Category: News

Why are leaks on the Nord Stream gas pipeline dangerous?

Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2

On the night of September 29, the Swedish Coast Guard discovered the fourth leak from the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines.

Recall that earlier the operator of the system – a subsidiary of Gazprom, Nord Stream AG – announced the destruction of three of its threads – they all go from Russia to Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. As a result of incidents, masses of natural gas enter the water area. We talk about the incident and explain what it is fraught with for nature.

The destruction is unprecedented

On Thursday night, the Swedish coast guard found the fourth leak from the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the site of the incident is in the economic zone of Sweden. Gas bubbles up on the sea surface with a diameter of about 200 meters. Recall that each of the gas pipelines – “Nord Stream” and “Nord Stream – 2” consists of two threads. Earlier it was reported that during the first incidents that occurred on the night of September 26, three out of four gas pipelines were damaged. Whether the appearance of the fourth leak means that all four lines of the gas pipeline are out of order is still unclear.

Accident poses risks to marine life and climate

The main component of natural gas is methane, which threatens marine life on its way to the surface, Anna Kurbatova, a specialist in the Department of Environmental Safety and Product Quality Management at the Institute of Ecology, told “Undoubtedly, part of the fauna in the disaster area will die. Large mammals such as seals or seals will migrate from these areas. The extent of the damage has yet to be assessed. In addition, methane can catch fire, which will cause additional damage to nature, ”the expert believes.

According to a representative of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, after reaching the surface, methane enters the atmosphere, and since this gas has a high heating potential, surpassing CO2 by 25 times, the incident will contribute to climate destabilization. “But from the point of view of ecology, the incident is rather local. The volume of gas in the pipes is limited, this is not a large well. There should be no serious consequences for the Baltic Sea,” says Anna Kurbatova.

Environmental damage due to leaks at Nord Stream will not be significant, agrees Andrey Bobylev, adviser to the director of the All-Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography. “When the pressure drops, the offshore gas pipeline systems are switched off. Therefore, we are talking about the destruction of local benthic fauna and vegetation on several hundred square meters, ”he told

Chemist and eco-blogger Georgy Kavanosyan disagrees with previous experts. In his opinion, if the leaks are not eliminated in the near future, the damage to nature can be very serious. “Methane is one of the most dangerous types of greenhouse gases. In addition, methane in water can become a source of additional threat to both marine life and ships passing through these areas. We are waiting for preliminary damage from the Danes,” the expert wrote in his telegram channel. However, he later added that the disaster can still be called local, and the greatest damage to marine life could be caused by a hydrodynamic shock from explosions.

Western climatologists have expressed fear that leaks in gas pipelines will lead to massive greenhouse gas emissions, Canadian news agency Reuters reported. However, the experts found it difficult to assess the scale of the tragedy, since they did not know how much hydrocarbons were pumped into the pipes, and also how quickly the repairmen could stop the leak.

The German environment ministry said the leaks do not pose a serious threat to marine life. At the same time, representatives of the international environmental organization Greenpeace expressed concern that fish could get into the gas plumes and get blocked blood vessels with a fatal outcome.

Coast of Paraná breaks record of the year for strandings of marine animals

Spheniscus magellanicus

The coast of Paraná broke the record of the year for strandings of marine animals in August. According to the Laboratory of Ecology and Conservation (LEC), of the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), a total of 457 animals were found, including birds (81%), reptiles (13%) and marine mammals (6%).

The Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) was the most recorded species, totaling 327 animals. At this time of year it is common to find a greater number of strandings. In the case of penguins, it is during the winter that they migrate from the Argentine and Chilean Patagonia to the Brazilian coast in search of food. Due to the long journey, many, mostly juveniles, end up being weakened and stranded on the beaches.

In addition to the expressive number of penguins, we had many turtles found and also Guiana dolphins (Sotalia guianensis).

Some species less common in region were also recorded in August, such as the stranding of the first humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) this year; some hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) and olive turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea). Among the mammals, the most important were the subantarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus tropicalis); and among oceanic birds, the giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus), the black shearwater (Procellaria aequinoctialis) and the soft grazina (Pterodroma mollis).

According to information from the LEC, 94% of the animals found on the coast of Paraná were dead. Most of the live animals rescued by the LEC team were driven by the community. This collaboration is essential for the conservation of marine biodiversity.

Find out what to do when you find a marine animal on the coast of Paraná

When finding weakened or dead marine animals on the beaches of Pontal do Paraná and the entire coast of Paraná, it is possible to call the team from the PMP-BS/Ecology and Conservation Laboratory (LEC) of the Center for Sea Studies (CEM) at UFPR by calling 0800 642 33 41 or whatsapp (41) 9 92138746.

World Krill Day: The importance of this tiny species that sustains biodiversity in the Antarctic Peninsula


The doctor in marine ecology and INACH researcher, Lucas Krüger, emphasizes the value of this crustacean, which with only two grams and six centimeters is the basis for the entire ecosystem of the White Continent. Besides, he comments on its main threats and how it manages to combat the impact of the climate crisis.

All the fauna that inhabits the coasts and the air of the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the most inhospitable and beautiful territories on the planet, has a vital bond with a tiny species that in its adult stage does not exceed six centimeters: the Antarctic krill, today at the center of international efforts to defend and conserve the area through marine protected areas.

When celebrating this Thursday, August 11, the first World Krill Day, the expert Lucas Krüger spoke with EFE about this crustacean, whose biomass is estimated to be greater than that of the entire humanity and which constitutes the basis of the food web throughout the peninsula, an extension of the South American continent whose access is protected by the tempestuous waters of the Drake Passage. There are multiple threats to krill, although it is not the first time that this territory has faced adverse scenarios due to human action: the area was devastated at the beginning of the 20th century by the whaling industry, leaving painful images with dozens of corpses cetaceans accumulated along with the tasks in a company that, it is estimated, killed 99% of the population of blue whales at the time.

Krüger, a doctor in biology specialized in marine ecology and a researcher at the Chilean National Antarctic Institute (INACH), reviews the key role of this organism, its characteristics and the imperative need to protect it from the impact of industrial fishing and climate change.

Research will analyze the impact of anthropogenic noise in three points in Chile

impact of anthropogenic noise in Chile

The idea is to quantify the noise caused by human beings in the underwater ecosystem of three key points in the country, and to evaluate how it could affect the physiology of planktonic organisms.

In recent years, interest in knowing the impact on the underwater soundscape has increased, specifically since it affects the biological activity of living beings and their ecosystem. Due to this, its care has begun to increase, including it as a new axis in the management plans in the marine protected areas. Under this premise, the research entitled “Underwater sound landscape of three locations on the Chilean coast: effect of anthropogenic noise on zooplankton” is carried out. The study is the thesis project of Victor Molina, student of the Master in Marine Ecology of the Faculty of Sciences of the Catholic University of the Santísima Concepción (UCSC). The academic Dr. Iván Hinojosa is his thesis director and also has the participation of Dr. Susana Buchan from COPAS Coastal.

Victor Molina student of the Master in Marine Ecology of UCSC
Victor Molina, student of the Master in Marine Ecology of the Faculty of Sciences of the Catholic University of the Santísima Concepción (UCSC)

Marine bioacoustics is a relatively new area of ​​study, however, more information on soundscapes is lacking. “In the last 20 years, it has been understood that sound does play a fundamental role in the sea, since before the perception of the sea was of a silent environment, and it is quite the opposite. Anthropogenic noise interacts with acoustic signals and one of these effects is that animals cannot perceive them and affect their communication, for example”, commented Víctor Molina regarding the context of the investigation.

Reality in Chile

The objective of the study is to know how this noise would affect the physiological activities of organisms. Through hydrophones, three strategic points will be considered: Chañaral Island, Puñihuil (north of Chiloé) and the Gulf of Corcovado. “These are very productive areas, there is a lot of zooplankton. When there is abundance, there is a greater presence of all the individuals that feed on it. In addition, in these places there are anthropogenic activities that are contrasted,” he explained. In this way, there is a presence of artisanal fishing, tourism, outboard motors, maritime traffic or merchant vessels in these three points. Thus, a representative sample will be obtained and the impact of the different sound sources can be compared.

Regarding the study methodology, the noises were studied through hydrophones, during the year 2018. Through passive acoustic monitoring, these hydrophones are installed and configured to record the sound, in this case, 10 minutes every hour. “In this way, we have a representative sample of each hour and of the whole day and finally, of the whole year. We want to see what activity patterns there are in whales, shrimp clicks and anthropogenic noise. Find out if they are more abundant at night or during the day, for example. The same if it changes during the seasons of the year”, complemented the student of the Master in Marine Ecology UCSC.

Another of the expected results is to find out how long the landscape is free of anthropogenic sound. Also, know the impact of this noise on the physiology of the zooplankton. In addition, emphasize the relevance of establishing public policies for the care of the acoustic landscape, in terms of protected marine areas.

It would be the first work to describe the soundscape on continental coasts and the potential effect of anthropogenic noise on planktonic organisms.

The Great Salt Lake is drying up

Great Salt Lake

In the midst of a severe drought, water levels at Utah’s famous Great Salt Lake have dropped to their lowest level on record. This fell below the previous lowest level of October 2021.

The lake is in a difficult state, says rancher Joel Ferry. It’s the worst drought in 1,200 years. The water level is historically low. It’s likely to hit a new all-time low this summer. “We’re on the Titanic, sailing and trying to avoid the iceberg.”

Since the 1980s, the Great Salt Lake has shrunk by more than two-thirds to just under 1,600 square kilometers today. Where there used to be water, there is now a grey-brown hard-packed surface. Scientist Kevin Perry warns that the drained lake bed is tough. “The lake could become one of the largest sources of dust in North America. The ecosystem is on the brink of collapse.”

Heavy metals washed into the lake

For many years, the mountains of Utah were mined for metals and minerals. The Jordan, Weber and Bear rivers have carried vast amounts of toxic substances such as antimony, copper, zirconium and other heavy metals into the Great Salt Lake. Scientists warn that a time bomb is ticking in the Great Salt Lake. John Perry of Utah State University warns that the crust of the former lake bed, which has dried out, will gradually erode and release dangerous substances. “We’re concerned that particles from the bottom of the lake are getting into people’s lungs. That’s even more of our concern because it contains potentially dangerous arsenic.”

A lot of water goes to the agricultural sector

In planted regions, arid Utah resembles a Garden of Eden with Gardening and farming. The precious water for this comes mainly from the three rivers that feed the lake. Almost 80 percent of the water is used in agriculture.

In summer it gets hot in the bone-dry state of Utah, often quite hot. The humidity is low. Without artificial irrigation, in many places little or nothing would grow.

Salt Lake City likes it green

Planted areas, parks and front gardens in the city: Salt Lake City and its citizens love it green. That has consequences.

Utah’s city dwellers use the highest per capita water in the United States, complains Zachary Frankel. He is a director of the Utah Rivers Council. On average, people in Utah use over 300 liters more water per capita and day than, for example, residents of Denver (US state of Colorado), says Frankel. Water consumption is growing rapidly because Salt Lake City, with around 2.5 million inhabitants today, is too continues to grow rapidly. According to Frankel, saving water is not an option for many. “You’ll see water-filled gutters, people using a hose instead of a broom to clean their driveways. They water while it’s raining. It’s all because we have the lowest water prices in the United States.

“Water prices are highly subsidized. Higher water prices in one of the driest states in the United States are no excuse for conserving water.

Reduced precipitation

Water use plays a major role in the drying up of the Great Salt Lake. Even more important are declining and absent precipitation. Depending on the region, the annual average is 20 to 120 cm a year.

Most of the water comes as meltwater from the Wasatch mountain range, which is more than 3000 meters high. But the snowfall is noticeably decreasing, says climatologist Robert Gillies from Utah State University. “Due to the warmer climate, rain falls instead of snow. And due to higher temperatures, the snow melts two to three weeks earlier in spring.”

In the past four years, the amount of snow has fallen to about 80 percent of the average of previous years, says climate researcher Gillies. The reason for this: Less water evaporates from the shrinking lake to form clouds. In the mountains, the moisture then falls as snow.

In addition, due to the higher temperatures in spring, more water evaporates when the snow melts than before. As a result, less meltwater gets into the rivers and ultimately into the lake. The water cycle is like a downward spiral.

What will become of the migratory birds

Less water in the salty lake also means that the salinity increases. Robert Gillies warns that this will have a significant impact on flora and fauna. Because the lake serves as a resting place for around 10 million migratory birds because there is water and food there – especially brine shrimp.

“These shrimp depend on algae. As the sea decreases, the salinity increases. If the salinity exceeds 17 percent, the algae cannot survive, and with it, the brine shrimp will decrease as well.”

Pessimists fear that the critical 17 percent salinity mark could be reached as early as this summer. When the algae die, the shrimp die. The many birds will no longer find enough food. You won’t find anything better or different than the Great Salt Lake within hundreds of miles.

Iceland aims to end whaling by 2024

Iceland aims to end whaling by 2024

Iceland’s government has announced that it will no longer permit whaling by 2024. The reason is the lack of demand from the main customer Japan: The country had allowed the controversial practice again in 2019.

The Icelandic government wants to end the controversial whaling in 2024. This was announced by Fisheries Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir. The catch quotas that apply until 2023 should not be extended. The politician from the left-green movement referred to falling demand.

“Unless there are developments to the contrary, there will be little reason to authorize whaling after 2024,” wrote Svavarsdottir in an article for the Morgunbladid newspaper. “There is little evidence that there is any economic benefit to practicing this activity.” Therefore, the quotas should not be extended.

Iceland, Norway and Japan currently allow whaling

Iceland is one of three whaling countries, the other two being Norway and Japan. The hunt for marine mammals has long been criticized by animal rights activists.

Iceland currently has a quota that runs until 2023, according to which 209 fin whales and 217 minke whales can be killed per summer. However, there has been virtually no commercial hunting in Iceland in the past three years, with just one whale taken.

The reason is massive sales difficulties on the Japanese market, the main buyer of whale meat. This allowed hunting whales again in 2019. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) welcomed the news. “It’s a fantastic announcement,” said Andreas Dinkelmeyer, campaign manager at IFAW.

Net zero delivery by 2050 could be on the agenda pretty soon

Despite pressure from nongovernmental organizations and governments, shipping could get closer to zero emissions by 2050 instead of the original goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent. In its latest weekly report, Ship Broker Gibson reported that “Last Friday’s long-awaited Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 78) meeting at the IMO concluded. The focus was on advancing IMO policy to develop an effective greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction strategy to be approved at the 80th MEPC in 2023. There is support among most member states for the IMO to begin setting more ambitious goals and policies that will be the focus of upcoming IMO meetings. However, environmental and industry groups have criticized the CPMS for failing to gain unanimous support among all members. They emphasize the relative decarbonization rates proposed by the IMO and the ability of shipping to stay in line with the 1.5°C target agreed to in the Paris Climate Agreement. This will only add to the pressure of subsequent IMO meetings to develop a plan to achieve adequate decarbonization while ensuring a fair transition that can garner broad support from member states.”

According to Gibson, “In terms of what has been achieved, two things stand out. First, there seems to be support for the goal of zero carbon by 2050, not just a 50% reduction in emissions. The technical guidelines for the EEXI, CII and SEEMP rules have been finalized and adopted for future implementation. These will be critical in determining the trajectory of industry emissions through 2050. Several environmental groups are advocating for changing the trajectory to zero emissions by 2040 and halving emissions by 2030; although this does not seem to be on the IMO agenda at this time, given the challenges of achieving such reductions and the lack of support from some member states. Thus, it seems likely that these measures will be approved at the 80th session of the CPMC, where life-cycle emissions guidelines are also likely to be agreed.”

The shipbroker added that “secondly, the proposal for a Sulfur Emission Control Area (SECA) in the Mediterranean has been approved for adoption at the 79th session of the CPMS in December 2022. This would require the use of bunker fuels with no more than 0.1% sulfur content, such as a low-sulfur MGO or scrubber system for ships trading or passing through the Mediterranean Sea. If there are no delays, the Mediterranean SECA could be implemented as early as 2025. It is also worth noting that the likely inclusion of shipping in the EU ETS beginning in 2023 will add an additional level of complexity and cost in addition to the already high rise bunker. Prices.”

Gibson also noted that “another notable aspect of MEPC 78 was the rejection of the International Chamber of Shipping’s (ICS) proposal for a $5 billion decarbonization research and development fund that would have provided a market-based approach to reducing shipping’s carbon emissions. The plan focused on a mandatory fee of $2 per ton of bunker fuel that would have funded zero-emission technology and received support from most major shipping organizations. That would have helped facilitate widespread adoption of the new technology, though its rejection demonstrates IMO’s reluctance to be responsible for the management and oversight of such a scheme.

“As the market awaits the adoption of MEPC 79-80, many will now refine their plans to achieve compliance with the proposed IMO rules, especially with respect to CII and EEXI. MEPC 78 gives owners an indication that IMO is now more committed to reducing the industry’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and is unlikely to be relaxed by some member states given the broad support for specific actions both inside and outside the shipping industry. “, summarized the shipowner.

Earth’s Future: Climatologists in three countries find out why round cities are worse for living than square and triangular ones

Climate scientists from Hong Kong, China and the United States have found out in cities of what shape, square, round or triangular, have more precipitation. Earth’s Future reports on the findings of a team led by Jiachuan Yang of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The scientists used a model of weather research and forecasting developed at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research. The area of imaginary cities was the same – on 400 square kilometers.

As a result, it turned out that in round cities precipitation falls more often and their intensity is higher. This effect was more pronounced for coastal cities, which averaged 22% more precipitation than cities that were farther from the seashore. In addition, the morning peak rainfall intensity is 78% higher in circular cities than in triangular cities.

Studies like these are not just mind games. Their results will come in handy in the future, when already built and newly designed cities may be at risk of flooding due to global warming.

Experts warn that urgent action is needed to protect the world’s coral reefs from extinction within three decades.

An international group of environmental scientists has published a series of important recommendations to protect, conserve and study the world’s coral reefs, the “canaries in the coal mine” of climate change.

An international group of environmental scientists has published a series of important recommendations to protect, conserve and study the world’s coral reefs – the “canaries in the coal mine” of climate change.

The Living Oceans Initiative presented its white paper on the future of vulnerable and important habitats at Thursday’s “Our Oceans” conference in Palau.

Drawing on the expertise of universities and wildlife conservation groups from around the world, including the University of Leicester, the group offers six key recommendations aimed at promoting the “sustainability and survival” of coral reefs.

Projections show that coral reef ecosystems around the world–the key to a vast array of marine species and a source of food, livelihood and cultural heritage for half a billion people–could functionally degrade by 2050 if the goals of the Paris Agreement are not met.

Even with drastic reductions in emissions to keep global warming from exceeding pre-industrial levels by 1.5°C, up to 90 percent of the world’s corals could disappear in the next three decades, leaving behind a reef structure that will lose many of its functions. .

Jens Zinke is a professor of paleobiology at the University of Leicester, whose research examines large coral habitats to track environmental and climate changes over the past three centuries to the present. Speaking about the report he co-authored, Professor Zinke said:

“Coral reefs are the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ when it comes to detecting ecosystems under stress from warming oceans due to climate change. Corals can sense when ocean temperatures exceed a dangerous threshold and warn us when we need to take action.

“Our research has shown that coral reefs have been hit hard by ocean warming over the past three to four decades, but in some reef locations the rate of warming is lower or they are benefiting from mitigating circumstances because of local oceanography.

“Some reefs have the ability to resist or recover from heat stress faster than others, and these reefs may serve as refuges for future warming. It’s an important new line of research to find these places and protect them before they disappear.”

In 2018, the Vibrant Oceans group identified 50 reefs that are most likely to withstand and survive climate change. The habitats are mostly in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, with additional reefs in the Caribbean and eastern Africa.

Previously, the 50 reefs were mostly selected in areas that avoided climate change. Now scientists are calling for an expanded reef portfolio to include sustainable and rapidly recovering reefs.

The group’s latest recommendations, presented in a white paper, “Predicting Climate Reserves for the Future of Coral Reefs,” include:

Continuing the “50 Reefs” approach as “climate change mitigation refuges” as a priority for investments in coral reef conservation.
Expansion of the 50 Reefs Climate Conservation portfolio for coral and coral protection.
Increased support for regional 50 Reefs portfolio condition assessments and sustainable finance initiatives to support regional portfolio implementation.
Increased large-scale, data-driven coral reef monitoring efforts to test and develop new climate reserve models and projections.
Using the latest climate coral reef science to guide investments, especially as climate change impacts accelerate and trigger new ecological stresses and responses among reefs.
Using a far-reaching approach to managing 50 reef sites, including linkages to broader seascapes, managing fisheries and water quality, mitigating other stressors (e.g., industrial development) so that effective and equitable management has measurable benefits for coral reefs. and coastal communities.
” Predicting Climate Reserves for the Future of Coral Reefs ” is available in full from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Funding partners for the initial Vibrant Oceans study are Bloomberg Philanthropies , and partners for ongoing conservation work are Oceans 5, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and the Tiffany & Co. Foundation.

Conservation partners are WCS, Rare, The Nature Conservancy, Blue Ventures, and the Ecosystem Conservation Partnership Fund.

Glacier melting has slowed in the Arctic

Climatologists have found that Arctic sea ice has shrunk to a mark of 4.81 million square kilometres over the summer of this year. This is significantly less than typical reductions in their size over the past decade.

“The slow melting of the ice is due to the long existence of a low atmospheric pressure zone in the Central Arctic. This has prevented warm air currents from entering the region in June and July. In turn, in August, a high-pressure zone emerged over the European part of the Arctic, causing temperatures in the neighbouring Beaufort Sea to drop two to three degrees below normal,” says Alfred Wegener Institute researcher Monika Ionita-Sztoltz.

Due to global warming, the size of the Arctic ice cap has been gradually shrinking over the past two or three decades. With a combination of certain weather and climatic factors, these processes are accelerating, resulting in new winter and summer records for ice area reduction.

Especially often in the last 10-15 years, such events have been recorded by NASA satellites and other leading space agencies of the world. For example, the area of Arctic glaciation sharply decreased in the summers of 2007, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017. On the other hand, these warming episodes are often accompanied by colder seasons, with the result that average Arctic sea ice extent sometimes increases rather than decreases.

Something similar, as Scholz and her colleagues point out, occurred this year as a result of a dramatic slowdown in ice melt during the Arctic summer, which was particularly characteristic of the polar ice cap around the coasts of Russia’s Taimyr, Novaya Zemlya, the Novosibirsk Islands, Greenland, and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

In many of these regions, summer started unexpectedly late and lasted 20-30 days less than usual due to a change in the pattern of movement of Arctic air masses in June-August this year. As a result, the area of ice in September this year shrank to 4.81 million square kilometres, a third more than in 2012, when the ice cap shrank to its minimum size.

That increase, researchers say, does not mean the Arctic ice cap has begun to recover. Its current extent is about half that of typical values for 1980 and 1990, with the increase in size falling within the typical fluctuations in summer ice cap extent typical of the past 40 years.

In addition, scientists have recorded significant reductions in the thickness and extent of multiyear sea ice, which is less vulnerable to the effects of high summer temperatures than its annual counterparts. Climatologists suggest that the unique features of this past Arctic summer will not be repeated during the next season, causing the area of the northern ice cap to continue to shrink rapidly.