CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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Posts tagged "oceans"

In 2005, I swam in the Southern Ocean, just off Antarctica. It was cold — very cold — when I swam over a graveyard of whale bones near an old whaling factory. As far as I could see, there were bleached white bones piled up on the seafloor. Man hunted whales almost to the point of extinction, not seeming to care that we could lose one of the wonders of the sea forever. It is the coldness of the water that preserves the bones and makes it look as if they were left there yesterday, but I like to think they are there as a reminder of man’s potential for folly.

Fortunately, in 1986 most countries ceased commercial whaling, and some whale populations have made a spectacular recovery. Whales like the Southern right were brought back from the brink of extinction. Their numbers are now increasing 7 percent year after year. If we can do it with one species, surely we can do it for entire ecosystems. We just need to give them the space to recover.

Marine protected areas, which are like national parks for the seas, are the best way to make that happen. In the Red Sea, I saw no coral and no fish. It looked like an underwater desert. But then, a little more than a mile later, I swam into a protected area, where fishing had been restricted. It was a sea as it was meant to be: rich and colorful and teeming with abundant life.

We need far more of these protected areas. They allow the habitat to recover from overfishing and pollution, which helps fish stocks recover. When we create them, we protect the coral, which protects the shoreline and provides shelter for fish. They become places people want to visit for ecotourism. They are good for the world economy, for the health of the oceans, for every person living on this planet.

This year in the Aegean I swam over tires and trash. In a few years, I hope to return, and swim over thriving coral reefs.

Swimming Through Garbage" - Lewis Pugh

I was shocked by what I saw in the seas, and by what I didn’t see.

I saw no sharks, no whales, no dolphins. I saw no fish longer than 11 inches. The larger ones had all been fished out.

When I swam in the Aegean, the sea floor was covered with litter; I saw tires and plastic bags, bottles, cans, shoes and clothing.

Swimming Through Garbage" - NYTimes op-ed by lawyer and world-class competitive swimmer, Lewis Pugh.

Using Executive Authority, President Obama created the world’s largest protected marine reserve in Pacific Ocean.

President Obama used his legal authority to create the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve in the central Pacific Ocean, demonstrating his increased willingness to advance a conservation agenda without the need for congressional approval.

By broadening the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument from almost 87,000 square miles to more than 490,000 square miles, Obama has protected more acres of federal land and sea by executive power than any other president in at least 50 years and makes the area off-limits to commercial fishing.

The proclamation — which Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced during an oceans meeting he convened in New York on Thursday — will mean added protections for deep-sea coral reefs and other marine ecosystems that administration officials say are among “the most vulnerable” to the negative effects of climate change. The document signed by Obama noted that the expanded area contains “significant objects of scientific interest that are part of this highly pristine deep sea and open ocean ecosystem with unique biodiversity.” WaPo

More: White House Fact Sheet

2014 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Sixth Lowest on Record: Arctic sea ice coverage continued its below-average trend this year as the ice declined to its annual minimum. Learn more: go.nasa.gov/1wGz5bB #EarthRightNow #ActOnClimate

Sound argument for climate adaptation in the Op-ed section of the Miami Herald.

insteadofwatchingtv:

Weird Places: The Bay of Fundy

Remember this invention? 19 year-old student proposed this design to clean up plastics in the oceans. The idea was picked up by TED, and green blogs exploded with glee.

I criticized the project as ineffective buffoonery and likely illegal. And several others also panned the invention as foolish and naive. Well, now the student is back with a revised version of the plastic’s clean up machine. He’s partnered with some serious engineers and PR and he formed a new company, “The Ocean Cleanup.” Video here.

A science journalist in Germany, Sarah Zierul, interviewed me and a few other experts who also criticized the machine. Sarah’s article really got to the heart of the story and you can see researched for several months to get to the facts. She re-tells the story of the young inventor, and describes the original machine and its problems, as well as the new machine and the engineering behind it. She also interviews several critics, noting how their complaints have evolved into support.

Excellent science reporting!

Read Sarah’s excellent article, here. If you don’t read German, go here.

aatombomb:

Meanwhile, another wheel keeps turning:

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet alone contains enough ice to add another 10 to 13 feet of sea level rise, and the Greenland Ice Sheet contains enough to contribute another 20 feet.

Tragic news from the Pacific North West: Mysterious sea star disease killing tens of thousands of starfish recorded in Oregon. Starfish are “tearing themselves apart” - literally the arms of the starfish crawl away from the body until they tear off, leaving behind a core that’s turned inside out. Some starfish “melt” into blobs, with no apparent explanation. It’s gory and it seems countless millions of these animals are dying up and down the entire Pacific coast of North America - reported from southern California to Alaska.

Cause is unknown, but suspects include bacteria, invasive species, or warming oceans and acidification from climate change.

The mysterious disease that has caused widespread sea star die-offs in Puget Sound is now killing dozens of sea stars off the Oregon Coast.

Divers with the Oregon Coast Aquarium made the discovery during a survey on April 27 that revealed 48 dead and dying sea stars in a 60-square-meter area in Yaquina Bay on Oregon’s central coast. The symptoms of wasting syndrome were seen in sunflower stars, ochre stars and giant pink stars.

Sea stars infected with the disease physically deteriorate before they die. In some cases, afflicted arms break off from the sea star’s body and walk away before dissolving completely. Scientists suspect a bacteria or virus is causing it, but they don’t know for sure. Until April, there had only been a few cases reported in Oregon.

Via PBS

Weird story. Millions of starfish disintegrating and vanishing due to unknown disease.

I am embarrassed I hadn’t heard about The Weather Channel’s climate documentary series, “Tipping Points.”

A tipping point, in climatology, is when a major change occurs to a major environmental system due to climate change, such as a shift in ocean currents or atmospheric circulation. These systems “tip” over from one stable state to another stable state, thus creating an entirely new situation. This new situation is irreversible. Sort of like spilling a glass of wine, you can’t put the wine back in the glass. Climate activists (whom I often disagree with) colloquially call this new state “the new normal.”

The show, Tipping Points, is hosted by Bernice Notenboom, an interesting journalist who combines science writing and adventure travel. She’s pretty good on camera, but most of the show seems to focus on showing 1) a climate change problem as it occurs in the real world (such as drought in the Amazon rainforest) and 2) a series of scientific experiments that aim identify the moment of a tipping point and then figure out how to manage the new system.

Tipping Points: Breaching Climate Stability

Hosted by Climate Journalist and adventurer Bernice Notenboom, Tipping Points embraces commentary from leading climate scientists surveying the complexity of the major tipping points effecting our current climate and their impact on changing weather patterns around the globe.

Adventurous and informative, Tipping Points explores the interconnectedness of all the elements that make up our climate system that influence global and local weather patterns. The Earth is in a delicate equilibrium; once one factor reaches its respective tipping point the other factors will also breach stability. As the atmosphere heats up and the chemical makeup of the atmosphere shifts there will be repercussions felt on a global scale. These elements are what Bernice and her team of climate authorities are going to explore is some of the most remote locations on the planet.

From the canopies of The Amazon to the ice sheets of Siberia, these climate specialists will chase answers to behavioral patterns of tipping elements in the climate system affecting our weather systems. View, here.

Brilliant, real-time, animated map of earth’s current weather conditions. Must see, here: http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/

earth 

a visualization of global weather conditions

  • forecast by supercomputers 
  • updated every three hours    
  • ocean surface current estimates  updated every five days

Another climate change related seed bank is fired up, this time for coral. Perhaps Earth’s fate is “Museum”. More on this depressing read, here.