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...
Warm waters juiced Ophelia into the most powerful eastern Atlantic hurricane ever seen

Warm waters juiced Ophelia into the most powerful eastern Atlantic hurricane ever seen

SOURCE: ThinkProgress DATE: October 16, 2017 SNIP: Ex-hurricane Ophelia smashed into Ireland Monday morning with record-breaking gusts of up to 119 mph. The powerful extra-tropical storm — which has already killed two people and blacked-out some 360,000 Irish homes and businesses — is what’s left of the most powerful Eastern Atlantic hurricane ever seen. “This was the first major hurricane making it as far east in the Atlantic as it did,” climatologist Michael Mann told ThinkProgress via email. “Irma was the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to form as far east as it did. As ocean surface temperatures rise, the regions where tropical cyclones can form and intensify are expanding. This latest storm is consistent with that trend.” What do all these powerful storms have in common? Hurricanes “extract heat energy from the ocean to convert it to the power of wind, and the warmer the ocean is, the stronger a hurricane can get,” as meteorologist and former hurricane hunter Jeff Masters has explained. “So, scientists are confident that as we continue to heat up the oceans, we’re going to see more of these high-end perfect...
Worrying new research finds that the ocean is cutting through a key Antarctic ice shelf

Worrying new research finds that the ocean is cutting through a key Antarctic ice shelf

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: October 11, 2017 SNIP: A new scientific study published Tuesday has found that warm ocean water is carving an enormous channel into the underside of one of the key floating ice shelves of West Antarctica, the most vulnerable sector of the enormous ice continent. The Dotson ice shelf, which holds back two separate large glaciers, is about 1,350 square miles in area and between 1,000 and 1,600 feet thick. But on its western side, it is now only about half that thickness, said Noel Gourmelen, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the lead author of the research, which was just published in Geophysical Research Letters. The reason is the same one that is believed to be shrinking glaciers and pouring ice into the ocean across West Antarctica — warm ocean water located offshore is now reaching the ice from below. “We think that this channel is actually being carved for the last 25 years,” said Gourmelen, whose research team detected the channel using satellite observations. “It’s been thinning and melting at the base for at least 25 years, and that’s where we are now.” Dotson ice shelf as a whole has been thinning at an average rate of more than eight feet per year since 1994, even as the speed of ice flowing outward through the shelf has increased by 180 percent. But the thinning in the channel has been far greater. The research calculates that 45 feet of ice thickness is being subtracted annually from the channel. The new study calculates that as a result of this highly uneven melting,...