Category: ocean acidification

Global warming threatens key ocean bacteria

Loss of nitrogen-fixers would ripple through ocean ecosystems

Increasing CO2 concentrations may threaten fundamental ocean chemistry. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

In another sign that greenhouse gas emissions are going to fundamentally affect ecosystems in ways that we are just beginning to understand, a team of researchers has shown that bacteria in the ocean are losing their ability to fix nitrogen.

The study, published in the journal Science, took a close look at a type of cyanobacteria called Trichodesmium, which through nitrogen fixation, Trichodesmium converts nitrogen gas into ammonia and other molecules that organisms need for survival. Continue reading “Global warming threatens key ocean bacteria”

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Sea level rise overwhelming some coral reefs

A sea turtle swims lazily along a coral reef in Hawaii, trailed by tropical fish. (Photo by Kosta Stamoulis, courtesy Oregon State University via Flickr.)

Seafloor erosion outpacing expectations

Staff Report

Coral reefs aren’t just threatened by pollution, ocean acidification and over-heated ocean temperatures. In some places they are being undermined by erosion of the seafloor, U.S. Geological Survey scientists said in a new study that looked at reefs in Florida, the Caribbean and Hawaii.

In the five study sites, the reefs can’t keep pace with sea level rise. As a result, coastal communities protected by the reefs are facing increased risks from storms, waves and erosion.

The degradation of reefs and the subsiding seafloor go hand-in-hand, as sand and other sea floor materials have eroded over the past few decades. In the waters around Maui, the sea floor losses amounted to 81 million cubic meters of sand, rock and other material – about what it would take to fill up the Empire State Building 81 times, the researchers calculated.  Continue reading “Sea level rise overwhelming some coral reefs”

Survey shows very little climate skepticism in Europe

Widespread support for climate action in 4 major European countries

The average global temperature spiked to yet another record in March 2016.

Planet Earth experienced its second-warmest March on record. Map via NASA.

Staff Report

More than eight out of 10 people in the UK, France, Germany and Norway believe that the world’s climate is changing, and a similar proportion think that it is at least partly caused by human activity, according to a recent scientific survey conducted by European researchers.

The survey of more than 4,000 members of the public explored opinions on climate change, climate policy and future energy options. It showed that a wide majority also  support a range of different measures to combat climate change. Continue reading “Survey shows very little climate skepticism in Europe”

EPA chief sued for ‘spouting deceptive climate pseudo-science’

EPA staff concerned about possible data purge

The EPA website clearly discloses how greenhouse gases affect the climate.

Staff Report

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt may have to back up his false claims on greenhouse gases and climate change in court. A lawsuit filed April 13 by the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility wants the agency head to show studies backing up his statements that call into question the role of CO2 emissions in global warming. The lawsuit also seeks to determine whether EPA possesses a single study that supports Mr. Pruitt’s stance.  Continue reading “EPA chief sued for ‘spouting deceptive climate pseudo-science’”

Connecting the climate dots, from E-cars to rising sea level

Global climate reporting from Summit Voice

Oceans are warming, sea levels are going up, and will continue to rise for centuries to come. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

If you’re a long-time Summit Voice follower you’ve noticed that the pace of posts has dropped off a bit in the past few months, but that’s only because some of the content has moved to other locations. So here’s a quick roundup of some of my latest environment and climate stories from around the world.

For InsideClimate News, I took a close look at some of the latest research on ocean heat content, featuring work by Kevin Trenberth, with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. The new study he co-authored took a close look at data from thousands of autonomous ocean probes that measure ocean temperatures from the surface all the way down to a depth of 2,000 meters. The study found that the rate of ocean warming has doubled since the early 1990s from previous decades, and that the heat is getting into deep waters. The study also tracks regional variations in ocean warming, important because it will affect where and when sea level rises fastest: Rate of Ocean Warming Has Nearly Doubled Over 25 Years.

I also did some in-depth reporting on a potentially groundbreaking legal case in Austria, where an administrative law court ruled that citizens have a legal right to be protected from climate change impacts when the blocked construction of a third runway at the Vienna International Airport: Vienna Airport Expansion Blocked on Climate Change Grounds.

In my first story for Deutsche Welle, which is a German equivalent of NPR and PBS, I reported on how global warming is increasing forest fire danger all over the world, including forests in temperate, wet climates like Central Europe, even in the Alps. While residents of the West already have seen fire activity surge in the past 20 years, some other regions are just starting to experience those changes, and the risks are great: Global warming is increasing forest fire risk in the Alps.

Globally, there are also burgeoning efforts to electrify the transportation system in the fight to limit greenhouse gas emissions and avert dangerous climate change. In Austria, the federal government has teamed up with the private sector to invest in e-mobility. Consumers can get rebates of up to €4,000 for buying electric cars, and even E-bikes, and there are also subsidies available for investments in expanding the electric charging infrastructure. Altogether, the government expects that their initial €72 million investment will help spur the creation of 30,000 new jobs and €3 billion in new economic activity: Austria Is Making Electric Cars More Affordable Than Ever.

Ocean acidification spreading in the Arctic

Study eyes warm water incursions from the Pacific

Sea ice flows out of the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait
Sea ice flows out of the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait in this satellite picture from the NASA Earth Observatory program. In recent years, the strait has become a conduit for warmer water flowing into the Arctic, resulting in spreading ocean acidification.

Staff Report

In the past 20 years, acidified waters have expanded in the Arctic ocean, spreading northward from Alaska’s Chukchi Sea coastline to just below the North Pole. The pool of acidified water is also getting deeper, from 100 to 250 meters, according to a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

In a press release, the researchers said it’s the first time they’ve documented such a rapid and large-scale increase in acidification, “at least twice as fast as that observed in the Pacific or Atlantic oceans,” according to University of Delaware professor Wei-Jun Cai.

The changes will impact different types of ocean life, including tiny marine snails known to be susceptible to ocean acidification, said NOAA scientist Richard Feely. Other  Arctic species potentially at risk from ocean acidification are fisheries of shrimp and varieties of salmon and crab — all important food sources for indigenous communities. Continue reading “Ocean acidification spreading in the Arctic”

Ocean acidification to hit key fisheries

Study projects 55 percent increase in acidity in next 50 years

ocean
The world’s oceans are in big trouble. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

There’s no stopping ocean acidification without stopping CO2 emissions, and that’s bad news for many marine species, including Dungeness crabs, according to new new research published in the journal Global Change Biology.

Tiny shell-forming organisms like pteropods and copepods are vulnerable to acidification, but will likely experience only a slight overall decline because they are prolific enough to offset much of the impact, the study found. But those impacts will cascade through ocean ecosystems to affect larger animals like crabs, that will suffer as their food sources decline. Dungeness crab fisheries are valued at about $220 million annually, and may face a strong downturn over the next 50 years. Continue reading “Ocean acidification to hit key fisheries”