Chemical engineers can help solve the climate challenge #COP21

Posted on 02/12/2015 by

COP21 logoThis week saw the start of the 21st Conference of Parties,COP21. More than 190 countries and 150 global leaders have gathered in Paris, France, to discuss a new global agreement on climate change.

The United Nations (UN) event will host around 40,000 people and runs right through until the end of next week (11 December).

The future of the natural world, and the animals and plant life that call it home, depends on the outcome of this conference. If we don’t limit global warming to 2 degrees, the consequences will be catastrophic.

Polar bearWhilst we cannot accurately predict the scale of any potential impacts now, what we do know for certain is that climate change is happening, and we have a responsibility to reduce any further damage.

Chemical engineers are part of the solution, and the IChemE Energy Centre has identified five priority areas where technology can be deployed now to help mitigate climate change.

These topics, as outlined in the IChemE Energy Centre Climate Communiqué, are:

  • energy efficiency
  • energy storage and grid management
  • carbon capture, storage and utilisation
  • nuclear
  • sustainable bioenergy

Released in a statement today, the Energy Centre says: “The technologies exist now to deliver massive energy savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions in all five priority areas. Taken together, they represent a pathway to a decarbonized energy system that can be realised now, as long as the agreement made at COP21 recognises that the time has come for deployment of such technologies.”

Read the Energy Centre supporting statement here.

Stefaan Simons, Chair of the Energy Centre Board, has also added: “Chemical engineers already understand the technology needed to limit atmospheric CO2 levels. Now is the time to start using it. World leaders can shift the focus from research and development to demonstration and deployment. We can give policy makers the solutions needed to mitigate climate change.”

You can watch Stef, alongside other members of the Energy Centre Board, Niall Mac Dowell and Ben Salisbury, discuss the five topics in more detail in the following video:

Over the next few days, whilst COP21 is still underway, the Energy Centre will be publishing evidence-based recommendations that cover each of the five topics on this very blog.

Stef will also present at the Paris climate talks on 10 December at an official side event: ‘Technology solutions for a 2oC world: Investing in renewables, storage, energy efficiency and CCS‘. So if you are in Paris, please join him.

There will also be an evening screening of the his side event on 10 December at it IChemE’s offices in Portland Place, London, UK – this event is free-of-charge and open to all.

Let’s all be part of the climate conversation, and make sure that the chemical engineering perspective is heard whilst the future of our planet is being decided over the next two weeks.

IChemE

COP21 logoThis week saw the start of the 21st Conference of Parties, COP21. More than 190 countries and 150 global leaders have gathered in Paris, France, to discuss a new global agreement on climate change.

The United Nations (UN) event will host around 40,000 people and runs right through until the end of next week (11 December).

The future of the natural world, and the animals and plant life that call it home, depends on the outcome of this conference. If we don’t limit global warming to 2 degrees, the consequences will be catastrophic.

Polar bearWhilst we cannot accurately predict the scale of any potential impacts now, what we do know for certain is that climate change is happening, and we have a responsibility to reduce any further damage.

Chemical engineers are part of the solution, and the IChemE Energy Centre has identified five priority areas where technology can be deployed now to help…

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Should you Drop out of School?

Everything You Won’t Learn in College About How to Be Successful” by Michael Ellsberg

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“The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won’t Learn in College About How to Be Successful” by Michael Ellsberg

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Related: 70’s interview with Margaret Thatcher:  

Apollo 16: “We Like Big Rocks”

April 1972: The fifth pair of astronauts to visit the moon were the most enthusiastic geologists, bringing home the largest sample ever collected from the moon.

Apollo 16 launched on April 16, 1972 as the tenth crewed Apollo mission, and the fifth to land on the moon. Astronauts John W. Young and Charles M. Duke Jr. spent 71 hours on the lunar surface They completed 20 hours and 14 minutes of moonwalks during three extra-vehicular activities, including driving 26.7 kilometers (16.6 miles) in their lunar rover around the Descartes and Cayley formations. Along with installing a ultraviolet stellar camera on the surface, the duo collected 95.8 kilograms (209 pounds) of lunar samples. In an echo of geologists everywhere, they couldn’t seem to restrain themselves to just the small samples and collected the most massive lunar sample of any Apollo mission.

Apollo 16:

Big Muley is one hefty rock! Image credit: NASA

Lunar Sample 61016 masses a mighty 11.7 kilograms (26 pounds). The rock bares the nickname “Big Muley,” named for Apollo 16 field geology team leader Bill Muehlberger. Found on the east rim of Plum Crater, researchers suspect it was actually ejected during the impact that formed South Ray crater. The rock is a breccia: a sedimentary rock composed of primary large, angular smaller rock fragments cemented together. The exposed top surface is rounded with a thin patina and micrometeorite zaps; the rest was protected by being buried within the lunar soil. The melted shock fragments within the rock date to 3.97 billion years ago.

Apollo 16:

David White [left] and William Muehlberger [right] admire the largest lunar sample ever returned, Big Muley (sample 61016). Image credit: NASA

While Young and Duke were busy on the surface, Thomas Ke Mattingly II observed the moon; during the return trip to Earth he and Duke ducked outside for a one-hour spacewalk to retrieve film cassettes from the exterior. The crew returned to Earth just over 11 days after launching, splashing down on April 27th.

Apollo 16:

Duke and Mattingly (wearing Young’s striped helmet) spacewalking to inspect the Service Module and retrieve film. Image credit: NASA

The mission wasn’t without its hitches. It was the first Apollo mission to be delayed for technical issues, then a fuel tank was damaged during a routine test in the months leading up to launch, requiring replacement. Once the crew reached Earth orbit, the third stage booster developed an attitude control system problem that required in-flight fiddling to fix. The Lunar Module Orion started shedding paint peeling off the aluminum skin, although the astronauts decided it was cosmetic after closer inspection. Soon after, Mattingly spotted a gimbal lock warning light that the spacecraft wasn’t reporting attitude, so had to reorient the guidance system using the Sun and Moon instead.

Apollo 16:

Lunar Module Orion with Young and Duke on board, heading up to rejoin Mattingly on Casper, their Command Service Module. Image credit: NASA/Thomas K. Mattingly II

The next day, Young and Duke boarded Orion and peeled off for their decent. The lunar module’s engine backup systems malfunctioned, and error that should’ve scrapped the moon landing. Instead, mission controllers determined a workaround, descending to the surface just six hours behind schedule. This squeezed the surface mission schedule, and cut the final moonwalk by a few hours to accede to the demands of both orbital dynamics and sleep.

Apollo 16:

Young and Duke during a simulated traverse in a training area at the Kennedy Space Center. Image credit: NASA

[NASA | NASA | NASA | Lunar Sample 61016 Gallery]

Top image: Duke [left] and Young [right] on a two-day geology training field trip near Los Angeles. Credit: NASA


Contact the author at mika.mckinnon@io9.com or follow her at @MikaMcKinnon.

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A Portrait of the Plains: Documenting A Changing Landscape

Beautiful: Absolutely Fabulous: 2015-09-10-1441917814-3519004-dsc_8907.jpg

Fourchette Creek
by Robin Walter

Morning light spills
through grass thick
with dew,
small whorls of dust
rise
from hooves
stamping their lives
into this ground.
Listen,

I rise
to the clatter
of birds:
small,
fierce,
and brown.

2015-09-10-1441917952-4493945-DSC_2318.jpg

2015-09-10-1441918074-4607900-DSC_2953.jpg

2015-09-10-1441918194-3820192-DSC_4306.jpg

2015-09-10-1441919184-3628301-dsc_9614.jpg

2015-09-10-1441919399-5494386-img_9201.jpg

2015-09-10-1441921638-6126796-dsc_0124.jpg

2015-09-10-1441921035-6407617-img_9469.jpg

Emilio Cogliani

Fourchette Creek
by Robin Walter

Morning light spills
through grass thick
with dew,
small whorls of dust
rise
from hooves
stamping their lives
into this ground.
Listen,

I rise
to the clatter
of birds:
small,
fierce,
and brown.

2015-09-10-1441917814-3519004-dsc_8907.jpg

2015-09-10-1441917893-7041547-dsc_0652.jpg

2015-09-10-1441917952-4493945-DSC_2318.jpg

2015-09-10-1441918074-4607900-DSC_2953.jpg

2015-09-10-1441918194-3820192-DSC_4306.jpg

2015-09-10-1441919184-3628301-dsc_9614.jpg

2015-09-10-1441919399-5494386-img_9201.jpg

2015-09-10-1441921638-6126796-dsc_0124.jpg

2015-09-10-1441921035-6407617-img_9469.jpg

This blog is part of an ongoing series following the Rediscover the Prairie expedition, a horseback journey across the Great Plains. To learn more please visit http://ift.tt/1B02Abg
All photos © Robin Walter or Sebastian Tsocanos. All rights reserved.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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High Rates of Lead Poisoning / Asthma can be Life-Threatening in many Communities Worldwide

High Rates of Lead Poisoning / Asthma a deadly consequence of residing near industrialized neighborhoods.  Pollution resulting from our Built Environment have resulted in  extensive health disparities worldwide:
About 25% of the USA’a housing —some 24 million homes— contains significant lead-based paint hazards, i.e. deteriorating lead paint or lead contaminated dust. (HUD, 2009).

Benxi steel mills blowing smoke over residential buildings. Benxi was for long considered one of the most polluted city in China. Over the past decade thousands of workers have been made redundant as the city steel mills and power plants were closing down or reducing their output.
Benxi steel mills blowing smoke over residential buildings. Benxi was for long considered one of the most polluted city in China. Over the past decade thousands of workers have been made redundant as the city steel mills and power plants were closing down or reducing their output. Via Bing

The majority of resources and statistics concerning community correlations with respect to health disparities in the U.S. point to a direct correlation between industrialized, lower income communities and rates of Lead Poisoning / Asthma associated with living in a those particular communities. Over 4 million children in the U.S. had an asthma attack last year. (National Safety Council, 2015).
Better neighborhoods, generally associated with a higher income, had newer and higher housing standards, and were more financially able to comply with government regulations of lead content and smoke inhalation guidelines. Residents of privileged neighborhoods felt safer than families living in lower income neighborhoods. Poorer, disadvantaged neighborhoods where tenants are dependent on a landlord’s approval to address safety issues, may face a lengthy process if they wish to upgrade and make their living situation safer, or may not be able to afford a particular safety upgrade. This adds to feelings of perceived loss of personal control over ones own living situation resulting in an increased fear factor as well as elevated stress levels, which can have detrimental health effects.
When you’re a little more worried every day, you’re always a little more vigilant, looking around at things, checking people, places and things out a little more carefully. If you think about doing that day after day, year after year, it can be exhausting after a while. Constant worrying about stress and about how and when one is going to pay all the bills that are piling up adds an incredible amount of stress to life. Chronic stress wears on the body system resulting in lowered immunity and increased risk of disease and illness. (Lee, 2015).

Practitioner reports of disabled and impaired motor skills in children are more prevalent in older neighborhoods where lower income, minorities reside. Children in disadvantaged neighborhoods to be less likely to venture outside to exercise and inhale fresh breath fearing the consequences of doing so in a high crime neighborhood.

mex3
Mexico Beach House via JZ Photography

Other physical features that can have a negative effect on health outcomes:
1. Ground Soil Pollution: Lead manufacturing that has resulted in damages to the ground and environment having had profound affects on safe housing for families worldwide. Children from poorer families are the hardest hit by this type of pollution because parents don’t always have the additional resources to relocate their families to safer communities. Children have growing organs that are easily affected by toxic chemicals, and most kids participate in playtime that may include touching the ground on a regular basis exposing them to dangerous toxins.

2. Air Pollution: Asthma and other bronchial related problems resulting from Lead Poisons being emitted into the air as industrial factories release their by products in the form of poisonous gasses as a part of their manufacturing process. Children can be affected for decades after a plants closure. Lead findings as high as 70 times the USDA recommended Lead levels have had devastating effects on public health reports and statistics in towns where communities have been built close to lead and mercury producing facilities. (National Safety Council, 2009). Another similar source of pollution that would have residual effects for years to come was Regular gasoline that included a lead additive which was not known to be harmful till it was finally discontinued in the early 1980’s due to a government regulated Lead ban.

How affordable quality, and safe housing conditions promote health:

By educating practitioners, schools and parents, regarding the government resources available for improving all buildings and homes in an effort to get them up to code with acceptable levels of toxic lead and fume inhalation guidelines. All communities should be declared safe according to government standards, regardless of wealth or relative neighborhood status. We can minimize current health care problems and prevent future health issues by educating all individuals of their rights to safe housing, thus allowing all children to reach their full potential. Equal rights translate to equality of life expectancies throughout the U.S. for all residents. Our founding fathers created the U.S. Constitutional principles upon this premise. (Lee, 2012). Written by: JZ
References:

National Safety Council. (2009) Lead Poisoning. Retrieved from
http://www.nsc.org/NSCDocuments_Advocacy/Fact%20Sheets/Lead-Poisoning- Fact- Sheet.pdf.

City of Roseburg. (2015). Public works projects. Retrieved from
http://www.cityofroseburg.org/departments/public-works/projects/.

Lee, E. (Producer & Director). (2008). Living in disadvantaged neighborhoods is bad for
your health [Video excerpt]. In L. Adelman (Executive producer), Unnatural causes:
Episode 5—Place matters. Arlington, VA: Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved from
http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/video_clips_detail.php?res_id=217.

 

Baby Koalas have Loads of Spunk..!!


For more information or for request of video use please contact;

Kevin Fallon
Marketing and Creative Services Manager | Symbio Wildlife Park, Sydney
kevin@symbiozoo.com.au
+61 2 4294 1244

photoshoot and, as this viral video shows, the 10-month-old joey was a total pro in front of the camera.

Look at those angles! The dynamism! The poise! She’s a total natural.

http://ift.tt/1MCJYp4
Imogen, who lives at Symbio Wildlife Park in New South Wales, Australia, is no stranger to viral success.

Last month, she stole many hearts after a video emerged of her giving a cameraman a big hug.

Damn Tree Huggers..!! Courtesy of Bing

Also on HuffPost:

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Tsunami Aftermath: The Urato Islands Rebuild

THE URATO ISLANDS, near the coast of Japan, rebuilds after the Tsunami disaster:1443642236

Yoshimasa Koizumi looks at his fishing equipment on Katsurashima Island. He has never used it, having moved to the island one day before last year's deadly tsunami.
The Urato Islands. (pop: 300). Courtesy of: CNN

Actions were organized by sustainability researchers in the Satoyama Initiative to discuss rebuilding and revitalization of the Urato Islands after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on the 11th of March 2011.  These sessions were key turning points for the rebuilding process of the Urato Islands.  Two dialogues were held, the first in 2012 and the second in 2014.

Strong collaboration between local communities and external stakeholders was the key for an effective community dialogue session. commitment as was organised follow up from several key Universities, and civil society organisations.

The Urato Islands are four islands that are inhabited by several hundred people located near the small city of Shiogama, in Miyagi prefecture, on the north-eastern coast of Japan.   The population of these islands lived from small-scale agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture (oysters and seaweed) that were intertwined and supported the rich and unique ecosystems of the islands.dsc_2248

The 2011 tsunami swept over much of the islands, destroying fishing boats, houses and oyster beds, disrupting people, their tools and the produce land and seascape that people had spent centuries creating.  The people in Urato are making heroic efforts to rebuild their livelihoods, but the tsunami revealed underlying problems that they share with much of rural Japan:depopulation, ageing populations and a lack of people to take over business.  The combination of the Tsunami with these slow changes has made many people worried about whether they can can rebuild their communities in a sustainable way.

Clearing and rebuilding efforts continue on Katsurashima Island off the coast of Miyagi prefecture.
The Urato Islands (pop. 300) Courtesy of CNN

The community dialogue sessions with local and external stakeholders in the Urato Island helped to bring new energy to the islanders, over come the damages they got, and embrace new ways of rebuilding their community that used both their own resources and their connections with the outside world.  These dialogues focussed on how to use ecosystem services to enhance post-disaster rebuilding and restoration of the Islands, and how to enable communities to enhance their cultural and management practices to sustain both people and ecosystems.   The dialogue helped align the efforts long-time residents and newer arrivals as well as locally focussed restoration efforts and externally oriented efforts to create new types of markets and support among the consumers of Urato’s fish and shellfish.  The dialogue help unite these local actors, such as fishermen, schools and local organisations, and connect with external stakeholders such as customers, ministry of the environment, NGOs, and universities, to create a shared vision.

This approach of organising community dialogue sessions together with local and external stakeholders can be applicable to any other part of rural areas in Japan struggling with rebuilding and revitalisation of the communities not only for the communities affected by natural disaster, but also for communities who would like to revitalise the area respecting socio-ecological system.  A weakness of this type of approach is the limited number of people that can be involved in a dialogue process.  Similar approaches to community dialogues could be applied in other areas, and the processes initiated by such dialogues may be able to reorient people and societies world-view in new directions.   · in Social-Ecological Seeds, Food system,Integrated social-environmental, community. · 地図

The Swimmer Trailer 1968

Shark Dreams

I love John Cheever and I love his story The Swimmer because it’s so brilliant,  but I love this movie because it’s so over the top and pretty awful. But Joan Rivers has a nice cameo and you can see Cheever himself in the poolside party scene.

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Palau Island transforms almost all its coastal waters into a marine sanctuary

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Via: Sesame St. / Islander’s Ocean Defense Team

TOKYO (AP) — Lawmakers in the tiny Pacific island nation of Palau passed a law Thursday to make almost all its coastal waters a marine sanctuary in the latest move to expand ocean protections.

A news release said Palau’s president plans to sign the legislation next week. Friday is a national holiday in Palau.

The Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act designates 80 percent of the nation’s maritime territory as a fully protected marine reserve in which no extractive activities, such as fishing or mining, can take place.

At 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles), or slightly larger than the U.S. state of California, the sanctuary will be the sixth-largest fully protected marine area in the world.

The measure also seeks to prevent illegal fishing by tightening rules for vessels passing through Palau’s waters.

About 20 percent of Palau’s waters will be reserved as a domestic fishing zone for local fishermen and small-scale commercial fisheries with limited exports. There will be a five-year transition as the number of commercial licenses issued to foreign commercial fishing vessels will be reduced and phased out.

President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. described the measure as essential.

“We want to lead the way in restoring the health of the ocean for future generations,” he said in a statement.

The country created the world’s first shark sanctuary in 2009, but until recently had only one patrol boat to help protect its great hammerheads, leopard sharks and more than 130 other species of shark and rays from extinction.

Earlier this year, the government set fire to several vessels caught fishing illegally to underscore its commitment to protecting its seas.

Palau, about 600 miles (970 kilometers) miles east of the Philippines, is one of the world’s smallest countries, its 20,000 people scattered across a tropical archipelago of 250 islands that is a biodiversity hotspot.

The Pew Charitable Trusts provided technical support for establishing the shark sanctuary and the Palau National Marine Sanctuary.

New commitments made this year would protect more than 2.5 million square kilometers of the world’s ocean territory.

Britain plans to establish the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve in the South Pacific. On Sept. 28, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced plans for a fully protected ocean sanctuary in the Kermadecs, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) northeast of his country’s North Island.

Earlier this month, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet promised to support efforts by the indigenous Rapa Nui community of Easter Island to create a fully protected marine park. Pic courtesy of: memenews.me. 10551019_10150447078559943_1504885407715968207_n

Article courtesy of:  AP

Related: Observer: Goals of High Achievers

Time mag recommends Sunscreens with titanium oxide or zinc oxide.

Coral Reef Bleaching
Sunscreens with titanium oxide or zinc oxide have not been found to harm reefs, according to the National Park Service.
Pic courtesy of Time

Sunscreens with titanium oxide or zinc oxide have not been found to harm reefs, according to the National Park Service. Additionally, swimmers can cover their upper body with long sleeve shirts or other apparel to reduce sunscreen use.

Researchers urge consumers to consider carefully what sunscreen they buy before swimming in the ocean. Sunscreens with titanium oxide or zinc oxide have not been found to harm reefs, according to the National Park Service.

Sunscreen is part of a long list of threats to coral reefs that includes pollution, overfishing and climate change. Beyond their impressive appearance, coral reefs play an important role for local communities and the world at large. For one, they contribute to local economies through tourism and sustain ecosystems where people can fish. One estimate from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put the economic contribution of coral reefs around the world at $30 billion each year. Reefs also protect the global environment by serving as carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

Sunscreens with titanium oxide or zinc oxide have not been found to harm reefs

Source: How Sunscreen Is Helping Destroy Coral Reefs

Related articles: Healthy Lifestyle Blog

Canadian inventor tests new prototype of Hoverboard


Duru flew up to 5 metres above a lake for a total distance of 275.9 metres while aboard his homemade, propeller-powered hoverboard in a trip that lasted more than 1½ minutes.

Now, Duru is working on a secret, next-generation version of the device. Watch as he takes CBC’s Reg Sherren into his workshop, where he is building it, and then to a Quebec lake where he puts the new prototype to the test for the first time. Canadian inventor tests new prototype of record-setting hoverboard.

See more: Hoverboard

Other Related Gadgets: http://www.huvrtech.com 

Cutest Critters Ever: Tarsier

Gallery Image
Tarsier
Gallery Image
Armadillo
Jeroba (Combination of a Rodent and a Kangeroo).

This week we’ve been revisiting our favorite critters from the deeply unsettling to the funny-looking. But today we’re getting cute, with critters that include a snake that can curl up on a quarter and a mammal that may have been the inspiration for Yoda. So enough with all the maiming and parasitizing (for now): These are the animal kingdom’s most bizarre yet endearing creatures.

As per the usual, you can browse the full Absurd Creature of the Week archive here. You can also watch the companion show, available here. And if you have an animal you want me to cover, email me at matthew_simon@wired.com or ping me on Twitter (@mrMattSimon).

Now—onward to the unrelenting cuteness. smoking (1)

Video shows bear walking in hallway at Montana high school

blackbear
Courtesy of: google free pics

BOZEMAN, Mont. — A black bear was spotted walking down the hallway at a high school in Montana on Wednesday morning, according to multiple media reports.

The bear entered the school through an open garage door in the back of the building at around 7:30 a.m.

The bear exited the school through an open door after about a minute of walking the hallways.

Officials forced the bear out of the school but it was not captured.

Source: Video shows bear walking in hallway at Montana high school

Acoustic survey tracks whale population trends along the coast of Southern California

Posted on by Bob Berwyn:blue_whale_001_noaa_body_color Blue whale numbers holding steady; fin w86bdfeee-b9c8-4a62-baa4-a2488c3728f8-originalhales increasing… 

Staff Report: FRISCO — A new acoustic survey in Southern California coastal waters is helping researchers track whale populations.The data analyzed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego suggests that blue whale numbers are holding steady, while the number of fin whales is increasing.Both species are often seen in the Southern California Bight, the curved region of California coastline with offshore waters extending from San Diego to Point Conception (near Santa Barbara, Calif.), but little is known about their use of the area, where ever-increasing ship traffic has raised concerns about collisions between whales and boats.To learn more, researchers with the Scripps Marine Bioacoustics Lab and Scripps Whale Acoustic Lab  set out specialized recording devices on the seafloor, tracking whale vocalizations  from 2006-2012.The findings were described in the journal Endangered Species Research. The study was supported by the Office of Naval Research, and provides the first detailed view into the spatial use of Southern California waters by blue and fin whales, the two largest cetacean species in the world. Both are classified as endangered species.

Scripps marine acoustician Ana Širović found that blue whale calls were more commonly detected at coastal sites and near the northern Channel Islands, while fin whale calls were detected further off shore, in central and southern areas.

“I think it’s an interesting difference in trends because both of the species were subject to whaling earlier in the twentieth century, and now they’re clearly responding differently,” said Širović.

The acoustic data and overall trends outlined in this study are consistent with visual observations from another Scripps-led study. Širović said the parallel findings between the two studies as evidence that passive acoustics can be used as a powerful tool to monitor population trends for these large marine mammals.

“I think it’s very exciting that we see the same trends in the visual and acoustic data, because it indicates the possibility of using acoustics to monitor long-term trends and changes,” she said, adding that the new study suggests there is a resident fin whale population in the area.

The seasonal recordings of blue whale calls reinforces what’s already known about their migration from the waters off the coast of Mexico and Costa Rica, arriving in Southern California in late spring to forage through the fall.

The leave in early winter, but researchers aren’t certain where they go next. Although researchers have studied blue and fin whales for years, Širović said both species are particularly mysterious, and scientists still don’t know some basic information about them, such as their mating system or breeding grounds.

The Southern California Bight is a highly productive ecological territory for many marine animals due to strong upwelling of cold water, but researchers have not found any evidence that blue or fin whales are breeding there.

The productivity of the coastal region also makes it a hotbed for human activity, with large cities onshore and ships, commercial fishing vessels, and other human impacts ever-present in the water. Since fin whales generally live further offshore, Širović posits that they might have a slight advantage over blue whales, which tend to inhabit areas where there is more ship traffic–increasing their chances for ship strikes.

“It seems that for fin whales, things are probably improving,” she said Širović.

“For blue whales, it’s a little bit harder to tell. There is a question right now as to whether their population has grown to its maximum capacity, because there are many lines of evidence showing that their population is not growing currently,” she said. “So the question remains, is it because that’s just what their population size can be maximally, or are there factors that are keeping them from growing further?”

Širović hopes that future studies can help identify why there is this difference in population trends of blue and fin whales. Now that she and her colleagues have taken a first look at the broad trends of the two species, they want to dig deeper and look into environmental drivers and other factors and features that may be causing some of the spatial distribution patterns and long-term changes of the whales.4074036

Summit County Citizens Voice

Blue whale numbers holding steady; fin whales increasing

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new acoustic survey in Southern California coastal waters is helping researchers track whale populations.

The data analyzed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego suggests that blue whale numbers are holding steady, while the number of fin whales is increasing.

Both species are often seen in the Southern California Bight, the curved region of California coastline with offshore waters extending from San Diego to Point Conception (near Santa Barbara, Calif.), but little is known about their use of the area, where ever-increasing ship traffic has raised concerns about collisions between whales and boats.

View original post 588 more words