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Event

 
the autopsy of a murdered Planet
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/12/31/18342398.php
by a_cascadian

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 
neighborhoods.

several articles:

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 
few years.

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 
warming trend. 

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 
Fairbanks.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/30/science/earth/30ice.html?em&ex=1167714000&en=a85d6c8cc6128e90&ei=5087%0A
<http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/30/science/earth/30ice.html?em&ex=1167714000&en=a85d6c8cc6128e90&ei=5087%0A>

Climate change: The crack of doom?
RAYMOND HAINEY

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 
change ahead." 

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 
warming. 

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 
fiercely.


http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1928862006
<http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1928862006>
___


Worst coral reef die-off in 11,000 years
mongabay.com
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 
a reef. 




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" 
said Pandolfi. 

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 
last century]." 

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 
algae. 

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 
reef ecosystems. 

Related articles 

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 
structures. 

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. 


http://news.mongabay.com/2006/1218-reefs.html
<http://news.mongabay.com/2006/1218-reefs.html>
____

"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 
Force." 

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 
resources. 

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.


http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2006/s2755.htm
<http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2006/s2755.htm>
___

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 
the oceans.

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.

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/12413.html#
<http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/12413.html#>
For updates and info, contact scott at planttrees dot org.