Tuesday, October 9, 2018

10/9 Rabbits, global warming, Tacoma LNG, Marathassa oil, EPA in WA, food additives, BC Ferries, salmon magnet, alien oceans

European rabbit/Belgian hare [Wikimedia]
Washington non-native rabbits
The Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) was introduced to several areas in Washington as a game animal beginning in the 1930s. It averages 17 inches in length and is light brown in color; the white underside of its 2-inch tail is readily visible when the rabbit runs. It is commonly seen along roads, brushy fencerows, and blackberry thickets in and around areas where it has been introduced. The domestic rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is another introduced species. Also known as the European rabbit or Belgian hare, this single species is the ancestor of all domestic rabbits (about 80 varieties!). The domestic rabbit is considerably larger than other Washington rabbits, measuring 20 to 30 inches in length. It has black, white, brown, or multicolored fur, and is most frequently seen in the San Juan Islands where it was first introduced in 1900, although it is spreading into other areas where it has been released. (WDFW)

'It is a life-or-death situation,' says SFU professor who co-authored UN report on global warming
One of the Canadian co-authors of Sunday's gloomy report on climate change says the world is at a "critical juncture" if it is to avoid a potentially devastating rise in temperatures — and that fossil-fuel megaprojects planned for B.C. are a step in the wrong direction. Kirsten Zickfeld, an associate professor in geography at Simon Fraser University, was one of two Canadians selected to author the report, along with dozens of experts around the world. Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on this fast-warming planet, the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced Sunday.  In the 728-page document, the UN organization detailed how Earth's weather, health and ecosystems would be in better shape if the world's leaders could somehow limit future human-caused warming to just 0.5 C from now, instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of 1 C. (CBC)

LNG plant would cut greenhouse gases — if the fuel comes from Canada, report says
A long-awaited draft environmental report on the liquefied natural gas project on the Tacoma Tideflats was released Monday, and it came with a caveat. Its findings — that overall greenhouse gas emissions in the area would be reduced as a result of the project — are directly tied to the plant getting fuel solely from British Columbia. That detail is so important that the review recommended the source of fuel be a “required condition” for the plant’s future and in obtaining the air permit needed to construct the plant’s emissions and production components. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in January ordered the supplemental environmental review to study the life cycle of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the plant. The review was needed before Puget Sound Energy could get the air permit for the project. The plant, under construction at East 11th Street and Alexander Avenue East, would hold up to 8 million gallons of LNG for natural gas customers and for maritime transport, including TOTE Maritime Alaska vessels. Debbie Cockrell reports. (News Tribune of Tacoma)

The Marathassa oil-spill case is collapsing, putting environmental protection in the spotlight
The Crown’s case against the MV Marathassa, the bulk carrier that spilled oil in English Bay three years ago, continues to fall apart. In the latest setback, Provincial Court Justice Kathryn Denhoff found that accidentally dumping bunker oil in the sea is not a crime under Canada’s environmental protection law. As the federal government looks for ways to push its Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion through to the West Coast, it is assuring British Columbians it is building a “world class” regime to respond to oil spills. In the spring of 2017, Greece-based Alassia NewShips Management Inc., the owner of the MV Marathassa, was charged with 10 pollution-related offences. One by one, the defendant has batted the charges off. Only four are still before the court. Justine Hunter reports. (Globe and Mail)

EPA head touts Duwamish cleanup project
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency came to Seattle for the first time since the Obama administration on Wednesday. With a piledriver making an intermittent, deafening rumble behind him, EPA acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler spoke to reporters at a sewage treatment plant being built in the Georgetown neighborhood.... The EPA is helping finance the project with a $134.5 million loan. When the plant opens in 2022, it will reduce combined sewer overflows entering the Duwamish River by 95 percent, according to the EPA.... Wheeler took over the agency after Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid ethics scandals and federal investigations in July. During his two-day visit to Washington state, Wheeler met with Boeing officials, tribal officials and the American Conservation Coalition, a conservative group led by a University of Washington undergraduate. He also met with the Washington Farm Bureau, which supports the administration's efforts to reduce protections for wetlands and small water bodies. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

FDA Bans Use of 7 Synthetic Food Additives After Environmental Groups Sue
Ever heard of these food additives? Synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, methyl eugenol, myrcene, pulegone, or pyridine? These compounds can help mimic natural flavors and are used to infuse foods with mint, cinnamon and other flavors. You've likely never seen them on food labels because food manufacturers are permitted to label them simply as "artificial flavors." Now, the Food and Drug Administration has announced these compounds will no longer be allowed to be used as food additives. The FDA is giving manufacturers time to remove them from the food supply. Allison Aubrey reports. (NPR)

B.C. Ferries going on building spree; at least 5 large vessels
B.C. Ferries plans to build at least five new large ferries to serve Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, at a cost that could reach $1 billion — and it’s leaving open the possibility of building two or three more.  The five would replace four C-class ferries built between 1964 and 1981 and add another to deal with predicted growing demand. A request for expressions of interest has been issued and is open to Canadian and international firms. The five new ships would be built with the ability to make adjustments if travelling patterns change — for example, a car deck could be converted for passenger use if demand for on-board vehicle space drops. The vessels will also be quieter to reduce underwater noise for killer whales, and have lower emissions. Carla Wilson reports. (Times Colonist)

Atlantic salmon use magnetic fields to navigate, even when landlocked
Even when landlocked for several generations, Atlantic salmon can sense magnetic fields and use them to navigate, according to new research. Previous studies have documented Pacific salmon's ability to sense magnetic fields. To test whether Atlantic salmon also use Earth's magnetic field to navigate, scientists designed a series of fish pins, each with differently oriented magnetic fields. Researchers replicated the Earth's magnetic field using copper-coated wooden coils. The experimental fish pins were installed in Oregon's Hosmer Lake, where Atlantic salmon, originally transplanted from Maine, have been living living for 60 years. Scientists observed the behavior of 1,150 juvenile Atlantic salmon inside the pins. Brooks Hays reports. (UPI)

How Do You Find an Alien Ocean? Margaret Kivelson Figured It Out 
The data was like nothing Margaret Kivelson and her team of physicists ever expected. It was December 1996, and the spacecraft Galileo had just flown by Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter. The readings beamed back to Earth suggested a magnetic field emanating from the moon. Europa should not have had a magnetic field, yet there it was — and not even pointed in the right direction. “This is unexpected,” she recalled saying as the weird data rolled in. “And that’s wonderful.” It would be the most significant of a series of surprises from the Jovian moons. For Dr. Kivelson’s team, the mission should not have been this exciting. She and her colleagues had devised the magnetometer returning the anomalous data. The instrument’s job was to measure Jupiter’s massive magnetic field and any variations caused by its moons. Those findings were likely to interest space physicists, but few others. Dr. Kivelson’s instrument was never supposed to change the course of space exploration. And then it did. Dr. Kivelson and her team would soon prove that they had discovered the first subsurface, saltwater ocean on an alien world. David W. Brown reports. (NY Times)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  248 AM PDT Tue Oct 9 2018   

TODAY  W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming NW in the afternoon. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 7 ft at 13 seconds building to 9 ft  at 11 seconds in the afternoon. 

TONIGHT  Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 7 ft at  12 seconds.

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