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Global ocean circulation appears to be slowing due to global warming

 https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2017/08/03/global-ocean-circulation-appears-to-be-collapsing-due-to-a-warming-planet/amp/Trevor Nace Aug 3, 2017 Global ocean circulation appears to be slowing

Scientists have long known about the anomalous “warming hole” in the North Atlantic Ocean, an area immune to warming of Earth’s oceans. This cool zone in the North Atlantic Ocean appears to be associated with a slowdown in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), one of the key drivers in global ocean circulation.

A recent study published in Nature outlines research by a team of Yale University and University of Southhampton scientists. The team found evidence that Arctic ice loss is potentially negatively impacting the planet’s largest ocean circulation system. While scientists do have some analogs as to how this may impact the world, we will be largely in uncharted territory.

AMOC is one of the largest current systems in the Atlantic Ocean and the world. Generally speaking, it transports warm and salty water northward from the tropics to South and East of Greenland. This warm water cools to ambient water temperature then sinks as it is saltier and thus denser than the relatively more fresh surrounding water. The dense mass of water sinks to the base of the North Atlantic Ocean and is pushed south along the abyss of the Atlantic Ocean.

This process whereby water is transported into the Northern Atlantic Ocean acts to distribute ocean water globally. What’s more important, and the basis for concern of many scientists is this mechanism is one of the most efficient ways Earth transports heat from the tropics to the northern latitudes. The warm water transported from the tropics to the North Atlantic releases heat to the atmosphere, playing a key role in warming of western Europe. You likely have heard of one of the more popular components of the AMOC, the Gulf Stream which brings warm tropical water to the western coasts of Europe.

Evidence is growing that the comparatively cold zone within the Northern Atlantic could be due to a slowdown of this global ocean water circulation. Hence, a slowdown in the planet’s ability to transfer heat from the tropics to the northern latitudes. The cold zone could be due to melting of ice in the Arctic and Greenland. This would cause a cold fresh water cap over the North Atlantic, inhibiting sinking of salty tropical waters. This would in effect slow down the global circulation and hinder the transport of warm tropical waters north.

NOAA

Measured trend in temperature variations from 1900 to 2012.

Melting of the Arctic sea ice has rapidly increased in the recent decades. Satellite image records indicate that September Arctic sea ice is 30% less today than it was in 1979. This trend of increased sea ice melting during summer months does not appear to be slowing. Hence, indications are that we will see a continued weakening of the global ocean circulation system.

This scenario of a collapse in AMOC and global ocean circulation is the premise for the movie “The Day After Tomorrow.” As a disclaimer, the plot line in which much of New England and Western Europe gets plunged into an ice age is significantly over exaggerated and unrealistic on human time scales.

While geologists have studied events in the past similar to what appears to be happening today, scientists are largely unsure of what lies ahead.

Trevor Naceis a geologist, Forbes contributor, founder of Science Trends, and adventurer.Follow his journey@trevornace

August 4, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Greenland ice sheet might start to melt “faster and faster”

Independent 25th July 2017, Scientists are “very worried” that the Greenland ice sheet might start to
melt “faster and faster”, a leading scientist has said. The problem is that
the warmer weather is allowing more dark algae to grow on the ice. Because
ice is white, it reflects much of the sun’s energy, but dark algae absorb
the heat, increasing the rate of melting. The Greenland ice sheet is up to
3km thick and would raise sea levels by seven metres if it all melted into
the sea. The current rate of melting is adding about 1mm a year to the
global average sea level.  http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-scientists-greenland-ice-sheet-melt-faster-worried-algae-a7858876.html

July 28, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Climate change is killing Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

The uncomfortable truth: The Great Barrier Reef is doomed, Independent Australia  Dr Geoff Davies 14 July 2017 The Great Barrier Reef is unlikely to survive as more than a small, sad remnant of its past glory.

The reason is straightforward. It is well known in climate science that, even if we stopped harmful emissions tomorrow, global warming would not peak for another several decades. By then, most of the Reef will be long gone.

This is not pleasant news and clearly many would prefer it was not said, but there it is, the argument is simple and the conclusion is difficult to avoid.

The recent decision by the United Nations World Heritage Committee not to list the Reef as “in danger” is, of course, farcical. It reflects the crudest of politics, including the blinkered claim that Australia is not reponsible for global warming. Yet Australian governments, state and federal, do everything they can to spruik the coal mining that would ensure the death of the Reef and threaten to tip us into catastrophic warming.

Most news reports of global warming use only words and try for spurious he-said-she-said “balance”, so you don’t get a very clear impression of what is really going on. A good graph is worth millions of such waffle words.

[lengthy explanation given here with graphs]……

Suppose the world suddenly got sane and we set about the emergency reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, as scientists have been urging for several decades now. Even if emissions drop precipitously, there’s still too much already in the atmosphere. It takes a long time for the gases to be absorbed back into the land and ocean. In the meantime, warming will continue for 20 to 40 years — or even longer (the uncertainty is because we don’t know to what depth the oceans carry the extra heat they absorb)…….

Some scientists think corals have some chance of adapting and reversing a portion of the die-off if temperatures peak at “only” 1.5°C, but the corals’ diversity would be greatly reduced. If the peak is above 1.5°C, there is no chance of recovery.

If people like Donald Trump and Tony Abbott continue to be influential then global warming could even accelerate, as we pump out ever-more fossil fuel exhausts. Or natural reinforcings might already be kicking in and tipping the system into runaway. In that case, we would have to forget the Reef and worry about the survival of civilisation.

On the other hand, there is far more we can do to reduce emissions, reduce them quickly and live well as we do it. Leaders like William McDonough and Amory Lovins have long noted our wastefulness and the huge potential of good design and a cycling industrial system. Regenerative agriculture can not only reduce emissions but recapture and store greenhouse gases, all with abundant yields.

The Great Barrier Reef is not just a pretty decoration and earner of tourist dollars. Thousands of ocean species depend on it for food, shelter and breeding — even species that spend most of their lives far away. The effects of the present death will already be reverberating through ocean ecosystems. We depend heavily on the oceans to maintain a habitable planet.

There is a silence about the Reef. The massive bleachings have been prominent in the news, but nothing happens. We know it’s happening, but we don’t want to mention it. Why are we silent?

If our media were functioning properly, this dire prospect could have been widely understood before it became acute. The problem is not just the Murdoch media, which actively obfuscate and lie about global warming.

The media’s interpretation of ‘balance’ is so superficial as to seriously misrepresent the world. For example, paraphrasing a recent report: Much of the northern Great Barrier Reef is dead. But the good news is the southern parts are still mostly healthy. There is no good news. Such a report might reasonably have said, instead: The GBR has begun its death throes………

might there also be shame? We are the generation, out of all of the long history of humanity, that is allowing the glories of a planet to be destroyed. Oh dear, I’m not supposed to make my readers uncomfortable, they might switch off.

The question stares us in the face anyway. How will we face our grandchildren?

Dr Geoff Davies is an author, commentator and scientist.  He is a retired geophysicist at the Australian National University and the author of Desperately Seeking the Fair Go (2017). He blogs at BetterNature and tweets at @BetterNatureOzhttps://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/the-great-barrier-reef-is-doomed,10501

July 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

New Tepco chairman wants to hasten release of radioactively polluted water into the sea

TEPCO chair: Nuclear plant must release contaminated water, FOX Business , By MARI YAMAGUCHI  July 13, 2017 TOKYO –  The new chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. says the utility needs to stop dragging its feet on plans to dump massive amounts of treated but contaminated water into the sea and make more money if it’s ever going to succeed in cleaning up the mess left by meltdowns more than six years ago at the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Takashi Kawamura, an engineer-turned-business leader who previously headed Hitachi’s transformation into a global conglomerate, is in charge of reviving TEPCO and leading the cleanup at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. In an interview Thursday with selected media including The Associated Press, Kawamura said despite the massive costs of the cleanup and meeting tighter safety requirements, nuclear power is still vital for Japan’s national security…………..http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2017/07/13/tepco-chair-nuclear-plant-must-release-contaminated-water.html

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Japan, oceans | Leave a comment

Climate drowning islands north of Australia – eventually to cause climate refugees

‘The island is being eaten’: how climate change is threatening the Torres Strait
In Boigu, part of Australia but just six kilometres from Papua New Guinea, roads are being washed into the sea, 
Guardian, Ben Doherty and Michael Slezak, 13 July 17, Torres Strait residents face being forced from their homes by climate change, as their islands are lost to rising seas.

On Boigu Island, the most northerly inhabited island in Australia, just six kilometres from Papua New Guinea, the community’s cemetery faces inundation and roads are being washed into the sea. A seawall installed to protect the community is already failing.

Boigu elder Dennis Gibuma says the situation is worsening every season.

“Our seawall is no longer any good,” he says. “When the high tide and strong winds come together, it breaks. We pray we don’t lose our homes. We don’t want to leave this place.”

Masig Island, to the south-east of Boigu, is less than three kilometres long, and just 800m across at its widest point. Also known as Yorke Island, the low-lying coral cay is steadily being lost to the waves.

 “The island is being eaten,” says Songhi Billy, an engineering officer on Masig. “This is a big issue. I kind of feel hopeless in a sense. Our land is part of us.

“In the short term, we can do what we can. We can’t stop the erosion, our hope is to slow it down.”

But he says he has to face the possibility that his people may have to abandon their ancestral home.

“Long term, we may have to evacuate the island,” he says. “But I am not going. Slowly, I see Masig Island getting out of something I can control.”………

The precise sea level rise around the Torres Strait, and the projected inundation, has not been calculated but low-lying islands are expected to experience a much greater flooding risk than mainland Australia. The department identifies the remote islands of the Torres Strait as some of the most vulnerable, as does the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warns communities they may be forced to relocate………

Displacement caused by climate change is forecast to be a driver of massive forced migration movements in the 21st century.

Low-lying islands in the Pacific – and Torres Strait islands like Masig and Boigu – are likely to be at the forefront of forced displacement but large and densely populated countries such as Bangladesh also face widespread inundation.

Some forecasts have predicted up to 150 million people could be forcibly displaced by climate change by 2040 – larger than the record number of people already forced from their homes globally.

The US and other militaries have said that climate change poses the greatest security threat to the Asia-Pacific.

But the global legal framework for resettling people displaced from their homes lost to natural disasters or climate change is unclear. The refugee convention – established in 1951 to regularise the resettlement of those displaced by the second world war – does not recognise someone forced from their home by rising seas, or natural disaster, as requiring protection.

Already, more than a dozen Pacific Islanders have attempted to claim refugee status in New Zealand on the grounds that their homes are uninhabitable because of rising seas or climate-related disaster. All have had their claims rejected.

On Masig Island, Hilda Mosby says climate change is already affecting the marine ecosystems on which communities depend for their livelihoods. Climate changeis already affecting her community “big time”, she says.

But the greater existential threat for her home lies ahead….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/13/the-island-is-being-eaten-how-climate-change-is-threatening-the-torres-strait

July 14, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Faster than expected – rise in sea level, especially for Australian and other coastal cities

‘The great unknown’: New climate change data lifts the sea-level threat, SMH , Peter Hannam, 23 May 17   The giant ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland are melting faster than scientists previously estimated, raising the prospect of faster sea level rise placing at risk low-lying areas of Sydney and similar exposed cities around the world.

New research, including from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has lifted the “plausible” sea level rise by 2100 to as much as two metres to 2.7 metres.

That has superseded earlier estimates, such as the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that placed the likely top range of sea level rise at about one metre if greenhouse gas emission rises continued unabated.

Those higher forecasts have now been included in new mapping by Coastal Risk Australia that combines the estimates with national high-tide data and the shape of our coastline.

The resulting maps show airports in Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart will be largely under water by 2100 if that two-metre rise happens.

Other areas at risk in Sydney from such a rise include Circular Quay, Wentworth Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Woolloomooloo and Rose Bay.  ………

Rising seas

NOAA estimates global mean sea levels have risen about 3.4 millimetres a year since 1993, roughly double the average rate of increase during the 20th century.

Even the last century’s pace of increase was the fastest in at least 2800 years, NOAA said.

Global warming is driving the increase in sea levels by melting land ice – such as glaciers and ice sheets – and from the thermal expansion of the warmer oceans.

John Church, a global sea level expert at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW, said other new research indicated Antarctica’s contribution to rising seas appears to particularly sensitive to carbon emissions rates – underscoring the urgency to reduce them…….http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/the-great-unknown-new-climate-change-data-lifts-the-sealevel-threat-20170522-gwa963.html

May 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Severe coastal floods set to double in number, as sea levels rise

Rising seas could double the number of severe coastal floods  https://www.newscientist.com/article/2131642-rising-seas-could-double-the-number-of-severe-coastal-floods/ By Chelsea Whyte, 8 May 2017  Just 35 years from now, severe coastal flooding could hit twice as often as it does now – if the seas rise by between just 5 and 10 centimetres.

Such a hike would make 50-year weather events happen twice as often, according to work by Sean Vitousek, a coastal scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and his colleagues. A 50-year event is an increase in sea level so large that it’s only likely to happen twice a century.

Sea levels are actually projected to rise by more than this – estimates put it at between 10 and 20 centimetres over the next few decades.

 “It doesn’t take a ton of sea level rise to significantly change the frequency at which you have flooding,” says Vitousek.

Extremely high water levels are sometimes caused by storm surges and low pressure atmospheric systems, when the easing of pressure on the sea allows water levels to rise. But normal tides and waves also play a part.

Cities under water

Taking those factors into account in his model, Vitousek found that, by 2050, wave-exposed Indian cities like Mumbai and Kochi, and Abidjan in Ivory Coast would see increased frequency of flooding with just a 5-centimetre rise in seas.

If the rise were 10 centimetres, increased flooding would also hit Shanghai, London and New York.

Sea level rise is a global phenomenon that affects regions differently. The ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are so massive that their gravity draws ocean water towards them. As they melt, that water will go elsewhere.

If you lose Greenland, you’ll have more water in the ocean, which will elevate sea level everywhere. But the effect will be stronger farther away from Greenland,” says Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “In Greenland or Antarctica, the water levels may even drop. The tropics always lose because they’re in the middle.”

Sea levels are currently going up by about 3 to 4 millimetres across the globe somewhat uniformly, Vitousek says, but some areas are more susceptible to sea level rise than others because that makes up a larger percentage of their overall water levels.

n the higher latitudes where the difference between high and low sea level in a given year could be 3 metres, a few centimetres may not be noticeable. But in the tropics, that small increase could account for 10 to 20 per cent of the variation, Vitousek says. “It’s not a trivial percentage of the water level,” he says.

Accept the danger

Aimée Slangen, a climate change scientist at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, says regional events like El Niño could keep down some of the sea level rise in the tropics, but not forever.

“I think it would only delay the inevitable: at some point, flooding frequencies are going to increase as long as sea level keeps on rising,” she says. Vitousek says possible responses are to retreat from coastlines or to invest in engineering solutions, like building up natural beaches or creating artificial ones or building sea walls that provide shoreline protection.

But over the next few decades, an increase of 10 to 20 centimetres is inevitable, says Levermann. Even with large reductions in emissions, the die has already been cast for the near future.

“No one has to be afraid of sea level rise, if you’re not stupid,” he says. “It’s low enough that we can respond. It’s nothing to be surprised about, unless you have an administration that says it’s not happening. Then you have to be afraid, because it’s a serious danger,” Levermann says.

Journal reference: Nature Scientific ReportsDOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-01362-7

Read more: Unexpected Antarctic melt could trigger 2-metre sea level rise

May 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Climate change could kill off all coral reefs by 2050

Dahr Jamail | Coral Reefs Could All Die Off by 2050, May 15, 2017, By Dahr JamailTruthout | Report “…… over the last two years, the Great Barrier Reef, which is so dear to Miller and countless others who revel in the beauty and mysteries of the oceans, has been dying off at an unprecedented rate due primarily to warming ocean waters.

Coral bleaching occurs when corals become stressed by warmer-than-normal water, causing them to expel symbiotic algae that live in their tissues, from which they get their energy. Coral turns completely white when it bleaches. If it remains bleached long enough, it dies.

One scientist has already gone so far as to declare the Great Barrier Reef is now in a “terminal stage.” Most of those studying the reef agree that what is happening is unprecedented. This is because, at a minimum, two-thirds of the 1,400-mile long reef bleached out last year, which led to 22 percent of it dying. Now another bleaching event has resulted in at least two-thirds of the reef bleached again.

The bleaching this year has moved much farther south and has taken scientists by surprise in its severity and extent,” Miller said. And he fears the state of the reef could be even worse than scientists realize, since only aerial surveys have been conducted to assess the damage and no research vessel is currently active on the reef to provide finer details.

With ocean temperatures rising across the globe as anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) continues to pick up speed, the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral ecosystem on Earth, may well be an example of what is happening to all of the coral on the planet.

“This Is New for All of Us”……..

Miller is equally stunned by what he is seeing along the Great Barrier Reef, which is eerily similar to what Burdick is seeing on Guam.

“Parts of the reef that didn’t bleach last year are now under immense pressure, and this is totally different because this is back-to-back bleaching,” Miller explained. “The system was already stressed, and this is a new stress event. We are seeing much mortality on reefs in our area…. What didn’t die last year is dying this year.”

In addition to the new bleaching in this year’s event, southern portions of the reef that are typically in cooler waters are now also bleaching out.

“It’s heartbreaking to see,” Miller added. “Seventy thousand direct tourism-related jobs and a $6 billion tourism industry are all at risk, especially on top of the recent damage from Cyclone Debbie.”

study published this March in the journal Nature found that last year’s bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef was so severe that there was no similar analog in the thousands of years of ancient coral cores scientists use to study past climates.

Another study published in Nature projected that by the year 2050, more than 98 percent of global coral reefs will be afflicted by “bleaching-level thermal stress” every single year.

However, the prognosis could be even worse: The scientists involved in the study from this March speculated that the era of never-ending global coral bleaching may have already arrived, albeit several decades earlier than was predicted even just last year. They explained that the Great Barrier Reef needs 10 to 15 years between bleaching events in order to fully recover, and that recovery time period is “no longer realistic.”

“We Don’t Even Know What We Are Losing”……..

report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization shows that coral reefs are responsible for producing 17 percent of all globally consumed protein, with that ratio being 70 percent or greater in island and coastal countries like those of Micronesia.

At the time of this writing, Earth has lost nearly half of its coral, and oceanic warming only continues to accelerate.

“We are finding that reefs living under anthropogenic stresses for many years have already lost their more sensitive coral species, and the ones that are there now are already the tough bastards,” Raymundo said. “And when reefs have lower diversity, there is less ecological redundancy; hence, they are more likely to collapse.”

A Future Without Coral?

2012 study revealed that half of the Great Barrier Reef had already vanished in just the previous 27 years. Two years later, the world’s most qualified coral reef experts released a report showing that, without dramatic intervention, the Great Barrier Reef would disappear completely by 2030.

Furthermore, a study published and released by NOAA in 2011 warned that, “unless action is taken now to reduce the threats,” 90 percent of all reefs will be “threatened” by 2030, and all of Earth’s coral reefs could be completely gone by 2050. The study, “Reefs at Risk Revisited,” listed human-caused climate disruption, warmer water temperatures, ocean acidification, shipping, overfishing, coastal development and agricultural runoff as the contributing factors.

While that might sound extreme, Miller told Truthout he thought the report actually didn’t go far enough.

“I think it’s too conservative,” he explained. “Corals need many years to adjust to the warmer ocean waters, and we don’t have that kind of time anymore. The warming we are seeing now is happening far too fast to allow for evolution…. So what we’re seeing now is death. That’s what bleaching is.”……..

Back in Australia, Miller is dismayed by the fact that his government is doing very little, if anything, to mitigate the crisis.

Truthout asked Miller what steps the Australian government is taking to save the Great Barrier Reef.

“From what I can tell, virtually nothing,” he answered. “They are not focussed on this at all, but rather are pushing for the Adani Coal Mine to go ahead. We here in Australia can hardly believe it, to be honest. In fact, the government has had almost no comment on the bleaching at all.”

The coal mine he referred to is looking like it is going to move forward, which will, according to Miller, bring an additional 500 ships carrying coal across the Great Barrier Reef every single year.

Truthout interviewed Miller’s colleague, John Rumney, the managing director of Great Barrier Reef Legacy in February, when this year’s bleaching event began.

“This coral is in big trouble,” Rumney said at the time. Like Miller, Burdick and Raymundo, Rumney warned of the extreme loss of biodiversity that comes with the disappearance of reefs.

“When all that coral goes, all that diversity of fish that depends on it goes,” Rumney told Truthout. “The entire food chain is in big trouble.”

Miller concurred, saying, “We might see ecosystem collapse as we know it.” The need for independent research on the Great Barrier Reef during this second mass-bleaching event is needed more than ever, according to Miller. His and Rumney’s organization is striving to get more scientists out to the reef as quickly as possible.

“The world’s greatest natural icon and largest living structure needs our help more than ever, and unless we act as a concerned global population, nothing will be done,” he concluded. “It is not too late. The reef is worth saving — and our actions now will determine the fate of coral reefs in as little as 5 to 10 years. We must act.” http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40579-coral-reefs-generate-half-of-earth-s-oxygen-and-they-could-all-die-off-by-2050

May 17, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, AUSTRALIA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution continues to monitor Pacific Ocean fish for radiation

 

Why is this headline so melodramatic, when the content of this article is quite restrained?

 

Fukushima nuke radiation POISONING world’s water – including FISH Brits eat, Daily Star UK 29 Mar 17 BRITS could be eating salmon and tuna containing nuclear radiation from the Fukushima disaster according to a study. Salmon caught in the Pacific Ocean, which are imported for sale as a luxury product in UK shops, were found to contain worrying amounts of radiation.

Highly toxic Cesium-134, the nuclear fallout from Fukushima, was recently found in Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach, in the US state of Oregon. The terrifying discovery was reported by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.Cesium-134 was also detected in 2015 in Canada when a salmon pulled from a river in British Columbia was found to contain radiation….

….Japanese fish have tested positive for dangerous levels of radiation and now, it seems, fish as far away as the US have been infected by the waste.

Alaskan Salmon is imported for sale in most major UK supermarkets when Scottish salmon is out of season. After being caught in the Pacific, these fish then make a 22,000 mile journey via China to supermarket shelves here in Britain.

A statement on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution website said: “For the general public, it is not direct exposure, but uptake by the food web and consumption of contaminated fish that is the main health concern from the oceans.

“Most fish do not migrate far from their spawning grounds, which is why some fisheries off Fukushima remain closed.

“But some species, such as the Pacific bluefin tuna, swim long distances and could pick up cesium in their feeding grounds off Japan before crossing the Pacific.” Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at the institution, said that the levels of radiation should not affect anyone eating the salmon, but admitted that he would be closely monitoring radiation levels.

“We don’t expect to see health concerns from swimming or fish consumption, but we would like to continue monitoring until (the radiation level) goes back down again,” he said.

“In Japan, at its peak celsium-134 levels were 10 million times higher than what we are seeing today on the West Coast.”

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservations (DEC), in conjunction with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and other state, federal, and international agencies, continues to test Alaska seafood for any potential impacts resulting from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Testing performed in previous years showed no detectable levels of Fukushima-related radionuclides. Testing in 2016 also confirmed the quality and health of Alaska seafood has not been impacted by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Fish species were chosen for testing based on their importance to subsistence, sport, and commercial fisheries and because they spend part of their life cycle in the western Pacific Ocean.

These species include: king salmon, chum salmon, sockeye (red) salmon, pink salmon, halibut, pollock, sablefish, herring, and Pacific cod. Samples of fish were taken by DEC Environmental Health Officers during regular inspections of commercial fishing processors throughout the state.

The results of testing conducted on Alaska fish in 2016 showed no detection of Fukushima-related radionuclides Iodine-131 (I-131), Cesium-134 (Cs-134), and Cesium-137 (Cs-137). more http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/600099/Fukushima-radiation-nuclear-waste-poisoning-world-water-fish-Brit-eat-supermarket

March 31, 2017 Posted by | oceans, radiation | Leave a comment

The very serious threat of sea level rise

SEA-LEVEL RISE IS A ‘SERIOUS THREAT’ #CLIMATECHANGE #AUSPOL https://jpratt27.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/sea-level-rise-is-a-serious-threat-climatechange-auspol/

Sea-level rise poses ‘a serious threat’ to millions of Europeans, scientists warn. A new study spells out the threat of sea-level rise in coastal communities.The kind of devastating flooding that occurs once every century along Europe’s northern coastline could become an annual event if greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb, according to a recent study published in the journal Earth’s Future.

New analysis takes into account changes in sea-level rise, tides, waves, and storm surge over the 21st century and found that climate change could prompt extreme sea levels — the maximum levels seen during major storms, which produce massive flooding — to increase significantly along the European coastline by 2100.

This scenario will likely stress coastal protection structures beyond their capacity, leaving much of the European coastline vulnerable to dangerous flooding, according to study authors.

“Unless we take different protection measures, five million people will be exposed to coastal flooding on an annual basis,” said Michalis Vousdoukas, a coastal oceanographer at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and lead author of the study.

The study described the projected rise in extreme sea levels as “a serious threat” to coastal communities, noting, “their safety and resilience depends on the effectiveness of natural and man-made coastal flood protection.”

Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the climate analysis section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who was not involved in this research, said the signs of extreme sea levels are already worrisome, not just in Europe, but in the United States as well. “Witness the sunshine flooding in Florida already, the flooding that shows up even with no storm on many streets any time there is a slightly high tide,” he said.

Sea level is going up because the ocean is warming and hence expanding, and because land ice — glaciers, etc. — are melting and putting more water into the ocean. But it is not the gradual rise that matters,” Trenberth said. “Rather, it is the storm surge on top of a high tide riding on top of the increase in sea level that crosses thresholds and causes things to break.”

Richard Alley, professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, who also did not take part in this study, noted that the study didn’t consider the possible collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet. “If that happens, then sea-level rise and impacts to coasts could be much higher than in this paper,” Alley said. “Rapid West Antarctic collapse could cause enough rise to make many of these other factors of secondary importance. So, the ‘worst case’ in this paper isn’t really the worst case.”

The new paper predicted that some regions could experience an even higher increase in the frequency of these extreme flooding events, specifically along the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, where the present day 100-year extreme sea level could occur as often as several times a year.

“The ‘worst case’ in this paper isn’t really the worst case.”

Information about the number of people at risk from flooding can be used to determine how large the social and economic impact of these events will be, said Marta Marcos, a researcher at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies in Spain, who was not involved in the new study. “In terms of adaptation strategies and policy-making, it is very relevant,” she said.

The researchers studied changes in extreme sea levels by 2100 under different greenhouse gas scenarios and considered how all these components — mean sea level, tides, waves, and storm surge — will be affected by climate change.

f emissions continue to rise unabated throughout this century, extreme sea levels along Europe’s coastlines could increase by more than 2.5 feet, on average, by 2100. Under a more moderate situation, where greenhouse gas emissions peak in 2040, 100-year extreme sea levels still could jump by nearly 2 feet, on average, by the end of the century — with flooding events occurring every few years — according to study’s authors.

In a related study appearing in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists found that if greenhouse gases continue to rise, there could be disturbing changes by the end of the century in the energy that waves carry to the coast.

In the southern hemisphere, extreme waves could carry up to 30 percent more energy by 2100, according to the study, meaning that stronger waves will become more frequent, and have a greater impact on the coast, said Lorenzo Mentaschi, a researcher at the Joint Research Centre and lead author of the study.

The new study attributed the changes in wave energy to the intensification of weather patterns, like El Niño. The new research will be provided to European Union policymakers. The data will also be made public so it can be used by scientists, engineers, and coastal managers.

Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University, said the research once again underscored how climate change, “which has already increased the threat to our coastlines through a combination of sea-level rise and intensified coastal storms, will be catastrophic for coastal communities if we don’t reduce global carbon emissions.”

Marlene Cimons writes for Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art & culture.

Press link for more: Think Progress

March 17, 2017 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE, oceans | Leave a comment

Massive amountsof heat being stored in the oceans

The world’s oceans are storing up staggering amounts of heat — and it’s even more than we thought, by Chelsea Harvey, Energy & Enviornment, Washington Post, Mar 10, 2017 The world is getting warmer every year, thanks to climate change — but where exactly most of that heat is going may be a surprise.

As a stunning early spring blooms across the United States, just weeks after scientists declared 2016 the hottest year on record , it’s easy to forget that all the extra warmth in the air accounts for only a fraction of the heat produced by greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, more than 90 percent of it gets stored in the ocean. And now, scientists think they’ve calculated just how much the ocean has warmed in the past few decades.

new study, out Friday in the journal Science Advances, suggests that since 1960, a staggering 337 zetajoules of energy — that’s 337 followed by 21 zeros  — has been added to the ocean in the form of heat. And most of it has occurred since 1980.

“The ocean is the memory of all of the past climate change,” said study co-author Kevin Trenberth , a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The world’s oceans are storing up staggering amounts of heat — and it’s even more than we thought   https://www.skepticalscience.com/2017-SkS-Weekly-Digest_10.html

March 15, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Rapid spread of ocean acidification in the Arctic

International team reports ocean acidification spreading rapidly in Arctic Ocean, EurekAlert, 28 Feb 17, UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE  Ocean acidification (OA) is spreading rapidly in the western Arctic Ocean in both area and depth, according to new interdisciplinary research reported in Nature Climate Changeby a team of international collaborators, including University of Delaware professor Wei-Jun Cai.

The research shows that, between the 1990s and 2010, acidified waters expanded northward approximately 300 nautical miles from the Chukchi slope off the coast of northwestern Alaska to just below the North Pole. Also, the depth of acidified waters was found to have increased, from approximately 325 feet to over 800 feet (or from 100 to 250 meters).

ocean-acidification

“The Arctic Ocean is the first ocean where we see such a rapid and large-scale increase in acidification, at least twice as fast as that observed in the Pacific or Atlantic oceans,” said Cai, the U.S. lead principal investigator on the project and Mary A.S. Lighthipe Professor of Earth, Ocean, and Environment at UD.

“The rapid spread of ocean acidification in the western Arctic has implications for marine life, particularly clams, mussels and tiny sea snails that may have difficulty building or maintaining their shells in increasingly acidified waters,” said Richard Feely, NOAA senior scientist and a co-author of the research. Sea snails called pteropods are part of the Arctic food web and important to the diet of salmon and herring. Their decline could affect the larger marine ecosystem.

Among the Arctic species potentially at risk from ocean acidification are subsistence fisheries of shrimp and varieties of salmon and crab.

Other collaborators on the international project include Liqi Chen, the Chinese lead principal investigator and scientist with the Third Institute of Oceanography of State Oceanic Administration of China; and scientists at Xiamen University, China and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, among other institutions…….

Arctic ocean ice melt in the summer, once found only in shallow waters of depths less than 650 feet or 200 meters, now spreads further into the Arctic Ocean.

“It’s like a melting pond floating on the Arctic Ocean. It’s a thin water mass that exchanges carbon dioxide rapidly with the atmosphere above, causing carbon dioxide and acidity to increase in the meltwater on top of the seawater,” said Cai. “When the ice forms in winter, acidified waters below the ice become dense and sink down into the water column, spreading into deeper waters.”https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/uod-itr022717.php

March 1, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, oceans, Reference | Leave a comment

Climatologists explain threat of drastic cooling in North Atlantic

Drastic cooling in North Atlantic beyond worst fears, scientists warn https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/24/drastic-cooling-north-atlantic-beyond-worst-fears-scientists-warn

Climatologists say Labrador Sea could cool within a decade before end of this century, leading to unprecedented disruption, reports Climate News Network, Guardian,  , 25 Feb 17, For thousands of years, parts of northwest Europe have enjoyed a climate about 5C warmer than many other regions on the same latitude. But new scientific analysis suggests that that could change much sooner and much faster than thought possible.

Climatologists who have looked again at the possibility of major climate change in and around the Atlantic Ocean, a persistent puzzle to researchers, now say there is an almost 50% chance that a key area of the North Atlantic could cool suddenly and rapidly, within the space of a decade, before the end of this century.

That is a much starker prospect than even the worst-case scientific scenario proposed so far, which does not see the Atlantic ocean current shutdown happening for several hundred years at least.

A scenario even more drastic (but fortunately fictional) was the subject of the 2004 US movie The Day After Tomorrow, which portrayed the disruption of the North Atlantic’s circulation leading to global cooling and a new Ice Age.

To evaluate the risk of extreme climate change, researchers from the Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques et Continentaux laboratory (CNRS/University of Bordeaux, France), and the University of Southamptondeveloped an algorithm to analyse the 40 climate models considered by the Fifth Assessment Report.

The findings by the British and French team, published in the Nature Communications journal, in sharp contrast to the IPCC, put the probability of rapid North Atlantic cooling during this century at almost an even chance – nearly 50%.

Current climate models foresee a slowing of the meridional overturning circulation (MOC), sometimes known also as the thermohaline circulation, which is the phenomenon behind the more familiar Gulf Stream that carries warmth from Florida to European shores. If it did slow, that could lead to a dramatic, unprecedented disruption of the climate system.

In 2013, drawing on 40 climate change projections, the IPCC judged that this slowdown would occur gradually, over a long period. Its findings suggested that fast cooling of the North Atlantic during this century was unlikely.

But oceanographers from EU emBRACE had also re-examined the 40 projections by focusing on a critical spot in the northwest of the North Atlantic: the Labrador Sea.

The Labrador Sea is host to a convection system ultimately feeding into the ocean-wide MOC. The temperatures of its surface waters plummet in the winter, increasing their density and causing them to sink. This displaces deep waters, which bring their heat with them as they rise to the surface, preventing the formation of ice caps.

The algorithm developed by the Anglo-French researchers was able to detect quick sea surface temperature variations. With it they found that seven of the 40 climate models they were studying predicted a total shutdown of convection, leading to abrupt cooling of the Labrador Sea by 2C to 3C over less than 10 years. This in turn would drastically lower North Atlantic coastal temperatures.

But because only a handful of the models supported this projection, the researchers focused on the critical parameter triggering winter convection: ocean stratification. Five of the models that included stratification predicted a rapid drop in North Atlantic temperatures.

The researchers say these projections can one day be tested against real data from the international OSnap project, whose teams will be anchoring scientific instruments within the sub-polar gyre (a gyre is any large system of circulating ocean currents).

If the predictions are borne out and the North Atlantic waters do cool rapidly over the coming years, the team says, with considerable understatement, climate change adaptation policies for regions bordering the North Atlantic will have to take account of this phenomenon.

February 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans, Reference | Leave a comment

Future sea level rise studies by NASA project – Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG)

sea-ice-meltingfOMG measurements of Greenland give us a glimpse of future sea rise https://www.skepticalscience.com/omg-greenland-sea-level-rise.html 24 February 2017 by John Abraham  If you meet a group of climate scientists, and ask them how much sea levels will rise by say the year 2100, you will get a wide range of answers. But, those with most expertise in sea level rise will tell you perhaps 1 meter (a little over three feet). Then, they will immediately say, “but there is a lot of uncertainty on this estimate.” It doesn’t mean they aren’t certain there will be sea level rise – that is guaranteed as we add more heat in the oceans. Here, uncertainty means it could be a lot more or a little less.

Why are scientists not certain about how much the sea level will rise? Because there are processes that are occurring that have the potential for causing huge sea level rise, but we’re uncertain about how fast they will occur. Specifically, two very large sheets of ice sit atop Greenland and Antarctica. If those sheets melt, sea levels will rise hundreds of feet.

Parts of the ice sheets are melting, but how much will melt and how fast will the melting occur? Are we talking decades? Centuries? Millennia? Scientists really want to know the answer to this question. Not only is it interesting scientifically, but it has huge impacts on coastal planning.

One reason the answer to this question is illusive is that melting of ice sheets can occur from above (warm air and sunlight) or from below (warm ocean waters). In many instances, it’s the melting from below that is most significant – but this melting from below is really hard to measure.

With hope we will have a much clearer sense of ice sheet melting and sea level rise because of a new scientific endeavor that is part of a NASA project – Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG). This project has brought together some of the best oceanographers and ice experts in the world. The preliminary results are encouraging and are discussed in two recent publications here and here.

In the papers, the authors note that Greenland ice loss has increased substantially in recent decades. It now contributes approximately 1/3 to total sea level rise. The authors want to know whether this contribution will change over time and they recognize that underwater processes may be the most important to study. In fact, they note in their paper:

Specifically, our goal is improved understanding of how ocean hydrographic variability around the ice sheet impacts glacial melt rates, thinning and retreat.

In plain English, they want to know how water flow around Greenland affects the ice melt.

Their experiments are measuring a number of key attributes. First, yearly changes in the temperature of ocean water near Greenland. Second, the yearly changes to the glaciers on Greenland that extend into the ocean waters. Third, they are observing marine topography (the shape of the land underneath the ocean surface).

The sea floor shape is quite complicated, particularly near Greenland. Past glaciers carved deep troughs in the sea floor in some areas, allowing warm salty water to reach huge glaciers that are draining the ice sheet. As lead OMG investigator Josh Willis said:

What’s interesting about the waters around Greenland is that they are upside down. Warm, salty water, which is heavy, sits below a layer of cold, fresh water from the Arctic Ocean. That means the warm water is down deep, and glaciers sitting in deep water could be in trouble.

As the warm water attacks marine glaciers (glaciers that extend into the ocean), the ice tends to break and calve, retreating toward land. In some cases, the glaciers retreat until their grounding line coincides with the shore. But in other cases the undulating surface allows warm water to wear the glacier underside for long distances and thereby increase the risk of large calving events.

Oftentimes, when glaciers near the coast break off they uncork other ice that can then more easily flow into the oceans.

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February 27, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, oceans, Reference | Leave a comment

Effect of air pollution might have masked mid-20th Century sea ice loss

Air pollution may have masked mid-20th Century sea ice loss https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170223124327.htm February 23, 2017

Source:
American Geophysical Union
Summary:
sea-ice-meltingfHumans may have been altering Arctic sea ice longer than previously thought, according to researchers studying the effects of air pollution on sea ice growth in the mid-20th Century.

Humans may have been altering Arctic sea ice longer than previously thought, according to researchers studying the effects of air pollution on sea ice growth in the mid-20th Century. The new results challenge the perception that Arctic sea ice extent was unperturbed by human-caused climate change until the 1970s.

Scientists have observed Arctic sea ice loss since the mid-1970s and some climate model simulations have shown the region was losing sea ice as far back as 1950. In a new study, recently recovered Russian observations show an increase in sea ice from 1950 to 1975 as large as the subsequent decrease in sea ice observed from 1975 to 2005. The new observations of mid-century sea ice expansion led researchers behind the new study to the search for the cause.

The new study supports the idea that air pollution is to blame for the observed Arctic sea ice expansion. Particles of air pollution that come primarily from the burning of fossil fuels may have temporarily hidden the effects of global warming in the third quarter of the 20th Century in the eastern Arctic, the researchers say.

These particles, called sulfate aerosols, reflect sunlight back into space and cool the surface. This cooling effect may have disguised the influence of global warming on Arctic sea ice and may have resulted in sea ice growth recorded by Russian aerial surveys in the region from 1950 through 1975, according to the new research.

“The cooling impact from increasing aerosols more than masked the warming impact from increasing greenhouse gases,” said John Fyfe, a senior scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada in Victoria and a co-author of the new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

To test the aerosol idea, researchers used computer modeling to simulate sulfate aerosols in the Arctic from 1950 through 1975. Concentrations of sulfate aerosols were especially high during these years before regulations like the Clean Air Act limited sulfur dioxide emissions that produce sulfate aerosols.

The study’s authors then matched the sulfate aerosol simulations to Russian observational data that suggested a substantial amount of sea ice growth during those years in the eastern Arctic. The resulting simulations show the cooling contribution of aerosols offset the ongoing warming effect of increasing greenhouse gases over the mid-twentieth century in that part of the Arctic. This would explain the expansion of the Arctic sea ice cover in those years, according to the new study.

Aerosols spend only days or weeks in the atmosphere so their effects are short-lived. The weak aerosol cooling effect diminished after 1980, following the enactment of clean air regulations. In the absence of this cooling effect, the warming effect of long-lived greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide has prevailed, leading to Arctic sea ice loss, according to the study’s authors.

The new study helps sort out the swings in Arctic sea ice cover that have been observed over the last 75 years, which is important for a better understanding of sea ice behavior and for predicting its behavior in the future, according to Fyfe.

The new study’s use of both observations and modeling is a good way to attribute the Arctic sea ice growth to sulfate aerosols, said Cecilia Bitz, a sea ice researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle who has also looked into the effects of aerosols on Arctic ice. The sea ice record prior to satellite images is “very sparse,” added Bitz, who was not involved in the new study.

Bitz also points out that some aerosols may have encouraged sea ice to retreat. Black carbon, for instance, is a pollutant from forest fires and other wood and fossil fuel burning that can darken ice and cause it to melt faster when the sun is up — the opposite effect of sulfates. Also, black carbon emissions in some parts of the Arctic are still quite common, she said.


Story Source:

Materials provided by American Geophysical Union.

February 25, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, oceans, Reference | Leave a comment