Rabu, 21 Oktober 2020

US, Japan, Australia team up for naval exercises in South China Sea - NavyTimes.com

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The guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain linked up with the Royal Australian Navy and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force in the South China Sea to conduct naval exercises on Monday.

The exercises, which signify the fifth time this year that the U.S. has conducted exercises in the 7th Fleet’s area of operations with Australia and Japan, aim to enhance the ability of forces to work together and maintain maritime security and readiness, the U.S. Navy said.

Specifically, JMSDF’s destroyer JS Kirisame and the Australian Royal Navy’s frigate HMAS Arunta teamed up with the McCain to carry out surface, subsurface, and air defense exercises and other training events.

“By operating with our close allies in this way, here in the South China Sea, we promote transparency, the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, all principles that underpin security and prosperity for the Indo-Pacific, so that all nations in the region may benefit,” Cmdr. Ryan T. Easterday, commanding officer of the McCain, said in a news release.

Royal Australian Navy Cmdr. Troy Duggan, commanding officer of the HMAS Arunta, and JMSDF Capt. Yokota Kazushi, commander of JMSDF Escort Division 8, also stressed the value of the trilateral exercises.

“This activity is a valuable and important opportunity for all three nations,” Duggan said in a Navy news release. “Operating with our partners is essential for building and maintaining high levels of interoperability, and contributes to our shared commitment to the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.”

All three nations are set to participate in naval exercises known as Malabar sponsored by India next month, Reuters reports.

The U.S. Navy convened in the 7th Fleet area of operations with JMSDF and the Royal Australian Navy during exercise Sea Dragon in February and Exercise Pacific Vanguard last month. The three nations also came together for a trilateral exercise with the Reagan Carrier Strike Group in July, and a multinational group sail with the guided-missile destroyer Barry last month.

Additionally, the McCain, Carrier Air Wing 5, the guided-missile cruiser Antietam and the guided-missile destroyer Halsey joined the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and its strike group earlier this month in the South China Sea as the strike group carried out flight operations, maritime strike exercises and training between surface and air units.

The Reagan has visited the South China Sea’s waters a total of three times during its 2020 deployment, Navy Times previously reported.

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October 22, 2020 at 03:23AM
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Newly discovered gene may give 'sea pickles' their glow: Finding could be first bioluminescent gene identified in a chordate, may be common across tree of life - Science Daily

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A new study describes a bioluminescent gene that could be the reason that so-called "sea pickles," or pyrosomes, an underwater free-floating colony of thousands of tiny animals, reverberate in blue-green light. If confirmed, the finding would be the first bioluminescent gene identified from a chordate -- the group that includes all vertebrates as well as a couple types of invertebrates: sea squirts (including pyrosomes) and lancelets. The research is published today in the journal Scientific Reports.

"We know that throughout the tree of life, there are many hundreds of organisms that can produce light and that they do it for a variety of reasons," said co-author Michael Tessler, an assistant professor at St. Francis College who conducted the research while he was a postdoctoral researcher at the American Museum of Natural History. "Our work suggests that there is a common gene shared among at least some animals that, with a few small changes, could be responsible for this bioluminescence. A baseline gene like this could help explain how many of these very different organisms, like a brittle star and the sea pickle, ended up with the same ability to glow."

The idea for this study arose in 2017 when co-author David Gruber, a Museum research associate and a Presidential Professor at Baruch College, was off the coast of Brazil testing a new collecting tool outfitted to a submersible: squishy robotic hands meant to gently grab delicate sea creatures. The expedition team, which included Museum Curator John Sparks and was funded by the Dalio Family Foundation and OceanX, collected a selection of sausage-sized pyrosomes (Pyrosoma atlanticum).

These gelatinous colonies are made of hundreds of tiny animals called zooids -- each with a heart and a brain -- that work together to move, eat, and breathe. The name pyrosome, which in Greek translates as "fire-body," is derived from their unique bioluminescent displays, which, unlike many bioluminescent animals, can be triggered by light. While pyrosomes attracted the attention of naturalists in the 17th and 18th centuries, many of the most basic facts about their bioluminescence remain elusive.

"Understanding the biochemical pathway for pyrosome bioluminescence is of particular interest because as a chordate, these animals are much more closely related to vertebrates -- and to us as humans -- than many of the more traditional bioluminescent creatures that might come to mind, things like jellyfish or fireflies," Gruber said.

Like other bioluminescent organisms, pyrosomes rely on a chemical reaction between a substrate (luciferin) and a gene (luciferase) to produce light. The researchers found that mixing a common type of luciferin, called coelenterazine, with Pyrosoma atlanticum resulted in bioluminescence. To further investigate the inner workings of this reaction, they sequenced the RNA of the pyrosomes collected in Brazil as well as from additional specimens found in a large bloom off of Vancouver Island in Canada.

The researchers discovered a gene that matches a luciferase often used in biotechnology that is found in sea pansies, a relative of jellyfish, anemones, and corals. They confirmed that the newly discovered pyrosome gene does, indeed, produce light by expressing it in a bacterial colony and adding coelenterazine.

"Being a part of this study felt like being a part of a century-old mystery novel as to how the pyrosome glows in the dark," said Jean Gaffney, a co-author and assistant professor at Baruch College. "I have never worked with a species that was seemingly so alien, but as a chordate is strikingly similar to us."

A similar gene was recently predicted from a bioluminescent brittle star, indicating that these types of luciferases may have evolved convergently from a baseline gene.

"This study advances the debate about pyrosome bioluminescence," Tessler said. "We provide justification for the idea that this animal produces its own light and it might be able to do so because of a pattern of evolution that as repeated throughout the animal tree of life."

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October 20, 2020 at 10:45PM
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Newly discovered gene may give 'sea pickles' their glow: Finding could be first bioluminescent gene identified in a chordate, may be common across tree of life - Science Daily

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RRS Sir David Attenborough departs for sea trials - BBC News

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A

new polar research ship, named after the presenter and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, has left a shipyard in Birkenhead to test scientific equipment and conduct sea trials.

When it finally enters service, the RRS Sir David Attenborough will look at how climate change is affecting Antarctica and its surrounding waters.

Aboard the ship will be Boaty McBoatface, the robotic submarine named in honour of an online poll that suggested the cheeky name for the polar ship.

Video Journalist: Laura Foster

Read more: Attenborough polar ship leaves construction yard

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October 21, 2020 at 01:01PM
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Japan's Suga opposes actions that boost tension in South China Sea - Reuters

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JAKARTA (Reuters) - Japan opposes any actions that escalate tension in the East and South China Seas, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday, but added that Tokyo was not aiming at an “Asian NATO” to contain any specific country.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

Suga was wrapping up a four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia, his first overseas since taking office last month, as part of Japan’s efforts to bolster ties with key Southeast Asian nations amid concerns about China’s growing assertiveness there.

“Japan is opposed to any actions that escalate tensions in the South China Sea,” Suga told a news conference in the Indonesian capital.

“Let me stress anew the importance of all the countries concerning the South China Sea issues not resorting to force or coercion, but working toward peaceful resolutions of the disputes based on international law.”

The trip follows this month’s meeting in Tokyo of the “Quad”, an informal grouping of India, Australia, Japan and the United States that Washington sees as a bulwark against China’s growing regional influence.

China has denounced the grouping of the four democracies as a “mini-NATO” aimed at containing its development.

“Our response in the South China Sea is not aimed at any one country,” Suga said, when asked if Japan wanted to create an Asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Suga must balance Japan’s deep economic ties with China against security concerns, including Beijing’s growing push to assert claims over disputed East China Sea isles.

Some in his ruling party want to see a harder line, after ties warmed under his predecessor, Shinzo Abe.

“Japan is determined to defend its territory, territorial waters and air space,” Suga said, adding that Japan also opposed actions that raised tension in the East China Sea.

Several members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have territorial disputes with China in the vital South China Sea, but are wary of alienating the group’s major economic partner and getting entangled in an intense confrontation between Washington and Beijing.

But some welcome Japan’s greater engagement in the region.

Suga agreed with President Joko Widodo on Tuesday to speed talks on the export of Japanese defence gear and technology to Indonesia and have their defence and foreign ministers meet soon.

A day earlier, the Japanese leader and Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc also agreed in principle on a military equipment and technology export pact.

(This story changes day of the week to Wednesday, not Monday in paragraph 1.)

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and ELaine Lies in Tokyo, Adi Kurniawan and Heru Asprihanto in Jakarta; writing by Linda Sieg in Tokyo,; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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October 21, 2020 at 10:30AM
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Brrrr! 'Supercooled' waters make nearby Antarctic seas seem balmy - Nature.com

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Aerial view of ice pack - Ross Sea, Antarctica.

The Ross Sea (pictured) in Antarctica contains waters that are liquid even though they are colder than seawater's freezing point. Credit: DeAgostini/Getty

Ocean sciences

Elephant seals help to show that tongues of ultra-frigid seawater are relatively common in the Southern Ocean.

The Southern Ocean is riddled with supercooled stretches of liquid water that are colder than the freezing point.

Seawater generally freezes below –1.85 °C, but the icy waters around Antarctica can remain liquid even below that temperature. The subsurface melting of ice shelves can generate supercooled water, as can sea-ice formation. But the extent of supercooling around Antarctica has been unknown.

Alexander Haumann at Princeton University in New Jersey and his colleagues used data collected from research ships, autonomous floats and sensor-wearing Southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) to identify regions of the ocean where supercooling was occurring. They found that up to 5.8% of the analysed water profiles from the Southern Ocean had temperatures below the ocean’s surface freezing point, a far greater prevalence than expected.

In almost one-quarter of the profiles that showed supercooling due to sea-ice formation, the ultra-chilly water penetrated into the depths of the ocean. Such supercooled plumes could represent an important pathway for heat loss in the deep ocean that is currently not represented in climate models, the authors say.

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October 22, 2020 at 12:05AM
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Canada's Suncor considers selling North Sea oil and gas fields - WorldOil

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By Laura Hurst and Dinesh Nair on 10/21/2020

(Bloomberg) --Canada’s Suncor Energy Inc. is exploring the sale of a handful of oil and gas fields in the North Sea, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Suncor is studying divesting the 30,000-barrel-a-day Golden Eagle Area on the UK side of the sea, the people said. Its 26.69% stake could be valued at about $400 million, one of them said. It’s also interested in selling smaller assets on the Norwegian side, valued at an estimated $100 million, another person said.

After a slow start to the year as the coronavirus crisis disrupted plans across the industry, asset-sale activity in the North Sea has picked up in the second half. Exxon Mobil Corp. has begun a process to divest its UK fields and Eni SpA is seeking to sell a production vessel in Norway. Chrysaor Holdings Ltd. this month bought independent oil explorer Premier Oil Plc in a reverse takeover.

Suncor hasn’t started a formal sales process, but is engaging with potential buyers that have shown interest in the fields, one of the people said.

Suncor didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The Calgary-based company is also considering selling its 40% stake in the Rosebank venture west of Shetland, one of the people said. The project, operated by Norway’s Equinor ASA, is one of the U.K.’s largest undeveloped fields.

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October 21, 2020 at 08:17PM
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Destroyer Ross treks into the Barents Sea's arctic waters — again - NavyTimes.com

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The guided-missile destroyer Ross headed back into the Barents Sea on Monday.

Despite decades of avoiding the contentious Arctic waters between Russia and Norway, four U.S. Navy ships and a U.K. Royal Navy ship completed a maritime operation in the Barents Sea in May — marking the first time the service said a U.S. Navy surface ship has done so since the mid-1980s.

And Monday marked yet another occasion when the Navy sailed into those very waters.

“This Barents Sea mission marks a significant milestone, clearly demonstrating our dynamic ability to operate anywhere in the world,” Cmdr. John D. John, the commanding officer of the Ross, said in a Navy news release. “These operations demonstrate the commitment of our crew to transatlantic stability and security.”

The recent operation coincides with Russia’s Navy conducting anti-submarine warfare drills in the Barents Sea, Russian state-run outlet TASS reported Oct. 20.

Bryan Clark, a former U.S. submarine officer who is currently a senior fellow with The Hudson Institute, told Defense News earlier this year that Russia views the Barents Sea and other surrounding waters as “a free zone for Russian submarine operations.”

"By putting some ships up there, we’re telling them: ‘Well, no, this is not a free zone [for] submarine operations — these are international waters,’ " Clark said. “It would be a little like if the Russians deployed a bunch of anti-submarine warfare frigates in the [Virginia Capes Operating Area off Norfolk, Virginia].”

“We couldn’t do anything about it, but it would put us on notice that we maybe needed to be a little more careful,” he said.

(Photo credit: MC2 Tyler Thompson/U.S. Navy)

Meanwhile, U.S. Navy destroyers have trekked into the Barents Sea this year a total of three times this year.

Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers Donald Cook, Porter and Roosevelt, supported by the Supply-class fast combat support ship Supply, joined the Royal Navy’s Type 23 Duke-class frigate HMS Kent in May, according to the U.S. Navy.

Additionally, the U.S. Navy, led by the U.K., headed into the Barents Sea again in September to conduct maritime security operations. The Ross, the Royal Navy frigate HMS Sutherland, the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary RFA Tidespring Tide-class replenishment tanker, and the Royal Norwegian frigate HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl participated in the training in that instance, the U.S. Navy said.

“The realistic and relevant training we are conducting here in the Barents cannot be replicated anywhere else,” John said in September, according to a Navy news release. “This proves we can operate anywhere in the region with our allies.”

Earlier this month, the Ross participated in multilateral training called Exercise Joint Warrior, a bi-annual exercise spearheaded by the U.K. in the Atlantic Ocean. It involved more than 6,000 service members from allied nations including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal.

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October 22, 2020 at 12:46AM
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Destroyer Ross treks into the Barents Sea's arctic waters — again - NavyTimes.com

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