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The Great Wave Off Kanagawa,  Katsushika Hokusai

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, Katsushika Hokusai

 

ART & SCIENCE

A team of researchers based at the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh have recreated a famous ‘freak wave’ measured in the North Sea in 1995. The team set out to reproduce the wave under laboratory conditions to understand how this terrifying phenomena formed in the ocean. To the scientists' amazement, the wave they created bore an uncanny resemblance to ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa' – also known as ‘he Great Wave' – the iconic woodblock print published in the early 1800s by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai.

The ‘Draupner’ wave was one of the first confirmed observations of a freak wave in the ocean. Measured by instruments on an oil rig on January 1st, 1995, it towered 25.6m above the surface – over twice the normal height of waves in the area. Freak waves are unexpectedly large and difficult to predict, often appearing suddenly without warning. They are commonly blamed for maritime catastrophes such as the sinking of large ships.

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PLASTIC POLLUTION

Environmental groups have poured cold water over a much-trumpeted initiative by some of the world's biggest petrochemical firms to help end plastic pollution. The “Alliance to End Plastic Waste” – comprised of big energy, petrochemical and plastic manufacturing firms – said it would donate $1 billion to "minimise and manage plastic waste and promote solutions for used plastics" but experts are sceptical.

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NEW ECONOMY

A new shopping platform launching in Spring 2019 aims to change the way we buy many brand-name products. Loop does away with disposable containers for things like food, shampoo, laundry detergent and diapers from some of the world's biggest manufacturers. Instead, those goods will be delivered in reusable containers that will be picked up at the door, washed and refilled.

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INNOVATION

A new study in Australia has found that illegal fishing key areas could be tracked with the help of maritime fuel tankers. Illegal fishing can be difficult to monitor due to a range of factors: surveillance from the shore is only practicable close to the coast; while at-sea monitoring is difficult and expensive. To help, the study suggests identifying key areas by tracking the movements of refuelling tankers.

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MARINE LIFE

Under the Antarctic ice, in the pitch-black depths of the ocean, Australian scientists have discovered that animals are evolving into strange new shapes and forms. Life, these scientists believe, is using the frigid Antarctic waters to experiment, and animals there are evolving at a much faster pace than anywhere else in the world. Some of the new creatures are even riding deep-sea currents to other parts of the world.

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