By Summit Voice
One of the ideas that has surfaced most often is adding certain types of nutrients to the oceans to stimulate algae production in the hopes of reducing CO2. But new research shows that the law of unintended consequences always applies, perhaps even more so when experimenting with climate on a global scale.
The new study on the feeding habits of ocean microbes shows that the idea could backfire by disturbing the natural balance of ocean chemistry. After carefully studying diatoms, one type of plankton, the scientists determined that it is uses more iron that it needs for photosynthesis and storing the extra in its silica skeletons and shells. This reduces the amount of iron left over to support the carbon-eating plankton.
Detailed reef study shows why it’s important to maintain healthy fish communities
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Although fish are often thought of as predators that graze on microorganisms, plants and smaller animals, it turns out they play another crucial role in the marine ecosystem. Through excretion, they recycle the nutrients they take in, providing the fertilizer sea grass and algae need to grow.
SUMMIT COUNTY — Runoff from agricultural and urban areas is speeding up ocean acidification in some coastal areas, adding to the woes resulting from increased concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Ocean acidification occurs when the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or from the breakdown of organic matter, causing a chemical reaction to make it more acidic. Species as diverse as scallops and corals are vulnerable to ocean acidification, which can affect the growth of their shells and skeletons. Continue reading “Environment: Excess nutrients speed up ocean acidification”→
Football players have also grown larger, and players with a higher body mass index appear to be more susceptible to hyperthermia
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Many Americans don’t seem convinced that global warming is a problem, but if anything might get the general population riled up, it could be a new study from the University of Georgia suggesting that climate at least plays a partial role in the recent tripling of heat-related deaths among football players.
Before 1994, there was about one death per year, since then, the number has spiked to an average of three per year, according to an analysis of weather conditions and high school and college sports data conducted by researchers from the university.
To try and pin down the cause, they developed a detailed database that included the temperature, humidity and time of day, as well as the height, weight and position for 58 football players who died during practice sessions from overheating, or hyperthermia.
Endangered coral can be protected with better wastewater treatment
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — By analyzing the genetics of bacteria found in partly treated sewage in the Florida Keys, researchers from Rollins College in Florida and the University of Georgia have identified human waste as the source of a pathogen that’s wiped out 88 percent of the elkhorn coral growing in Florida’s offshore reefs in the past 15 years.
The bacterium, Serratia marcescens, causes white pox disease in elkhorn coral. Because of the rapid die-off, the coral was listed under the endangered species act in 2006. Elkhorn coral across the Caribbean is affected by the same disease to varying degrees.
Water temps below 54 degrees proves fatal to reef system in the Florida Keys
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Amid all the concern over the impacts of rising sea temperatures to coral reefs, University of Georgia researchers have found that cold water is just as bad.
An extended cold snap in Florida in January and February 2010 killed nearly all the coral in a 200- to 300-year-old reef that had survived other extreme events, including the 1998 El Niño bleaching that damaged coral reefs across widespread regions of the world’s oceans.
During the 2010 cold snap, water temperatures at inshore reefs in the upper Florida Keys dropped below 54 degrees and remained below 64 for two weeks. The University of Georgia team had planned to sample corals at Admiral Reef, an inshore reef off Key Largo. When they arrived, they discovered that the reef, once abundant in hard and soft corals, was essentially dead.
“It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen,” said lead researcher Dustin Kemp. “The large, reef-building corals were gone. The severe cold water appeared to kill the corals quite rapidly. Corals and their symbiotic algae have a range of stress tolerance,” Kemp said. “Some can handle moderate stress, some are highly sensitive, and some are in between. But extreme cold is just one stressor among many.” Continue reading “Climate: Florida cold snap devastated some coral reefs”→