UEA research: Robotic boat to survive Antarctic, via BBC News
Great news for our friends at pioneering UK company AutoNaut, who have been collaborating with environmental science researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) to create an unmanned surface vessel fully able to manage the harsh seas of the Antarctic.
The difficult conditions of the polar environment make the prospect of unmanned vessels extremely inviting. It can be more difficult to recruit research teams in winter months, and associated health and safety risks obviously increase in line with the harshness of the weather.
The research being undertaken is developing approaches – being tested in a specially conducted sea ice chamber – to ensure that the AutoNaut can function in waters where sea spray becomes immediately frozen. This will enable the vessel to undertake critical research, most notably to collect vital information about the cause of sea-level rise.
Continued good luck to all in these endeavours.
Increase in plastics waste reaching remote South Atlantic islands, via British Antarctic Survey
Another week, another batch of studies underlining the threat of plastic pollution in the oceans. This time, the British Antarctic Survey highlight that the amount of plastic washing up onto the shores of remote South Atlantic islands is has increased 10 times in the past decade – for the first time approaching levels seen in industrialised North Atlantic coasts.
Greenpeace also report that 17.5 million pieces of plastic waste are flushed from Hong Kong’s Shing Mun River into the sea each year.
And that’s without thinking about how microplastics are invading all parts of our lives – from being found in 90% of table salt and plenty of sea fish to (not surprisingly) appearing in human waste.
Counter measures are becoming more visible, though, with recent initiatives including a new ocean plastic collection concept in Norway, EU proposals to ban single-use plastics and £1.4m being put up to drive relevant sustainable innovations. No doubt more will appear in coming months as the visibility of this issue remains high.
Zero Carbon at Sea? Rotterdam Port Eyes a Greener Future, via gCaptain
The Port of Rotterdam has set ambitious targets to help meet its commitment to reducing carbon dioxide emissions from shipping and industry – aiming to slash emissions by 49 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050. Achieving this would smash the targets set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in April, to reduce emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050.
Employing a wide range of innovative technologies will be essential to meet such targets. It was reported recently that ship owners are scrambling to install scrubbers – that filter sulphur from dirtier fuel oil – to help meet 2020 emissions targets, and Rotterdam are helping to nudge shop owners further in the right direction by providing financial incentives for low- or zero-carbon vessels. Their Environmental Ship Index began measuring the emissions of individual ships last year, and they have also launched a digital platform where shipping companies and service providers can exchange information about their port visits in order to increase efficiency in port – an initiative that could on its own cut emissions by up to 20%.
Toolkit Produced for Optimizing Floating Renewables Devices, via The Maritime Executive
Planning for offshore renewables – particularly of the floating variety – was made easier this week, with the release of a new simulation tool.
The tool – created by researchers at HR Wallingford and the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory in the U.S. – accurately simulates the response of these floating structures under realistic sea states, including extreme weather conditions.
The tool is timely, with interest in floating offshore wind on the rise. The world’s first floating windfarm posted encouraging results earlier in the month, and the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced last week a sizeable investment of EUR 96 million in a new Portuguese floating windfarm.
With 80% of the offshore wind resources found in water that is too deep for conventional bottom-fixed wind turbines, we can expect more such announcements in the coming months as the technology makes it possible to push further offshore.
Cyber security, ocean pollution, autonomy, emissions, offshore renewables
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