Antarctica Is Melting, and Giant Ice Cracks Are Just the Start

Antarctica Is Melting, and Giant Ice Cracks Are Just the Start

SOURCE: National Geographic DATE: June 28, 2017 SNIP: Seen from above, the Pine Island Ice Shelf is a slow-motion train wreck. Its buckled surface is scarred by thousands of large crevasses. Its edges are shredded by rifts a quarter mile across. In 2015 and 2016 a 225-square-mile chunk of it broke off the end and drifted away on the Amundsen Sea. The water there has warmed by more than a degree Fahrenheit over the past few decades, and the rate at which ice is melting and calving has quadrupled. On the Antarctic Peninsula, the warming has been far greater—nearly five degrees on average. That’s why a Delaware-size iceberg is poised to break off the Larsen C Ice Shelf and why smaller ice shelves on the peninsula have long since disintegrated entirely into the waters of the Weddell Sea. But around the Amundsen Sea, a thousand miles to the southwest on the Pacific coast of Antarctica, the glaciers are far larger and the stakes far higher. They affect the entire planet. “These are the fastest retreating glaciers on the face of the Earth,” says Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,...
Scientists warn US coral reefs are on course to disappear within decades

Scientists warn US coral reefs are on course to disappear within decades

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: May 30, 2017 SNIP: Some of America’s most protected corals have been blighted by bleaching, with scientists warning that US reefs are on course to largely disappear within just a few decades because of global warming. New research has shown that strict conservation measures in Hawaii have not spared corals from a warming ocean in one of its most prized bays, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting yet more bleaching is likely off Hawaii and Florida this summer. “As scientists we are breathlessly trying to catch up,” said Cobb [Kim Cobb, an oceanographer at Georgia Tech]. “Things started to run away from us around 10 years ago but we were perhaps a little naive in not realizing that.” “This is another data point on the staggering breadth of damage across the global oceans. You can run but you can’t hide from the train wreck that is coming. The recent bleaching has been a brush with death and shows that this fatal stress is upon...
Scientists race to prevent wipeout of world’s coral reefs

Scientists race to prevent wipeout of world’s coral reefs

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: March 12, 2017 SNIP: The world has lost roughly half its coral reefs in the last 30 years. Scientists are now scrambling to ensure that at least a fraction of these unique ecosystems survives beyond the next three decades. The health of the planet depends on it: Coral reefs support a quarter of all marine species, as well as half a billion people around the world. “This isn’t something that’s going to happen 100 years from now. We’re losing them right now,” said marine biologist Julia Baum of Canada’s University of Victoria. “We’re losing them really quickly, much more quickly than I think any of us ever could have imagined.” Even if the world could halt global warming now, scientists still expect that more than 90 percent of corals will die by 2050. Without drastic intervention, we risk losing them...
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...