Blog Tags: Climate Change
Ocean News: June 2014 Marked the Hottest on Record, Microplastics Worse for Crabs than Thought, and More
- In 1997, nearly 4.8 million pieces of Legos spilled into the Atlantic when a container ship was hit by a massive wave. These Lego pieces—many of them sea-themed like octopus—are still washing up on beaches in the United Kingdom nearly 20 years after the spill. BBC News
- New maps of ocean plastics—the first of their kind—show plastic accumulation levels across the world’s oceans. The maps highlight data from a study released this month that found plastics floating in five subtropical gyres across the world. National Geographic
The United Nations recently released a report on the impacts of global climate change, which describes the effects as “severe, pervasive and irreversible.”
The occurrence of human diseases in marine mammals is rapidly on the rise and an alarming development for our oceans. The latest species to succumb is the canary of the sea: the beluga whale.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia recently discovered Toxoplasma gondii, a devastating parasite, in a western Arctic population of beluga whales.
Marine life is on the move. A groundbreaking study shows that over the last several decades as a result of warming ocean temperatures, many marine species are shifting closer and closer to the poles. Some types of fish and plankton are moving at a rate of 45 miles per decade. This is 12 times faster than terrestrial animals. As the base of the marine food web shifts toward the poles, larger animals are following as well, including people.
In a speech today at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama laid out his climate plan for the United States moving forward in the months, years, and decades ahead. Oceana was pleased to hear President Obama promoting clean energy like wind and solar energy, but wishes that he had also mentioned offshore wind – a form of energy that is safe for our oceans and its creatures, and forever sustainable.
Puffins are rightfully dubbed the “clowns of the ocean” from their animated appearance, but sadly, they might instead serve as the “canary in a coal mine” warning us about climate change threats to the ocean.
The ocean is warming up in the Gulf of Maine from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia where ocean temperatures have hit a 150-year high, and these abnormally warm waters are altering marine food webs. Many fish species are moving into deeper and colder waters, and some are being replaced by fish from the south.
For the first time in human history, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels passed 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide at the historic Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. This is the same location where Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher Charles David Keeling first established the “Keeling Curve,” a famous graph showing that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are increasing rapidly in the atmosphere. CO2 was around 280 ppm before the Industrial Revolution, when humans first began releasing large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. On May 9, the reading was a startling 400.08 ppm for a 24-hour period. But without the help of the oceans, this number would already be much higher.
Between regular 100-year storms, record heat waves and epic droughts watching the weather channel has certainly become more interesting of late. This is “dirty weather” according to the Climate Reality Project, that is, weather that is increasingly influenced by carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels. That’s why starting at 8pm tonight they are airing their Dirty Weather Report, a 24-hour live online broadcast hosted by former vice-president and Nobel laureate Al Gore and featuring comedians, musicians and experts to bring light to the many different ways a changing climate is changing the world around us.
As a record-breaking hurricane pummeled the Northeast almost into November--this on the heels of a scorching summer that saw arctic ice shrivel to its smallest extent ever recorded--the specter of climate change lurks just under the surface of any discussion of what can only be described as our freakish recent weather.
Climate scientist Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research talked to Slate about Sandy:
Most of what is going on with Sandy is weather, and there is a large chance element to it, but it is all occurring in an environment where the ocean is a bit warmer, the air above the ocean is warmer and moister, and that is fuel for the storm and especially adds to the risk of heavy rainfalls and flooding.
After the necessary caveats about tying any one event to global warming, the New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert despairs about the notable absence of the elephant-in-the-room issue in our electoral politics.
The storm fits the general pattern in North America, and indeed around the world, toward more extreme weather, a pattern that, increasingly, can be attributed to climate change . . .”
Coming as it is just a week before Election Day, Sandy makes the fact that climate change has been entirely ignored during this campaign seem all the more grotesque. In a year of record-breaking temperatures across the U.S., record drought conditions in the country’s corn belt, and now a record storm affecting the nation’s most populous cities, neither candidate found the issue to be worthy of discussion.”
Environmentalist and journalist Bill McKibben, who earlier this year penned a jeremiad in Rolling Stone about climate change that went viral, sees in Sandy a frightful spectacle not unlike Frankenstein's monster, as he writes in the Daily Beast:
Our relationship to the world around us is shifting as fast as that world is shifting. “Frankenstorm” is the right name for Sandy, and indeed for many other storms and droughts and heat waves now. They’re stitched together from some spooky combination of the natural and the unnatural.
Sandy was likely influenced by a combination of factors that we know are tied to climate change such as a melting Arctic, a warming Atlantic Ocean and rising sea levels, but to what extent is not yet known. But under the water, and out of sight, the effects of emissions are just as severe. The oceans are absorbing 90 percent of the heat from climate change and carbon dioxide emissions absorbed by the oceans have led to a 30 percent increase in the ocean's acidity since the Industrial Revolution, a trend that threatens to topple coral reefs and food chains worldwide in the coming decades.
Learn more about climate change, what Oceana is doing to fight it, and what you can do to help.
- Eleven Florida Lawmakers Urge President Obama to Reconsider Approval for Seismic Airgun Testing Posted Wed, July 23, 2014
- Video: Spangled Emperor Fish Dazzle the Great Barrier Reef Posted Wed, July 23, 2014
- Ocean News: Regulators Propose Whale Sanctuary in the Canary Islands, Harbor Seals Found to Forage around Wind Farms, and More Posted Thu, July 24, 2014
- Photos: A Look at Some of the Ocean’s Most Beautiful Tentacles Posted Thu, July 24, 2014
- Ocean News: Green Sea Turtle Makes Longest Migration Ever Recorded, Small Oil Spill Found off of Italy, and More Posted Mon, July 21, 2014