nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Ignoring the danger of ionising radiation: nuclear waste dumping in the sea

The idea that nuclear pollution can be rendered safe by extreme dilution has been proven wrong

radioactive materials bioaccumulate. A worm can contain 2,000 to 3,000 times higher levels than its environment. The worm is then eaten by another marine animal, which gets eating by another, and so on. At each step, the radioactive level rises. Barbey has identified reproductive defects in sea crabs, caused by radioactive contamination, and these genetic defects are passed on to future generations of crabs.

Are we to believe the same is not happening in humans, who are at the top of the food chain?

The fact of the matter is that a certain number of cancer deaths are considered acceptable in order to keep costs for the nuclear waste industry down. The question no one has the answer to is: At what point do the deaths begin to outweigh the cost-savings of the nuclear industry?

As to where such cost-benefit considerations came from in the first place, the filmmakers identify the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP)

the nuclear industry is hardly operating for the benefit of the many.

The Rarely Discussed Reality of Radioactive Pollution https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/10/07/radioactive-pollution-exposure.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20171007Z1_UCM&et_cid=DM16

Story at-a-glance

  • For decades, the common method of nuclear disposal was to dump plutonium-filled steel barrels into the ocean. Today, many if not most of these barrels have corroded and disintegrated, releasing radioactive material into the environment
  • “Versenkt und Vergessen” (Sunk and Forgotten) investigates what happened to the barrels of nuclear waste, and how radioactive material is disposed of today
  • In 1993, nuclear waste dumping into the ocean was banned worldwide, yet the ocean remains a primary dumping ground for radioactive waste
  • Instead of ditching barrels overboard, the nuclear waste industry built pipes along the bottom of the sea, through which the radioactive material is discharged directly into the open sea
  • Cancer deaths are considered acceptable to keep costs for the nuclear waste industry down. According to the International Commission on Radiological Protection, this cost-benefit consideration is part of Epicurus’ utilitarian ethics, which states that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few

By Dr. Mercola

A rarely addressed environmental problem is radioactive pollution from nuclear waste disposal. For decades, the common method of nuclear disposal was to simply dump plutonium-filled steel barrels into the ocean. Continue reading

Advertisements

October 9, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, oceans, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

David Suzuki and 1,461 other scientists speak out for the protection of Australia’s oceans

Conservationist and 1,461 other scientists release statement describing Australia’s oceans as a ‘global asset’ that must be protected,  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/27/david-suzuki-australia-sickening-threat-to-marine-reserves-undermines-global-protection

Guardian,Michael Slezak, 26 Sept 17, Growing global momentum to protect the world’s oceans from overfishing could be undermined by Australia, warns renowned conservationist David Suzuki and more than 1,461 other scientists.David Suzuki: Australia’s ‘sickening’ threat to marine reserves undermines global protection He said Australia needed to face up to the interconnected issues of climate change and ocean health, both of which it was failing to address.

“I’m sorry Australia, wake up,” Suzuki said. “The oceans are a mess and a great deal of the mess is a reflection of climate change. Climate change is the overarching issue that is hammering the oceans as well as terrestrial areas. And it is absolutely disgusting that coal is still considered a great economic input to Australia.

“When you’ve got something that [other countries] would die for – you’ve got sunlight up the ying yang, why isn’t Australia the world leader in this incredible form of energy? It makes me sick. You’ve got great research facilities. You’ve got great scientists. You’ve got everything going to be a world leader in the energy of the future and you’re not doing it. And it’s not surprising then that you are doing the same to the oceans. What is it going to take for Australia to wake up to the opportunities?”

Australia is currently considering the world’s biggest downgrading of a protected area with a reduction in the size of its network of marine reserves.

“If Australia does something progressive in 2012, and then walks back from that, what the hell are we going to expect [from] international cooperation?” said Suzuki, who described the move as “sickening”.

In 2012 the Australian government created what was then the world’s largest network of marine reserves. The move followed years of consultation, and despite limited protection for the most biodiverse coastal areas, it was welcomed by environmental groups.

Since then, global momentum has been building for marine protection. In 2014 at the once-a-decade World Parks Congress in Sydney, conservation scientists called for fishing to be banned in 30% of each type of marine habitat globally – a call supported two years later by about 90 countries and hundreds of NGOs that are members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

In 2016, the US president Barack Obama created the world’s largest marine reserve by expanding an existing ocean reserve off Hawaii. That year he also established a large marine park in the Atlantic Ocean.

Similarly, Chile, France, Kiribati, New Zealand, Russia and the UK have created large areas where fishing is banned.

In contrast, the Australian government recently announced draft plans to reduce by 40% the amount of its marine parks that are “no-take” fishing or construction zones.

According to WWF-Australia, that would represent the world’s largest downgrading of protected areas on record. More than 433,000 sq km would be downgraded to allow commercial fishing – more than half of that in the Coral Sea marine park, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the few remaining large parts of the Pacific Ocean still in good health.

Australian waters contain rich biodiversity ranging from the tropics to Antarctica. A statement signed by Suzuki and 1,461 scientists described these waters as a “global asset” and called on the government to increase protections.

“They support six of the seven known species of marine turtles and more than half of the world’s whale and dolphin species. Australia’s oceans are home to more than 20% of the world’s fish species and are a hot spot of marine endemism. By properly protecting them, Australia will be supporting the maintenance of our global ocean heritage,” the statement said.

It’s absurd to think this is really Australia’s water,” Suzuki told the Guardian. “These oceans belong to the world – you just happen to be the caretakers in that particular area.”

Jessica Meeuwig, director of the Centre for Marine Futures at the University of Western Australia, said Australia’s move set a dangerous international precedent.

“Australia’s move to go backwards undermines that progress,” she said. “In Australia we will be supporting an international benchmark that says we’re happy to have paper parks [areas technically set aside but with minimal actual protections].”

Paper parks have been a major concern in the conservation world.

Meeuwig said Australia’s precedent is particularly dangerous given the Trump administration is mulling cuts to protected areas on land and in the ocean.

“Australia will pip Trump to the post,” she said.

The Trump administration is examining 27 protected areas for the rollback of protections, with a leaked memo revealing 10 – including the two marine parks established by Obama – earmarked to allow “traditional uses” such as mining, logging and hunting.

She said Australia’s unwinding of protections would help normalise radical moves to unwind protection in the US, as well as set a poor example for other countries.

“Such a backwards step just gives other countries an excuse to do less. [Australia is] a developed economy with good governance. If we can’t get this right, all we’re doing is putting the responsibility to protect oceans to nations that have less and are dealing with bigger challenges. That’s not leadership.”

Suzuki, who owns a house in Queensland’s Port Douglas and has spent a lot of time on the Great Barrier Reef, is angry about Australia’s rollback.

“We’re an air-breathing land animal. We’ve trashed the terrestrial environment with vast clearcuts and monocultures of rubber trees and corn and wheat. We’ve used the land and air to spread potent pesticides and toxic compounds. We’ve really fucked up the land that is our ecosystem. And now we go into the oceans that cover 70% of the planet and we’ve trashed that,” he said.

Suzuki said after the devastating bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in 2016, he visited it and wept.

He said Australia needed to face up to the interconnected issues of climate change and ocean health, both of which it was failing to address.

“I’m sorry Australia, wake up,” Suzuki said. “The oceans are a mess and a great deal of the mess is a reflection of climate change. Climate change is the overarching issue that is hammering the oceans as well as terrestrial areas. And it is absolutely disgusting that coal is still considered a great economic input to Australia.

“When you’ve got something that [other countries] would die for – you’ve got sunlight up the ying yang, why isn’t Australia the world leader in this incredible form of energy? It makes me sick. You’ve got great research facilities. You’ve got great scientists. You’ve got everything going to be a world leader in the energy of the future and you’re not doing it. And it’s not surprising then that you are doing the same to the oceans. What is it going to take for Australia to wake up to the opportunities?”

September 30, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, oceans | Leave a comment

Peak contamination levels from Fukushima off North America now known

 http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/52701  From: University of Victoria 
 September 29, 2017For the first time since 2011, peak contamination levels in Pacific Canadian waters from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are known, says a University of Victoria scientist who has been monitoring levels since the meltdown of three reactors at the plant.

Releases of radioactive elements from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in 2011 were the largest unplanned discharges of radioactivity into the ocean. The disaster, triggered by a 15-metre tsunami caused by a magnitude-9 earthquake, created widespread concern over the potential impact on marine life and human health.

“Contamination from Fukushima never reached a level where it was a significant threat to either marine or human life in our neighborhood of the North Pacific,” says UVic chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen.

Continue reading at University of Victoria.

September 30, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, oceans, radiation, USA | Leave a comment

Abandoned radioactive generators and other nuclear junk sunk in oceans by Russia

Feisty mayor in Russia’s Far East wants his nuclear trash collected http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2017-09-feisty-mayor-in-russia-far-east-wants-his-nuclear-trash-collected

While lighthouses run on atomic batteries in Russia have become rare, especially along the coasts of the Baltic and Barents Seas, they still have their adherents in the country’s Far East.  by Charles Digges   charles@bellona.no  While lighthouses run on atomic batteries in Russia have become rare, especially along the coasts of the Baltic and Barents Seas, they still have their adherents in the country’s Far East.

A group of radioactivity tracking sleuths on Sakhalin Island in the Pacific say they have hunted down an abandoned generator that ran on strontium-90 sunk off the shores of one of its premier beach resorts.

But that, they say, is just the tip of the iceberg: The discovery lies in the middle of a radioactive graveyard that includes no fewer than 38 sunken vessels containing nuclear waste, and two nuclear warheads that went down when a Soviet bomber crashed near the island’s southern tip in 1976.

Though the Russian Ministry of Defense recently began acknowledging the lost bomber, tracing the origins of the other nuclear cast offs is not so easy.

But at least, says Nikolai Sidirov, mayor of the coastal town of Makarov on Sakhalin’s Bay of Patience, his town knows what this new discovery is – and they want it raised from the depths with the rest of the glowing junk.

Speaking to Novaya Izvestiya, a popular tabloid that morphed out of the official Soviet-era mouthpiece Izvestiya, Sidirov said satellite photos tracking the location of the crashed bomber have turned up something else lurking under the waves: An RTG.

That’s short for Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, a small radioactive energy source that for decades powered thousands of Soviet lighthouses and other navigational beacons along Russia’s Baltic, Arctic and Pacific coasts.

After the fall of the Soviet Union and the crash of the Russian economy, officials lost track of many of the RTGs as bureaucracies collapsed and records went missing. Thieves pillaged them for their valuable metal, exposing their strontium innards. Hikers and shepherds, drawn to their atomic heat, would stagger out of the woods sick with radiation poisoning.

Around Murmansk and on the Pacific coast, frightful reports about strontium elements turning up on beaches proliferated in local media. Some newly independent Soviet republics telegraphed anxieties about their inherited RTGs back to Moscow – along with requests to come take them away.

And then there was the biggest fear of all: What if strontium 90 from these virtually unguarded, remotely radiological sources ended up in the hands of terrorists who wanted to make a dirty bomb?

So far, that hasn’t happened – anybody trying to make off with a strontium battery would likely end up very ill or dead. But when three woodsmen in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia turned up in a hospital with radiation burns and caught the attention of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the dangers of orphaned Soviet RTGs were finally on everyone’s mind.

A colossal effort spearheaded by the Norwegian government entirely rid the coasts of the Barents, Kara and White Seas of more than 180 RTGs. By infusing €20 million into the push, Norway helped Russia replace the strontium 90 batteries on these lighthouses and beacons with solar power over a six year period ending in 2015.

In all, Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, says it has decommission more than 1000 RTGs throughout the country, adding that it has mostly eliminated the hazard of these stray radioactive sources from its coastlines.

But some areas have not been so lucky, at least according to the mayor of Makarov out on Sakhalin Island, six times zones east of Moscow. Sidirov, a feisty campaigner who had been publicly heckling the capital about the nuclear trash in the seas near his town for years, says divers have located the RTG, and that he now has the coordinates of where it lies. He told Novaya Izvestiya he will pass on the RTGs location to what he calls “competent authorities” lest it end up in scheming hands.

How the RTG, which lies in 14 meters of water, came to be there is still anyone’s guess. The Russian Navy sent a statement to the newspaper insisting that all RTGs under the purview of the Pacific Fleet have been hunted down and destroyed.

But Russia’s environmental oversight agency confirmed that there were numerous radioactive foundlings in the oceans off Sakhalin Island, though they didn’t identify Sidirov’s RTG specifically.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time someone screwed up with an RTG in the area, however. Twenty years ago, in 1997, a helicopter from Russia’s Emergency Services Ministry accidentally dropped a strontium-powered RTG into Sakhalin’s waters. It was later retrieved by the navy.

So far, Rosatom has remained mum on the veracity of Sidirov’s claim about the RTG. But since the history of the downed bomber and the other hazards in his area has been confirmed, there’s every reason to believe him about the RTG. And he wants it gone.

“The ecological authorities and the military, they’re being very stubborn about coming to collect it,” Sidorov told Novaya Izvestiya. “It’s there job to collect it – if they’re ever interested, I’ll be here to show them exactly where it is.”

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Finland, oceans, Reference, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Climate change and coral reefs – for some reefs, their end is nigh

Farewelling coral reefs The Saturday Paper, Karen Middleton, 16 Sept 17  We hear much about trying to contain temperature rises to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Why is that the magic number?

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg The 2-degree guardrail came out of the 2009 Copenhagen meeting. When you looked at how ecosystems were responding, you got into an unmanageable area at 2 degrees above the pre-industrial period, which was where the CO2 concentration had been stable for a long time. The trajectory we’re on today could raise temperatures by as much as 5 or 6 degrees on history.

One of the problems with 2 degrees is that generally people have the idea that it’s a guardrail. You go up to the edge of 2 degrees and look over it and see where you don’t want to go and it’s all very safe here. But it’s more like a slippery slope. Things get progressively worse until they become unmanageable. At the latest Conference of the Parties, the UNFCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ] governing framework started to say, “well actually we want to keep things well below 2 degrees, and hopefully aim for 1.5 in the long term”.

KM And where are we now?

OHG We’re about a degree above the pre-industrial period.

KM So we’ve got half a degree’s leeway left.

OHG: To keep to that half a degree would be a massive decarbonisation of almost everything we do – energy, transport, food production and so on. Key to this is not just the amount of temperature change; it’s the system’s stability. If we don’t take care of fossil fuels we very quickly get into a situation where things change. Anything like that puts a lot of stress on biology but also on our economic systems. If you’re constantly having increasing temperatures and challenges then you’re not going to be able to build an economic system that will last 50 or 100 years……..

KM You predicted 20 years ago that we were going to be in a diabolical situation. Are you saying, “I told you so?”

OHG I wish I’d been wrong. A very simple model that I put together with people from the European Union showed what temperature was likely to do and we knew the temperature at which coral reefs got into trouble and they crossed each other around mid-century. I remember thinking at the time, “I hope this one’s wrong.” In the last couple of years we’ve had back-to-back bleaching events. Reefs have disappeared from many places – the Caribbean has been particularly hit hard. Corals have gone from maybe 50 to 60 per cent of the bottom of the ocean to less than 5 per cent in many places.

KM Is this irreversible?

OHG Under normal, non-climate-change circumstances, reefs might lose corals due to cyclones for example. And if they’re given 10 to 20 years, they’ll bounce back. But what’s been happening with these bleaching events, which are similar to cyclones in killing coral en masse, is they’re now coming faster and faster. There’s not enough time for reefs to bounce back……..

you have to say, “Where are those reefs that have the best chance of surviving a climate increase of 0.5 degrees?” The ocean isn’t heating up at the same rate in all places. There are some places where the currents have stalled, where it’s getting a lot hotter a lot quicker, like the equatorial Pacific, versus the coral triangle, which is this South-East Asian paradise for corals. The number of species there is something like three times that of Australia. So you start to go, “Oh, well if we’re going to preserve something we wouldn’t do it at the equator where it’s getting really, really hot – we should be going to South-East Asia.”

You do run into what appears to be triage, and I don’t think that’s the right word. I think it’s about another strategy being added onto the great things that are already going on in conservation. We will be releasing a list later this year and you have to ask the question: “What if the Great Barrier Reef’s not on it?” And it’s an interesting one………

KM How do you assess the current status of the Great Barrier Reef? How bad was the bleaching?

OHG The reef’s health has been rocky for some time. In 1998 we had 50 per cent of the reef bleached but only 10 per cent died. That’s 10 per cent of 40,000 square kilometres of coral – it’s still a large amount. Then it happened again in 2002 and then we had a bit of a break and then it came roaring back in 2016 and 2017, where not only much of the reef bleached but we lost almost 50 per cent of the corals over the last two years. If we continue to have warm summers like we had in ’16 and this year, the next one could wipe out the remaining coral. Now, I don’t want to sound doomsday, but that’s where we’re at right now. It’s still a wonderful place to visit. But if we continue on this trajectory it won’t be, very soon – within our lifetime. I think that this is the wake-up call that we need. If losing the Great Barrier Reef isn’t serious stuff, what is? https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/environment/2017/09/16/farewelling-coral-reefs/15054840005215

September 16, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Satellites reveal global fingerprints of sea-level rise

Global fingerprints of sea-level rise revealed by satellites, http://www.nature.com/news/global-fingerprints-of-sea-level-rise-revealed-by-satellites-1.22588

Geological processes send more meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets to Earth’s mid-latitudes. Rachael Lallensack, As an ice sheet melts, it leaves a unique signature behind. Complex geological processes distribute the meltwater in a distinct pattern, or ‘fingerprint’, that causes seas to rise unevenly around the world. Now, for the first time, researchers have observed what these sea-level fingerprints look like on a global scale.

“No one has put it together for a complete global picture like this before,” says James Davis, a geophysicist at Columbia University in Palisades, New York. The work was published in Geophysical Research Letters on 9 September1.

The concept of sea-level fingerprints has been been factored into models used to predict sea-level rise for several years, says lead researcher Isabella Velicogna, a geophysicist at the University of California, Irvine. And researchers have used tide gauges for just as long to observe the fingerprints in coastal regions. But the global view provided by the latest study adds confidence to projections of future sea-level rise.

As an ice sheet melts, it leaves a unique signature behind. Complex geological processes distribute the meltwater in a distinct pattern, or ‘fingerprint’, that causes seas to rise unevenly around the world. Now, for the first time, researchers have observed what these sea-level fingerprints look like on a global scale.

“No one has put it together for a complete global picture like this before,” says James Davis, a geophysicist at Columbia University in Palisades, New York. The work was published in Geophysical Research Letters on 9 September1.

The concept of sea-level fingerprints has been been factored into models used to predict sea-level rise for several years, says lead researcher Isabella Velicogna, a geophysicist at the University of California, Irvine. And researchers have used tide gauges for just as long to observe the fingerprints in coastal regions. But the global view provided by the latest study adds confidence to projections of future sea-level rise.

Velicogna and co-author Chia-Wei Hsu, also at the University of California, Irvine, used gravity data from NASA’s two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, which measure changes in mass on Earth’s surface. The scientists looked at satellite data from April 2002 to October 2014, and matched it with measurements from pressure stations on the ocean floor. These instruments measure the total mass above them.

Velicogna says that the findings should be used to create a roadmap for better placement of ocean-bottom pressure stations, which in turn can be used to improve calculations of sea-level fingerprints in the future.

“We know sea-level change throughout the world won’t be uniform, and it’s useful for people to know how those changes might show up,” says Mark Tamisiea, a geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin.

September 14, 2017 Posted by | climate change, oceans, Reference | Leave a comment

Climate change could be shrinking the world’s fish

Because warmer seas speed up their metabolisms, fish, squid and other water-breathing creatures will need to draw more oxygen from the ocean. At the same time, warming seas are already reducing the availability of oxygen in many parts of the sea.

A pair of University of British Columbia scientists argue that since the bodies of fish grow faster than their gills, these animals eventually will reach a point where they can’t get enough oxygen to sustain normal growth.

“What we found was that the body size of fish decreases by 20 to 30 percent for every 1 degree Celsius increase in water temperature,” says author William Cheung, director of science for the university’s Nippon Foundation—Nereus Program.

These changes, the scientists say, will have a profound impact on many marine food webs, upending predator-prey relationships in ways that are hard to predict.

Lab experiments have shown that it’s always the large species that will become stressed first,” says lead author Daniel Pauly, a professor at the university’s Institute for the Ocean and Fisheries, and principal investigator for the Sea Around Us. “Small species have an advantage, respiration-wise.”

Still, while many scientists applaud the discovery, not all agree that Pauly’s and Cheung’s work supports their dramatic findings. The study was published today in the journal Global Change Biology…….http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/climate-change-may-shrink-the-worlds-fish.aspx

August 23, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Coral bleaching is happening across the Pacific Ocean

Coral bleaching: Researchers struggle to find anywhere in Pacific Ocean untouched, ABC News, By Nadia Daly,20 Aug 17  Scientists aboard a French research ship say they have been shocked to see the extent of coral bleaching across the Pacific Ocean, just halfway through their two-year voyage around the world.

The vessel Tara has been sailing around the globe for more than a decade to study the effects of climate change on the ocean.

Its current expedition will cross 11 time zones and span 100,000 kilometres from Europe to Asia and back again, and the group claims it is the biggest study of this scale across coral reefs.

The focus is how coral reefs in the Pacific are adapting to climate change, and on a stopover in Sydney, captain Nicolas De La Brosse said the extent of damage is already deeply troubling.

“What we’ve seen in really isolated spots like Samoa for example, even though it’s very far away from [developed] countries with pollution, we struggled to find any coral life,” he said.

Mr De La Brosse said nowhere was immune to the effects of global warming.

“It doesn’t matter where you are in the Pacific, coral is starting to bleach.”

He said data was still being collected and analysed and the final results would be released at the end of 2019……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-19/researchers-shocked-by-coral-bleaching-in-pacific/8822126

August 21, 2017 Posted by | climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

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