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Warmer Waters killing the Marine World


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#1 Giles

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 07:00 AM

http://archive.gulfn...6/10065291.html

I was reading the above today. It is a very interesting article saying that coastal water temperatures in the UAE have been about 5 °C more than normal. This has suposodely been killing fish and tuirtle and dolphins as they can't deal with the heat, the clever ones move .. the dumb ones die .. ok Darwinism.

A local Science Proffesor says

"The increase of the sea water's temperature in the Gulf is caused by the discharge of hot waters from factories' cooling systems into the sea. Global warming is also responsible for putting at risk the marine environment not only here but also in other regions in the world, such as the Maldives,"

Here in the Cayman Islands we bame the same things for our Algae bloowm every year. Some years it is worse than others, but for the most part people know that our North Sound (where Stingray City is) is shallow enough to show large temp increases from the sun, and the powerplant is right there as well which if using salt water to cool things down would be letting hotter water into the sound. When the sound is warm enough the algae blooms and the water becomes green, then the tidal movements will push the green water out to deeper areas where the algae can then settlle on the reef and smother it.

Now it's fairly easy for us to make eyeball judgements when we live in a tropical environement all year round as we notice these things, I was wondering if anyone else had noticed similar things anywhere else.

Septmeber 1998 Sea Surface Temperatures
Posted Image

Septmeber 2006 Sea Surface Temperatures
Posted Image

If you take a look at these two images you can see a vast increase of the sea temperatures this year from 1998. However we do know that it is cyclical, and that some years are hotter than others. I believe that the Cycles are natural though and that they are good for the environment .. a Kind of Spa day from Mother nature to refresh everything. The touble comes then I suppose when the Environment has no recovery time from the cycle as the bad periods are coming quicker and quicker at it, and it becomes less of an exfoliation of the environment as it is just a continuous attack.

So anyways, the article got me thnking and I thought I would share as I found it interesting and I wanted to know if anybody else has noticed anything similar. All the major warmed areas areobviously in the tropics, but they also happen to be near land also. It's these areas that are reaching the so called deadly temperatures of above 35C
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#2 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 12:20 PM

Hi Giles,

I share your interest but the images you show use different colour scales. The top one going to 35C and the bottom to 30. So I don't think this shows anything. You may be interested in this site SST, which shows sea surface temperatures as well as sea surface temperature anomalies. The latter gives the deviation from the long term average. They are refreshed every Monday. The Caribbean is pretty much normal right now but the Canadian east coast has been "toasty" all summer.

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#3 Kelpfish

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 04:22 PM

What I see is commercial overfishing and illegal fishing destroying our marine environment far faster than warming. Warming, however, is permanent since we can't work backwards in time.
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#4 vortexted

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 07:35 PM

You are going to be seeing a lot more of this in your region and world wide due to global warming. There has been a lot of programs on TV lately about just how bad global warming is and the effects it has on the marine life and reefs. There have been 5 major "bleechings" of coral reefs worldwide in the last decade, killing something like 15% of the reefs. And more will follow with warming waters.
Tom Brokaw hosted a fantastic 2 hour special on global warming recently, I think I seen it on the discovery channel. Yes, here is the link http://www.usnews.co...very-global.htm
Anyway, at the rate we are going with Co2 emmissions, most coastal regions will be eroding rapidly, and the ocean will be some 50 to 100 miles inland. Places such as New York, Florida, Boston to name a few will become a real Atlantis by the year 2100. That is less then a 100 years off these cities will all be underwater!
So far all models from the 80's of the effects made on our planet about global warming were proven acurate within .5 degree recently. Currently there are several cities in Alaska and islands in the south pacific that are disappearing into the ocean, and its only going to get worse. :P
They also noted how the polar bear population in Alaska has declined by 30% in the last decade because of the melting iceburgs and a lack being able to caputure seals, they're main food source. So now they dont reproduce. Another example was how Glacier National Park which has had iceburgs there for thousands of years has almost all melted away in the past decade. They predicted all the ice will have melted away in the next 7 years.
What I found really messed up about the global warming issue, is the U.S. puts out 25% of the worlds Co2 emmission, yet we only account for 5% of the world population. And yet we backed out of the global plan for a downstream of emmissions from our factories. Time to start writing our congressman!

It saddens me to know that our children and grandchildren will know very different coastal regions and marine life then we all get to experience now.

What can we do to slow it down? Slow down on our consumption of energy, all forms. All the burning of fossile fuels putting off so much Co2 in our atmosphere is the single biggest factor!

If you can watch this 2 hour TV special I highly recommend it, it has woken me up to this very serious issue.

Edited by vortexted, 08 September 2006 - 07:41 PM.


#5 SCubed

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 09:39 PM

Ditto on kelpfishes thoughts about overfishing.



The planet has been warmer, it will get cooler. 20 years ago scientists were worried about a mini ice age, now were going to fry the planet. I question anything anyone has so say in modern times, there are to many false motives from every side.

Its silly to think that our coastlines and our reefs will exist as they are, in perpetuity, if evolution is correct many of our notions of conservationism are foolhearty and absurd. This is just as true with overfishing, the death of one dominant species will pave the way for another to take its place. (people too)

Youve got idiots that want to keep polluting and then you have other idiots that want to build giant space based parasols, or dump billions of tons af dust into the atmosphere to cool the earth down. WTF

The asian markets may clean the oceans of our fishes but scientists will wipe all the earth off the face of the planet faster than my GMC 2500 series truck.

I need another beer.

#6 Giles

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 06:49 AM

Ditto on kelpfishes thoughts about overfishing.
The planet has been warmer, it will get cooler. 20 years ago scientists were worried about a mini ice age, now were going to fry the planet.


Frying the planet will cause a massive ice age .. the two come hand in hand ... or at least that was my understanding of it all ..

but to be clear .. we are not frying our planet ... global warming is a natural phenoenom .. has happened many times before .. we just weren't around at the time ... the concerns are that we may be speeding it up ... I would hope we are speeding it up .. as the last global warming happened without such a populus on the planet i'd hope that having howveer many billion humans living here has some sort of effect on the world ecosystem, otherwise we really are insignificant.

Also .. I got my maps from the SST website .. but the earlier one had to come from another source as SSt has no archinving ... However .. NOAA's Map and the other one .. even though not the same colour scales (they are similar) show one vital thing .. a concentration of hotter water around the tropical land masses which is absent in the other map .. which I pointed out in the first post .. and is a major change compared to the 1998 map.

What I see is commercial overfishing and illegal fishing destroying our marine environment far faster than warming. Warming, however, is permanent since we can't work backwards in time.

I can't possibly agree that in the Tropics (which is predominently what this thread was about) that over fishing is worse for the environment than the warmer waters. All you need to do is take a look at the recent coral bleaching effects to know otherwise, Here in Caymanwe have gottenlucky with the reef recovering, but in some of the more southern islands where the water reminaed warmer last year as Wilma (hurricane) didn't come by late in the year and cool off the waters the coral bleaching (which is caused by warmer waters) has remained permanent. That is a much greater damage than over fishing .. as when the reef dies there will be no system to support any of the fish that lived there.
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#7 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 01:00 PM

There are a number of problems with climate analysis in general.

1) There is so much natural variation in space and time that you need major changes to convincingly demonstrate that something is happening.

2) Changes are slow relative to human perception of time (and relative to human memory)

3) Comparisons need to look back to climates of centuries, millenia or longer ago. Scientists say they can do it but it is less convincing than one's own experience or well-documented recent history


Extra problems for the global warming issue are

4) Even much larger changes are needed if you want to convince skeptics that global warming is real

5) Many people consider a bit of warming a benefit instead of a problem

6) The regions most affected (for now) are least populated and/or without political clout [(ant)arctic]

7) Fighting global warming is believed to compromise our standard of living

8) The issues are perceived to be too complex to even try to understand


To simplify things it helps to first look only at the atmospheric CO2 level. This has been measured with great accuracy since the 1950s, does not suffer from large natural variation (apart from seasonal effects), and the magnitude and speed of the increase are such that you do not need to be a rocket scientist to see that something very substantial is happening. (See here for the latest Mauna Loa data).

The theory that CO2 increases lead to global warming are already two centuries or so old. The first person to propose it (I believe a British chap) was ridiculed because the oceans have such a large capacity to absorb CO2 that it could never become a problem. Others suggested to set fire to a series of coal seams that were not commercially mineable to "improve" world temperature by the CO2 effect. Modern analysis of CO2 cycles show that although the ocean has the capacity to absorb all CO2, it can't do it fast enough to keep up with our rate of CO2 output.

The theory of CO2-induced warming is solid, but secondary effects on for instance cloud formation, snow and ice cover, ocean currents etc make the total result of global warming less clear and if ocean currents are disrupted significant cooling could occur in parts of the northern hemisphere. In my opinion, and I'm not a climatologist, the secondary effects are not that well understood, some effects may have been missed completely, and if you want to say/think that we don't have a clue as to what may happen then that is entirely reasonable. However, using this uncertainty as an argument that we don't have to worry is silly. A major variable affecting climate is changing substantially and climate change, in whatever form it may take, is likely if not certain. Moreover, since life, including human civilization, is adapted to the status quo, climate change is much more likely to hurt than to please.

So CO2 increase is predicted to affect climate by raising temperature. In the past decades we have observed increases in annual global temperature. Effects are predicted to be largest near the poles and that is what is observed. Canada's northern regions have changed substantially enough that there is a big push to claim the NorthWest passage as Canadian territory because everyone is convinced it will become a navigatible shipping route in the near future. Some northern mining operations are in trouble because they use the winter months to truck in supplies and building materials over frozen lakes. In the past years the duration for which the lakes had sufficiently thick ice has decreased so much they can't get all the goods trucked in. In the Netherlands a report was released last week saying that 30% of the dikes need to be improved by 2020, partly as maintenance and partly to account for rising sea levels. Alpine resorts are using reflective cloths to protect their glaciers, century-old Spanish wineries move to higher elevations in the pyranees to escape the heat ... examples are everywhere.

At the moment I would not be surprized if in the tropics overfishing and pollution are still bigger problems than global warming. Global warming effects are least prominent in those regions, you need a lot of heat to increase water temperature, and mixing with deeper water layers distributes the heat to reduce the impact. Still, I agree with Giles that there are at least indications that global warming is starting to affect the reefs as well. CO2 absorption by the sea has also been associated with calcium depletion and acidification by the sedimentation of calciumcarbonate. Perhaps small increases in temperature combined with acidification and pollution makes corals and its symbiotic algae extra sensitive.

As individuals we cannot do much to make a noticeable impact on global warming but as divers we can be canaries in the coal mine, which I think is why Giles asked for observations from the community. My most recent observations were from May in Cuba and the reefs looked in good shape, apart from some surge-damage on corals at snorkel-depth, probably due to Hurrican Dennis who passed by a year earlier.

Bart

PS: SCubed; I trust you realize that beer is a carbonated drink and thus a completely irresponsible beverage :P

Edited by Glasseye Snapper, 09 September 2006 - 03:11 PM.

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#8 Giles

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 02:57 PM

Thats a fantastic response .. if not a little detailed for my foor good looking head .. but very interesting and albeit long it ended up being exactly the sort of information I was after.

I am not surprised to hear that the Cuban reefs were in good shape also as the hurricanes that col down the water here in Cayman also effect cuban waters for the most part such as wilma last year.

It would be interesting if anyone as travelled to the southern caribbean, Windwards and Lesser antilles etc and has noticed any coral bleaching as in years gone by they were generally more healthy than Cayman reefs, but in the last few years even though we have had massive land devastation from storms .. I feel andbelieve that our reefs are in the best condition they have been in for 5 years or so.
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#9 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 09:14 PM

I just happened to come across a very recent CO2 update on Aljazeera's website. The statement that current levels are "100% out of the [normal] range" seems overly dramatic if not plainly incorrect, but the numbers are shocking enough as it is.

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#10 SCubed

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 07:26 AM

There were concerns a number of years ago that we were actually entering a mini iceage, the predated any of the concerns and effects of global warming, to the best of my knowledge. It is has been stated that increased temps will bring about an ice age, but even then I see that as a potential obfuscation. Does this mean the entire globe will expeirence an ice age or only sections of it. If sections of it, I see this more as a relocation of weather phenomonon, which is normal and should be expected.

The other issue I have deals with the flippant, and rampant overlook of the increased temps the sun has been experiencing over x number of years. Mars' polar ice caps are melting, I will admit the I havent seen reasearch as to why, but my first guess would be increased solar temperatures. If its effecting mars in such a manner I dont see why it would not effect us.

I often read that increased co2 temps effect mean air temps, but there had yet to be shown any ability of the increased air temps to change surface water temps as the increase in air temp by co2 occurs at high altitudes.


Its obvious the planets mean temps are rising, I just question the assumptions, methodologiess and intentions of many of the researchers and activists.


great post glasseye

#11 Craig Ruaux

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 08:22 AM

I just happened to come across a very recent CO2 update on Aljazeera's website. The statement that current levels are "100% out of the [normal] range" seems overly dramatic if not plainly incorrect, but the numbers are shocking enough as it is.

Bart



Interesting to see that study linked on Aljazeera.net, to say the least.

I was about to post a link to elsewhere regarding that study, what the hey here's the project's website.

And here's something from BBC's coverage of the conference:


"Ice cores reveal the Earth's natural climate rhythm over the last 800,000 years. When carbon dioxide changed there was always an accompanying climate change. Over the last 200 years human activity has increased carbon dioxide to well outside the natural range," explained Dr Wolff.

The "scary thing", he added, was the rate of change now occurring in CO2 concentrations. In the core, the fastest increase seen was of the order of 30 parts per million (ppm) by volume over a period of roughly 1,000 years.

"The last 30 ppm of increase has occurred in just 17 years. We really are in the situation where we don't have an analogue in our records," he said.


My emphasis added.

What's useful about this study, aside from the relatively deep time span that is encompassed, is that they measure both atmospheric CO2 and temperature via hydrogen isotope ratios in the water that formed the original snow. So they can show from one set of samples a good correlation between atmospheric CO2 and temperatures. The question of how oceanic temperatures relates to atmospheric temperatures is of course still open and highly complex.
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#12 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 08:33 AM

Hi SCubed,

First, thanks for your comments, things are complex indeed and you either have to become a climatologist or decide on whom to believe based on how believable they are as individuals or as an institution and based on how much sense it makes to you. Being a scientist, but not on climate, I know that as individuals we make mistakes and since there are many thousands of us there is going to be the oddball that likes to push a controversial idea. These can be brilliant people that change the way we think entirely once the rest of us has caught on or, more common, they are what they are - oddballs. What I'm getting at is that you will find arguments either way but as a whole, the global climate researchers overwhelmingly support the main tenets of global warming. By now, even corporations, cities, states and countries are getting serious about global warming and I don't think that is just out of a desire for PR or votes.

With respect to warming on mars you may want to look at that link but there is just too little time in life to be chasing every pro- and anti- warming argument. There are places on earth that are getting cooler, there are glaciers that are growing, and there are parts of the ocean that are sometimes unusually cold (El Nina comes to mind, as well as BC whenever you go diving there). The sun will keep going through its cycles and all the other processes that cause "normal" climate variations such as wind direction causing either El Nina or El Nino will continue. CO2 just adds another variable that will lift the mean temperature with all the other fluctuations still continuing on top of it.

I recommend a healthy skepticism but researchers in general try to be objective (personal egos can get in the way though). In fact they tend to be a conservative bunch. If they make measurements and find that it is 19 times more likely that something is happening then that it is not happening they'll say that it is not significant, which often is mis-interpreted as meaning that it is not happening. It probably is happening but we can't prove it yet beyond reasonable doubt. The fact is that CO2 increase is absolutely happening, global temperatures are absolutely rising, and if we believe the scientists then the CO2 increase is highly likely to play a significant part. Given the magnitude of the expected impacts I think we should take action.

Perhaps a bit simplistic, but it's almost like astronomers predicting a 50% chance that a large asteroid will hit the earth 5 years from now. Will we sit back and say "no worries" there is a 50% chance it is going to mis, or will we try to do something about it, just in case.

Bart

Edited by Glasseye Snapper, 10 September 2006 - 08:37 AM.

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#13 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 09:00 AM

Hi Craig,

I was surprised to find it on Al Jazeera as well. I typically check CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and a Dutch news agency. Mostly scanning headlines because if I were to read it all there would be no time to read wetpixel.

"Ice cores reveal the Earth's natural climate rhythm over the last 800,000 years. When carbon dioxide changed there was always an accompanying climate change. Over the last 200 years human activity has increased carbon dioxide to well outside the natural range,"


I always find statements like these misleading, because it looks like CO2 changed and temperature follows. If I look at the data it seems that temperature changes and CO2 follows. That also makes sense because what was causing the CO2 increase in prehistoric times? It is really not such a surprize as temperature and CO2 are considered as reinforcing factors. Warming leads to increase in CO2 due to melting permafrost and more CO2 causes more warming etc. That's just like temperature and ice-cover where warming leads to less ice which leads to more warming (albedo effect). That helps explain, at least to me, why ice ages came and went so abruptly; by breaking out of a normal feed-back mechanism that maintained equilibrium into a feed-forward mechanism that led to rapid change until a new and different equilibrium was established.

The current warming cycle may be the first that is driven by CO2 with temperature following. With permafrost in Canada and elsewhere melting at a rapid rate, human-made CO2 may not be our only problem in time to come.

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#14 Seriola

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 05:39 PM

However we do know that it is cyclical, and that some years are hotter than others. I believe that the Cycles are natural though and that they are good for the environment .. a Kind of Spa day from Mother nature to refresh everything. The touble comes then I suppose when the Environment has no recovery time from the cycle as the bad periods are coming quicker and quicker at it, and it becomes less of an exfoliation of the environment as it is just a continuous attack.

So anyways, the article got me thnking and I thought I would share as I found it interesting and I wanted to know if anybody else has noticed anything similar. All the major warmed areas areobviously in the tropics, but they also happen to be near land also. It's these areas that are reaching the so called deadly temperatures of above 35�C


Giles... in my marine bio studies we were taught all about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, an interdecadal 20 year cycle of hot/cold periods in the Pacific. Only thing is, we are supposed to be entering the "cold phase" now, yet the water temps just keep getting warmer and warmer... I have to agree with your observations, I've lived in Southern California all my life and have never seen the water this hot, I was gone for 4 years for college (central california) and when I returned last year, surface temps were like 72-75. Now this year we are seeing about 76F and even 80s in the surf zones. It really seems like the temperate zones of the world are shrinking and the sub-tropics/tropics expanding. We also experienced a serious lack of upwelling this year... can't wait for the next el nino!!!
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#15 Paul Kay

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 05:33 AM

A couple of comments:

Firstly, this year I have seen fish in areas (In Britain and Ireland) where I have never previously seen them - but why everyone expects fish or other creatures to move north as seas warm is somewhat baffling - and the sea temperatures have been very high in places. Unless these fish are far more intelligent than we think then some (the smaller coastal dwellers at least) are likely to simply spread their distributions, with the ones which move to new and acceptable areas surviving whilst the others don't. I doubt many have compasses or sufficient useful knowledge of the planet's geography to enable them simply to move northwards.

Secondly, it is the rate of change of warming which is the real indicator of the potentiality of climatic change - I have seen various graphs showing how closely this relates to CO2 concentration changes and our own population increases/urbanisation/industrialisation. It MAY all be coincidence but I personally doubt it. The Magazine 'New Scientist' has many pieces about climatic change/global warming, and is hardly a sensationalist publication.

As underwater photographers we are in a unique position to photograph species distribution shifts, as we are able to photograph somewhat mobile creatures (such as small inshore fish) which can move but are unlikely to move terribly far in one go. Of these it is the adults which are of most interest as they indicate either the survival of planktonic larvae right through to adulthood (ie a viable settlement area) or that adults are moving if photographed where they have not previously been recorded.
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#16 SCubed

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 05:55 PM

Hey Glasseye, two more good posts and I appreciate the link to the mars information, I did find the length of the martian summer helpful.

I still have doubts to the level of effect co2 hason our planet, there is still more info I need.

The current warming cycle may be the first that is driven by CO2 with temperature following



I still think that this may putting the cart before the horse :lol:

#17 Trevor Rees

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Posted 13 September 2006 - 12:18 PM

DSC_3573r.jpg

I've recently returned from Norway above the arctic circle near Narvik. I was told that the Great Scallop - Pecten maximus did not live this far north.

On one dive we saw a few of them. I asked some Norweigian fishermen about this. They said they were rare and that they first appeared about 10 years ago as sea temperatures had risen. They had moved up from further south.

Perhaps it's a good news story?

#18 Kelpfish

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Posted 13 September 2006 - 12:34 PM

"but to be clear .. we are not frying our planet ... global warming is a natural phenoenom .. has happened many times before"


This is correct but rest assured that global warming is artifically accellerated by human influence and it will NOT correct itself unless during human existence we start living like cave men again (for 100-200-300 years from now). Unless factories that emit harmful OZONE dissolving chemicals are not eliminated, forget it. And we are so dependent on the very products that these factories produce that reversing artifical global warming accellerants ain't gonna happen. We'll have to live with (and are living with) the consequences.
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#19 Paul Kay

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Posted 13 September 2006 - 01:17 PM

" we start living like cave men again (for 100-200-300 years from now)"

The forecasts I've seen vary dramatically! Some predict substantial environmental impacts within a decade (or less), others suggest far longer timescales. Some changes are predicted to be very localised, others may affect large regions.

It looks to me as though the bottom line is that climatic change appears to be an extremely complex issue with accurate predictions being very difficult indeed. Sadly, it is our behaviour and unsustainable lifestyles which are the root cause of the problem, and it is up to us and our consciences to change our own ways. A real tricky one!
Paul Kay, Canon EOS5D/5DII, SEACAM/S45, 15, 24L, 60/2.8 (+Ext12II) & 100/2.8 Macros - UK/Ireland Seacam Sales underseacameras & marinewildlife & paulkayphotography & welshmarinefish

#20 Glasseye Snapper

Glasseye Snapper

    Tiger Shark

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 04:45 AM

Hi Giles,

Earlier you mentioned that the SST maps were not archived. I just came across a site with SST anomalies as well as a set of archived SST maps going back all the way to 1996. The current map shows particularly strong (3 degrees C or more) warmer waters in the actic region as well as east of Japan and just west of the central American shore (latter may be related to the El Nino that is apparently forming). (the antarctic is colder than normal).

On a different note, I just got the October issue of Scuba Diving magazine, which has a story about a NOAA fisheries report that two branching coral populations (elkhorn & staghorn) have collapsed throughout their range. As of May those two species have now been listed as "threatened" under the endangered species act. It was the first time a coral species was listed and also the first time a species was listed as a consequence of global warming.
Dangers of pollution and sedimentation remain but at least these researchers claim global warming has taken over as the main threat to these corals with coral bleaching in particular being directly tied to global warming.

I do remember another more positive story a while back that some coral species were more tolerant to heat and as some other species die off the more heat tolerant ones may start to take over. That is still a very bad scenario but not as bad as a full collapse of the reef structure and the diverse community of creatures it supports.

Bart
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