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...
Coral reef survival hinges on ‘urgent and rapid’ emissions cuts

Coral reef survival hinges on ‘urgent and rapid’ emissions cuts

SOURCE: CarbonBrief.org DATE: March 15, 2017 SNIP: The future of the Great Barrier Reef – and other reefs around the world – will ultimately depend on how successfully we can limit ocean warming. This is the blunt conclusion of a new study, just published in Nature, which examines the impacts of recent coral bleaching events on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The event in 2016, for example, left just 9% of surveyed reefs untouched. The study finds that sea surface temperature is the biggest driver of bleaching, while local efforts to improve water quality or restrict fishing have little impact on limiting its severity. This means that “immediate action to curb future warming” is essential if coral reefs are to survive, the authors...
Earth’s oceans are warming 13% faster than thought, and accelerating

Earth’s oceans are warming 13% faster than thought, and accelerating

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: March 10, 2017 SNIP: One main outcome of the study is that it shows we are warming about 13% faster than we previously thought. Not only that but the warming has accelerated. The warming rate from 1992 is almost twice as great as the warming rate from 1960. Moreover, it is only since about 1990 that the warming has penetrated to depths below about 700 meters. We know the oceans are much warmer now and they contain the memory of climate change. Higher sea surface temperatures are continually reinforced by the extra heat beneath the ocean surface. The oceans are affecting weather and climate through more intense rains. This process is a major reason why 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded at the Earth’s surface, beating out 2015 which was the previous record. Additionally 2015 was a year with record hurricanes, heat waves, droughts, and wild-fires around the...
Northwest Atlantic Ocean May Get Warmer, Sooner

Northwest Atlantic Ocean May Get Warmer, Sooner

SOURCE: NOAA Fisheries Service DATE: January 13, 2016 SNIP: A new study by NOAA researchers suggests future warming of ocean waters off the Northeastern U.S. may be greater and occur at an even faster rate than previously projected. Their findings, based on output from four global climate models of varying ocean and atmospheric resolution, indicate that ocean temperature in the U.S. Northeast Shelf is projected to warm twice as fast as previously projected and almost three times faster than the global average. The models were developed at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, New...