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Underwater Robot to Explore Ice-Covered Ocean and Antarctic Ice Shelf

Planet Earth


ScienceDaily (Oct. 19, 2010) — Researchers at the University of British Columbia are deploying an underwater robot to survey ice-covered ocean in Antarctica from Oct. 17 through Nov. 12, 2010.


Scientists predict that the sea ice area around Antarctica will be reduced by more than 33 per cent by 2100, accelerating the collapse of ice shelves. Up to hundreds of metres thick, ice shelves are floating platforms of ice that cover almost half of Antarctica's coastline.

The mission will study the effect of ice shelves on the mixing of sea water, and will provide critical data for the Antarctica 2010 Glacier Tongues and Ocean Mixing Research Project led by investigator Craig Stevens at the New Zealand National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research. The field site is located in New Zealand's Ross Dependency in Antarctica and the team includes scientists from New Zealand, Canada, the United States and France.

Until recently, scientists have had limited ability to access ice-covered waters, but the research team's use of a high-tech robot aims to change that.

"Few labs in the world are able to investigate the spatial variability of ocean properties under ice," explains Assoc. Prof. Bernard Laval, head of the UBC Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and Fluid Mechanics research group.

"Findings from this study will be unique as there have only been a few under-ice AUV deployments globally, even fewer in the vicinity of ice shelves," says Laval, who teaches civil engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science. ...


To read the rest of this story please visit:

Science Daily.com

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NEPTUNE undersea observatory off B.C. coast complete

Planet Earth

By Jeff Bell, Victoria Times Colonist

October 16, 2010 5:28 PM

Billed as the world's largest undersea cabled observatory, NEPTUNE consists of five main data-collection sites off the west coast of Vancouver Island. They are spread over an expanse of the ocean floor and connected by an 800-kilometre loop of fibre-optic cable.



 VICTORIA — After almost a decade of planning and installation, the planets have finally aligned for the NEPTUNE* Canada project.

 Billed as the world's largest undersea cabled observatory, NEPTUNE consists of five main data-collection sites off the west coast of Vancouver Island. They are spread over an expanse of the ocean floor and connected by an 800-kilometre loop of fibre-optic cable.

The final link in the NEPTUNE chain was completed this week at Endeavour Ridge, a volcanically active area of undersea mountains about 300 kilometres from land. The node there has been outfitted with instruments and the final lengths of cable have been laid, essentially completing the data network.

 The installation team has just returned from a month at sea.

 "This is sort of the end of the beginning. It's going to be constantly evolving and growing over the next 25 years," said NEPTUNE Canada's Mairi Best.

It's now poised to bring in more than 60 terabytes of data in the next quarter-century — the equivalent of the text contained in about 60 million books — yielding information about biological, chemical and geological processes, which can be applied to all manner of research.

 *North-East Pacific Time-Series Underwater Networked Experiments.

 To read the rest of the story please visit:

NEPTUNE Undersea Observatory Opens

 Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist





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Chile Creates Marine Reserve

Planet Earth

We were hoping this day would come, and today, it did!

In a huge victory this morning for Chile’s marine health and our Chilean colleagues, Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera announced the creation of Sala y Gómez Marine Park, a no-take marine reserve of 150,000 square kilometers around Sala y Gómez island.

Sala y Gómez is an uninhabited island that’s part of a biodiverse chain of seamounts that are vulnerable to fishing activity. Dr. Enric Sala, marine ecologist and National Geographic Ocean Fellow, called Sala y Gómez “one of the last undisturbed and relatively pristine places left in the ocean.”


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Chile Creates Marine Reserve

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Hungary sludge death toll rises after two bodies found

Planet Earth

BBC Online

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy: "The mud is all around. You can't escape it"

The death toll following the spill of a large amount of toxic red sludge from an industrial plant in western Hungary has risen to seven, officials say. Disaster unit chief Tibor Dobson said two bodies had been found near the town of Devecser, but were likely residents missing from Kolontar, a town nearby.


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It's Not Over - Deepwater Horizon Disaster Lives On

Planet Earth

Our planet is still having to deal with the oil that BP now says it has permanently stopped from flowing out of the Deepwater Horizon's broken well.

Not only is there still ongoing cleanup, there is still oil coming ashore as noted by this article, "La (Louisiana) coast hit by more oil" in 2theadvocate.com

Sept 25, 2010: By Sandy Davis - Moderate to heavy oil washed onto almost 100 miles of Louisiana’s shoreline this week, the federal government said Friday, and Plaquemines Parish officials say they’re feeling the brunt with oil still saturating marshes, beaches and coastal passes.
The Deepwater Horizon Unified Command reported Friday that light to trace oil affected another 200 miles of the state’s shoreline, according to its weekly report.

Gregory Stone, director of the Coastal Studies Institute at LSU’s School of the Coast and Environment, said Friday he is not surprised at the amount of oil being found in Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes. He and his research team took a helicopter ride over the coast.
“The weather was perfect. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and we took the ride at high noon,” Stone said. “We could easily see into the shallow waters off of the coast and all we could see was oil. It looked like clouds in the sky except you were looking underwater and it was oil.”

In light of the story I highlighted yesterday in my post in our new "Planet Earth" discussion area about the inability of a news reporter to dig lower than 6" into the sand in one park, this admission that there is still an ongoing problem is almost refreshing. 

If you live in and around the gulf area, let us know via your posts and links to articles what is happening down there.




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