Blooms at Lower pH Levels Could Upset Ocean’s Acidification Cycle

by Max Breitbarth

Ocean acidification—the absorption of atmospheric CO2 by the ocean—has increased due to anthropogenic emissions of CO2, resulting in growing concentrations of CO2 in our oceans. Flynn et al. (2015) created models based on projections of increasing ocean acidity to explore the effects of algae blooms at decreasing pH levels and the effects of these blooms on phytoplankton populations that keep the ocean’s acidity within a manageable spectrum. Continue reading

Big Fish With a Bigger Problem: The Yellowtail Tuna Faces Difficulty in More Acidic Oceans

by Max Breitbarth

Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have resulted in increased concentrations of CO2 in ocean waters that subsequently result in ocean acidification. Bromhead et al. (2015) explored the effects of elevated CO2 levels on the development of yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares in their March 2015 Deep-Sea Research article. Tuna represent some of the largest predators in the ocean, and cover vast expanses across several of the earth’s oceans—meaning the effects of ocean acidification could have ramifications for the species and their ecosystems around the world. The researchers found that ocean acidification levels have a strong negative effect on growth, hatch time, and larval survival in the experimental trials. These findings show that future ocean conditions may reduce the survivability of this fish in the future and lead to drastic marine ecosystem changes—as well as affect fishing practices by humans around the world that currently depend on yellowtail as a main source of food. Continue reading

Under the Sea? The Future of Data Centers

by Tyler Hoyle

Recently, Microsoft has revealed Project Natick: a radical plan to manufacture and operate underwater data centers. Researchers believe this plan will be more environmentally sustainable, cost efficient, and improve overall quality of service. While mixing water and electricity seems silly, why might this work? Well there are several hypothetical advantages.

Microsoft manages more than 100 data centers across the globe, spending an estimated $15 billion on global data and providing for over 200 online services. As cloud computing becomes more popular, the demand for data centers is increasing rapidly. Data centers power almost every aspect of our digital lives and contain thousands of computer servers which constantly generate large amounts of heat, when there is too much heat, the server crashes. Companies are constantly searching for efficient ways to keep data centers cool.

Keeping the data centers cool takes up a sizable amount of the company’s budget. Immersion in water could be less expensive than paying for air conditioning and cooling. Microsoft researchers also argue that mass producing underwater server containers offers a huge cost advantage because It could shorten the construction time of new data centers from two years to just 90 days.

Project Natick could be more energy efficient. If electricity were to power a tidal energy system, no new energy would be added to the ocean, which would mean that there is not overall heating

The project also makes sense from a logistical perspective. A majority of the World’s population lives in urban centers that are closer to the ocean than data centers, typically built in far-away places on land. The ability to place computing power closer to the users would decrease the latency, which would improve the speed of web services.

Markoff, John. “Microsoft Plumbs Ocean’s Depths to Test Underwater Data Center.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 31 Jan. 2016. Web. 09 Feb. 2016.

Kanellos, Michael. “Three Things To Watch In Microsoft’s Underwater Data Center.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 5 Feb. 2016. Web. 09 Feb. 2016.

 

TWEET: Microsoft, Radical developments in underwater Technology

Continuing Ocean Acidification Makes Finding Food Harder For Sharks

by Max Breitbarth

Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have already directly affected corals, algae and other low-trophic level organisms in our oceans through the process of ocean acidification—the absorption of around 25% of atmospheric CO2 by the ocean. The increasing acidity has made forming calcified exoskeletons more difficult for corals, destroying localized ecosystems. The effects of a declining coral population have climbed up the food chain to threaten even predators near the top of the list. But what about the primary predators of the oceans…the feared, fascinating and ferocious sharks that have provided insight on marine feeding patterns, inspired tales like the one shown through the film Jaws, and are recognized by most as the biggest, baddest fish in the sea? Dixson et al. (2016) were interested in observing whether higher levels of ocean acidification sharks and rays, specifically their enhanced olfactory organs. Continue reading