Ocean Pollution and the Impact of Climate Change

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QEL Code: 942

QEL Code942
CPD5
Estimated Study Time5 hours
Start DateAnytime
Study modeOnline
Award typeCertificate
Assessment MethodShort answer questions to confirm your knowledge

Course Accreditation

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Course fees £97

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Pollutants that Effect the Ocean Habitat

This course focuses on the different pollutants that effect the Ocean habitat. The effects of one of the most well publicised ocean contaminant, oil pollution, are examined, along with the management strategies. The impact of climate change is also explored.

Ocean pollution and the impact of climate change Course

It is well known that humans have, in their relatively short history, a huge bearing on the planet and the environment around them.

Humans have in some cases nurtured life and produced new forms of life by artificial selection to serve the species.

However, humans have also achieved a significant amount of damage at the same time.

Pollution

Pollution is defined as the introduction of contaminates into the natural environment that causes an adverse effect of some kind. The vast majority of pollution is anthropogenic, that is as a direct result of humans, and as human populations rise they generate a huge, every increasing amount of waste, both domestic and industrial that, while they are often dumped in designated sewers or smokestacks, they ultimately find their way to the oceans.
We are going to look at the different types of pollutant, the properties by which we measure their severity and their effect on the natural environment.
Sources of pollution are grouped into two types of source:

Point source pollutants
Diffuse source (or non-point source) pollutants and Point source pollutants are those where the source can easily be pinpointed, that is, there is a very high concentration of pollutant at the point at which it is entering the environment. Examples of point source pollutants would be an oil spill, where the oil enters the environment on a large scale in an identifiable area. Likewise, with a sewage pipe emptying into the ocean that is a point source as it is clear the source of the pollutant is that sewage pipe. The concentration of pollutants around the sewage pipe and the oil spill would be greatest, gradually decreasing as you move away from the source.

 

 

Point source pollutants

Point source pollutants are those where the source can easily be pinpointed, that is, there is a very high concentration of pollutant at the point at which it is entering the environment. Examples of point source pollutants would be an oil spill, where the oil enters the environment on a large scale in an identifiable area. Likewise, with a sewage pipe emptying into the ocean that is a point source as it is clear the source of the pollutant is that sewage pipe. The concentration of pollutants around the sewage pipe and the oil spill would be greatest, gradually decreasing as you move away from the source.

Diffuse source pollutants do not have an easily determinable single source. In this case, contaminants enter rivers and estuaries at various points, by run-off from the land. The pollutants start on the land, and a major contributor to diffuse source pollution is the agricultural industry and their use of pesticides and fertilisers in fields. When snow or rain lands on these fields and moves through or over the ground, it collects these contaminants and, in particularly heavy downpours, the water will run off the field and continuing into rivers. Once it reaches the river it then makes its way to the ocean as, eventually that is where all rivers lead. You can see why, therefore, it is impossible to pinpoint the very original source; the nearest you can get is we know it came from a particular river.

For an assessment as to the severity of the threat that it poses, there are many potential properties to a pollutant. There is its potency or toxicity that is an important property and relates to its effect on an organism or an ecosystem with its relative quantity. The potency of a particular contaminant may result from the sheer volumes present or from the overall toxicity of the substance.
The metal, mercury is an example of a very potent substance since it is incredibly toxic to living organisms; only a small level is required to considerable harm to an ecosystem.

By far the most widely recognised form of pollution is an oil slick; the accidental spillage or release of oil in the marine environment. Oil slicks or spills come from two main sources; super tankers, or the massive ships that carry crude oil around the world and oil rigs that actively sequester the oil from beneath the ocean floor and the pipelines that they use for transportation.