Let's talk about water

Whetting appetites for Bath's water research

Tagged: Physics

Acoustic Imaging of Algae: From the Arctic to a reservoir near you

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📥  Water Active, WIRC @ Bath

Research by Dr Philippe Blondel, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics is featured in Water Active this month. The article describes why looking at algae and using sonar helps to study how underwater vegetation adapts to climate change, as the glaciers melt and bring fresh water and sediments into fragile ecosystems.

Water Active is the UK's leading water industry monthly magazine and has the highest number of readers in the water industry. This article continues the monthly series of features by researchers in the Water Innovation and Research Centre at the University of Bath (WIRC @ Bath).

Read the full article written by Dr Philippe Blondel on page 10 in the December issue of Water Active.


Blue water, green algae and dark threats - Acoustics outside the laboratory?

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📥  WIRC @ Bath

This November see the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath.

Title: Blue water, green algae and dark threats - Acoustics outside the laboratory?

Speaker: Dr Philippe Blondel

When: Tuesday 17th November at 5.15pm

Where: Room 3.15, Chancellors' Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: Clean water is what we all want, from freshwater reservoirs to pipes, rivers and coastal ecosystems. But this can be threatened by algae. They can block pipes and reservoir inlets, affect natural water filtering, and even harm aquatic life through eutrophication. Algae large enough to see with the naked eye (macrophytes) can have positive sides, though, and they are increasingly used in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industry. Kelps are the largest marine crop, with over 4 million tonnes harvested annually. As a source of ecosystem services and natural capital, macrophytes accounts for at least 11.4% of the worldwide value of all ecosystems. But algae are difficult to monitor regularly and accurately: they can be hidden from direct view (e.g. deep in large reservoirs or in water intake pipes), they can be few enough that they are not noticed in time (e.g. until warm weather or eutrophication) or they can be small enough that they are not easily detected (e.g. cyanobacteria). This is where acoustics can help, and this talk will present acoustic imaging in general, focusing on detecting and mapping algae in the field. Applications will be drawn from our own research and include kelp beds in British Columbia, and how they can be used by humans and grey whales, and algae in the Arctic, and how they evolve with glaciers melting and the dark threat of climate change.

Refreshments: Will be available in Room 3.11, Chancellors' Building from 4.45pm.

Contact: Please email Sarah Eliot if you need any further information.


What can we learn by listening to the ocean?

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📥  Other

In a video of less than 100 seconds, Philippe Blondel explains that activities within the world's oceans create a cacophony of sound that can reveal vast amounts of information about the environment in which the noises are generated. Waves, wind and rain at the surface, earthquakes beneath the seafloor, shipping, the movements and communication sounds of marine animals – the sources of noise go on and on. Tracking these sounds can be used to study environmental change, such as the sound created by melting ice in the polar regions. Among other uses, this information can provide an early warning of the mini tsunamis caused by sudden ice collapse.

Watch the video.

Read more about this research.



Climate change is talking

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📥  Other

Here at Bath our water research is truely multidisplinary. In today’s blog we explore how underwater listening technologies can be used to track the changes in icebergs as they melt.

IcebergWhat happens to a glacier when no one is around? In July 2014, at the height of the Arctic summer, Dr Philippe Blondel travelled to the Hornsund glacier in Svalbard to listen to icebergs.

It wasn’t his first arctic field trip and he certainly didn’t have a shortage of field experience in his research team — an international group with members from Poland and New Zealand. But the extremely variable Arctic conditions still led them into a few close shaves.

You can read all about Philippe’s trip and the research he is doing to help understand the impact of climate change on melting glaciers here: http://www.bath.ac.uk/research/case-studies/listening-icebergs


The a-maze-ing Leidenfrost Maze


📥  Other

While this isn’t strictly a blog about our water research, it does (loosely) involve water so we couldn’t resist sharing it with you!

Our colleagues in the Department of Physics here at Bath have been making international headlines with their Leidenfrost Maze, which sees water travelling uphill.

When droplets of water on a heated surface reach a certain temperature, the droplet surface starts to boil rapidly allowing it to float or levitate on the evaporated gas vapour. This is known as the Leidenfrost effect and is commonly seen during cooking – when sprinkling water onto a hot pan which is above the Leidenfrost point, droplets skitter across the pan and take longer to evaporate.

Watch the Leidenfrost effect in action and read more about the research.