Tag Archives: NOAA

White abalone going extinct under current program

Scientists from the federal fisheries lab in La Jolla have reported a serious decline of white abalone along the San Diego coastline, confirming some of the worst fears about the species as it slides toward extinction.

“In the absence of fishing, we hoped to see the population stabilize or increase,” said Kevin Stierhoff, a biologist at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and lead author of a new article in the journal Biological Conservation. “However, our latest assessment using data collected in 2008 and 2010 indicates that the white abalone population has continued to decline by approximately 78 percent over the last ten years.”

In 2001, white abalone became the first marine invertebrate listed under the Endangered Species Act. The mollusk was once abundant off the coasts of Baja and Southern California, thriving in waters 15 to 200 feet deep.

“The continuing decline 30 years after the last major commercial harvest demonstrates that the strategy of benign neglect, or allowing the population to recover without intervention, has clearly failed,” the research study said.

 

Keep reading: U-T San Diego - White abalone slide toward extinction

 

 

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Scientists have found the loneliest whale in the world

For decades now, scientists at the NOAA have been tracking a mysterious whale song that sounds like the ghostly howls of a drowned tuba player. The sounds have been identified as belonging to a single whale, who sings at a frequency unlike any other whale in the world.

Dubbed “52 Hertz” after the frequency range in which he typically sings, the animal has been called the loneliest whale in the world, since his love songs seem destined to go unanswered. Most other species of baleen whale, such as blue whales and humpbacks, sing at frequencies much lower, between the 15-25 Hertz range.

Not only does 52 Hertz sing at a much higher frequency, but his calls are also shorter and more frequent than those of other whales. It’s as if he speaks his own language– a language of one. Even stranger, 52 Hertz does not follow the known migration route of any extant baleen whale species. He sings alone and travels alone.

Could this individual be the last of a previously unknown species of baleen whale? That’s one possibility. Whale biologists have also proposed that he could be malformed, or maybe a rare hybrid– perhaps a blue whale and fin whale cross. Whatever the explanation, 52 Hertz is one of a kind.

learn more about this lonely whale, and hear his call52 Hertz: The Loneliest Whale in the World

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U.S. global warming affects Texas, Midwest, and Northeast – the most

The United States recently went through the hottest 12 months ever, since record-keeping began in 1895.

National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration said that for the period from May 2011 to April 2012, the nationally averaged temperature was 55.7 degrees, 2.8 degrees higher than the 20th century average. The national average temperature for April was 55 degrees, 3.6 degrees above average.

To be sure, the higher temperatures haven’t hit every region equally. The Pacific Northwest actually saw cooler-than-average temperatures over the past year, according to NOAA data. Much of California was also cooler than normal; Southern California had an average year.

But record averages for the year scorched central Texas — which saw a horrific drought last year — the upper Midwest, and much of the Northeast.

The last time the globe had a month that averaged below its 20th century normal was February 1985. April makes it 326 months in a row. Nearly half the population of the world has never seen a month that was cooler than normal, according to United Nations data.

via L.A. Times

Marine Protected Area – MPA – saving our coasts with science and conservation

Marine Protected Areas are regions in which human activity has been placed under some restrictions in the interest of conserving the natural environment.

This can include limitations on development, fishing practices, fishing seasons and catch limits, moorings, bans on removing or disrupting marine life of any kind.

In some situations MPA’s also provide revenue for countries, often of equal size as the income that they would have if they were to grant companies permissions to fish.

As of 2010, the world hosted more than 6,800 MPAs.

via Wikipedia

In the United States there are nearly 2,000 MPAs and in 2008 a new federal framework was established, which aims to:

Enhance protection of marine resources, build partnerships to address issues affecting MPAs, and improve public access to scientific information and decision-making about marine resources.

While MPAs have been established throughout the U.S. for decades, there has not been an overarching mechanism to coordinate effective ecosystem management. About 100 federal, state, territory and tribal agencies manage the nearly 2,000 MPAs across the country, often with no coordinated strategy.

via NOAA blog

You have probably visited one before:

Chances are you’ve visited a marine protected area and don’t know it. If you’ve gone fishing in central California, diving in the Florida Keys, camping in Acadia, swimming in Cape Cod, snorkeling in the Virgin Islands, birding in Weeks Bay, hiking along the Olympic Coast, or boating in Thunder Bay, you’ve probably been one of thousands of visitors to a marine protected area (MPA).

via NOAA

 

Learn more at www.mpa.gov

We create our own stars – the satellites tracking U.S. weather

The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) brought online its latest weather satellite GOES-15, and pushed aside its predecessor GOES-11.

It will be tracking the weather for California, the west coast, Hawaii, and the Pacific Ocean. The image above is the first infrared image it sent to NOAA, which it will continue to do every “15-30 minutes, with full hemisphere scans every 3 hours until its retirement.”

The term GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite. Which means that they sit, like a star, at the same place in the sky and a radio antenna can be permanently pointed at it to receive data.

There are currently four of them covering our globe:

  • GOES-12 - South America located at 60°W.
  • GOES-13 - East located at 75°W. It provides most of the U.S. weather information.
  • GOES 14 - in on-orbit storage at 105° W.
  • GOES 15 - West and Pacific Ocean located at 135° W.

They are up there to track half the world’s weather patterns and to “track space weather, oceanographic changes, forest fires and other hazards and provide scientific data collection and information for search and rescue operations.”

As the name implies, there are 15 or more of these satellites up in space. Some are online, one is in storage ready-for-action, others are floating space junk, and a few are floating nonchalantly but providing data (like one at the North Pole).

Next time you look up at the stars keep an eye out for one of these satellites and you can bet they will be keeping an eye on us.

For more information, science writer Gary Robbins has a profile on GOES-15 vs GOES-11.