Coral in the Mediterranean threatened by heatwaves

January 21, 2022 by  
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A new study has found that heatwaves associated with climate change are threatening coral populations in the Mediterranean. The study, published in  Proceedings of the Royal Society Biology , established that corals could be wiped out unless action is taken soon.  This wide-scale research on heatwaves’ long-term effects on corals has established that some areas have already seen an 80 to 90% reduction in biomass. According to the researchers behind the study, these reductions affect the ecosystem’s overall functioning. They say corals are the key to the existence and functions of coral reefs. Heatwaves threaten the existence of the reefs entirely, a situation that could affect sea life for almost all sea creatures. Related: An underwater forest of sculptures attracts marine life in the Mediterranean Sea The study was done by researchers from the Faculty of Biology, the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) at the University of Barcelona, and the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC) of Barcelona. The findings are part of the first long-term analysis showing heatwaves’ effects on corals in the Mediterranean . Although there have been various studies on the impact of heatwaves on corals, most focus on short periods. Knowledge on long-term effects remains limited, given the time corals take to reproduce and grow. Corals grow over hundreds of years, a timeframe that complicates research. For this study, the researchers analyzed results obtained in long-term monitoring on different populations of corals. The observed data dates back to 2003 when a heatwave caused mass coral mortality in the protected sea area of Scandola in Corsega, France . “We observed an average biomass loss regarding the initial biomass of 80% in populations of red gorgonian, and up to a 93% regarding the studied population of red coral,” noted Daniel Gómez, a researcher at ICM-CSIC. Joaquim Garrabou, also a member of ICM-CSIC, is more concerned with the continued depreciation of affairs over the years. “These data are worrying for the conservation of these emblematic species , and it indicates that the effects of the climate crisis are speeding up with obvious consequences for the submarine landscapes, where the loss of coral equals the loss of trees in forests.” The experts now say that the only way to save the corals and their reefs is to take drastic measures. “There is an urgent need for stronger measures to be implemented against the climate crisis before the loss of biodiversity becomes irreplaceable,” the experts concluded. Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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Coral in the Mediterranean threatened by heatwaves

Fish struggle with warming oceans and acidification

December 28, 2021 by  
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Fish face a new threat — ocean acidification caused by global warming. In a recent study published in  Global Change Biology , researchers found that warming waters and acidification could adversely affect how fish interact in groups.  The project leader, Professor Ivan Nagelkerken from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute and Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories, says that tropical species are traveling toward Earth’s poles and finding new ways of interaction. “Fish show gregarious behaviour and cluster in shoals which helps them to acquire food and for protection against predators,” said Nagelkerken. “Many gregarious tropical species are shifting poleward under current ocean warming and interacting in new ways with fish in more temperate areas.” Related: Scientists discover parasite that eats and replaces fish tongues Researchers reviewed how fish species interact and behave in changing environments. They aimed to determine how the rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere affects fish behavior. With CO2 already driving global temperatures high, oceans and seas have also been warming up. When the oceans warm, they also get acidified, which affects the behavior of fish and other sea creatures. “We found that tropical and temperate fish species tend to move to the right when coordinating together in a shoal especially when spooked by a predator, but this bias significantly diminished under ocean acidification,” said Angus Mitchell, a University of Adelaide Ph.D. student who was among the researchers. The study found that mixed shoals of tropical and temperate species were less cohesive under warm ocean conditions. They also showed less interest in escape, raising concerns over the coexistence of predator and prey. Professor David Booth from the University of Technology, Sydney says that these responses from fish are a result of stress from interacting with new species and having to stay in new territories. “Our findings highlight the direct effect of climate stressors on fish behaviour and the interplay with the indirect effects of new species interactions,” said Booth. According to said Nagelkerken, the survival of certain fish species is threatened under these conditions. “Strong shoal cohesion and coordinated movement affect the survival of a species: whether to acquire food or evade predators,” said Nagelkerken. “If the ability for fish to work together is detrimentally affected it could determine the survival of particular species in the oceans of the future. Tropical species may initially fare poorly when moving into new temperate areas.” Via Newswise Lead image Pixabay

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Fish struggle with warming oceans and acidification

Global warming is coming for polar bears

December 28, 2021 by  
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Global warming and receding ice sheets threaten the lives of polar bears. But that’s not where the issues end. A new study published in  Ecosphere  established that the foraging range for polar bears in the Beaufort Sea area has increased by 64% between 1999 and 2016 compared to the period 1986-1998. The change is being driven by food scarcity. The study was led by Anthony Pagano, a postdoctoral researcher at Washington State University. Pagano and his colleagues from the U.S. Geological Survey reviewed satellite data ranging from the 1980s and found that polar bears began moving further outside their range in search of food. Receding sea ice habitats pushed the bears north in search of food. Related: Polar bears get a big win as court dismisses Arctic oil drilling project The continental shelf where polar bears feed has shallow water that contains plenty of fish and seals. As the world warms, the ice sheet that makes up the shelf melts off, leading to a food shortage for the bears. As a result, the animals have to travel further for food. “Having to travel farther means these bears are expending more energy which can threaten their survival,” said Pagano. “If we want to preserve the habitat of these amazing mammals, then we need to focus on the root of the problem, which is slowing global climate change .” Researchers say the continental sea ice continues to recede earlier and further each year. This forces polar bears to follow the sea ice to find food . “The combined impact of having to move farther and farther north with the ice in the summer and then having to move back in the fall and winter as the ice freezes is taking a major toll,” Pagano said. “Our work highlights the worrying impact of sea ice decline on polar bear movement patterns.” The study also found that about 20% of the polar bear population in the Beaufort Sea area avoids the traditional sea ice hunting grounds entirely. The bears prefer moving inland to feed on other foods such as carrion, berries, and even whale carcasses left on the shore by humans. “Sometimes you’ll have 50 to 100 polar bears that congregate around these whale carcasses and compete with each other for food,” Pagano said. “As more and more bears move on land, I suspect there’ll be a lot more competition for these food resources and we’ll probably start seeing further decreases in abundance and survival.”   Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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Earth has lost 14% of its coral reefs in less than a decade

October 7, 2021 by  
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A  new report  released by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network found that up to 14% of the world’s coral reefs have been depleted due to climate change between the years 2009 and 2018. In the period under review, mass coral bleaching events were experienced due to warming waters. The study is the largest done to review the status of corals across the world. It included observation of reefs in more than 70 countries over the past 40 years. The research found that the highly sensitive reefs were exposed to tough conditions due to climate change, including high temperatures and tsunamis. Tough weather patterns are said to have contributed to the depletion of the essential reefs. Related: Global warming driving mass migration of marine life The study estimates that the loss amounts to over 4,500 square miles of reefs lost in just nine years. This is more than all the living coral off the coast of Australia including the great barrier reef . The loss of corals is likely to continue since the world is on an upward warming trend, according to Paul Hardisty, head of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. “There are clearly unsettling trends toward coral loss, and we can expect these to continue as warming persists,” Hardisty said. “A clear message from the study is that climate change is the biggest threat to the world’s reefs, and we must all do our part by urgently curbing global greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating local pressures.” The value that coral reefs add to the ecosystem can never be overstated. Although they make up 0.2% of the ocean floor, they account for over 25% of the ocean system’s biodiversity . Coral reefs provide approximately $2.7 trillion in value per year, according to the report. Tourism contributes about $36 billion of this amount. With such a huge economic impact, coral reefs are just as important as other economic activities in the modern age. The good news is that, although coral reefs are vulnerable to climate change, they are still resilient. The report found that the reefs were facing the fight against warming waters. However, the researchers warn that the situation might soon change. With carbon emissions still on the rise, chances are the corals may not survive the high temperatures . Via HuffPost Photography by Tom Fisk

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Climate change-induced tuna migration may wreck island economies

September 2, 2021 by  
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Ocean warming may cause small states in the Pacific Islands to struggle economically due to fish loss. A recent study published in the journal   Nature Sustainability  has found that tuna caught in 10 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will decline by an average of 20% by 2050. The study also found that all the 10 islands will be affected and may struggle economically as a result. As waters closer to the equator warm, tuna and other sea species move out in search of a favorable environment. According to Johann Bell, the lead author of the study and a senior director at  Conservation International’s Center for Oceans, fish can only live in conditions that suit their physiology. Related: Mysterious fish deaths in Mar Menor Spain prompt investigation “All fish have preferred water temperatures, i.e., temperatures that suit their physiology best and which provide optimum conditions for growth and reproduction,” Bell said. Conservation International’s Center for Oceans is a nonprofit organization that works to protect nature through science. The organization uses scientific data to show changes in nature and urge policymakers to make critical choices.  Bell explains that tuna follow other species favorable for prey. He says when the ocean warms, other species may move outward in search of cooler waters. Tuna have to follow such species, or they may fail to find food and experience stunted growth. The study looked at two key species of tuna: skipjack and yellowfin. These are the main target species for large-scale fishers in the Pacific Islands region. Researchers found that these species will progressively continue moving eastwards as the waters get warm . As a result, the species will only be available in high seas and regions outside the jurisdiction of SIDS. Most states in the Pacific Islands depend on fishing as a main economic activity. If the most popular fish species moves away from the area, locals will struggle economically.  For a long time, scientists have warned that the effects of global warming will be more economically costly than any amount invested in combating climate change. The tuna conundrum is just one example of how this issue manifests. Via EcoWatch Lead image via Pexels

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Climate change-induced tuna migration may wreck island economies

A curious cold spot in the Atlantic has scientists thinking their worst fears have come true

September 25, 2015 by  
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Scientists have observed record high temperatures around the world all summer long. People everywhere are suffering from the intense heat, and the higher temps have contributed to the increasing western drought, wildfires, and all manner of environmental destruction. All points on the globe seem to be hitting new peaks on the thermostat, except for one. There is a curious cold spot in a map of ever-warming ocean waters , showing a “blob” of cooler-than-expected water in the northern Atlantic Ocean, and it has climate scientists more than just a little freaked out. Read the rest of A curious cold spot in the Atlantic has scientists thinking their worst fears have come true

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A curious cold spot in the Atlantic has scientists thinking their worst fears have come true

California’s Volcano House boasts 360 degrees of Mojave desert views

September 25, 2015 by  
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Researchers Say That Fish Could Get Smaller as the Seas Get Warmer Due to Climate Change

October 2, 2012 by  
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Adding to the concern over industrial commercial overfishing , researchers from the University of British Columbia have stated that changes in ocean and climate systems could lead to smaller fish. Their research, which was published in the journal Nature Climate Change , is the first-ever global projection of the potential reduction in the maximum size of fish in a warmer and less-oxygenated ocean. Read the rest of Researchers Say That Fish Could Get Smaller as the Seas Get Warmer Due to Climate Change Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: climate systems , fish stocks , marine life , nature climate change , overfishing , oxygen levels , Sea Levels , University of British Columbia , warming oceans

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Researchers Say That Fish Could Get Smaller as the Seas Get Warmer Due to Climate Change

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