The Scope, the Official STEMscopes Blog

Skimming the Ocean

Posted by Science Explored on February 14, 2014

Concerns about the health of the world’s oceans have been growing for some time.  Recently, Starfish Wasting Disease has reemerged off the Pacific American coast, claiming millions of echinoderms.  Meanwhile, fishermen across the world have been reporting lower yields and higher mercury levels in their catches.  Perhaps most disturbing once flourishing marine ecosystems are being turned into barren wastelands in spots across the globe.  Given that oceans are so vast, we often think of our impact on them is minimal.  Most think cleaning the oceans up is not a pressing need and, even if we did clean them up, it would be an undertaking too large for any one country.  Boyan Slat, a 19-year-old student currently attending Delft University of Technology, has presented a possible solution that may address part of the problem and even turn around a profit.

Above:  an artist's rendition of what Slat's floating, self-powered plastic collection nodes could look like.  The booms extend to either side and would connect with other processing nodes.

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Topics: oceans, Boyan Slat, Science Explored, plastic, PCB and DDT

Oysters are off the Menu

Posted by Science Explored on April 09, 2013

You may have heard of acid rain, but what about ocean acidification?  Marine biologists, chemical engineers, and oceanographers all have something to say about the effects of carbon dioxide emissions on our oceans.  Since the Industrial Revolution, humanity has created vast amounts of carbon dioxide as a byproduct, or secondary (sometimes unintentional) product, of making various chemicals such as plastics, driving our cars, and burning coal to make electricity.  Carbon dioxide is not harmful in low quantities; in fact, plants rely on carbon dioxide during photosynthesis to make gluccose and oxygen for us as a byproduct.  Nonetheless, CO2 emissions have been steadily on the rise as world populations grow.  One of the main places much of the carbon dioxide gets deposited is in Earth’s oceans because it reacts with seawater.  As CO2 levels accumulate in the ocean, the effects are starting to be noticed by fishermen and seafood lovers across the country.

Crustacean Populations

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Topics: oceans, pH, carbon dioxide

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