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Mapping Climate Change Impacts to the World Ocean

The world ocean supports 2.5 trillion dollars in economic activity annually and generates food for more than 1 billion people. Stable coastlines provide homes and livelihoods to hundreds of millions even as coastal ecosystems are among the most vibrant and productive on Planet Earth. But ocean health and all that relies on it is under serious threat from human-caused climate change.

(Resource Watch provides a graphical survey of various climate-ocean indicators)

A new series of maps produced by Resource Watch gives an analysis of present and future ocean health. And if fossil fuel burning continues, the prognosis isn’t good (follow this link and/or watch the above video to see more).

Present impacts to ocean ecology are already measurable in key regions such as the North Atlantic. There, ocean health is in decline from climate-change-related algae blooms, fishery losses, and expanding oxygen-deprived regions. Near the North Atlantic, the Baltic Sea hosts a large oxygen-poor dead zone and its deeper waters seep with hydrogen sulfide gas. Ocean life in the region has taken a serious blow with diverse species from puffins to lobsters to fish all feeling the heat.

(Coral bleaching predicted for the Pacific and Indian Oceans by 2050. Regions in bright yellow are expected to experience bleaching once every year under present fossil fuel burning scenarios. Image source: Resource Watch.)

With warming just at about 1 C above 1880s values, climate change related impacts to oceans are mild compared to what they will be if human civilization keeps burning fossil fuels. More severe impacts come with rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels creating a grim future for corals in rather short order.

By 2030, according to WRI data, equatorial corals are expected to face bleaching every other year under present fossil fuel burning scenarios. By 2050, many equatorial and near equatorial regions will see bleaching every year. At that time, it is possible that 80-90 percent or more of present corals will have been lost.

(Hampton Roads faces large-scale inundation with 2 meters of sea level rise. Image source: Resource Watch.)

A third major impact to the global ocean system comes from melting glaciers and thermal expansion in the form of sea level rise. With both Greenland and Antarctica experiencing increasing melt rates, it’s possible that oceans could rise by 2 meters or more by mid-to-late Century. And higher levels of fossil fuel burning lead to faster rates of ocean rise.

The above map is an example of which areas are likely to face inundation across the Hampton Roads region (take a look at this link to view the interactive map) under 2 meters of sea level rise.

In total, human caused climate change impacts the oceans through four major mechanims: warming temperature, loss of ocean oxygen, acidification, and sea level rise. The maps by Resource Watch provide a broad summary of such key impacts. However, there are still quite a few avenues by which climate monitoring for the world ocean can be improved and expanded.

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33 Comments

  1. utoutback

     /  June 12, 2018

    Whenever I bring up climate change, I stress that much of the change we do not see, or feel has been happening in the oceans (3/5th of the planet). They have been the great heat sink and garbage dump for humans for the past century. What you don’t see can hurt you.

    Liked by 6 people

    Reply
  2. redskylite

     /  June 12, 2018

    Many thanks Robert for another great information packed post, the maps tell a tale that is easy to read. I would also include the disruption of ocean currents (and circulation) to the list of effects. Our long suffering oceans have been used as mankind’s dump for far too long.

    Volcanic activity, declining ocean oxygen triggered mass extinction of ancient marine organisms.

    Global climate change, fueled by skyrocketing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, is siphoning oxygen from today’s oceans at an alarming pace — so fast that scientists aren’t entirely sure how the planet will respond.

    Their only hint? Look to the past.

    http://news.fsu.edu/news/science-technology/2018/06/11/volcanic-activity-declining-ocean-oxygen-triggered-mass-extinction-of-ancient-marine-organisms/

    Liked by 2 people

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  3. redskylite

     /  June 12, 2018

    Further Drivers of Ocean Deoxygenation identified.

    It is certain that global warming is the main cause of marine oxygen loss. But warming affects the ocean in several ways. Among other things, it influences the solubility of oxygen in the water. The warmer the water, the less gasses it can take up. “This process mainly affects the uppermost layers of water, which are in direct contact with the atmosphere,” explains Dr. Schmidtko. This effect can explain up to 20 percent of the deoxygenation so far and is well represented in the models.

    But warming also changes patterns of global ocean circulation. Since the complex system of surface and deep currents supplies oxygen to the deeper ocean, these changes can affect the oxygen content throughout the ocean. “Many models have problems to describe this effect realistically, because transport processes are often not resolved well enough or reproduced incorrectly,”

    https://www.geomar.de/en/news/article/weitere-ursachen-von-sauerstoffverlust-der-ozeane-identifiziert/

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. wharf rat

     /  June 12, 2018

    New Leaders of Italy and Spain Smile on Renewables
    Political shifts have changed the energy outlook in two key energy markets.
    https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/italy-and-spains-new-leaders-smile-on-renewables#gs.XBpEMMM

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Ronald

     /  June 12, 2018

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180612080026.htm
    State of the Arctic Ocean ‘New and Unusual’.
    “An international research team has found an increase in high waves and winds in the ice-free waters of the Arctic Ocean, a potentially dangerous navigational tipping point for the ‘new and unusual’ state of the waters.”

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. redskylite

     /  June 12, 2018

    More changes caused by rampant Arctic ocean warming reported

    Researchers investigate the correlation between wind and wave height in the Arctic Ocean

    Researchers used the ERA-Interim reanalysis, a global atmospheric data collection system, to examine nearly four decades of emerging trends of increasingly extreme waves. They directly measured waves with buoys in the Arctic Sea in the summer of 2016 to validate the results predicted by the ERA-Interim reanalysis.

    They saw an increase in both winds and high ocean waves, as expected since a few million square kilometers of the sea’s ice covering has melted in the past forty years.

    The larger the ice-free water area, the greater the probability of encountering a large wave, according to Waseda, which has potentially grave implications for the shippers navigating through the Northern Sea Route, as well as for the coastal populations.

    https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-06/rooi-rit060718.php

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. redskylite

     /  June 12, 2018

    Loss of Coral reefs, not only devastating to the fishing and tourist industries, but will cause serious coastal damage too.

    Flood damage would double without coral reefs: study

    Loss of coral reefs around the world would double the damage from coastal flooding, and triple the destruction caused by storm surges, researchers said Tuesday.

    Coupled with projected sea level rise driven by global warming, reef decline could see flooding increase four-fold by century’s end, they reported in the journal Nature Communications.

    Without coral to help absorb the shock, a once-in-a-century cyclone would wreak twice the havoc, with the damage measured in the tens of billions of dollars, the team calculated.

    https://phys.org/news/2018-06-coral-reefs.html#jCp

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Jeremy in Wales

     /  June 12, 2018

    Now got another electric car to aspire to when I win the lottery, the Jaguar I-Pace, and off-road ability also!

    I do not believe that this is a Tesla killer as the market is expanding and there is room for more than one manufacturer but from afar this looks like a decent competitor. Must admit I am biased since I have always loved Jags since seeing D-Types racing (taken by grandfather who insisted on taking hands off steering wheel and saluting as we passed every war memorial – even as a 4 yr old knew that was not right!).
    However Tesla is obviously under pressure as the job losses announced indicate
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jun/12/tesla-staff-cuts-restructuring-model-3-elon-musk
    Keep the show on the road Elon.

    Liked by 3 people

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    • Abel Adamski

       /  June 13, 2018

      Cool machine

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    • It was marketed as a Tesla-killer at first. But considering that global volumes aren’t likely to exceed 30,000 per year for 2019-2020, that’s hardly the case. It is a good entry by Jaguar, though. And I’m certainly excited to see it.

      Worth noting that Tesla stock at 346 is starting to put the squeeze on shorts. Looks like shorts will end up investing in renewable energy too, whether they want to or not. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  9. The pie charts show the contributions of individual components of the sea-level budget (expressed in percentage of the observed global mean sea level) for two periods, 1993–2004 and 2004–2015. It clearly shows that the magnitude of almost all components has increased in recent years, particularly melting of the polar ice sheets, mostly in Greenland and to a lesser extent in Antarctica. Accelerated ice-mass loss from the ice sheets is the main cause of acceleration of the global mean sea-level rise, as revealed by satellite altimetry.

    Liked by 2 people

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  10. redskylite

     /  June 13, 2018

    New insight into sea-level rise reported by the University of Bristol today, melt of land ice is accelerating and is now the dominant cause of slr.

    New insights into the contribution of land ice to sea level rise

    The new estimate shows there has been a six-fold increase in annual land ice contribution to global sea level rise from the mid-1990s to the early 2010s.

    Land ice describes permanent ice on the surface of the Earth, which comprises the two ice sheets that cover Antarctica and Greenland as well as numerous smaller glaciers and ice caps.

    Over the course of the 20th century, melting glaciers and ice caps dominated the overall contribution of land ice to global sea level rise.

    This has changed over the last few decades due to the accelerating contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Ice sheets are the largest potential source of future sea level rise and represent the largest uncertainty in projections of future sea level.

    http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2018/june/land-ice-sea-level-rise.html

    Liked by 1 person

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  11. kassy

     /  June 13, 2018

    There’s No Power Grid Emergency Requiring a Coal Bailout, Regulators Say

    ….

    The top regulators of the nation’s power grid told Congress on Tuesday that they see no immediate national security emergency to justify propping up coal and nuclear power plants with a government order, as the Trump administration is considering.

    All five members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, weighed in at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a debate that has been roiling the industry and its regulators for months. It was the first time in many years that the whole commission had appeared before the committee together.

    Even though most of them were appointed by President Donald Trump, they seemed ambivalent or even hostile to his repeated attempts, along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, to require grid operators to buy power from uneconomical coal and nuclear power plants.

    A few months ago, FERC rebuffed Perry’s attempt to subsidize plant operators who keep 90 days of fuel on hand. Now, the White House has told Perry to use his own emergency powers under two laws to bail the industry out on grounds that plant closures are presenting a national security emergency.

    But the idea that the grid is currently so frail as to present an urgent military crisis has received little support, and next to none at the commission.

    FERC Does Not Pick Winners and Losers’
    The committee’s ranking Democrat, Maria Cantwell of Washington, said she found the idea of intervening in markets “mind-boggling.”

    The commissioners, in more measured words, seemed to agree with her.

    “FERC does not pick winners and losers in the market,” Powelson said. “Instead we create an environment where the market can pick the winners and losers.” He called it a “moral hazard” to do otherwise.

    “We need to be wary of people using the situation or a potential situation as a way to achieve market changes that they haven’t been able to achieve otherwise,” Glick said.

    https://insideclimatenews.org/news/12062018/ferc-no-power-grid-national-security-emergency-trump-perry-coal-subsidy-energy-regulators-congress

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. kassy

     /  June 13, 2018

    More Trump sabotaging the world. This time targetting the ozone layer. The big problem here is that the big historical contributers have agreed to act first so the US not doing anything slows down this very much needed change in the whole world:

    Republicans push Trump to support Obama-era climate amendment

    The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer has the goal of reducing global warming by 0.5 degree Celsius over the course of the next 80 years. Finalized in Rwanda’s capital, the amendment targets hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) — greenhouse gases that are often found in air conditioners and refrigerators.

    In a letter sent June 4, first shared by E&E News on Tuesday, Republicans pushed Trump to forward the amendment to the Senate, where it needs a two-thirds majority to pass. Arguing that the Montreal Protocol itself both has its roots in the Reagan administration and “has enjoyed bipartisan support since its inception”, the letter emphasizes that some 589,000 U.S. employees would benefit from the Kigali Amendment.

    Ratifying the deal, the groups argue, will bring in at least $12.5 billion and more than 30,000 new jobs in the next decade. The letter is signed by 13 Republican senators, including John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins (ME), and Lindsay Graham (SC).

    https://thinkprogress.org/republicans-push-trump-on-climate-kigali-hfc-amendment-f0598bc53f2a/

    Liked by 1 person

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  13. kassy

     /  June 13, 2018

    And a bit more relevant to the oceans (and for us homo destructans):

    Low-Oxygen Ocean Dead Zones Could Make Marine Life Extinct, Study Shows

    Some 182 to 174 million years ago, during the early Jurassic era, a mass extinction event referred to as Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event or T-OAE occurred. The event, triggered by the decline in oxygen levels prevailing in the oceans around the globe, marked the end of many sea organisms living during that time.

    It is well known today that rising global temperatures are one of the biggest reasons behind the declining levels of oxygen in oceans around the globe. As the amount of carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere, the problem of climate change is fueled, which in turn drains the oceans of oxygen. Due to this, the so-called oxygen minimum zones or dead-zones have been expanding at an alarming rate in the world’s oceans.

    Though nobody knows where this will exactly lead, researchers from Florida State University looked for some answers by studying Earth’s response to a similar situation in the past.​

    The group looked into the T-OAE and analyzed the chemical makeup of rocks from that time, found in Europe and North America. Their findings revealed the amount of oxygen in the oceans around the globe started declining much before the extinction event began.

    For more details see:
    http://www.ibtimes.com/low-oxygen-ocean-dead-zones-could-make-marine-life-extinct-study-shows-2689972

    or the article:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/06/05/1803478115

    Liked by 1 person

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  14. Abel Adamski

     /  June 13, 2018

    OT, but very relevent in relation to Trade Agreements and combating climate change, by George Monbiot
    Donald Trump was right. The rest of the G7 were wrong
    George Monbiot
    In arguing for a sunset clause to the Nafta trade agreement, this odious man is exposing the corruption of liberal democracy
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/13/trump-nafta-g7-sunset-clause-trade-agreement
    Trump was right to spike the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He is right to demand a sunset clause for Nafta. When this devious, hollow, self-interested man offers a better approximation of the people’s champion than any other leader, you know democracy is in trouble.

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    • Here Monbiot is completely off the rails. Global trade treaties and global climate treaties are linked. They form the basis of international cooperation. Monbiot never struck me as an isolationist. And though there is much to criticize about the inequities caused by the present system — where the largess of trade isn’t structurally shared, or where various systems of trade produce externalities — it is very sad to see Monbiot attacking the bridges between the nations of the west that bind the strongest democracies together.

      My opinion is that the anti-growth mindset has become so virulent that it blames all trade and all cooperation for the problems we face. Monbiot has previously shown some complexity when it came to understanding that population is not the root cause of climate change. However, he has since attacked systemic solutions such as electrical vehicles.

      To explain this, we must understand that the de-growth and power-down arguments are tantamount to turning the world into a post hurricane Puerto Rico. Human beings in present civilizations are reliant on energy and trade. To save lives and civilization, one must change the energy to non-carbon, and work to continuously reduce the harmful externalities of trade by making the system more equal and efficient. Monbiot appears to have not understood the Limits to Growth in that its core message was one of transformation, not deconstruction or out-right self-destruction.

      Liked by 1 person

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  15. kassy

     /  June 13, 2018

    Warmer climate will dramatically increase the volatility of global corn crops

    While most rice is used domestically, corn is traded on international markets. Four countries — U.S., Brazil, Argentina and the Ukraine — account for 87 percent of the global corn exports (China mostly produces for domestic use). Today the probability that all four exporters would have a bad year together, with yields at least 10 percent below normal, is virtually zero.

    But results show that under 2 degrees Celsius warming, which is projected if we succeed in curbing greenhouse gas emissions, this risk increases to 7 percent. Under 4 degrees Celsius warming, which the world is on track to reach by the end of the century if current greenhouse gas emissions rates continue, there’s an 86 percent chance that all four maize-exporting countries would simultaneously suffer a bad year.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180611152732.htm

    Liked by 2 people

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  16. Greyson Smythe

     /  June 13, 2018

    NASA: Ramp-Up in Antarctic Ice Loss Speeds Sea Level Rise

    Ice losses from Antarctica have tripled since 2012, increasing global sea levels by 0.12 inch (3 millimeters) in that timeframe alone, according to a major new international climate assessment funded by NASA and ESA (European Space Agency).

    According to the study, ice losses from Antarctica are causing sea levels to rise faster today than at any time in the past 25 years. Results of the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE) were published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

    […]

    Prior to 2012, ice was lost at a steady rate of about 83.8 billion tons (76 billion metric tons) per year, contributing about 0.008 inches (0.2 millimeters) a year to sea level rise. Since 2012, the amount of ice loss per year has tripled to 241.4 billion tons (219 billion metric tonnes) – equivalent to about 0.02 inches per year (0.6 millimeters) of sea level rise.

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    • Greyson Smythe

       /  June 13, 2018

      Link to the (paywalled) Nature article: Mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2017

      Abstract

      The Antarctic Ice Sheet is an important indicator of climate change and driver of sea-level rise. Here we combine satellite observations of its changing volume, flow and gravitational attraction with modelling of its surface mass balance to show that it lost 2,720 ± 1,390 billion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017, which corresponds to an increase in mean sea level of 7.6 ± 3.9 millimetres (errors are one standard deviation). Over this period, ocean-driven melting has caused rates of ice loss from West Antarctica to increase from 53 ± 29 billion to 159 ± 26 billion tonnes per year; ice-shelf collapse has increased the rate of ice loss from the Antarctic Peninsula from 7 ± 13 billion to 33 ± 16 billion tonnes per year. We find large variations in and among model estimates of surface mass balance and glacial isostatic adjustment for East Antarctica, with its average rate of mass gain over the period 1992–2017 (5 ± 46 billion tonnes per year) being the least certain.

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  17. bobinspain

     /  June 14, 2018

    OK. I’ll admit that my persepctive is complicated and subject to observer bias and I’m open to criticism for what I’m about to say. I’ve been trying to investigate the incidence of severe weather and thunderstorms across central Europe and trying to evaluate to what extent that’s infuenced or caused by what I perceive to be quite dramatic fluctuations in the Jet stream. These are the websites that I check on a daily basis and try to cross-refer:
    https://www.lightningmaps.org/?lang=en#m=oss;r=0;t=3;s=0;o=0;b=0.00;n=0;y=45.7798;x=38.3379;z=4;d=2;dl=2;dc=0;ts=0;

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  18. bobinspain

     /  June 14, 2018

    I was going to add this site which I use to look at rainfall:
    https://www.rain-alarm.com/

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  19. bobinspain

     /  June 14, 2018

    PS – please excuse any typos, I have arthritis.
    I also look at Earth Nullschool and Climate reanalyzer. I’d welcome any comments on the current activity of the Jetstream. It all looks a little ‘loopy’ to me at the moment. I’ll try to find some video footage of the crazy downpours in central Eorope, but it’s aquestion of finding the right site as always. Kind regards and thanks for your updates. Best wishes as always.

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  20. bobinspain

     /  June 14, 2018

    Another question I have. Is severe weather news being under-reported by the usual media monsters? Is severe weather just, well, ‘weather’ and a function of increased visibility? We should of course bear in mind that social media footage is often recycled and over-dramatised, whereas, I suspect that the media giants are choosing to downplay the assocation between the increasing incidence of severe weather events and climate change. I’d ask you all, in your honest opinion, which are the best sources to rely upon?
    I hope that makes sense. Please ask for clarification if it doesn’t 😀

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  21. bobinspain

     /  June 14, 2018

    Every day, one insane after another. Meanwhile in the background, the wrecking crew is dismantling everything. Paraphrased:

    Liked by 1 person

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  22. bobinspain

     /  June 14, 2018

    ‘A level of criminality that’s almost hard to describe’

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  23. It looks like the Trump administration will not act to get the HFC Ozone Hole Treaty amendment approved. It’s not done yet, but apparently they are unfriendly to the idea. There may be “disagreement” about climate change, but there isn’t about the ozone hole. If Trump doesn’t approve the amendment I think we move into Overt Criminality. It is as if the “rich elites” as Noam Chomsky calls them know that civilization is doomed, but they are OK with that as long as they keep their privilege to the end. Do we even have a word yet that goes beyond homocide and genocide and encompasses (the attempted) killing off our species? Can I even get more cynical than that? Unfortunately I will probably find out tomorrow…

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