Watery heatwave cooks the Gulf of Maine

Watery heatwave cooks the Gulf of Maine

SOURCE: NASA DATE: September 12, 2018 SNIP: Most of us are familiar with heat waves on land, but in a warming world, heat waves are starting to become common in the ocean, too. One basin in particular, the normally cool Gulf of Maine in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, has seen several heat waves in recent years and has spent most of 2018 with unusually warm water temperatures. On August 8, 2018, scientists using satellite data and sea-based sensors measured the second warmest sea surface temperatures ever observed in the Gulf of Maine. Average water temperatures reached 20.52 degrees Celsius (68.93 degrees Fahrenheit) that day, just 0.03°C (0.05°F) below the record set in 2012. The map on this page shows sea surface temperature anomalies as compiled by NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch, which blends observations from the Suomi NPP, MTSAT, Meteosat, and GOES satellites and from computer models. Shades of red and blue indicate how much water temperatures were above or below the long-term average for the region. The map [on this post] shows conditions on August 8, the near-record setting day. The heatwave of 2018 fits with a much longer trend in the region, which is among the fastest-warming parts of the global ocean. In the past three decades, the Gulf of Maine has warmed by 0.06°C (0.11°F) per year, three times faster than the global average. Over the past 15 years, the basin has warmed at seven times the global average. The Gulf has warmed faster than 99 percent of the global ocean. “Climate change is likely contributing to the circulation changes through melting in Greenland and Arctic, as...
In 2017, the oceans were by far the hottest ever recorded

In 2017, the oceans were by far the hottest ever recorded

SOURCE: The Guardian and Advances in Atmospheric Sciences DATE: January 26, 2018 SNIP: Among scientists who work on climate change, perhaps the most anticipated information each year is how much the Earth has warmed. That information can only come from the oceans, because almost all heat is stored there. If you want to understand global warming, you need to first understand ocean warming. This important ocean information was just released today by a world-class team of researchers from China. The researchers (Lijing Cheng and Jiang Zhu) found that the upper 2000 meters (more than 6000 feet) of ocean waters were far warmer in 2017 than the previous hottest year. We measure heat energy in Joules. It turns out that 2017 was a record-breaking year, 1.51 × 1022 Joules hotter than any other year. For comparison, the annual electrical generation in China is 600 times smaller than the heat increase in the ocean. The authors also calculated that all this heat resulted in approximately 2 mm rise in sea level (as water warms, it expands and so that ocean levels rise). Further consequences of this heating include declining oxygen levels in the oceans, bleaching of coral reefs, and melting of both sea ice and ice shelves (the latter of which which will also raise sea levels). We are observing these effects. Arctic ice is undergoing a long-term decline, and it’s possible the Arctic will become ice-free. Massive coral bleaching events have been recorded, particularly in the waters off of Australia. The point is, the effects of global warming aren’t just academic; they are...
Climate Change May Shrink the World’s Fish

Climate Change May Shrink the World’s Fish

SOURCE: National Geographic DATE: Aug 21, 2017 SNIP: Warming temperatures and loss of oxygen in the sea will shrink hundreds of fish species—from tunas and groupers to salmon, thresher sharks, haddock and cod—even more than previously thought, a new study concludes. Because warmer seas speed up their metabolisms, fish, squid and other water-breathing creatures will need to draw more oxyen from the ocean. At the same time, warming seas are already reducing the availability of oxygen in many parts of the sea. A pair of University of British Columbia scientists argue that since the bodies of fish grow faster than their gills, these animals eventually will reach a point where they can’t get enough oxygen to sustain normal growth. “What we found was that the body size of fish decreases by 20 to 30 perent for every 1 degree Celsius increase in water temperature,” says author William Cheung, director of science for the university’s Nippon Foundation—Nereus...
Climate Change Has ‘Permanently’ Changed the Great Barrier Reef

Climate Change Has ‘Permanently’ Changed the Great Barrier Reef

SOURCE: Pacific Standard DATE: March 16, 2017 AUTHOR: Eric Holthaus SNIP: Scientists speculate that the era of never-ending global coral bleaching may have already arrived, decades early. In a new study, published Wednesday as the cover story in the journal Nature, Hughes and his colleagues — the paper includes an astounding 45 co-authors — find that 91 percent of the Great Barrier Reef has bleached at least once during three major bleaching events in 1998, 2002, and 2016. The most recent of these events — triggered in part by a strong El Niño — was so severe that there is no similar analog in the thousands of years of ancient coral cores scientists use to study past climates. The study’s authors further argue that, over the last decade or two, global warming has changed conditions on the Great Barrier Reef so quickly that old conservation methods no longer work. Earlier this month, the authority that oversees the Great Barrier Reef discovered that it has begun bleaching again — just months after its worst bleaching event on record. Quick-growing corals in the Great Barrier Reef require 10 to 15 years to fully recover from a mass-bleaching event, and long-lived species may require many decades. That kind of breathing room is “no longer realistic,” according to Hughes and his colleagues, as long as global temperatures keep...
The world’s oceans are storing up staggering amounts of heat — and it’s even more than we thought

The world’s oceans are storing up staggering amounts of heat — and it’s even more than we thought

SOURCE: The Washington Post DATE: March 10, 2017 SNIP: The world is getting warmer every year, thanks to climate change — but where exactly most of that heat is going may be a surprise. As a stunning early spring blooms across the United States, just weeks after scientists declared 2016 the hottest year on record, it’s easy to forget that all the extra warmth in the air accounts for only a fraction of the heat produced by greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, more than 90 percent of it gets stored in the ocean. And now, scientists think they’ve calculated just how much the ocean has warmed in the past few decades. A new study, out Friday in the journal Science Advances, suggests that since 1960, a staggering 337 zetajoules of energy — that’s 337 followed by 21 zeros — has been added to the ocean in the form of heat. And most of it has occurred since 1980. The new value is a number that significantly exceeds previous estimates, Trenberth [Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research] noted. Compared with ocean warming estimates produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the new values are about 13 percent...