Monday, January 29, 2018

The Never-ending Battles of the Coral Sea

Viv Forbes

For at least 50 years Australian taxpayers and other innocents have supported a parasitic industry in academia, bureaucracy, law, media and the tax-exempt Green Alarm “Charities”, all studying, regulating, inspecting and writing about yet another “imminent threat to Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.”

It has become the never-ending battle of the Coral Sea.

The threats change, but there is always a doomsday forecast – Crown-of-Thorns, oil drilling, fishing, cane farming, coastal shipping, global warming, ocean acidity, coral bleaching, port dredging, chemical and fertiliser runoff, coal transport, river sediments, loss of world heritage status etc. Every recycled scare, magnified by the media and parroted by politicians, generates more income for the alarm industry, usually at the expense of taxpayers, consumers or local industries.

The reality is that sea creatures would starve in pure water – all marine life needs nutrients, salts and minerals. These come from other life forms, from decomposing rocks and organic matter carried to the sea by rivers, from dissolving atmospheric gases, or from delta and shelf sediments stirred up by floods, cyclones, dredging or coastal shipping. No one supports over-use of toxic man-made chemicals, but well-run cane, cattle and coal companies can co-exist with corals.

Corals first appeared 500 million years ago and have proven to be one of Earth’s great survivors. They outlasted the Carboniferous Forests, the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions, the dinosaurs, the mammoths, the Neanderthals and the Pleistocene cycles of ice age and warming. They thrive in warm tropical water, cluster around hot volcanic fumaroles and survive massive petroleum spills, natural oil seeps, tidal waves and volcanic dust. They have even recolonised the Montebello Island waters devastated by atomic bomb testing in the 1950’s.

The ENSO oscillation of blobs of warm Pacific water which caused recent coral bleaching can be identified in historical records for at least 400 years. Corals have survived El Nino warmings for thousands of years and they will probably outlast Homo Alarmism as Earth proceeds into the next glacial epoch.

Corals do not rely on computer models of global temperature to advise them – they read the sea level thermometer which falls and rises as the great ice sheets come and go.

In the warming phase like the one just ending, ice melts, sea levels rise and the reef that houses the corals may get drowned. Corals have two choices – build their reef higher or just float south/inshore and build a new reef (like the Great Barrier Reef) in shallower, cooler water. When islands sink beneath rising oceans, corals may build their own coral atolls as fast as the water rises.

Then when the cold era returns, ice sheets grow, sea levels fall, and the warm era coral reefs (like the Great Barrier Reef) get stranded on the new beaches and coastal plains. Usually the process is slow enough to allow the coral polyps to float into deeper warmer water closer to the equator and build another reef.

This eminently sensible policy of “move when you have to” has proved a successful survival policy for the corals for 500 million years.

Humans should copy the corals – “forget the computer climate models but watch real data like actual sea levels and . . . move when you have to.”


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Australia: New funding for the Great Barrier Reef

This is in response to Greenie claims that the GBR is "dying".  The reef has been there for millennia but Greenies talked up some recent changes as if they were catastrophic and final.  As is now clear even to a Greenie, the reef "fixes" itself.  It has rebounded from the small but highly exaggerated degree of damage that it suffered.

Dead coral revives when the stressor -- in this case a temporary sea level fall -- goes away.  To Greenies, of course, coral deaths are caused by Global Warming. 

The new money seems to be reasonably allocated even if the need for it was built on false pretences

THE number of crown-of-thorns starfish control vessels will be more than doubled under a new $60 million Great Barrier Reef funding suite.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will unveil the package in Townsville today as he continues the North Queensland tour that began in Cairns yesterday.

The Federal Government will spend $10.4 million for what Mr Turnbull labelled an “all-out assault on coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish” to increase the number of culling ships from three to eight.

Another $36.6 million will go towards measures to reduce run-off pollution entering the reef, giving farmers incentives to cut down soil erosion, improve nutrient management, and restoring coastal and riparian vegetation in reef catchments.

“This $60 million funding boost over 18 months will set in motion a major research and development program for coral reef restoration,” Mr Turnbull said.

“For the first time The Commonwealth will bring together key agencies to explore ways the reef can best adapt to the changing environment to protect it for decades to come.

“By supporting the development of innovative new reef technologies we are also helping to cement Australia’s international reputation as a strong innovation-driven economy.”

The Australian Institute of Marine Science and CSIRO will share in $6 million to scope and design the program to develop heat-tolerant coralswith a focus on leveraging private investment.

Mr Turnbull said $4.9 million would be spent to boost the number of field officers protecting the reef and the 64,000 jobs that rely on it.

“It is a vibrant, resilient ecosystem and one of the best-managed coral reef ecosystems in the world,” he said.

“While it is facing increasing threats we intend to remain leaders in reef management.

“The specific science focus of the R & D funding is part of the government’s broader focus on science, innovation and jobs and the central role they will play now and into the future.

“Innovation and science are key to future employment opportunities for Australians.”


Despite global warming, some reefs are flourishing, and you can see it in 3D

Maybe it’s not the end of the world for corals after all.

That’s one of the surprising findings of a new project called the 100 Island Challenge, led by two scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

Jennifer Smith, Stuart Sandin and their team from Scripps are studying the changes taking place on 100 coral reef systems around the world. What they have found offers a surprising, and hopeful, glimpse of the current state of coral reefs.

“We’ve seen evidence of health pretty much everywhere,” says Sandin. “This isn’t saying that every reef is thriving, and every reef has stayed immune to climate change. But what we’re seeing is that after a reef dies, organisms grow.” Call it the Jurassic Park effect: life finds a way.

While they acknowledge that some reef systems like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia have suffered tremendously from recent warming events, other reefs seem to be thriving.

“We were inspired by some observations that we had about seeing coral reefs in far flung places that showed signs of resilience, that showed bounty, that showed wonder,” says Sandin. “And these observations that we had were somewhat in contrast to some of the news reports of doom and gloom, of loss.”

If you don’t believe it, take a look at the video above, which the team has assembled as part of the 100 Island Challenge. In vivid 3D, corals bulge with life, exhibiting vibrant hues that stand in stark contradiction to the pale skeletons left behind after coral bleaching events that have ravaged other reefs.

The videos themselves are an astonishing and important part of the project. Although the corals look computer generated, the videos represent actual reef systems shot with off the shelf DSLR cameras. They are assembled from as many as 4000 photographs, shot by divers who swim lawnmower patterns over the reef, snapping a picture every second. The images are then run through a software process called photogrammetry, which stitches the images together into a 3-dimensional whole, allowing the viewer to glide across the reef with resolution down to one centimeter.

The team has shot over 70 reefs so far, in places like Hawaii, the Marianas, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Tonga, and French Polynesia. This year, they will visit the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Kiribati and several islands across the Caribbean.

They plan to return to each one after 2-3 years to repeat the process. The idea is to gain a fine-grained understanding of the changes that are taking place over time on the reefs, and to do so without harming the coral. It is the most detailed study of its kind on the planet, and it’s providing data the likes of which has never been collected before.

“Now we’re able to do a single dive on a reef, capture thousands of images, bring them back home, recreate that reef in the lab and then spend hundreds of hours extracting data out of that one dive, whereas normally that would have taken hundreds of hours underwater to collect the same data,” says Smith.

Although they have not yet determined how the reefs are changing over time, perhaps the most surprising results they have seen reveal how well many reef systems are doing, even in places facing human impact. Jamaica, for example, has long been held out as a case study for coral loss. But the team visited last year and came away surprised.

“You can see these little colonies of pretty much every species of Caribbean coral alive, growing slowly,” says Sandin.

The team is already taking the study into other interactive realms, with plans to create virtual reality tours of the reefs, adding sound and expanding into 4D by adding the dimension of time into the experience. They believe that the images will become a valuable baseline for understanding the changes, both good and bad, that are taking place on the planet.

“These models are essentially a living library of reefs that will essentially be an opportunity to take a time machine into the past 20 years from now,” says Sandin.

More HERE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Friday, January 19, 2018

The inconvenient truth is that catastrophists are wrong

In a hurried piece in Fairfax publications, the Climate Council of Australia’s Will Steffen throws hot water on any misconceptions that may have been drawn from abnormal snowfalls in Britain, Switzerland and Japan, the record-breaking cold snap in Canada and the US, and the expansion of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

He says: “Terms like ‘global warming’ and the mental images they trigger can be misleading when people attempt to understand what is happening to the climate. A far better term is ‘climate disruption’, which captures the real nature of the vast array of changes, many of them abrupt and unexpected, that are occurring.”

So fire and ice, it’s to be expected.

Of course you won’t be surprised to learn Steffen claims “the climate disruption we are increasingly experiencing is not natural. It is caused by the heat-trapping gases we humans are pouring into the atmosphere primarily by the burning of coal, oil and gas.”

On the day Steffen’s opinion piece appeared, this newspaper republished Matt Ridley’s article in The Times claiming “the Earth is very slowly slipping back into a proper ice age”. This confirms research by Henrik Svensmark, Australia’s David Evans and others, who correlated low solar activity (fewer sunspots) and increased cloud cover (as modulated by cosmic rays), with a cooling climate.

Indeed, last year scientists submitted 120 papers linking historical and modern climate change to variations in solar activity.

Steffen wasn’t among them. He says: “Whole ecosystems are succumbing to (human-induced) climate disruption. In 2016 unusually dry and hot conditions triggered massive fires in Tasmania’s World Heritage forests, while ocean circulation patterns have moved ­unprecedented underwater heatwaves around the world, driving the tragic coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.’’

Yet the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Russell Reichelt, dismisses many of the claims that he says “misrepresent the extent and impact of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.”

Peter Ridd from James Cook University goes further, saying: “We can no longer trust the scientific organisations like the ARC (Australian Research Council) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. The science is coming out not properly checked, tested or replicated, and this is a great shame.”

Steffen’s work could fit this description. He spends much time pushing eco-catastrophism. “Climate disruption” he says “brings growing risks of large-scale migration and conflict as people, particularly the most vulnerable, are forced to deal with increasingly difficult conditions where they live. Some security analysts warn that climate disruption will dwarf terrorism and other conventional threats if present trends continue or worsen.

“Had enough of climate disruption? Then let’s leave our 20th-century thinking behind and get on with the job of rapidly building innovative, clever, carbon-neutral 21st-century societies.”

But Ridley questions the influence of carbon dioxide. He reminds us that: “In 1895 the Swede, Svante Arrhenius, one of the scientists who first championed the greenhouse theory, suggested that the ice retreated because carbon dioxide levels rose, and advanced because they fell. If this was true, then industrial emissions could head off the next ice age. There is indeed a correlation in the ice cores between temperature and carbon dioxide, but inconveniently it is the wrong way round: carbon dioxide follows rather than leads temperature downward when the ice returns.”

But where would manmade global warming “science” be if it relied on just facts? For decades, climate science has been plagued by scandals, deceit and the confessions of whistleblowers.

Penrith’s hyped recording is not new. Scientist and long-time BOM critic Jennifer Marohasy has been calling for an audit and urging Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg “to inform the World Meteorological Organisation that the temperatures recorded by our bureau are not consistent with calibration, nor any international standard”, and, to “direct the bureau to desist from announcing new record hot days”.

Still, institutionalised data bias is a handy default for radical-left eco-catastrophists who have a tendency to extract worst-case scenarios from every weather event.

But despite their best efforts, in the public’s eyes their story is wearing thin. There have been too many false predictions and unwarranted alarmism. People are wising up to the reality that climate science has become an unfalsifiable ideology and resent having their moral conscience questioned should they disagree.

If Ridley is right and the earth is slowly slipping back into a proper ice age, it will be literally cold comfort, not to mention lethal, to keep passing it off as climate disruption.

To survive such an event, our successors will need a plentiful supply of cheap, reliable energy, impossible given today’s intelligentsia’s religious objection to low-cost fossil and nuclear fuels.

It’s not carbon dioxide that threatens us with extinction but blind ideology dressed up as science.


Friday, January 5, 2018

The End of the Ocean Acidification Scare for Corals
Paper Reviewed: McCulloch, M.T., D'Olivo, J.P., Falter, J., Holcomb, M. and Trotter, J.A. 2017. Coral calcification in a changing world and the interactive dynamics of pH and DIC upregulation. Nature Communications 8: 15686, DOI:10.1038/ncomms15686.

The global increase in the atmosphere's CO2 content has been hypothesized to possess the potential to harm coral reefs directly. By inducing changes in ocean water chemistry that can lead to reductions in the calcium carbonate saturation state of seawater (ظ), it has been predicted that elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 may reduce rates of coral calcification, possibly leading to slower-growing -- and, therefore, weaker -- coral skeletons, and in some cases even death. Such projections, however, often fail to account for the fact that coral calcification is a biologically mediated process, and that out in the real world, living organisms tend to find a way to meet and overcome the many challenges they face, and coral calcification in response to ocean acidification is no exception, as evidenced by findings published in the recent analysis of McCulloch et al. (2017).

Writing in the journal Nature Communications, this team of five researchers developed geochemical proxies (ن11B and B/Ca) from Porites corals located on (1) Davis Reef, a mid-shelf reef located east-northeast of Townsville, Queensland, Australia in the central Great Barrier Reef, and (2) Coral Bay, which is part of the Ningaloo Reef coastal fringing system of Western Australia, in order to obtain seasonal records of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and pH of the corals' calcifying fluid (cf) at these locations for the period 2007-2012. And what did those records reveal?

As shown in the figure below, coral colonies from both reef locations "exhibit strong seasonal changes in pHcf, from ~8.3 during summer to ~8.5 during winter," which "represents an elevation in pHcf relative to ambient seawater of ~0.4 pH units together with a relatively large seasonal range in pHcf of ~0.2 units." These observations, in the words of McCulloch et al., "are in stark contrast to the far more muted changes based on laboratory-controlled experiments" (as shown in the dashed black line on the figure), which laboratory-based values are "an order of magnitude smaller than those actually observed in reef environments."

With respect to DICcf (also depicted in Figure 1), McCulloch et al. report that the "highest DICcf (~ x 3.2 seawater) is found during summer, consistent with thermal/light enhancement of metabolically (zooxanthellae) derived carbon, while the highest pHcf (~8.5) occurs in winter during periods of low DICcf (~ x 2 seawater)."

The proxy records also revealed that coral DICcf was inversely related (r2 ~ 0.9) to pHcf. Commenting on this relationship, the marine scientists say it "indicate[s] that the coral is actively maintaining both high (~x 4 to x 6 seawater) and relatively stable (within ± 10% of mean) levels of elevated ظcf year-round." Or, as they explain it another way, "we have now identified the key functional characteristics of chemically controlled calcification in reef-building coral. The seasonally varying supply of summer-enhanced metabolic DICcf is accompanied by dynamic out-of-phase upregulation of coral pHcf. These parameters acting together maintain elevated but near-constant levels of carbonate saturation state (ظcf) of the coral's calcifying fluid, the key driver of calcification."

The implications of the above findings are enormous, for they reveal that "pHcf upregulation occurs largely independent of changes in seawater carbonate chemistry, and hence ocean acidification," demonstrating "the ability of the coral to 'control' what is arguably one of its most fundamental physiological processes, the growth of its skeleton within which it lives." Furthermore, McCulloch et al. say their work presents "major ramifications for the interpretation of the large number of experiments that have reported a strong sensitivity of coral calcification to increasing ocean acidification," explaining that "an inherent limitation of many of these experiments is that they were generally conducted under conditions of fixed seawater pHsw and/or temperature, light, nutrients, and little water motion, hence conditions that are not conducive to reproducing the natural interactive effects between pHcf and DICcf that we have documented here." Given as much, they conclude that "since the interactive dynamics of pHcf and DICcf upregulation do not appear to be properly simulated under the short-term conditions generally imposed by such artificial experiments, the relevance of their commonly reported finding of reduced coral calcification with reduced seawater pH must now be questioned."

And so it appears that alarmist claims of near-future coral reef dissolution, courtesy of the ever-hyped ocean acidification hypothesis, have themselves dissolved away thanks to the seminal work of McCulloch et al. Clearly, the world's corals are much more resilient to changes in their environment than acidification alarmists have claimed them to be.