Research

Kelp Watch 2014 to assess radioactive contamination

January 23, 2014
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Kelp Watch 2014 is designed to determine the extent of radioactive contamination of California’s kelp forest from Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Kelp Watch 2014 is designed to determine the extent of radioactive contamination of California’s kelp forest from Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Researchers from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have launched “Kelp Watch 2014,” a scientific campaign designed to determine the extent of radioactive contamination of the state’s kelp forest from Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

Initiated by CSULB Biology Professor Steven L. Manley and the Berkeley Lab’s Head of Applied Nuclear Physics, Kai Vetter, the project will rely on samples of giant kelp and bull kelp from along the California coast.

“The California kelp forest is a highly productive and complex ecosystem and a valuable state resource. It is imperative that we monitor this coastal forest for any radioactive contaminants that will be arriving this year in the ocean currents from the Fukushima disaster,” said Dr. Manley, an expert in marine algae and kelp.

“I receive calls and emails weekly from concerned visitors and Californians about the effect of the Fukushima disaster on our California marine life,” he continued. “I tell them that the anticipated concentrations that will arrive are most likely very low but we have no data regarding its impact on our coastal ecosystem. Kelp Watch 2014 will provide an initial monitoring system at least in the short-term.”

The project includes the participation of 19 academic and government institutions and three other organizations and businesses. These participants will sample kelp from the entire California coastline as far north as Del Norte County and as far south as Baja California. The sampling will begin in mid-February and will take place several times, ending in late winter.

“What I have attempted to do is to organize marine scientists and educators from up and down the coastline to collect a large amount of kelp several times a year so that we can ascertain the amount of radioactive material entering our kelp forests,” Dr. Manley explained. “The response has been overwhelming. Recently I was contacted by a scientist in Washington State who wants to send samples. I said, ‘Sure.’”

Processed kelp samples will be sent to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Low Background Facility for detailed radionuclide analysis. As data becomes available it will be posted for public access.

“Working with Dr. Vetter and his group is a perfect collaboration because of their vast experience in measuring radioactivity in a variety of biological samples, including seaweeds,” Dr. Manley noted. “His enthusiasm and support of Kelp Watch 2014 has been most gratifying. If the kelp takes up the radioactive material, we should detect it.”

Vetter, who is also a professor of nuclear engineering at UC Berkeley, pointed out that “UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab’s analysis within the new Kelp Watch initiative is part of a larger, ongoing, effort to measure Fukushima related radionuclides in a large variety of objects. We have two main objectives – to learn more about the distribution and transport of these materials in our world, and to make the results and explanations available to the public.

“Making our results available is a critical aspect of our work as it allows us to address concerns about Fukushima radiation levels and to explain the meaning and potential impact of these levels,” he added, “particularly in the context of the natural radiation background we are exposed to in our daily lives.”

Several institutions—Moss Landing Marine Laboratory (California State University), Marine Science Institute (UC Santa Barbara), Coastal and Marine Institute (San Diego State University) and CSULB—have volunteered to serve as regional processing centers where needed. Also participating are marine scientists from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California in Baja Norte Mexico.

“At the present time this entire initiative is unfunded by any state or federal agency, with time and costs being ‘donated’ by the participants,” Dr. Manley said. “I hope that this changes. USC Sea Grant funded an earlier related study of mine and I hope it or some other funding agency will help fund this more extensive project.

“Still, more participants are signing up weekly,” he said. “We encourage scientists, educational institutions and other interested organizations to participate in the collecting and/or processing.”

Those interested in taking part in the project can contact:

Steven.Manley@csulb.edu and should put “Kelp Watch 2014” in the subject line.

Read More

More Like This…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2014 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Scientists at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have demonstrated that just two of six iron-sulfur-containing ferredoxins in a represent...
Biomass abounds on Earth, as forests, fields, sewage and seaweed. But only a small fraction, mostly human or agricultural waste, can be harvested without posing environme...
Algatechnologies (“Algatech”), Israel, has announced a more than 100% expansion of its production capacity of AstaPure® brand natural astaxanthin. This doubling of capaci...
Algae is being discussed at the heart of EXPO Milano 2015, the international event that has existed since 1851, spawning world shaping themes and icons, such as the Eiffe...
As the number of photobioreactors in an algae growing operation increases, there is a need for both autonomous control and monitoring of individual PBRs, as well as centr...
“Proterro has reached its Q1 sugar-production pilot milestones,” CEO Kef Kasdin reported at the recent Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference, in Washington, D.C. “In fo...
Algenist®, Solazyme’s anti-aging skincare brand featuring microalgae, has announced its launch in Nordstrom locations throughout the United States. The launch into Nordst...
Santa Fe Community College has been awarded a $50,000, SEED Infrastructure Grant from the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), for commercial ...
Algal oil represents one of the significant segments within the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) ingredients market. Specifically, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is ...
Although the use of whole microalgae in animal diets has long been studied, the 
de-fatted biomass of microalgal species, derived from biofuel production research, has on...
Kazuaki Nagata reports from Japan that while the Fukushima nuclear disaster has prompted vigorous discussion about alternative energy in Japan, there is a lack of a paral...
A University of New South Wales (UNSW)-led team of researchers has discovered how algae that survive in very low levels of light are able to switch on and off a weird qua...
The Guardian reports that Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.), Canada-based Solarvest has created an inventive system utilizing a specific algal strain to grow and produce EPA ...
Jamie Radford writes in the Illawarra Mercury that Pia Winberg, from the University of Wollongong, believes that the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia (NSW) is in...
Starting in the early 70s, agencies in the former USSR invested more than 20,000 person-years of research and development to produce Bio-Algae Concentrates (BAC) that hel...
A recent discovery in the multicellular green alga, Volvox carteri,has revealed the origin of male and female sexes, showing how they evolved from a more primitive mating...
Channelnewsasia.com reports on three young Spaniards who harvest seaweed, a culinary delicacy, as a way for them to stay out of Spain’s troubled financial waters. 35-year...
Phys.Org reports that scientists Jolanda Verspagen and Jef Huisman of the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands have concluded that rising CO2 concentrations in the at...