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Environmental Monitoring

2018:  MARCH

January 2017 Issue

First UK Assessment of
Marine Underwater Noise

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) teamed up with Marine Scotland Science and the University of Exeter to analyze underwater noise data from subsea sound recorders around the U.K. coast. There is concern that rising levels of underwater noise pollution worldwide may have an impact on marine life by interfering with communication, causing changes in behavior and raising stress levels. The team found that many sites were exposed to persistent noise from shipping traffic, while other locations were comparatively undisturbed. The team also identified noise from onshore industrial activities, fishing and acoustic deterrent devices. The study will inform U.K. policy on underwater noise pollution and forms the basis of the U.K. assessment of underwater noise under the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which assesses the status of European seas. Cefas and several U.K. universities are establishing a permanent noise monitoring network, which will become operational in 2017.

2016 Could Be Hottest
Year on Record

According to the United Nations weather agency, 2016 is set to be the hottest year on record, with global temperatures of approximately 1.2° C above pre-industrial levels. The continued trend means that 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have been during this century (1998 is the outlier). Concentrations of major greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to increase to new limits, and Arctic sea ice remains at very low levels. The World Meteorological Organization warned that global warming would continue. Temperatures in parts of Arctic Russia were as much as 6° to 7° C above long-term averages; other Arctic and sub-Arctic regions throughout Russia, Alaska and northwest Canada were at least 3° above average. Sea levels rose about 15 mm between November 2014 and February 2016—five times that of the post-1993 trend of 3 to 3.5 mm per year.

EU Project to Improve
Weather, Climate Prediction

An EU-financed project investigating ways to improve weather and climate prediction in the face of a rapidly changing Arctic has started. Known as APPLICATE, the €8 million project, financed by the EU HORIZON 2020 Research and Innovation program, involves 16 partners from nine countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the U.K.) and will be carried out over four years. The consortium will work to enhance weather and climate prediction capabilities in the Arctic, Europe, Asia and North America. A focus on the Arctic is important for improved predictions of weather and climate in the mid-latitudes because the changes taking place in the Arctic due to climate change could influence weather and climate in the mid-latitudes. A warming Arctic could lead to prolonged periods of severe weather and cold spells in the mid-latitudes.

NOAA Satellite Launches
For Weather Forecasting

NASA successfully launched for NOAA the first in a series of highly advanced geostationary weather satellites, NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R), leading to more accurate and timely forecasts, watches and warnings. After it reaches its final designated orbit, GOES-R will be renamed GOES-16 and will become operational within a year. The satellite’s primary instrument, the Advanced Baseline Imager, will provide images of Earth’s weather, oceans and environment with 16 different spectral bands. There are four satellites in the GOES-R series: –R, –S, –T and –U, which will extend NOAA’s geostationary coverage through 2036.

Speedy Breedy SeaSure for
Ballast Water Compliance

In order to bring Speedy Breedy SeaSure to market, BACTEST Ltd. teamed with Chelsea Technologies Group to test for phytoplankton and with Palintest Ltd. to measure chemical contamination. Speedy Breedy SeaSure determines if treated ballast water is compliant to IMO D2, VGP and other standards and tests for microbial, phytoplankton and chemical contamination. The data are automatically input into a Ballast Log suitable for transmission to interested parties, such as ballast water treatment system manufacturers, shipowners and Port State control, providing a secure audit trail.

Dropsondes Measure
Storm Elements

To better predict tropical cyclone intensity, scientists sponsored by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) worked with NASA and NOAA to gather atmospheric data from storms that formed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2016. Fully developed tropical cyclones can grow as wide as several hundred miles and sustain winds faster than 150 mph. Such storms are notoriously difficult to predict. They pose a severe threat to U.S. Navy fleet operations, so accurate forecasting is critical for protecting ships at sea, evacuating vulnerable bases and performing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The recent research involved flying NASA’s unmanned Global Hawk planes above hurricanes and deploying sensor-laden dropsondes—parachute- and GPS-equipped devices that measure temperature, humidity, moisture, wind speed and direction, pressure and altitude, which determine the potential strength and destructiveness of a hurricane. The Global Hawks flew nine missions in 2016, dropping 647 dropsondes. ONR is sponsoring efforts by the Naval Research Laboratory and several universities to analyze and interpret the collected data and integrate it into computerized prediction models.

Fugro Surveys for
Hong Kong Airport

Hong Kong International Airport, one of the world’s busiest airports, is expanding to include a third runway. Fugro was selected to carry out site characterization investigations. Fugro conducted several site investigation surveys, including drilling, geotechnical testing, soil and water sampling, geophysical surveys and water quality monitoring at nearly 800 locations in the waters north of the present airport. The fieldwork included specialist techniques such as BAT gas sampling, Begemann sediment sampling and marine seismic cone penetration testing.

2017:  2018:  MARCH

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