Sea Technology

JUN 2018

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www.sea-technology.com June 2018 | ST 45 Microplastics Discovered In Bottled Water Microplastics can be found in bottled water from around the world, according to a major new study using methodology devel- oped by researchers from the Uni- versity of East Anglia (UEA). The investigation found that most of the 259 bottles of water tested were contaminated with microplastics. This study analyzed more than 250 bottles from 27 lots and 11 different brands from around the world, and almost all were contam- inated to some degree. Microplastics come from a vari- ety of sources including cosmetics, clothing, industrial processes, pack- aging materials and degradation of larger plastic items. They are found in the environment at high levels, particularly in aquatic and marine ecosystems. Because plastics do not break down for many years, they can be ingested and accumu- lated in the bodies and tissues of many organisms. The entire cycle, movement and lifetime of micro- plastics in the environment is not yet known. Whales Are Social Creatures Like Humans Groundbreaking research from Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute is the first to demonstrate that, just like human societies, beluga whales ap- pear to value culture as well as their ancestral roots and family ties. Through a detailed genetic study of kinship published in PLOS One, an international team of collab- orators has demonstrated that re- lated whales returned to the same locations year after year, and even generation after generation. This in- volves some form of social learning from members of the same species, most likely from mother to calf. Findings from this study pin down the fundamental structure of the building blocks of beluga whale society and provide compelling evidence that migratory culture is inherited. The study expands the understanding of how sophisticat- ed nonprimate societies can be and how important culture is for the sur- vival of these species and how they are going to adapt to dramatic envi- ronmental changes. Atlantic Ocean Circulation at Weakest Point in 1,600 Years New research led by University College London (UCL) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) provides evidence that a key cog in the global ocean circu- lation system hasn't been running at peak strength since the mid-1800s and is currently at its weakest point in the past 1,600 years. If the system continues to weaken, it could dis- rupt weather patterns from the U.S. and Europe to the African Sahel and cause more rapid increase in sea level on the U.S. East Coast. When it comes to regulating global climate, the circulation of the Atlantic Ocean plays a key role. The constantly moving system of deepwater circulation, sometimes referred to as the Global Ocean Conveyor Belt, sends warm, salty Gulf Stream water to the North At- lantic where it releases heat to the atmosphere and warms Western Eu- rope. The cooler water then sinks to great depths and travels all the way to Antarctica and eventually circu- lates back up to the Gulf Stream. This study provides the first com- prehensive analysis of ocean-based sediment records, demonstrating that this weakening of the Atlantic's overturning began near the end of the Little Ice Age, a centuries-long cold period that lasted until about 1850. First Carbon Budget For US East Coast Coastal waters play an important role in the carbon cycle by trans- ferring carbon to the open ocean or burying it in wetland soils and ocean sediments, a new study shows. The research helps establish how coastal processes influence atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and, in turn, climate. The study team, which includes Virginia Institute of Marine Science researchers, constructed the first known carbon budget for the U.S. East Coast. They tracked the flows of organic and inorganic carbon into and out of coastal waters from the southern tip of Nova Scotia, Cana- da, to the southern tip of Florida. About 20 percent of the carbon entering coastal waters from rivers and the atmosphere is buried, while 80 percent flows out to the open ocean. Efforts like this help fill gaps in knowledge and inspire further re- search to help refine carbon bud- gets for the region. Carbon burial is an important metric when it comes to predicting future atmospheric CO 2 levels because, once carbon is in the sediments, it has the potential to remain there and not contribute to the greenhouse effect. However, as sea level continues to rise and disturb the coasts, some of the bur- ied carbon could be respired and released to the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. Flow Analyzer to Study Eastern Mediterranean Researchers at Haifa University's Marine Biological Station in Israel are exploiting the ultralow detec- tion limits of advanced laboratory equipment to measure extremely low nutrient concentrations in ma- rine water. The Eastern Mediterra- nean has the lowest regional con- centration of dissolved nutrients in the global ocean. The researchers use SEAL Analytical's AutoAnalyz- er 3 (AA3), a four-channel system measuring phosphate with a long flow cell that has a detection lim- it of 2 nM. Ammonia is measured using a JASCO fluorometer with a similar ultralow detection limit, and silicate, which has a higher concen- tration, is measured using SEAL's high-resolution colorimetric tech- nology. The measurement data are being used to determine the season nu- trient cycling in the system, which will help understand the nature of the food web and the effects of global environmental and climate change. ST ocean research

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