Hexbyte Glen Cove Northeast Atlantic countries create new protected sea area thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Northeast Atlantic countries create new protected sea area

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The governments of 15 countries in the Northeast Atlantic on Friday created a new protected area of the ocean they say is bigger than the combined land mass of Germany and the United Kingdom.

The countries designated a marine protected area for seabirds covering nearly 600,000 square kilometers (about 230,000 square miles) as part of their efforts to ensure the conservation and sustainability of marine biodiversity.

The protected zone area is viewed as crucial for the feeding and breeding of local and migrating seabirds.

Government representatives also gave their blessing at a meeting in Portugal to a new North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy, which features commitments to reduce the and , , and pollution, including .

The plan includes a target to reduce trash in the sea by 50% by 2025, and by 75% by 2030.

The 15 countries belong to the so-called OSPAR Convention. They are Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Switzerland. The European Union is also a member.



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Northeast Atlantic countries create new protected sea area (2021, October 2)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Endangered baby right whale found dead on Florida beach thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Endangered baby right whale found dead on Florida beach

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This photo provided by Anastasia State Park shows a baby whale that washed ashore at Anastasia State Park near St. Augustine, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. The plight of endangered right whales took another sad turn Saturday, when a baby whale, possibly two months old, washed ashore on a Florida beach with telltale signs of being struck by a boat. (Anastasia State Park via AP)

The plight of endangered right whales took another sad turn Saturday, when a baby whale, possibly two months old, washed ashore dead on a Florida beach with telltale signs of being struck by a boat.

There are fewer than 400 north Atlantic right remaining, and any mortality of the species is a serious setback to rescuing the animals from extinction, according to federal biologists who expressed dismay over Saturday’s discovery of the 22-foot (7-meter) male infant at Anastasia State Park near St. Augustine.

“This is a very sad event,” said Blair Mase, a whale expert with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Every mortality that occurs really has a devastating impact on the population as a whole, because they are one of our most critically in the world,” she said. “Every whale counts.”

The infant whale is believed to be the first born of a 19-year-old whale biologists named “Infinity.” Both were sighted off Amelia Island in northern Florida on Jan. 17.

The circumstances surrounding the whale’s death are under investigation. But said it was clear that a vessel was involved. The whale suffered propeller wounds to the head and back.

Inclement weather kept biologists from immediately launching a search for the calf’s mother to see if she might have also been injured by the collision with a boat.

This photo provided by Anastasia State Park shows a baby whale that washed ashore at Anastasia State Park near St. Augustine, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. The plight of endangered right whales took another sad turn Saturday, when a baby whale, possibly two months old, washed ashore on a Florida beach with telltale signs of being struck by a boat. (Anastasia State Park via AP)

It was the second calf mortality since the calving season. Another calf was found dead in November on one of North Carolina’s barrier islands.

From November to April, right whales swim south from the frigid northern Atlantic to give birth in warmer waters off the northern coast of Florida.

The whales spend those months cruising through waters off the coast, sometimes coming within a couple hundred feet from beaches—which make them vulnerable to boaters and fishing vessels going in and out piers.

Mase said some 40 right whales have been sighted off the southeast coast of the United States, with 15 pairs of moms and their calves.

Federal laws prohibit people from harming the animals. And people are supposed to remain at least 500 yards (460 meters) away from the whales.

“If you’re in this area, please give these animals space,” said Allison Garrett, a NOAA spokesperson. “The rule is 500 yards—that’s five football fields. That includes people, boats, drones, paddle boards—everything. That’s the law.”

This photo provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows a baby whale that is been injured near St. Augustine, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. The plight of endangered right whales took another sad turn Saturday, when a baby whale, possibly two months old, washed ashore on a Florida beach with telltale signs of being struck by a boat. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission via AP)

Garrett urged people who come upon one of the rare whales to report the sighting to officials at (877) 942-5343 to help track their numbers.

Ocean vessels and fishing operations—as well as disease—have taken a toll on the whale’s numbers.

Since 2017, the animals have been experiencing what biologists call an “unusual mortality event.” In those years, at least 33 dead and 13 seriously injured whales have been found—accounting for more than a tenth of the remaining population.

Last month, sued the to force it to further accelerate action on proposals meant to protect the whales.

The groups want the government to impose stricter speed limit on ships traveling from Maine to Florida.



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Endangered baby right whale found dead on Florida beach (2021, February 14)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Flow physics could help forecasters predict extreme events thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Flow physics could help forecasters predict extreme events

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Brian Elbing (left) holds a microphone with storm chaser Val Castor (right) in front of his storm chasing truck, in which the researchers mounted an infrasound sensor for monitoring tornadoes. Credit: Brian Elbing

About 1,000 tornadoes strike the United States each year, causing billions of dollars in damage and killing about 60 people on average. Tracking data show that they’re becoming increasingly common in the southeast, and less frequent in “Tornado Alley,” which stretches across the Great Plains. Scientists lack a clear understanding of how tornadoes form, but a more urgent challenge is to develop more accurate prediction and warning systems. It requires a fine balance: Without warnings, people can’t shelter, but if they experience too many false alarms, they’ll become inured.

One way to improve tornado prediction tools might be to listen better, according to mechanical engineer Brian Elbing at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, in the heart of Tornado Alley. He doesn’t mean any sounds audible to human ears, though. As long ago as the 1960s, researchers reported evidence that emit signature sounds at frequencies that fall outside the range of human hearing. People can hear down to about 20 Hertz—which sounds like a low rumble—but a tornado’s song likely falls somewhere between 1 and 10 Hertz.

Brandon White, a graduate student in Elbing’s lab, discussed their recent analyses of the infrasound signature of tornadoes at the 73rd Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics.

Elbing said these infrasound signatures had seemed like a promising avenue of research, at least until radar emerged as a frontrunner technology for warning systems. Acoustic-based approaches took a back seat for decades. “Now we’ve made a lot of advances with radar systems and monitoring, but there are still limitations. Radar requires line of sight measurements.” But line of sight can be tricky in hilly places like the Southeast, where the majority of tornado deaths occur.

Maybe it’s time to revisit those acoustic approaches, said Elbing. In 2017, his research group recorded infrasound bursts from a supercell that produced a small tornado near Perkins, Oklahoma. When they analyzed the data, they found that the vibrations began before the tornado formed.

Researchers still know little about the fluid dynamics of tornadoes. “To date there have been eight trusted measurements of pressure inside a tornado, and no classical theory predicts them,” said Elbing. He doesn’t know how the sound is produced, either, but knowing the cause isn’t required for an alarm system. The idea of an acoustics-based system is straightforward.

“If I dropped a glass behind you and it shattered, you don’t need to turn around to know what happened,” said Elbing. “That sound gives you a good sense of your immediate environment.” Infrasound vibrations can travel over long distances quickly, and through different media. “We could detect tornadoes from 100 miles away.”

Members of Elbing’s research group also described a sensor array for detecting tornadoes via acoustics and presented findings from studies on how infrasound vibrations travel through the atmosphere. The work on infrasound tornado signatures was supported by a grant from NOAA.

Other sessions during the Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting similarly addressed ways to study and predict extreme events. During a session on nonlinear dynamics, MIT engineer Qiqi Wang revisited the , a well-known phenomena in fluid dynamics that asks whether a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could trigger a tornado in Texas.

What’s unclear is whether the butterfly wings can lead to changes in the longtime statistics of the climate. By investigating the question computationally in small chaotic systems, he found that small perturbations can, indeed, effect long-term changes, a finding that suggests even small efforts can lead to lasting changes in the climate of a system.

During the same session, mechanical engineer Antoine Blanchard, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT, introduced a smart sampling algorithm designed to help quantify and predict extreme events—like extreme storms or cyclones, for example. Extreme events occur with low probability, he said, and therefore require large amounts of data, which can be expensive to generate, computationally or experimentally. Blanchard, whose background is in fluid dynamics, wanted to find a way to identify outliers more economically. “We’re trying to identify those dangerous states using as few simulations as possible.”

The algorithm he designed is a kind of black box: Any dynamical state can be fed as an input, and the algorithm will return a measure of the dangerousness of that state.

“We’re trying to find the doors to danger. If you open that particular door, will the system remain quiescent, or will it go crazy?” asked Blanchard. “What are the states and conditions—like weather conditions, for example—that if you were to evolve them over time could cause a cyclone or storm?”

Blanchard said he’s still refining the algorithm but hopes to start applying it to real data and large-scale experiments soon. He also said it may have implications beyond the weather, in any system that produces extreme events. “It’s a very general algorithm.”