Thursday, February 23, 2012

talks about climate change

I'm still at the Ocean Sciences Meeting. So far, every session of talks I attend are in rooms with a capacity for a great number more people than show up. As I look around, there is always an uneven sprinkling of people throughout the room.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012 - Day 3

An interesting point came up that I hadn’t considered: coral reefs are studied with much more frequency than the equally (or more so) common eelgrass beds. I wonder if the colourful fish make are simply more appealing? Although, fascinating creatures live in eelgrass.

One of the sessions I attended was titled ‘Imaging the Ocean Interior’ - I was excited about one of the last talks that hinted at exploring underwater ice caverns with acoustics. Two of these talks focused on re-using the seismic survey data collected by oil and gas companies. This is data collected to look at what is beneath the ocean floor, but it can provides interesting information about the structure within the water column such as internal waves and boundaries between layers.

A cool use of acoustics is looking at really small things. One group is able to ‘see’ targets down to 0.8 mm in size. This same group has simultaneously developed an optical system, essentially an underwater microscope, that sees to 25 micrometers giving a clear view of phytoplankton. Both these techniques can be deployed into the ocean, reducing the need to bring samples back to the lab.

The afternoon wasn’t without disappointment. The under ice exploring talk focused on a project they wanted to do, not one already completed. I’ll have to attend the next conference to see their results.

Thursday, 23 February 2012 - Day 4

Melting glaciers are an iconic symbol of climate change
- J. Bamber, Nature, February 2012

Another early start with ‘Dynamics of Fjords and High Latitude Estuaries’. A lot of focus is being put on the fjords in Greenland because of the melting ice sheet there. As this ice sheet melts it adds about 0.09 mm each year into the oceans contributing to rising sea levels. The majority of fresh water released from a glacier is due to calving icebergs and melting from beneath the glacier that passes over sea water, only a small portion if due to run off. Increased fresh water can change the dynamics of fjords making an interesting basis for a scientific study.

As a tangent - I wish I brought my camera so I could include some pictures!

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