Sunday, November 23, 2008

Deep Sea Observatory: live from downtown Monterey Bay canyon

After six years of design, preparation and installation, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) has launched a revolutionary research observatory that will serve as a power station and data link for many deep sea projects. At 3,000 feet deep, perched on the edge of the Monterey Bay undersea canyon, the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) provides organizations with properly configured experimental equipment with the ability to efficiently gather critical data on oceanic conditions - whether it be sealife studies or monitoring water quality or climate change effects.

Where research equipment is often hampered by battery or power limitations and researchers must often wait until data is retrieved, the MARS system will act as a round-the-clock "power strip" and "high-speed internet connection." One of the first experiements to utilize MARS will be one that monitors acidity levels. Ocean acidification is a major issue tied in to the ocean's interaction with carbon dioxide levels. (Read MBARI news release.)

Speaking of ocean acidification, the NGO, the Center for Biological Diversity, has notified the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its intent to file a lawsuit against the EPA, demanding that the U.S. federal agency act more aggressively regarding the issue of ocean acidification due to increasing carbon dioxide absorption.
In particular, the suit addresses the need for the EPA to revise its outdated ph standards - set in 1976 - in light of new research regarding acidification. Higher ph levels due to carbon dioxide absorption can have profound negative effects on a variety of marine life and can threaten the overall health of any marine ecosystem. (Read press release.)

“Ocean acidification is global warming’s evil twin,” said Miyoko Sakashita, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program. “The EPA has a duty under the Clean Water Act to protect our nation’s waters from pollution, and today, carbon dioxide is one of the biggest threats to our ocean waters.”

Let's hope that both MARS and the Center for Biologival Diversity can help to enlightened those goverment agencies that we depend on to make important environmental decisions.

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