Category News

What is biodiversity and how are we protecting it?

The United Nations has declared Sunday to be the International Day for Biodiversity to raise awareness of the extinction risk facing animals and plants. Nearly a third of all species are now endangered due to human activities. Later this year governments will meet to come up with a long-term plan to reverse the threat to life on Earth – in all its varieties – at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in China.

What is biodiversity and why is it important?

Biodiversity is the variety of all life on Earth – animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms like bacteria.

Animals and plants provide humans with everything needed to survive – including fresh water, food, and medicines. 

However, we cannot get these benefits from indivi...

Read More

Ocean Acidity and Temperature Highest Ever Recorded

According to a new study from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in 2021 our oceans reached their hottest and most acidic levels since we began recording them. The study, which was part a larger report released annually, looked at four main drivers of climate change: greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean temperatures, and ocean acidity. All hit record highs last year.

“Our climate is changing before our eyes,” WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas said in a statement. “The heat trapped by human-induced greenhouse gases will warm the planet for many generations to come.”

The rapidly rising temperatures and greenhouse gasses are having a catastrophic effect on our oceans...

Read More

Dolphin reef playgrounds at risk from climate change

Pacific bottlenose dolphins treat their skin conditions in coral reef spas, a new study has found. The dolphins are regular customers at specific Red Sea reefs, where they rub up against certain types of corals that contain distinct active medicinal compounds, according to the study, published on Thursday in iScience. 

Repeated rubbing allows these chemicals “to come into contact with the skin of the dolphins,” Gertrud Morlock, of Germany’s Justus Liebig University Giessen, said in a statement. 

This could help dolphins prevent or treat microbial infections, Morlock added.

“Many people don’t realize that these coral reefs are bedrooms for the dolphins, and playgrounds as well,” co-author Angela Ziltener of the University of Zurich added. 

“It’s almost like they a...

Read More

“Coral Extinction is Possible by the End of the 21st Century”

Coral reefs are complex, large underwater ecosystems that support marine life both as a form of food and shelter for fish. Over the years, the climate crisis has marked an end date for these vibrant marine structures, based on a new study in the Caribbean where marine ecologists warn that coral extinction is imminent if global temperatures continue to rise.

The new study followed recent research regarding the increasing risk brought by ocean warming to coral reef systems, placing them in the state of coral bleaching and eventual death.

Previous scientific papers have also revealed a drastic coral population decline across the globe, including in the Great Barrier Reef.

In addition to natural hazards, human-related activities such as overfishing and the use of explosive devices in...

Read More

Australian authorities to buy out fisheries, citing climate crisis

The federal government will spend $20m to buy out fisheries in Australia’s south-east in part because the climate crisis is affecting population numbers of some species, making current fishing levels unsustainable. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority will buy back vessel permits in the south-east trawl fishery, which is the largest commonwealth-managed fin fish fishery in Australia.

It is the first time the authority has said it will conduct a buyout because of climate change and environmental factors, which are preventing the recovery of some populations.

The government announced $24m in the March budget for a structural adjustment package for the fishery, the bulk of which is for the buyouts to try to ensure its long-term sustainability.

The authority told a Senate ...

Read More

Large-scale ocean sanctuaries could protect coral reefs from climate change

Earth’s oceans are home to some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, but warming temperatures are causing many marine animals, including coral, to die out. A new study into managing the effect climate change has on these organisms says that more international collaboration is needed to ensure the future of the more than 6,000 coral species.

“Coral reefs are an essential ecosystem on our planet,” said Andrea Grottoli, co-author of the study and a professor in earth sciences at the Ohio State University. “Coral reefs are really important for humans in that they provide protection to coastlines from erosion and storms, and they’re essential for certain services like tourism and other parts of the economy.”

The study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, advocates fo...

Read More

91% of reefs surveyed on Great Barrier Reef affected by coral bleaching in 2022

Coral bleaching occurs when water is too warm, causing corals to expel the algae living in their tissues and turn completely white -- often killing the cora

Coral bleaching affected 91% of reefs surveyed along the Great Barrier Reef this year, according to a report by government scientists that confirms the natural landmark has suffered its sixth mass bleaching event on record. The Reef snapshot: summer 2021-22, quietly published by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on Tuesday night after weeks of delay, said above-average water temperatures in late summer had caused coral bleaching throughout the 2,300km reef system, but particularly in the central region between Cape Tribulation and the Whitsundays.

“The surveys confirm a mass bleaching event, with coral bleaching observed at multiple reefs in all regions,” a statement accompanying the report said...

Read More

‘Fifty-fifty chance’ of breaching 1.5C warming limit

The likelihood of crossing a key global warming threshold has risen significantly, according to a new analysis. UK Met Office researchers say that there’s now around a fifty-fifty chance that the world will warm by more than 1.5C over the next five years. Such a rise would be temporary, but researchers are concerned about the overall direction of temperatures. 

It’s almost certain that 2022-2026 will see a record warmest year, they say.

The Met Office is the UK’s national meteorological service.

As levels of warming gases in the atmosphere have accrued rapidly over the past three decades, global temperatures have responded by rising in step. 

In 2015, the world’s average temperature first went 1C above the pre-industrial levels, which are generally thought of as the temperat...

Read More

Huge volume of water detected under Antarctic ice

Vast quantities of water have been detected in sediments that underlie a part of the West Antarctic ice sheet. The volume is equivalent to a reservoir that is several hundred metres deep. The water was detected below the Whillans Ice Stream, but its presence is likely replicated elsewhere across the White Continent. That being the case, it could be an important influence on how Antarctica reacts to a warmer world, researchers tell the journal Science this week.

Water at the base of glaciers and ice streams generally works to lubricate their movement. 

The transfer of water into or out of this deep reservoir has the potential therefore to either slow down or speed up ice flow.

Models that simulate future climate impacts will now have to account for it.

The detection was made...

Read More

Seagrass project switch after low yield

A project to reintroduce seagrass in Plymouth Sound has seen only 6% of seeds germinated. The National Marine Aquarium said it was now switching to seedlings already growing on matting to increase yields. Seagrass is seen as a way of fighting climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Thousands of seed bags were dropped onto the sea floor in 2021 in a £2.5m project to grow eight hectares (80,000 sq m) of meadow in Devon and Hampshire.

But the seeds became lost or buried by tides, said Mark Parry from the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.

“The idea is that we germinate the seeds in a closed environment where we can tightly control those conditions,” he said.

“We get a higher germination rate, we allow them to develop their roots and the rhizomes to spr...

Read More