An ocean ‘heat wave’ just drove temperatures off Maine to near-record highs

An ocean ‘heat wave’ just drove temperatures off Maine to near-record highs

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: August 31, 2018 SNIP: Sea surface temperatures in the vast Gulf of Maine hit a near-record high of 68.93 degrees Fahrenheit on Aug. 8, part of what scientists called a month-long “marine heat wave” in the normally chilly waters that are home to everything from lobsters to whales. In some parts of the gulf, surface temperatures soared to nearly 11 degrees warmer than normal. Using satellite data, scientists at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute said that over the past 30 years, the waters there have warmed at a rate more than three times the global average. Over the past 15 years, it has warmed at seven times that average. “We’ve set 10 daily temperature records this summer, after setting 18 this winter,” Andrew Pershing, chief scientific officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, said, adding that the institute “had to add new colors to our temperature illustrations to reflect just how warm the Gulf of Maine has been this year.” Concerns about marine heat waves have been rising in recent years, in the wake of the widespread bleaching and death of corals caused by similar events in the globe’s tropical...
Climate Model Predicts Faster Warming for the North Atlantic Ocean

Climate Model Predicts Faster Warming for the North Atlantic Ocean

SOURCE: Scripps Institution of Oceanography DATE: August 14, 2018 SNIP: Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have predicted faster rates of warming than previously predicted for the North Atlantic Ocean in a recent paper published in the Journal of Climate. This warming could disrupt major oceanic cycles and have worldwide impacts on climate systems. The researchers modeled scenarios based on possible future greenhouse gas and aerosol emission rates. One likely scenario focuses on future decline in aerosols and continued increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Aerosols are minute particles suspended in the atmosphere. Some scatter sunlight, thereby actually acting as cooling agents. The aerosol cooling effect is about 50 percent of the warming effect of anthropogenic carbon dioxide at present. Aerosols released from human activities are pollutants, however, and their health concerns have triggered worldwide efforts to curb emissions. An aerosol decline could spark an interesting catch-22: Because of their cooling effect, this decline would accelerate ocean warming that is already being caused by increasing carbon dioxide emissions–most notably initiating major warming in the North Atlantic. With a decrease in cooling aerosols, which are concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere, over time the ocean would need to absorb more heat. The researchers predict that the North Atlantic’s share of the uptake could increase from 6 percent to about 27...
Heartbroken scientists lament the likely loss of ‘most of the world’s coral reefs’

Heartbroken scientists lament the likely loss of ‘most of the world’s coral reefs’

SOURCE: Grist DATE: January 5, 2018 SNIP: For decades, marine scientists have been warning of the demise of coral reefs in a warming world. But now, those warning calls have reached a full-scale alarm, leaving researchers at a loss for exactly how best to save the reefs. A study published Thursday in Science by some of the world’s top coral experts amounts to a last rites for the ecosystems often referred to as “the tropical rainforests of the sea.” Scientists surveyed 100 reefs around the world and found that extreme bleaching events that once occurred every 25 or 30 years now happen about every five or six years. “These impacts are stacking up at a pace and at a severity that I never had anticipated, even as an expert,” says Kim Cobb, a climate scientist and coral researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “It’s really the rapidity of it that is so sobering and shocking — and for me personally, life-altering.” “Before the 1980s, mass bleaching of corals was unheard of,” Terry Hughes, a coral scientist at Australia’s James Cook University and lead author of the new study, said in a statement. The new study finds that 94 percent of surveyed coral reefs have experienced a severe bleaching event since the 1980s. Only six sites surveyed were unaffected. They are scattered around the world, meaning no ocean basin on Earth has been entirely spared. “It is clear already that we’re going to lose most of the world’s coral reefs,” says study coauthor Mark Eakin, coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch program. He adds...
Intensifying Winds Could Increase East Antarctica’s Contribution to Sea Level Rise

Intensifying Winds Could Increase East Antarctica’s Contribution to Sea Level Rise

SOURCE: University of Texas News DATE: November 1, 2017 SNIP: Totten Glacier, the largest glacier in East Antarctica, is being melted from below by warm water that reaches the ice when winds over the ocean are strong—a cause for concern because the glacier holds more than 11 feet of sea level rise and acts as a plug that helps lock in the ice of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Research led by The University of Texas at Austin has found that wind is responsible for bringing warm water to Totten’s underbelly, causing the glacier to melt from below. This finding helps answer the question of what causes Totten to speed up some years and slow down in others. Climate change is expected to increase the intensity of winds over the Southern Ocean throughout the next century, and the new findings show that Totten Glacier will probably respond to the changing winds. During the next century, winds are expected to intensify and migrate closer to the East Antarctic coast as a result of increased atmospheric greenhouse gas. This study suggests that as winds over the Southern Ocean intensify, so will Totten Glacier’s contribution to global sea level...
Global warming threat to Scottish fish stocks

Global warming threat to Scottish fish stocks

SOURCE: Scottish Association for Marine Science DATE: October 31, 2017 SNIP: Cod, herring and haddock may vanish from Scotland’s west coast waters by the turn of the century because of global warming. Researchers at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), near Oban, have predicted that by 2100 commercially important species could migrate out from this ecosystem, most likely to colder waters further north, in response to rising sea temperatures. The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, show that cod and herring off Scotland’s west coast are already nearing the edge of their temperature tolerance range. “Our results showed that warmer climate could jeopardise sustainable fishery management: rising temperature showed strong negative impact on cold water species such as grey seals, cod, haddock and herring, which all declined by 2100 under the worst case climate warming scenario. “Even under the best case climate change scenario, cod and herring stocks were predicted to collapse off Scotland’s west...