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Environmental Monitoring

2018:  MARCH

October 2017 Issue

Ozone Protection Treaty
Lowers US GHG Emissions

The Montreal Protocol, the international treaty adopted to restore Earth’s protective ozone layer in 1989, has significantly reduced emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals from the U.S.

In a twist, a new study shows the 30-year old treaty has had a major side benefit of reducing climate-altering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the U.S. That’s because the ozone-depleting substances controlled by the treaty are also potent greenhouse gases, with heat-trapping abilities up to 10,000 times greater than carbon dioxide over 100 years. The new study is the first to quantify the impact of the Montreal Protocol on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions with atmospheric observations. The study’s results show that reducing the use of ozone-depleting substances from 2008 to 2014 eliminated the equivalent of 170 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. That’s roughly the equivalent of 50 percent of the reductions achieved by the U.S. for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases over the same period.

By 2025, the effect of the Montreal Protocol is predicted to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 500 million tons of carbon dioxide per year compared with 2005 levels; about 10 percent of current U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide.

Reaction to Trump’s
Withdrawal from Paris Agreement

The United States Climate Alliance is a bipartisan group of U.S. states that have pledged to uphold the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change within their borders. The goal is to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 and to meet or exceed the targets of the U.S. Clean Power Plan (a 32 percent reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030), even if the plan is abandoned by the Trump Administration. These actions would help fulfill the global community’s goal, as set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement, to keep global warming below 2° C.

The alliance provides a forum for its members to further develop and strengthen their existing climate action plans through the sharing of information and best practices.

The alliance was formed June 2017, by the governors of Washington, New York and California, in response to the announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump that he had decided to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. Those three governors each hold the position of co-chair of the alliance. The governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Oregon, Hawaii, Virginia, Minnesota, Delaware, Puerto Rico and Colorado also joined the alliance.

In addition to the alliance, several city/county-led and private sector efforts are underway to address the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Report on Jersey in UK
Predicts Rising Sea Level

The U.K. National Oceanography Centre was commissioned by Jersey to undertake a coastal conditions climate review to inform policy decisions and identify further areas of study. The report found that sea level in Jersey is rising by 3 mm per year, and extreme coastal events are likely to be more frequent.

The report recommends that further work should comprise: undertaking flood inundation modeling to show the impact of extreme events on coastal communities; assessing the probability of wave peak periods occurring for projected wave heights; using a model and in-situ X-band radar observations to assess the long-term impact of climate on beach morphology; creating a 2D storm impact model to better assess the impact of extreme events; performing an assessment of pluvial flooding and modeling impact of extreme rainfall events; investigating the potential of using satellite data to supplement in-situ observations and models; and undertaking beach surveys to provide better values for sand particle sizes and distribution.

Smart Hydrophones Help
Protect Killer Whales

The killer whales around Vancouver Island need help to protect them from the effects of human activity, and Ocean Sonics has stepped up to the challenge with its novel hydrophone network. The final stage of the Whale Tracking Network has been installed by Ocean Sonics’ field operations team in the Salish Sea on Canada’s West Coast. The purpose of this real-time acoustic network is to monitor and track the locations of the Southern Resident Killer Whale population in their critical habitat, making it easy for decision makers to know the state of the killer whales and assess the best course of action.

The network is operated by Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) Canada and comprises 28 icListen smart hydrophones deployed in nine nodes networked together via radio links to a central station where data are archived and presented to users. All hydrophones are synchronized to simplify localization of detected sounds. The typical sampling rate is 64 kHz, but can be as high as 512 kHz to detect high-frequency clickers such as the harbor porpoise. Authorized users access the Web server to view current or archived information on a chart of the area.

The benefit to DFO is knowing where the animals are to better protect them from human activities.

Nitrate Monitoring for QC
Of Japan’s Nori

Nori is the dark seaweed paper found in nigiri sushi and sushi rolls, and it is both a vital food and export product for Japan. Japan is the world’s largest producer of nori.

In 2009, the nori crop in Japan’s Inland Sea crashed. Production was low and the nori was off-color and tasted differently. Scientists working at a district research station operated by Okayama Prefecture noticed from their monthly sampling that the nitrate levels in the sea were higher that year.

Working with Sea-Bird Scientific’s Japanese representative CT&C, they installed a network of SUNA V2 nitrate sensors to monitor and study the situation. From the subsequent nitrate maps, they were able to determine the optimum nori production conditions and identified 3-micromolar nitrate as the critical threshold for harvesting. Now, when local nitrate levels spike above this threshold, farmers can employ various options (e.g., early harvest, moving lines) to mitigate damage.

2018:  MARCH

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