the autopsy of a murdered Planet
As of late I am having difficulty even having the focus to post in
this or any forum namely because I am just dumb struck by some
events concerning global climatic change. We just saw last week a
huge ice shelf snap in the Canadian Artic. This is an ice sheet the
size of an island that has been "sitting" there for countless
centuries. Remember we are at the peak of winter in the northern
hemisphere.. now maybe I do not understand Artic ice dynamtics in
their relationship to seasons, but I am beting this is "not a good
sign". Unfortunately I think we are way too late to save most of
the life on this planet including human. I think we must find the
energy to at least give Cascadia a fighting chance and in doing that
we will need to start questioning the use of our time and
resources... for example is it worth the time and energy try to
change a corrupt system where almost every politician is controlled
by Corporations or profit interest? I will bet the Democrats will
proove this coming month that they are far more concern about
political careers or corporate funding than with real gloabl justice
hence there will be no real removal from power of the fascists, no
real acts to protect or even restore the ecosystems and no real
effort to stop global consumerism let alone deal with population
issues. And to those who think this is not related to Cascadia think
again. And its not just ice.. we are seeing the death of the world
ocean which means ... well if you can not figure that out then why
the hell are you even reading this. Looks like we are heading fast
into a huge brickwall or off a Malthusian cliff as we suck up
petroleum and pollute the biosphere all at the same time.. so will
we see die off based on huge global climatic change at the same time
die off of consumer civilization that can not even grow crops in
their own pesticide toxic backyards or in there blacktop paved
Arctic Ice Shelf Broke Off Canadian Island
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
Published: December 30, 2006
A 25-square-mile shelf of floating ice that jutted into the Arctic
Ocean for 3,000 years from Canada's northernmost shore broke away
abruptly in the summer of 2005, apparently freed by sharply warming
temperatures and jostling wind and waves, scientists said yesterday.
The Ayles ice shelf, as the ancient 100-foot-thick slab was called,
drifted out of a fjord along the north coast of Ellesmere Island
when the jumbled sheath of floating sea ice that tended to press
against the coast there even in summers was replaced by open waters
because of the warming, the scientists said.
The change was first noticed by Laurie Weir of the Canadian Ice
Service as she examined satellite images taken of Ellesmere and
surrounding ice on and after Aug. 13, 2005. In less than an hour,
around midday that day, a broad crack opened and the ice shelf was
on its way out to sea.
The shelf is one of the few remnants of a broad expanse of floating
shelves of ice that once protruded along much of the Ellesmere
coast, somewhat like the brim on a hat.
Such shelves are far thicker and older than the milling cloak of sea
ice that drifts atop the Arctic Ocean. The sea ice consists of floes
ranging from 3 to 9 feet thick or so that are built up over just a
The Arctic sea ice has experienced sharp summertime retreats for
several decades, adding to evidence of significant warming near the
North Pole. (Neither melting ice shelves nor sea ice contribute to
rising sea levels because they sit in the sea already, like ice
cubes in a drink.)
Ninety percent of the 3,900 square miles of ice shelves that existed
in 1906 when the Arctic explorer Robert Peary first surveyed the
region are gone, said Luke Copland, the director of the University
of Ottawa's Laboratory for Cryospheric Research.
In a paper summarizing the event but not yet published, Dr. Copland
and other researchers said that the transformation of the Ayles ice
from a shorebound shelf to a drifting ice island appeared to be a
result of unusual Arctic warmth in 2005 on top of a longer-term
He said that it was premature to attribute the breakaway to human-
caused climate change, although he said that it was a clear sign the
warming in the region was producing significant and abrupt changes,
and more were likely in coming years. "The quick pace of these
changes right now is what stands out," he said.
The age of the Ayles ice shelf was estimated by using chemical means
to date driftwood found behind it, said Derek Mueller, one of those
who helped write the paper, from the University of Alaska in
Climate change: The crack of doom?
ITS collapse was so violent that it was picked up by earthquake
monitors 150 miles away - a thundering warning to the world that the
Arctic was heating up faster than scientists had imagined.
A giant ice shelf, covering 41 square miles, had broken off from the
Canadian mainland and floated off into the sea.
Yet for 16 months, experts were unaware that the Ayles ice shelf -
just one of six remaining in the Canadian Arctic - had drifted off
until a scientist began examining old satellite images.
Yesterday, scientists said the dramatic discovery capped a year of
new studies, which have revealed that the world is heating up faster
than had been thought.
From the slowing Gulf Stream, to the warmest British summer on
record, to unusually warm water in the Caribbean, researchers have
mapped our rapidly changing climate.
Scientists were yesterday still coming to terms with the im-portance
of the Ayles ice shelf collapse.
"This is a dramatic and disturbing event," said Dr Warwick Vincent,
an Arctic ice expert at Laval University in Quebec.
"It shows we are losing remarkable features of the Canadian North
that have been in place for many thousands of years. We are crossing
climate thresholds and these may signal the onset of accelerated
Dr Vincent added that he had never seen such a dramatic loss of sea
ice, a chunk the size of the Hebridean island of Rum or 11,000
football pitches, in a decade's study of the Arctic.
He said: "It is consistent with climate change. We're not able to
connect all the dots, but unusually warm temperatures definitely
played a major role."
The Canadian view was backed by Dr Ian Moffatt, a Stirling
University climate-change expert, who warned that the Earth appeared
to be warming faster than had been thought.
Dr Moffatt called for a massive international effort to develop new,
green energy sources before it was too late.
Dr Moffatt said that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) had predicted an increase of one to five deg C over the next
50 to 100 years, but it was beginning to appear that temperature
change was at the upper end of the IPCC predictions.
"This ice loss is a serious problem, because it's indicating a
bigger breakdown than was predicted," Dr Moffatt said.
But there are solutions, Dr Moffatt stressed: "The key feature is we
start looking at alternative energy sources, rather than just
talking about it."
Dr Moffatt said the cost of developing cleaner energy could be high,
but not as high as once feared. And he warned: "If we don't pay
these costs, it will cost us the Earth."
Extensive ice loss could also lead to the extinction of animals such
as the polar bear, Dr Moffatt predicted.
And he said that global warming could plunge Scotland into a deep
freeze, because huge amounts of fresh water trapped in ice could
melt into the Atlantic and kill off the Gulf Stream, which passes
past the UK and Ireland and keeps the land temperature up.
Dr Moffatt explained: "If we get a large quantity of ice going into
the North Atlantic and it begins to melt, salinity is reduced, it
cools the sea and turns off the great ocean currents.
"We could see Edinburgh, which is on the same latitude as Moscow,
becoming very cold."
Duncan McLaren, the chief executive of Friends of the Earth
Scotland, said the future of the planet looked bleak - but he
pointed to rays of hope in 2006.
He said: "This year will go down as the year that the vast majority
of people woke up to climate change. People are now seeing the
reality of climate change."
THE HEAT IS ON AS ICE MELTS AND ISLANDS VANISH
GLOBAL problems attributed to climate change in 2006 include:
INDIA: Lohachara in the Bay of Bengal, submerged by rising sea
levels, was the first inhabited island to be wiped out by global
UK: Britain notched up its highest average temperature since records
began in 1659.
EUROPE: The skiing industry in the Alps looks bleak after the
warmest successive period for 500 years.
AFRICA: The Sahara desert continues to expand, turning farmland into
sand and fuelling civil war in Darfur, Sudan.
US VIRGIN ISLANDS: The Caribbean island group lost nearly half the
coral reefs in study sites.
GREENLAND: Glaciers are melting, with a 250 per cent loss of ice.
AUSTRALIA: The bushfire season is starting earlier and burning more
Worst coral reef die-off in 11,000 years
December 18, 2006
Two new studies by scientists at the Australian Research Council
Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University
suggest that coral reefs may be in worse shape than previously
thought. The first, appearing in the journal Geology indicates that
the current large scale coral die-offs are now occurring more
frequently than at any time in the last 11,000 years. The second,
published in Current Biology, suggests that the loss of a
single "keystone" species can trigger a rapid shift in the health of
The first study, led by Associate Professor John Pandolfi of the
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef
Studies and The University of Queensland, examined fossilized reefs
of the Huon Peninsula in Papua New Guinea and determined that past
reef die-offs occurred about every 1500 years due to some
catastrophic event -- a rate that is exceeded by the current decline
in coral reefs;
"The cause of some of these events was volcanic, but others may have
been due to bleaching, disease, or something else - we just don't
know. Regardless, what is clear is that the frequency of die-off was
so much lower than it is today. The frequency of reef events in the
fossils is at least an order of magnitude less than it is today"
Pandolfi said the results show that the ancient reefs "recovered
rapidly after these events, taking as little as 100 years to be
repopulated by the corals that normally occurred there."
"The recovery of the Great Barrier Reef from the devastating impact
of the crown of thorns starfish took less than a few decades, at
least in part due to comprehensive reef management," Pandolfi
continued,"…but this rate of recovery isn't seen in other parts of
the world….some reefs still haven't recovered from [events in the
Pandolfi said that he hopes his ongoing research will help reef
managers better understand what they need to do to help current
reefs bounce back from impact events.
Single species found to be crucial to reef recovery
One area the needs further exploration is the role of individual
species in coral reef ecology. The Current Biology did just this and
determined that reefs may be more fragile than previously thought.
Using experimental plots on the Great Barrier Reef to simulate
overfishing, David R. Bellwood, Terry P. Hughes, and Andrew S. Hoey
found that a single species plays a key role in reef recovery. Loss
of this species could leave reefs more susceptible to damage from
In the experimental plots, the researchers "intentionally triggered
a phase shift to algal dominance on a healthy reef" and then "filmed
the reef's recovery with remote underwater digital videos cameras."
They found that "only two of the 27 herbivorous fish species present
on the reefs had any significant impact on its recovery from algal
overgrowth." Surprisingly, the dominant browser was a rare batfish,
Platax pinnatus, species previously unknown as an algae
eater. "Meanwhile," reported a statement from Cell Press, publisher
of Current Biology, "parrotfishes and surgeonfishes, which are the
routine consumers of seaweed on coral reefs, were unable to reverse
runaway algal blooms."
The research demonstrates the importance of a single rare species in
the recovery of coral reefs and suggests that the loss of this
keystone species could undermine the regenerative capacity of coral
Great Barrier Reef shark populations collapsing finds study. Coral
reef shark populations are declining rapidly due to fishing
according to research published in the December 5th issue of the
journal Current Biology. The paper says that "no-take zones" --
areas where fishing is prohibited -- can be effective in protecting
sharks but only when the no-take regulations are strictly enforced.
Examining two common species of sharks on the Great Barrier Reef in
Australia, the researchers found that both populations are in the
midst of a rapid population decline -- 7% per year for white tip
sharks and 17% per year for gray reef sharks, showing that current
shark conservation strategies are not effective.
Coral reefs can be saved from global warming. The outlook for coral
reefs -- often termed the rainforests of the sea -- is dire.
Overfishing, pollution, damage from anchors, mining for construction
materials, and over-collection for the pet trade are all over-
shadowed by climate change which could decimate reefs by higher
water temperatures and increasingly acidic conditions which could
render many coral species incapable of forming carbonate support
structures. Nevertheless a new report from the World Conservation
Union (IUCN) and The Nature Conservancy says that measures can be
taken to help increase the survival chances for coral reefs. The
report, "Coral Reef Resilience and Resistance to Bleaching",
outlines strategies for helping reefs to be better adapt to the
impacts of climate change.
Some corals can adapt to ocean acidification. While scientists warn
that increasing ocean acidity will doom marine animals that build
skeletons and structural elements out of calcium carbonate, new
research has found that corals can change their skeletons, building
them out of different minerals depending on the chemical composition
of the seawater around them. However, the research provides further
evidence that corals are extremely sensitive to rapid environmental
change and will be negatively affected by increased carbon dioxide
levels in the short-term.
Increasingly acidic oceans damaging to marine life. Carbon dioxide
emissions are altering ocean chemistry and putting sea life at risk
according to a new report released today. The report, "Impacts of
Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs and Other Marine Calcifiers,"
summarizes known effects of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide on
marine organisms that produce calcium carbonate skeletal structures,
such as corals. Oceans worldwide absorbed approximately 118 billion
metric tons of carbon between 1800 and 1994 according to the report,
resulting in increased ocean acidity, which reduces the availability
of carbonate ions needed for the production of calcium carbonate
Global warming may cause permanent damage to coral reefs. Global
warming has had a more devastating impact on coral reefs than
previously believed says a new study published in the Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences. The research, the first to show
the long-term impact of rising sea temperatures on coral and fish
communities, suggests that "large sections of coral reefs and much
of the marine life they support may be wiped out for good,"
according to a news release from the University of Newcastle upon
Tyne, an institution involved in the project.
Coral reefs decimated by 2050, Great Barrier Reef's coral 95% dead.
Australia's Great Barrier Reef could lose 95 percent of its living
coral by 2050 should ocean temperatures increase by the 1.5 degrees
Celsius projected by climate scientists. The startling and
controversial prediction, made last year in a report commissioned by
the World Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Queensland
government, is just one of the dire scenarios forecast for reefs in
the near future. The degradation and possible disappearance of these
ecosystems would have profound socioeconomic ramifications as well
as ecological impacts says Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, head of the
University of Queensland's Centre for Marine Studies.
"DEAD ZONE" IMPACTS ON THE NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO ECOSYSTEM
NOAA AWARDS MORE THAN $2.25 MILLION TO IMPROVE UNDERSTANDING OF
"DEAD ZONE" IMPACTS ON THE NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO ECOSYSTEM
Dec. 11, 2006 — NOAA awarded the first year of funding for multi-
year grants totaling $2,259,872 that will support research into the
causes and impacts of the hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of
Mexico known as the Dead Zone. These projects are funded by the NOAA
Northern Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Hypoxia Assessment, or
NGOMEX, Program. (Click NOAA image for larger view of Bottom
Dissolved Oxygen Contours in the Gulf of Mexico taken July 14-16,
2006. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit "NOAA.")
"Mitigation of the Gulf hypoxia problem requires a coordinated
ecosystem approach to management that includes the entire watershed
from its beginning all the way to the coast," said retired Navy Vice
Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for
oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "Through the northern
Gulf of Mexico program, NOAA is upholding its longstanding
commitment to supply leading-edge scientific information to the
management approach being pursued by federal and state agencies
through the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task
Hypoxia-low dissolved oxygen-occurs in many parts of the world's
aquatic environments. Hypoxic and anoxic (no oxygen) waters have
existed through geologic time, but the frequency of their occurrence
in shallow coastal and estuarine areas worldwide is increasing. The
largest zone of oxygen-depleted coastal waters in the United States,
and the second largest for the world's coastal ocean, is in the
northern Gulf of Mexico on the Louisiana continental shelf.
Although NGOMEX-funded research has already produced valuable
information regarding the impacts of Gulf hypoxia on natural
resources, many questions remain. Two of the new research efforts
will support the development of quantitative models to determine the
effects of the hypoxic zone on ecologically and commercially
important aquatic species, and assess the potential benefits that
the mitigation of hypoxia would have on these resources.
The first project is a $491,359 collaborative study involving the
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, University of
Maryland Center for Environmental Studies, University of Akron and
Florida International University to support development of a food
web model to predict the effects of hypoxic zone size on populations
of pelagic fish. In support of the second study, $445,281 has been
awarded to University of Texas at Austin to determine the impacts of
hypoxic zone on economically and ecologically important aquatic
populations, such as Atlantic croaker and benthic copepod. Both
projects aim to determine to what extent the Gulf's Dead Zone is
impacting species habitat and health, and the economic and
ecological benefits of reducing hypoxia.
The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium has been awarded
$696,872 to extend its long-term monitoring program that provides
the data for determining Gulf hypoxic zone spatial and temporal
dynamics; information that is vital to the development of improved
predictive models that will lead to better understanding and
strategies related to nutrient management scenarios within the
Mississippi River basin.
Texas A&M University was awarded $410,401 to include state-of-the-
art observing systems that will provide continuous measurements of
physical, chemical and biological properties at selected locations
in the Dead Zone. These measurements are necessary to improve
predictions of the hypoxic zone based upon improved understanding of
the complex underlying mechanisms developed under previous NGOMEX-
supported research. The ability to make these predictions is the
underpinning to future management decisions occurring in the
Mississippi River basin to alleviate the hypoxic conditions.
The NGOMEX Program also provided funding of $215,959 to the Coastal
Ecology Institute at Louisiana State University to examine several
oxygen and carbon cycling pathways in hypoxic bottom waters. This
research will contribute to improving the accuracy of hypoxia models
for the northern Gulf of Mexico, which will ultimately improve
managers' ability to make informed decisions on Mississippi River
watershed nutrient management strategies.
The NGOMEX Program, managed by the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal
Ocean Research, seeks to provide resource managers with new tools,
techniques and information to make informed decisions, and assess
alternative management strategies regarding hypoxia. Supported
projects include the development of a fundamental understanding of
the northern Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, with a focus on the causes
and effects of the hypoxic zone, and the prediction of its future
extent and impacts on ecologically and commercially important living
The projects will continue NOAA's decade-long focus on coastal
hypoxia. Through the NGOMEX Program, predictive models have been
developed to forecast the spatial and temporal extent of the hypoxic
zone given varying human-induced or natural factors that cause
hypoxia. These new grants will improve and validate these forecast
models by extending long-term monitoring efforts, and incorporating
processes important to understanding the link between environmental
factors, hypoxia and ecosystem health.
In fiscal year 2006, the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean
Research provided approximately $10 million in competitive grants to
institutions of higher education, state, local and tribal
governments, and other non-profit research institutions to assist
NOAA in fulfilling its mission to study coastal oceans. NOAA-
sponsored competitive research programs such as NGOMEX demonstrate
NOAA's commitment to its historic responsibilities of science and
service to the nation for the past 35 years.
In 2007 NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates
200 years of science and service to the nation. Starting with the
establishment of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1807 by
Thomas Jefferson much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in
NOAA. The agency is dedicated to enhancing economic security and
national safety through the prediction and research of weather and
climate-related events and information service delivery for
transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the
nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global
Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with
its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European
Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as
integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
Mass extinction also changed ocean ecology
Posted on : 2006-12-07 | Author : Science News Editor
News Category : Technology
CHICAGO, Dec. 7 (UPI) A U.S.-led study suggests the Earth's biggest
mass extinction about 250 million years ago changed the ecology of
Researchers say the event wiped out an estimated 95 percent of
marine species and 70 percent of land species. But it did more than
eliminate species: it fundamentally changed the basic ecology of the
world's oceans by displacing complex communities of ecologically
simple marine life.
Furthermore, scientists say the apparently abrupt shift set a new
pattern that has continued ever since: the dominance of higher-
metabolism, mobile organisms that find their own food, over older
groups of low-metabolism, stationary organisms that filter nutrients
from the water.
We were able to combine a huge data set with new quantitative
analyses, said Peter Wagner of Chicago ' s Field Museum and lead
author of the study. We think these are the first analyses of this
type at this large scale. They show that the end-Permian mass
extinction permanently altered not just taxonomic diversity, but
also the prevailing marine ecosystem structure.The findings by
Wagner; Scott Lidgard, also from the Field Museum; and Matthew
Kosnik of Australia's James Cook University, appeared in the Nov. 24
issue of Science.