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New study uses satellites and field studies to improve coral reef restoration – Science Daily

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Our planet’s coral reef ecosystems are in peril from multiple threats. Anthropogenic CO2 has sparked a rise in global average sea surface temperatures, pushing reef survival beyond its upper thermal limits. Coastal development from industry, aquaculture, and infrastructure generates sedimentation and increased turbidity in coastal waters, which raises particulate organic carbon (POC) levels. Additionally, sedimentation reduces photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), the much-needed sunlight soaked up by the symbiotic algae corals rely on for food.

With most of the world’s reefs under stress, “coral gardening” or “outplanting” has become a popular and promising solution for restoration. Outplanting involves transplanting nursery-grown coral fragments onto degraded reefs. When successful, outplanting helps build coral biomass and restore reef function; but even with thousands of corals outplanted each year, the results are mixed. Newly settled corals are particularly vulnerable to stressors such as pollution, unfavorable light conditions, and temperature fluctuations. Therefore, identifying which stressors have the greatest bearing on coral health and survival is crucial for ensuring successful reef restoration.

A recent study published in Restoration Ecology by researchers from Arizona State University’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science (GDCS) found evidence that POC levels are one of the most important factors in determining coral outplant survival. This finding suggests that potential coral outplanting sites should be selected in areas where sedimentation levels are low, away from coastal development, or where coastal development is carefully managed for reef conservation.

“New restoration protocols can use remotely sensed data of multiple oceanographic variables to assess the environmental history of a site. This will help evaluate and optimize site selection and give their outplants the best chance of survival.,” said Shawna Foo, lead author and postdoctoral researcher at GDCS.

The study was based on an analysis of coral outplanting projects worldwide between 1987 and 2019. The team assessed satellite-based data on multiple oceanographic variables including POC, PAR, salinity, sea surface temperature, and surface currents to quantify and assess each environmental driver’s relative importance to and influence on coral outplant survival.

“Our results provide, for the first time, a clear set of conditions needed to maximize the success of coral restoration efforts. The findings are based on a vast global dataset and provide a critically needed compass to improving the performance of coral outplants in the future,” said Greg Asner, co-author of the study and director of GDCS.

Notably, the researchers observed better survival rates for corals outplanted farther away from the coast than six kilometers. This finding has implications for many restoration projections which are often located near land for accessibility purposes, such as diving operations. The researchers also found better coral recovery in water deeper than six meters; corals outplanted in shallow waters showed elevated vulnerability to disturbance and bleaching. Overall, coral outplants had the greatest chance of survival in regions with stable PAR, lower levels of POC, minimal temperature anomalies, and increased water depth and distance away from land. The researchers note that finding restoration sites with all of these characteristics could pose a challenge in some areas, but a consideration of all drivers in combination will greatly help the chances of outplant survival.

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Materials provided by Arizona State University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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This is how you can really help reduce greenhouse gas emissions – CTV News

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TORONTO —
When many Canadians think of how they can help lower greenhouse gas emissions, they often look for ways to reduce their own carbon footprint by flying less frequently or driving an electric vehicle, for example.

However, as laudable as those actions may be, climate activists say there are more effective ways for people to become involved and make a difference.

Alex Speers-Roesch, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, explained that the phrase “carbon footprint,” which is the measure of the total greenhouse gas emissions directly or indirectly caused by an individual, organization, event, or product, was actually popularized by the multinational oil and gas company BP in the early 2000s in an attempt to put the burden of change on to the individual.  

“It’s good for people to think about the emissions associated with the things that they consume, but there’s a tendency sometimes in the way that carbon footprints are talked about and promoted that tries to put the onus on individuals and consumers for those emissions in a way that can be unfair,” he told CTVNews.ca during a telephone interview in late November.

Lauren Latour, a climate ambition co-ordinator for Climate Action Network Canada, cited a study from a few years ago that showed that just 100 companies were responsible for 70 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.

She also referenced another recent study that claimed frequent-flying “super emitters,” consisting of just 1 per cent of the population, were responsible for half of the world’s aviation carbon emissions in 2018.

“The average Canadian is very much not responsible for the lion’s share of harmful climate change effects,” Latour said during an interview with CTVNews.ca in late November.

So while both Latour and Speers-Roesch said Canadians should be mindful of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the goods and services they consume and how their individual choices affect the environment, they said there are other, more impactful, ways for them to address the climate emergency.

“It’s not going to be the individual actions of consumers that are going to address the climate crisis, what we really need is collective action from all of us working together to produce systemic change,” Speers-Roesch said.

SEEK INFORMATION

Canadians interested in doing their part to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions can start by seeking out more information about the topic from environmental organizations dedicated to the cause, Speers-Roesch suggested.

He said there are many climate change groups operating in Canada, such as Greenpeace Canada, 350 Canada, Environmental Defence, and Climate Action Network Canada.

“Find a group like that, sign up for the email list, see if you can get involved,” he said. “Once you start looking, though, you start to see, ‘Oh there are opportunities everywhere.’”

Speers-Roesch said Canadians can also seek out climate change events happening in their area. For example, if there is a protest nearby, he suggested going to see what it’s about and to meet other attendees.

“As you connect with others and get more involved and get more engaged, you’ll probably have more ideas,” he said. “Before you know it, you’ll have lots of stuff to keep you busy on climate change.”

BECOME POLITICALLY ENGAGED

Latour acknowledged that getting involved in politics can be a “scary” thing for a lot of people, but that it doesn’t have to be and there are many opportunities to become engaged by joining community-led initiatives.

She said Canadians can join local organizations that work to influence government policy on the municipal level.

“For instance, a city is able to switch its bus fleet over from fuel combustion buses to low emissions, or hybrid or electric buses, or an electric light rail system,” she said.

Latour said Canadians can also volunteer for a mutual aid effort that is dedicated to building resiliency in their town or region. For example, she cited the groups that stepped up to help mitigate the effects of flooding in the Ottawa area over the past few years.

“In a lot of places, we see municipalities and we see smaller communities really leading the way on climate change and on climate policy,” she said.

“Individual change does matter and that individual change is getting involved in community organizing and getting involved in influencing your politics and local legislation.”

Speers-Roesch, too, said political activism is one of the most important things Canadians can do to become involved in the fight against climate change.

“The majority of the emissions are due to industry and are a result of government policy decisions so that’s really the most important and impactful place that people can focus their energies,” he said.

The Greenpeace campaigner said that Canadians should learn about their local politicians’ environmental platforms and encourage them to act.

“Call your MP, call your MPP, or city councillor,” he said. “Let them know you want them to do more on climate change.”

PUSH THE CONVERSATION FORWARD

Finally, Speers-Roesch said Canadians can still do their part by incorporating climate change issues and pushing the conversation forward in their daily lives.

“Think about how you can bring climate activism into your existing life,” he said. “It doesn’t always necessarily have to be finding another group and joining them.”

As an example, Speers-Roesch said someone who is already part of a book club that meets on a weekly basis could suggest a book for them to read on climate change.

He said they could also organize an event within an organization they’re already involved in, such as their workplace, school, sports team, church, or temple, to raise more awareness.

“Look for a little thing that you can do each week to sort of make your voice heard and get activated and engaged on climate change,” Speers-Roesch advised. “Climate change is something that we really need to sort of infuse into every aspect of our lives and our work and everything that we do.” 

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Victoria home-composting system makes Time's top 100 inventions – Times Colonist

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Victor Nicolov got an early Christmas present last week, when Time magazine named the Sepura home-composting system one of its 100 inventions of the year.

Nicolov, chief executive of ­Victoria-based Anvy Technologies, had his eye on the bigger prize of sending out the first shipment of his Sepura system early in the new year, but said being named to the list was exciting.

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“This means there will be more people finding out there is another solution for getting rid of waste at home,” he said.

The Sepura system, which Nicolov started developing in 2018, is a smart device that attaches to a kitchen sink and acts as a filter between the drain and the drain pipe.

The system extracts all the liquid from food waste, allowing it to pass down the pipe while compost-ready organic solids are collected and held in a sealed 10-litre container that can be removed to tip onto a compost pile or into a compost collection bin.

Nicolov said the system will capture 95 per cent of the solid waste flushed down the drain, and could render obsolete the need for countertop compost bins that can smell and breed fruit flies.

Time’s list, which annually highlights inventions making the world better and smarter, noted the Sepura system may help solve the problem of the estimated 40 million tonnes of food waste Americans generate annually, preventing it from ending up in landfills or being flushed down the drain.

The $580 US system is currently available for $380 US online if pre-ordered before the company starts shipping.

Nicolov said the company has been pushing sales over the past year, marketing the product to builders and developers in particular. “The difficulty there is we’re a new product and building developers don’t like risk — they like products that have been around,” he said.

Nicolov said builders have told him, however, that they have been looking for a product to replace the outdated garburator in new homes.

A series of prototypes have been installed in homes around Victoria, and Nicolov is ­optimistic that it’s just a matter of time before Sepura becomes a must-have for new homes.

The unit can also be installed in older homes as an upgrade. Nicolov said it can be attached to any kitchen sink and does not require a custom build.

The company, which has five employees spread around B.C., is starting to ramp up large-scale manufacturing of the latest model of Sepura at a plant in Ohio.

Nicolov expects they will start shipping before the end of the first fiscal quarter in 2021.

“It’s been a ton of work but it’s super exciting,” he said.

“I can’t wait to get people’s reactions.”

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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NASA's Hubble Spots Galaxy Being Stripped Of Dark Matter – Forbes

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Dark matter theory has long been sacrosanct in mainstream astronomical circles. Rarely do astronomers contradict the tenet that some 85 percent of all matter in the cosmos is dominated by unseen matter that only weakly interacts with gravity.   

Thus, it came as a surprise that doubt was cast on its existence by recent Hubble Space Telescope observations of two massive galaxies that appeared to be altogether devoid of this exotic matter. 

But in a paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal, an international team of scientists detail observations on NGC 1052-DF4, the second galaxy purported to harbor little or no such dark matter. They argue that NGC 1052-DF4, a massive galaxy some 45 million light years away in the southern constellation of Cetus, is being almost completely stripped of this strange matter via gravitational interactions with its nearby galactic neighbor, NGC 1035.

In fact, NASA asserts that the forces driving NGC 1035 to interfere with NGC 1052-DF4 are tearing the latter apart. 

Deep optical imaging of NGC 1052-DF4 has revealed that this galaxy is undergoing tidal disruption, write the authors, caused by its interaction with its neighbor, NGC 1035. Dark matter is less concentrated than stars, and therefore during interactions is preferentially stripped from satellites galaxies, they report.

How does such stripping actually work?

Like the friction of chalk on a blackboard, Mireia Montes, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of New South Wales in Australia and the paper’s lead author, told me. As you write with the chalk, the chalk’s particles are deposited in the direction of your script, she says. 

By rote, as the galaxy continues its interaction with its massive galactic neighbor, the stripped chalk particles would get deposited in the direction of the orbit of the galaxy, says Montes. In this case, what we can see that NGC 1052-DF4’s stars are actually beginning to be stripped from their host galaxy, she says.

Such research provides case studies in how and why large galaxies actually form. Dark matter helps to form galaxies as it provides sort of the gravitational well where ordinary matter can sit and cool down and form stars, says Montes. 

It also acts as a protective shield.  Without this dark matter shield, says Montes, the galaxy would be very unstable and prone to gravitational influence from external forces. Thus, she says, such galaxies wouldn’t survive in an environment where there are more massive galaxies would swallow up these dark matter-stripped galaxies.  

We also know from simulations that the dark matter content has to decrease by some 90 percent for the interaction to start affecting the stars, she says. 

These new more accurate observations also provided new distance measurements to the galaxy, NGC 1052-DF2. In 2018, a team of Yale University astronomers reported that NGC 1052–DF2 was also devoid of dark matter. But these new observations solve that mystery.

We argue instead that a closer distance to the galaxy than the one measured in 2018 solves the dark matter peculiarities of the NGC 1052-DF2 galaxy, says Montes. But a closer distance does not help in the case of NGC 1052-DF4; it’s still missing dark matter, she says.

And for physics as we know it to work, theorists still need dark matter. 

Without the presence of dark matter, primordial gas would lack enough gravitational pull to start collapsing and forming new galaxies, says Montes. And once a galaxy is stripped of its dark matter, Montes says that this exotic matter ends up becoming part of galaxy responsible for the stripping. In this case, that would be the cigar-like, spiral galaxy NGC 1035.

“In time, NGC 1052-DF4 will be cannibalized by the large system around NGC 1035, with at least some of their stars floating free in deep space,” team member Ignacio Trujillo of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias in Spain, said in a statement.

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