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Global warming: Oceans at all-time record high temps

Pacific Ocean is cooking, even without El Niño

NOAA Sea Surface Temperature anomaly (with respect to period 1854-2013) averaged over global oceans (red) and over North Pacific (0-60oN, 110oE-100oW) (cyan). September 2014 temperatures broke the record for both global and North Pacific Sea Surface Temperatures. b) Sea Surface Temperature anomaly of September 2014 from NOAA's ERSST dataset. Credit: Axel Timmermann

NOAA Sea Surface Temperature anomaly (with respect to period 1854-2013) averaged over global oceans (red) and over North Pacific (0-60oN, 110oE-100oW) (cyan). September 2014 temperatures broke the record for both global and North Pacific Sea Surface Temperatures. b) Sea Surface Temperature anomaly of September 2014 from NOAA’s ERSST dataset.
Credit: Axel Timmermann.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global ocean temperatures have soared to the highest level in recorded history this year, and the rate of warming has accelerated since April, according to scientists with the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“This summer has seen the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since their systematic measuring started,” said Axel Timmermann, a climate scientist at the university’s International Pacific Research Center. “Temperatures even exceed those of the record-breaking 1998 El Niño year,” Timmermann said, adding that the new data analysis shows that the global warming pause, if there was one, is over.

“The 2014 global ocean warming is mostly due to the North Pacific, which has warmed far beyond any recorded value,” he said, adding that the temperature trend in the Pacific has shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and bleached corals around the Hawaiian Islands. Continue reading

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New maps detail ocean acidification patterns

n northern winter, the Bering Sea, dividing Alaska and Siberia, becomes the most acidic region on earth (in purple) as shown in this February 2005 acidity map in pH scale. Temperate oceans are less acidic. The equatorial Pacific is left blank due to its high variability around El Niño and La Niña events. (Takahashi

During the northern hemisphere winter, the Bering Sea, dividing Alaska and Siberia, becomes the most acidic region on earth (in purple) as shown in this February 2005 acidity map in pH scale. Temperate oceans are less acidic. The equatorial Pacific is left blank due to its high variability around El Niño and La Niña events. Map courtesy Taro Takahashi.

New benchmark data will help track future changes

Staff Report

FRISCO — The world’s oceans are acidifying at a rate of about 5 percent each decade, a trend that could cost the global economy $3 trillion a year in lost revenue from fishing, tourism and other intangible lost ecosystem services.

At that pace, warm-water corals by the end of the century could be living in waters 25 percent more acidic than they are today, raising questions about the long-term survival of coral reef ecosystems.

To paint a more detailed picture of potential impacts, scientists have created an ocean acidification map, showing how how acidity levels vary across the world’s oceans. The data should help provide a benchmark for the future, as enormous amounts CO2 from fossil fuels ends up in the sea. Continue reading

Environment: Shifting a small amount of global military spending to conservation would go a long way

Elk Rocky Mountain National Park

Well-protected elk browse in Rocky Mountain National Park.

New paper outlines need for renewed conservation emphasis

Staff Report

FRISCO — Shifting just a small fraction of the world’s military spending to conservation could help ensure protection and sustainable management for important wildlife habitat, experts say in a new report released ahead of the upcoming IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney.

The paper, published in Nature, was compiled by experts with Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland, and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. The authors concluded that allocating US $45 – $76 billion —  just 2.5 percent of  global annual military spending — would go a long way toward meeting the need for better management of protected areas. Continue reading

Scientists say half measures won’t help Great Barrier Reef

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Australian scientists say a government plan for the Great Barrier Reef doesn’t do enough to mitigate threats.

Global warming, coal port dredging seen as key threats

Staff Report

FRISCO — Leading Australian scientists said this week that the government’s business-as-usual plan for the Great Barrier Reef won’t prevent its decline.

While acknowledging a few positive steps in the plan, the Australian Academy of Scientists said the proposal “fails to effectively address any of the key pressures on the reef including climate change, poor water quality, coastal development and fishing.”

And, as is often the case with planning efforts in the U.S., the Australian government’s vision for the reef also doesn’t acknowledge the cumulative impacts that intensify pressure on one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems.

Continue reading

Feds launch ocean biodiversity monitoring network

A pelican perch along the coast in Englewood, Florida.

A pelican perches along the coast in Englewood, Florida.

Florida, California and Alaska sites will host pilot phase of research effort

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal agencies are launching an ambitious $17 million pilot project to monitor ocean biodiversity, recognizing that fragile coastal and marine ecosystems face increasing threats, including climate change.

“To mitigate and adapt to such threats, we need a fuller, more integrated, picture of how the biodiversity within these ecosystems may be changing, especially since marine biodiversity is a key indicator of ocean health and critical to sustaining natural resources such as fisheries,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a press release. Continue reading

Mangroves may shelter some corals from global warming

Study documents ‘climate refuge’ in Virgin Islands

Boulder brain corals, for example, were found in abundance under the mangroves and were healthy, while many of those in unshaded areas a short distance away were bleaching. Photo Credit: Caroline Rogers, USGS

Boulder brain corals were found in abundance under the mangroves and were healthy, while many of those in unshaded areas a short distance away were bleaching.
Photo Credit: Caroline Rogers, USGS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Some coral species are finding a refuge of sorts from global warming by finding new habitat in the shade of red mangrove trees.

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and Eckerd College documented discovery of the refuge in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where more than 30 species of reef corals were found growing in Hurricane Hole, a mangrove habitat within the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument in St. John. Continue reading

Climate: Ocean acidification may be stunting coral growth

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

Coral growth is slowing dramatically along parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Will the world’s coral reefs simply dissolve as oceans become more acidic?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists monitoring the Great Barrier Reef said they’ve tracked a “perilous” 40 percent slowdown in coral growth rates since the 1970s.

The trend may be linked with increasing ocean acidification, according to the new study led  by researchers with the Carnegie Institution for Science.

The researchers compared current measurements of the growth rate of a section of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef with similar measurements taken more than 30 years ago. Continue reading

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