In The News

Estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic enter oceans annually

A study by scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara estimates that 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the oceans each year from land, according to a release . In addition to working to quantify the amount of plastic that washes into oceans in the work, researchers also provide a roadmap for developing solutions to the problem. “Using the average density of uncompacted plastic waste, 8 million metric tons — the midpoint of our estimate — would cover an area 34 times the size of Manhattan ankle-deep in plastic waste,” said Roland Geyer, associate professor of environmental science and management at UC Santa Barbara, in a statement. “Eight million metric tons is a vast amount of material by any measure. It is how much plastic was produced worldwide in 1961.

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Baltic Sea monitoring cruise warns of impending algal blooms

Recent cruise monitoring of the Baltic Sea returned a wealth of data, including the likelihood of significant algal blooms to come, according to a press release from the Finnish Environment Institute . The cruise ship Aranda gathered data on salinity, dissolved oxygen, hydrogen sulphide and critical nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus. Nitrogen and phosphorus are especially important to algal growth. Aranda was gathering information as part of its monitoring of the large inflow of water into the Baltic Sea, which has already moved 200 kilometers inward in the southern region and has positively impacted some basins of the Baltic, such as Arkona and Bornholm. It is also moving through Gdansk and other deep areas.

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Hidden faults tied to increased earthquakes in states with fracking activity

Two new studies explain why frequent earthquakes are more likely in some fracking zones, according to a Live Science article . The first study analyzed nearly 4,000 earthquakes in Oklahoma to detect both unknown and known faults, finding that most of the hidden faults were under pressure. Researchers say injecting fracking wastewater into the ground increases the faults’ volatility. The second study found that faults in North and South Dakota and Montana weren't under as much pressure and were less prone to earthquakes, even with fracking liquid injections. Researchers believe that the states’ geology and the amount of fracking waste water being injected may play roles in the limited activity.

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