Climate: How much acidification can the oceans take?

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Rising CO2 concentrations present fundamental threat to oceans.

Current rate of acidification similar to changes during ancient extinction event

Staff Report

FRISCO — Climate scientists are constantly looking at the past to try and understand the present and forecast the future, and new study by University of Edinburgh researchers offers some worrisome clues about the current rate of ocean acidification.

After tracing changes in ocean chemistry that happened more than 250 million years ago, the scientists said that today’s rate of ocean acidification is similar to changes that led to the greatest known extinctions of marine life during the so-called Permian-Triassic Boundary extinction, which wiped out more than 90 per cent of marine species and more than two-thirds of the animals living on land. Continue reading

Environment: How to save the Great Barrier Reef

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A section of the Great Barrier Reef photographed from the International Space Station.

Australian scientists offer common-sense plan to restore coral reef ecosystem

Staff Report

FRISCO — After a 40-year span when the Great Barrier Reef lost half its coral cover, and with global warming looming for the future, Australian scientists say fundamental changes are needed to protect the reef.

Better policies focusing on science, protection and conservation are the key, a team of leading researchers wrote this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, arguing that all the stressors on the Reef need to be reduced for it to recover. Continue reading

Climate Change: New study enables detailed projections of coral reef bleaching

More information equals more conservation options

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Bleached white corals in the Cheeca Rocks area of Florida. Photo via NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — After issuing a general warning about the potential for widespread coral reef bleaching this year, federal scientists now say they have the ability to make more detailed projections about the timing and geographic distribution of such events.

The concerns this summer focus around emerging El Niño conditions, which could overheat parts of the world’s oceans that have already been hovering at near-record temperatures. Most coral reefs in  the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico will experience bleaching by mid-century, but if scientists can pinpoint the timing, it gives them more conservation options. Continue reading

U.S. steps up with robust climate pledge

Can we transcend carbon?

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FRISCO — Acknowledging the need to switch to a low-carbon economy to avoid disastrous climate change, the United States today pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26-28 percent in the next 10 years. All the climate pledges are updated and indexed at this UN website.

It’s all over the news:

And you can read it for yourself here:

Less covered in the U.S. media was Russia’s climate pledge.

One of the biggest challenges in getting people to see the path toward a low-carbon economy as a path of innovation and economic opportunity.

Report says ocean acidification likely to take a big economic toll on coastal communities

New England, Gulf of Mexico, Mid-Atlantic regions all vulnerable to ocean acidification threats

Love oysters? Then you should be worried about global warming.

Love oysters? Then you should be worried about global warming. bberwyn photo

Staff Report

FRISCO — Some coastal communities with long traditions of relying on shellfish to support their economies could be facing a triple whammy of pollution.

Increasing ocean acidification, combined with cold, upwelling water and polluted runoff from land could put many of those communities at long-term economic risk, according to a new study funded by the National Science Foundation’s National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center.

“Ocean acidification has already cost the oyster industry in the Pacific Northwest nearly $110 million and jeopardized about 3,200 jobs,” said Julie Ekstrom, who was lead author on the study while with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She is now at the University of California at Davis. Continue reading

More climate clues from ancient corals

Mapping coral diseases is helping researchers determine the cause. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Coral reefs near Panama stopped growing during an exstended phase of La Niña-like conditions in the Pacific Ocean. Photo courtesy NOAA.

‘It’s possible that anthropogenic climate change may once again be pushing these reefs towards another regional collapse …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Past climate shifts resulting in La Niña-like conditions off the coast of Panamá resulted in a 2,500-year shutdown in coral reef growth, scientists said this week, warning that human-caused global warming could lead to similar conditions in the coming decades.

“We are in the midst of a major environmental change that will continue to stress corals over the coming decades, so the lesson from this study is that there are these systems such as coral reefs that are sensitive to environmental change and can go through this kind of wholesale collapse in response to these environmental changes,” said Kim Cobb, an associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Continue reading

Southern Ocean carbon cycle may be key climate driver

‘Changes in ocean carbon storage are important drivers of natural atmospheric CO2 variations …’

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Melting icebergs along the shore of Dundee Island, near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Southern Ocean’s carbon cycle may be a huge driver of climatic shifts between ice ages and interglacial periods, according to new research published last week in Nature.

The study shows that carbon stored in an isolated reservoir deep in the Southern Ocean re-connected with the atmosphere, driving a rise in atmospheric CO2 and an increase in global temperatures that may have helped end the global ice ages. Continue reading

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