Underwater grass comeback bodes well for Chesapeake Bay

The Susquehanna Flats, a large bed of underwater grasses near the mouth of the Susquehanna River, virtually disappeared from the upper Chesapeake Bay after Tropical Storm Agnes more than 40 years ago. However, the grasses mysteriously began to come back in the early 2000s.

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After a decades long absence, the under water grasses in the upper Chesapeake Bay are back.

Today, the bed is one of the biggest and healthiest in the Bay, spanning some 20 square miles. A new study by scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science explores what’s behind this major comeback. Read more

Reducing water scarcity possible by 2050

Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and U.S. federal officials last year warned residents of Arizona and Nevada that they could face cuts in Colorado River water deliveries in 2016.

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By looking at the problem on a global scale, we have calculated that if four of these strategies are applied at the same time we could actually stabilize the number of people in the world who are facing water stress rather than continue to allow their numbers to grow, which is what will happen if we continue with business as usual.”

Irrigation techniques, industrial and residential habits combined with climate change lie at the root of the problem. But despite what appears to be an insurmountable problem, according to researchers from McGill and Utrecht University it is possible to turn the situation around and significantly reduce water scarcity in just over 35 years. Read more

So … do you know what’s in your water?

Would you like your glass of water with a little iron it? Or do you prefer a copper taste? Possibly manganese? Did you realize that there are more than two dozen flavors to water, not all of which are as yummy as say, rocky road ice cream?

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Amanda Sain, right, works with Andrea Dietrich, left, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. Dietrich’s research includes aspects of cancer therapy, obesity, health effects of certain elements in drinking water, and special risks to people over 50.

For several decades Andrea Dietrich, who trains utility staff and managers around the U.S. and across the globe on how to use sensory analysis to detect changes in water quality, has worked in the area of assessing taste, odor, and visual perception of chemical elements in water. Dietrich, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, has received numerous grants in this area, including one from the National Science Foundation. This $1.6 million contract asked her to investigate connections between corrosion of home plumbing materials, tastes-and-odors in drinking water, economics, and consumer health concerns. Read more

Antarctic sea level rising faster than global rate

A new study of satellite data from the last 19 years reveals that fresh water from melting glaciers has caused the sea-level around the coast of Antarctica to rise by 2cm more than the global average of 6cm.

Researchers at the University of Southampton detected the rapid rise in sea-level by studying satellite scans of a region that spans more than a million square kilometres.

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Icicles are formed by the melting of a glacier in west Antarctica. The melt here is rapid and has been accelerating, injecting greater quantities of freshwater into the ocean and raising sea levels.

The melting of the Antarctic ice sheet and the thinning of floating ice shelves has contributed an excess of around 350 gigatonnes of freshwater to the surrounding ocean. This has led to a reduction in the salinity of the surrounding oceans that has been corroborated by ship-based studies of the water. Read more

Planeta Aqua

Nearly three quarters of our planet is covered with water. In spite of this, we know less about the oceans and their inhabitants than we do about the surface of the Moon.

oceanario-aquarium-barcelona-2After visiting our large aquariums and spectacular Oceanarium, the tour continues on the second floor. Planeta Aqua will help you discover many of the creatures that have adapted to the most diverse of aquatic environments: the bitter cold, the darkness of the deep, warm tropical waters. You can also admire the way different types of ray, such as freshwater stingrays and eagle rays, swim, thanks to an open tank containing 20,000 litres of water.

On Planeta Aqua’s circular mezzanine floor, you can observe living fossils and find out about phenomena such as camouflage, symbiosis, some secrets of oceanography and environmental issues. Through computer games, information panels, small aquariums and interactive elements, you can learn about the evolution of different mammals, reptiles and fish, which have all adapted to the marine environment. Read more