Underwater Robot to Explore Antarctic Ice Shelf

ice-shelf

By University of British Columbia

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.

The AUV, named UBC-Gavia, measures 2.5 metres long by half a metre wide and is equipped with temperature and salinity sensors, current meters, mapping sonar, a digital camera and water quality optical sensors. It will navigate the deep cold waters adjacent to, and possibly under, the floating 100-metre thick Erebus Glacier Tongue in McMurdo Sound, at a latitude of 77° south.

Traveling to Antarctica to operate the AUV are Andrew Hamilton and Alexander Forrest, UBC Civil Engineering PhD candidates in Laval’s lab.

Hamilton and Forrest will pre-plan the AUV missions, setting the flight path and depth for the robot to follow and selecting what sensors to activate. These instructions are uploaded to the AUV, which then dives under the ice collecting data on its own, returning to the ice-hole at the end of the mission.

“The deployments are expected to return important data from a largely uncharted ocean environment,” says Hamilton, who specializes in environmental fluid mechanics.

“Under‐ice datasets will allow us to better understand ice-ocean interactions and provide valuable information for climate modelers.”

Ice Shelf Melting

New Zealand’s Stevens, who worked as a postdoctoral researcher at UBC in the early 1990s, says, “The key is to try and locate the mixing hotspots in time and space. These hotspots appear to be perhaps 1,000 times more energetic than background conditions. The AUV is a key component of our suite of instruments and provides the vital spatial element.”

Original article

Scientists lower Gulf health grade

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Thick oil pools in the waters along Louisiana’s coast, near Pass a Loutre. Photo source: ©© Louisiana GOHSEP

Excerpts;

Six months after the rig explosion that led to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, damage to the Gulf of Mexico can be measured more in increments than extinctions, say scientists polled by The Associated Press…

Read Full Article, CBS News

Sand Color Palette

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The lone tree, pink sand, on Eleuthera Island, Bahamas. Photo source: ©© MWeber

Excerpts; from Barbara Weibel, and from Lena Katz.

“We get to see rainbows all the time when it rains, but we’re always looking up at them. How many times do you get to look down and see one?”

Most beach sand color range from pale cream to golden to caramel, but in select places around the world, sands can be red, brown, pink, orange, gold, purple, green, and black.

Just how does this happen? Beaches can form anywhere the ocean meets the shore. Over millennia, waves scour the coastline, creating flat areas. These new expanses begins to accumulate sediments washing down from surrounding uplands, as well as those eroded from the ocean floor and tossed up onto shore by wave action. Coastal winds and storms push sediments up beyond the reach of the waves and a beach is born. The color of the sand on any particular beach usually reflects the surrounding landscape and the makeup of the adjoining ocean floor. Long-ago volcanic activity, crushed-up coral or nearby gemstone troves can cause sand to assume different shades.

White

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The startling white sands of Hyam’s Beach, Jervis Bay, Australia. Photo source: ©© Agent Smith

Hyams Beach is a village located in New South Wales, Australia and surrounded by three brilliantly white sand beaches, Chinaman’s Beach to the north, Hyams Beach and Seaman’s Beach to the south. Seaman’s Beach is the largest of the three beaches, stretching for approximately 2 kilometres (1.6 miles). Hyams Beach is present in the Guinness Book of Records as having the beaches with the whitest sand in the world. It is comprised of fine particles of quartz.

Green

Green sand beaches are very rare.

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Papakōlea Beach, Hawaii. Photo source: ©© Ryan
Papakōlea Beach (also known as Green Sand Beach or Mahana Beach) is located near South Point, in the Kaʻū district of the island of Hawaiʻi. One of only four green sand beaches in the World, the others being Talofofo Beach, Guam, Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands, and Hornindalsvatnet, Norway. It gets its distinctive coloring from the mineral olivine. Captions: ©© Wikipedia

Two popular ones lie within the US: one on Papakolea Beach, Pu’u Mahana, in Mahana Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii, one in the territory of Guam, and the Galapagos Islands Punta Cormorant.

Green sand is composed primarily of olivine crystals which erode out of basalt (lava) flows. The crystals are heavier than most sand types on the beach and remain behind when lighter sand grains are washed away by strong wave activity. Olivine is a silicate mineral that contains iron and magnesium.

Pink

Pink beaches are also quite rare. They occur only in areas near a very large coral reef formations that contain a tiny organism that has a red skeleton, invertebrates such as corals, clams, forams and other shells.

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Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

When they die, these skeletons fall to the ocean floor and are gradually eroded to small particles that are carried to shore by the current, where they mix in with the sand. The finest example of a pink beach sand may be seen at Harbor Island, Eleuthera in the Bahamas, although pink beaches are also found in Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Barbados, the Philipines, and in Scotland.

Orange

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Kappad beach, Kerala coast, India. Photo source: ©© Glory Oman Images

Ramla il-Hamra beach on the Maltese island of Gozo has orange colored sand, as does Porto Ferro, a mile-plus long orange sand beach backed by large dunes on the island of Sardinia off the coast of mainland Italy. Both of these islands are volcanic in nature, jutting up from the floor of the Mediterranean off the southern tip of Italy. Their orange colored sands derive from volcanic deposits as well as unusual orange limestone found in the area.

Red

There are very few red beaches in the world. They can be found in Hawaii, Rabida Island Galapagos or Santorini, Greece. The sand is composed mostly of iron.

Thanks to its unique geology, Hawaii has more colored sand beaches than anywhere else in the world. Located on the Hawaiian island of Maui, Kaihalulu Beach is tucked into a tiny pocket cove near Hana Bay, on the eastern half of the island. One of a very few red beaches in the world, the sand gets its red-black color from the iron-rich crumbling cinder cone hill surrounding the bay.

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Maui. Photo source: ©© Hebert Farnsworth

Purple-mauve

When the manganese garnet in the hills surrounding Pfeiffer Beach in California’s Big Sur gets washed down to the ocean it turn the sand a vivid purple color. The further north you go, the more purplish the sand becomes.

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Purple sand, Monterey Bay at the mouth of the Big Sur River, California. Photo courtesy of: © Gary Griggs

Depending upon the day, the sands can sparkle in shades of violet, lavender, ruby red, pink, or royal purple. On the opposite side of the continent, mountains northwest of Long Island contain the mineral piedmontite, which also turns coastal sands purple.

Chocolate

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Rockaway Beach in Pacifica, California. ©© Michael Fraley

Rockaway Beach in Pacifica, California, exhibits a most luscious shade of chocolate brown.

This unusual color occurs when eroded bluish-grey limestone mixes with volcanic greenstone from the hillsides that ring the beach.

Rainbow

And then there’s Rainbow Beach on Fraser Island in Australia. Seemingly unable to make up its mind, Rainbow Beach displays more than 70 different colors whenever waves and winds shift and blow its sands around.

Most of the colors can be clearly seen in the cliffs behind the beach, which formed during the last ice age and are so richly banded that they have been compared to layers of rainbow sherbet. But for a real treat, dig down into the beach sand to see layer upon layer of colored, banded sands that create a new work of art with each sweep of the hand.

Black

Since this roundup of rainbow beaches began with white (technically, the blending of all colors), it seems appropriate to end with black, which is the absence of color. While that may be true in scientific terms, there is no absence of color at the world’s black sand beaches – they are simply a stunning result of volcanic activity near a coastline.

Black sand can be seen as a layer on top of silica sand in regions with high wave energy, on the flanks of volcanoes, and in areas where most of the source rock is mafic, or dark-colored and poor in silica. It can be composed of a number of different dark minerals – most are iron-rich and heavier than silica sand. This weight enables it to remain when high-energy waves wash the lighter sand grains out into the surf zone.

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La Réunion Island, black sand. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

The black sands are also a source of gemstones such as garnets, rubies, sapphires, topaz, and, of course, diamonds, which form within volcanoes and are spewed out during eruptions. Black sand beaches can be found to name a few, in Argentina, the South Pacific Islands, Tahiti, the Philipines, California, Greece, Antilles, Mascareignes islands, the Dominican Republic, Hawaii.

Read Original Article

Dream in color on the world’s rainbow beaches, Msnbc

Beach Color, Coastal Care

The First Animated Beach Drawing Film

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WATCH: Youtube video, Uploaded 03-14-2010.
Jamie Wardley, Finn Varney and 15 Yorkshire artists have collaborated to make the first animated beach sand drawing at Filey, North Yorkshire. It is entitled an idea is like a seed, if you feed it then it may grow. It took four hours to make and lived only for the time of the tides.

Excerpt, By Jamie Wardley

“An idea is like a seed” I babbled the night before in front of the team whilst in the pub who had offered to let five of us stay there for the night for free, “If you feed it then it may grow beyond all your imagination.” I had a pint of Black Sheep to aid me in my oratory. “And this is what I mean, this was once just a simple idea and now we are all sat here ready to make a giant sand drawing tomorrow.”

Read Full Article, The Making of The First Animated Beach Drawing Film

Sand In Your Eye: Sand Sculptures and Sand Drawings Gallery
Read, and view, more about Jamie Wardley and the Sand In Your Eye Team.

Sandinyoureye, Sand and Ice Sculptures

Protection of Coastal Marine Ecosystems in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Seaweed farmers, Tanzania. Photo source: ©© peve.de

Excerpts;

The year 2010 has been a marker for reflecting upon the reduction of biodiversity loss around the world, as participating countries to the World Summit, held in 2005 in New York, have committed themselves to reduce this loss by 2010. Today, the increasing threat of biodiversity and devastating destructions on the environment are especially eminent in tropical coastal marine ecosystems, where, inter alia, mangrove forests, coral reefs and numerous fish species support not only local livelihoods, but also a growing economic niche for tourism development and marine species trade. This is particularly prevalent in developing African countries with a high biodiversity of marine ecosystems, such as Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique…

Read Full Article, consultancyafrica

5 Billion Dollar Project to Power US East Coast with Offshore Wind

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Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Investors led by technology giant Google on Tuesday announced a five billion-dollar project to power the US East Coast with wind from the Atlantic Ocean, in an ambitious bid to spur alternative energy.

The project would set up offshore wind turbines and a new transmission grid stretching 350 miles (565 kilometers) from New Jersey to Virginia, the most densely populated part of the United States which suffered blackouts in 2003…

Read Full Article, Independent UK

Ten Things Kids Want Us to Know About Trash on Beaches and Oceans

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Photo source: ©© Muha

Excerpt from Ocean Conservancy, International Coastal Clean-Up 2010

Fourth-graders in New York City conducted cleanups at a local beach and tallied every item they found on Ocean Conservancy’s data card, an experience shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world every year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.

They shared their findings with us, and we’d like to share them with you. Here are just a few of their observations, presented just as they’ve written them:

1. I was heartbroken. Pollution is ruining the beauty of beaches around the world. -Jocelyn

2. Waves lap at the shore and horseshoe crabs swarm like bees on land and sea. The only thing that distracts you from this beautiful scene is the garbage. Toys, food wrappers, clothing, you name it! -Clara…

Read Full Article, Ocean Conservancy

The data are not in yet but Cleanups and data collection continue through October: Ocean Conservancy about the 25th International Coastal Clean-up Day, held worldwide on September 25th, 2010; Ocean Conservancy

Sand Sharks Scour Gulf Beaches: Mixed Feelings

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Photo source: ©© rcgtrrz

Excerpts;

Ruby sunrises over turquoise water and swarms of migrating monarch butterflies made for memorable scenery last week along the beaches of Florida’s western Panhandle.

But the most arresting image here was that of the mechanical leviathan feasting on tar balls in the sand…

Read Full article, Dredging Today / Orlando Sentinel

BP unveils Sand Shark to deep clean oil-stained beaches

The mission of the Santa Aguila Foundation is to raise awareness of and mobilize people against the ongoing decimation of coastlines around the world.

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