Coral reefs to take big global warming hit this year

NOAA scientists say warm oceans pose risk to reefs

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Vast areas of the world’s oceans are so warm that coral reefs may take a big hit this year, according to the latest coral-bleaching outlook from NOAA.

Pink coral at Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Pink coral at Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — After reporting major coral-bleaching events in 2014, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are warning that continued warm ocean temperatures are setting the stage for a repeat in 2015.

The warning is spelled out in the most recent outlook from NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch, a weekly product that forecasts the potential for coral bleaching up to four months in the future. Just last summer, the federal government put 20 coral types on the Endangered Species List, citing climate change as a major threat. Continue reading

Oceans: New report says pirate fishing still widespread

Access to U.S. seafood market at stake for some countries

Fishermen in the harbor in Saranda. Albania.

Fishermen in the harbor in Saranda. Albania. bberwyn photo.

FRISCO— In a new report to Congress, federal fisheries biologists fingered six countries as still sanctioning pirate fishing. Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Nigeria, Nicaragua, and Portugal could all lose certifications from the U.S. because they aren’t doing enough to stop illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

Violations include fishing in restricted areas, discarding tuna, misreported catch, and improper handling of turtle entanglement. NOAA Fisheries will work with each of the cited nations to address these activities and improve their fisheries management and enforcement practices. Continue reading

Ozone hole about the same size as last year

A depiction of the ozone hole over Antarctica, courtesy NOAA.

A depiction of the ozone hole over Antarctica, courtesy NOAA.

Ozone-depleting chemicals decreasing in atmosphere, but weather plays big role in year-to-year variability

Staff Report

FRISCO — The ozone hole over Antarctica didn’t change much from last year, scientists said this week, pointing to weather and climate variability as key factors in year-to-year variability.

The single-day maximum area was similar to that in 2013, which reached 9.3 million square miles. The largest single-day ozone hole ever recorded by satellite was 11.5 million square miles) on Sept. 9, 2000. Overall, the 2014 ozone hole is smaller than the large holes of the 1998–2006 period, and is comparable to 2010, 2012, and 2013. Continue reading

Study: Tornado season becoming more variable

A new NOAA study tracks the occurrence of seasonal tornadoes across the U.S.

A new NOAA study tracks the occurrence of seasonal tornadoes across the U.S.

Fewer outbreaks, but more twisters?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Tracking tornado trends is a big deal in the global warming era, as researchers seek to determine whether climate change will result in more catastrophic and life-threatening weather events.

Since the 1950s, researchers say, the overall number of annual tornadoes has remained steady, but a new analysis of data shows  there are fewer days with tornadoes each year, but on those days there are more tornadoes.

A consequence of this is that communities should expect an increased number of catastrophes, said lead author Harold Brooks, research meteorologist with the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory. Continue reading

Climate: August global temp sets new record

2014 on track to be one of the warmest years ever

August 2014 global warming map

August 2014 was record warm.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Planet Earth was record warm in August 2014, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists said Thursday, explaining that warm oceans continue to drive temperatures around the world to the highest levels seen since observations started more than 100 years ago. Continue reading

Climate: What’s up, El Niño?

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A NOAA map shows warmer than average ocean temperatures in red developing off the coast of South American during the past few months, but sea surface temps are also remaining warmer than average across the western Pacific, hampering development of a full-fledged El Niño.

Widespread ocean warmth may hamper development

Staff Report

FRISCO — This year’s brewing El Niño may be dampened by widespread warm sea surface temperatures across the Pacific Ocean, according to weather experts. Specifically, ocean temperatures across the far western Pacific have remained so warm that one of the key ingredients for a full-strength El Niño is missing — a significant difference in temperatures between the western and Eastern Pacific.

But so far this summer, warmer than average temperatures are spread across the Pacific from east to west. Just last week, the National Climatic Data Center announced that the average global temperature for June was the warmest on record, driving in large part by warm oceans. Continue reading

Climate: Greenhouse gases drive Australia drying trend

Since the 1970s, southern Australia has been experiencing declining rainfall in the fall and winter, creating scenes like this one in a 2007 photograph at Lake Hume. (Creative Commons/ Suburbanbloke)

Since the 1970s, southern Australia has been experiencing declining rainfall in the fall and winter, creating scenes like this one in a 2007 photograph at Lake Hume. (Creative Commons/ Suburbanbloke).

New model can resolve some climate impacts on a regional scale

STAFF REPORT

FRISCO — Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and ozone depletion over Antarctica are the main drivers of the long-term decline in rainfall over southwestern Australia, federal scientists said in a weekend press release.

The findings, published in Nature Geoscience, are derived from a new  high-resolution climate model that may help researchers identify more links between heat-trapping gases and regional climate trends, including here in the U.S. Continue reading

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