May 25

Kyodo: Highest levels of Fukushima contamination in plankton already east of Hawaii? (MAPS) (ENENews, May 21, 2013):

Title: Researchers find high cesium in some Pacific plankton
Source: Kyodo News
Date: May 22, 2013

Researchers find high cesium in some Pacific plankton

Scientists said Tuesday they have detected radioactive cesium from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in plankton collected from all 10 points in the Pacific they checked, with the highest levels at around 25 degrees north latitude and 150 degrees west longitude. […]

The researchers collected plankton at 10 points in the Pacific from off Hokkaido to Guam between January and February 2012.

They detected cesium-134 in plankton at all 10 points. The density of radioactive cesium was the highest at 8.2 to 10.5 becquerels per kilogram in samples collected from waters around 25 degrees north latitude and 150 degrees west longitude. […]

The density of cesium in seawater was highest in waters at around latitude 36 to 40 degrees north, the team said. […]

“25 degrees north latitude and 150 degrees west longitude”

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Jul 29

Phytoplankton are the foundation of the oceanic food chain.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite their tiny size, plant plankton found in the world’s oceans are crucial to much of life on Earth. They are the foundation of the bountiful marine food web, produce half the world’s oxygen and suck up harmful carbon dioxide.

And they are declining sharply.

Worldwide phytoplankton levels are down 40 percent since the 1950s, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The likely cause is global warming (Since 1998 the world is cooling.), which makes it hard for the plant plankton to get vital nutrients, researchers say.

The numbers are both staggering and disturbing, say the Canadian scientists who did the study and a top U.S. government scientist.

“It’s concerning because phytoplankton is the basic currency for everything going on in the ocean,” said Dalhousie University biology professor Boris Worm, a study co-author. “It’s almost like a recession … that has been going on for decades.”

Half a million datapoints dating to 1899 show that plant plankton levels in nearly all of the world’s oceans started to drop in the 1950s. The biggest changes are in the Arctic, southern and equatorial Atlantic and equatorial Pacific oceans. Only the Indian Ocean is not showing a decline. The study’s authors said it’s too early to say that plant plankton is on the verge of vanishing.

Virginia Burkett, the chief climate change scientist for U.S. Geological Survey, said the plankton numbers are worrisome and show problems that can’t be seen just by watching bigger more charismatic species like dolphins or whales.

“These tiny species are indicating that large-scale changes in the ocean are affecting the primary productivity of the planet,” said Burkett, who wasn’t involved in the study.

When plant plankton plummet — like they do during El Nino climate cycles— sea birds and marine mammals starve and die in huge numbers, experts said. Continue reading »

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Apr 06

Studies seem to indicate that oceans, which are major carbon sinks, may have had enough. If so, the consequences are BAD, writes Jayalakshmi K.

Ocean deserts, which are non-productive areas, have increased by 15 per cent in the period 1998-2007, according to a study done by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US and the University of Hawaii. This translates into a total of 6.6 million sq km. On the whole, there are 51 million sq km of such desert zones. The data was collected by Nasa’s orbiting SeaStar craft.

Attributed mostly to warming surface waters, which is happening at a rate of 1 per cent every year, this creates many layers in the ocean waters, preventing deep ocean nutrients from rising to the surface and feeding plant life.

Continue reading »

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