Marine Newsletter #20 – August 2011

Highlights from the Marine Programme at GRID-Arendal for July and August 2011

Featured Project

Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates
The United Nations Environment Programme via its collaborating center in Norway, GRID-Arendal, is halfway through the project UNEP Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates. The Outlook seeks to bridge the gap between the science, research and development activities related to this potential large scale unconventional source of natural gas and the needs of decision makers and the general public to understand the underlying societal and environmental drivers and impacts. The Outlook aims to provide credible and unbiased information sourced from stakeholders representing the environment, government, industry and society.

To better involve and include the public in learning about various aspects of methane hydrates, GRID-Arendal has launched a newly designed public and media outreach site filled with videos, photos, a news blog and an interactive map of global methane hydrate sites. Explore the website to discover the world of Frozen Heat!

For more information, please contact Yannick Beaudoin.

Data and Products

Seafloor geomorphology map
In partnership with Geoscience Australia, GRID-Arendal is working with Conservation International to produce a new seafloor geomorphology map. This new map will classify the ocean floor into 22 classes of geomorphic features. Seafloor geomorphology is a very useful seafloor attribute because different geomorphic features (e.g. submarine canyons, seamounts, spreading ridges, escarpments, trenches etc.) are commonly associated with particular suites of habitats and biological communities. Although we now have better bathymetric datasets than ever before, there has been little effort to integrate these data into a new map of seabed geomorphic features or habitats.  Indeed, our best available global seafloor geomorphic features map is now over 30 years old. It is often said that we know more about the surface of the moon than the ocean floor – this new map helps us in closing that knowledge gap. 

For more information, please contact Elaine Baker.

Web tool supporting the Regular Process
UNEP has been invited by the United Nations Division of Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea (DOALOS) to develop a web tool to support the implementation of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, Including Socio-Economic Aspects (the Regular Process). GRID-Arendal is working with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) to develop the web based document management system for reporting the Regular Process, the expansion and maintenance of the already established GRAME database and the production of GIS map products to illustrate and synthesize spatial information relevant to the range of themes covered by the Regular Process report. The implementation of the Regular Process requires financial support from the UN member States, and funds are being sought to develop this state of the art reporting system. It is envisaged that the web tools will serve the Regular Process and also assist developing countries in participating by providing access to data, tools and information.  

For more information, please contact Elaine Baker.


Recent events
Seminars/meetings/conferences related to the marine environment where representatives from GRID-Arendal have participated:

  • 7-day training programme to raise awareness of the youth on the impact of climate change in the Arctic, Svalbard, Norway, 26 June-3 July – organised by the British Council in collaboration with GRID-Arendal.
  • 2nd International Symposium on Integrated Coastal Zone Management, Arendal, Norway, 3-7 July – hosted by the Institute of Marine Research (IMR).
  • Meeting with Dr Tundi Agardy, Head of Sound Seas, Arendal, Norway, 6 July – presenting the Introductory Guide "Taking Steps toward Marine and Coastal Ecosystem-Based Management" and discussing support to UNEP/MAP (Mediterranean Action Plan) work.
  • Workshop on continental shelf delineation, Sydney, Australia, 11-22 July – including representatives from 14 Pacific Island countries as well as the SOPAC Secretariat, Geoscience Australia and the Commonwealth Services.
  • Work Programme Reviewing Meeting of the Tehran Convention, Geneva, Switzerland, 14-15 July – presenting the pre-print edition of the Caspian Sea State of the Environment Report for discussion and approval of the Convention Secretariat and representatives from Caspian littoral states.
  • Mission to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 15-21 July – exploring what a blue carbon approach could look like for the Arabian Peninsula, as part of the new Blue Carbon Arabian Peninsula Project.
  • 7th International Gas Hydrates Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland, 17-21 July, followed by the 3rd work session of the steering committee for the UNEP Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates, 22 July.
  • Arctic Youth Expedition 2011 of the Students on Ice Programme, 23 July - 07 August – youth from around the world exploring Iceland, Greenland, northern Labrador and the northern reaches of Nunavik, Canada.
  • The International Blue Carbon Scientific Working Group Meeting, Bali, Indonesia, 25-30 July – exploring a role for the UNEP network to serve as a mechanism for outreach between regional interventions (working blue carbon pilot projects) and the Working Group.
  • Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, Aktau, Kazakhstan, 10-12 August – presenting the State of the Environment Report of the Caspian Region.
  • Meeting with Dr Julian Roberts from the new Ocean Governance Programme at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Arendal, Norway, 23 August – discussing collaboration on the sustainable seas and blue carbon projects.

Upcoming events

5-8 September
Oostende, Belgium: CoastGIS 2011. The conference recognises the importance of holistic Marine and Coastal Spatial Planning in order to meet the challenges presented in managing our coastlines more effectively. GRID-Arendal will present the OCEANIDS mapping tool.
For more information, please contact Wouter Rommens.

8-9 September
Port Cros, France: Joint Scientific Workshop on the Identification of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) in the North-East Atlantic, organised by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the North-East Atlantic  and the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC). GRID-Arendal is providing data visualisation services to the workshop through GeoIQ. This is the first in a global series of CBD workshops to identify 'EBSAs', particularly in areas beyond national jurisdiction (the High Seas), and GRID-Arendal aims at contributing to the whole process.
For more information, please contact Christian Neumann.


Did you know that…
…methane gas hydrates were first made in the lab, early in the 1800s? It was only in the early 1960s that gas hydrate in nature was first hypothesised by Dr Yuri Makogon and his Russian colleagues, based on theoretical considerations and some intriguing data being collected in Siberian gas fields. Solid samples were dredged off the bottom of the Black Sea in the late 1960s.
Source: Frozen Heat
…when brought to the earth’s surface, one cubic meter of gas hydrate releases 164 cubic meters of natural gas?
Source: Clean Technica

Picture of the monthNatural gas emanating from disassociation of natural gas hydrate. From the outreach website for the Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates:
Photo credit: P. Walz, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Research Institute.

Our favorite website of the month


If you would like your website to be featured here, please contact Rannveig Nilsen.

EarthWire Marine

EarthWire Marine is a free online news service provided by GRID-Arendal. You can get marine environment news e-mailed to you every day or sign up to an RSS feed. Registering is simple. We pledge to protect your privacy, and users can at any time unsubscribe from the service. To subscribe, visit the EarthWire Marine website.

For previous editions of this Marine Newsletter, please visit our Marine Programme website.


Wednesday 31 Aug 2011