Trump’s 2019 Budget Calls for Cuts to Ocean
And Climate Science and Technology
The Trump Administration’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget released Feb. 12 suggests a number of reductions for science and technology organizations including NOAA, NASA, the Office of Science and Technology at the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). As reported by Scientific American, the budget cuts target climate change research infrastructure across these organizations, with a 20 percent reduction of approximately $1 billion for NOAA as well as 20 percent reduction for USGS.
Cuts to other science and technology agencies, such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, that were originally proposed were amended to keep some funding.
While the proposed budget, which would begin Oct. 1, 2018, is defended by proponents as a process of tough choices and choosing priorities, opponents say it reflects a lack of understanding of the importance of science and technology research programs. For instance, the Ocean Conservancy lists a number of threats associated with the NOAA budget cuts in particular, including a lack of funding for coastal communities through eliminating the Sea Grant program, undercutting natural disaster preparedness and resilience, and hampering research on sustainable fisheries and helping marine businesses deal with ocean acidification.
Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas
Lease Sale Date and Details Announced
Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced that the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) will offer 77.3 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida for oil and gas exploration and development. The region-wide lease sale, which is the largest in U.S. history, is scheduled for Mar. 21, 2018, and will include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In 2017, offshore leases helped the department raise a billion dollars more in revenue for the year than was made off energy revenues in 2016.
Lease Sale 250, scheduled to be livestreamed from New Orleans, will be the second offshore sale under the National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. It will include about 14,776 unleased blocks, located from 3 to 231 mi. offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern planning areas in water depths ranging from 3 to 3,400 m. Excluded from the lease sale are blocks subject to the Congressional moratorium established by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006; blocks that are adjacent to or beyond the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone in the area known as the northern portion of the Eastern Gap; and whole blocks and partial blocks within the current boundary of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which will manage the sale, estimates that the OCS contains about 90 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 327 trillion cu. ft. of undiscovered technically recoverable gas. The Gulf of Mexico OCS, covering about 160 million acres, has technically recoverable resources of more than 48 billion barrels of oil and 141 trillion cu. ft. of gas. Final notice of sale information can be found at: https://www.boem.gov/Sale-250/.
Source: U.S. Department of the Interior
Zooplankton Profiler Measures Connection
Between Food Chains, Sea Ice and Currents
On Jan. 9, a post-doctoral researcher and undergraduate student of Dr. Grace Saba (assistant professor, Rutgers University, Center for Ocean Observing Leadership) deployed a Teledyne Webb Slocum Glider with an integrated ASL Environmental Sciences Inc. acoustic zooplankton fish profiler (AZFP) 38-, 125- and 200-kHz instrument in the Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea, Antarctica). The deployment lasted three weeks, and the glider was recovered on Jan. 31.
The purpose of this deployment was to obtain mesoscale and submesoscale measurements of hydrographic processes and simultaneous biological distributions and abundance. From the resulting data, the researchers will examine the interactions between multiple trophic levels (phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish) and their relationships to the physical hydrographic driving forces such as sea ice and currents.
A key component to this investigation is the AZFP’s ability to differentiate key species within this important Antarctic food web. Species of specific interest include various copepods, crystal krill (Euphausia crystallorophias), and Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarcticum). The glider was also instrumented with a CTD, a WET Labs BB2FL ECO puck to measure phytoplankton biomass and an Aandera Optode dissolved oxygen sensor.
To validate glider acoustic-based species, size and abundance data, a coordinated ship-based acoustic and net sampling program was conducted in close proximity to the autonomous glider. The production of consistent, vertically resolved, high-resolution, glider-based acoustic measurements will help pave the way for cost-effective, automated examination of entire food webs and ecosystems in regions all over the global ocean and serve a wide range of users, including academic and government scientists, ecosystem-based fisheries managers, and monitoring programs.
Source: ASL Environmental Sciences Inc.
Image credit: Corie Charpentier, post-doc research associate at Rutgers University
BP’s Annual Energy Outlook Explores
Global Energy Transition to 2040
BP has released its annual Energy Outlook, which explores the global energy transition from the viewpoint of three different scenarios: sectors, regions and fuels. These “what if” scenarios, while not comprehensive, explore global energy to 2040 and point to an increase in renewable energy use as well as increased carbon emissions amid an increase of approximately one-third in global energy consumption.
The UN Climate Action Programme reports that BP’s outlook includes a projected 400 percent increase in renewables; the report’s executive summary says demand for oil, other liquid fuels and coal could plateau while demand for natural gas grows with the expansion of global availability of liquefied natural gas, with oil and gas together still accounting for 40 percent of world energy by 2040.
The report also says China and India will increase to each represent a quarter of global energy demand, and Africa will play an increasingly important role as 2040 approaches. It also explores topics such as the ban on sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and the rate of transition as a function of the pace of evolution of government policies, social preferences and technology development compared to meeting the Paris climate goals, deducing a need for “a more decisive break from the past.” Click to download the 2018 BP Energy Outlook (PDF).
Source: UN Climate Action Programme
Marine Molecule Gene Discovery Shows
Key Components of Microscopic Nutrients
Researchers at the University of East Anglia discovered a key gene for the synthesis of one of the world’s most abundant sulfur molecules.
Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) is an important nutrient in marine environments with more than 1 billion tons produced annually by marine phytoplankton (microscopic plant-like cells), seaweed and bacteria.
When marine microorganisms break down DMSP, they release a climate-cooling gas called dimethylsulfide (DMS), which also gives the seaside its characteristic smell. The discovery of a gene (named DSYB) responsible for synthesizing DMSP, published Feb. 26 in Nature Microbiology, represents a huge step forward in the field of sulfur cycling in marine environments. It could also allow scientists to better predict the impact of climate change on DMSP production.
The team discovered that this gene, and therefore DMSP synthesis itself, likely originated in marine bacteria and was later passed onto phytoplankton, which have evolved to be marine factories for this molecule.
Source: University of East Anglia
Image caption: Diatoms—tiny phytoplankton abundant in the sea—are a critical part of the marine environment. (Photo Credit: National Science Foundation)
Doug Lockhart Now VP and General Manager of
Teledyne SeaBotix and Teledyne Oceanscience
Teledyne Marine announced the addition of Doug Lockhart in the role of vice president and general manager of Teledyne SeaBotix and Teledyne Oceanscience. Lockhart will manage the two San Diego-based vehicle businesses for the company and will report to Thomas Altshuler, vice president and group general manager for Teledyne Marine Vehicles, the unmanned systems business group for Teledyne Marine.
Lockhart has worked for Teledyne businesses for over nine years, including positions as chief hydrographer for Teledyne RD Instruments, director of business strategy for Teledyne Marine Sensors and Systems, and most recently vice president and general manager of Teledyne Caris. Prior to working for Teledyne, Lockhart was a senior staff engineer for Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute from 1990 to 1996 and the chief scientist for Fugro Pelagros from 1997 to 2009.
Lockhart holds a B.S. and M.S. in petroleum engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Source: Teledyne Marine