Breaking Waves: Ocean News

09/22/2014 - 13:05
Secretary of state says he is personally committed to action Ban Ki-moon: No plan B because there is no planet B Continue reading...
09/22/2014 - 12:33
(Click to enlarge) This group of lionfish (Pterois volitans) pictured here are actively foraging for small prey fish species. The NOAA diver is using video to help quantify and document the fish community off North Carolina. This photo was taken in 146 feet of water. (Credit: NOAA) Warming water temperatures due to climate change could expand the range of many native species of tropical fish, including the invasive and poisonous lionfish, according to a study of 40 species along rocky and artificial reefs off North Carolina by researchers from NOAA and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. (From NOAA)–The findings, reported for the first time, were published in the September issue of Marine Ecology Progress Series. “The results will allow us to better understand how the fish communities might shift under different climate change scenarios and provide the type of environmental data to inform future decisions relating to the management and siting of protected areas,” said Paula Whitfield, a research ecologist at NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) and lead author of the study. The North Carolina reefs lie within the temperate-tropical transition zone, where historically, both temperate and tropical species live, at their respective range limits. However, water temperatures in the zone are becoming more tropical, making it an important place to detect climate changes and its impacts. The researchers first  made these discoveries during an ecological study of the marine communities on the North Carolina reefs. Findings from this earlier study showed similar shifts of climate change induced shifts in algal populations. Researchers combined year-round bottom water temperature data with 2006-2010 fish community surveys in water depths from 15 to 150 feet off the coast of North Carolina. The study revealed that the fish community was primarily tropical in the deeper areas surveyed, from 122 to 150 feet, with a winter mean temperature of 21 °C (69.8 °F). However, many of these native tropical fishes, usually abundant in shallow, somewhat cooler reefs, tended to remain in the deeper, warmer water, suggesting that temperature is a main factor in controlling their distribution. “Globally, fish communities are becoming more tropical as a result of warming temperatures,  as fish move to follow their optimal temperature range.,” said Whitfield. “Along the North Carolina coast, warming water temperatures may allow the expansion of tropical fish species, such as lionfish, into areas that were previously uninhabitable due to cold winter temperatures. The temperature thresholds collected in this study will allow us to detect and to estimate fish community changes related to water temperature.” “This kind of monitoring data set is quite rare because it combines multi-year quantitative fish density data with continuous bottom water temperature data from the same location,” said Jonathan A. Hare, NOAA Fisheries research oceanographer and a co-author on the study. Similarly, the distribution of the venomous Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans), a species new to the Atlantic since 2000, was restricted to water depths deeper than 87 feet where the average water temperature was higher than 15.2°C (approximately 59.4 °F). As the more shallow waters warm, lionfish may expand their range, since they seem to be attracted to areas with a warmer  minimum temperature. Although lionfish only arrived in North Carolina in 2000 they were the most common species observed in water depths from 122 to 150 feet in this study. Since their first sighting off the Florida east coast, in the late 1980s, lionfish have spread throughout the western North Atlantic including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. They are considered a major threat to Atlantic reefs by reducing reef fish recruitment and biomass, and have been implicated in cascading impacts such as decreased coral cover on coral reefs. To date, cold winter bottom temperatures are the only factor found to control their distribution on a large scale.
09/22/2014 - 12:02
Indian government accused of systematic crackdown on charitys activities after British national is turned back at airport Continue reading...
09/22/2014 - 11:19
Heirs to Standard Oil fortune join campaign that will withdraw a total of $50bn from fossil fuels, including from tar sands funds US will not commit to climate change aid for poor nations Continue reading...
09/22/2014 - 11:03
Ahead of Ban Ki-moons climate summit in New York, Mary Robinson plays down no-show by Chinese and Indian leaders Continue reading...
09/22/2014 - 10:17
(Click to enlarge) Emiliania huxleyi. (Credit: Alison R. Taylor) Tiny marine algae can evolve fast enough to cope with climate change in a sign that some ocean life may be more resilient than thought to rising temperatures and acidification, a study showed. (From Scientific American / by Alistair Doyle)–Evolution is usually omitted in scientific projections of how global warming will affect the planet in coming decades because genetic changes happen too slowly to help larger creatures such as cod, tuna or whales. Sunday’s study found that a type of microscopic algae that can produce 500 generations a year – or more than one a day – can still thrive when exposed to warmer temperatures and levels of ocean acidification predicted for the mid-2100s. The Emiliania huxleyi phytoplankton studied are a main source of food for fish and other ocean life and also absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, as they grow. Their huge blooms can sometimes be seen from space. “Evolutionary processes need to be considered when predicting the effects of a warming and acidifying ocean on phytoplankton,” according to the German-led study in the journal Nature Climate Change. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) Thorsten Reusch, an author of Sunday’s study at the GEOMAR Helmholtz-Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, cautioned the findings about were only for one species of algae in a laboratory test, in water with no predators or disease. He said it was not an argument that global warming was less serious than expected. Longer-lived creatures, from fish to shellfish, would not be able to evolve their way out of trouble. A U.N. panel of scientists says that man-made greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere are warming the planet. And carbon dioxide, the main gas, turns into a weak acid when it dissolves in water, slowly acidifying the oceans. Last year, a study by 540 experts said that acidification was a silent storm in the oceans and threatening life from coral reefs to fish stocks. It said the seas could become 170 percent more acidic by 2100 compared to levels before the Industrial Revolution. Sunday’s study showed that algae, taken from water 15 degrees C (59 Fahrenheit) warm off Norway, tended to evolve to a smaller size in higher temperatures in experiments lasting more than a year but also grew faster, producing a larger mass overall. Stephen Palumbi, a professor of biology at Stanford University, said there was evidence that some coral reefs or sea urchins could be more resilient than expected to ocean changes. “What we don’t know is how far these mechanisms will go. I suspect personally that they will not solve the future climate problem because climate is changing far too fast.” “But perhaps these abilities will give some important marine life a few more decades than we previously thought,” he said. A U.N. panel of scientists says it is at least 95 percent probable that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause of global warming since 1950, causing more heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels. Opinion polls, however, indicate that many voters believe that natural variations are to blame. The mismatch between scientific and public opinion complicates a plan by almost 200 governments to work out a deal to limit global warming at a summit in late 2015 in Paris.
09/22/2014 - 10:05
Hundreds of marchers flood financial district Protest follows rally of hundreds of thousands on Sunday News story: police face off with climate change protesters New climate deal push will not repeat Copenhagen mistakes US will not commit to climate change aid for poor nations Heirs to Rockefeller oil fortune divest from fossil fuels Read the latest blog summary Continue reading...
09/22/2014 - 10:04
Climate change is a fact, and most of the warming is caused by human activity. The Arctic is now so warm that the extent of sea ice has decreased by about 30 percent in summer and in winter, sea ice is getting thinner. New research has shown that sea ice removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If Arctic sea ice is reduced, we may therefore be facing an increase of atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, researchers warn.
09/22/2014 - 08:00
The periodical follows the Murdoch media pattern of sowing doubt about climate change threats Continue reading...
09/22/2014 - 07:49
Rockefeller Brothers Fund, set up by heirs of the family that became rich on oil, will divest from fossil fuels over five years Continue reading...