Louisiana is rapidly losing its storm-buffering wetlands to the sea due to the combined effects of blocked off river deltas, sinking land and rising sea levels. About 45% of Louisiana’s swamps are on track to become totally submerged if the current trend continues, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications. The other 65% are also at risk of being lost to the sea, but not so imminently.
Researchers this week issued a sort of almanac of the ocean off Southern California in wide-ranging report on the the region’s marine protected areas established in 2012. San Diego’s coast includes 11 of those marine protected areas, from Batiquitos Lagoon in North County to the Tijuana River Mouth.
As humans continually add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, getting rid of the excess greenhouse gas has become a priority. Scientists are searching for new ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere and put it into long-term lockdown.
The ocean’s ability to soak up carbon like a sponge is well known, but researchers are now taking a fresh look at ocean shores. Our planet has about 620,000 kilometers (372,000 miles) of coastline, long enough to wrap around Earth almost 15 times.
Underwater meadows of seagrass offer important protection against pollution to both humans and coral reefs, but are in jeopardy worldwide due to climate change, sewage and agricultural runoff, researchers said Thursday. Places with healthy seagrass — where sponges, clams, small fish and other filter feeders thrive — can reduce bacteria that is harmful to both people and marine life by up to 50 percent, said the study in the journal Science.
You’d think that in the 21st century, every inch of Earth—above and below water—would already have been documented and studied. But that’s far from true. Much of the ocean floor remains elusive to scientists, and a new study shows just how much remains to be found. As the Australian Associated Press reports, scientists have discovered remnants of a massive undersea landslide that occurred 300,000 years ago off of the Great Barrier Reef.
A highly toxic form of mercury could jump by 300 to 600 percent in zooplankton—tiny animals at the base of the marine food chain—if land runoff increases by 15 to 30 percent, according to a new study. And such an increase is possible due to climate change, according to the pioneering study by Rutgers University and other scientists published today in Science Advances.
Coastal ecosystems and aquifers will be greatly affected by climate change, not only from rising temperatures and more volatile weather, including changes in precipitation patterns, but also from sea level rise. In the search for methods to analyze these effects, researchers at NJIT have identified powerful statistical tools that should help coastal scientists both measure and anticipate changes in conditions such as subsurface water temperature and salinity. Results from the study, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have been published in Scientific Reports, an online affiliate of Nature.
If you’ve visited North Carolina’s Outer Banks or other barrier islands, you’ve likely experienced their split personalities — places where high waves can pound the sandy ocean shore while herons stalk placid saltmarsh waters just a short distance landward. New research by a team from William & Mary and its Virginia Institute of Marine Science shows that these seemingly disparate ecosystems are in fact closely coupled, and that rapid landward migration of barrier-island sands is leading to large-scale loss of adjacent saltmarshes.
Scientists have scratched their heads in recent years as a series of major hurricanes have steered clear of the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts, defying probability. Now, new research published in the journal Nature explains the unlikely phenomenon as at least in part the result of an occurrence called “protective barriers,” which help keep major hurricanes from making landfall. Cool ocean temperatures combine with strong vertical wind shear, a measure of how quickly wind changes speed or direction, off the Atlantic coast. Faced with those conditions, major hurricanes tend to slow down, according to the research.
New restrictions on U.S. seafood imports, which will require seafood to be harvested in accordance with the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), will likely offer significant marine conservation benefits on a global scale. In this Policy Forum, Rob Williams et al. highlight the impacts and challenges involved in this endeavor. The U.S. is the largest importer of seafood in the world, accepting marine catches from more than 120 countries. Best case scenario, countries will comply and marine species will benefit from improved protection. Worst case, countries could suffer economically from not being able to export to the US, and/or choose not to comply.
Coastal storms can cause surges, sea-level rise, and cyclone winds that devastate communities. But emergency management experts in a new study detail a method for involving local stakeholders in planning for such extreme events and thereby helping such vulnerable areas in becoming more resilient. Coastal communities’ ability to plan for, absorb, recover and adapt from destructive hurricanes is becoming more urgent. As of 2010, approximately 52 percent of the United States’ population lived in vulnerable coastal watershed counties, and that number is expected to grow. Globally, almost half of the world’s population lives along or near coastal areas.
In a new study, researchers from North Carolina State University found that a specific neurotoxin can persist and accumulate in “marine snow” formed by the algae Pseudo-nitzschia, and that this marine snow can reach significant depths quickly. These findings have implications for food safety policies in areas affected by toxic marine algal blooms.