The U.S. Navy is a key contributor to this effort, in terms of funding as well as participation by our marine scientists. We see the project as a great start for managing ocean sound and understanding the effects, and hope to see it continue to grow with collaboration from other research-focused organizations.
Recognizing the complexity of the ocean issues, the wide range of species, and the diverse needs of the stakeholders involved, it is vital that the maps and data that result from this work be based on the best quality science.
Sonar Technician 2nd Class Richard Schnitz, from Filmore, Calif., stands watch in the sonar control room aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Josue L. Escobosa/Released)
Remote sensing technologies on airborne scientific missions have added new depth and dimension to scientific observation. Yet they come at a cost – literally. Flying data-gathering missions for scientists, land managers, and hazard-mitigation agencies can cost upward of $30,000 an hour.
The U.S. Geological Survey is leading a federal initiative to make this high-quality science less costly, more accessible, and more environmentally friendly by using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) developed for the U.S. military to survey remote areas, monitor wildlife populations, and gather data on potential hazards on federal lands throughout the United States.
Lance Brady of the US Bureau of Land Management launches a USGS Raven aircraft June 21, 2012 at Glines Dam/Lake Mills on the Elwha River in Olympic National Park, Wash. Dr. Doug Clark of the Bureau of Reclamation, in background, looks on. USGS, Reclamation, BLM and other agencies are cooperating on science missions to study hydrology, sedimentation, revegetation and other issues relating to the removal of two dams on the Elwha.
The science missions yield peaceful civilian uses for past-generation military technology. A roadmap adopted by the Department of the Interior (DOI) in 2010 tasks the USGS with developing certification, pilot training and proof-of-concept UAS missions through 2014 for its own USGS science centers and on behalf of federal agencies including the Office of Surface Mining (OSM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Forest Service. DOI’s Office of Aviation Services (OAS) is charged with developing aircraft airworthiness and operator certification, including training.
Based in Denver, the USGS Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office has conducted missions all over the United States. The planes and their operators are subject to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and DOIOAS rules and regulations.
“The best pilots are the ones who grew up playing video games,” says UAS project manager Mike Hutt.
No more sneaking up on US, eh hurricanes? We've got our eye on you! A GOES-12 infrared satellite image provided by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, Calif., showing the status of Hurricane Dolly in 2008. (Courtesy Photo)
With the Atlantic hurricane season officially beginning this month, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is pursuing a number of projects to help Navy forecasters and meteorologists around the world predict storms better.
“Weather is one of the most significant factors affecting naval operations at sea,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder. “ONR-funded research in weather prediction is improving the Navy’s forecasting capability and accuracy for any location around the world where our sailors and Marines are conducting missions.”
ONR’s efforts in funding ocean research are yielding enhanced weather and ocean prediction models that help Navy leaders understand how to route ships around the globe to avoid storms, reduce fuel consumption, avoid Arctic ice flows and promote safety at sea.
Video provided by the Office of Naval Research
At the Fleet Weather Center in Norfolk, Va., Navy meteorologists depend on ONR-developed weather models and tools to provide timely, comprehensive and tactically-relevant products and services to support Fleet training and operations.
1 November 2010, McMurdo Station, Antarctica: Microplastics…Ocean Pollution writ Large
My sister told me to always clip the circles on the plastic six-pack holders. The theory is that such measures may prevent sea creatures from getting caught up in them. I don’t know if that works or not, but it made me think about all the plastics that find their way to the ocean. Turns out that even the so-called biodegradable plastics (made from plant materials) only biodegrade when composted in soil. In the ocean, it seems they float around like all the other trash.
Also, I’ve seen photos and read news stories about gulls, sea turtles, and marine mammals found dead due to entanglement with plastic garbage. Living in the Hawaiian Islands, we hear news about a “discovery” of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling, floating ad hoc plastics dump, is claimed to be larger than the state of Texas? Even if such a thing couldn’t be quantified in that way, as explained by NOAA in their Marine Debris web portal, its mere existence would be significant.
The NOAA Ship Sette unloads its undesirable "catch" from the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: NOAA)
As NOAA states very clearly, “…regardless of the exact size, mass, and location of the “garbage patch,” manmade debris does not belong in our oceans and waterways.”
But what happens over the long haul? Do these plastics mechanically degrade in the ocean and become harmless? According to Dr. Mary Sewell, senior lecturer (professor) at University of Auckland in New Zealand, petroleum-based plastics do break down into smaller bits over a long period of time. And these smaller bits present a whole new range of hazards to marine life, both big and very, very small.
As Dr. Sewell explains in the above video, microplastic particles are generally described as pieces less than 5mm in size, but can be as small as a few microns. However, they don’t only come from large plastics which are broken down over time. They also come directly manufactured at the micro-scale for use in consumer cosmetics and other products.