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Earth Day Pop Up

Environmental Research Highlight: An Earth Day Pop Up is a sneak-peek into the diverse and interdisciplinary world of OFI research. This month we are showcasing five OFI research studies.


Our Ocean and Oil

by Dr. Uta Passow , OFI’s The Northwest Atlantic Biological Carbon Pump. Comics created by Andy Warner, comissioned by Dr. Passo

Our society is very dependant on oil. We heat with it. We use oil products to drive, fly and run machines. And all the plastic we use is made from oil. As long as we need oil for our lives, oil spill accidents may happen, although of course, one tries to avoid accidents. When oil is spilled into the water, responders make decisions on how best to minimize the damage to the marine environment, organisms, and humans. Currently the Canadian Government is researching and developing adequate oil spill response plans, so as to be prepared should a disaster happen.


What is happening in the Labrador Sea?

The answer takes us into a mystery explored by Dr. Brad de Young, OFI's Transforming Ocean Observation

Freshwater is important for understanding how oceans operate. Changes to the amount of freshwater in the Northwest Atlantic have long-term implications for the future of fisheries off the Newfoundland and Labrador’s coasts and beyond. In a recent edition of the CBC’s Broadcast Dr. Brad de Young explains how freshwater, coming from thousands of kilometers away in the Beaufort Sea, ends up in the Labrador Sea where it mixes with freshwater from melting Arctic ice and run off from rivers. Research conducted in OFI shows how the Labrador Sea is a nexus point for ocean water turning over, a key process for how much warmth and salinity move through the ocean toward the south. Dr. de Young explains that too much water weakens that turn over, potentially leading to dramatic changes in the climate of the North Atlantic. OFI researchers like Dr. de Young are on the frontlines of this growing body of science investing unusually cooler and fresher waters in the Labrador Sea and its implications for the future of marine life and the marine sectors that depend on it.


Food and initial size influence overwinter survival and condition of a juvenile marine fish

by Emilie A. Geissinger, Robert S. Gregory, Benjamin J. Laurel, and Paul V.R. Snelgrove

This study examines the relationship between first-year survivability of Atlantic cod and food availability. In subarctic Newfoundland, first-year Atlantic cod settle into coastal habitats in the summer–autumn time period. Low winter temperatures and potential decreases in food availability pose challenges for these young fish.


From coast to coast to coast: ecology and management of seagrass ecosystems across Canada

By: Grace E.P. Murphy, Jillian C. Dunic, Emily M. Adamczyk, Sarah J. Bittick, Isabelle M. Côté, John Cristiani, Emilie A. Geissinger, Robert S. Gregory, Heike K. Lotze, Mary I. O’Connor, Carlos A.S. Araújo, Emily M. Rubidge, Nadine D. Templeman, and Melisa C. Wong

Seagrass meadows are among the most productive and diverse marine ecosystems. They are also among the most impacted by human activities and in urgent need of better management and protection. In Canada, eelgrass meadows are found along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic coasts, and thus occur across a wide range of geographic conditions. There is considerable variation in the types and severity of human activities among regions. The impacts of coastal development are prevalent in all regions, while other impacts are of concern for specific regions, for example nutrient loading in the Atlantic.


Presenting a way to communicate spatial distribution of weather/ocean hazards, and compare certain aspects of OHS risk between regions/seasons.

by Dr. Joel Finnis, OFI’s Future Ocean and Coastal Health (FOCI)

Marine occupations are plagued by some of the highest accident and mortality rates of any occupation; due in part to the variety and severity of environmental hazards presented by the ocean environment. In order to better study and communicate the potential impacts of these hazards on occupational health and safety, a semi-objective, hazard-focused climatology of a particularly dangerous marine environment (Northwestern Atlantic) has been developed. Our approach is proposed as an effective means to summarize and communicate marine risk with stakeholders, and a potential framework for describing climate change impacts.

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