Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Ecosystem services' help assess ocean energy development

27.02.2015

With many projects under development in coastal regions such as New England, tidal power -- which extracts "hydrokinetic" energy from marine environments -- seems poised to join other U.S. commercial power sources. A new study finds that little is known of the impacts that tidal power projects may have on coastal environments and the people who depend on them, but that the perspective of "ecosystem services" could provide a promising framework for evaluating impacts.

"Ecosystem services are the benefits provided by functioning ecosystems to people," wrote environmental scientist Heather Leslie, the Peggy and Henry D. Sharpe Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology, in the current edition of the >Marine Technology Society Journal.


Public data sources from the Northeast Ocean Data portal help determine the impact of a new tidal energy project between Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Green areas show show coastal bird habitat.

Credit: Leslie lab/Brown University

The study, written with former undergraduate student Megan Palmer, who is now with the Nature Conservancy, begins with a review of nearly 300 papers on marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) power systems. Only 36 focus on tidal power and of those only a handful specifically address ecosystem concerns, the authors found.

While developers are required to perform environmental studies before installing tidal energy harvesting devices, those wouldn't necessarily encompass the full range of connections between people and marine environments.

"The ability to explicitly link ecosystem health (or functioning, as ecologists often refer to it) and benefits to people is one of the notable differences between an ecosystem services analysis and a typical environmental impact statement," Leslie said.

To illustrate how ecosystem services might be applied to a project, Leslie and Palmer looked at the Muskeget Channel Tidal Energy Project, which is planned for a site south of Cape Cod, between Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. After some analysis, the pair identified biodiversity, tourism and recreation, and food provision as the most important ecosystem services to assess.

Drawing on public data sources available through interactive Northeast Ocean Data portal, they illustrate that while the area of the channel where the power project is planned is likely an important area for coastal birds, such as terns and gulls, it might not be especially crucial for tourism and recreation or food provision.

The case study therefore suggests that the project would benefit from studying how the tidal energy infrastructure may affect the birds and their food resources, in order to better assess how the area's ecosystems and the services they provide to people are likely to be affected by the development. For instance, if the energy infrastructure enhances local fish populations, it could in turn enhance bird populations, which could have effects on both the coastal marine food web and nature-dependent recreational activities like bird-watching.

"An ecosystem services approach enables researchers and energy developers to create an integrative description of the possible environmental and socioeconomic impacts of a particular project, which in turn can help inform project planning, implementation and monitoring," Leslie and Palmer concluded.

David Orenstein | EurekAlert!

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring
06.11.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Increasing frequency of ocean storms could alter kelp forest ecosystems
30.10.2018 | University of Virginia

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

Im Focus: Nanorobots propel through the eye

Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.

Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins

12.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Materials scientist creates fabric alternative to batteries for wearable devices

12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

A two-atom quantum duet

12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>