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Data Provide Evidence That Malaysian Plane Crashed Into Indian Ocean

HONG KONG — Raw satellite transmission data from the vanished Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, released Tuesday by the Malaysian government, provided further evidence that the plane crashed into the Indian Ocean after flying south and running out of fuel. Read more

Computer Animation Shows Debris From Japan Tsunami Hitting California Coast Late 2013

Good article from Paul Rogers in the Merc today on the debris from the Japanese tsunami slowly but surely making its way across the Pacific. The mass of refuse is expected to hit the west coast in late 2013 or early 2014. Read more

Ice sheets melting at poles faster than before


Fueled by global warming, polar ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are now melting three times faster than they did in the 1990s, a new scientific study says. Read more

Unexploded bombs lurk in U.S. offshore oil patch: experts
By Eileen O'Grady | Reuters
Source: Yahoo News

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Millions of pounds of unexploded bombs dumped in the Gulf of Mexico by the U.S. government after World War Two pose a significant risk to offshore drilling, according to Texas oceanographers.

It is no secret that the United States, along with other governments, dumped munitions and chemical weapons in oceans from 1946 until the practice was banned in the 1970s by U.S. law and international treaty, said William Bryant, a Texas A&M University professor of oceanography.

As technological advances allow oil companies to push deeper into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, these forgotten hazards pose a threat as the industry picks up the pace of drilling after BP Plc's deadly Macondo well blowout in 2010 that lead to the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Unexploded ordnance has been found in the offshore zone known as Mississippi Canyon where the Macondo well was drilled.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will auction 38 million acres of oil and gas leases in the central gulf in March.

The U.S. government designated disposal areas for unexploded ordnance, known as UXO, off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico. But nearly 70 years after the areas were created, no one knows exactly how much was dumped, or where the weapons are, or whether they present a danger to humans or marine life.

"These bombs are a threat today and no one knows how to deal with the situation," said Bryant. "If chemical agents are leaking from some of them, that's a real problem. If many of them are still capable of exploding, that's another big problem."

Disposal zones were designated from Florida to Texas, said Bryant, who will discuss his research findings at the International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions conference that begins Monday in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

While the practice of dumping bombs and chemical weapons, including mustard and nerve gas, in the ocean ended 40 years ago some effects are just beginning to be seen, said Terrance Long, founder of the underwater munitions conference.

"You can find munitions in basically every ocean around the world, every major sea, lake and river," Long said. "They are a threat to human health and the environment."

The oil industry is no stranger to leftovers from the World War Two.

Last year, BP shut its key Forties crude pipeline in the North Sea for five days while it removed a 13-foot (4-metre) unexploded German mine found resting cozily next to the pipeline that transports up to 40 percent of the UK's oil production.

BP discovered the mine during a routine pipeline inspection, then spent several months devising a plan to lift the bomb and move it far enough from the pipeline to safely detonate it.

In the Gulf of Mexico, which accounts for 23 percent of U.S. oil production and 7 percent of domestic natural gas output, the hazards are known, but generally ignored.

In 2001, BP and Shell found the wreckage of the U-166, a German World War II submarine, 45 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River during an underwater survey for a pipeline needed to transport natural gas to shore.

Bryant said he and colleague Neil Slowey have documented discarded bombs and leaking barrels over the past 20 years while conducting research for energy companies in the Gulf of Mexico.

Records of where these munitions were dumped are incomplete and experts believe many dangerous cargoes were "short-dumped," or discarded outside designated zones.

Bryant said he has come across 500-pound (227-kgs) bombs about 60 miles off the Texas coast and other ordnance 100 miles offshore, outside designated zones. At least one Gulf pipeline was laid across a chemical weapon dump site south of the mouth of the Mississippi River, he said.

While the risk of an underwater bomb exploding may be small, environmental damage from chemical weapons, such as mustard gas, is worrisome and needs to be researched, Bryant said.

"We would like to do a survey to be able to say if (this material) is harmful or not," he said. "The condition of these barrels is deteriorating, so does it affect anything or not? We ought to know."

Calls and emails to various companies with wells or pipelines in the gulf seeking comment were not returned. Neither the U.S. Army, nor the BOEM would comment as well.

Sonar data from a routine seabed survey performed by C&C Technologies identified munitions in about 3,000 feet of water near a proposed project, according to a paper presented at the 2007 Offshore Technology Conference.

After determining the bombs presented a low-to-moderate risk, the project continued as planned.

The oil and gas industry needs to do more address the problem, Long said. "It makes more sense to start dealing with the munitions from a risk-mitigation standpoint to be able to conduct operations in those areas rather than trying to avoid that they are there," Long said.

The BOEM, which regulates offshore drilling in federal waters, warns companies seeking leases to drill or add pipelines about the existence of unexploded ordnance and requires underwater surveys to assess and manage the numerous natural and manmade hazards.

(Editing by Chris Baltimore and Leslie Gevirtz)

US to sink ghost ship dislodged by Japan tsunami

The U.S. Coast Guard plans to use explosives to sink a derelict Japanese ship dislodged by last year's massive tsunami.

Tracking Japan's Tsunami Debris

Japan Tsunami "Ghost Ship" Drifting To Canada

Japan Tsunami Debris May Soon Hit California Coast


At this very moment, up to 25 million tons of debris--occupying an area roughly the size of California--is a on a collision course for the North American west coast.

The floating wreckage, often called flotsam, is a result of the massively destructive, 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck just off the coast of Japan last March. (read more)

'Pyramids' planted to revive Philippine corals


Thousands of small "pyramids" are being planted off the Philippines' famous Boracay resort island in an effort to bring its nearly destroyed coral reefs back to life, an environment group said Thursday.

Over 300 of the structures were planted this week off Boracay's coast and eventually about 5,000 will be placed in the sea, according to Sangkalikasan (Nature) which is behind the effort.
(Read more)

Russian scientists reach lake under Antarctica

By Seth Borenstein and Vladimir Isachenkov 
updated 2/8/2012

Gigantic freshwater reservoir may harbor life from Earth's distant past

Lake Vostok could hold living organisms that have been locked in icy darkness for some 20 million years, as well as clues to the search for life elsewhere in the solar system.

Touching the surface of the lake, the largest of nearly 400 subglacial lakes in Antarctica, came after more than two decades of drilling. It was a major achievement avidly anticipated by scientists around the world.
(Read more)

Bacteria Spreading In Warming Oceans, Scientists Find In New Report

Sept. 13, 2011

Warning: The warming of the world's oceans can cause serious illness and may cost millions of euros (dollars) in health care.

That is the alarm sounded in a paper released online Tuesday on the eve of a two-day conference in Brussels.
(Read more)

657 New Islands Discovered Worldwide

OurAmazingPlanet StaffDate: 19 April 2011

Here's something you don't see every day — hundreds of new islands have been discovered around the world.

The Earth has 657 more barrier islands than previously thought, according to a new global survey by researchers from Duke University and Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C.

The researchers identified a total of 2,149 barrier islands worldwide using satellite images, topographical maps and navigational charts. The new total is significantly higher than the 1,492 islands identified in a 2001 survey conducted without the aid of publicly available satellite imagery. (Read more)

Japan Nuke Plant Dumps Millions of Gallons of Radioactive Water Into Pacific

AOL News, Apr 4, 2011

TOKYO -- Workers began pumping more than 3 million gallons of contaminated water from Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean on Monday, freeing storage space for even more highly radioactive water that has hampered efforts to stabilize the reactors.

It will take about two days to pump most of the less-radioactive water out of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, whose cooling systems were knocked out by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Radioactivity is quickly diluted in the ocean, and government officials said the dump should not affect the safety of seafood in the area.
(Read more)

Indian Ocean Corals Walloped by Warming

By Julia Whitty, Mon Aug. 16, 2010

A dramatic rise in sea surface temperatures off Indonesian has resulted in a large-scale coral bleaching event  and the death of up to 80 percent of coral cover. Rising water temperatures stress corals. If stressed enough, they expel their plant symbionts: the zooxanthellae that give corals color and perform many of their important metabolic activities. Without their plant partners, corals weaken and will eventually die. (Read more)

Holder Emphasizes 11 Dead When Discussing DOJ Investigation of BP Disaster

By: emptywheel Tuesday June 1, 2010 1:50 pm

While it is not news that DOJ is conducting an investigation of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Eric Holder’s speech in New Orleans about the spill reiterated that DOJ is doing so. I’m most interested in the particular emphasis Holder placed on the 11 men who died in the explosion.

Greenpeace activists scale BP's London headquarters in oil protest

Press Association
guardian.co.uk,     Thursday 20 May 2010 11.19 BST
Article history

Campaigners unfurl flag calling company British Polluters in protest over Gulf of Mexico disaster
Two activists scaled the BP building in London today in protest at the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The Greenpeace campaigners hoisted a flag depicting the multinational's logo smothered in oil and emblazoned with the words "British Polluters" from a balcony above the entrance of the company's UK headquarters in St James's Square, near Pall Mall.

Scientists say Florida's Coral Reef has Diminished by Over 50 Percent

By Zulima Palacio
Key Largo, Florida
27 June 2009

Tourism and sport fishing represent a multimillion dollar industry for the Florida Keys. But according to experts, the coral reef there has diminished more than 50 percent, and the fish count within the reef is now at its lowest level.

The Florida Keys are a favorite tourist destination. It's fishing, warm weather, beaches and marine life together comprise a multi-million dollar industry, but the changes taking place beneath the waters threaten the industry. 

Margaret Miller is a coral reef researcher at the National marine Fisheries Service.

"For the Florida Keys' reefs, overall, the live coral cover has diminished by 50 to 80 percent in the past 10 years," she said.

Many factors have influenced the decline of the coral reef, including pollution, climate change, coastal developments like housing and shopping centers and over-fishing. Miller says all those factors leave coral reefs weak and unable to recover from illnesses that scientists do not yet know how to cure. Sadly, she adds, studying coral populations during the last decade has meant watching them die. Source: VOAnews.com

Merchant ships top list of polluters in world oceans          

Written by Cosmas Butunyi
May 07, 2009

Merchant ships have been blamed for contributing to littering of the world’s oceans. According to the report, there are 640,000 tonnes of abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear in oceans, accounting for 10 per cent of all marine litter. Full story at: Business Daily

For the World's Oceans  - A Disturbing Early Warning

Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2009 11:30 AM by Sam Singal
By Ian Williams, NBC News correspondent

Will Howard used to think the biggest threat to the World's oceans came from the things you could see - like the detritus clogging so many our estuaries and coastal regions. Now he's found new evidence of how invisible changes in the chemistry of the water pose a disturbing new threat to life in the oceans. Full story at: NBC

Bush On Environment

10 January 2009

The United States has recently shown bold environmental leadership by designating vast tracts of territory in the Pacific Ocean as protected habitats. 

President George Bush set aside 3 huge areas as new marine national monuments, and in doing so created the world’s largest marine protected reserve system, conserving reefs, atolls and underwater formations that are home to a stunningly diverse array of unique species.

The first area is the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.  It encompasses the deepest point on Earth and the surrounding arc of undersea volcanoes and thermal vents.  This unique geological region supports life in some of the harshest conditions imaginable and is the only known location of liquid sulfur this side of Jupiter. By studying these pristine waters, scientists can advance our understanding of tropical marine ecosystems.

The second new monument is the Pacific Remote Islands.  It spans 7 areas to the far south and west of Hawaii.  One is Wake Island -- the site of a pivotal battle in World War II and a key habitat for nesting seabirds and migratory shorebirds. The region includes some of the most pristine and spectacular coral reefs in the world.

The Rose Atoll Marine National Monument is the third area to be set aside for its scientific significance.  Rose is a diamond-shaped island to the east of American Samoa and is home to colonies of rare sea birds. 

Taken together, these 3 new national monuments cover nearly 200,000 square miles of federally protected land and sea.  These steps among others, said President Bush, "are the capstone of an 8-year commitment to strong environmental protection and conservation."

"With all these steps," said President Bush, "we have charted the way toward a more promising era in environmental stewardship."

Source: VOAnews.com

Map shows toll on world's oceans

By Helen Briggs, Science reporter, BBC News, Boston
13 February 2008

Only about 4% of the world's oceans remain undamaged by human activity, according to the first detailed global map of human impacts on the seas.A study in Science journal says climate change, fishing, pollution and other human factors have exacted a heavy toll on almost half of the marine waters. Full story at: BBC



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