New Study Aims to Track Pathway of Oil Spills

Written by on December 3, 2013 in Technology

Daily Summary

Arctic study shows key marine food web species at risk from increasing CO2
In addition to melting sea ice and warming temperatures, some areas in the Arctic are experiencing the fastest rates of ocean acidification on the planet. These issues pose serious problems to marine life in general, but a research expedition to the Arctic revealed that copepods (tiny crustaceans) that live just below the surface face the greatest danger from increasing ocean acidity. Copepods are some of the most abundant creatures in the oceans worldwide and are a vital food source for a variety of other marine life. Studying the effects of ocean acidification on copepods in the Arctic will help researchers better assess changes in marine life in other areas. The researchers found that copepods that move large distances, migrating vertically through a wide range of pH conditions, will have a better chance of surviving. For more on the impacts of ocean acidification, check out this study: Ocean acidification makes fish more anxious.

Australian waters polluted by harmful tiny plastics
New research reveals that each square kilometer of Australian sea surface water is contaminated by about 4,000 pieces of tiny plastic particles that could also affect humans. The plastic particles are most likely from disposable packaging and fishing gear made of polyethylene and polypropylene, two polymers used in many everyday items. Previous studies have found that all kinds of marine animals ingest large amounts of plastics that can be loaded with pollutants. Many of these animals end up in the human food chain. This study provides the first map of the distribution of floating marine plastics in Australian waters. The results demonstrate how important it is to take action to reduce marine pollution. For more on the impacts of microplastics, check out this new study of marine worms: Microplastics make marine worms sick.

Ship skimming oil after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Spill.

Ship skimming oil after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Spill. Photo credit: NOAA.

UM-Led Coastal Experiment to Study Path of Oil Spills Begins
A study led by the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science to understand the path of oil and other pollutants in coastal areas began yesterday. Using GPS-equipped drifters, unmanned aerial vehicles, and pressure and dye sensors at the surface and various depths, researchers will measure the movement of ocean currents along the coast to determine how oil or toxins reach the shore. The information collected during this three-week study will be used to develop computer models of the coastal zone which will help in the case of future oil spills.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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