in the Arctic

Arctic Frontiers forum totes up Russia’s northern nuclear hazardsWhen Norway assesses potential nuclear risks in Northern Russia, it counts among them not just decades of intentionally scuttled radioactive trash – including two entire nuclear submarines – but also vessels transporting spent nuclear fuel throughout the Arctic, specifically from Andreyeva Bay. Bellona     by Charles Digges

When Norway assesses potential nuclear risks in Northern Russia, it counts among them not just decades of intentionally scuttled radioactive trash – including two entire nuclear submarines – but also vessels transporting spent nuclear fuel throughout the Arctic, specifically from Andreyeva Bay.

These considerations were part of a seminar held at the Arctic Frontiers forum last week in Tromsø, Norway, which tallied up ongoing threats of nuclear environmental contamination in Northwest Russia.

For decades, Norway, along with numerous other donor nations, has invested millions of dollars in improving the safety and security of Northwest Russia’s vast Cold War nuclear legacy sites.

According to Øyvind Selnæs, a senior adviser with the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, Norway expects to see a spike in the number of ships passing through the Arctic carrying nuclear fuel and materials as Russia seeks to build new nuclear icebreakers to guide traffic along the Northern Sea Route. He also forecasted an increase the number vessels carrying spent nuclear fuel.

“It took many years and huge funds of international assistance to start exporting SNF from the former naval base in the Murmansk region – Andreeva Bay,” Selnaes said.” Last year, this process began, and it will take several years. Risks associated with the maritime transportation sector will now increase. ” ……http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2018-01-arctic-frontiers-forum-totes-up-russias-northern-nuclear-hazards

January 31, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, oceans, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

The role of women – oceans and climate change – an event at Bonn

Women’s voices for ocean and climate https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/womens-voices-ocean-and-climate 10 Nov 17, The crucial yet under-recognized role that the world’s women play as agents of change and healers of the ocean and climate was the focus of a side event at the 23rd UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany on 6 November.

The event – hosted jointly by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), UN Environment and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme – aimed to draw attention to the value of inclusive ocean and climate management.

“Women are leaders in resource management and agents for building resilient communities, and their valuable work bridges across climate action, sustainable development, and nature protection,” said Ms. Raumanu Pranjivan-Sharma, a senior legal officer for the Government of Fiji who is serving as a liaison officer for the COP23 presidency. “I want to reiterate the COP23 presidency’s commitment to the work on gender and climate change.”

The event, “The Role of Women as Healers of the Ocean at the Frontlines of the Climate-Resilient Development–Nature Nexus”, showcased the varied and valuable roles of women amidst the rising tide of challenges brought on by climate change and other human-induced changes.

“We also know that when women are well represented in decision-making processes, their ability to share skills and knowledge strengthens our collective effort to face the challenge of climate change,” said Ms. Pranjivan-Sharma.

The speakers, ranging from government officials and academics to women from coastal communities whose livelihoods depend on the ocean, shed light on how women continue to punch above their weight in trying to maintain their way of life amid the challenges facing our ocean and climate-dependent livelihoods.

The discussion highlighted the value of empowering women in engaging in ocean governance and climate adaptation and mitigation, using locally appropriate methods.

The different social and cultural differences must be recognized. We cannot come in blazing about being inclusive,” said Ms. Monifa Fiu, coordinator of the Laje.Rotuma Initiative, Vice President of the Fiji voyaging Uto Ni Yalo Trust, and Climate Adaptation Planner and Adviser with the Rotary Pacific Water Foundation. “Understanding that local scenario is key.”

Mobilizing women to be part of decision-making processes at all levels will help to ensure that women’s voices, needs and concerns are taken into consideration in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating climate actions.

Other speakers included Ms. Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven, Director-General, Global Issues-Sector Policies and Programmes at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany; Professor Elisabeth Holland, Director of the Pacific Center for Environment and Sustainable Development, University of the South Pacific; and Ms. Penina Moce, WWF Community Climate Witness, Fiji. The side event was moderated by Ms. Carol Phua from the MPA Action Agenda (WWF Netherlands).

The COP23 event builds on a multi-agency initiative to showcase experiences of women in the Asia-Pacific region in ocean management. The event premiered an Ocean Witness film of Roziah Jahalid from Semporna, Malaysia. Ocean Witness is a collection of stories told by people fully dedicated to the preservation of the ocean. Through the Ocean Witness platform, WWF and partners highlight tangible problems and solutions that are relevant to policymakers and the public.

Learn more about UN Environment’s work on gender and climate change.

For more information:

Tiffany Straza: unep.pacific@unep.org Tui Marseu, Communications Manager WWF-Pacific:

tmarseu@wwfpacific.org

November 10, 2017 Posted by | climate change, oceans, Women | Leave a comment

Global warming might be far worse than we thought

Independent 26th Oct 2017, Global warming might be far worse than we thought, according to a new
study. The research challenges the ways that researchers have worked out
sea temperatures until now, meaning that they may be increasing quicker
than previously suggested. The methodology widely used to understand sea
temperatures in the scientific community may be based on a mistake, the new
study suggests, and so our understanding of climate change might be
fundamentally flawed.

The new research suggests that the oceans hundreds of
millions of years ago were much cooler than we thought. If true, that means
that the global warming we are currently undergoing is unparallelled within
the last 100 million years, and far worse than we had previously
calculated.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/climate-change-worse-water-temperature-reading-scientists-global-warming-ice-melt-weather-a8020696.html

October 28, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Ignoring the danger of ionising radiation: nuclear waste dumping in the sea

The idea that nuclear pollution can be rendered safe by extreme dilution has been proven wrong

radioactive materials bioaccumulate. A worm can contain 2,000 to 3,000 times higher levels than its environment. The worm is then eaten by another marine animal, which gets eating by another, and so on. At each step, the radioactive level rises. Barbey has identified reproductive defects in sea crabs, caused by radioactive contamination, and these genetic defects are passed on to future generations of crabs.

Are we to believe the same is not happening in humans, who are at the top of the food chain?

The fact of the matter is that a certain number of cancer deaths are considered acceptable in order to keep costs for the nuclear waste industry down. The question no one has the answer to is: At what point do the deaths begin to outweigh the cost-savings of the nuclear industry?

As to where such cost-benefit considerations came from in the first place, the filmmakers identify the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP)

the nuclear industry is hardly operating for the benefit of the many.

The Rarely Discussed Reality of Radioactive Pollution https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/10/07/radioactive-pollution-exposure.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20171007Z1_UCM&et_cid=DM16

Story at-a-glance

  • For decades, the common method of nuclear disposal was to dump plutonium-filled steel barrels into the ocean. Today, many if not most of these barrels have corroded and disintegrated, releasing radioactive material into the environment
  • “Versenkt und Vergessen” (Sunk and Forgotten) investigates what happened to the barrels of nuclear waste, and how radioactive material is disposed of today
  • In 1993, nuclear waste dumping into the ocean was banned worldwide, yet the ocean remains a primary dumping ground for radioactive waste
  • Instead of ditching barrels overboard, the nuclear waste industry built pipes along the bottom of the sea, through which the radioactive material is discharged directly into the open sea
  • Cancer deaths are considered acceptable to keep costs for the nuclear waste industry down. According to the International Commission on Radiological Protection, this cost-benefit consideration is part of Epicurus’ utilitarian ethics, which states that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few

By Dr. Mercola

A rarely addressed environmental problem is radioactive pollution from nuclear waste disposal. For decades, the common method of nuclear disposal was to simply dump plutonium-filled steel barrels into the ocean. Continue reading

October 9, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, oceans, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

David Suzuki and 1,461 other scientists speak out for the protection of Australia’s oceans

Conservationist and 1,461 other scientists release statement describing Australia’s oceans as a ‘global asset’ that must be protected,  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/27/david-suzuki-australia-sickening-threat-to-marine-reserves-undermines-global-protection

Guardian,Michael Slezak, 26 Sept 17, Growing global momentum to protect the world’s oceans from overfishing could be undermined by Australia, warns renowned conservationist David Suzuki and more than 1,461 other scientists.David Suzuki: Australia’s ‘sickening’ threat to marine reserves undermines global protection He said Australia needed to face up to the interconnected issues of climate change and ocean health, both of which it was failing to address.

“I’m sorry Australia, wake up,” Suzuki said. “The oceans are a mess and a great deal of the mess is a reflection of climate change. Climate change is the overarching issue that is hammering the oceans as well as terrestrial areas. And it is absolutely disgusting that coal is still considered a great economic input to Australia.

“When you’ve got something that [other countries] would die for – you’ve got sunlight up the ying yang, why isn’t Australia the world leader in this incredible form of energy? It makes me sick. You’ve got great research facilities. You’ve got great scientists. You’ve got everything going to be a world leader in the energy of the future and you’re not doing it. And it’s not surprising then that you are doing the same to the oceans. What is it going to take for Australia to wake up to the opportunities?”

Australia is currently considering the world’s biggest downgrading of a protected area with a reduction in the size of its network of marine reserves.

“If Australia does something progressive in 2012, and then walks back from that, what the hell are we going to expect [from] international cooperation?” said Suzuki, who described the move as “sickening”.

In 2012 the Australian government created what was then the world’s largest network of marine reserves. The move followed years of consultation, and despite limited protection for the most biodiverse coastal areas, it was welcomed by environmental groups.

Since then, global momentum has been building for marine protection. In 2014 at the once-a-decade World Parks Congress in Sydney, conservation scientists called for fishing to be banned in 30% of each type of marine habitat globally – a call supported two years later by about 90 countries and hundreds of NGOs that are members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

In 2016, the US president Barack Obama created the world’s largest marine reserve by expanding an existing ocean reserve off Hawaii. That year he also established a large marine park in the Atlantic Ocean.

Similarly, Chile, France, Kiribati, New Zealand, Russia and the UK have created large areas where fishing is banned.

In contrast, the Australian government recently announced draft plans to reduce by 40% the amount of its marine parks that are “no-take” fishing or construction zones.

According to WWF-Australia, that would represent the world’s largest downgrading of protected areas on record. More than 433,000 sq km would be downgraded to allow commercial fishing – more than half of that in the Coral Sea marine park, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the few remaining large parts of the Pacific Ocean still in good health.

Australian waters contain rich biodiversity ranging from the tropics to Antarctica. A statement signed by Suzuki and 1,461 scientists described these waters as a “global asset” and called on the government to increase protections.

“They support six of the seven known species of marine turtles and more than half of the world’s whale and dolphin species. Australia’s oceans are home to more than 20% of the world’s fish species and are a hot spot of marine endemism. By properly protecting them, Australia will be supporting the maintenance of our global ocean heritage,” the statement said.

It’s absurd to think this is really Australia’s water,” Suzuki told the Guardian. “These oceans belong to the world – you just happen to be the caretakers in that particular area.”

Jessica Meeuwig, director of the Centre for Marine Futures at the University of Western Australia, said Australia’s move set a dangerous international precedent.

“Australia’s move to go backwards undermines that progress,” she said. “In Australia we will be supporting an international benchmark that says we’re happy to have paper parks [areas technically set aside but with minimal actual protections].”

Paper parks have been a major concern in the conservation world.

Meeuwig said Australia’s precedent is particularly dangerous given the Trump administration is mulling cuts to protected areas on land and in the ocean.

“Australia will pip Trump to the post,” she said.

The Trump administration is examining 27 protected areas for the rollback of protections, with a leaked memo revealing 10 – including the two marine parks established by Obama – earmarked to allow “traditional uses” such as mining, logging and hunting.

She said Australia’s unwinding of protections would help normalise radical moves to unwind protection in the US, as well as set a poor example for other countries.

“Such a backwards step just gives other countries an excuse to do less. [Australia is] a developed economy with good governance. If we can’t get this right, all we’re doing is putting the responsibility to protect oceans to nations that have less and are dealing with bigger challenges. That’s not leadership.”

Suzuki, who owns a house in Queensland’s Port Douglas and has spent a lot of time on the Great Barrier Reef, is angry about Australia’s rollback.

“We’re an air-breathing land animal. We’ve trashed the terrestrial environment with vast clearcuts and monocultures of rubber trees and corn and wheat. We’ve used the land and air to spread potent pesticides and toxic compounds. We’ve really fucked up the land that is our ecosystem. And now we go into the oceans that cover 70% of the planet and we’ve trashed that,” he said.

Suzuki said after the devastating bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in 2016, he visited it and wept.

He said Australia needed to face up to the interconnected issues of climate change and ocean health, both of which it was failing to address.

“I’m sorry Australia, wake up,” Suzuki said. “The oceans are a mess and a great deal of the mess is a reflection of climate change. Climate change is the overarching issue that is hammering the oceans as well as terrestrial areas. And it is absolutely disgusting that coal is still considered a great economic input to Australia.

“When you’ve got something that [other countries] would die for – you’ve got sunlight up the ying yang, why isn’t Australia the world leader in this incredible form of energy? It makes me sick. You’ve got great research facilities. You’ve got great scientists. You’ve got everything going to be a world leader in the energy of the future and you’re not doing it. And it’s not surprising then that you are doing the same to the oceans. What is it going to take for Australia to wake up to the opportunities?”

September 30, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, oceans | Leave a comment

Peak contamination levels from Fukushima off North America now known

 http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/52701  From: University of Victoria 
 September 29, 2017For the first time since 2011, peak contamination levels in Pacific Canadian waters from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are known, says a University of Victoria scientist who has been monitoring levels since the meltdown of three reactors at the plant.

Releases of radioactive elements from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in 2011 were the largest unplanned discharges of radioactivity into the ocean. The disaster, triggered by a 15-metre tsunami caused by a magnitude-9 earthquake, created widespread concern over the potential impact on marine life and human health.

“Contamination from Fukushima never reached a level where it was a significant threat to either marine or human life in our neighborhood of the North Pacific,” says UVic chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen.

Continue reading at University of Victoria.

September 30, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, oceans, radiation, USA | Leave a comment

Abandoned radioactive generators and other nuclear junk sunk in oceans by Russia

Feisty mayor in Russia’s Far East wants his nuclear trash collected http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2017-09-feisty-mayor-in-russia-far-east-wants-his-nuclear-trash-collected

While lighthouses run on atomic batteries in Russia have become rare, especially along the coasts of the Baltic and Barents Seas, they still have their adherents in the country’s Far East.  by Charles Digges   charles@bellona.no  While lighthouses run on atomic batteries in Russia have become rare, especially along the coasts of the Baltic and Barents Seas, they still have their adherents in the country’s Far East.

A group of radioactivity tracking sleuths on Sakhalin Island in the Pacific say they have hunted down an abandoned generator that ran on strontium-90 sunk off the shores of one of its premier beach resorts.

But that, they say, is just the tip of the iceberg: The discovery lies in the middle of a radioactive graveyard that includes no fewer than 38 sunken vessels containing nuclear waste, and two nuclear warheads that went down when a Soviet bomber crashed near the island’s southern tip in 1976.

Though the Russian Ministry of Defense recently began acknowledging the lost bomber, tracing the origins of the other nuclear cast offs is not so easy.

But at least, says Nikolai Sidirov, mayor of the coastal town of Makarov on Sakhalin’s Bay of Patience, his town knows what this new discovery is – and they want it raised from the depths with the rest of the glowing junk.

Speaking to Novaya Izvestiya, a popular tabloid that morphed out of the official Soviet-era mouthpiece Izvestiya, Sidirov said satellite photos tracking the location of the crashed bomber have turned up something else lurking under the waves: An RTG.

That’s short for Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, a small radioactive energy source that for decades powered thousands of Soviet lighthouses and other navigational beacons along Russia’s Baltic, Arctic and Pacific coasts.

After the fall of the Soviet Union and the crash of the Russian economy, officials lost track of many of the RTGs as bureaucracies collapsed and records went missing. Thieves pillaged them for their valuable metal, exposing their strontium innards. Hikers and shepherds, drawn to their atomic heat, would stagger out of the woods sick with radiation poisoning.

Around Murmansk and on the Pacific coast, frightful reports about strontium elements turning up on beaches proliferated in local media. Some newly independent Soviet republics telegraphed anxieties about their inherited RTGs back to Moscow – along with requests to come take them away.

And then there was the biggest fear of all: What if strontium 90 from these virtually unguarded, remotely radiological sources ended up in the hands of terrorists who wanted to make a dirty bomb?

So far, that hasn’t happened – anybody trying to make off with a strontium battery would likely end up very ill or dead. But when three woodsmen in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia turned up in a hospital with radiation burns and caught the attention of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the dangers of orphaned Soviet RTGs were finally on everyone’s mind.

A colossal effort spearheaded by the Norwegian government entirely rid the coasts of the Barents, Kara and White Seas of more than 180 RTGs. By infusing €20 million into the push, Norway helped Russia replace the strontium 90 batteries on these lighthouses and beacons with solar power over a six year period ending in 2015.

In all, Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, says it has decommission more than 1000 RTGs throughout the country, adding that it has mostly eliminated the hazard of these stray radioactive sources from its coastlines.

But some areas have not been so lucky, at least according to the mayor of Makarov out on Sakhalin Island, six times zones east of Moscow. Sidirov, a feisty campaigner who had been publicly heckling the capital about the nuclear trash in the seas near his town for years, says divers have located the RTG, and that he now has the coordinates of where it lies. He told Novaya Izvestiya he will pass on the RTGs location to what he calls “competent authorities” lest it end up in scheming hands.

How the RTG, which lies in 14 meters of water, came to be there is still anyone’s guess. The Russian Navy sent a statement to the newspaper insisting that all RTGs under the purview of the Pacific Fleet have been hunted down and destroyed.

But Russia’s environmental oversight agency confirmed that there were numerous radioactive foundlings in the oceans off Sakhalin Island, though they didn’t identify Sidirov’s RTG specifically.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time someone screwed up with an RTG in the area, however. Twenty years ago, in 1997, a helicopter from Russia’s Emergency Services Ministry accidentally dropped a strontium-powered RTG into Sakhalin’s waters. It was later retrieved by the navy.

So far, Rosatom has remained mum on the veracity of Sidirov’s claim about the RTG. But since the history of the downed bomber and the other hazards in his area has been confirmed, there’s every reason to believe him about the RTG. And he wants it gone.

“The ecological authorities and the military, they’re being very stubborn about coming to collect it,” Sidorov told Novaya Izvestiya. “It’s there job to collect it – if they’re ever interested, I’ll be here to show them exactly where it is.”

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Finland, oceans, Reference, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Climate change and coral reefs – for some reefs, their end is nigh

Farewelling coral reefs The Saturday Paper, Karen Middleton, 16 Sept 17  We hear much about trying to contain temperature rises to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Why is that the magic number?

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg The 2-degree guardrail came out of the 2009 Copenhagen meeting. When you looked at how ecosystems were responding, you got into an unmanageable area at 2 degrees above the pre-industrial period, which was where the CO2 concentration had been stable for a long time. The trajectory we’re on today could raise temperatures by as much as 5 or 6 degrees on history.

One of the problems with 2 degrees is that generally people have the idea that it’s a guardrail. You go up to the edge of 2 degrees and look over it and see where you don’t want to go and it’s all very safe here. But it’s more like a slippery slope. Things get progressively worse until they become unmanageable. At the latest Conference of the Parties, the UNFCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ] governing framework started to say, “well actually we want to keep things well below 2 degrees, and hopefully aim for 1.5 in the long term”.

KM And where are we now?

OHG We’re about a degree above the pre-industrial period.

KM So we’ve got half a degree’s leeway left.

OHG: To keep to that half a degree would be a massive decarbonisation of almost everything we do – energy, transport, food production and so on. Key to this is not just the amount of temperature change; it’s the system’s stability. If we don’t take care of fossil fuels we very quickly get into a situation where things change. Anything like that puts a lot of stress on biology but also on our economic systems. If you’re constantly having increasing temperatures and challenges then you’re not going to be able to build an economic system that will last 50 or 100 years……..

KM You predicted 20 years ago that we were going to be in a diabolical situation. Are you saying, “I told you so?”

OHG I wish I’d been wrong. A very simple model that I put together with people from the European Union showed what temperature was likely to do and we knew the temperature at which coral reefs got into trouble and they crossed each other around mid-century. I remember thinking at the time, “I hope this one’s wrong.” In the last couple of years we’ve had back-to-back bleaching events. Reefs have disappeared from many places – the Caribbean has been particularly hit hard. Corals have gone from maybe 50 to 60 per cent of the bottom of the ocean to less than 5 per cent in many places.

KM Is this irreversible?

OHG Under normal, non-climate-change circumstances, reefs might lose corals due to cyclones for example. And if they’re given 10 to 20 years, they’ll bounce back. But what’s been happening with these bleaching events, which are similar to cyclones in killing coral en masse, is they’re now coming faster and faster. There’s not enough time for reefs to bounce back……..

you have to say, “Where are those reefs that have the best chance of surviving a climate increase of 0.5 degrees?” The ocean isn’t heating up at the same rate in all places. There are some places where the currents have stalled, where it’s getting a lot hotter a lot quicker, like the equatorial Pacific, versus the coral triangle, which is this South-East Asian paradise for corals. The number of species there is something like three times that of Australia. So you start to go, “Oh, well if we’re going to preserve something we wouldn’t do it at the equator where it’s getting really, really hot – we should be going to South-East Asia.”

You do run into what appears to be triage, and I don’t think that’s the right word. I think it’s about another strategy being added onto the great things that are already going on in conservation. We will be releasing a list later this year and you have to ask the question: “What if the Great Barrier Reef’s not on it?” And it’s an interesting one………

KM How do you assess the current status of the Great Barrier Reef? How bad was the bleaching?

OHG The reef’s health has been rocky for some time. In 1998 we had 50 per cent of the reef bleached but only 10 per cent died. That’s 10 per cent of 40,000 square kilometres of coral – it’s still a large amount. Then it happened again in 2002 and then we had a bit of a break and then it came roaring back in 2016 and 2017, where not only much of the reef bleached but we lost almost 50 per cent of the corals over the last two years. If we continue to have warm summers like we had in ’16 and this year, the next one could wipe out the remaining coral. Now, I don’t want to sound doomsday, but that’s where we’re at right now. It’s still a wonderful place to visit. But if we continue on this trajectory it won’t be, very soon – within our lifetime. I think that this is the wake-up call that we need. If losing the Great Barrier Reef isn’t serious stuff, what is? https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/environment/2017/09/16/farewelling-coral-reefs/15054840005215

September 16, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Satellites reveal global fingerprints of sea-level rise

Global fingerprints of sea-level rise revealed by satellites, http://www.nature.com/news/global-fingerprints-of-sea-level-rise-revealed-by-satellites-1.22588

Geological processes send more meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets to Earth’s mid-latitudes. Rachael Lallensack, As an ice sheet melts, it leaves a unique signature behind. Complex geological processes distribute the meltwater in a distinct pattern, or ‘fingerprint’, that causes seas to rise unevenly around the world. Now, for the first time, researchers have observed what these sea-level fingerprints look like on a global scale.

“No one has put it together for a complete global picture like this before,” says James Davis, a geophysicist at Columbia University in Palisades, New York. The work was published in Geophysical Research Letters on 9 September1.

The concept of sea-level fingerprints has been been factored into models used to predict sea-level rise for several years, says lead researcher Isabella Velicogna, a geophysicist at the University of California, Irvine. And researchers have used tide gauges for just as long to observe the fingerprints in coastal regions. But the global view provided by the latest study adds confidence to projections of future sea-level rise.

As an ice sheet melts, it leaves a unique signature behind. Complex geological processes distribute the meltwater in a distinct pattern, or ‘fingerprint’, that causes seas to rise unevenly around the world. Now, for the first time, researchers have observed what these sea-level fingerprints look like on a global scale.

“No one has put it together for a complete global picture like this before,” says James Davis, a geophysicist at Columbia University in Palisades, New York. The work was published in Geophysical Research Letters on 9 September1.

The concept of sea-level fingerprints has been been factored into models used to predict sea-level rise for several years, says lead researcher Isabella Velicogna, a geophysicist at the University of California, Irvine. And researchers have used tide gauges for just as long to observe the fingerprints in coastal regions. But the global view provided by the latest study adds confidence to projections of future sea-level rise.

Velicogna and co-author Chia-Wei Hsu, also at the University of California, Irvine, used gravity data from NASA’s two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, which measure changes in mass on Earth’s surface. The scientists looked at satellite data from April 2002 to October 2014, and matched it with measurements from pressure stations on the ocean floor. These instruments measure the total mass above them.

Velicogna says that the findings should be used to create a roadmap for better placement of ocean-bottom pressure stations, which in turn can be used to improve calculations of sea-level fingerprints in the future.

“We know sea-level change throughout the world won’t be uniform, and it’s useful for people to know how those changes might show up,” says Mark Tamisiea, a geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin.

September 14, 2017 Posted by | climate change, oceans, Reference | Leave a comment