Global warming hasn’t stopped, the heat’s just HIDING deep within the Pacific …

February 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Global Warming

  • IPCC report last year said temperatures have barely risen in past 15 years
  • This is despite more greenhouse gases being pumped into atmosphere
  • New study claims winds in Pacific have driven heat deep underwater
  • This has had a net effect of cooling surface temperatures by 0.1°C and 0.2°C

By
Ellie Zolfagharifard

12:48 EST, 10 February 2014
|

14:50 EST, 10 February 2014

Powerful winds in the Pacific Ocean, which have driven surface heat deep underwater, could be the reason behind the current ‘pause’ in global warming.

This is according to a joint Australian and U.S. study which has looked at why there has been a slowdown in the planet’s global average surface temperature over the past decade.

Their research shows that trade winds in central and eastern parts of the Pacific have caused warm surface water to sink to the ocean’s depths, reducing the amount of heat in the atmosphere.

Scroll down for video…

Shown here are the global monthly mean sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies from 1961-90. Sea surface temperature is the temperature of the top millimeter of the ocean's surface. An anomaly is a departure from average conditions. Scientists believe winds in central and eastern parts of the Pacific have caused warm surface water to sink to the ocean's depths

Shown here are the global monthly mean sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies from 1961-90. Sea surface temperature is the temperature of the top millimeter of the ocean’s surface. An anomaly is a departure from average conditions. Scientists believe winds in central and eastern parts of the Pacific have caused warm surface water to sink to the ocean’s depths

Last year, scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the pace of temperature rise at the Earth’s surface had slowed over the past 15 years.

This is despite the fact concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased to levels that are unprecedented in at least 800,000 years

The latest study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, said stronger Pacific trade winds- had made ocean circulation at the Equator speed up.

This schematic shows the trends in temperature and ocean atmosphere circulation in the Pacific over the past two decades. Colour shading shows observed temperature trends (°C per decade) during 1992-2011 at the sea surface. The bold and thin arrows show an overall acceleration of the Pacific Ocean moving warm, surface waters (indicated by the blue arrow) to below 700 metres beneath the surface

This schematic shows the trends in temperature and ocean atmosphere circulation in the Pacific over the past two decades. Colour shading shows observed temperature trends (°C per decade) during 1992-2011 at the sea surface. The bold and thin arrows show an overall acceleration of the Pacific Ocean moving warm, surface waters (indicated by the blue arrow) to below 700 metres beneath the surface

Scientists claim one of the causes of the pause in sea-surface temperature is a change in the exchange of ocean water. They believe this exchange is occurring between warm, surface waters and cold, deep waters below 700 metres

Scientists claim one of the causes of the pause in sea-surface temperature is a change in the exchange of ocean water. They believe this exchange is occurring between warm, surface waters and cold, deep waters below 700 metres

HOW TRADE WINDS CAN BURY HEAT AND MASK GLOBAL WARMING

Scientists claim one of the causes of the‘plateau’ in sea-surface temperature is a change in the exchange of ocean water.

They believe this exchange is occurring between warm, surface waters and cold, deep waters below 700 metres – as if the warming is ‘hiding’ underwater.

Easterly trade winds of the Pacific Ocean have increased significantly over the past two decades and as a result are blowing higher volumes of warm surface sea water to deeper depths.

Stronger trade winds blowing from South America to Australia have had the net effect of cooling surface temperatures by a global average of between 0.1°C and 0.2°C,

This would be enough to account for the apparent hiatus in global average temperatures over the past 15 years.

The warm water won’t hide below the surface forever: scientists believe that it may re-emerge later or affect other climate indicators, such as sea level or ocean circulation.

This pattern of easterly winds, which spans the tropics, has moved heat deeper into the ocean and brought cooler water to the surface.

The winds have also helped drive cooling in other ocean regions.

‘We show that a pronounced strengthening in Pacific trade winds over the past two decades is sufficient to account for the cooling of the tropical Pacific and a substantial slowdown in surface warming,’ said the study, led by scientists from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

‘The net effect of these anomalous winds is a cooling in the 2012 global average surface air temperature of 0.1-0.2 °C, which can account for much of the hiatus in surface warming since 2001.’

The study’s authors, including scientists from other research centres and universities in the U.S., Hawaii and Australia, used weather forecasting and satellite data and climate models to make their conclusions.

‘This hiatus could persist for much of the present decade if the trade winds trends continue, however, rapid warming is expected to resume once the anomalous wind trends abate,’ the study said.

‘If the anomalously strong trade winds begin to abate in the next few years, the model suggests the present hiatus will be short-lived, with rapid warming set to resume soon after the wind trends reverse,’ it added.

Commenting on the study, Richard Allan, professor of climate science at Britain’s University of Reading, said: ‘These changes are temporarily masking the effects of man-made global warming.’

The fact that temperatures have risen more slowly in the past 15 years despite rising greenhouse gas emissions has emboldened sceptics who challenge the evidence for man-made climate change and question the need for urgent action.

The IPCC does not expect the hiatus to last and has said temperatures from 2016-35 were likely to be 0.3-0.7°C warmer than in 1986-2005.

‘More than 93 per cent of the warming of the planet since 1970 is found in the ocean,’ said Steve Rintoul at Australia’s CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research and lead author of the chapter on oceans in the IPCC’s latest climate report.

‘If we want to understand and track the evolution of climate change we need to look in the oceans. The oceans have continued to warm unabated, even during the recent ‘hiatus’ in warming of surface temperature.’

Climate scientists say such pauses in warming occur regularly throughout history and can last for up to 20 years – but cannot be predicted.

They add that the warm water won’t hide below the surface forever. Scientists believe that it may re-emerge later or affect other climate indicators, such as sea level or ocean circulation.

Article source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2556008/Global-warming-hasn-t-stopped-heats-just-HIDING-deep-Pacific-Ocean-claim-scientists.html

World Bank releases new report on climate change, global warming

November 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Global Warming

LUCKNOW: World Bank has released a new report — On Thin Ice: How Cutting Pollution can Slow Warming and Save Lives. The report that talks about ways to mitigate the effects of climate change says fast action to cut common pollutants like soot (also known as black carbon) and methane will not only slow global warming, but save millions of lives.

Reductions of these so-called short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) would slow rapid melting in mountain regions with glaciers, like the Himalayas and the Arctic. More than one million premature deaths could be avoided annually in the Himalayan region from reducing emissions of black carbon and methane. It would also bring multiple health, crop and ecosystem benefits, and decrease risks to development from flooding and water shortages says a new scientific study.

According to the study measures to reduce these emissions in the Himalayan region could increase crop yields for staples such as rice and wheat by over 15 million tons annually.

The health of people around the world will improve greatly if we reduce emissions of black carbon and methane. Limiting these emissions also will be an important contributor to the fight against climate change,”said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.

‘On Thin Ice: How Cutting Pollution can Slow Warming and Save Lives’ is about how climate change is affecting the cryosphere those snow-capped mountain ranges, brilliant glaciers and vast permafrost regions on which all of us depend.

It warns that current warming in the cryosphere could have dire human consequences from resulting sea level rise, increased water stress and more extreme weather. For example, the release of large CO2 and methane stores as a result of melting permafrost could contribute up to 30% more carbon to the atmosphere by the end of the century.

The Himalayan mountain ranges extending 2,400 km through six nations (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Bhutan, and Nepal) make up the largest cryosphere region. Rapid climate induced changes in the region will directly affect the water resources of more than 1.5 billion lives, as well as services such as electricity, a nd the food supplies of 3 billion people.

Decrease in glacial and snow cover has been recorded across the Himalayan region with an increase of 1.5 degree C in the annual mean surface temperature over pre-industrial average temperatures.

The report also lays out immediate measures we can take to slow the ice melt including reducing the black carbon emissions from diesel-fueled vehicles and solid fuel cooking fires that lowers the reflectivity of snow and ice, leading to greater melting.

Such actions would also provide important health, agriculture and other development benefits. According to the report, if more clean cook-stoves stoves that use less or cleaner fuel would be used it could save one million lives. While, a 50% drop in open field and forest burning could result in 190,000 fewer deaths every year, many of them in Europe and Central Asia.

Reductions in emissions from diesel transport and equipment, meanwhile, could result in more than 16 million tons of additional yield in crops such as rice, soy and wheat, especially in Southeast Asia; and also avert 340,000 premature deaths.

Article source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/global-warming/World-Bank-releases-new-report-on-climate-change-global-warming/articleshow/25488231.cms

Global warming documentary Chasing Ice to show at Princeton film festival

January 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured, Global Warming

Houses swept away by floodwaters; record drought, wildfire and hurricanes; melting ice caps and the hottest summer on record – how can anyone doubt global warming?

Photographer James Balog, once a skeptic, sets out to prove it through his Extreme Ice Survey, capturing photographic evidence of melting, disappearing glaciers. Filmmaker Jeff Orlowski documents the lengths to which Balog goes to prove his point – including kicking off his boots to plunge into the icy water for one chilling shot in Chasing Ice.

decaying ice, Iceland copyright JAMES BALOGDespite a bum knee, Balog hikes ice caps in Alaska, Iceland and Greenland, placing specially developed cameras that will endure the harsh conditions and record the glacier meltdown through time-lapse photography.

The Sundance Film Festival award-winner will be screened at the seventh annual Princeton Environmental Film Festival Feb. 2, 7 p.m. It is one of 35 films that will be shown over three weekends, Jan. 24 through Feb. 10, at the Princeton Public Library.

Documenting climate change

Chasing Ice “is the best visual representation of climate change I’ve ever seen,” said festival director Susan Conlon.

It took seven years for Balog to create and station his cameras and have them execute the images, yet his time-lapse videos compress those years into seconds to show ancient mountains of ice disappear before our eyes.

Observing Balog up close, “I have never met someone so dedicated to their passions,” filmmaker Orlowski said.

One of the scariest moments was watching Balog climb down the canyon and onto a broken piece of ice as he looked into a shaft in the glacier. “None of us were sure if it was going to break,” said Orlowski, 28. “Everyone was on the edge of the seats.”

Indeed the entire crew engaged in risky behavior in order to help Balog fulfill his mission. Note to Orlowski’s parents: do not read the following quote from your son. “In retrospect, there were a lot of life-threatening experiences.”

At the end of the film, Balog says he went to such lengths so his children would know he did all he could to inform the world about climate change. Those who continue to deny climate change “do not have access to the science,” said Orlowski. “Most of climate science is in numbers and graphs and in such technical terms that people don’t understand it and think it is not true. Now we have evidence that is accessible to all people.”

Our connection with nature

The theme for this year’s Princeton Environmental Film Festival is “sense of place.” When we think of environmental issues such as climate change, reckless development and green energy affecting our own state, town, even neighborhood, they become more threatening.

“Many of the films tell stories about people and places outside our state, and reveal how we are more connected than we realize,” said Conlon.

Films falling into this category are “You’ve Been Trumped” (d. Anthony Baxter) in which a group of townspeople in Scotland band together when developer Donald Trump begins construction of an elaborate golf resort on a fragile piece of wilderness in Scotland; Detropia” (d. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady), told through the eyes of people struggling to stay in post-industrial Motor City, once a grand city; “The Battle for Brooklyn” (d. Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley) about the struggle of residents fighting to preserve their neighborhood from the developer of Atlantic Yards, including Barclays Center sports arena.

Princeton resident Andrea Odezynska made Felt, Feelings and Dreams, following a small group of Kyrgyz women who pull themselves out from crushing poverty by reviving ancient traditions of making crafts and art from felt.

Against scenes of rocky mountains dotted with yurts and traditional ethnic music from the region, we see women of all ages pouring their might into shearing, soaking and beating the wool fibers, rendering it into colorful textiles.

In the six years since the festival was begun, “we have learned a lot about what makes it appealing to people returning from previous years and those just discovering it,” said Conlon.

The most important criteria for selecting films is the quality of the film, and emphasis on storytelling. “We do not set out with a list of issues or a checklist. What we want the films, on their own and as part of the whole festival, to do is encourage us to explore and expand our concepts of sustainability.”

As attendees become impassioned by what they see, “Our community organizations like Sustainable Princeton, Stonybrook-Millstone Watershed Association, DR Greenway Land Trust, school gardens, and others are great gateways for people to get involved,” said Conlon. “There are resources provided on many of the films’ websites that offer opportunities to learn more about issues explored in the films. And some people have been inspired to tell their stories by making their own films, seeking opportunities to learn about filmmaking and access equipment at Princeton’s TV-30.”

The Princeton Environmental Film Festival takes place Jan. 24-27, Jan. 31-Feb. 3 and Feb. 7-10 at the Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon St., Princeton. The complete schedule can be found at the festival’s website. Free admission to all films, thanks to support from Church Dwight, Inc., Terra Momo Restaurant Group, and The Whole Earth Center of Princeton. Doors open 30 minutes prior to screening; reservations not accepted.

Article source: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/49638

Pollution Playing A Major Role In Sea Temperatures

April 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Featured, Global Warming

The Atlantic Ocean, especially the North Atlantic, is peculiar: Every few decades, the average temperature of surface water there changes dramatically.

Scientists want to know why that is, especially because these temperature shifts affect the weather. New research suggests that human activity is part of the cause.

Scientists originally thought that maybe some mysterious pattern in deep-ocean currents, such as an invisible hand stirring a giant bathtub, created this temperature see-saw.

And that may be part of it. But there’s a new idea: The cause isn’t in the water; it’s above it — a kind of air pollution called aerosols.

NASA Earth Observations

This NASA map shows the size of aerosol particles in the atmosphere. Green areas indicate larger, more naturally occurring particles like dust. Red areas indicate smaller aerosol particles, which can come from fossil fuels and fires. Yellow areas indicate a mix of large and small particles.

Click to see a high-resolution version of this image

Ben Booth, a climate scientist at Britain’s Met Office Hadley Center, says that aerosols create clouds.

“The more aerosols you have, the more places there are for water vapor to condense,” he says. “And so what aerosols do is they cool.”

They cool the ocean because clouds reflect sunlight back into space before it can hit the ocean.

Aerosols are fine particles like soot or sulfur compounds, mostly from burning fuel. They seed a kind of cloud that’s especially good at reflecting solar radiation back into space. Even on their own, without clouds, these aerosols act like sunblock.

Volcanoes create aerosols, too, but air pollution appears to produce more, and then the aerosols sweep across the Atlantic sky.

Booth has calculated their effect on sea surface temperature swings.

“If you combine the role of volcanic activity and the human emissions of aerosols, we account for 76 percent of the total variation in sea surface temperature in our study,” Booth says. That’s a huge amount.

Booth and his colleagues aren’t the first to propose that aerosols influence sea surface temperatures. But climate scientist Amato Evan at the University of Virginia says they’ve done the most thorough job to date of tracking and confirming those changes.

“If they’re right, human activity has a huge influence on just so many climate processes around the Atlantic Ocean,” he says.

Surface temperatures around the Atlantic influence the amount and timing of rainfall in West Africa and the Amazon in South America, and whether there’s drought there. They affect the number and strength of Atlantic hurricanes and even where hurricanes go.

That’s if, as Evan says, Booth and his team are right.

Booth used computer models to analyze a very complicated process — the interaction of ocean and atmosphere over many decades. The models’ predictions didn’t match all the changes people have actually observed in the Atlantic.

Evan says scientists need more hard evidence to nail down exactly how aerosols affect oceans, but he’s observed a similar process going on in the Indian Ocean.

“The same type of release of pollution aerosols coming from the Indian subcontinent is actually changing the monsoon,” he says, referring to the pattern of rainy and dry weather in the Indian Ocean.

The new research appears in the journal Nature. If it’s confirmed, it could foretell a warmer Atlantic, because the aerosol pollution has apparently cooled the Atlantic some. But new pollution controls are reducing the amount of those aerosols — that’s good for public health, but it also means the ocean loses its sunblock.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2012/04/04/150005074/pollution-playing-a-major-role-in-sea-temperatures

Pacific salmon may be dying from leukemia-type virus

April 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Global Warming


In Canada’s Fraser River, a mysterious illness has killed millions of Pacific salmon, and scientists have a new hypothesis about why: The wild salmon are suffering from viral infections similar to those linked to some forms of leukemia and lymphoma.

For 60 years before the early 1990s, an average of nearly 8 million wild salmon returned from the Pacific Ocean to the Fraser River each year to spawn.

Now the salmon industry is in a state of collapse, with mortality rates ranging from 40 percent to 95 percent.

The salmon run has been highly variable: The worst year came in 2009, with 1.5 million salmon, followed by the best year in 2010, with 30 million salmon. But the overall trend is downward.

Losses were particularly high in elevated river temperatures; warmer water makes it more difficult to deliver oxygen to the tissues of salmon.

Seven of the last 10 summers have been the hottest on record for the Fraser River. But experts say it’s too soon to pin the blame on global warming.

“Clearly, a warming climate is going to produce some new stresses for Pacific salmon,” said Daniel Schindler, a professor of aquatic and fishery sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. “Some of those stresses will certainly be expressed through increased susceptibility to disease, including something like this.”

But he added: “The reality is we have very poor understanding of how climate and disease dynamics interact with each other in salmon. We know they’re going to be important, but we can’t say a lot in detail.”

Two years ago, Canada’s prime minister ordered a judicial inquiry – known as the Cohen Commission – to investigate the salmon deaths, with a final report due by June 2012.

Scott Hinch, an investigator at the University of British Columbia’s Pacific salmon ecology and conservation lab and a co-author of a study on the salmon that was published in the journal Science, testified before the panel last month. He told it that the virus could be the biggest factor that’s driving the collapse.

The study raises “a big red flag,” providing scientists with a possible new explanation, said Brian Riddle, the president and chief executive officer of the Pacific Salmon Foundation in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“The critical thing is that for years, people have wondered about the rate of decline and how it can be pretty consistent across most populations in the Fraser,” he said. “This provides a viable reason now. We’re discovering something new. There’s still a lot unknown. We don’t understand the origin of the virus. We don’t understand how it functions.”

He said much more study was needed.

“If this really is a virus and it’s something we don’t understand, then we don’t know how to treat it or control for it,” Riddle said. “So this is something that could linger with us for a long time, and possibly until the animal learns how to deal with it. That will only happen through natural selection-type processes.”

As part of Hinch’s study, salmon were caught, tagged and implanted with radio transmitters and their blood, gill, muscle and fin tissues were biopsied. Scientists then tracked them and discovered that many were stressed and sick before they reached their spawning grounds.

According to the study, ocean-tagged salmon that had the gene signature associated with the viral infection were 13.5 times more likely to die before spawning.

Hinch said the scientists thought that the salmon became infected at sea, before making their runs upriver. He likened it to “dead fish swimming.”

If researchers can confirm the findings that a virus related to leukemia is responsible, “it would be quite novel,” said Hinch.

While there’s no similar research taking place in the United States, Schindler of the University of Washington said there was no reason not to assume that salmon in the nearby Columbia River in Washington state would be suffering, as well.

Glen Spain, the Northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, said other issues were at play and that “a cascade of interrelated factors,” not just a virus, could be causing the salmon deaths.

“There are fundamental habitat issues that weaken the salmon when they have too little water in the river or when the water is poor quality, when the population is truncated because of dams and there’s less biological diversity,” he said. “All of those are risk factors for any number of diseases. … It’s sort of like the blind man and the elephant. Everybody thinks that what they’ve got in front of them is the elephant. The reality is that it’s a whole ecosystem.”

He added: “If this is a virus, it’s an endemic virus and it’s been out there for thousands of years. The question is, if it’s attacking fish now, why now?”

Article source: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/04/17/2171716/pacific-salmon-may-be-dying-from.html

American Teens’ Knowledge on Climate Change

April 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Global Warming

Today the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication released a new report entitled “American Teens’ Knowledge of Climate Change” based on a national study of what teens aged 13-17 understand about how the climate system works, and the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to global warming. This research provides an assessment of how much American teens have learned about climate change in and out of school. For comparison, they also report how teens’ knowledge compares with that of American adults. The report is available online here.

Overall, they found that 54 percent of American teens believe that global warming is happening, but many do not understand why. In this assessment, only 6 percent of teens have knowledge equivalent to an A or B, 41 percent would receive a C or D, and 54 percent would get an F. Overall, teens know about the same or less about climate change than adults. The study also found important gaps in knowledge and common misconceptions about climate change and the earth system. These misconceptions lead some teens to doubt that global warming is happening or that human activities are a major contributor, to misunderstand the causes and therefore the solutions, and to be unaware of the risks. Thus many teens lack some of the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about climate change both now and in the future as students, workers, consumers, homeowners, and citizens. For example, only:

  • 54% of teens say that global warming is happening, compared to 63% of adults;
  • 35% of teens understand that most scientists think global warming is happening, compared to 39% of adults;
  • 46% of teens understand that emissions from cars and trucks substantially contribute to global warming, compared to 49% of adults;
  • 17-18% have heard of coral bleaching or ocean acidification, compared to 25% of adults.

However, American teens have a better understanding than adults on a few important measures. For example:

  • 57% of teens understand that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, compared to 50% of adults;
  • 77% of teens understand that the greenhouse effect refers to gases in the atmosphere that trap heat, compared to 66% of adults;
  • 52% of teens understand that carbon dioxide traps heat from the Earth’s surface, compared to 45% of adults;
  • 71% of teens understand that carbon dioxide is produced by the burning of fossil fuels, compared to 67% of adults.

Meanwhile, like adults, large majorities of teens incorrectly think that the hole in the ozone layer and aerosol spray cans contribute to global warming, leading many to incorrectly conclude that banning aerosol spray cans or stopping rockets from punching holes in the ozone layer are viable solutions. However, many teens, like adults, do understand that switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is an important way to reduce global warming.

Only 29 percent of teens say they have thought “a lot” or “some” about global warming, compared to 52 percent of adults. Likewise, only 19 percent of teens say that global warming is extremely or very important to them personally, compared to 27 percent of adults.

American teens also recognize their limited understanding of the issue. Fewer than 1 in 5 say they are “very well informed” about how the climate system works or the different causes, consequences, or potential solutions to global warming, and only 27 percent say they have learned “a lot” about the issue in school.

Importantly, 70 percent of teens say they would like to know more about global warming. Likewise, 75 percent say that schools should teach our children about climate change. Finally, teens are much more likely than adults to visit zoos, aquariums, natural history, science or technology museums than adults, suggesting that informal education venues are important places for teens (and adults) to learn about complex issues like climate change.

Article source: http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2011/04/18/american-teens-knowledge-on-climate-change/

Antarctic glacier mission seeks global climate clues

January 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Global Warming

  • Iceberg collision could affect global ocean circulation
  • Scientists on mission to Antarctica to study aftermath
  • Team studies impact of rising acidity on animals with shells

By David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia

SINGAPORE, Jan 31 (Reuters) – The breaking off of a Luxembourg-sized iceberg in Antarctica could affect ocean circulation patterns and be a harbinger of changes to come from global warming, scientists on a mission to the frozen continent say.

Last February, a 2,500 sq km (965 sq m) iceberg broke off from a giant floating tongue of ice from the Mertz Glacier after being rammed by an even larger iceberg.

The ice tongue, sticking out into the Southern Ocean, had acted like a dam, preventing sea ice from moving into a permanently open section of water to the west.

But now with the ice tongue gone due the collision, scientists fear it could trigger changes to the behaviour of a major part of global ocean circulation patterns that shift heat around the globe via myriad currents at the surface and along the bottom.

The area around the glacier tongue, since halved in length by the collision, and to the west are one of the few places around Antarctica where dense, salty water is formed and sinks to the depths of the ocean, said mission leader Steve Rintoul on Monday.

Article source: http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL3E7CV0CN20110131

New findings could help scientists monitor how corals adapt to global warming

January 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Global Warming

Young staghorn coral that fluoresce redder are less likely to settle and develop into coral polyps than their greener peers, University of Texas at Austin biologists have discovered.

The finding may help scientists monitor how corals adapt to global warming because the less likely coral larvae are to settle, the more likely they will disperse from their reef of origin.

“By simply looking at the color of a larval population, we may soon be able to say which larvae are going to be long-range dispersers and which will be short-range dispersers,” says Mikhail “Misha” Matz, assistant professor of biology. “Under global warming, we expect a lot of evolution of this particular life history trait.”

Matz says researchers expect to see long-range dispersers starting to win, because the corals need to shift to cooler latitudes.

The research was published this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

For the study, Matz and his colleagues crossed different color morphs of the small staghorn coral, Acropora millepora, and exposed the offspring larvae to a settlement cue ground-up calcareous red algae. The scientists observed that larvae inheriting redder fluorescent color from their parents were less likely to settle and metamorphose into reef-building polyps than greener larvae.

Coral response to the settlement cue is under strong genetic control, but it’s not clear yet how that is linked with fluorescence.

Matz says the correlation between settlement and fluorescence could be completely random, that the genes that determine color and the genes that determine settlement are only next to each other in the chromosome and have no functional connection. In that case, they would simply be inherited together.

Alternatively, fluorescence could somehow be related genetically to the capacity of larvae to sense the proximity of a coral reef, and thus have a more direct correlation.

Matz and his colleagues will be investigating these two possibilities in further research. But in either case, Matz says the color of coral larvae fluorescence could serve as a viable marker as to whether they are settlers or swimmers.

The big question still remains as to why corals fluoresce in such spectacular colors.

“Bright, multicolored fluorescence of reef-building corals is one of the most spectacular and least understood visual phenomena in the ocean,” says Matz, “and we still have no idea what purpose it serves. But our discovery is a really good lead towards determining the function of fluorescence.”

Additional contact:
Lee Clippard, public affairs
512-232-0675
lclippard@mail.utexas.edu

Published on: 2011-01-30

Article source: http://7thspace.com/headlines/371300/new_findings_could_help_scientists_monitor_how_corals_adapt_to_global_warming.html

Greenland Ice Sheet Experiences Record Melt

January 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Global Warming

New research shows the ice sheet is melting

The Greenland ice sheet, a vast body of ice covering 80% of the country, experienced a record melt in 2010.

The remote island of Greenland is at the coal face of global warming. The Greenland ice sheet makes up around one-twentieth of the worlds ice. In 2010 much of Greenland experienced unusually warm weather, extending the annual melting season by 50 days.

Research published by the City College of New York’s Cryospheric Processes Laboratory shows that since 1979 the area subject to melting in Greenland has been increasing at a rate of 17,000 kilometers square each year. This means that an area the size of France melted in 2010 which would not have melted three decades ago.

Greenland's icesheets experience record melt - M. Tedesco/WWFThe Greenland ice sheets annual melt started exceptionally early in 2010 and extended exceptionally late, lasting from the end of April to mid-September. The studys co-author Marco Tedesco, director of the Cryospheric Processes Laboratory, explained that this was caused by above-normal near-surface air temperatures.

The teams research was based on satellite data and ground observations, as well as data collected by automated weather stations installed by the Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht in 2003.

If the entire 2,850,000 km3 of the Greenland ice sheet were to melt, global sea levels would rise by a catastrophic 7.2 meters. The 2010 melt beats the previous record set in 2007. Eight of the largest melts on record happened between 1998 and 2010.

2010 was the warmest year on record for Nuuk, Greenlands capital city. It is projected that local warming in Greenland will exceed 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) before the end of this century. Continued warming such as this would see the Greenland ice sheet cross a threshold where long-term melting is inevitable.

Canyon over the ice sheet formed by meltwater - M. Tedesco/WWFThese new findings come as the United States grapples with its funding of international climate change initiatives. A recently released budget plan prepared by the Republican Party includes a provision to eliminate all taxpayer subsidies to the United Nationals Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to New York Times environment reporter Andrew C. Revkin, dont look for the vital 21st-century energy quest, let alone a reality-based approach to global warming, to begin within the borders of the United States.

The ice in the Greenland ice sheet is up to 130,000 years old, making it an important record of past climatic conditions. Scientists have been able to drill 4 kilometers deep ice cores, providing an accurate snap shot of global climate changes, ocean volumes and volcanic eruptions.

By area Greenland is the worlds largest island. Its population totals less than 57,000, making it the least densely populated country or dependency in the world.

Article source: http://www.suite101.com/content/greenland-ice-sheet-experiences-record-melt-a336236

Coral spreading northward in Japan as ocean temperatures rise

January 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Global Warming

Corals that inhabit warm ocean areas are spreading northward in Japan’s coastal waters, apparently due to global warming, researchers have announced.

According to a research team from the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Ibaraki Prefecture and the Kushimoto Marine Park Center in Wakayama Prefecture, the northern limits of the habitats of several species of coral lying mostly near the Nansei Islands south of Kyushu have been moving northward at a “unprecedented speed” of up to 14 kilometers per year.

The unusual phenomenon is thought to have been caused by rising sea temperatures associated with global warming. As corals serve as the home for various marine plants and animals, researchers fear a possible change in the regional ecosystem.

In the sea around Japan, average water temperatures in winter have risen by 1.1 to 1.6 degrees Celsius over the past century. Out of nine species of corals that the research team analyzed, four that live in tropical waters have so far spread northward. One of the four species was observed inhabiting the area near Kagoshima Prefecture’s Tanegashima island in 1988, but was found to have spread 280 kilometers northward to Nagasaki Prefecture’s Goto Islands 20 years later.

Article source: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110122p2a00m0na019000c.html

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