Posted on March 16, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
‘Portions of the food web that depend on ice in their life cycles will be negatively impacted, leading to severe ecological disruptions’
How will changes in the Antarctic food chain affect aquatic mammals? bberwyn photo.
FRISCO — Climate change will fundamentally change The Ross Sea, one of Antarctica’s productive biological regions, but exactly how those changes will play out is hard to predict, scientists said after running computer models combining sea-ice, ocean, atmosphere and ice-shelf interactions.
The region is likely to experience ‘severe ecological disruptions,” a group of scientists wrote in their new study, explaining that rising temperatures and changing wind patterns will create longer periods of ice-free open water, affecting the life cycles of both predators and prey. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Antarctica, biodiversity, climate change, global warming, Ross Sea | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 28, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Meltdown likely to have serious impacts on marine life
*Adapted from a Virginia Institute of Marine Science press release. More Summit Voice stories on sea ice here.
FRISCO — While global warming deniers try to divert attention from the building climate crisis by pointing at record-high Antarctic sea ice extent, a new study suggests much of that ice will soon melt away.
Plugging projected increases in Antarctic air temperatures into finely scaled models, the scientists said the Ross Sea could lose more than half its summer ice by 2050 and more than 75 percent by 2100. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, global warming | Tagged: antarctic sea ice, Antarctica, climate change, global warming, Ross Sea | 3 Comments »
Posted on July 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Plans to protect Antarctic marine biodiversity falter
Fur, elephant and Weddell seals are share this beach on Dundee Island.
FRISCO — For all its reputation as an icy wasteland, Antarctica actually teams with life, which makes it all the more disappointing that an international conservation commission once again failed to finalize plans for long-sought marine protected areas in the Ross Sea and off the coast of East Antarctica. The finger is being pointed at Russia, acting as a rogue nation to block those conservation plans, but in reality, it’s up the rest of the world community to encourage Russia to come back to the table in October in good faith at the next scheduled CCAMLR meeting. In the meantime, here are a few pictures showing what’s at stake. Read more Summit Voice Antarctica stories here. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: Antarctica, fur seals, marine protected areas, penguins, Ross Sea, Weddell Sea, wildlife | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
International commission to reconsider proposals for new marine protected areas in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica
An orca surfaces for air near the coast of Antarctica. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — For only the second time in its 32-year history, an international Antarctic conservation commission will meet outside its regularly scheduled session, and stakes are huge, as delegates from around the world will decide whether to protect the seas around Antarctica from unsustainable fishing.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources will meet in Bremerhaven, Germany starting July 15 specifically to continue discussions on two proposals for the establishment of marine protected areas: One for the Ross Sea region, submitted by New Zealand and the United States, and the second for waters off East Antarctica, submitted by Australia, France and the European Union. The two proposals would establish marine protections across about 1.2 million square miles of the Southern Ocean, totaling an area about the size of India.
The proposed reserve in the pristine Ross sea, would be the size of Alaska, nearly doubling the documented 849,000 square miles of fully protected ocean worldwide. The rules would ban fishing and other extractive activities to protect biodiversity and preserve the area’s value as a reference area against which to measure global warming changes and other impacts. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Antarctica, biodiversity, Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, Environment, Ross Sea, Southern Ocean | 2 Comments »
Posted on April 8, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Adélie penguins breed in ice-free areas
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — While populations of ice-loving chinstrap and emperor penguins in Antarctica may be squeezed by global warming, Adélie penguins may actually benefit from warmer temperatures, according to University of Minnesota Polar Geospatial Center researchers.
Scientists from the United States and New Zealand studied a combination of aerial photography beginning in 1958 and modern satellite imagery from the 2000s, finding that the population size of an Adélie penguin colony on Antarctica’s Beaufort Island near the southern Ross Sea increased 84 percent (from 35,000 breeding pairs to 64,000 breeding pairs) as the ice fields retreated between 1958-2010. The biggest changes came in the last three decades, as average summer temperature in that area increased about .5 degrees Celsius.
The study showed that available habitat for Adélie penguins on the main portion of the Beaufort colony, on the south coast, increased 71 percent since 1958, with a 20 percent increase from 1983-2010. The extent of the snow and ice field to the north of the main colony did not change from 1958-1983, but then retreated 543 meters from 1983-2010. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Adelie penguins, Antarctica, Beaufort Island, climate change, global warming, PRBO Conservation Science, Ross Sea, wildlife | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 2, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Proposals for Ross Sea, East Antarctica marine preserves falter at annual CCAMLR meeting; special session set for next summer in Germany
New preserves would protect biodiversity. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Proposals to create vast new marine preserves in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica floundered during the final stages of an international meeting in Hobart, Tasmania this week, as several major stakeholders couldn’t get completely comfortable with the procedural steps required to create those protected areas.
Despite the fact that there was no formal agreement, conservation advocates said there were some significant steps forward during the talks, according to Paul Gamblin, marine protected area manager for the WWF. Gamblin said several countries participating in the talks also needed a bit more time to understand the scientific basis for the far-reaching conservation proposals.
“As far as East Antarctica, it’s not that there was opposition to the idea … but some concerns about the detail and process, what fishing could happen where … there was some discomfort with the process around that,” Gamblin said. “Fishing is one of the issues on which countries want to be in a position where they want to be comfortable with the advice from scientists,” he said. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Antarctica, biodiversity, CCAMLR, Environment, marine protected areas, Ross Sea | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 21, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Major marine conservation initiatives on the table
Several proposals for large-scale Antarctic conservation areas will be discussed this coming week at the CCAMLR talks in Hobart, Tasmania. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —With scientists observing significant changes in Antarctica’s physical and biological systems, nations from around the world start meeting Oct. 22 to consider a number of far-reaching conservation proposals for the Earth’s only continent that isn’t claimed by any one country.
One of the plans to be presented at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources comes from Australia, France and the European, and would create a total of 1.9 million square kilometers of marine protected areas in East Antarctica. Some of the areas would serve as reference areas against which to measure the impacts of future climate change. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Antarctica, biodiversity, CCAMLR, conservation, Environment, Ross Sea, Southern Ocean | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 6, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A Weddell seal at a breathing hole. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Overall population remained stable, but emperor penguins the region hit hard by thin sea ice and shifting icebergs
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Dramatic changes in Antarctic sea ice extent and thickness had different impacts on species that breed along the edge of the Ross Sea, with Weddell seals weathering the changes well, while emperor penguins suffered population losses.
A team of Montana State University ecologists who recently published their findings from last year’s observations are headed back to Antarctica to continue their Weddell seal research as part of an important long-term effort to monitor ecological changes in the region. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment | Tagged: Antarctica, biodiversity, climate, emperor penguins, Environment, Erebus Bay, Ross Sea, weddell seals | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 19, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Plan includes some fishing limits in critical zones but leaves other areas open to commercial exploitation
A leopard seal on an Antarctic ice floe. Photo by Bob Berwyn.
The Ross Sea is due south of New Zealand.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — A proposed new conservation zone in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica could help preserve one the most productive and pristine ecosystems in the Southern Ocean.
The Ross Sea continental shelf encompasses one of the most productive ecosystems of the Southern Ocean — it’s one of the few places in the world that retains its full community of top-level predators. As such, it supports a unique community of species, including one-third of the world’s Adélie penguins, one quarter of the world population of emperor penguins, half of the Southern Pacific population of Weddell seals, and half of the world’s Ross Sea killer whales.
The U.S. will propose designating 700,000 square miles of the sea as a marine protected area during the upcoming meeting of the Antarctic conservation commission. Protection of the Ross Sea would recognize the area’s unparalleled scientific research possibilities, high biological diversity, and as-yet intact ecosystems, which make it an area of tremendous conservation and scientific value for current and future generations. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: Antarctic Treaty, Antarctica, CCAMLR, krill, marine protected areas, Ross Sea | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 3, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
Just slight warming in the Southern Ocean could enable king crabs to colonize new territory, with unknown consequences for existing ecoystems. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
Warming ocean temps threaten could ecoystem stability
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Just a small shift in temperatures in the Southern Ocean could enable king crabs to spread to Antarctica’s continental shelf and threaten existing ecosystems that aren’t equipped to deal with the voracious predators.
Crabs are cold-blooded, so their body temperature is largely determined by the surrounding environment. The crabs live mostly in cold, deep-sea habitats, but experiments have shown their larvae fail to mature in water temperatures below around half a degree Celsius, even after only brief exposure. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, global warming, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Antarctica, Bellingshausen Sea, Continental shelf, Environment, global warming, King crab, National Oceanography Centre, Ross Sea, Southern Ocean, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News | 1 Comment »