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December 10 2013


Shrimp Fishery Collapse in Gulf of Maine

Shrimp moratorium

A moratorium for the 2014 shrimp fishing season was announced for the US Northeastern Gulf of Maine shrimp fishery last week as stocks of shrimp for 2012 hit record lows. The last time the shrimp catch was halted was 35 years ago in 1977.

“The Northern Shrimp Technical Committee has considered the Gulf of Maine northern shrimp stock to have collapsed with very little hope for recovery in the near future,” Kelly Whitmore, chairwoman of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission told members of a section advisory panel on December 3rd, effectively halting all shrimping activities for the 2014 season, usually lasting from December through May. “There are no small shrimp around right now,” added Whitmore, “it doesn’t bode well for the future.”

shrimp-fishery-collapseDeclining shrimp stocks became strikingly apparent in 2012, with the annual survey last year showing the lowest number of adult shrimp ever recorded in the survey’s 30 year history.  Despite pressure to halt the 2013 season, fishing went ahead with a reduced catch limit of  625 tons, or a 72 percent decrease from the allowable catch set for 2012. Even then, shrimpers only caught 307 tons for the 2013 season.

“I think everyone was startled by what we saw in 2012, and there was a lot of pressure to close down the fishery for the 2013 season,” said Chief Scientific Officer John Annala of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. “The survey this summer found just 20 percent of the 2012 record low, so it has fallen off incredibly sharply.”

Of particular concern is the fact that no juvenile shrimp have shown up in any of of the surveys since 2010. Shrimp in the Gulf of Maine live for only about five years so the lack of any young shrimp for the past three years portends trouble for the future of the fishery for many years to come.

Overfishing, warming ocean waters

The sharp decline in shrimp in the region is largely attributed to overfishing and warming ocean waters.

“During the last ten years the water temperature in the Gulf of Maine has been running about 2.5 degrees Celsius or about 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the previous one hundred year average,” Annala said. “We don’t know what the thermal threshold of this species is, but the Gulf of Maine has always been the southernmost extreme of their range, so we probably don’t have much wiggle room.”

Even if shrimp prove  heat tolerant, which shouldn’t be assumed, the warming oceans of the Gulf of Maine are deadly to tiny zooplankton, the shrimp’s principal food supply. Warmer water also make the region more hospitable to predators of shrimp like dogfish and red hake.

Other species upon which the northeastern fisherman depend are also feeling the heat. The iconic lobster has been heading steadily northward in recent years in search of colder waters.

For the shrimp, the future remains tenuous. At this point, nobody is confident that 2014 will be the end of the moratorium.

“Decisions like this one show how fishermen are on the front lines of the battle against climate change,” said Michael Conathan, Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress. “This is not a nebulous, maybe-someday-in-the-future problem. This is unchecked carbon pollution affecting livelihoods here in Maine today.”


Image credit: Doug DuCap, courtesy flickr


The post Shrimp Fishery Collapse in Gulf of Maine appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

November 26 2013


Ocean Acidity Rising 10x Faster Than At Any Time in the Past 55 Million Years

Credit: Christopher Krembs, TAMU

Ocean acidification continues to rise at a rate “unprecedented in Earth’s history,” a direct result of past and current increases in carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, posing significant threats to the health and integrity of marine ecosystems and the diverse range of products and services they provide the world over, according to a report produced by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) and released for the Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World..

The latest scientific research on ocean acidification indicates the pH of the oceans is decreasing 10-times faster than at any time in the past 55 million years and may be decreasing faster “than at any time in the last 300 million years,” according to “Ocean Acidification: A Summary for Policymakers” presented at the Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World.

The culprit: rising anthropogenic (human) emissions of CO2. The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere has risen 40 percent since the start of the Industrial Revolution. The oceans historically have absorbed about ¼ of all the CO2 released into the atmosphere by humans since that time. Today, they absorb some 10 million metric tons of CO2 on a daily basis, the report authors note in an executive summary. To date, those emissions have led ocean acidity to increase 26 percent.

Ocean acidification: Rising human carbon emissions the culprit

Increasing ocean acidification lowers the capacity of the oceans to absorb seawater and hence also threatens the viability of marine ecosystems. That spells potential trouble for already troubled ocean plant and animal species, many of which are of vital importance to human societies the world over.

As the authors highlight, the gathering of 540 experts from 37 countries in Monterey, California for the Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World attests to the growing amount of interest, scientific research, and sense of urgency, regarding “ocean acidification, its impacts on ecosystems, socio-economic consequences and implications for policy.”

What do we need to do in respone to what amounts as a “clear and present danger” to the health and integrity of marine ecosystems? The report authors state the solution plainly and succinctly:

“Reducing CO2 emissions is the only way to minimise long-term, largescale risks.”


Source: “Ocean Acidification Summary for Policymakers”

Considerations for Policy Makers

In the executive summary, they go on to highlight a summary of considerations they recommend policy makers take into account in their decision making:

  • The primary cause of ocean acidification is the release of atmospheric CO2 from human activities. The only known realistic mitigation option on a global scale is to limit future atmospheric CO2 levels.
  • Appropriate management of land use and land-use change can enhance uptake of atmospheric CO2 by vegetation and soils through activities such as restoration of wetlands, planting new forests and reforestation.
  • Geoengineering proposals that do not reduce atmospheric CO2 – for example, methods that focus solely on temperature (such as aerosol backscatter or reduction of greenhouse gases other than CO2) – will not prevent ocean acidification. Adding alkaline minerals to the ocean would be effective and economically feasible only on a very small scale in coastal regions, and the unintended environmental consequences are largely unknown.
  • The impacts of other stressors on ocean ecosystems such as higher temperatures and deoxygenation – also associated with increasing CO2 – will be reduced by limiting increases in CO2 levels.
  • The shellfish aquaculture industry faces significant threats and may benefit from a risk assessment and analysis of mitigation and adaptation strategies. For example, seawater monitoring around shellfish hatcheries can identify when to limit the intake of seawater with a lower pH, hatcheries can be relocated, or managers can select larval stages or strains that are more resilient to ocean acidification for breeding.
  • At local levels, the effects of ocean acidification on ecosystem resilience may be constrained by minimising other local stressors3,4,5 through the following:
  1. Developing sustainable fisheries management practices such as regulating catches to reduce overfishing and creating long-term bycatch reduction plans. If implemented and enforced, this type of management has been shown to sustain ecosystem resilience.
  2. Adopting sustainable management of habitats, increased coastal protection, reduced sediment loading and application of marine spatial planning.
  3. Establishing and maintaining Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that help manage endangered and highly vulnerable ecosystems to enhance their resilience against multiple environmental stressors.
  4. Monitoring and regulating localised sources of acidification from runoff and pollutants such as fertilisers.
  5. Reducing sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and ship exhausts that have significant acidifying effects locally.

Main image credit: Christopher Krembs, TAMU

The post Ocean Acidity Rising 10x Faster Than At Any Time in the Past 55 Million Years appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

November 06 2013


Oceans heating up faster now than in the past 10,000 years, says new study

Oceans heating up faster now than in the past 10,000 years, says new study (via Skeptical Science)

Posted on 5 November 2013 by John Abraham If the latest research is correct, our oceans are heating up much faster now than they have in the past 10,000 years. This is one of the conclusions that is drawn from a recently published paper in Science.…

The post Oceans heating up faster now than in the past 10,000 years, says new study appeared first on Global Warming is Real.


Webchat: Are the oceans in crisis?

Daryl Hannah and Johan Rockström answer your questions about the state of the seas

October 22 2013


DOE Highlights Early Results of US Offshore Wind Energy Research and Development

The potential of US offshore wind energy is huge, says DOE report

The US Department of Energy (DOE) released the special offshore wind edition of its Wind Program Newsletter October 22, highlighting the seminal role federal funding and support is playing in the development of a potentially huge clean and renewable energy resource, one that could go a long way in spurring economic growth and job creation as well as helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and climate change risks.

Stronger, more abundant and more consistent than onshore winds, US offshore wind energy resource potential in US federal and state coastal waters and the Great Lakes has been estimated at more than 4 million megawatts (MW).

Aiming to “speed technical innovations, lower costs, and shorten the time frame for deploying offshore wind energy systems,” the DOE allocated $43 million to help fund 41 offshore wind power research and development (R&D) projects around the nation back in September 2011. The fruits of this labor, such as an online repository for DOE-funded offshore wind project results, are beginning to show.

US offshore wind energy participants gather in Providence

In addition to providing the public with the latest information on its new website, DOE staff will be discussing results of agency-funded offshore wind R&D and demonstration projects at this year’s AWEA Offshore WINDPOWER Conference and Exposition in Providence, Rhode Island, which began today, October 22.

Threatened, as well as offered opportunities, by the rise of distributed solar, wind and other renewable energy generation, offshore wind power development poses the big US power utilities opportunities they should be eager to seize upon.

Spurred onward by federal support, a formative US offshore wind industry is finally coalescing as well. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) completed the historic first two offshore wind lease sales earlier this year. Deepwater Wind New England LLC won the bidding for two offshore wind energy sites off the Rhode Island and Massachusetts coasts in July. More recently, in September, Dominion Virginia Power won a second competitive offshore wind energy lease.

DOE Advanced Technology Demonstration project partners are also making progress in “developing engineering, design, and permitting plans for their proposed offshore wind demonstration projects,” DOE Wind Program Director Jose Zayas notes in a DOE program update. A total of $168 million over six years was allocated in 2012 to fund seven advanced offshore wind power technology demonstration projects. Most are slated to begin commercial operation by 2017.

Main image credit: Penobscot Bay Pilot
Featured image credit: Stanford University

The post DOE Highlights Early Results of US Offshore Wind Energy Research and Development appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

October 08 2013


New Research Reveals Climate Warming 55 MYA was Geologically Instantaneous

PETMfig1 (1)New research into past changes in climate indicates that global warming can take place much more suddenly than previously thought – over the course of only about 13 years. Temperatures at high latitudes rose as much as 8ºC (14ºF) and oceans warmed from surface to bottom some 55 million years ago during what’s known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).

The rapid rise in global temperature caused massive disruptions and changed climate conditions, weather patterns, the distribution of plant and animal species, and ecology the world over. Driving it all was a massive increase in the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. The massive, abrupt injection of CO2 into the atmosphere, in turn, was driven by intense volcanic activity on the seafloor, which also drove a further separation of the American and Eurasian tectonic plates and the widening of the North Atlantic Ocean basin.

Instantaneous Global Warming

The scientific consensus was that a massive release of CO2 into the atmosphere over a period of some 10,000 years drove the PETM temperature rise. Research conducted by two Rutgers University geologists indicates that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 during the PETM occurred in a geologic instant, over a mere 13 years, driving a global temperature rise of 5ºC (9ºF), however, according to a Phys.org report.

Studying drilling core samples from an area of southern New Jersey that was covered by a warm sea during the PETM, Rutgers’ geologists Morgan Schaller and James Wright discovered an alternating, cyclic pattern of dark clay bands about 2 centimeters thick rich in organic material. Analyzing the clay bands, the pair of researchers found changes in ratios of heavier carbon-13 and lighter carbon-12 isotopes.

The 20% drop in atmospheric carbon-13 concentration they measured in the core samples can “plausibly account” for their observations is “a large, instantaneous release of C-13-depleted carbon,” associated with intense volcanic activity, according to their report, “Evidence for a rapid release of carbon at the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum,” in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Scientists have been using this event from 55 million years ago to build models about what’s going on now,” Schaller was quoted as saying. “But they’ve been assuming it took something like 10,000 years to release that carbon, which we’ve shown is not the case. We now have a very precise record through the carbon release that can be used to fix those models.”

The research pair estimates the intense marine volcanic activity some 55 million years ago caused some 3,000 gigatons of carbon to be released into the atmosphere from hydrocarbon-rich, organic mudstone, and methane hydrate deposits on the seafloor of the continental margins.

In addition to forcing rapid warming, this led to an abrupt rise in the acidity of the oceans, which, in turn, led to mass extinctions of the phytoplankton that not only form the base of the marine food chain, but produce as much as half the oxygen in the atmosphere and absorb as much as half the total atmospheric CO2 sequestered as part of the carbon cycle. Similarly drastic changes have been found in terrestrial flora and fauna.

Though nowhere near the same order of magnitude, human CO2 emissions are causing similarly profound and abrupt climate and ecological change today. “We’ve shown unequivocally what happens when CO2 increases dramatically – as it is now, and as it did 55 million years ago,” Wright was quoted.

“The oceans become acidic and the world warms up dramatically. Our current carbon release has been going on for about 150 years, and because the rate is relatively slow, about half the CO2 has been absorbed by the oceans and forests, causing some popular confusion about the warming effects of CO2. But 55 million years ago, a much larger amount of carbon was all released nearly instantaneously, so the effects are much clearer.”

The post New Research Reveals Climate Warming 55 MYA was Geologically Instantaneous appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

September 17 2013


Scotland Gives the Go Ahead to Europe’s Largest Marine Tidal Energy Project

Scotland approves the largest tidal energy project in Europe

Europe’s largest marine tidal energy project is moving forward following a four-year assessment of its environmental and social impacts. Scottish government regulator Marine Scotland on September 16 granted final approval of MeyGen Ltd.’s proposal to build a carbon emissions-free 86-megawatt (MW) tidal energy system in Pentland Firth’s Inner Sound between the north coast of Caithness and the Orkneys island of Stroma.

Given its tidal current profile, the 3.5 square kilometer (km2) Pentland Firth site is considered to be the “crown jewel” of Scotland’s substantial marine tidal energy resources. Groundbreaking as it is, MeyGen – a joint venture between independent power producer GDF Suez (45%), investment bank Morgan Stanley(45%), and tidal energy technology provider Atlantis Resources (10%) – intends to proceed in phases in developing the project, which may ultimately expand to 398 MW of clean, renewable power capacity.

Tapping Scotland’s tidal flows for clean, sustainable energy

The MeyGen group intends to start the 86-MW first phase of the project in early 2014 by installing an initial set of up to six tidal turbines with a rated capacity of 9 MW. Commissioning is expected 2015, according to a company press release.

The regular nature of tidal flows make them particularly attractive sources of renewable energy. Reaching 86 MW would yield enough clean, renewable power to supply 40% of Scotland’s Highlands homes, Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing was quoted in a report in The Guardian.

“This is a major step forward for Scotland’s marine renewable energy industry. When fully operational, the 86 megawatt array could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 42,000 homes – around 40 percent of homes in the Highlands. This … is just the first phase for a site that could eventually yield up to 398 megawatts.”

Tidal energy: Social and environmental impacts

Assessing the environmental impacts of the MeyGen project plays a principal role in the phased approach to development, as does its social impacts on the local and broader community. In addition to protecting local ecosystems, Scotland’s government is looking at developing its vast tidal and ocean energy resources potential as a means of boosting local employment, incomes and overall quality of life.

It’s estimated that Scotland can produce 12 gigawatts (GW) of energy from sustainable marine renewable and offshore wind resources. Scotland’s tidal and wave energy resources’ potential represents as much as 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, of Europe’s estimated total. In addition, studies indicate that Scotland holds some 25% of total European offshore wind resource potential.

Recognizing the ecological value and uniqueness of the area and the pioneering nature of the project, MeyGen has spent the past four years carrying out an environmental impact assessment (EIA), as well as engaging in “extensive consultation with stakeholders and the local community in Caithness.”

Such efforts will continue as the initial installation phases of the project proceed. Elaborated MeyGen’s environment and consents manager Ed Rollings,

“The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters region is an internationally important area for wildlife and we are committed to continuing research with interested parties to ensure that the exploitation of this clean, predictable and sustainable energy resource is done so in a manner that does not have a detrimental effect on the species and habitats in the area.”

Xodus Group served as lead consultant for MeyGen Phase 1′s EIA, which “considered the possible positive or negative impacts of the project on the local environment as well as potential social and economic aspects.”

Image Credit: MeyGen Ltd.

The post Scotland Gives the Go Ahead to Europe’s Largest Marine Tidal Energy Project appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

September 10 2013


Warming Ocean Portends Troubling Changes at the Base of the Marine Food Web


Conducting research of potentially vital importance to marine and coastal zone resource policy makers and managers, fisheries managers, fishing communities and stakeholders worldwide, researchers from the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) School of Environmental Sciences and School of Computing Sciences and the University of Exeter have found that warming ocean temperatures pose potentially grave risks to the marine food web.

The research team for the first time determined that ocean temperature – as well as light and nutrient levels – has a direct impact on the chemical cycles, diversity and productivity of phytoplankton populations, microscopic marine organisms that form the base of the marine food web and play an outsized role in absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

As lead researcher Dr. Thomas Mock explained in a UEA news report,

“Phytoplankton, including micro-algae, are responsible for half of the carbon dioxide that is naturally removed from the atmosphere. As well as being vital to climate control, it also creates enough oxygen for every other breath we take, and forms the base of the food chain for fisheries so it is incredibly important for food security.

Changes at the base of the marine food web

“Previous studies have shown that phytoplankton communities respond to global warming by changes in diversity and productivity. But with our study we show that warmer temperatures directly impact the chemical cycles in plankton, which has not been shown before.”

More specifically, the research team found that marine micro algae apparently don’t produce as many ribosomes as when temperatures are lower. Rich in phosphorous, ribosomes assemble the proteins essential to phytoplankton life functioning.

A reduction in ribosomes leads to the production of more nitrogen as opposed to phosphorous, which increases the demand for nitrogen in the oceans. This, in turn, would eventually lead to more blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, which fix atmospheric nitrogen as part of their basic life functioning.

Source: World Resources Institute

Source: World Resources Institute

Cyanobacteria also soak up oceanic oxygen, creating low oxygen, hypoxic, conditions that have led to the creation of large and growing marine and coastal area “dead zones” devoid of the seafood species we rely on as sources of food and nutrition. Dead zones have formed in areas such as the Mississippi River delta in the Gulf of Mexico, where large quantities of nitrogen from terrestrial sources, such as fertilizer runoff from farms, flows out via river deltas into the ocean.

“The impact of temperature on marine phytoplankton resource allocation and metabolism,” appears in the September 8, 2013 online edition of Nature Climate Change.

Main image credit: Source: NOAA MESA Project

Featured image credit: Pulpolux!!!, courtesy flickr

The post Warming Ocean Portends Troubling Changes at the Base of the Marine Food Web appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

August 16 2013


Video Friday: The Plastic Bank – Monetizing Waste Plastic

The Plastic Bank can reverse plastic pollution and help impoverished communitiesSocial plastic

The Plastic Bank is an organization and a movement aimed at removing plastic waste from the world’s oceans, beaches and waterways in a process that empowers people living in poverty to raise their standard of living and strengthen their communities. The concept is to establish “Plastic Banks” in impoverished areas with an existing abundance of plastic waste, allowing people to harvest the waste for credits used for micro-finance loans, repurposed necessities and 3D printing of everyday products.

A key focus of the program is education and empowerment, allowing people oppressed by poverty to envision and realize a better life for themselves, finding value in what has heretofore been a waste stream choking their communities and polluting the global environment.

“Social plastic is plastic waste that is harvested and repurposed for cause,” says Plastic Bank founder and CEO David Katz. “When operational, The Plastic Bank will exchange social plastic as a currency that can be used towards items that help lift individuals out of poverty and support local entrepreneurialism. As technology develops, The Plastic Bank will provide 3D printing services with the goal of converting social plastic into the raw material for 3D-printed products like tools, parts and household items.

Global social and environmental crises are linked, and so are the solutions,” adds Katz. “The crisis of waste plastics is an industrial problem that demands a transformative solution, like taking ocean-bound plastic waste and assigning it value. That is the promise of social plastic.”

Support the Plastic Bank

There are several ways you can support the Plastic Bank. First, by donating as little as $1 to their Indiegogo campaign you will help establish plastic repurposing centers around the world. You can also partner with the Plastic Bank to demand that corporations use only recycled plastics and help the transition to cleaning up the millions of tons of plastic waste entering our oceans every single year.

Image credit: Bastian, courtesy flickr

The post Video Friday: The Plastic Bank – Monetizing Waste Plastic appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

August 06 2013


Analogues from Earth’s Past Bode Ill for Coral Reefs, Marine Ecosystems

Marine ecosystems in danger in a greenhouse worldIn a bid to anticipate the effects of a warming world, climate scientists around the world are scouring the geological record for modern-day analogues – periods of Earth history when the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere reached or exceeded the 400 parts per million (ppm) we find today.

Delving into climate, marine biology, ecosystems and the marine ecology of 42 million to 57 million years ago – encompassing the so-called Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) – paleobiologists and colleagues at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography conclude that the human population just 80 years hence may be living in a “greenhouse world,” dependent, in part, on vastly different marine food webs.

Life in a “Greenhouse World”

The level of CO2 in the atmosphere – the primary contributor to the Greenhouse Effect – hasn’t exceeded 280 ppm throughout human history – up until modern times that is. Having exceeded 400 ppm for the first time in human history several times this May, annual global greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at ever greater rates despite best efforts to contain and reduce them.

Reporting in the August 2 special edition of Science, Scripps researchers found indications that atmospheric CO2 concentrations between 42 million and 57 million years ago reached 800-1,000 ppm. Tropical ocean temperatures, moreover, were comparable to that of a hot tub (35º C, 95º F), polar ocean temperatures were similar to those of San Francisco Bay today (12ºC, 53º F), and there were no polar ice sheets.

Moreover, marine “food webs did not sustain the abundance of large sharks, whales, seabirds, and seals of the modern ocean,” Scripps News reports. Coral reefs – the “rainforests of the sea” – largely disappeared. Instead, the researchers found the seabed was dominated by accumulations of the tiny, microscopic shells of foramenifera akin to “gravel parking lots.”

The Scripp’s research team project that humans may be living in such a “greenhouse world” in only 80 years, dependent on vastly changed, less rich and less productive marine food webs. Larger diatoms and other plankton typically support the highly productive marine ecosystems and food webs that help us, as well as large marine animals survive and thrive today. The base of the “greenhouse ocean” marine food web of 50 million years ago, in contrast, was characterized by much smaller picoplankton.

“The tiny algae of the greenhouse world were just too small to support big animals,” Scripps Institution, UC San Diego paleobiologist Richard Norris was quoted as saying. “It’s like trying to keep lions happy on mice instead of antelope; lions can’t get by on only tiny snacks.”

Troubling portents of climate change

Rapid warming events similar to those projected today, such as the PETM, occurred during this period of Earth history can serve as indicators for what we can expect should concentrations of atmospheric carbon and other greenhouse gases continue to increase, climate scientists say. Global mean temperatures rose 5-9º C (9-16º F) during the PETM, causing dramatic changes in ecosystems and their productivity, including “massive migrations of animals and plants and shifts in climate zones.”

“Notably, despite the disruption to the Earth’s ecosystems, the extinction of species was remarkably light, other than a mass extinction in the rapidly warming ocean,” according to Scripps News’ report.

“In many respects the PETM warmed the world more than we project for future climate change, so it should come as some comfort that extinctions were mostly limited to the deep sea,” Norris was quoted. “Unfortunately, the PETM also shows that ecological disruption can last tens of thousands of years.”

In another recently released study, scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Arctic and Alpine Research Center found similarly troubling portents of ecosystems disruption in the Arctic. Sea levels during the Pliocene some 3 million to 5 million years ago – the most recent period of geologic time scientists believe atmospheric CO2 concentrations reached 400 ppm – global mean temperatures were some 3-5ºF (2-5ºC) warmer. What is now Arctic tundra was covered in forest and sea levels were some 65-80 feet (20-24m) higher.

What can be done to avert such relatively rapid and drastic change?

“An abrupt halt to fossil fuel use at current levels would limit the period of future climate instability to less than 1,000 years before climate largely returns to pre-industrial norms,” Scripps News’ paraphrased Norris.

Continuing to burn fossil fuels at our current rate in this and coming decades “magnifies the period of climate instability” and bring about a period of major ecological change stretching out some 20,000 years or more and lasting for 100,000 years, according to the report authors, which included researchers from Yale and the UK’s University of Bristol.

The post Analogues from Earth’s Past Bode Ill for Coral Reefs, Marine Ecosystems appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

June 19 2013


Hawaii’s Fishermen: Scapegoats for Forces Outside their Control

Are Hawaii's fishermen the scapegoats over environmental problems of which they have no control?Climate change is affecting fisheries in the Western Pacific and around the world, but a host of other factors, including land use, are threatening fisheries and the health and integrity of marine ecosystems. Aiming for sustainable fisheries, marine policymakers, resource managers, fishermen and other stakeholders are increasingly looking to take a more holistic, integrated approach to fisheries management, as evidenced during the latest meeting of the Western Regional Fishery Management Council (WRFMC) meeting, which was held in Oahu.

Often blamed for overexploiting fish stocks, local fishermen in Hawaii are keenly aware of external impacts on the health and integrity of marine ecosystems and fish populations. At the latest WRFMC meeting in Honolulu, they argued in support of taking a more comprehensive ecosystems management approach, specifically zooming in on how land use and associated runoff from cities, agriculture and industry are harming marine ecosystems and fisheries.

“Hawaii fishermen asked policymakers to address how runoff caused by land development harms reefs, fisheries and oceans when they consider how to cope with the effects of climate change,” the AP’s Audrey Mcavoy wrote in news report.

Adopting an ecosystems-based approach to fisheries management

Established by Congress in 1976 per the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act (MSA), the WRFMC is one of eight Fishery Management Councils in the US. Its regulatory authority stretches from the Pacific Ocean waters off Hawaii to include those off Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. MSA was amended in 1996 “to prevent overfishing, minimize by-catch and protect the fish stocks and habitat.”

Adopting a bottom-up approach to fisheries and marine resource management, the Council is made up of 16 Council members, which draw on input from local and community fishermen and the broader public, as well as marine scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Pelagic Fisheries Research Program.

Local fishermen have wound up being “scapegoats” for declining fish stocks and catches, one fishermen told committee members, arguing “that what happens on land is one cause of deteriorating reefs.”  But he says fishermen can’t control what happens ‘up mauka,’ or “toward the mountains,” Mcavoy reported from the Regional Ecosystem Advisory Committee for Hawaii fisheries meeting.

Said local fishermen Carl Jellings,

“We fight every day so we can continue fishing. It’s getting harder and harder because more things are happening in the environment that we’re getting blamed for.”

Push for public-private collaboration on climate change adaptation strategies

Scientists at the meeting highlighted the rise in global mean temperatures and a drop in local rainfall, pointing out how different fish species differ in their ability to adapt to climate change.

They also highlighted that ongoing increases in carbon and greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in ocean acidification, putting additional pressure on coral reefs and marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

These threats are very real and pose very difficult problems that involve fundamental trade-offs and controversy, they added.

The committee drafted recommendations proposing public-private sector collaboration to craft climate change adaptation strategies. These are to be considered by WRFMC members.

A proposal that the state also study Hawaii’s carrying capacity – how many people can live in and visit Hawaii without irrevocably harming natural resources – was also adopted. “How are you going to say we’ve got to reduce 1 million tourists to be sustainable? Or 10 million tourists to become sustainable? How are you going to tell the hotel industry that? The tourism industry that?” Jellings was quoted as saying.

The post Hawaii’s Fishermen: Scapegoats for Forces Outside their Control appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

February 28 2013


An Emblem for Puerto Rico’s Climate Fight

Scientists fear that native tree frog species in Puerto Rico will go extinct unless action is taken to slow rising temperatures.

September 04 2012


August 20 2012


A Whale, a Tag, a Mission

Chugging behind a whale in an inflatable vessel, researchers may have only a precious second or two to affix an electronic tag to its glistening back. The tag precisely tracks the animal's movements.

August 16 2012


Tsunami Debris Strains Budgets and Patience

States along the Pacific Coast worry that vast amounts of trash will wash up and are concerned about invasive species.

August 15 2012


Introducing the Ocean Health Index

Comparing different parts of the world's oceans, the index weighs whether the human activity there is sustainable or in need of better management.

August 14 2012


The Dolphin Lover's Conundrum

Feeding or petting a dolphin is illegal, but many who love them seem blissfully unaware.

On Our Radar: A Colossal Burmese Python

The invasive reptile, whose population is soaring in South Florida, was carrying 87 eggs.
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