This talk highlights renowned scientist Christopher Clark's research on
the effects of sonar, shipping noise and offshore energy activities on
marine mammals at both local and ocean-basin scales. His work has been cited by his peers including Peter Tyack's 2010 TED Talk on whale communications. When asked what he does, Christopher W. Clark’s answer is simple: “I listen to this singing planet!” Clark
pioneered the ocean listening systems for studying whales and other
His work has been cited by Peter Tyack's 2010 TED Talk on
His research has led to a better understanding of
the effects of sonar, shipping noise and offshore energy activities on
marine mammals at both local and ocean-basin scales.
Most recently, Clark was featured in Discovery Channel documentary films: “Racing Extinction”
and “Sonic Sea.”
engineer and biologist, Clark is the founding director and Imogene
Johnson Senior Scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bioacoustics
Research Program at Cornell University.
He is also a senior scientist at
the university’s Department of Neurobiology & Behavior.
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric
Science scientist Mark Donelan and his Norwegian Meteorological
Institute colleague captured new information about extreme waves, as one
of the steepest ever recorded passed by the North Sea Ekofisk platforms
in the early morning hours of Nov. 9 2007.
Photo by Sohit Sukla
Within the first hour of the day, the Andrea wave passed by a
four-point square array of ocean sensors designed by the researchers to
measure the wavelength, direction, amplitude and frequency of waves at
the ocean surface.
Aerial view from southwest (elevation 45 degrees) of the reconstructed Andrea wave.
The colorbar indicates surface elevation. Vertical exaggeration is seven.
The blue dot (location: 0,0) indicates the observed crest of 14.97 m above MSL; the red dot indicates the reconstructed maximum crest height of 15.33 m at location: 14 m West, 6 m North.
The crest was advancing to the SSE (164 degrees) at 17.85 m/s.
Using the information from the wave set—a total of 13,535 individual
waves—collected by the system installed on a bridge between two offshore
platforms, the researchers took the wave apart to examine how the
components came together to produce such a steep wave.
The data from the 100-meter wide “wall of water” moving at 40 miles
per hour showed that Andrea may have reached heights greater than the
recorded height of 49 feet above mean sea level.
They also found that
rogue waves are not rare as previously thought and occur roughly twice
daily at any given location in a storm.
The findings showed that the
steeper the waves are, the less frequent their occurrence, which is
about every three weeks at any location for the steepest rogues.
Surface elevation of groups in each period band displayed on axes of time and logarithm of period in seconds.
All 32 periods are displayed and their sum (divided by 20) is graphed along the time axis.
The Andrea crest is at 862 s.
Credit: Donelan, et.al.
The Andrea crest height was 1.63 times the significant height
(average height of the one third highest waves).
Optimal focusing of the
Andrea wave showed that the crest could have been even higher and
limited by breaking at 1.7 times the significant height.
A 100-foot wave hits a ship in the North Sea, during an intense storm.
Had the ship been much smaller it could have been catastrophic, but the ship managed to withstand the blow.
establishes the greatest height rogues can reach for any given (or
forecasted) significant height.
“Rogue waves are known to have caused loss of life as well as damage
to ships and offshore structures,” said Mark Donelan, professor emeritus
of ocean sciences at the UM Rosenstiel School. “Our results, while
representing the worst-case rogue wave forecast, are new knowledge
important for the design and safe operations for ships and platforms at
The study, titled “The Making of the Andrea Wave and other Rogues,”
was published in the March 8 issue of the journal Scientific Reports.
The authors include: Donelan and Anne-Karin Magnusson from the Norwegian
The work was partly performed within the
ExWaMar project (ID 256466/O80) funded by the Norwegian Research
ConocoPhillips provided the wave data.
A rock structure in the form of an arch which had featured in countless Malta tourism brochures collapsed into the sea on Wednesday in what Prime Minister Joseph Muscat described as a "heartbreaking event".
Gozo resident Roger Chessell went to the coastline in the morning to take pictures.
"There was a big raging sea beneath the Azure Window," he told the Times of Malta newspaper. "Suddenly, the arch collapsed into the sea with a loud whoomph, throwing up a huge spray."
Prime Minister Muscat said in a Tweet that the famous Mediterranean landmark had always faced destruction because of natural corrosion. "That sad day has arrived," he wrote.
That was among the many
clear warnings that oil giant Shell issued in a film it produced about
climate change more than 25 years ago.
Many environmentalists, however,
argue that the company has largely ignored its own alarm bells.
“The need to understand the
interplay of atmosphere and oceans has been given a new sense of urgency
by the realization that our energy-consuming way of life may be causing
climatic changes with adverse consequences to us all,” the nearly
30-minute video notes.
The film is eerily
prophetic, warning of spiraling global temperatures, a sea level rise
that could prove “disastrous,” wetland habitats inundated by salt water
and ferocious storm surges brought on by warming ocean temperatures.
“What is now considered abnormal weather could become a new norm,” the film’s narrator says.
“In a crowded world subject to such adverse shifts of climate, who would take care of such greenhouse refugees?”
What Shell knew about climate change in 1991 – video explainer
According to The Correspondent, which shared the video with The Guardian,
the film was produced for the public eye, particularly for viewing in
schools and universities, but has gone largely unseen for many years.
a separate 1986 document reviewed by both publications, Shell
reportedly wrote of the uncertainties regarding climate science but
noted that “changes may be the greatest in recorded history.”
In an interview with The
Correspondent, professor Tom Wigley, the former head of the Climate
Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, which assisted Shell in
creating the film, spoke about the accuracy of its predictions.
“It’s amazing it’s 25 years ago,”
Wigley said. “It was quite comprehensive on what might happen, what the
consequences are, and what we can do about it. I mean, there’s not much
Along with linking fossil
fuel consumption and rising carbon dioxide emissions to warming global
temperatures, the film celebrates renewable energy technologies,
including solar and wind.
Although Shell does recognize climate change and made investments in wind energy, it is also a key player in the destructive and dirty Canadian tar sands.
In an email Tuesday to The
Huffington Post, a Shell spokesman said, “Our position on climate change
is well known; recognizing the climate challenge and the role energy
has in enabling a decent quality of life. Shell continues to call for
effective policy to support lower carbon business and consumer choices
and opportunities such as government lead carbon pricing/trading
But environmental groups aren’t convinced that the company has walked the walk when it comes to acting to combat climate change.
“The fact that
Shell understood all this in 1991, and that a quarter-century later it
was trying to open up the Arctic to oil-drilling, tells you all you’ll
ever need to know about the corporate ethic of the fossil fuel
industry,” Bill McKibben, the co-founder of 350.org, said in a statement.
“Shell made a big difference in the world ― a difference for the worse.”
In the film (which can be seen in full here),
Shell warned that while global warming was not fully understood, “many
think that to wait for final proof would be irresponsible.”
“Whether or not the threat
of global warming proves as grave as the scientists predict, is it too
much to hope that it might act as the stimulus, the catalyst, to a new
era of technical and economic cooperation?” the narrator asks.
numbers are many and infinitely diverse, but the problems and dilemmas
of climatic change concern us all.”
When Julian Creedon moved from Jersey to Réunion in 2006 the island seemed like a surfer’s paradise: “White beaches, epic waves, it was perfect.”
But last month Alexandre Naussance, a 26-year-old fellow surfer, became the eighth person to be killed by a shark in the waters around the island since 2011.
In the past six years 20 people have been attacked by sharks in Réunion.
In terms of deaths, the tiny island takes first place.
Why have the waters around Réunion become so dangerous?
Saint Leu spot
A decade ago, shark attacks in Réunion were rare.
They also mainly occurred away from the island’s western coastline, the most popular with tourists and surfers.
“Everything changed in 2011,” says Mr Creedon.
That year alone there were six shark attacks, five of which took place around the tourist hub of St-Gilles-les-Bains.
Since then the numbers have steadily risen, with three attacks within six months in 2013, including two fatalities.
One of these was a 15-year-old French girl who was swimming just five metres out from the beach in St Paul when she was attacked.
Her death caused a public outcry.
Local authorities implemented a ban on swimming and water sports across almost all of Réunion’s beaches.
Despite the rising death toll, locals and tourists continue to ignore warnings (though in the case of Mr Naussance the warning signs had been sawed off the previous weekend).
Le Reunion island with the GeoGarage platform (SHOM chart)
The sharp rise in attacks is the cause of much debate in Réunion.
Many locals blame the government’s ban on shark meat in the 1990s, or the creation of a protected marine nature reserve along the west coast in 2007.
Experts say it is unlikely that either of these factors is responsible.
Some argue that the overfishing of other species has had an impact on shark behaviour.
Dwindling fish stocks make hungry sharks more likely to come in to shore in search of food.
Others suggest environmental damage caused by Réunion’s growing population, and urban development along its western coastline.
The geology of the island also contributes: steep volcanic slopes mean rainfall quickly washes waste and debris down into the sea.
The murkier water is appealing to bull sharks, the prime culprits.
The sharp drops and deep waters around the island also allow both bull and tiger sharks, which usually remain in the ocean’s depths, to glide all the way up to the beaches with ease.
Reunion Island continues to improve beach safety as more anti-shark nets installed
The island is paying a high price.
The government has spent millions on anti-shark defences, with limited success.
The attack count continues to rise, while tourism to the island, a French overseas department with one of the highest unemployment rates in France, continues to suffer.
Despite a slight resurgence last year, the number of visitors has not returned to 2011 levels.
With just 450,000 visitors in 2016, the tourist economy of Réunion is dwarfed by that of neighbouring Mauritius, which received over 1m people.
Since this latest attack, there have been renewed calls for a large-scale shark cull around Réunion to protect surfers and, with them, the struggling tourist industry.
Conservationists and marine biologists however say this would only be a short-term fix; such a cull would harm the ecosystem.
In the long run more research into shark behaviour could help predict attacks—but would be costlier than culling.
Two years ago, socially conscious entrepreneurs Rob Ianelli and Ryan Schoenike founded their company, Norton Point, to manufacture sunglasses made from the huge amounts of plastic cleaned up from ocean coastlines.
Their goal was to be a part of the solution to one of the planet's greatest challenges: the 8 million tons of plastic entering Earth's oceans each year.
Moreover, they wanted to reinvest their profits in research, education and development efforts that help reduce the impact of ocean plastic.
Now, engineers and polymer scientists with the University of Georgia's New Materials Institute are helping Norton Point, which is based in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, with testing of its "ocean plastics" products and finding new product applications.
"Packaging represents about half of all plastics produced, and single-use plastic items make up the majority of what is found on beaches," said Jenna Jambeck, associate professor of engineering and director of Center for Circular Materials Management in the New Materials Institute.
The amount of plastic pollution in the oceans is staggering and Dell’s innovative approaches to packaging provide an opportunity to begin addressing the problem.
Her study of ocean plastics, published in the journal Science in 2015, quantified for the first time the amount of plastics flowing into the earth's oceans, drawing worldwide attention to the issue.
Jambeck's study was published at an opportune time for the Norton Point founders, who had been exploring the idea of manufacturing sunglasses from ocean plastics.
"But we were concerned about doing it right," said Schoenike.
They connected for the first time with Jambeck last year at an Oceans conference, and since then, Schoenike said, the New Materials Institute has "moved our goals and the issue forward" together.
Jambeck explained that one of the plastics used in single-use plastic products is high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, which doesn't biodegrade.
"It only breaks down in the environment by creating smaller and smaller fragments," she said.
Jambeck said we need to ask how we can recapture the valuable resources in materials like littered plastics-that is, repurpose them into new products.
"By changing the way we think about waste," she said, "valuing the management of it, collecting, capturing and containing it, we can open up new jobs and opportunities for economic innovation, and in addition, improve the living conditions and health for millions of people around the world and protect our oceans."
Adidas launches trainers made from recycled ocean rubbish
and Swimwear Collection made from recycled ocean plastics
New Materials Institute researchers will work with Norton Point to help make "green" products from re-purposed plastics obtained from locations around the globe.
"Norton Point wants to know how the recycled materials respond to different manufacturing processes like extrusion and injection molding, and how they compare with virgin petroleum-based high-density polyethylene in terms of qualities like impact-resistance, toughness and durability," said Jason Locklin, director of UGA's New Materials Institute and associate professor of chemistry and engineering at UGA.
The institute also is looking to help Norton Point identify new types of products that make the best use of the material properties of ocean plastics.
In the same way that claims on other types of post-consumer waste are regulated, the New Materials Institute plans to explore the potential for certification and labeling of ocean plastics.