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f98u1le3 - Lesson III The Water Planet at Risk Keywords...

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Lesson III: The Water Planet at Risk Keywords : turbidity, deforestation, bioaccumulate, nutrients, debris, silt, toxic chemicals, pathogens and terrestrial The Water Planet is at Risk Despite its vast size, we now realize that ocean resources are finite and marine life is susceptible to human influences. The oceans cover 70% of Earth and have a volume of 300 million cubic miles, weighing approximately 1.3 million million million tons. But, with the human population of the earth increasing every day, one small plastic cup from each person adds up to a lot of garbage. How can this effect something as large as our ocean? Everything that happens in our ocean makes a difference. There are many processes that affect our ocean, and they all act together. Ocean currents carry pollutants, overfishing in one area can decrease the fish in another as larval fish may be carried somewhat by the currents. Since the 1970’s, commercial fisheries have pushed fish stock to collapse, pollution has claimed the lives of millions of seabirds, and untold numbers of mammals, birds, and turtles become entangled or snared in plastic debris that finds it way into the sea. Coastal habitats are being buried, damaged, altered, or destroyed by construction and development. According to an EPA report, the major threat to coastal waters is from urban runoff, the water that runs over the streets of our cities, picking up pollutants and carrying them to the ocean. More than three-quarters of marine pollution begins as a terrestrial (land-derived) or man- made source. The types of pollutants can be classified as nutrients, debris, silt, toxic chemicals, and pathogens. There are also direct threats to the marine environment due to misuse from overfishing, development of coastal areas, and careless boaters.
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What is happening at the Year of the Ocean? Have you ever seen a developed area that had to be abandoned due to environmental changes? Or have you seen a waterway that has been destroyed because of the impact of development? Since all streams and rivers eventually drain into the ocean, problems in local towns and cities ultimately become marine pollution. Municipal officials fielding developers' requests often have to make decisions that will affect future water quality without access to good watershed data. A group of scientists at the University of Connecticut were among the first to develop a program called NEMO (Nonpoint Educational Municipal Officials) which applies satellite data to 'forecast' the changes that development will induce on a town . NEMO TO THE RESCUE NEMO project leaders bring their technology to the town hall with a computer model that contrasts the current impervious land cover (areas where the soil surface is covered by roads, parking lots, buildings, etc) with projected future levels. Maps of existing land usage are made using the Geographical Information System (GIS).
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