Most of us are aware that the oceans of the world play a tremendously important role in both the regulation of the global climate and the uptake of atmospheric carbon. However, one might be forgiven for being less aware of the amazing complexity of the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) of the world’s oceans. Scientists around the world are still learning about these drivers of our global climate system.
Bathed in fluorescent light, row upon row of mass-produced chocolate candies compete for attention in drug stores across the western world. With the Easter holiday upon us, children line up for baskets filled with sugary sweets. To these sugar-hooked youngsters, quantity, not quality, is king. To meet this need, producers have altered products until they no longer have the rich taste of true chocolate. Not only does this cheat the taste-buds, it also poses a threat to the survival of the truly tasty products we actually enjoy.
Until recently, it’s been difficult for scientists to monitor, inventory, and study deep water fishes. Yet these species are critical to understanding threats posed by climate change, fishing pressure, and pollution, among other factors impacting marine life. Now, teams are using newer technologies to access and document fish abundance and diversity among deeper reef settings. Tiffany Sih, a PhD candidate from James Cook University, has used Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (BRUVS) with lights to sample deeper habitats (54–260 m), in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia.
More than 250 million years ago, massive volcanic activity in the region of what is now Siberia caused “The Great Dying,” a colorful name for the Permian mass extinction that wiped out most of the life on Earth at the time. Once the volcanic activity finally calmed down after a respectable one million years, about 96 percent of life in the ocean and 80 percent of life on land was gone. About 500 gigatons of carbon were left behind in that region, and as the Earth cooled, that carbon was sealed in the Permafrost that covers much of Siberia today.
Lately, citizen science initiatives have been getting noticed by laypeople and mainstream media outlets. As everyday people become aware of ways they can get involved in actual scientific research, more of them are doing so—especially teachers and parents working with children. But this citizen science wave isn’t actually a new thing. It has been growing outward from its core in volunteer water quality monitoring networks for years.
If you remember the movie “Erin Brockovich,” you are already familiar with hexavalent chromium, a toxic substance that was contaminating the drinking water of people in California in the movie (and in real life). Although on the silver screen there was a very satisfying Hollywood resolution to the problem, there has not yet been such a happy ending in real life. The dumping of the hexavalent chromium by PG&E that the film documented took place in the 1950s and 1960s, although the company didn’t tell anyone about the problem until the late 1980s.
Scientists have had nagging questions about how ocean acidification might be affecting the waters of the San Francisco Bay. But if you can’t trust BOB and MARI with your research questions, who can you trust? That’s BOB, the Bay Ocean Buoy and MARI, BOB’s companion mooring for Marine Acidification Research Inquiry, of course. BOB and MARI are a bright yellow, five-foot tall buoy and its companion mooring, respectively.
For species that are scarce, there is a critical difference between mere rarity and an endangered or threatened listing. The listing carries with it federal protections, including eligibility for critical habitat designation; protection of adverse modification or destruction of critical habitat; protection from federal activities that could put it in jeopardy; restrictions on trading and taking the species; an authorization requirement for land purchases that affect important habitat; a mandatory recovery plan; and federal aid.
What do cheese brine, beet juice, sand, molasses, garlic salt, urea, volcanic rock, and solar roads have in common? They are all proposed or existing alternatives to road salt. For some time now, scientists have been concerned about the effects of using road salt on icy winter roads. Although it’s a naturally occurring substance, like most things salt can become toxic when levels of it are too high. It is a special problem for surface-waterways in urban areas with cold winters, which take on large amounts of road salt each year.
Feeling a little stressed? You’re not alone. In 2008, more than five percent of Americans filled a prescription for a benzodiazepine drug—the class of drugs that include Diazepam, also known as Valium. In wide use since the 1960s, Diazepam is commonly prescribed around the world, making it a frequently seen compound in wastewater, especially in urban areas.
Sturgeon spearing season just took place in Wisconsin. This year it spanned 15 days; the season can last up to 16 days, but will sometimes end the first weekend, depending upon how many avid fishers get lucky—and on how clear the water in Lake Winnebago is at the time. As the season was poised to begin on February 10, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sturgeon biologist Ryan Koenigs corresponded with EM about the preparations for Sturgeon spearing season.
Maryville, Missouri is home to Northwest Technical School, Northwest Missouri State University, and the Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing as well as nearly 12,000 citizens. The unusually warm winter has allowed a large algal bloom to form in Mozingo Lake, the primary source of drinking water in the area. City and state officials began to deal with the problem in January, and within a month, those efforts were paying off.
Iron is essential to fertilization in the marine environment, but it isn’t a constant present throughout the world’s oceans. Phytoplankton in the Atlantic Ocean have winds blowing across the Sahara Desert in their corner; this force carries iron-rich dust into the Atlantic and allows microscopic plant life plenty of fertilizing iron, which facilitates the consumption of nitrogen. However, in the Pacific, it’s a different story.
Until now, decomposing harmful, stubborn chlorides and fluorides polluting water has been a serious chore. The complex laser systems that are needed for the task are very costly, and using them also requires safety equipment, strict precautions, and expertise, because they present notable risks. However, a research team of chemists from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) in Germany have discovered a way to disintegrate these tough pollutants in water in a cost-effective, simple process with just a green light-emitting diode, vitamin C, and a catalyst.
Repeated dose toxicity: “No data available.”
Carcinogenicity: “No data available.”
Reproductive toxicity: “No data available.”
Specific target organ toxicity, repeated exposure: “No data available.”
This is what the safety data sheets for a number of chemicals read like—including the 2014 sheet for crude MCHM, the compound that leaked into the Elk River that year compromising the drinking water supply of most of the state.