On March 18th Chris Paparo, the manager of Stony Brook University’s Marine Sciences Center reported a sighting of a mother right whale with her calf just 300 yards off an East Hampton ocean beach! #3720, as she is called, had travelled from waters near Wassaw Island, Georgia, where she and her calf were last seen on Jan. 19th 2021, their final destination perhaps Cape Cod bay, or as far north as the gulf of St. Lawrence.
We all know that the right whale is a critically endangered species with less than 400 individuals still alive and perhaps less than 100 reproducing females. Spotting calves with their mothers represents a glimmer of hope.
With plans to build an offshore South Fork Wind Farm 35 miles east of Montauk point and run a submarine cable coming ashore on a Wainscott beach, I could not help wonder how the developer (Ørsted) plans to safeguard these magnificent marine mammals.
Here is my lay person report.
Ørsted takes this very seriously. I spoke with Sophie Hartfield Lewis, Ørsted Head of U.S. Permitting. Safeguarding whales are clearly dear to her heart. Together with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution they are tackling issues like the correct distance between a source of submarine noise, such as pile driving, and a whale straying into the area. At what distance is there assured harm to the whale’s hearing (permanent or temporary)? At what distance do all drilling operations need to be halted? Currently that stands at 1 km depending on what marine species is involved and the type of noise emitted, including the noise frequency. F.ex. frequencies above 200 mHz are deemed safe because whales don’t hear them or because they don’t have adverse reactions to them.
I also learned about techniques used to dampen noise. (a) There is something called a ‘Big bubble curtain’ (BBC): it consists of a flexible tube fitted with special nozzle openings and installed on the seabed around the pile. Compressed air is forced through the nozzles producing a curtain of rising, expanding bubbles. These bubbles effectively attenuate noise by scattering sound on the air bubbles, absorbing sound, or reflecting sound off the air bubbles! (b) There is the Hydro-Sound Damper (HSD): it consists of a fisher net with different sized elements, laid out at various distances from each other, and encapsulating the pile. HSD elements can be foam plastic or gas-filled balloons. Noise is reduced as it crosses the HSD due to reflection and absorption. (c) There is the AdBm, Helmholz resonator: it consists of large arrays of Helmholtz resonators, or air filled containers with an opening on one side that can be set to vibrate at specific frequencies to absorb noise, deployed as a “fence” around pile driving activities. Sophie told me that if operations were to start tomorrow, they would use BBC.
I spoke with Catherine Bowes of the National Wildlife Foundation. Key recommendations include: seasonal & temporal restrictions on pile driving; real-time monitoring of science-based exclusion zones; underwater noise limits; vessel speed restrictions; and commitments to pre, during & post-construction monitoring to ensure we learn as we go, in launching this new clean energy industry. This last point is essential for informing impact mitigation strategies along the coast.
Sophie Hartfield Lewis directed me to an online pdf. Pages 100-166 directly concern mitigation strategies for the SFWF. It is titled “Protected Species Mitigation and Monitoring Plan South Fork Wind, LLC.“ I warn the reader: it gets pretty involved.
The world has seen an increasing and alarming number of extinctions in recent years. And that’s only the ones we know about. Ultimately, protecting threatened species protects us, the human species, because loss of biodiversity has health impacts among many other ill effects. Just google ’loss of biodiversity.’ Simultaneously, we are existentially threatened by climate change. Thus, we have no choice. We need to save species like the right whale and we need offshore wind energy.
Win With Wind held a virtual seminar on
Offshore Wind Farms & Protection of Endangered Species
Summary: The now-familiar sight of traditional propeller wind turbines could be replaced in the future with wind farms containing more compact and efficient vertical turbines. New research has found that the vertical turbine design is far more efficient than traditional turbines in large scale wind farms, and when set in pairs the vertical turbines increase each other’s performance by up to 15%.
The now-familiar sight of traditional propeller wind turbines could be replaced in the future with wind farms containing more compact and efficient vertical turbines. New research from Oxford Brookes University has found that the vertical turbine design is far more efficient than traditional turbines in large scale wind farms, and when set in pairs the vertical turbines increase each other’s performance by up to 15%.
A research team from the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics (ECM) at Oxford Brookes led by Professor Iakovos Tzanakis conducted an in-depth study using more than 11,500 hours of computer simulation to show that wind farms can perform more efficiently by substituting the traditional propeller type Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWTs), for compact Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs).
Vertical turbines are more efficient than traditional windmill turbines
The research demonstrates for the first time at a realistic scale, the potential of large scale VAWTs to outcompete current HAWT wind farm turbines.
VAWTs spin around an axis vertical to the ground, and they exhibit the opposite behaviour of the well-known propeller design (HAWTs). The research found that VAWTs increase each other’s performance when arranged in grid formations. Positioning wind turbines to maximise outputs is critical to the design of wind farms.
Professor Tzanakis comments “This study evidences that the future of wind farms should be vertical. Vertical axis wind farm turbines can be designed to be much closer together, increasing their efficiency and ultimately lowering the prices of electricity. In the long run, VAWTs can help accelerate the green transition of our energy systems, so that more clean and sustainable energy comes from renewable sources.”
With the UK’s wind energy capacity expected to almost double by 2030, the findings are a stepping stone towards designing more efficient wind farms, understanding large scale wind energy harvesting techniques and ultimately improving the renewable energy technology to more quickly replace fossil fuels as sources of energy.
Cost effective way to meet wind power targets
According to the Global Wind Report 2021, the world needs to be installing wind power three times faster over the next decade, in order to meet net zero targets and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Lead author of the report and Bachelor of Engineering graduate Joachim Toftegaard Hansen commented: “Modern wind farms are one of the most efficient ways to generate green energy, however, they have one major flaw: as the wind approaches the front row of turbines, turbulence will be generated downstream. The turbulence is detrimental to the performance of the subsequent rows.
“In other words, the front row will convert about half the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity, whereas for the back row, that number is down to 25-30%. Each turbine costs more than £2 million/MW. As an engineer, it naturally occurred to me that there must be a more cost-effective way.”
The study is the first to comprehensively analyse many aspects of wind turbine performance, with regards to array angle, direction of rotation, turbine spacing, and number of rotors. It is also the first research to investigate whether the performance improvements hold true for three VAWT turbines set in a series.
Dr Mahak co-author of the article and Senior Lecturer in ECM comments: “The importance of using computational methods in understanding flow physics can’t be underestimated. These types of design and enhancement studies are a fraction of the cost compared to the huge experimental test facilities. This is particularly important at the initial design phase and is extremely useful for the industries trying to achieve maximum design efficiency and power output.” make a difference: sponsored opportunity
Good vibrations: bladeless turbines could bring wind power to your home
‘Skybrators’ generate clean energy without environmental impact of large windfarms, say green pioneers
The giant windfarms that line hills and coastlines are not the only way to harness the power of the wind, say green energy pioneers who plan to reinvent wind power by forgoing the need for turbine towers, blades – and even wind.
“We are not against traditional windfarms,” says David Yáñez, the inventor of Vortex Bladeless. His six-person startup, based just outside Madrid, has pioneered a turbine design that can harness energy from winds without the sweeping white blades considered synonymous with wind power.
The design recently won the approval of Norway’s state energy company, Equinor, which named Vortex on a list of the 10 most exciting startups in the energy sector. Equinor will also offer the startup development support through its tech accelerator programme.
The bladeless turbines stand at 3 metres high, a curve-topped cylinder fixed vertically with an elastic rod. To the untrained eye it appears to waggle back and forth, not unlike a car dashboard toy. In reality, it is designed to oscillate within the wind range and generate electricity from the vibration.
It has already raised eyebrows on the forum site Reddit, where the turbine was likened to a giant vibrating sex toy, or “skybrator”. The unmistakably phallic design attracted more than 94,000 ratings and 3,500 comments on the site. The top rated comment suggested a similar device might be found in your mother’s dresser drawer. It received 20,000 positive ratings from Reddit users.
“Our technology has different characteristics which can help to fill the gaps where traditional windfarms might not be appropriate,” says Yáñez.
These gaps could include urban and residential areas where the impact of a windfarm would be too great, and the space to build one would be too small. It plugs into the same trend for installing small-scale, on-site energy generation, which has helped homes and companies across the country save on their energy bills.
This could be wind power’s answer to the home solar panel, says Yáñez.
“They complement each other well, because solar panels produce electricity during the day while wind speeds tend to be higher at night,” he says. “But the main benefit of the technology is in reducing its environmental impact, its visual impact, and the cost of operating and maintaining the turbine.”
The turbine is no danger to bird migration patterns, or wildlife, particularly if used in urban settings. For the people living or working nearby, the turbine would create noise at a frequency virtually undetectable to humans.
“Today, the turbine is small and would generate small amounts of electricity. But we are looking for an industrial partner to scale up our plans to a 140 metre turbine with a power capacity of 1 megawatt,” says Yáñez.
Vortex is not the only startup hoping to reinvent wind power. Alpha 311, which began in a garden shed in Whitstable, Kent, has begun manufacturing a small vertical wind turbine that it claims can generate electricity without wind.
The 2 metre turbine, made from recycled plastic, is designed to fit on to existing streetlights and generate electricity as passing cars displace the air. Independent research commissioned by the company has found that each turbine installed along a motorway could generate as much electricity as 20 sq metres of solar panels, more than enough electricity to keep the streetlight on and help power the local energy grid, too.
A scaled down version of the turbine, standing at less than 1 metre, will be installed at the O2 Arena in London where it will help to generate clean electricity for the 9 million people who visit the entertainment venue in a usual year.
“While our turbines can be placed anywhere, the optimal location is next to a highway, where they can be fitted on to existing infrastructure. There’s no need to dig anything up, as they can attach to the lighting columns that are already there and use the existing cabling to feed directly into the grid,” says Mike Shaw, a spokesperson for the company. “The footprint is small, and motorways aren’t exactly beauty spots.”
Perhaps the most ambitious divergence from the standard wind turbine has emerged from the German startup SkySails, which hopes to use an airborne design to harness wind power directly from the sky.
SkySails makes large fully automated kites designed to fly at altitudes of 400 metres to capture the power of high-altitude winds. During its ascent the kite pulls a rope tethered to a winch and a generator on the ground. The kite generates electricity as it rises into the sky and, once completely unspooled, uses only a fraction of the electricity generated to winch back towards the ground.
Stephan Wrage, the chief executive of SkySails, says the airborne wind energy systems mean “the impact on people and the environment is minimal …The systems work very quietly, practically have no visible effect on the landscape and barely cast a shadow,” he adds.
Today, the design can generate a maximum capacity of 100 to 200 kilowatts, but a new partnership with the German energy firm RWE could increase the potential output from kilowatts to megawatts. A spokesperson for RWE said the pair are currently looking for the ideal kite-flying site in the German countryside.
Air pollution and climate change are “two sides of the same coin,” according to the United Nations Environment Program. Climate change will make air pollution worse, while some air pollutants can exacerbate global climate change.
This is the topic of a recent scientific reportwritten by Elizabeth Ridlington and Gideon Weissman (Frontier Group) and Morgan Folger (Environment America Research & Policy Center).
Air pollution such as black carbon, a form of particulate pollution, exacerbates global warming. Black carbon in the air readily absorbs sunlight, increasing the temperature of the atmosphere.13 When black carbon lands on snow or ice, it absorbs heat and hastens melting. This can lead to greater warming, as open water and bare ground retain more heat from the sun than do snow or ice. Production of natural gas is a major source of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), which contribute to air pollution via ozone formation (see below), and also releases methane, a powerful global warming pollutant that traps more than 80 times as much heat as carbon dioxide over 20 years.14 Just as air pollution and global warming share some common causes, and are linked together in a self-reinforcing cycle, so too do they share another characteristic: scientific alarm about their threats to the environment and public health.
People across America regularly breath polluted air that increases their risk of premature death, and can also trigger asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts.
In 2018, 108 million Americans lived in areas that experienced more than 100 days of degraded air quality. That is equal to more than three months of the year in which ground-level ozone (the main ingredient in smog) and/or particulate pollution (PM2.5) were above the safe levels as determined by the EPA.
For instance, here on Long Island air quality levels by these measures are: 71-100 days/year above the EPA safe levels for ground level ozone and PM2.5.
Air pollution is linked to health problems including respiratory illness, heart attack, stroke, cancer and mental health problems. Research continues to reveal new health impacts. For example, maternal exposure to air pollution such as fine particulates (PM2.5) and ozone is associated with a higher risk of low birth weight, pre-term birth and stillbirth. For older adults, long-term exposure to particulate pollution has been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Air pollution’s effects are pronounced among vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women and the elderly. Research has found that children exposed to particulate pollution can suffer from lung development problems and long-term harm to lung function.
Each year, millions of Americans suffer from adverse health impacts linked to air pollution, and tens of thousands have their lives cut short.
Two pollutants of special concern are particulate matter and ozone. Fine particulate pollution smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) poses especially high health risks because it can be deposited deep in the lungs.18Ozone that forms near the ground is the main ingredient in smog and is associated with adverse health impacts (as opposed to ozone in the high atmosphere, which blocks harmful solar ultraviolet rays from reaching the earth). These are the main culprits and are most frequently monitored by the numbers of days at a given location where levels are above the EPA’s “safe level”.
Premature death. Globally, ozone and fine particulate matter are estimated to cause 470,000 and 2.1 million deaths each year, respectively, by damaging the lungs and respiratory system.19 A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimated that in the U.S. fine particulate matter generated by human activities was responsible for more than 107,000 premature deaths in 2011.20
A 2019 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that when the concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) increased by 10 micrograms (μg) per cubic meter, daily mortality in the U.S. increased by 1.58 percent. A 1.58 percent increase in daily mortality equals an additional 122 deaths in the U.S. on a day when fine particulate pollution increased by 10 μg per cubic meter.21 When coarse particulate matter (PM10) increased by 10 micrograms (μg) per cubic meter, daily mortality rose 0.79 percent.22
The reverse was also observed. A 2009 study compared U.S. metropolitan areas across decades and found that a 10 μg per cubic meter decrease in fine particulate matter concentrations was associated with an increase in average life expectancy of approximately 0.6 years.23
Damage to respiratory and cardiovascular systems. In weeks with elevated ozone or particulate matter pollution, hospital emergency rooms see more patients for breathing problems.24 A 2019 study published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) found that higher levels of pollutants including ozone and particulate matter in the air are associated with increased risk of emphysema.25 Air pollution, especially traffic related air pollution, not only worsens asthma but may also cause more people to develop asthma.26 Research also shows strong associations between air pollution and cardiovascular diseases including stroke.27 Particulate pollution is associated with increased risk of hospitalization for heart disease.28
Worsened mental health and functioning. A 2019 study published in PLOS Biology found that poor air quality, including higher levels of particulate matter and ozone, was associated with increases in bipolar disorder.29 Long-term exposure to particulate pollution has also been associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.30
Decreased fertility and harm to pregnancies. Exposure to air pollution has been associated with difficulty in having children, and increased risk of low birth weight and premature deliveries.31 A 2019 study of women in Italy found that higher levels of particulate matter (both PM2.5 and PM10) and nitrogen dioxide are associated with lower levels of ovarian reserve, a marker of female fertility.32 A 2013 study found “short-term decreases in a couple’s ability to conceive” associated with higher levels of PM2.5 and nitrogen dioxide.33 Maternal exposure to PM2.5 or ozone is associated with a higher risk of low birth weight, pre-term birth and stillbirth.34 One study estimated that in 2010, up to 42,800 preterm births in the U.S. and Canada were related to women’s exposure to PM2.5, accounting for up to 10 percent of preterm births.35
Increased cancer risk. Exposure to air pollution can cause lung cancer and other cancers.36 The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, has found that outdoor air pollution generally, and particulate matter specifically, are carcinogenic to humans.37 The IARC determined that “exposures to outdoor air pollution or particulate matter in polluted outdoor air are associated with increases in genetic damage that have been shown to be predictive of cancer in humans.” In 2010, 223,000 lung cancer deaths globally were attributed to exposure to PM2.5.38
Air pollution likely poses health threats even at levels the EPA considers safe.
Research suggests that “moderate” air quality can, in fact, pose broad threats to public health, and a variety of medical and public health organizations have recommended tighter air quality standards that are more protective of public health. The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, recommends lower ozone and particulate pollution standards than are currently in place in the United States. The American Thoracic Society, the American Lung Association and other health associations support the same standards for fine particulates as the WHO.50
Ozone, the main component of smog, is formed by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of sunlight.56 Fossil fuels – both their combustion and production – are major sources of NOx and VOC emissions.
Particulate matter consists of solid or liquid particles that can be emitted directly from a source or that can form in the air from chemicals such as VOCs, sulfur dioxide, ammonia and NOx.65 Fine particulates smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) pose elevated health risks as they can be absorbed deep into the lungs.66 The impact of PM2.5 is further increased by the fact that it is so lightweight that it remains in the air for a long time and can travel hundreds of miles from its source.67 Primary particulate matter is created by a variety of sources, including fossil fuel combustion; dust from roads, agriculture and construction; wildfires; and wood burned for heating.68 On average across the U.S., the majority of the particulate pollution in the atmosphere is secondary particulate pollution, which forms through a chemical reaction.69 Secondary PM2.5 can be created from sources including sulfur dioxide emitted by burning coal and other fossil fuels for electricity generation and industrial power; nitrogen oxides from fossil fuel combustion; and ammonia from fertilizer and manure.70 Mobile sources (including cars, trucks and other on-road vehicles and also off-road vehicles) accounted for 20 percent of both primary and secondary PM2.5, according to one 2004 study.71
Global warming will make air pollution worse.
Higher temperatures have already resulted in increased ozone, despite lower emissions of the chemicals that create ozone. In the central U.S. in the summer of 2012, for example, higher temperatures caused higher levels of ozone than in the years before and after.83
The American Lung Association found that ozone was higher in the 2014 to 2016 period than in previous recent three-year study periods, and attributed the increase to higher temperatures.84
Hotter, drier conditions have increased wildfires, which create particulate pollution as well as VOCs and nitrogen oxides that contribute to ozone formation. By one estimate, global warming nearly doubled the total acreage that burned in western states from 1984 to 2015, compared to a scenario in which the climate had not changed.85 Wildfires also burn for longer, causing more prolonged and widespread exposure to pollutants. The typical large wildfire now burns for more than seven weeks, compared to less than a week in the 1970s.86
One study estimates global warming will increase the number of air pollution-related premature deaths if no measures are implemented to counteract global warming’s impact on air quality. The analysis, published in 2017, estimates that an additional 1,130 Americans may die prematurely in the year 2030 from smog pollution under a scenario where global warming emissions are high and unchecked.100 The study also estimates that particulate pollution worsened by global warming could cause an extra 6,900 premature deaths in 2030.
In many cases, the activities that cause air pollution also contribute to global warming. Efforts to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, which contribute to global warming, have the potential to help reduce ozone and particulate pollution as well.
Progress on air pollution has stalled. Though air quality in the U.S. has improved over the decades, in recent years that progress has slowed. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calculates that the average level of ozone pollution dropped by 31 percent from 1980 to 2018 and that fine particulate pollution dropped by 34 percent from 2000 to 2018.107 However, the agency’s analysis of elevated ozone and particulate pollution in 35 major cities shows that the number of days of pollution was higher in each of the years from 2015 through 2018 than it was in 2013 or 2014.108 Furthermore, the agency’s data show that 2018 had more days of pollution than each of the previous five years. The data analysis for this report reveals that the increase in days of elevated air pollution means that millions more Americans lived in areas with polluted air in 2018 than in 2016.109
There are of course a number of policy recommendations:
Support zero-emission vehicles
Create a strong regional program to reduce transportation emissions under the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) in northeastern and mid-Atlantic states
Ensure that states can adopt and strengthen pollution standards for passenger vehicles
Maintain strong federal fuel economy and global warming pollution standards for transportation
Support policies that can reduce driving and increase walking, biking and the use of transit.
Supporting clean, renewable energy. Move the country away from fossil fuels – which are a major source of climate pollution in transportation, electricity generation and buildings – and toward the use of clean, renewable energy like wind turbines and solar panels.
Maintain the gains already achieved under implementation of the Clean Air Act
WWW is a friend of fish and all the creatures living in our oceans!
Even as the oceans are acidifying and
warming at alarming rates, and species are migrating northwards, the opposition
to off-shore wind energy suggests wind farms will bring harm to fish, or to
whales, etc. Healthy oceans spell abundant fish and are good for the
fishing industry and some fishermen recognize this.
In our opening statement regarding the
South Fork Wind Farm, pinned to the top of this blog it states:
WILL THIS HURT OUR FISHERMEN?
After listening to commercial fishermen, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management made
sure that wind turbines and cable will avoid Cox’s Ledge, a valuable commercial
fishing area. In fact, existing wind turbines off Block Island attract marine
life to them, imitating an artificial reef.
For years, researchers have warned that the increasing acidity of the oceans is likely to create a whole host of problems for the marine environment. Check it out: the evidence is already here.
One of the biggest problems is that zooplankton is shifting poleward as a result of warming ocean temperatures. The findings, published in the journal Nature, show the widespread impact climate change is having on marine ecosystems. Scientists have warned that while some species will be able to follow their food source to new waters, many others will not. Even at 1 degree [Celsius] of warming, species have to adapt because their food source has disappeared. As an example, read about the migration of stingrays that have wiped out oyster beds in the Chesapeake Bay and have moved to the Peconic Bay this year!
Here is something fun you can do. Go to https://poshtide.threadless.com/collections. Pick your favorite fish (or shell fish) design and order a holiday gift: tee shirt, slippers, back pack, pillow, beach towel, zip pouch, or even a shower curtain! If you are on Instagram check out @staceyposnett an incredibly gifted artist and designer and a big environmentalist. You can also order custom items which include the Win With Wind logo.
A massive and mysterious die-off of bay scallops over the
past summer wiped out as much of 95 percent of the valuable and iconic
shellfish in parts of the Peconic Bay system, raising concerns about the
effect that climate change may have on the future of the East End’s
most famous natural resource.
The scale of the losses, the
scientists who have documented the destruction said, is so great in some
areas as to be reminiscent of the devastation wreaked by some of the
infamous “brown tide” algae blooms of the late 1980s and early 1990s,
which decimated the wild stock and all but ended a centuries-old
commercial fishing industry that relied solely on harvests from the East
The cause of this year’s devastation is not
immediately clear, but scientists say that the arch-enemy of bay
scallops — algae blooms like brown tide and the more recent “rust tide” —
do not appear to be at fault, and other likely culprits also do not
seem to be to blame.
What’s left to blame, according to one of
researchers who has tracked the die-off, is a confluence of
environmental conditions and the stresses of the scallops’ own
biological cycles that may have killed the shellfish, even as they sowed
the seeds of next year’s stock.
There is some good news amid
the devastation, primarily because half the reason that the scale of the
die-off is remarkable is that there were so many live scallops to start
with — and they appear to have spawned before they died, leaving huge
numbers of their offspring in their place.
Population Takes A Nose Dive Surveys conducted by Cornell Cooperative Extension biologists last spring had revealed that the annual “set” of young-of-the-year scallops was enormous and on track to support a commercial take rivaling or surpassing those of the robust hauls of the last two years.
But when the scientists donned wetsuits and returned to their underwater survey areas throughout the Peconics early last month, they found the ghostly signs of an epic massacre: thousands of scallops sitting where they died, their shells gaping open.
“We call them ‘cluckers,’” Dr. Stephen Tettelbach, who leads the surveying for Cornell, said of the dead scallops, whose twin shells have remained attached and sitting on the bay floor. “Based on the cluckers, it looks like the mortality happened a while ago — a few months, probably. The pattern was the same everywhere we went — there were no freshly dead adult scallops. They had no tissue left in them. So whatever happened to them happened a while ago.”
A longtime marine biology professor for Long Island University at Southampton College and C.W. Post College, Dr. Tettelbach has been conducting bi-annual surveys of scallop populations since LIU and Cornell began an effort to restore the scallop stocks depleted by the brown tides that beset the bays between 1986 and 1995. Through the Cornell hatchery in Southold, the initiative released more than 10 million seedling-sized scallops into the bay over the last two decades in the hope of restoring the spawning foundation for the species.
Looking For Answers Since discovering this year’s die-off, Dr. Tettelbach and other scientists have been exploring what could have caused the mortality.
The destruction of harmful algae blooms was quickly ruled out, because there were none in the Peconics this year — the second straight year that the destructive successor to the brown tides, a red algae bloom that scientists have dubbed “rust tide,” has been absent from local bays, after a 15-year run of increasingly dense blooms.
Dr. Tettelbach himself had pinned a large die-off of scallops in the same area in 2012 on the dense blooms of rust tide that killed what had looked to be a robust stock just weeks before the harvest began.
The second thought about this year’s event — a disease of some sort — also is being seen as unlikely, because the die-off does not appear to have extended to juvenile scallops, which the survey divers saw alive and in great abundance.
And the vast extent of the mortality could not be chalked up to the usual cast of submarine characters that prey on scallops like crabs, whelks and some fish species.
But there was a wild card this year in the form of an invasion of a certain species of shellfish-eating stingrays that have wiped out oyster beds in the Chesapeake Bay.
Thousands of cownose rays, a brown-winged creature that feeds primarily on shellfish, swarmed into East End waters in July and August, roaming the bay bottoms in schools of dozens or hundreds.
Dr. Tettelbach said there were accounts of the rays being seen in Hallock Bay, in Orient, but he has not yet confirmed that they made their way deep into the Peconics. He said the rays could explain the disappearances in some of the areas where large number of scallops had been seen in the spring, and now there are no signs of them at all.
But the species would not be easy to blame for the full extent of scallop losses this summer, since there were so many intact shells left behind as a sign that the scallops simply died where they sat. The shells of scallops set upon by the rays would be crushed, he said.
A Matter Of Climate? Eliminating those considerations turned the former professor’s critical thinking to other environmental factors, and the warm temperatures of the summer.
Data from water monitoring stations at the western end of the Peconics revealed that water temperatures hovered around 84 degrees for several weeks this summer — an unusually long stretch of exceptionally high temperatures, and near what is understood to be the lethal limit for scallops.
In a typical parallel, levels of dissolved oxygen in the water were also very low — near zero at times — which typically will result in the death of any marine species.
But those conditions have occurred before at various times of past summers, and broad die-offs of scallops were not seen.
Dr. Tettelbach said his hypothesis is that the high water temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels had set in early enough this year as to coincide with the weeks of early- to mid-summer when scallops are going through their first spawning cycle — some will spawn again in the fall — which can weaken them and make them more sensitive to environmental conditions.
“What I’m thinking is that the stress from spawning combined with environmental stressors may have been the cause,” he said, noting that if his hypothesis is correct, it would exacerbate concerns about a trend of warming waters. “We’ve had water temperatures in the Peconics over 80 degrees the last five years. Years ago, we never saw that.”
Impacting Local Economy Word of the scientific findings was not news to area baymen, some of whom routinely do their own pre-season surveying to keep tabs on their economic prospects for the fall.
Many didn’t even set out in their boats in search of scallops on Monday, the first day of the season in New York State waters.
“I went clamming today,” Edward Warner, a bayman from Hampton Bays, who is also a Southampton Town Trustee, said on Monday. “The only other time I can remember not going scalloping on the first day was, maybe, 1986, the first year we had the brown tide.”
Among those who did go, many found little return for their efforts.
“I had 14,” said Stuart Heath, a bayman from Montauk who scoured traditional scallop grounds in Shelter Island Sound. “I went all around North Haven, from Margarita guy’s house … to Sag Harbor, around the moorings, Barcelona, all around Northwest. Terrible. We’ve had a terrible year already — now this.”
Wainscott bayman Greg Verity said he ran his small boat across to the North Fork and found enough scallops to fill several bushel baskets, but he was still well short of the 10 bushels that a bayman is allowed to harvest each day.
East Hampton’s baymen said there’s only a faint glimmer of hope, when East Hampton waters open next week, that there may be some scallops lurking in areas that haven’t been prospected.
The Cornell scientists conduct their surveys in the string of bays connected to Great Peconic Bay, from Flanders Bay in the west to Orient Harbor in the east. They do not survey any of the waters off East Hampton — where scalloping is not allowed until this coming Sunday.
Pre-season scouting has not given East Hampton’s baymen much cause for hope, either.
Mr. Heath and Mr. Verity said they’d heard talk of scallops in Three Mile Harbor, where the town releases thousands of hatchery-raised baby scallops each year. But that supply is often depleted quite quickly, especially when the harvest in other areas is poor.
On Monday evening, Mr. Verity and Sara Miranda were counting themselves as lucky while they shucked their way through the briny pile of scallops on a steel table set up in a trailer next to Mr. Verity’s cottage in Wainscott.
“I’ll sell ’em to whoever wants ’em,” he said, as he flicked the glistening white morsels of meat into a pile.
The scene was not being replicated in many of the seafood shops around the region.
“So far, we’ve got nothing, not even one bushel,” said Danny Coronesi at Cor-J Seafood in Hampton Bays, one of the areas largest buyers.
“I’ve been here a long time. We’ve never had this. Even on bad years, opening day some guys would come in with them.” He added, “We had thought this was going to be a great year.”
Comment from Win With Wind: Scientists quoted think global warming is causing this die-off. Are scallops the canary in the coal mine for the marine environment and when will all local fishermen understand that global warming will destroy their industry, not offshore wind?
Authored by Paul Veers1,*, and 28 other scientists. Science 25 Oct 2019: Vol. 366, Issue 6464, eaau2027 DOI: 10.1126/science.aau2027
I have copied the abstract and tried to
sum up the salient points. Basically, the success of Wind (and Solar) energy, and
the predicted growth of the industry, has led to new challenges. Innovations are
needed to handle the predicted future demand for clean energy.
Harvested by advanced technical systems
honed over decades of research and development, wind energy has become a
mainstream energy resource. However, continued innovation is needed to realize
the potential of wind to serve the global demand for clean energy. Here, we
outline three interdependent, cross-disciplinary grand challenges
underpinning this research endeavor. The first is the need for a deeper
understanding of the physics of atmospheric flow in the critical zone
of plant operation. The second involves science and engineering of the
largest dynamic, rotating machines in the world. The third encompasses optimization
and control of fleets of wind plants working synergistically within the
electricity grid. Addressing these challenges could enable wind power
to provide as much as half of our global electricity needs and perhaps beyond.
Abundant, affordable energy in many
forms has enabled notable human achievements, including modern food and
transportation infrastructure. Broad-based access to affordable and clean
energy will be critical to future human achievements and an elevated global
standard of living. However, by 2050, the global population will reach an
estimated 9.8 billion, up from ~7.6 billion in 2017 (1). Moreover, Bloomberg New Energy
Finance (BNEF) estimates suggest that annual global electricity demand could
exceed 38,000 terawatt-hours per year by 2050, up from ~25,000 terawatt-hours
in 2017 (2). The demand for low- or no-carbon
technologies for electricity is increasing, as is the need for electrifying
other energy sectors, such as heating and cooling and transport (2–4). As a result of these two partially
coupled megatrends, additional sources of low-cost, clean energy are
experiencing increasing demand around the globe. With a broadly available
resource and zero-cost fuel, as well as exceptionally low life-cycle pollutant
emissions, wind energy has the potential to be a primary contributor to the
growing clean energy needs of the global community.
During the past decade, the cost of
three major electricity sources—wind power, solar power, and natural gas—has
decreased substantially. Wind and solar are attractive because their low
life-cycle emissions offer public health and broader environmental benefits.
Leading energy forecasters such as consultancies, nongovernmental
organizations, and major energy companies—and specifically BNEF, DNV GL, the
International Energy Agency (IEA), and BP—anticipate continued price parity
among all of these sources, which will likely result in combined wind and
solar supplying between one- and two-thirds of the total electricity demand
and wind-only shares accounting for one-quarter to one-third across the globe
by 2050 (3–6). Tapping the potential terawatts of
wind energy that could drive the economic realization of these forecasts and
subsequently moving from hundreds of terawatt-hours per year to petawatt-hours
per year from wind and solar resources could provide an array of further
economic and environmental benefits to both local and global communities.
From a business perspective, at just
over 51 gigawatts of new wind installations in 2018 (7) and more than half a terawatt of
operating capacity, the global investment in wind energy is now ~$100
billion (U.S. dollars) per annum. The energy consultant DNV GL predicts
that wind energy demand and the scale of deployment will grow by a factor
of 10 by 2050, bringing the industry to the trillion-dollar scale (6) and positioning wind as one of the
primary sources of the world’s electricity generation.
However, to remain economically
attractive for investors and consumers, the cost of energy from wind must
continue to decrease (8, 9). Moreover, as deployment of
variable-output wind and solar generation infrastructure increases, new
challenges surface related to the adequacy of generation capacity on a
long-term basis and short-term balancing of the systems—both of which are
critical to maintaining future grid system stability and reliability (10–12).
A future in which wind energy
contributes one-third to more than one-half of consumed electricity, and in
which local levels of wind-derived power may exceed 100% of local demand, will
require a paradigm shift in how we think about, develop, and manage the
electric grid system (10–14). The associated transformation of the
power system in high-renewables scenarios will require simultaneous management
of large quantities of weather-driven, variable-output generation as well as
evolving and dynamic consumption patterns.
A key aspect of this future system is
the availability of large quantities of near-zero marginal cost energy, albeit
with uncertain timing. With abundant near-zero marginal cost energy, more
flexibility in the overall electricity system will allow many different end
users to access these “cheap” energy resources. Potential use cases for this energy
could entail charging a large number of electric vehicles, providing
inexpensive storage at different system sizes (consumer to industrial) and time
scales (days to months), or channeling into chemicals or other manufactured
products (sometimes referred to as “power-to-X” applications).
A second key aspect of this future system is the transition from an electric grid system centered on traditional synchronous generation power plants to one that is converter dominated (15). This latter paradigm reduces the physical inertia in the system currently provided by traditional power plants while increasing reliance on information and digital signals to maintain the robustness and power quality of the modern grid (12).
Here are some interesting figures from the this Review: