A Death of Beauty — Climate Change is Bleaching the Great Barrier Reef Out of Existence


It’s a hard, tough thing to consider. One of those possibilities people justifiably do not want to talk about. This notion that a creature we’re fond of and familiar with — a glorious living being along with all its near and distant relatives — could be entirely removed from the web of existence here on Earth.

Our aversion to the topic likely stems from our own fear of death. Or worse — the notion that the entire human race might eventually be faced with such an end. But extinction is a threat that we’ll see arising more and more as we force the world to rapidly warm. For species of the world now face existential crisis with increasing frequency as atmospheric and ocean temperatures have risen so fast that a growing number of them have simply become unable to cope with the heat.

The Great Barrier Reef of Australia — the world’s largest single structure made up of living organisms — is no exception. For this 1,440 mile long expanse of corals composed of more than 2,900 individual reefs that has existed in one form or another for 600,000 years has suffered a severe blow — one from which it may never be able to recover. One that appears likely to kill up to 90 percent of its corals along previously pristine regions in its northern half.

(Governments failed to listen to the warnings of scientists like Terry Hughes. Now, it appears that the Great Barrier Reef has been hit by a blow from coral bleaching from which it may never be able to recover. Video source: Australian Broadcasting on the Great Barrier Reef’s Worst Coral Bleaching Event on Record.)

The damage comes in the form of extreme ocean heat. Heat resulting from global temperatures that are now well in excess of 1 degree C above preindustrial times. Heat that has forced ocean temperature variability into a range that is now lethal for certain forms of sea life. Particularly for the world’s corals which are now suffering and dying through the worst global bleaching event ever experienced.

The Worst Global Coral Bleaching Event Ever Experienced

During 2014 the oceans began to heat up into never-before seen temperature ranges. This warming initiated a global coral bleaching event that worsened throughout 2015. By early 2016 global surface temperatures rocketed to about 1.5 C above 1880s averages for the months of February and March. These new record high temperatures came on the back of annual carbon emissions now in the range of 13 billion tons each year and at the hotter end of the global natural variability cycle called El Nino. Both the atmosphere near the land surface and the upper levels of the ocean experienced this extreme warming.

In the ocean, corals rely on symbiotic microbes to aid in the production of energy for their cellular bodies. These microbes are what give the corals their wild arrays of varied and brilliant colors. But if water temperatures rise high enough, the symbiotic microbes that the corals rely on begin to produce substances that are toxic to the corals. At this point, the corals expel the microbes and lose their brilliant coloration — reverting to a stark white.

Worst coral bleaching event on record

(A vast region of the world’s ocean system continues to experience coral bleaching. In area, extent, height of extreme temperature, and duration, the current global coral bleaching event is the worst ever experienced by a good margin. As global temperatures continue to warm due to ongoing fossil fuel burning and related carbon emissions, widespread coral bleaching is likely to become an annual occurrence. Temperatures have risen far enough and will continue to rise for long enough to set about ocean conditions that will result in mass coral die-offs around the world. Image source: NOAA.)

Bleaching isn’t necessarily lethal to corals. However, once the microbes are gone, the corals have lost a key energy source and will eventually die without them. If ocean temperatures return to normal soon enough, the corals can begin to accept the symbiotic microbes back, return to a healthy cellular energy production, and survive — albeit in a weakened and more vulnerable state for some time to come. But if ocean temperatures remain too warm for an extended period, then the corals will be deprived of energy and nutrients for too long and they will inevitably perish.

The kind of coral bleaching event that we’re experiencing now is a mass killer of corals. Not simply due to the heat itself, but due to the long duration of the extreme temperature spike. By late February, many ocean scientists were very concerned about the already severe damage reports that were starting to come in. At that time, NOAA issued this warning:

“We are currently experiencing the longest global coral bleaching event ever observed. We may be looking at a 2- to 2½-year-long event. Some areas have already seen bleaching two years in a row.”

93 Percent of Great Barrier Reef Affected by Bleaching

By late February, the level of concern for the Great Barrier Reef was palpable. Stark reports were starting to come in from places like Fiji — which had experienced two years of severe bleaching — and Christmas Atoll about 1,300 miles south of Hawaii — whose reported losses were best described as staggering. So far, the worst of the hot water had stayed away from Australia’s great reef.

But by early March a plume of very extreme ocean heat began to appear over The Great Barrier Reef’s northern sections. Sea surface temperatures spiked to well above, a dangerous to corals, 30 degrees Celsius for days and weeks. This 30 C or greater heat extended deep — hitting as far as 50 meters below the ocean surface over the reef. And it rippled southward — hitting section after section until few parts of the reef were spared.

Terry Hughes, one of the world’s foremost experts on the Great Barrier Reef, on March 18th tweeted his fear and anguish over the situation:

Terry Hughes tweet

At this point, there was no stopping the tragedy. Fossil fuel emissions had already warmed the airs and waters to levels deadly to the living reef. It was all researchers could do to work frantically to assess the damage. Teams of the world’s top reef scientists swept out — performing an extensive survey of the losses. More than 911 reef systems were assessed and, in total, the teams found that fully 93 percent of the Great Barrier Reef system had experienced some level of bleaching.

Final Death Toll for Some Sections Likely to Exceed 90 Percent

In extent, this was the worst bleaching event for the Great Barrier Reef by a long shot. Back during the previous most severe bleaching events of 1998 and 2002, 42 percent and 54 percent of the reef was affected. By any measure, the greatly expanded 2016 damage was catastrophic. “We’ve never seen anything like this scale of bleaching before. In the northern Great Barrier Reef, it’s like 10 cyclones have come ashore all at once,”said Professor Terry Hughes in the ARC coral bleaching report.

Out of all the reefs surveyed in the report, just 7% escaped bleaching. Most of these reefs occupied the southern section — a region that was spared the worst of the current bleaching event due to cooler water upwelling provided by the powerful winds of Hurricane Winston. But impacts to the Northern section of the reef could best be described as stark. There, a section composing almost the entire northern half of the reef saw between 60 and 100% of corals experiencing severe bleaching. In the reports, Hughes notes that many of these corals are not likely to survive. In the hardest hit reefs — which were in the most remote sections least affected by Australia’s industrial run-off — algae has been observed growing over 50 percent of the corals affected — an indication that these corals are already dead:

“Tragically, this is the most remote part of the Reef, and its remoteness has protected it from most human pressures: but not climate change. North of Port Douglas, we’re already measuring an average of close to 50% mortality of bleached corals. At some reefs, the final death toll is likely to exceed 90%. When bleaching is this severe it affects almost all coral species, including old, slow-growing corals that once lost will take decades or longer to return (Emphasis added).”

But with the oceans still warming, and with more and still worse coral bleaching events almost certainly on the way, the question has to be asked — will these corals ever be afforded the opportunity to recover?

A Context of Catastrophe with Worse Still to Come

As ocean surface temperatures are now entering a range of 1 C or more above 1880s levels, corals are expected to experience bleaching with greater and greater frequency. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 identified the time-frame of 2012 to 2040 as a period of rising and extreme risk to corals due to bleaching. IPCC also identified bleaching as the greatest threat to corals and related reef-dependent sea life.

When ocean surface temperatures warm into a range of 2 C above 1880s levels — the kind of severe global heating that could arise under worst-case fossil fuel emissions and related warming scenarios by the mid 2030s — corals in the Great Barrier Reef are expected to experience bleaching on an annual basis. Every year, in other words, would be a mass coral bleaching and die-off year.


(Sea surface temperatures and temperatures withing the top 50 meters of water over the Great Barrier Reef of Australia rose to 3-4 C above average during the austral Summer and Fall of 2016. These record temperatures lasted for weeks in some regions setting off the worst coral bleaching event the Great Barrier Reef has ever seen. By mid-Century, coral bleaching and mass die-offs are likely to occur on an annual basis as global temperatures surpass the 1.5 C and 2 C thresholds. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Globally, bleaching events under even moderate fossil fuel emissions scenarios would tend to take up much of the Equatorial region on an annual basis by mid-Century. Events that can, during single years, wipe out between 90 and 95 percent of corals at any given location. A handful of corals will likely survive these events — representing a remote and far-flung remnant who were simply a bit hardier, or lucky, or who had developed an ability to accept microbes that are tolerant to warmer temperatures. But these hardy or fortunate few would take hundreds to thousands of years to re-establish previous coral reef vitality even if other harmful ocean conditions did not arrive to provide still more damage.

As coral bleaching expands at the Equator due to increasing rates of ocean warming, increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes oceans to become more acidic. Cooler waters at the poles are better able to transfer gasses into the ocean’s waters. And higher levels of carbon dioxide in the world ocean results in a growing acidity that is harmful to corals. Increasing levels of ocean acidity thus creep down from the poles at the same time that bleaching events move up from the Equator.

If fossil fuel emissions continue, by mid-Century atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in the range of 450 to 500 parts per million will have provided a never-before seen spike to ocean acidity. Such high ocean acidity would then provide a second severe blow to corals already devastated by bleaching events. It’s a 1-2 punch that represents a mass extinction threat for corals this Century. And we’re starting to see the severe impacts ramp up now.


(Coral bleaching is a severe threat to tropical coral reefs now. But CO2 potentially hitting above 500 parts per million, according to a 2014 study, risks a complete loss of equatorial coral reefs by 2050 to 2100. Between bleaching and acidification, there’s no way out for corals so long as fossil fuel burning continues. Image source: Threat to Coral Reefs From Ocean Acidification.)

The only hope for stopping this ever-expanding harm is a rapid cessation of fossil fuel emissions. And we owe it to the corals of the world, the millions of species that depend on them, and the hundreds of millions of people whose food sources and economic well being come from the corals.

“And Then We Wept”

When researchers told students of the extent of harm to corals upon the Great Barrier Reef, the students were reported to have wept. And with good reason. For our Earth had just experienced a profound death of beauty. A death of a vital and wondrous living treasure of our world. A priceless liquid gem of our Earth. A wonder that gives life to millions of species and one that grants both food and vitality to Australia herself. For if the reef goes, so does a huge portion of the living wealth of that Nation and our world.

Sadly, the tears will just keep coming and coming as these kinds of events are bound to worsen without the most dramatic and urgent global actions. The current and most recent catastrophe is thus yet one more in a litany of wake up calls to the world. But will we hear it loud and clear enough to act in ways that are necessary to ensure the corals survival? And what of the billions of creatures and of the millions of humans too that depend on the corals? Do we care about them enough to act?


Only Seven Percent of the Great Barrier Reef Has Avoided Coral Bleaching

And Then We Wept: 93 Percent of the Great Barrier Reef Now Bleached

NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch

Earth Nullschool

Coral Reefs Hit by Worst Coral Bleaching Event

Terry Hughes Twitter Feed

Coral Bleaching

Threat to Coral Reefs From Ocean Acidification

Ocean Acidification: We are Looking at the Complete Loss of Tropical Coral Reefs by 2050 to 2100

Australian Broadcasting on the Great Barrier Reef’s Worst Coral Bleaching Event on Record

Hat tip to Caroline

Hat tip to Spike

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Hat tip to Ryan in New England

Hat tip to Griffon

(Please support public, non-special interest based science like the essential work that has been provided by Terry Hughes over so many years and decades. Scientists like Terry provide a vital public service. For years, they have given us a clear warning of a very real and ever more present danger. A warning that gives us a fleeting opportunity to respond to events before we lose the richest living treasures of our world. Before we are bereft of our ability to continue to make livelihoods as environmental abundance and the related regional and global life support systems are irreparably damaged.)

Leave a comment


  1. – A terrible, terrible loss or near loss of a once rich marine ecosystem.

    – Thanks for the ‘rapid response’ post. Give your fingers a nice massage…


    • Yeah. I’m off to the showers after this one. Huge lift for me. More to come. Climate Change needs to slow down so my writing can catch up!

  2. Robert of MD – SLR – An event maybe near you:

    City officials, experts and members of the public will discuss on April 30 how Annapolis should prepare for rising sea levels.

    The free event, Weather It Together: Annapolis Plans for Rising Waters, will be held at 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 110 Compromise St.

    Roundtable discussions will focus on adaptation policies and strategies to protect the historic seaport district from rising tides. Participants will also address public education, building standards, natural resource protection and economic implications.

    Presenters include oceanographer John Englander and representatives from the Urban Land Institute, the City of Annapolis, the Maryland Historical Trust, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

    Coffee will be available, and lunch will be provided for those who RSVP to histpres@annapolis.gov by April 25.

  3. Reply
  4. climatehawk1

     /  April 21, 2016

    Tweet scheduled.

  5. utoutback

     /  April 21, 2016

    I’m wondering how anyone believes we can avoid 2C and above without some kind of CO2 removal & sequestration technology. Not conservation, electric cars, photovoltaic panels….
    It’s spring and my neighbor is setting up his hoop greenhouse. On a coolish day, walk inside and the temps are close to 90 degrees with intense humidity to the point that he needs to ventilate to keep the plants from roasting.
    That’s us. The CO2 we have already put into the atmosphere is the cover of our greenhouse (greenhouse gases -duh!), and they aren’t going anywhere for a long time. So, even if we stop CO2 emissions today we have already built our greenhouse.
    Help me understand how we turn this thing around.

    • Ever-escalating responses provide the only possibility. Missing 1.5 C is probably impossible. Missing 2 C is probably a long shot at this time. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our absolute best, though.

  6. Anne H Chalabi

     /  April 21, 2016

    Taking action is the only thing I can do, starting with BREAK FREE on May 14. ….as Ben Cohen said a couple of days ago in Washington, D.C. : “The history of our country is that nothing happens until people start putting their bodies on the line and risk getting arrested”. Our fight may be hopeless, but we must try with all our heart. Is it possible to attest to the extinction of masses and masses of other species?

  7. Robert, is there a paleontological precedent for this kind of bleaching? As horrible as it is, I hope that the speed and scale of this destruction can serve as a wake-up call to some of those who don’t see climate change as a serious, near-term, anthropogenic threat.

    • Ryan in New England

       /  April 21, 2016

      I recall reading (can’t remember where or find a link for you) that cores of corals have indicated that global bleaching events hadn’t happened in the past 5,000 years (that number might vary, but it was multiple thousands of years of records) and the first event was in 1998. So this whole global bleaching event appears to be an anthropogenic warming induced catastrophe.

      Hopefully someone else will chime in with more solid information than what I was able to provide.

    • Colorado Bob

       /  April 22, 2016

      From cores that Cobb’s team has analyzed, she estimated there’s been nothing like the current die-off in Kiritimati in the 7,000 years of ancient coral history there.


    • In the paleoclimate context of the Holocene, mass coral bleaching events on a global scale are unheard of prior to 1979. Localized bleaching events related to temperature change, toxins or other factors that can cause coral to expel their symbionts did occur on a smaller scale.

      Corals are stable in a narrow temperature range. Any anomalies higher than 2 C above normal maximum seasonal ocean temperatures has tended to result in bleaching. Given this noted sensitivity and the fact that the rate human forced warming is far faster than even the PETM, it is likely that the current tempo, scale, and scope of bleaching is unprecedented in even most deep history contexts. In past climate change events, corals had longer to adjust to temperature increases, longer to migrate to cooler regions, and likely did not also face the intensity of ocean acidification that they do today.

      If warming continues as it is now, corals will also face ocean stratification, increasing anoxic condition, and a proliferation of toxic anaerobic microbes. That is, if they manage to survive bleaching and acidification which is highly doubtful. The only way to give corals a change is to halt human fossil fuel and related carbon emissions as soon as possible.

      • Ryan in New England

         /  April 22, 2016

        Thank you Bob and Robert! Bob, those were the numbers I was trying to recall…thanks!!

  8. John McCormick

     /  April 21, 2016

    This is the message the big green groups have yet to discover.

  9. Talk about viewing the world with eyes wide shut. We kill and deny at the same time. Other extinctions going on at an accelerating rate. There is something very sad about losing plants and animals before we even know they were with us on this earth.

  10. Griffin

     /  April 21, 2016

    Thank you for the hat tip Robert, and thank you for another great post.
    As I have said before, I am extremely thankful that you take the time to write these posts and keep the company of such a wonderful group of commenters. After a day spent in the bizarre world where my co-workers have no comment or just shrug at the news of us losing the Great Barrier Reef, it is a return to sanity to come to this page and see so much wisdom and compassion.

    • Ryan in New England

       /  April 21, 2016

      Griffin, I know exactly how you feel. This is like witnessing the dinosaurs going extinct, and not being interested. I think it stems from ignorance. They have no clue about the magnitude of what is really occurring. They don’t understand the millions of years of evolution it took to develop the miraculous complexity and perfect balance of the world in which modern humans find themselves. Half of Americans don’t even “believe” in evolution for crying out loud, much less understand it or the timescales required. It’s the same vein of anti-intellectualism that has allowed for Trump’s rise. You think your average Trump supporter cares at all about coral reefs? That’s just liberal, tree-hugger bullsh*t.

      I brought up the Great Barrier Reef bleaching event with co-workers as well, and they cared so much that they followed up with a comment about how the New York Rangers lost last night. So, losing a crucial part of the worlds oceans that not only supports countess species, but is also essential to millions of humans, is not even worth mentioning. But a few guys skating around on ice is life changing.

      • Griffin

         /  April 22, 2016

        Sometimes I think that for them to stop and contemplate would mean that they would have to accept it. If they just focus on hockey and work, then everything is just fine with the world. Ignorance is bliss and it can be tempting to ignore everything and just go on telling yourself that everything is normal and that people like us are a modern chicken little. I guess that is the safer emotional coping mechanism. For them to truly face the reality of rising carbon dioxide and the cascading effects that it has set in motion would take a huge set of balls. For to know of what rising temps really means, the oceans changing irrevocably, the loss of the Arctic sea ice and the complete upset of the Arctic ecosystem that will result, the permafrost melting and the massive wildfires, the droughts that crush the life within them and the floods that devastate all those who thought that it would never happen to them. The acidification of the seas and the loss of every single thing that we have come to love in the way of seafood. The warmer ocean that will repeatedly spawn storms the strength of which is supposed to be rare. Dead and dying trees in every town, so many that they cannot be ignored. To face these things and many more that we are all familiar with, it is terrifying.
        It takes courage to recognize these consequences that we see on these pages and in the links. It cannot be denied, but it sure as hell can be ignored.
        I guess it is just human nature. If a hole is blown open in a ship, some will run to help fix it, others will try to downplay the severity of the damage and look around nervously for someone to save them.
        I am glad that there are so many folks here that realize that there is no rescue available for us. We either fix the damn ship or we are going down with it.
        Hang in there buddy!

        • You’re right Griff, it takes a lot of fortitude to face down something like this. Compassion, though, is what’s probably the key trait. If you’re concerned about others, threats of this kind tend to resonate more clearly. Basically because you don’t want to witness other people or living things getting hurt or worse.

      • Ryan, just wanted to pop in to thank you for your passionate, insightful comments. Lately , they’ve been spot on.

    • Cheers Griff. You guys give me quite a lot of fuel for posts these days. Between the flood of reports and threat tracking, I can say it’s been quite something lately. I always feel like I should have written two or three times as much.

      • Ryan in New England

         /  April 22, 2016

        Well said, Griffin. Embracing ignorance really is bliss. If you never open the mail labeled “urgent” or “final notice” you get to ignore your problems for another day. And if you never open a newspaper or a book, you can carry on thinking everything’s fine. It takes a lot of strength to face our world head on, especially when you become aware of the extent and severity of our climate change troubles.

        And Robert, thank you so much for the kind words and a hat tip! I’m honored to be a contributor to the wonderful and very informative conversations here.

      • Griffin

         /  April 22, 2016

        Compassion. Yes Robert, you are spot-on with that. Despite all my ranting, compassion is what it is all about. I guess that my observance of the lack of compassion in others is one of the most frustrating aspects of daily life.
        Compassion is not lacking here. I find it to be every bit as encouraging as the massive amount of information shared. You folks are all very special.

        • Language is a fun thing. From the old latin cum means to share, passio originally meant suffering. From the very basic definition of the word compassion means to have the capacity to sense and share the suffering and distress of others — people, animals, living creatures. People who feel this way are innately compelled to action. Because at a very basic level hurt to others hurts us as well.

          Why do people feel this way? Think about the pain response. In a body we feel pain because there is danger to the body, to the individual. As a people, as a race, as a part of the isolated island of living beings here on Earth, harm to one of us, or many of us, can eventually become harm to us all. If we have the capacity to sense such things, we help others, and by extension, ourselves survive and prosper.

          The other side of compassion is a joyful sense of sharing with another living being. A feeling of not-isolation. A feeling of not-alone. Those who feel compassion have the deep capacity to share the joy and the wonder of the being of life. That’s a kind of gift of the heart combined with a true sixth sense. Something far more precious than money or oil. For neither of those things can provide you with what is basically a gift of fulfilled immortality — to share in the body of all life, not just in the single body of the self.

          A single living creature will die. But life is different. Life is endowed with the true capacity for immortality. At its deepest root — compassion is a sense of connection with life and a compassion response to a threat or a hurt to any living thing is the sign of a heart willing to fight for the continued existence of life and of existence itself, sometimes even regardless of what might occur to the individual.

          For these reasons, I view compassion as the most essential quality. Without it, living is poor, desperate, alone, lacking in color and beauty. With it, we all grow into more capable, more powerful, wiser beings together.

          We could see corals as a metaphor. With their symbionts, they are capable of building great living structures far greater than anything humans have ever made. But without that cooperation, they perish. We may not realize it. But we are the same in so many of the most essential ways.

  11. – Off Topic but an amazing view:

    • Ryan in New England

       /  April 21, 2016

      Thanks, DT, I really enjoyed that. I’ve always loved astronomy, and this is a golden age for the field.

  12. Reply
  13. Xerxes Zorgon

     /  April 21, 2016

    And now this: The Turnbull Coalition government wants to use funds designated for clean energy to build a new 1.2 GW coal fired generator in north Queensland, Australia to power a coal mine. The monster is real, and it’s under your bed. Shut your eyes and try to get some sleep now. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/coalition-wants-to-build-1-2gw-coal-plant-using-climate-funds-73755

    • We’ve seen the monster and he is us. At least about 1 percent of us…

      • Greg

         /  April 22, 2016

        “I would rather live than die. I would rather die than survive as a monster.”

    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  April 22, 2016

      And, Xerxes, the Right in Australia lied and lied again about the severity of this bleaching, and they lie that the Reef’s death (it has lost 50% of coral cover in the last thirty years)is caused by Crown-of-Thorns starfish, or agricultural run-off, which they falsely claim to be addressing. Now they are lying that the Reef will quickly recover, worried about tourist dollars. Meanwhile land-clearing has exploded again in Queensland, after a hard Right regime declared open slather, despite our amazing Kyoto deal being based on halting land clearing. Furthermore we are opening the world’s biggest coal-mine, a bi-partisan obsession. And, of course, the Murdoch MSM cancer remains fanatically denialist, and its rags are simply ignoring the Reef’s bleaching. Clearly, unless we remove the Rightwing psychopaths from power, as soon as possible, we have NO hope of salvation.

  14. – A spooky 360 coral’s eye view — use slider for POV.

  15. – Hey, Robert.

    This Is How Surfers Are Helping Fund Climate Science

    Oceans Are Surfers Playing Fields, Homes and Offices

    That’s why the World Surf League (WSL), the governing body of professional surfers akin to Major League Baseball, is putting its money where its sport is. It’s entered into a unique partnership with Columbia University’s Center for Climate and Life to dive into new oceans-focused research projects. But the plan doesn’t stop there, and the goal is to eventually put new knowledge in the hands of surfers and ocean advocates around the globe.


    • Surfers have tended to be an environmentally aware bunch due to obvious reasons. No one wants to have the waves wrecked or the beauty that drew so many surfers to the sport in the first place ruined. Thanks for this, DT. I wonder if there’s a divestment movement within this league as well?

    • Jeremy

       /  April 22, 2016

      Surf’s up!

  16. – OK. Let’s get serious here — it’s about time, you know.

    Doctors Urged to Take Action on Climate Change

    The American College of Physicians is urging doctors to raise their voices to help combat the health problems associated with climate change.

    Climate change is not just an environmental, economic, or political issue.
    It’s also a major health concern, both public and private.
    After two and a half years of study, the American College of Physicians (ACP) has issued a policy paper calling for aggressive global action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

    The group is urging its members to raise their voices and take action to help combat climate change.

    The recommendations are being published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.


  17. – USA CA – Air Pollution – Unhealthy Ozone 0421;

    • redskylite

       /  April 22, 2016

      Joint release by AGU today, projects unhealthy ozone days will increase . . . if we do not get the ghg balance under control . .

      “In the coming decades, global climate change will likely cause more heat waves during the summer, which in turn could cause a 70 to 100 percent increase in ozone episodes, depending on the region,”


      • – Thanks for this, redskylite.

        – Many urban heat related casualties have an air pollution component. And, as usual, children (our future) and the elderly (our past) suffer most — and first.


        ‘This increase could lead to more respiratory illness with especially dangerous consequences for children, seniors, and people suffering from asthma.

        “Short-term exposure to ozone has been linked to adverse health effects,” said Loretta J. Mickley, a research fellow at SEAS and co-author of the study. “High levels of ozone can exacerbate chronic lung disease and even increase mortality rates.”

        While temperature has long been known as an important driver of ozone episodes, it’s been unclear how increasing global temperatures will impact the severity and frequency of surface level ozone.’

      • – ‘dangerous consequences’

        – In the lower atmosphere, sunlight reacts with nitrogen oxides, methane and other volatile organic molecules to produce ozone. At this level of the atmosphere, ozone acts as a pollutant, rather than a protectant, as shown in this aerial photo of Mexico City.
        Credit: Fidel Gonzalez via Wikimedia Commons.

  18. utoutback

     /  April 21, 2016

    I might need to take a break from reading environmental news. Robert you are doing such a great job and all the contributors to this site add so much. But I’m really feeling overwhelmed and am losing my objectivity – and my hope.
    Robert anytime you take a break, you are missed, but I know it is needed. Staring at the sun will cause blindness and focusing too directly on our planetary situation might lead one to despair. You and all of the contributors are heroes.

    • Rest well, Ut. We’ll keep the beacons lit for you while you’re gone.

    • Ryan in New England

       /  April 22, 2016

      Hang in there, Ut. This subject can be very grim and extremely depressing, especially when you are staying up to date and trying to absorb all of the new information as it comes out. No research or new study ever results with a conclusion of “things aren’t as bad as we expected”. Every new data set paints a more dire picture than the last. “Things are devolving quicker and unfolding more rapidly than the previous estimate” seems to be the phrase of the day. Nature is always a step ahead of our understanding of her.

      Just remember, there has never been a problem that was solved without someone first being made aware that a problem exists. Those of us that learn about climate change are the only ones who can educate the rest of the population and convince them that urgent action is required. If you’re ever feeling down, remember that you have a group of like minded friends here.

  19. Reblogged this on GarryRogers Nature Conservation and commented:
    “And then we wept.” On land and at sea, we are destroying nature.

  20. Colorado Bob

     /  April 22, 2016

    Melting Arctic ice is forcing polar bears to swim for more than a week without rest

    In September 2009, after a summer of warm weather and dwindling ice, a young polar bear slipped into the frigid waters of the Beaufort Sea and began to swim.

    She didn’t stop for food or rest until nine days later, when she finally encountered a slab of sea ice large enough to sustain her. The journey was some 250 miles.

    • I wonder what Dr Ahmstrup has to say about the current situation. On the VOA program he’d mentioned that polar bears could survive through a 2 C global temperature increase, but that it would be a tough struggle resulting in serious losses. Wonder what his thoughts are now?

  21. Andy in SD

     /  April 22, 2016

    Fires are starting in Russia, must be the new spring time indicator….


  22. Colorado Bob

     /  April 22, 2016

    The Arctic is facing a decline in sea ice that might equal the negative record of 2012
    Data collected by the CryoSat-2 satellite reveal large amounts of thin ice that are unlikely to survive the summer

    April 21, 2016
    Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research
    Sea ice physicists are anticipating that the sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean this summer may shrink to the record low of 2012. The scientists made this projection after evaluating current satellite data about the thickness of the ice cover.


    • Latent heat in the nearby ocean systems and on land (record warm sea surfaces, low snow coverage) are added factors. My opinion is that there is a very high risk that we will hit below the 2012 mark in one or more measure.

  23. Bob Langford

     /  April 22, 2016

    I find that I am grieving. This is not something normal for me. It is also interesting that I feel more compassion for the biota than I do for the people sometimes.
    This el nino event is a technicolour view of the new normal.
    Thanks Robert.

  24. Reply
  25. – NA USA – Spring snow for northern portion of Sierras — maybe nada for southern though.

    Zack Labe ‏@ZLabe 3h3 hours ago

    Approaching storm system will bring upwards of a foot of snow in higher elevations of #Sierras through Sunday #CAwx

  26. – Very bizarre track.

  27. Reply
  28. Reply
  29. – April 22, 2016 — ‘Earth Day’.

    A note on Summer Solstice.

    In the past I would honor and celebrate, in my own way, the summer solstice.
    I don’t do this anymore — not since the nominally ‘clear’ sky in Southern California became obscured with aerosol particulate.

    I filmed this video in coastal Santa Barbara, CA looking W N/W, and up the coast, on a ‘clear’ sunny day. There were no known wildfires or dust storms yet the lower portion of the western sky was dirty.
    My community just hosted a well attended Solstice celebration. But no one seemed to actually watch the sun as it set — or notice what was between the one and the sun.
    I couldn’t help but notice.

    Santa Barbara Air California Dust Cloud June 2011
    A dust plume covering the Southern California Bight is filmed from the vantage point of Santa Barbara.This is a rough cut rushed and uploaded.

    “Climate change”, as it happens. It’s very tragic that such a horrible yet, avoidable event, has such benign [sounding] term.

    • “‘Climate change’, as it happens. It’s very tragic that such a horrible yet, avoidable event, has such benign [sounding] term.”

      Agreed–that is why Republican communications strategist Frank Luntz urged that GOP officeholders and candidates propagate it. In Mr. Luntz’s own words:

      >>>It’s time for us to start talking about “climate change” instead of global warming and “conservation” instead of preservation.

      >>>“Climate change” is less frightening than “global warming”. As one focus group participant noted, climate change “sounds like you’re going from Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale.” While global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it, climate change suggests a more controllable and less emotional challenge.<<<

      I personally would strongly urge those here to use "climate disruption" instead wherever/whenever possible. Words are really, really important in shaping people's psychological attitudes.

  30. Jeremy

     /  April 22, 2016

    And the Pacific is dying too.
    That word – Extinction – seems to be appearing with increasing frequency.

    “TOKYO (AP) — The latest scientific assessment paints a likely bleak future for the Pacific bluefin tuna, a sushi lovers’ favorite whose population has dropped by more than 97 percent from its historic levels.

    A draft summary of a report by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean seen by The Associated Press shows the current population of bluefin tuna is estimated at 2.6 percent of its “unfished” size. A previous assessment put the population at an already dire 4.2 percent.

    If the population of Pacific bluefins drops much further, it may no longer be economically feasible to fish for them.

    At that point, “Pacific bluefin would be considered commercially extinct,” Nickson said.”


  31. Greg

     /  April 22, 2016

    “’The world is full of massive things in motion. Little creatures get hurt.” – RS

  32. Greg

     /  April 22, 2016

    CB Tonight was another hard night. Seeing James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince onstage together and now all gone is a moment to reflect on our losses:

  33. redskylite

     /  April 22, 2016

    Not only immense damage to the reefs, even hotter temperatures further south around Tasmania has caused massive problems and risks to marine life . . . We must ask ourselves what will it be like next time around. ?

    Tasmania marine heatwave hits seafood industry and puts some species at risk

    While the heatwave’s visual impacts were “not as dramatic as the bleaching of the coral reef”, Hobday said it had contributed to the mass death of oysters from Pacific Oyster mortality syndrome (Poms), which had never been reported in the state before devastating Tasmanian oyster farms this summer.

    The higher temperatures were also linked to abalone deaths and a decline in the salmon harvest.

    The effect of the heatwave on local marine species is still being studied, but Hobday said some species, such as the giant kelp forests on the east coast, which have declined by more than 90% in the past 40 years, were already suffering the effects of longer-term warming. Other species have been slowly shifting south.


  34. redskylite

     /  April 22, 2016

    Some people’s idea of a solution to climate change would be to ban The Guardian, thank god for science and that some honest reporting publishes facts . . . .

    The global coral bleaching event devastating the Great Barrier Reef has spread to reefs in Western Australia, where the federal government halted the implementation of marine parks, which would help the reefs recover.


  35. Jeremy

     /  April 22, 2016

    “..Our record of precise knowledge of the changes in the mass of the ice sheets is rather short, it really began with the gravity satellite, which now has a record of only 12 years, but over that period the mass loss has increased rapidly …if it continues to double at the rate that it has in the last decade, then we could get, within 50 years, meter scale sea level rise, and you’d rapidly, within another one or 2 decades, get multimeter sea level rise. So that’s an enormous threat.”

  36. Jeremy

     /  April 22, 2016

  37. Cate

     /  April 22, 2016

    One way to cope with all the bad news might be to look for the good news. Europe is just doing renewables now as a matter of course, it seems—a good example is cool cloudy Scotland, which is quietly forging ahead with solar, wind, tidal, and now this river-fed heat-pump technology. Can someone explain in a nutshell how this works, in terms for an arts major? 🙂


  38. Cate

     /  April 22, 2016

    Can undersea landslides caused by Arctic climate change trigger tsunamis in northern waters?

    A big research project is now underway.

    The study target area includes not only the UK but the eastern coastline of Canada.

    PS Robert, this link is in addition to the ones I posted to your FB Visitor Posts on a day when my computer was having tantrums. It’s an interesting topic, perhaps to file away for a slow news day? if we ever get one of those again. It’s all coming so thick and fast now.


    • – Cate, re: UK, are familiar with Dogger Bank (North Sea/ English Channel) now underwater? No tsunamis here but here’s a 2012 news piece that has a quick summary.

      ”Britain’s Atlantis’ found at bottom of North sea – a huge undersea world swallowed by the sea in 6500BC

      Divers have found traces of ancient land swallowed by waves 8500 years ago
      Doggerland once stretched from Scotland to Denmark
      Rivers seen underwater by seismic scans
      Britain was not an island – and area under North Sea was roamed by mammoths and other giant animals
      Described as the ‘real heartland’ of Europe
      Had population of tens of thousands – but devastated by sea level rises

      ‘Britain’s Atlantis’ – a hidden underwater world swallowed by the North Sea – has been discovered by divers working with science teams from the University of St Andrews.

      Doggerland, a huge area of dry land that stretched from Scotland to Denmark was slowly submerged by water between 18,000 BC and 5,500 BC.

      Divers from oil companies have found remains of a ‘drowned world’ with a population of tens of thousands – which might once have been the ‘real heartland’ of Europe


  39. Dear Robert, I have been eagerly reading your posts and the comments with such informative links for about the last six months. The coral bleaching post brought me to tears, it was beautifully written. I think I am an average person with a vague knowledge about climate change, I was aware that it existed, but because there is not much mainstream media information, I was blissfully unaware of what is really happening. I have always had an interest in weather and I stumbled across your blog via a link from the WeatherUndergound website. My first thoughts were, no this cannot be true, this is alarming, but the more I read and learn, the more I fear for the future. I decided that some self-schooling would be in order. I read Storms of my Grandchildren and I am also exploring other websites to learn, and I am amazed at some of the negative and downright atrocious comments, and how anti-science the comments are. I do not add to the comments, this is my first time. I am recently retired, I worked hard all my life to raise my children, pay off all my debts and save for my retirement, my reward, to be able to travel and see some of the world. Now I am so conflicted, if I travel, I will only add to the damage. Why is this situation so under-reported in the mainstream media? People really have to make an effort to get the information that our mainstream news channels are not providing. Today is Earth Day, and our leaders are signing the Paris accord, surely that will be newsworthy. I don’t think I will be able to add much to your website, but I know I will stay informed. Thank you.

    • Hello Karin and thank you so much for the kind and heartfelt comment. I came to a similar conclusion just before I started to write this blog. My background is emerging threats and having read a good chunk of the science from about 2000 on researching climate change in the event that Janes might need to take a look, I’d eventually come to the conclusion that people really didn’t get the risks, weren’t able to understand the possible outcomes, or just weren’t willing to listen. My view was that telling the truth, no matter how difficult, was the best way to get more people informed and involved.

      I understand your internal conflict. It’s one all of us in the western world should share. We, as individuals, are partly to blame. But it is not so much through our individual action but through our lack of group action. We have allowed leaders to come into and remain in power who protect the economic interests such as the fossil fuel industry and delay responses to climate change. Now we are quite literally very much in trouble and we need a very rapid energy switch, government systems in place to help manage and reduce the damage, (both to people and to ecosystems) new farming (transition away from fossil fuel based chemical agriculture to methods that regenerate the soil and to vertical farming methods that allow forests to reclaim a portion of our agricultural land), a change in our food consumption (far less industrial meat), land use and possibly technological practices that help to pull excess carbon out of the air.

      If you are looking for something to do — and we need all sorts of people doing all sorts of things — I’d urge you to join 350.org or the Sierra Club and become part of one or more of their campaigns. Group action will be most effective when dealing with climate change because this is a group problem — a problem of society and the destructive systems and industries that have lived on for far too long within it.

      At the individual level, we could all remove our investments from any fossil fuel industry, we could switch to more vegetarian or vegan diets (I know a few people who couldn’t manage a full transition but only eat meat once or twice a week now which has a much lower carbon impact), purchase a renewable energy system (solar power adds value to a home) and an electric vehicle if you use a car, garden, ride the bike around town or walk when you can, use the train as opposed to the plane when you can, do all those around the house efficiency things (switch to better light bulbs, appliances, use insulation, add a heat pump etc) and many more big and little things.

      But the most important thing you could do is get involved in supporting climate action — become a climate hawk. Because it’s through ever-strengthening policy and large scale group action that we have our best shot of limiting the harm from all this mess. For if we change the incentives (dis-incentivize carbon use), if we put large structures in place to promote a rapid energy switch (something human civilization has never done before but is, in my view, quite capable of doing if we really set out to do it), support science-based species rescue bodies, support a farming switch, support people who eat less meat, support home grown food and smaller, local farming, support action to renew and rejuvenate the soil, the rivers, our oceans and the airs, if we do this all together as people, communities, states and nations, then I believe that we have a shot.

      Thank you so much again for your heartfelt comment and welcome here. Warmest regards and a happy Earth day to you. It’s worth remembering, I think, that our good Earth is something worth fighting for and you’ve helped me to do that.


    • dnem

       /  April 22, 2016

      What a great post Karin. Welcome. Sometimes I feel we are all preaching back and forth to a very committed choir here and many post about how frustrated they are that they can’t get through to the people in their lives about the direness of our predicament. Your post is a real testament to Robert! I think you are in many ways the most important type of reader here, as this remarkable blog has clearly achieved its purpose with you.

      FWIW, in my opinion, this situation is so under-reported because truly addressing it will mean completely re-working the global economic order and the mainstream media and its corporate parents are unwilling (and probably in some ways unable) to do that.

    • Cate

       /  April 22, 2016

      Karin, welcome to this place! To address your comment about the problem of travel, which is also a puzzlement for me as a retired person with energy and time, might I suggest a couple things that work for me? My comments below mostly apply to eliminating travel by air—which is pretty much anywhere on the planet in my case, since I live in Newfoundland and even if we take the car and ferry off the island, we’re still only in North Sydney, so still pretty much back of beyond. 😀

      I reject as ecologically irresponsible any air-heavy travel crazes for global bucket-listing and destination-collecting, Instead, I want to revitalise local travel—tourism at home— for example:

      –practicing the age-old pursuit of armchair travel, mainly through online blogs, videos, newspapers, etc etc, as well as contemporary travel books, but also through accounts of historical travels and exploration. I can particularly recommend polar expeditions for thrills and chills! You can use online and traditional resources to plan some long and interesting virtual trips, all cheap, safe, totally green, and astonishlngly instructive.

      -practicing experimental travel. The basic idea is that any place is as good as any other for whatever game you have in mind. I’ve been using these games to rediscover places nearer home that I thought I knew, from my backyard and local parks to my old college town. Haven’t done the horsehead one yet, although I did meet a guy who was experimentally travelling in a giraffe suit.



      Keri Smith has also written some fun books on alternative exploration, such as How to Be An Explorer of the World, and The Wander Society.


      Hope this helps with your travel thinking.

  40. George W. Hayduke

     /  April 22, 2016

    Still have yet to see the GBR story in our local newspaper, our state (MT) has a few coal plants, wonder if they see it as a threat? Climate risks for Africans in the news: http://commondreams.org/news/2016/04/21/climate-africas-human-existence-severe-risk

  41. JPL

     /  April 22, 2016

    Robert et al, what do you make of this? With all of the ice melt flooding the oceans, is a 6 degree C average ocean temp rise by 2100 plausible?

    A study led by Sergei Petrovskii, Professor in Applied Mathematics from the University of Leicester’s Department of Mathematics, has shown that an increase in the water temperature of the world’s oceans of around six degrees Celsius — which some scientists predict could occur as soon as 2100 — could stop oxygen production by phytoplankton by disrupting the process of photosynthesis.”

    “About two-thirds of the planet’s total atmospheric oxygen is produced by ocean phytoplankton — and therefore cessation would result in the depletion of atmospheric oxygen on a global scale. This would likely result in the mass mortality of animals and humans.”

    • Ice melt, once it reaches a certain point will tend to put a lid on global temperature increase at the cost of rapid sea level rise, ocean stratification and severe weather instability. So 6 C by end Century is less likely so long as the ice sheets are still going down. That whole global oxygen crisis line is a bit overdone and requires a lot of assumptions. Even during the Permian, there’s no evidence of an oxygen crisis on the scale that is mentioned here and the level of warming and ocean stress was much worse than what a 6 C temperature increase would bring about.

      There was a reduction in ocean and atmospheric oxygen. But not on the scale this paper predicts. Anoxic ocean states are dangerous due to their ability to support primordial life forms that produce toxins. Primarily, due to the support of hydrogen sulfide producing bacteria.

      Hydrogen sulfide is one of the nastiest chemicals imaginable. A chemical warfare class agent. In the ocean, it is capable of inflicting mass extinction as it rises up through the water column. If the Earth gets warm enough, we enter a Canfield Ocean state in which oceans are capable of venting hydrogen sulfide into the air. This results in widespread local poisoning around the globe, creates risks to any creature dependent upon water for drinking, and vents the stuff up into the air where it eventually reaches the stratosphere and degrades ozone.

      You have to warm the world up a lot to get there. Maybe 8 or 9 or 10 C or more. But that’s the path of BAU fossil fuel emissions.

      As for oxygen — yes there would absolutely be less in the atmosphere if you warm the oceans up and burn the forests and hit the plankton hard. And the higher levels of CO2 would likely have their own adverse effects. But it would be a more difficult atmosphere — not an unlivable one. That is, expect in regions where a large enough amount of hydrogen sulfide began venting into the air. So to this point, there’s no paleoclimate evidence to support a conclusion of a mass extinction by lack of oxygen at + 6 C. Otherwise, the PETM would have been quite a bit worse than it was.

      I’d advise against reposting this link too much. It’s been used in various forms for misinformation and I don’t even think the author would appreciate that kind of use.

      • JPL

         /  April 22, 2016

        Thank you. It struck me as one of those events that should be filed away along side the 50 gigaton permafrost ‘methane burp’ worries. Not out of the realm of possibility I suppose, but a distraction at this point.


  42. Jeremy

     /  April 22, 2016

    What is this nonsense!

    “The EU abandoned or weakened key proposals for new environmental protections after receiving a letter from a top BP executive which warned of an exodus of the oil industry from Europe if the proposals went ahead.”


  43. Wharf Rat

     /  April 22, 2016

    Happy Earth Day, kiddies. I’m celebrating by listening to

    Haven’t had much since mid March, so it’s very welcome.


  44. Greg

     /  April 22, 2016

    Solar transformation footnote:
    Some oil-and-gas roughnecks are gravitating toward what they see as a growing industry: clean energy. “Older guys in middle age say they found something where they see longevity,” Sendejo told the Journal. “The young crowd says I’m just here till the oil price comes back up and I can get that six-figure paycheck again. And next time I won’t spend it like last time.”

  45. Greg

     /  April 22, 2016

    We can’t take away the Aurora Borealis! Nasa’s 4k HD view from space:

  46. Colorado Bob

     /  April 22, 2016

    • – That’s dry — and in a country ruled and exploited by the oil industry and governments.
      – I noticed how very thick the air looks in the video.

  47. – USA – Climate Change — Mendacity — Exxon and the First Amendment (free speech).

    Exxon and Its Allies Invoke First Amendment to Fight Climate Fraud Probe

    Lawyers hired by Exxon and CEI have experience waging long battles with government attorneys on controversial issues, including tobacco.

    Exxon, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and their allies are invoking free speech protections in a pugnacious pushback against subpoenas from attorneys general seeking decades of documents on climate change. Their argument is that the state-level investigations violate the First Amendment rights of those who question climate science.

    Exxon has sued to block a subpoena issued by the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and in an unusual step, named as a defendant the Washington, D.C. law firm and attorney representing the territory in the inquiry. In its complaint against the Virgin Islands subpoena, Exxon wrote, “The chilling effect of this inquiry…strikes at protected speech at the core of the First Amendment.”

  48. Colorado Bob

     /  April 22, 2016

    ‘100-Year Floods’ Happen More Often Than People Think

    This reveals another problem with trying to quantify extreme events — things can always get worse, which makes it difficult to come up with a worst-case scenario.

    “With all our records, we don’t know what the most extreme is, because they are rare,” Tye said. “You make an estimate of the probability and then another storm comes along that is worse.”

    As for Houston, Hasling has some advice: “There’s more than one flood a year in Houston. If you live in Houston, buy flood insurance. If you are not in the flood zone, buy it anyway; it will just be cheaper.”


  49. Colorado Bob

     /  April 22, 2016

    Watch: River Explodes Into Flames From Methane Coming From Nearby Fracking Sites

    • Colorado Bob

       /  April 22, 2016

      So much methane gas is now bubbling up through the Condamine River in Queensland, Australia that it exploded with fire and held a large flame. Gas seeping into the river began shortly after coal seam gas operations started nearby and is growing in volume and the stretch of river affected is expanding in length.


    • Colorado Bob

       /  April 22, 2016

      • – Scorched Earth by another name — and should be banned and outlawed.
        Fracking and frackers brings nothing but destruction. Communities are forced or extorted by them. Crime, drug use, and civic disorder follow this ruthless destruction of Earth.

  50. Reply
  51. Cate

     /  April 22, 2016

    Another little spark of good news from out here on The Rock: three ex-tarsands workers are taking the transition to renewables into their own hands and calling all skilled tradesmen to join them. Little people wresting control from Big Oil, democratising processes of energy production.


  52. Colorado Bob

     /  April 22, 2016

    330 Million Impacted By India Heat Wave That Has Killed At Least 160, Officials Say

    Sweltering temperatures lasting for weeks led to more than 160 deaths in southern and eastern India, officials announced Tuesday.

    Police reported 55 heat-related deaths in Orissa and at least 45 occurred in Andhra Pradesh, according to the Associated Press. Sixty-six deaths were reported in Telangana. Most of those killed by the heat wave were laborers and farmers. India’s government told the country’s supreme court that at least 330 million people have been impacted by the heat wave, and that number is likely to rise, BBC.com reported.


  53. – New York in a U-Haul — London in a Lorrie — Miami on Pontoons…?

    – There is a fair amount of info and insight on the human/SLR reaction equation here by Brian Fagan.

    – A Review

    ‘The Attacking Ocean’

    In “The Attacking Ocean,” author Brian Fagan seeks to convince the reader of the threat of rising sea levels through an anthropological narrative of humanity’s struggle to outrun the ocean. He uses historical records to recreate tales of early villagers and modern cities struggling to rebuild or relocate after disastrous ocean encroachment. Fagan’s book covers everything from the very ancient world—such as hunter-gatherers who migrated from Asia to the Americas via land bridge—to the biggest news stories of the past year, like Hurricane Sandy.

    Fagan identifies two primary “new” challenges in the age-old struggle to sidestep the sea: First, the immobility of our extremely densely populated coastal cities, and second, the increasing rate of sea level rise at a time when the sea is more dangerous to us than ever.

    In earlier eras, villages or communities that were threatened by the rising sea could (and often did) move to higher ground and find a new area to settle. Of course, the logistics of moving New York City or New Orleans to an entirely different location would be so incredibly complicated and expensive that such an option is rationally impossible.

  54. Cate

     /  April 22, 2016

    NASA explains some bathymetry data for Uummannaq.

    “While we expected to find deeper fjords than previous maps showed, the differences are huge,” said Eric Rignot of UCI and JPL, lead author of a paper on the research. “They are measured in hundreds of meters, even one kilometer [3,300 feet] in one place.” The difference means that the glaciers actually reach deeper, warmer waters, making them more vulnerable to faster melting as the oceans warm.


  55. Reply
  56. JPL

     /  April 22, 2016

    CB, here’s one for you from Australian artist Courtney Barnett. The Great Barrier Reef’s poor treatment even gets a shout out, so I’m staying on topic, too!


  57. Colorado Bob

     /  April 22, 2016

    New maps chart Greenland glaciers’ melting risk

    Researchers from the University of California, Irvine; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California; and other research institutions combined all observations their various groups had made during shipboard surveys of the seafloors in the Uummannaq and Vaigat fjords in west Greenland between 2007 and 2014 with related data from NASA’s Operation Icebridge and the NASA/U.S. Geological Survey Landsat satellites. They used the combined data to generate comprehensive maps of the ocean floor around 14 Greenland glaciers. Their findings show that previous estimates of ocean depth in this area were as much as several thousand feet too shallow.

    Why does this matter? Because glaciers that flow into the ocean melt not only from above, as they are warmed by sun and air, but from below, as they are warmed by water.

    Read more at: Link

  1. The Killer Seas Begin — Mass Marine Death off Chile as Ocean Acidification Begins to Take Down Florida’s Reef | robertscribbler

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