Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mapping human impacts on the oceans

Marine impact kml (Google Earth)

The University of California, UC Santa Barbara, through its 'NECEAS National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis' department has mapped the impact of human activities on the oceans.

World map represents a synthesis of 17 different activities such as climate change, warming water, ocean acidification, coastal pollution, oil drilling, invasive species, certain fisheries, maritime transport and population density...
Researchers have also modeled integrated and marine ecosystems such as seagrass beds, marshes, mangroves, coral reefs and mudflats.

Hundreds of experts from various marine ecosystems have crossed their own data with the levels of these 17 factors, and all results have been modeled on a scale of 1 pixel per 1 sq km of ocean. The map gives a mathematical value (between 0 and 20) the environmental impact of each point without being able to specify the exact nature.

The coral reefs are among the most affected, but contrary to popular belief, the deep areas are sometimes more affected than the coastal area.
Among the most affected waters: ocean space located between Japan and China, the North Sea between the UK and Norway, the north-eastern United States, the Bering Sea. The area least affected are mainly near the poles.

This map highlights the need to take into account the cumulative effects of various pollutants.
The interviews given by the scientists behind this work are alarming but not negative: the collaboration between researchers and industrialists, fishermen, shipping, may lead to changes in practices conducive to improving the marine ecosystems .

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