The loss of Arctic sea ice as a result of global warming could have dramatic and potentially catastrophic effects on the climate of much of the northern hemisphere, according to a new report. Scientists at Yale University and the University of Southampton recently demonstrated that the ongoing loss of sea ice is actively changing one of Earth’s main systems for transporting water — the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). To put it simply, AMOC circulates cold, dense water from the north Atlantic southward and warm, salty water from the tropical Atlantic northward. This system, which includes the Gulf Stream, plays a major role in maintaining the global climate, and its deterioration could have a dramatic impact.
A survey of tens of thousands of marine studies from the last decade reveals current threats to our marine environment. These include: the effects of climate change, marine plastic pollution, conservation, as well as social and economic impacts. It is hoped the method used to obtain this information, which has only just been made possible with advances in computational power, will enable the development of robust policies that ensure the future health of our seas.
Arctic sea ice is not merely a passive responder to the climate changes occurring around the world, according to new research. Scientists say the ongoing Arctic ice loss can play an active role in altering one of the planet's largest water circulation systems: the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).
In 2014, a team of researchers led by a paleobiologist from the University of Missouri found that clams from the Holocene Epoch (that began 11,700 years ago) contained clues about how sea level rise due to climate change could foreshadow a rise in parasitic trematodes, or flatworms. The team cautioned that the rise could lead to outbreaks in human infections if left unchecked. Now, an international team from Mizzou and the Universities of Bologna and Florida has found that rising seas could be detrimental to human health on a much shorter time scale. Findings from their study in northern Italy suggest that parasitic infections could increase in the next century, if history repeats itself.
On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed the $53.4 billion Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2018 (S.1662) bill in a 30-1 vote. “The committee has made difficult but responsible decisions to produce a bill that strikes a financial balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” declared Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Richard Shelby (AL). In the Senate bill, the National Science Foundation (NSF) would be funded at $7.31 billion, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at $5.59 billion, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at $19.5 billion, representing cuts from FY 2017 of 2.2 percent, 1.5 percent, and 0.6 percent, respectively. The total reductions in the bill amount to $3.2 billion below the FY 2017 enacted level, but overall funding remains $4.4 billion above the president’s budget request.
A University of Alaska Fairbanks study looking at the physics of tidewater glaciers has yielded new insights into what drives their retreat-and-advance cycles and the role that climate plays in these cycles. Lead author and UAF geophysics doctoral student Douglas Brinkerhoff said the study in Nature Communications reveals that shifting sediments drive the cycles among tidewater glaciers in temperate climates such as southern Alaska.
Sharks, marine scientists say, are often misunderstood, described as ravenous man-eaters. In reality, sharks are critically important to the health of the world's oceans, yet a quarter of all shark species are threatened with extinction. For more than two decades, Florida International University marine scientist Mike Heithaus has been immersed in the world of sharks and other predators that help the sea maintain a delicately balanced food web. Heithaus' work is focused on predators in the waters of South Florida and across the globe in Shark Bay, Australia.
Solutions to climate change, and particularly its effects on the ocean, are needed now more than ever. Coral bleaching caused by climate change is a huge threat to coral reefs. Recent extreme bleaching events have already killed corals worldwide and permanent destruction of reefs is projected within the century if immediate action is not taken. However, genetically engineering a group of microalgae found in corals may enhance their stress tolerance to ocean warming and save coral reefs.
The world's most extensive study of a major storm front striking the coast has revealed a previously unrecognised danger from climate change: as storm patterns fluctuate, waterfront areas once thought safe are likely to be hammered and damaged as never before. The study, led by engineers at University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, was published in the latest issue of Scientific Reports.
Climate change was almost certainly responsible for a marine heatwave off Tasmania's east coast in 2015/16 that lasted 251 days and at its greatest extent was seven times the size of Tasmania, according to a new study published today in Nature Communications. The marine heatwave reduced the productivity of Tasmanian salmon fisheries, led to a rise in blacklip abalone mortality, sparked an outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome and saw new fish species move into Tasmanian waters.
ON WILLIAM BARENTS’S second Arctic expedition in 1595, the Dutch navigator’s crew had a deadly encounter. While searching for diamonds on an islet near Russia’s Vaygach Island three months into the journey, two of his sailors were resting in a wind-protected depression when “a great leane beare came sodainly stealing out, and caught one of them fast by the necke.” The bear killed and devoured both men, despite the crew’s attempt to drive the animal away. The incident, recounted in Dutch officer Gerrit de Veer’s diary, became the first account of a polar bear attacking humans in recorded history.
The remote Arctic tundra may seem like the last place on Earth human pollution should be causing a problem — yet it’s filled with mercury contamination. That mercury leaks from the soil into rivers and ultimately the Arctic Ocean, contaminating the fish and other sea life that native communities rely on for survival.