In June 2013, Steve Fradkin hiked the rugged coast of Washington State’s Olympic National Park to count the stars. In the summertime, the lowest tides expose the slippery rocks of the intertidal zone from daybreak until noon. Perfect conditions for spotting Pisaster ochraceus, the five-armed purple, orange and red sea stars common to Pacific waters along the western edge of the United States. Continue reading The wasting of the stars: A look into the largest ocean epidemic in recorded history
After my tour at the University of Ottawa, the day continued with a tour of the Radiation Protection Bureau facilities over at Health Canada on the south side of the city. After clearing through security, Drs. Jean-Francois Mercier and Michael Cooke, showed Cole and I around the lab spaces that are used by the Canadian Radiological Monitoring Network and where InFORM samples are run. Continue reading An InFORMal Gathering – Part 2
The suite of summer 2015 oceanic data are now ready and they show quite a change from 2014. Comparing these data side by side, it is plain to see that the concentrations of 137Cs have increased considerably in the central NE Pacific. It appears that the plume has spread throughout this vast area from Alaska to California. While natural processes of radioactive decay are slowly decreasing concentrations of 134Cs (with a 2 year half-life roughly 25% of the original concentration was present in April 2015), the signal for 137Cs is getting smeared by the currents of the NE Pacific and as they paint the path of the highest flows. For the sampling details and to see the values for 134Cs, see the interactive map. Continue reading September 2016 InFORMal Update
Scientists recently reported that the ozone hole over Antarctica is showing signs of healing. This wonderful news comes almost 20 years after the Montreal Protocol banned the production and use of clorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in 1987. The decline means that CFCs are finally dropping in concentration in the atmosphere and are either breaking down high in the stratosphere or going into the ocean. Biologically inert, the CFCs in the ocean don’t harm any marine life, but they have proven very useful for oceanographers trying to understand circulation in the deep ocean. Continue reading CFCs: Noxious for ozone, but luminescent for ocean currents
By Jay T. Cullen
The purpose of this post is to report the most recent and last results from Kelp Watch 2015, a program dedicated to monitoring for Fukushima derived contamination along the Pacific Coast of North America. This post is the latest in a series dedicated to public outreach and dissemination of scientifically derived information about the impacts of the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster on the health of the North Pacific Ocean ecosystem and health of North American residents. Results from the fifth sampling period (March 2 through June 3 2016) were released on July 15, 2016 and can be found here. As with previously reported results here, here, here, here, and here no radioactive isotopes from Fukushima were detected in kelp growing at sampling sites along our Pacific coast or elsewhere in the Pacific (see sampling sites). The absence of 134Cs in kelp suggests that ocean transport of Fukushima contamination had yet to reach persistently high enough levels in North American coastal water to bioaccumulate in kelp. The levels of Fukushima derived contamination in kelp in 2016 will not pose a significant risk to the health of the kelp or other species, including humans, which rely on them as a foodstuff.