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MERMAID opens prospect of cleaner seas with pollution early warning system
Date:7/9/2010

r this and other open sea areas may be the USA-made glider, a 1.8 metre long, self-guided submarine-like vehicle, packed with instruments. It spends most of the time gliding underwater: when it surfaces, data is transmitted via satellite link to the base station, and new instructions for sampling and navigation are downloaded. "We anticipate that gliders, on trips of up to two weeks, will be able to complete many of our information gaps."

In coastal waters, offshore wind-turbines are a relatively new support for autonomous fixed stations.

Dr Schroeder says, "We are attempting to link the COSYNA network with systems operated by other North Sea countries. Eventually, we would like all countries surrounding the sea to link their monitoring stations with COSYNA, contributing to a joint North Sea observatory.

In the 20 years since MERMAID began, there have been some improvements in North Sea water quality. Tourist beaches during the past 10 years have not been blighted by the unpleasant foam that results from the degradation of huge algal blooms. "However," Dr Schroeder points out, "levels of nitrates have dropped only slightly, despite the intention of European governments to achieve a 50% reduction. The danger is that high concentrations, usually from fertilizer flushed by rain from farmland, can encourage massive algal blooms, resulting in oxygen starvation and disaster for marine life."

Global climate change is having a major effect; warming water is provoking fish migrations, while a rising level of CO2 makes the water more acidic, inhibiting the growth of organisms and threatening the food chain. And oil spills remain a constant threat.

"If we are going to meet these threats effectively, it is essential to have a better understanding of what is happening in the North Sea. And that is only possible if we continue to improve and expand the monitoring system that began with MERMAID."


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Contact: Piotr Pogorzelski
piotr.pogorzelski@eurekanetwork.org
322-777-0979
EUREKA
Source:Eurekalert  

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