Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research shows little effect from Arctic offshore oil drilling

02.10.2003


Research reveals thriving oceanographic system



When the U.S. Dept. of Interior contracted with Florida Tech Oceanographer John Trefry to study the impact of recent offshore oil drilling in the Alaskan Arctic, the Florida Academy of Sciences gold medallist had some concerns about what he might discover. Instead of finding significant impacts, however, Trefry and his team of Florida Tech scientists were amazed by the discovery of a remarkable, thriving oceanographic system.

During the past 25 years, corporations have plumbed the depths of the Arctic Alaskan mainland for oil, collecting more than 13 billion barrels in the process. More recently, these companies expanded efforts to include offshore drilling. Trefry and his Florida Tech team, Steven Wood, assistant professor of oceanography, Bob Trocine, senior research associate, Robert Rember, research scientist, and graduate students Michelle McElvaine, Lee Frey, and Debra Woodall were funded by the department’s Minerals Management Service to learn if this new drilling was causing negative impacts on the environment. Trefry’s research has been extensive.


"We analyzed several species of fish, clams and amphipods," said Trefry. "We also studied the water, ice and mud to check for potential pollution." What Trefry’s team and their colleagues from Battelle Ocean Sciences, Kinnetics Laboratories, Applied Marine Sciences and the University of Texas Marine Lab discovered through their analyses was a pleasant surprise. "We found early in the process that impacts to the environment from offshore drilling were minimal," Trefry said. "In fact, the entire offshore area was near pristine. During the past four years we’ve continued to monitor the area and still have no evidence of significant impacts."

After the first year, Trefry reoriented the program from being solely an impact study to one that would investigate the natural oceanographic system of the Alaskan Arctic. Trefry spent much of the next three springs and summers in the area, studying how the summertime melt on the mainland affected the surrounding ocean.

"Starting in late May of 2001 and 2002 we began intensive daily sampling at three rivers, trying to understand the input of dissolved chemicals and suspended sediments into the ocean," said Trefry. "What we found was that more than 80 percent of the sediment that enters the ocean over the course of the year comes in a single two-week period."

This late May meltdown arrives early enough in the year to meet unusual resistance. The Artic Ocean at that time of year is topped with a six-foot layer of ice. As a result, the freshwater runoff has no way to merge into the saltwater ocean.

"The freshwater runs out over and just under the ice. The ocean water is so cold (30.8 degrees F) that any freshwater that flows underneath the six-foot top layer, is quickly trapped by a second, thinner layer of ice beneath the flow," he said.

The freshwater runoff stretched out at least 10 miles from the mainland without mixing with the ocean waters below. This discovery explained two environmental phenomena.

First, rivers normally introduce large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous into the ocean. This introduction leads to plankton blooms. Trefry and his team now had a tangible reason for the late growth of these blooms in the Arctic Ocean. Second, they gained a greater understanding of why the ocean was still in near-pristine condition after years of oil-drilling. Trefry said that they were no longer surprised by their first-year results.

"What we came to realize is that extreme caution by industry, combined with movement of water and sediment offshore, help keep the coastal system clean," he said.

Jay Wilson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fit.edu

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Bergamotene - alluring and lethal for Manduca sexta
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

nachricht How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics
13.04.2017 | Université de Genève

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources

29.05.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA's SDO sees partial eclipse in space

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>