Did you know there are lakes within the oceans?
The photo above shows a rippled lake, lapping against a sandy shore, surrounded by salty deposits and eroded coral formations. What might NOT be readily apparent is that this lake is underwater.
Off of the coast of the Yucatán peninsula, in the Gulf of Mexico, there exist a number of undersea brine lakes. Way back in the Jurassic, the Gulf of Mexico was a shallow, mineral-rich sea. For a time, it was cut off from the ocean and dried up, leaving loads of salt deposits behind. Many years later, as the ocean reformed and the geography continued to evolve, we were left with the Gulf that we see today.
Some of those salt deposits remained buried, a valuable commodity to be later mined by us humans. One particular salt dome along the Gulf, Avery Island, is the tasty origin of Louisiana’s famous Tabasco sauce!
But much of that salt remains buried deep under ocean sediments. When it is exposed, super-salty brines are formed, far saltier than seawater. And just like the deadly brinicles that send starfish scurrying for their lives beneath the Antarctic ice, these super-concentrated salty pools are denser and heavier than the seawater around them. So they “sink”, forming lakes within the ocean devoid of all but microbial life, slowly lapping salty waves onto the ocean shore around them.
Check out more at Ocean Explorer.
Oil spill originally reported by fishermen.
ExxonMobil’s Nigeria unit said it was investigating an oil spill near its facility off the country’s southeast coast, which local fishermen said had covered the waters where they fish with a toxic film.
Mobil Producing Nigeria, a joint venture between ExxonMobil and the state oil firm, said on Wednesday that relevant government agencies had been notified of the spill.
“Mobil Producing Nigeria … confirms that oiling from an unknown source has been sighted along the shoreline near Ibeno, Akwa Ibom State,” spokesman Nigel Cookey-Gam said.
“An emergency response team was immediately dispatched to the shoreline, and samples of the substance were collected for fingerprinting to determine its source, which remains unknown.”
Sam Ayadi, a fisherman in Ibeno, said by telephone that no one had been able to go fishing since the spill was first noticed on Sunday.
“The fishermen are still off the waters due to the spill. We cannot return yet. We are waiting for Mobil to open to discussions with us about what happened,” he said.
Oil spills are common in Africa’s top energy producer. Stretches of the Niger Delta, a fragile wetlands environment, are coated in crude. Thousands of barrels are spilled every year, and lax enforcement means there are few penalties.
The companies say the majority of spills are from armed oil thieves hacking into or blowing up pipelines to steal crude, an activity they estimate saps nearly a fifth of Nigeria’s output.
A landmark U.N. report in August last year slammed the government and multinational oil companies, particularly leading operator Royal Dutch Shell for 50 years of oil pollution that has devastated the Ogoniland region.
The government and oil majors have pledged to clean up the region and other parts of the delta, but residents say they have seen very little action.
More at Reuters
That sea level rise isn’t the same everywhere. The moon’s pull, oceanic currents, the Earth’s rotation—these all play a role in what ocean water is where. Turns out the U.S. East Coast is experiencing sea level rise three to four times higher than the global average, according to a study from the U.S. Geological Survey in the journal Nature Climate Change. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)
That’s bad news for the highly populated region and suggests storm surges are going to prove ever more problematic from New York City to Cape Hatteras.
NASA | Perpetual Ocean
This visualization shows ocean surface currents around the world during the period from June 2005 through Decemeber 2007.
This visualization was produced using NASA/JPL’s computational model called Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase II or ECCO2.. ECCO2 is high resolution model of the global ocean and sea-ice. ECCO2 attempts to model the oceans and sea ice to increasingly accurate resolutions that begin to resolve ocean eddies and other narrow-current systems which transport heat and carbon in the oceans.The ECCO2 model simulates ocean flows at all depths, but only surface flows are used in this visualization. The dark patterns under the ocean represent the undersea bathymetry…
(via/read more: NASA Explorer)
Around the World Without a Drop Of Gasoline – Solar-Powered Catamaran Nears End Of More Than Two Years At Sea
Right now crossing the Gulf of Aden on its way to the Red Sea is a catamaran that is nearing the end of a journey that, when it’s completed, will have taken it around the world. While there’s nothing special about a boat circumnavigating the globe, what is special about this catamaran is that it is making the trip powered entirely by solar energy.
The Tûranor PlanetSolar catamaran was envisioned by Swiss electronics engineerRaphaël Domjan. Its name derives from J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings saga and translates to “the power of the sun.” A man “in love with nature,” the Tûranor PlanetSolar is Domjan and team’s message to the world that we “rapidly need to find alternatives to our wild oil consumption” and at the same prove the potential of renewable energy.
The International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) has strongly warned of the damage to the health of the world’s oceans and marine life from several factors including the impacts of climate change. The report warned that if the current business as usual trajectory of damage continues “that the world’s ocean is at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.”
The predominant three factors damaging the ocean are associated with human caused climate change: ocean warming, ocean acidification and anoxia (oxygen depleted dead zones). The three primary factors have been important factors in previous mass extinctions on the earth that have occurred in the past 100 million years. Added to these are the stressors of overfishing and pollution which undermine ocean resilience creating negative feedback of accelerating damage to marine ecosystems.
The impacts of climate change on the ocean have been documented since the 1970s, and if anything are accelerating.