climate change tagged posts

Florida’s fight with sea level rise

Florida beach on a beautiful day

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, many people are dreaming of Florida as a retreat from long days of self-isolation. Hundreds of miles of beautiful beaches, azure skies, shimmering oceans, teeming wilderness including barrier reefs and the Everglades, and strands of picturesque keys and islets. But this paradise is staring down a menace of its own — a rising sea level — and it’s time for a paradigm shift to help us save the Sunshine State. How that battle plays out will have huge implications for other coastal regions across the rest of the United States.

Floridians are experiencing the undeniable impacts of sea level rise firsthand on a daily basis. For Florida’s environment, the signs of danger and damage are everywhere. Saltwater is inundating the Florida Bay, exacerbating an...

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A new tool for identifying climate-adaptive coral reefs

Coral bleaching caused by climate change

Climate change is threatening the world’s coral reefs, and saving them all will prove impossible. A team from EPFL has developed a method for identifying corals with the greatest adaptive potential to heat stress. The research, published in the journal Evolutionary Applications, should support improved and better-targeted marine biodiversity conservation strategies.

Coral reefs are home to up to one-third of global marine biodiversity and, as such, are a high conservation priority. Yet these precious ecosystems have declined rapidly in the past 20 years, resulting in significant species loss and bringing socioeconomic hardship to tropical regions of the world that rely heavily on fishing and tourism. This decline is driven by bleaching, the process by which coral dies.

Bleaching occurs ...

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Huge Ecosystems Could Collapse in Less than 50 Years

A school of fish swims in the Coral Sea

We know this can happen because such changes have already been widely observed. But our research, now published in the journal Nature Communications, shows that the size of the ecosystem is important. Once a “tipping point” is triggered, large ecosystems could collapse much faster than we had thought possible. It’s a finding that has worrying implications for the functioning of our planet.

We started off by wondering how the size of the ecosystem might affect the time taken for these changes (ecologists call them “regime shifts”) to happen. It seems intuitive to expect large ecosystems to shift more slowly than small ones. If so, would the relationship between shift time and size be the same for lakes, corals, fisheries, and forests?

We began by analyzing data for about 40 regime...

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Greenland and Antarctica ice loss accelerating

Why is Antarctica's mighty Thwaites Glacier melting?

Earth’s great ice sheets, Greenland and Antarctica, are now losing mass six times faster than they were in the 1990s thanks to warming conditions. A comprehensive review of satellite data acquired at both poles is unequivocal in its assessment of accelerating trends, say scientists.

Between them, Greenland and Antarctica lost 6.4 trillion tonnes of ice in the period from 1992 to 2017.

This was sufficient to push up global sea-levels by 17.8mm.

“That’s not a good news story,” said Prof Andrew Shepherd from the University of Leeds in the UK.

“Today, the ice sheets contribute about a third of all sea-level rise, whereas in the 1990s, their contribution was actually pretty small at about 5%. This has important implications for the future, for coastal flooding and erosion,” he told BBC News.

T...

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Study finds quarter of climate change tweets from bots

A study by researchers at Brown University has found a quarter of posts about climate change on Twitter were written by bots. Bots are computer programs that can masquerade as humans to post or send messages on social media. Researchers discovered tweets posted by bots created the impression there was a high level of climate change denial.

The paper detailing the finds has not yet been published and was first reported by The Guardian newspaper.

The research team analysed 6.5 million tweets from the period surrounding President Donald Trump’s June 2017 announcement that he was removing the United States from the Paris climate accord.

The finding showed 25% of tweets on climate change were likely posted by bots...

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Mysterious ‘Pocket’ of Underwater Gas Could Contain 50 Million Tons of CO2

A golden sun sets over the East China Sea, near Okinawa, Japan

The bottom of the sea can be a gassy place. Underwater volcanoes and vents spew carbon dioxide (CO2) near the crevices where tectonic plates rift apart. Hungry bacteria convert decomposing creatures of the deep into natural methane. And, new research from Japan reminds us, enormous, miles-wide reservoirs of greenhouse gases lurk in untouched pockets just below the seafloor.

In a study published Aug. 19 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a team of researchers discovered one such pocket at the bottom of the Okinawa Trough, a massive submarine basin sitting southwest of Japan where the Philippine Sea plate is slowly sinking below the Eurasian plate. Using seismic waves to map the trough’s structure, the team found a huge gas pocket stretching at least 2...

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What is ocean acidification?

Ocean acidification is yet another effect of climate change that's killing the world's coral reefs.

Ocean acidification refers to the process of our planet’s oceans becoming more acidic due to the global increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Since the Industrial Revolution, experts estimate that Earth‘s oceans have absorbed more than a quarter of the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) released from the burning of fossil fuels. Once in the ocean, the dissolved carbon dioxide undergoes a series of chemical reactions that increase the concentration of hydrogen ions while lowering the ocean’s pH and carbonate minerals — a process called ocean acidification.

Studies have shown that ocean acidification could have dramatic consequences for marine life and communities whose livelihoods depend on our ocean’s resources.

What causes ocean acidification?

When carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is ...

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Report Details Triple Threat to Coral Reefs

In a new report about how the world’s coral reefs face “the combined threats of climate change, pollution, and overfishing”—endangering the future of marine biodiversity—a London-based nonprofit calls for greater global efforts to end the climate crisis and ensure the survival of these vital underwater ecosystems. The report, entitled Marine Havens Under Threat: The impacts of the climate crisis on tropical coral reefs and the communities that rely on them (pdf), was published Wednesday by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF).

EJF warns that because of human activities that heat and pollute the planet, coral reefs “are under imminent risk of destruction,” pointing to a recent estimate from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that global warming o...

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Climate change: Last decade confirmed as warmest on record

The 10 years to the end of 2019 have been confirmed as the warmest decade on record by three global agencies. According to Nasa, Noaa and the UK Met Office, last year was the second warmest in a record dating back to 1850. The past five years were the hottest in the 170-year series, with each one more than 1C warmer than pre-industrial. The Met Office says that 2020 is likely to continue this warming trend.

2016 remains the warmest year on record, when temperatures were boosted by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

graphic

Today’s data doesn’t come as a huge surprise, with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) signalling at the start of last December that 2019 likely marked the end of the warmest decade on record.

The Met Office, which is involved in producing the HadCRUT4 temperature ...

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Ocean temperatures hit record high as rate of heating accelerates

The heat in the world’s oceans reached a new record level in 2019, showing “irrefutable and accelerating” heating of the planet. Photograph: Modis/Terra/Nasa

The heat in the world’s oceans reached a new record level in 2019, showing “irrefutable and accelerating” heating of the planet. The world’s oceans are the clearest measure of the climate emergency because they absorb more than 90% of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel burning, forest destruction and other human activities.

The new analysis shows the past five years are the top five warmest years recorded in the ocean and the past 10 years are also the top 10 years on record. The amount of heat being added to the oceans is equivalent to every person on the planet running 100 microwave ovens all day and all night.

Hotter oceans lead to more severe storms and disrupt the water cycle, meaning more floods, droughts and wildfires, as well as an inexorable r...

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