Monday, April 25, 2016
Huge coral reef discovered at Amazon river mouth
More evidence of how poorly understood coral reefs are. Warmists are dogmatic that recent bleaching on the Northern part of Australia's GBR is due to global warming but who knows? This recent discovery was apparently a huge surprise. There were not supposed to be corals in that location. So it shows how little we actually know about how corals work
What it does show is that corals are highly adaptable and can survive a lot of challenges. It might also be noted that there are benthic corals in Icelandic waters that get no sunlight at all. They have become filter feeders. Some of the South American corals may be that too
Yup. Science is settled.
Scientists astonished to find 600-mile long reef under the muddy water in a site already marked for oil exploration
Scientists were ‘flabbergasted’ to discover the Amazon reef as coral usually thrives in clear, sunlit tropical waters.
A huge 3,600 sq mile (9,300 sq km) coral reef system has been found below the muddy waters off the mouth of the river Amazon, astonishing scientists, governments and oil companies who have started to explore on top of it.
The existence of the 600-mile long reef, which ranges from about 30-120m deep and stretches from French Guiana to Brazil’s Maranhão state, was not suspected because many of the world’s great rivers produce major gaps in reef systems where no corals grow.
In addition, there was little previous evidence because corals mostly thrive in clear, sunlit, salt water, and the equatorial waters near the mouth of the Amazon are some of the muddiest in the world, with vast quantities of sediment washed thousands of miles down the river and swept hundreds of miles out to sea.
But the reef appears to be thriving below the freshwater “plume”, or outflow, of the Amazon. Compared to many other reefs, the scientists say in a paper in Science Advances on Friday, it is is relatively “impoverished”. Nevertheless, they found over 60 species of sponges, 73 species of fish, spiny lobsters, stars and much other reef life.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Australian scientists write open letter demanding action on Great Barrier Reef as 93 per cent of the reef has been affected by coral bleaching due to climate change
But what CAN the government do if it's due to climate change? They want the government to stop all coal usage but that would do nothing for the reef. The proportion of CO2 added to the atmosphere by the burning of coal in Australia is minuscule. The whole thing is just a cynical and dishonest attempt to push their usual barrows by exploiting something that is almost certainly due to the El Nino weather oscillation and not to "climate change"
Dozens of Australian scientists have penned a letter to express major concern for the Great Barrier Reef, which is currently undergoing its worst coral bleaching in history.
The letter signed by 56 scientists urged the government to make phasing out fossil fuels and coal a major priority to save the reef.
'We are now seeing first hand the damage that climate change causes, and we have a duty of care to speak out,' the open letter stated.
'Australia must rapidly phase-out our existing ageing and inefficient coal-fired power stations.
'In addition, there can be no new coal mines. No new coal-fired power stations. The transition to a renewables-led energy system, already underway, must be greatly accelerated.'
The letter, published in The Courier-Mail as an advert, cost the $14,000 to publish and was funded by a the Climate Council successfully raised money from 250 sponsors.
A report by news.com.au noted the letter was published in the same week it was revealed 93 per cent of the world's largest reef was affected by coral bleaching, the worst case in recorded history.
Organisations are demanding further action from the federal government, with WWF Australia pushing for 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035 and net zero carbon pollution before 2050, according to the report.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Marxist paper says that barrier reef damage is being covered up by Murdoch newspaper
The main Murdoch paper in North Queensland, where the reef is, did cover the bleaching. It was just the main Murdoch paper in the South, where the reef is not, that mostly ignored the alarms.
And the "Courier Mail" had good reason to ignore the Greenie shrieks. Greenies have been crying "wolf" over bleaching almost incessantly for many years. Another such cry is not much news.
And the point is that corals always recover. On Bikini atoll the corals re-grew even after sustaining a direct hit from a thermo-nuclear blast. And even the chief reef alarmist said: I’d expect most of the corals from Cairns southwards to recover”
Coral bleaching is a complex event and it is only Warmists who are sure that global warming causes it. As NOAA says: "Coral bleaching is not well understood by scientists. Many different hypotheses exist as to the cause behind coral bleaching"
I grew up a short boat ride from the reef and as far back as I can remember (over 60 years) there have been alarms about damage to the reef, including bleaching. And that was long before global warming is supposed to have got going.
Assuming that warmer water is the problem, however, note one thing: Both the big 1998 die-back and the present die-back coincided with big El Nino events. And Australia is right in the path of an El Nino event. It's by far the most parsimonious hypothesis to say that the present problems of the reef are wholly an El Nino effect, and hence just another one of nature's cycles, nothing to do with global warming
But most of the people quoted below are well-known Warmists so they are too predictable to be heeded
The images went around the world. The snapshots of the Great Barrier Reef, from Cairns to Torres Strait, looked more like a pile of bones than coral. Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council’s centre of excellence for coral reef studies at James Cook University in Townsville, was surveying the reef by plane and helicopter. It was, he wrote on March 26, “the saddest trip of my life”.
From March 22, Hughes criss-crossed 520 individual reefs in four days, covering 3200 kilometres by air. Just four showed no evidence of bleaching. The further north Hughes travelled, over what were once the most pristine waters of the reef, unspoiled by the runoff that pollutes the south, the worse the bleaching became. Fringing reefs in Torres Strait, he said, were “completely white”.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science currently has 300 researchers swarming over the reef, complementing the aerial surveys. Reefs are scored on a scale of zero, which indicates no bleaching, to four, which means more than 60 per cent is bleached. Their observations have replicated Hughes’s. In the meantime, Hughes has continued southwards, trying to find a limit to the unfolding tragedy beneath him.
Like most scientists, Hughes prefers to talk in numbers. “I wouldn’t talk about the Barrier Reef dying or the killing of the reef or whatever. I think that’s overstating it,” he says. “I’ll say what number of reefs we’ve surveyed, how many are severely bleached and how many are not severely bleached – but then often the language gets changed, depending on the style of reporting by particular outlets.”
“It’s fair to say it’s getting more coverage outside Australia than inside.”
To clarify, bleached coral is not dead coral. It’s just very unhealthy. Varying combinations of heat stress, bright sunlight and poor water quality cause coral to expel the algae, or zooxanthellae, on which it feeds, and which also gives it its brilliant colour. This exposes the limestone skeleton beneath. Different types of coral are more susceptible to bleaching than others.
Hughes is clear, though: this is really, really serious. “There’s a window of opportunity to survey the corals when they’re severely bleached, because after a few weeks they start to die, and then the skeletons get covered in seaweed and you can’t see them from the air anymore,” he says. “We timed our northern surveys to coincide with the peak whiteness of the reefs, before there was significant mortality.”
North of Cooktown, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is now reporting up to 50 per cent mortality rates. The full extent of the damage, Hughes says, will take months to unfold. “Different corals linger for longer before they die – and also, of course, some of them won’t die, they will recover. I’d expect most of the corals from Cairns southwards to recover.”
When Hughes returned from his first sojourn north, his phone rang off the hook. In the week before April 7, according to the media monitoring company Meltwater, the story was reported more than 1000 times in 70 countries. Video footage given to ABC TV’s 7.30 and later used by the World Wildlife Fund has been viewed more than four million times. “It’s fair to say it’s getting more coverage outside Australia than inside,” Hughes says.
By any objective measure, the bleaching of the reef is a massive story. It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world – the only Australian environmental feature to be granted such status. It’s home to about 215 species of birds, 30 types of whales or dolphins, half a dozen kinds of sea turtle, and 10 per cent of the entire world’s species of fish.
Any potential danger to the reef is economic and diplomatic as much as environmental. According to a Deloitte study commissioned by the Australian government in 2013, its value to the national economy is about $5.7 billion annually. It attracts two million international visitors each year. It employs close to 70,000 people on a full-time basis.
There have been some efforts to inform people about the devastation under way on the reef in the media. News Corp’s The Cairns Post – with a local readership whose livelihoods are directly threatened – has reported the issue, as has Fairfax’s Brisbane Times. But in Queensland’s only statewide newspaper you wouldn’t have read about Hughes’s findings or their ramifications. Since his surveys began, The Courier-Mail hasn’t interviewed him, nor sent one of its journalists into the field to verify either his or his colleagues’ observations.
“It basically shows they’re either in denial about the science,” says Ian Lowe, emeritus professor in the School of Science at Griffith University, “or they’re colluding in obscuring the science so the community don’t understand the threats being posed to the reef, both by climate change and by the associated acidification of the oceans, both of which put real pressure on corals.”
On March 25, the day Hughes completed his survey of the northern section of the reef, the newspaper ran a short piece on page three, lambasting Greenpeace for sharing an image of bleached coral taken in American Samoa that was incorrectly labelled as being from the Barrier Reef.
Last week, on April 7, The Courier-Mail ran on its front page a story titled “David Attenborough’s verdict: Still the most magical place on Earth”, accompanied by a picture of the famed naturalist and filmmaker standing atop some coral at low tide. Inside was a double-page spread headlined “It takes your breath away”, with the sub-head “Reports of reef’s death greatly exaggerated: Attenborough”.
Well, at least that was what the subeditor said. The lead quote came not from Attenborough, but from federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, after he was granted a preview of the first part of Attenborough’s TV series on the reef that aired last Sunday. “The key point that I had from seeing the first of the three parts is that clearly, the world’s Great Barrier Reef is still the world’s Great Barrier Reef,” Hunt said.
Had Hunt seen the third part, or had the reader progressed to the end of the article, they would have noted Attenborough’s conclusion: “The Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger. The twin perils brought by climate change – an increase in the ocean temperature and in its acidity – threaten its very existence. If they continue to rise at the present rate, the reefs will be gone within decades.”
The Courier-Mail’s relationship with environment organisations has been frosty since the departure of long-serving reporter Brian Williams. Williams says these issues have always waxed and waned. “Not long before I left The Courier-Mail I was doing stories on the prospect of this bleaching occurring, and I actually spoke to some friends in the conservation movement and suggested that the debate would swing back again.”
For now, though, the newspaper is running heavily in support of Adani’s massive Carmichael coalmine in the Galilee Basin, which had been given the go-ahead by the Queensland state government on April 3. “In the real world you need jobs,” began an editorial on the same day, which lambasted “hashtag activism” and defended the regulations it claimed would protect the reef.
“The science on the health of the reef is plain,” the paper said. “This great natural wonder loved by all Queenslanders faces a range of stresses – as it has during the entire past century – from agricultural runoff to the current coral bleaching.”
No mention was made of climate change. The science on that is plain, too: according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, bleaching is caused primarily by heat stress. The authority also notes that the reef has in fact been bleached only twice previously in the past century – and those events were in 1998 and 2002. This event is far worse. Hughes has said the reef is being “fried”. It’s perhaps more accurate to say it’s being slowly boiled. Water temperatures are up to 35 degrees around Lizard Island, and about 2 degrees above normal summer averages generally.
Climate scientists say that in addition to 2015 being the hottest year since records began in 1880, water temperatures around Australia are at all-time highs. They point to more frequent El Niño events, and more intense cyclones. It’s not just the Barrier Reef that is suffering, either: corals are being bleached across the southern hemisphere, from the central and eastern Pacific across to the Caribbean.
Scientists usually fare poorly in the media for their struggle to speak in lay terms. Now, the government’s own experts are being dismissed as activists.
John Cook, a climate communication fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, says it’s a deliberate strategy. “It’s an attempt by people who oppose climate action to deliberately lump them together, and so when a scientist publishes empirical research about climate change, then they get labelled an activist.” Politicising science, he says, is a way of casting doubt on it.
“I remember having conversations with editors about how climate should be covered, and being told that it was a political story,” remembers Graham Readfearn, who launched his GreenBlog at The Courier-Mail in 2008, before resigning in 2010. “The politics are a distraction when the issue is quite literally staring you in the face, in the form of white coral.”
The newspaper’s website has since deleted all of Readfearn’s posts. Questions to The Courier-Mail’s editor, Lachlan Heywood, went unanswered.
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a professor of marine science at the University of Queensland with a special interest in the communication of science issues, notes that the premiere of Attenborough’s series on Sunday night was watched by 10.6 million people in Britain alone. But in Queensland, there is an eerie silence. In politics and in the state’s most-read newspaper, no one wants to talk about what is happening in front of them.
Monday, April 18, 2016
Coral reefs set to lose tolerance to bleaching as oceans warm
There's probably a few factual bits below but it's mostly just modelling crap. They at least acknowledge that corals do adapt -- which is a great leap forward for them
The future is not looking bright. Coral reefs are set to become more vulnerable to bleaching as rising temperatures cripple their self-defence mechanisms.
Bleaching occurs when warm waters strip away the colourful photosynthesising algae that provide nourishment to corals.
This happens during unusually warm periods, such as during El Niño years, but doesn’t always kill coral, which can recover when waters cool again.
Corals are often able to survive heatwaves by developing resistance during periods of milder warming, when water temperatures rise and cool off again, says Tracy Ainsworth of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. The corals are essentially given a warning for what’s about to come, a sort of practice run.
A little stress can help corals
"Corals that undergo smaller stress prior to a bleaching event are able to retain more symbionts within the tissue, those algae which are crucial for nutrition," says Ainsworth. "This has major implications as to whether or not it can survive."
Now that climate change is driving up ocean temperatures, there are fears that these acclimatisation periods will become shorter or disappear completely.
To get an idea of how warming waters might affect corals, Ainsworth and her colleagues studied patterns of sea surface temperatures at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef over the last three decades.
They found that during that time, 75 per cent of heatwaves were preceded by moderately warm temperatures. These can help cut coral mortality by 50 per cent.
More heat, more stress
They then modelled future scenarios and found that this proportion may drop to 22 per cent if sea surface temperatures rise by 2 °C, as could occur by 2100.
What’s more, they found that an increase in local water temperature of just 0.5 °C can lead to loss of this adaptation mechanism.
"We will no longer be getting a situation where corals have a small stress, a period of recovery due to water cooling, and then a big stress," says Ainsworth. "What we’ll see is an accumulation of one big stress."
Their experiments also confirmed the importance of practice runs, showing that corals developed a number of heat resistance strategies as the water warmed up.
"They upregulated their heat shock responses and all these other molecular mechanisms that prevented damage to the cells during the next stress," says Ainsworth.
But increasing sea temperatures caused by climate change will see that gap between the preparation period and the peak stress disappear, says study co-author Scott Heron of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Not too late
"Those temperatures will no longer drop below the stress levels," says Heron. "So instead of a gap to recover between the preparation period and the peak stress, the corals have an extended period of stress."
If these predictions are born out, coral cover in the Great Barrier Reef could dwindle to less than 5 per cent by the end of the century.
Nevertheless, it is not too late to turn things around. The researchers’ modelling studies demonstrated that aggressive efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions would result in no net decline in coral cover by the end of the century.
"I think we do still have hope, we should never give up," says Ainsworth.