Friday, May 20, 2016
Warmists just LOVE the Great Barrier Reef
It enables them to tell SO many lies. That coral "bleaching" (expulsion of symbiotic algae) has been happening for millions of years goes unmentioned below -- as is the fact that corals have in the past coped with far greater temperature variations than anything we have seen recently. And corals are still with us, funnily enough.
They do respond to temperature, among other things, but the "bleaching" is mainly in order to recruit different varieties of symbiotic algae. And corals are hardier than they look. In "bleached" form they can survive for quite a while on just their normal filter feeding. "Bleached" corals are NOT dead.
And the present ocean warming is clearly due to El Nino, a temporary warming that is part of a natural cycle. It's actually the La Nina that normally follows El Nino that is the biggest concern. Corals are more likely to "bleach" in response to cooling than they are to warming.
And let me again mention my favourite fact about coral: In 1954 the USA exploded a 15 megaton thermonuclear device over Bikini atoll. And Bikini atoll had lots of coral. So there is no coral there at all now? Far from it. The corals there now are huge, abundant and thriving. So if coral reefs can recover from an H-bomb blast, why is a pissy one degree temperature rise in GBR waters of concern?
Corals at Bikini atoll today
Strange that all that goes unmentioned below, isn't it? You would not suspect any of it from the screeches below. The words below are "an orchestrated litany of lies", to quote a distinguished judge on another matter. The Waremists just want more funding and are prepared to lie and deceive to get it. Global warming is a global racket dreamt up by scientists for the benefit of scientists
The Federal Government’s plan to save the Great Barrier Reef is “totally inadequate,” and if whoever forms government doesn’t commit at least $10 billion this election the natural wonder is likely to be doomed, scientists at James Cook University have said.
This extraordinary warning comes from leading water quality expert Jon Brodie and Emeritus Professor Richard Pearson, who are speaking out after they published a paper this week. In an interview this morning, Brodie said the Reef “will never be in its full gory again, we can’t expect that, [but]it’s going to get worse unless we do something”.
The Scientists said the twin threats of poor water quality and climate change could put the Reef in “terminal” decline within five years, unless whoever forms government comes to office with a comprehensive, cohesive, and adequately-funded rescue plan.
The Coalition Government has released a plan, known as Reef 2050, but it scarcely mentions climate change and Brodie said it is “totally inadequate”. “I’m probably the leading water quality expert for the Great Barrier Reef over the last 30 years and I’m saying the water quality [aspect of the plan]is absolutely inadequate,” he said.
“It was meant to be a comprehensive plan, of course, but as has been pointed out by everyone, and particularly the Australian Academy of Science, it’s totally inadequate,” he said.
The James Cook University scientists said catchment and coastal management programs need to be funded in the order of $1 billion per year over the next ten years. “We need a plan to fix up water quality as best we can, to provide some resilience against the oncoming climate change impacts,” Brodie said.
The Great Barrier Reef has made headlines over recent months as 93 per cent of the Reef, which is the only living structure that can be seen from space, has been affected by coral bleaching.
Fuelled by warming waters, the coral bleaching event was the worst in recorded history. The uncompromising heat was a result of an El Nino climate system, superimposed over baseline temperatures already pushed up by climate change.
“Before climate change kicked in we simply never saw bleaching,” Professor Terry Hughes has previously told New Matilda. “It’s quite confronting that we’ve now got to the stage that every El Nino event – and they happen every few years – is a threat to the Great Barrier Reef,” said Hughes, the Director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
The threats posed by climate change are exacerbated by plague-like outbreaks of Crown of Thorns Starfish, which are triggered by poor water quality. According to the James Cook University Scientists, the next outbreak is most likely to occur around 2025.
If we don’t make serious inroads at improving water quality by then, the fate of the Reef looks grim.
Brodie and Emeritus Professor Pearson are calling for management of the Reef to be extended beyond the bounds of the World Heritage Area, north to the Torres Strait, south to Hervey Bay, and inland to include the Great Barrier Reef catchment.
This would of course come at a cost. But Brodie points out that while $10 billion over ten years “may seem like a lot of money, we know that amount would be effective and it’s small by comparison to the economic worth of the Reef, which is around $20 billion per year”.
Current Federal funding, he said, “is almost nothing”. And that doesn’t look likely to change. “So far in the election campaign, we’ve seen no major commitments about the Great Barrier Reef at all from anybody really,” Brodie said.
The Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Imogen Zethoven said “the massive coral bleaching taking place right now on the Reef and the latest science over recent months all point in one direction: The outlook for the Reef is dire and we must act now.
“Things are worse than we thought for the Reef’s future, we are close to the brink of what this fragile ecosystem can tolerate without a credible plan for restoring it to good health,” she said.
“Australia’s current plans to protect the Reef are inadequate, short-sighted, lack appropriate funding and will not prevent its decline.”
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Wow! Somebody who knows what he is talking about on coral bleaching
There is a long article on Watts that reviews the science of what is known of the coral reef life-cycle. It has lots of surprises for people who have heard only the cries of disaster from Warmists. The single fact that stood out to me was that coral bleaching is most often a response to COOLING, not warming.
The article gives particular attention to the utterances of Warmists like Hoagy and completely demolishes them. It gives good grounds for regarding Hoagy as nothing but a fraud.
I have previously noted that coral bleaching is not coral death and that corals are very resilient to damage but this article gives chapter and verse of that. Anyone interested in the health of coral reefs needs to read this article. You will laugh at all future Warmist claims if you do.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Huge coral reef discovered at Amazon river mouth
More evidence of how poorly understood coral reefs are. Warmists are dogmatic that recent bleaching on the Northern part of Australia's GBR is due to global warming but who knows? This recent discovery was apparently a huge surprise. There were not supposed to be corals in that location. So it shows how little we actually know about how corals work
What it does show is that corals are highly adaptable and can survive a lot of challenges. It might also be noted that there are benthic corals in Icelandic waters that get no sunlight at all. They have become filter feeders. Some of the South American corals may be that too
Yup. Science is settled.
Scientists astonished to find 600-mile long reef under the muddy water in a site already marked for oil exploration
Scientists were ‘flabbergasted’ to discover the Amazon reef as coral usually thrives in clear, sunlit tropical waters.
A huge 3,600 sq mile (9,300 sq km) coral reef system has been found below the muddy waters off the mouth of the river Amazon, astonishing scientists, governments and oil companies who have started to explore on top of it.
The existence of the 600-mile long reef, which ranges from about 30-120m deep and stretches from French Guiana to Brazil’s Maranhão state, was not suspected because many of the world’s great rivers produce major gaps in reef systems where no corals grow.
In addition, there was little previous evidence because corals mostly thrive in clear, sunlit, salt water, and the equatorial waters near the mouth of the Amazon are some of the muddiest in the world, with vast quantities of sediment washed thousands of miles down the river and swept hundreds of miles out to sea.
But the reef appears to be thriving below the freshwater “plume”, or outflow, of the Amazon. Compared to many other reefs, the scientists say in a paper in Science Advances on Friday, it is is relatively “impoverished”. Nevertheless, they found over 60 species of sponges, 73 species of fish, spiny lobsters, stars and much other reef life.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Australian scientists write open letter demanding action on Great Barrier Reef as 93 per cent of the reef has been affected by coral bleaching due to climate change
But what CAN the government do if it's due to climate change? They want the government to stop all coal usage but that would do nothing for the reef. The proportion of CO2 added to the atmosphere by the burning of coal in Australia is minuscule. The whole thing is just a cynical and dishonest attempt to push their usual barrows by exploiting something that is almost certainly due to the El Nino weather oscillation and not to "climate change"
Dozens of Australian scientists have penned a letter to express major concern for the Great Barrier Reef, which is currently undergoing its worst coral bleaching in history.
The letter signed by 56 scientists urged the government to make phasing out fossil fuels and coal a major priority to save the reef.
'We are now seeing first hand the damage that climate change causes, and we have a duty of care to speak out,' the open letter stated.
'Australia must rapidly phase-out our existing ageing and inefficient coal-fired power stations.
'In addition, there can be no new coal mines. No new coal-fired power stations. The transition to a renewables-led energy system, already underway, must be greatly accelerated.'
The letter, published in The Courier-Mail as an advert, cost the $14,000 to publish and was funded by a the Climate Council successfully raised money from 250 sponsors.
A report by news.com.au noted the letter was published in the same week it was revealed 93 per cent of the world's largest reef was affected by coral bleaching, the worst case in recorded history.
Organisations are demanding further action from the federal government, with WWF Australia pushing for 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035 and net zero carbon pollution before 2050, according to the report.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Marxist paper says that barrier reef damage is being covered up by Murdoch newspaper
The main Murdoch paper in North Queensland, where the reef is, did cover the bleaching. It was just the main Murdoch paper in the South, where the reef is not, that mostly ignored the alarms.
And the "Courier Mail" had good reason to ignore the Greenie shrieks. Greenies have been crying "wolf" over bleaching almost incessantly for many years. Another such cry is not much news.
And the point is that corals always recover. On Bikini atoll the corals re-grew even after sustaining a direct hit from a thermo-nuclear blast. And even the chief reef alarmist said: I’d expect most of the corals from Cairns southwards to recover”
Coral bleaching is a complex event and it is only Warmists who are sure that global warming causes it. As NOAA says: "Coral bleaching is not well understood by scientists. Many different hypotheses exist as to the cause behind coral bleaching"
I grew up a short boat ride from the reef and as far back as I can remember (over 60 years) there have been alarms about damage to the reef, including bleaching. And that was long before global warming is supposed to have got going.
Assuming that warmer water is the problem, however, note one thing: Both the big 1998 die-back and the present die-back coincided with big El Nino events. And Australia is right in the path of an El Nino event. It's by far the most parsimonious hypothesis to say that the present problems of the reef are wholly an El Nino effect, and hence just another one of nature's cycles, nothing to do with global warming
But most of the people quoted below are well-known Warmists so they are too predictable to be heeded
The images went around the world. The snapshots of the Great Barrier Reef, from Cairns to Torres Strait, looked more like a pile of bones than coral. Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council’s centre of excellence for coral reef studies at James Cook University in Townsville, was surveying the reef by plane and helicopter. It was, he wrote on March 26, “the saddest trip of my life”.
From March 22, Hughes criss-crossed 520 individual reefs in four days, covering 3200 kilometres by air. Just four showed no evidence of bleaching. The further north Hughes travelled, over what were once the most pristine waters of the reef, unspoiled by the runoff that pollutes the south, the worse the bleaching became. Fringing reefs in Torres Strait, he said, were “completely white”.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science currently has 300 researchers swarming over the reef, complementing the aerial surveys. Reefs are scored on a scale of zero, which indicates no bleaching, to four, which means more than 60 per cent is bleached. Their observations have replicated Hughes’s. In the meantime, Hughes has continued southwards, trying to find a limit to the unfolding tragedy beneath him.
Like most scientists, Hughes prefers to talk in numbers. “I wouldn’t talk about the Barrier Reef dying or the killing of the reef or whatever. I think that’s overstating it,” he says. “I’ll say what number of reefs we’ve surveyed, how many are severely bleached and how many are not severely bleached – but then often the language gets changed, depending on the style of reporting by particular outlets.”
“It’s fair to say it’s getting more coverage outside Australia than inside.”
To clarify, bleached coral is not dead coral. It’s just very unhealthy. Varying combinations of heat stress, bright sunlight and poor water quality cause coral to expel the algae, or zooxanthellae, on which it feeds, and which also gives it its brilliant colour. This exposes the limestone skeleton beneath. Different types of coral are more susceptible to bleaching than others.
Hughes is clear, though: this is really, really serious. “There’s a window of opportunity to survey the corals when they’re severely bleached, because after a few weeks they start to die, and then the skeletons get covered in seaweed and you can’t see them from the air anymore,” he says. “We timed our northern surveys to coincide with the peak whiteness of the reefs, before there was significant mortality.”
North of Cooktown, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is now reporting up to 50 per cent mortality rates. The full extent of the damage, Hughes says, will take months to unfold. “Different corals linger for longer before they die – and also, of course, some of them won’t die, they will recover. I’d expect most of the corals from Cairns southwards to recover.”
When Hughes returned from his first sojourn north, his phone rang off the hook. In the week before April 7, according to the media monitoring company Meltwater, the story was reported more than 1000 times in 70 countries. Video footage given to ABC TV’s 7.30 and later used by the World Wildlife Fund has been viewed more than four million times. “It’s fair to say it’s getting more coverage outside Australia than inside,” Hughes says.
By any objective measure, the bleaching of the reef is a massive story. It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world – the only Australian environmental feature to be granted such status. It’s home to about 215 species of birds, 30 types of whales or dolphins, half a dozen kinds of sea turtle, and 10 per cent of the entire world’s species of fish.
Any potential danger to the reef is economic and diplomatic as much as environmental. According to a Deloitte study commissioned by the Australian government in 2013, its value to the national economy is about $5.7 billion annually. It attracts two million international visitors each year. It employs close to 70,000 people on a full-time basis.
There have been some efforts to inform people about the devastation under way on the reef in the media. News Corp’s The Cairns Post – with a local readership whose livelihoods are directly threatened – has reported the issue, as has Fairfax’s Brisbane Times. But in Queensland’s only statewide newspaper you wouldn’t have read about Hughes’s findings or their ramifications. Since his surveys began, The Courier-Mail hasn’t interviewed him, nor sent one of its journalists into the field to verify either his or his colleagues’ observations.
“It basically shows they’re either in denial about the science,” says Ian Lowe, emeritus professor in the School of Science at Griffith University, “or they’re colluding in obscuring the science so the community don’t understand the threats being posed to the reef, both by climate change and by the associated acidification of the oceans, both of which put real pressure on corals.”
On March 25, the day Hughes completed his survey of the northern section of the reef, the newspaper ran a short piece on page three, lambasting Greenpeace for sharing an image of bleached coral taken in American Samoa that was incorrectly labelled as being from the Barrier Reef.
Last week, on April 7, The Courier-Mail ran on its front page a story titled “David Attenborough’s verdict: Still the most magical place on Earth”, accompanied by a picture of the famed naturalist and filmmaker standing atop some coral at low tide. Inside was a double-page spread headlined “It takes your breath away”, with the sub-head “Reports of reef’s death greatly exaggerated: Attenborough”.
Well, at least that was what the subeditor said. The lead quote came not from Attenborough, but from federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, after he was granted a preview of the first part of Attenborough’s TV series on the reef that aired last Sunday. “The key point that I had from seeing the first of the three parts is that clearly, the world’s Great Barrier Reef is still the world’s Great Barrier Reef,” Hunt said.
Had Hunt seen the third part, or had the reader progressed to the end of the article, they would have noted Attenborough’s conclusion: “The Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger. The twin perils brought by climate change – an increase in the ocean temperature and in its acidity – threaten its very existence. If they continue to rise at the present rate, the reefs will be gone within decades.”
The Courier-Mail’s relationship with environment organisations has been frosty since the departure of long-serving reporter Brian Williams. Williams says these issues have always waxed and waned. “Not long before I left The Courier-Mail I was doing stories on the prospect of this bleaching occurring, and I actually spoke to some friends in the conservation movement and suggested that the debate would swing back again.”
For now, though, the newspaper is running heavily in support of Adani’s massive Carmichael coalmine in the Galilee Basin, which had been given the go-ahead by the Queensland state government on April 3. “In the real world you need jobs,” began an editorial on the same day, which lambasted “hashtag activism” and defended the regulations it claimed would protect the reef.
“The science on the health of the reef is plain,” the paper said. “This great natural wonder loved by all Queenslanders faces a range of stresses – as it has during the entire past century – from agricultural runoff to the current coral bleaching.”
No mention was made of climate change. The science on that is plain, too: according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, bleaching is caused primarily by heat stress. The authority also notes that the reef has in fact been bleached only twice previously in the past century – and those events were in 1998 and 2002. This event is far worse. Hughes has said the reef is being “fried”. It’s perhaps more accurate to say it’s being slowly boiled. Water temperatures are up to 35 degrees around Lizard Island, and about 2 degrees above normal summer averages generally.
Climate scientists say that in addition to 2015 being the hottest year since records began in 1880, water temperatures around Australia are at all-time highs. They point to more frequent El Niño events, and more intense cyclones. It’s not just the Barrier Reef that is suffering, either: corals are being bleached across the southern hemisphere, from the central and eastern Pacific across to the Caribbean.
Scientists usually fare poorly in the media for their struggle to speak in lay terms. Now, the government’s own experts are being dismissed as activists.
John Cook, a climate communication fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, says it’s a deliberate strategy. “It’s an attempt by people who oppose climate action to deliberately lump them together, and so when a scientist publishes empirical research about climate change, then they get labelled an activist.” Politicising science, he says, is a way of casting doubt on it.
“I remember having conversations with editors about how climate should be covered, and being told that it was a political story,” remembers Graham Readfearn, who launched his GreenBlog at The Courier-Mail in 2008, before resigning in 2010. “The politics are a distraction when the issue is quite literally staring you in the face, in the form of white coral.”
The newspaper’s website has since deleted all of Readfearn’s posts. Questions to The Courier-Mail’s editor, Lachlan Heywood, went unanswered.
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a professor of marine science at the University of Queensland with a special interest in the communication of science issues, notes that the premiere of Attenborough’s series on Sunday night was watched by 10.6 million people in Britain alone. But in Queensland, there is an eerie silence. In politics and in the state’s most-read newspaper, no one wants to talk about what is happening in front of them.
Monday, April 18, 2016
Coral reefs set to lose tolerance to bleaching as oceans warm
There's probably a few factual bits below but it's mostly just modelling crap. They at least acknowledge that corals do adapt -- which is a great leap forward for them
The future is not looking bright. Coral reefs are set to become more vulnerable to bleaching as rising temperatures cripple their self-defence mechanisms.
Bleaching occurs when warm waters strip away the colourful photosynthesising algae that provide nourishment to corals.
This happens during unusually warm periods, such as during El Niño years, but doesn’t always kill coral, which can recover when waters cool again.
Corals are often able to survive heatwaves by developing resistance during periods of milder warming, when water temperatures rise and cool off again, says Tracy Ainsworth of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. The corals are essentially given a warning for what’s about to come, a sort of practice run.
A little stress can help corals
"Corals that undergo smaller stress prior to a bleaching event are able to retain more symbionts within the tissue, those algae which are crucial for nutrition," says Ainsworth. "This has major implications as to whether or not it can survive."
Now that climate change is driving up ocean temperatures, there are fears that these acclimatisation periods will become shorter or disappear completely.
To get an idea of how warming waters might affect corals, Ainsworth and her colleagues studied patterns of sea surface temperatures at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef over the last three decades.
They found that during that time, 75 per cent of heatwaves were preceded by moderately warm temperatures. These can help cut coral mortality by 50 per cent.
More heat, more stress
They then modelled future scenarios and found that this proportion may drop to 22 per cent if sea surface temperatures rise by 2 °C, as could occur by 2100.
What’s more, they found that an increase in local water temperature of just 0.5 °C can lead to loss of this adaptation mechanism.
"We will no longer be getting a situation where corals have a small stress, a period of recovery due to water cooling, and then a big stress," says Ainsworth. "What we’ll see is an accumulation of one big stress."
Their experiments also confirmed the importance of practice runs, showing that corals developed a number of heat resistance strategies as the water warmed up.
"They upregulated their heat shock responses and all these other molecular mechanisms that prevented damage to the cells during the next stress," says Ainsworth.
But increasing sea temperatures caused by climate change will see that gap between the preparation period and the peak stress disappear, says study co-author Scott Heron of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Not too late
"Those temperatures will no longer drop below the stress levels," says Heron. "So instead of a gap to recover between the preparation period and the peak stress, the corals have an extended period of stress."
If these predictions are born out, coral cover in the Great Barrier Reef could dwindle to less than 5 per cent by the end of the century.
Nevertheless, it is not too late to turn things around. The researchers’ modelling studies demonstrated that aggressive efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions would result in no net decline in coral cover by the end of the century.
"I think we do still have hope, we should never give up," says Ainsworth.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching at 95 per cent in northern section -- attributed to global warming
What bulldust! For a start, coral bleaching is NOT coral death. It is a stress response that leads to the expulsion of symbiotic algae. There are about half a dozen things that can cause it. And the ONE thing that can be excluded as a cause is anthropogenic global warming. Why? Because there has been none of that for nearly 19 years. Things that don't exist don't cause anything.
The ocean waters MAY have warmed but that will be due to natural factors such as El Nino. The 2015 and early 2016 temperature upticks were DEMONSTRABLY due to El Nino and other natural factors, as CO2 levels were plateaued at the relevant time.
And it is not at all certain that a small temperature rise causes bleaching. An ancient coral reef specimen now on display at the Natural History Museum in London is instructive. It goes back to 160 million years ago. The exhibit is proof that ancestors of modern corals somehow thrived during the Late Jurassic period when temperatures were warmer and atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide higher than they are today.
And if that's ancient history, how come corals survive in the Persian Gulf today at temperatures up to 8 degrees hotter that what we see in the tropical Pacific?
Bleaching may even be a positive thing. In recent years, scientists have discovered that some corals resist bleaching by hosting types of algae that can handle the heat, while others swap out the heat-stressed algae for tougher, heat-resistant strains.
And a recent study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science showed that warming in Australian waters actually INCREASED coral growth over the 20th century.
I could go on but I think I have said enough
All the points I have made above could have been made by any competent marine biologist -- and I can provide references for them all. But I am not a marine biologist. I am a psychologist. What a harrowed world we live in where a psychologist has to give the basic information that marine biologists dare not give.
An aerial survey of the northern Great Barrier Reef has shown that 95 per cent of the reefs are now severely bleached — far worse than previously thought.
Professor Terry Hughes, a coral reef expert based at James Cook University in Townsville who led the survey team, said the situation is now critical.
"This will change the Great Barrier Reef forever," Professor Hughes told 7.30.
"We're seeing huge levels of bleaching in the northern thousand-kilometre stretch of the Great Barrier Reef."
Of the 520 reefs he surveyed, only four showed no evidence of bleaching. From Cairns to the Torres Strait, the once colourful ribbons of reef are a ghostly white.
"It's too early to tell precisely how many of the bleached coral will die, but judging from the extreme level even the most robust corals are snow white, I'd expect to see about half of those corals die in the coming month or so," Professor Hughes said.
This is the third global coral bleaching since 1998, and scientists have found no evidence of these disasters before the late 20th century.
"We have coral cores that provide 400 years of annual growth," explains Dr Neal Cantin from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
"We don't see the signatures of bleaching in reduced growth following a bleaching event until the recent 1998/2000 events."
Environment Minister Greg Hunt flew over the reef just eight days ago, before Professor Hughes' aerial survey, and announced some additional resources for monitoring the reef.
"There's good and bad news — the bottom three quarters of the reef is in strong condition," he said at the time.
"[But] as we head north of Lizard Island it becomes increasingly prone to bleaching."
The northern part of the Great Barrier Reef is the most pristine part of the marine park — and that is one possible glimmer of hope.
"On the bright side, it's more likely that these pristine reefs in the northern section will be better able to bounce back afterwards," Professor Hughes said.
"Nonetheless we're looking at 10-year recovery period, so this is a very severe blow."
Professor Justin Marshall, a reef scientist from the University of Queensland, said the reason for these bleaching events was clear.
"What we're seeing now is unequivocally to do with climate change," he told 7.30.
"The world has agreed, this is climate change, we're seeing climate change play out across our reefs."
Professor Hughes said he is frustrated about the whole climate change debate.
"The government has not been listening to us for the past 20 years," he said.
"It has been inevitable that this bleaching event would happen, and now it has.
"We need to join the global community in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Coral Reefs Bounce Back Despite Warming Of Oceans
This study is one of many to find that corals are very resilient
Coral reefs have managed to bounce back, despite being under constant threat of extinction. However, marine scientists caution these fragile ecosystems are still being threatened by global warming, pollution and human activity.
The discovery of a large number of coral reefs in excellent health has been quite a joyous occasion for the researchers who routinely deal with ominous news like mass die-offs, worldwide bleaching events, oil spills, and such other calamities which have been pushing the coral reefs towards extinction, reported The Washington Post.
A decade-long study of remote islands in the Central Pacific has indicated that these coral reefs might survive despite threats posed by global warming brought on by climate change and warming of the oceans due to increasing amounts of carbon dioxide introduced by burning of fossil fuels.
In a large scale study covering 56 islands, researchers studied 450 locations that were once teeming with coral reefs. Researchers looked at regions spanning from Hawaii to American Samoa. They even investigated locations in the remote Line and Phoenix Islands as well as the Mariana Archipelago. To their surprise, they realized there are quite a few locations where coral reefs have defied the odds and bounced back to life. Smith’s report was published recently in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The researchers wanted to investigate the impact of climate change as well as a 1998 El Nino event that led to widespread bleaching. Since 1998, coral reefs had been increasingly banishing the symbiotic algae that gave them their brilliant colors and welcoming seaweed, which encroaches on the real estate once occupied by the corals. Study leader Jennifer Smith, a professor at Scripps’ Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation said the following.
“After a bleaching event, it really matters what happens to all those dead skeletons. Do they get colonized by big seaweeds, or do they get covered by coralline algae, which are providing settlements for baby corals and providing an environment that facilitates recovery.”
Majority of the reefs that have shown signs of regaining their structure are located near far-flung islands. They are significantly healthier as compared to the reefs near islands that are heavily populated and frequented by humans. In other words, human influence, coupled with coral reef bleaching event — fueled in part by El Niño-driven Ocean warming — has had its detrimental effect on the delicate undersea ecosystem. Such was the impact and scientists had painted a very gloomy picture stating up to 70 percent of coral reefs would vanish before 2050.
It now appears the fear that these reefs were on their way to extinction, has been largely alleviated. The coral reefs that have clearly bounced back strongly indicate that such features won’t fade from existence in the coming decades, as previously feared. Speaking about the discovery of such healthy coral reefs, Smith explained its significance for the researchers.
“There are still coral reefs on this planet that are incredibly healthy and probably look the way they did 1,000 years ago. The scientists were practically in tears when we saw some of these reefs. We’ve never experienced anything like it in our lives. It was an almost religious experience.”
Smith seems justifiably euphoric because just like environmental science, coral-reef researchers have been dealing with dying and degraded ecosystems, which can be a traumatic and rather depressing experience. However, the sight that greeted the researchers is certainly a breath of fresh air, continued Smith.
“It’s hard to fathom. I would jump into the water and there would be so much coral, so many different species of fish, so much complexity and color. I would find myself underwater, shaking my head, looking around in disbelief that these places still existed.”
Though coral reefs occupy less than 0.1 percent of the ocean floor, they shelter close to 25 percent of all marine species, reports Los Angeles Times. Besides helping oceanic life, coral reefs also offer food, tourism and flood protection to human settlements along the coastline.
Monday, March 7, 2016
Scientists are ‘exaggerating carbon threat to reefs and marine life’
The article below points out something that I have often reported, that coral reefs are not easily damaged, bounce back well from damage and can be found in a wide range of water temperatures. One lot even bounced back after being hit with a thermonuclear detonation!
I have for some time now been collecting on one site all the stories I see about coral reefs and a browse through that site will show you what I mean. The academic journal article underlying the report below is here
An ‘inherent bias’ in scientific journals in favour of more calamitous predictions has excluded research showing that marine creatures are not damaged by ocean acidification.
Claims that coral reefs are doomed because human emissions are making the oceans more acidic have been exaggerated, a review of the science has found.
An "inherent bias" in scientific journals in favour of more calamitous predictions has excluded research showing that marine creatures are not damaged by ocean acidification, which is caused by the sea absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
It has been dubbed the "evil twin of climate change" and hundreds of studies have claimed to show that it destroys coral reefs and other marine life by making it harder for them to develop shells or skeletons.
The review found that many studies had used flawed methods, subjecting marine creatures to sudden increases in carbon dioxide that would never be experienced in real life.
"In some cases it was levels far beyond what would ever be reached even if we burnt every molecule of carbon on the planet," Howard Browman, the editor of ICES Journal of Marine Science, who oversaw the review, said.
He added that this had distracted attention from more urgent threats to reefs such as agricultural pollution, overfishing and tourism.
Dr Browman, who is also principal research scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, found there had been huge increase in articles on ocean acidification in recent years, rising from five in 2005 to 600 last year.
He said that a handful of influential scientific journals and lobbying by international organisations had turned ocean acidification into a major issue.
"Such journals tend to publish doom and gloom stories ... stated without equivocation," he said. The bias in favour of doom-laden articles was partly the result of pressure on scientists to produce eye-catching work, he added.
"You won’t get a job unless you publish an article that is viewed as of significant importance to society. People often forget that scientists are people and have the same pressures on them and the same kind of human foibles. Some are driven by different things. They want to be prominent."
Dr Browman invited scientists around the world to contribute studies on ocean acidification for a special edition of his journal. More than half of the 44 studies selected for publication found that raised levels of CO2 had little or no impact on marine life, including crabs, limpets, sea urchins and sponges.
Dr Browman said that the edition had demonstrated that there was "a body of work out there that people had difficulty publishing elsewhere" and that "not every study shows that Nemo is going to be doomed", a reference to the reef-dwelling clownfish in the Disney film Finding Nemo.
The term ocean acidification was also a misnomer, he said, because it suggested that the oceans could become acidic instead of alkaline.
"The oceans will never become acid because there is such a huge buffering capacity in the oceans. We simply could never release enough CO2 into the atmosphere to cause the pH to go below 7 [the point in the pH scale at which a solution becomes acidic].
"If they had called it something else, such as ‘lower alkalinity’, it wouldn’t have been as catchy," he said.
Dr Browman, a marine scientist for 35 years, said he was not saying that ocean acidification posed no threat, but that he believed that "a higher level of academic scepticism" should be applied to the topic.
Hoagy strikes back -- rejecting the above claims
Hoagy is the go-to man about coral at the University of Queensland -- and a fervent Warmist. He has come out of his shell in order to hype up alarm about Australia's Great Barrier Reef. He went quiet for a while when his own research showed the reef to be very resilient but he seems to have recovered from that blow, as he has returned to the fray a few times in recent years.
Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
I was born a short distance from the reef in Far North Queensland so I have heard about it off and on for most of my life. And for most of my 72 years, I have heard of imminent doom facing it. But the doom has not happened. All that has happened is that the reef has gone through periods of death and rebirth that differ from human cycles of death and rebirth mainly in that the coral deaths have never affected the whole reef. And so the reef is still thriving. It is still a major tourist attraction.
Hoagy's reply is below. As you can see it actually does nothing to refute the many research findings about coral survival in all sorts of settings. He just skates around them. Hoagy is losing it.
But maybe he lost it long ago. As I have often pointed out, corals are at their most prolific in the Torres Strait area, Queensland's warmest waters. So how is warming harmful to them? Hoagy has never answered that as far as I can see. The most that warming would do would be a slight alteration to the distribution of species -- and I am sure Hoagy knows that
If you read The Australian or Britain’s The Times this week, you might have concluded that concerns about ocean warming and acidification are all a big beat-up.
Based on a study of the expert literature, the newspapers ran with a line that the marine science expert community has a penchant for "doom and gloom stories which has skewed academic reporting" because we only report the bad bits and rarely the good.
Given that the majority of scientists in this area (including the hundreds working in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change process) do not feel this is the case, what is going on?
Newsflash: the dog isn’t barking
Reporting that a dog isn’t barking can sometimes be as important as reporting when it is. However, if we were to follow the newspapers' rationale, the scientific community should be pumping out endless scientific papers that report that nothing has happened. This would lead to numerous and repetitive studies showing that there is no significant effect (if that were indeed the case).
Print space in science journals is in short and coveted supply. To publish in a respected journal, you need to have something new, significant and well supported to say. In the case of the impacts of ocean acidification, it would indeed be newsworthy if a study reported that a set of organisms was unaffected by ocean acidification (to use our analogy, a newsworthy non-barking dog).
Indeed, some studies have shown precisely that, in the case of some invertebrate and fish species. These studies have received considerable attention given their departure from a literature that is finding a vast number of species that are affected.
This is not surprising. But after several studies have convincingly documented how one group of organisms responds, the novelty, significance and appeal of publishing further papers about those organisms quickly falls away. That doesn’t mean that the observations of no effect have been discarded or demoted in importance. The conclusion of "no effect" will remain until credible studies demonstrating the opposite come along. That is, until a study finds a dog that is barking.
Of course, once we have established that dogs bark, there are likely to be many papers to produce about the significant nuances of dogs and their barking such as the effect of size on barking, how important evening light might be for stimulating juvenile dogs to bark and so on. Again, this the way science produces detailed insight into significant issues like ocean warming and acidification.
Paper weight versus significance?
The importance of an idea is not a simple function of the number of papers. We don’t rate an idea or conclusion solely on the weight of the pages on one side versus another. This is where the newspapers and the original study wrongly assumed that the smaller proportion of "no effect" papers on the subject of ocean acidification was an indication of "skewed academic reporting".
In reality, the massive and growing proportion of studies showing that ocean warming and acidification have real effects on ocean life shows that there is much to learn and be concerned about when it comes to these issues.
If the headlines from The Australian and The Times were correct, then conclusions about risks associated with ocean warming and acidification could be refuted at every turn. Our projections of the future of coral reefs, based on our allegedly distorted scientific literature, could be safely ignored.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Over the past year or so, many marine scientists like myself have been watching a very large blob of ocean water, up to 2? warmer than normal, across the equatorial Pacific and Atlantic oceans. We have been predicting substantial mass coral bleaching across the planet as 2016 unfolds.
At first, you might question our hypothesis and projections – these changes seem to be small changes in sea temperature. Yet we know these small variations can have huge implications. An increase of as little as 1-2? on top of regular summer temperatures can mean the difference between life and death for coral reefs.
However, the past, plus a rich and valuable scientific literature, has taught us that these changes are serious. The Great Barrier Reef, for instance, has lost up to 10% of its corals to these warming events over the past three decades. Over the past 25 years, relatively short periods of anomalously high sea temperatures have killed up to 95% of corals on some reefs.
The evidence suggests that we are likely to lose most corals worldwide in as little as 30 to 40 years if we continue to warm the climate at current rates.
The ultimate test is whether the elevated sea surface temperatures (the "warm blob") translates into impacts on the ground. True to expert predictions, Hawaii and many other parts of the Pacific, including Australia, have begun bleaching on cue – hardly evidence of biased and unreliable science.
And as the year rolls out, we should see mass coral bleaching and mortality across the western Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and, later, the Northern Hemisphere as the year progresses and the third global bleaching event rolls out around the planet. We should also see the significant loss of corals from many parts of the world.
There is no doubt that this type of information sounds alarming. It is not, however, a consequence of biased or skewed science. Rather, it is a function of the careful build-up of significant ideas to which we would be well advised to pay attention.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Great Barrier Reef suffers 'tragic' coral bleaching event
This is utter rubbish. Bleaching events are poorly understood but one thing we know is that they are NOT a response to warmer water. Corals are at their most prolific in Torres strait, the part of Australia nearest to the equator, and hence the warmest East coast waters. And in any case even NOAA's "adjusted" figures showed only 13 hundredths of one degree global temperature rise in 2015
Fears of a mass coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef have prompted federal authorities to issue an urgent warning on the natural wonder, which is *under threat from climate change*.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on Tuesday said patchy bleaching had been detected on multiple reefs in mainly shallow areas, and weather forecasts of upcoming hot conditions posed a dangerous threat over the next few weeks.
In a statement, the authority said the conditions had triggered "level one incident response" involving more in-water field surveys and monitoring by authorities and researchers.
Climate action advocacy group 350.org said the bleaching was "tragic" and the Turnbull government should block what would be Australia's largest coal mine, by Indian mining giant Adani, and commit to halting new fossil fuel projects nationally.
The authority said the bleaching had occurred in mainly shallow areas where corals are often exposed to high levels of sunlight.
Chairman Russell Reichelt said February and March were the highest risk periods for mass coral bleaching on the reef because of hot, dry El Nino conditions and high sea surface temperatures, adding "the next few weeks will be critical".
"Bleaching is a clear signal that living corals are under physiological stress. If that stress is bad enough for long enough, the corals can die. Corals generally have a temperature limit, and the bleaching indicates they're outside of their comfort zone," Dr Reichelt said.
"At this stage, there appears to be low rates of coral mortality restricted to a small number of reefs, and most of the corals affected by bleaching are those that are particularly vulnerable to this type of event such as plate and branching corals."
The authority says the most common cause of coral bleaching is sustained heat stress, which is occurring more frequently as the climate changes.
Dr Reichelt said the Bureau of Meteorology and the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had forecast a high probability of heat stress that would cause further bleaching.
While sea surface temperatures were fluctuating across the 345,000 square kilometre marine park, in some areas they had reached 2.5 degrees above the summer average, which was exacerbated by lack of cloud cover, he said.
"What happens now will be entirely dependent on local weather conditions. If we're fortunate enough to receive plenty of cloud cover, which will effectively provide shade, it will go a long way to reducing heat absorption by the ocean and alleviating thermal stress on corals," he said.
Dr Reichelt said the bleaching event was less severe than that which has occurred across the Pacific during the current global bleaching event. The authority says past bleaching events show coral reefs can recover if thermal stress does not last for prolonged periods.
If mass bleaching does occur, the authority would study its extent and impacts, alongside coral reef scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, James Cook University, the University of Queensland and the CSIRO.
Blair Palese, chief executive of 350.org said the "tragic coral bleaching" showed coal and gas were "warming the planet and destroying the places we love most".
The authority says bleaching occurs when stress causes corals to expel tiny marine algae called zooxanthellae, which live inside their tissue and provide corals with much of their food and colour.
Without zooxanthellae, the coral tissue appears transparent, revealing the coral's bright white skeleton.