Thursday, June 22, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: Falling Ocean Temperatures Return To Pre-El Nino Levels

After El Nino Ends, Coral Reef Bleaching Ends

In this newsletter:

1) Pacific Ocean Cools, El Nino Is Cancelled
Bloomberg, 21 June 2017 
2) Falling Ocean Temperatures Return To Pre-El Nino Levels
Science Matters, 13 June 2017
3) After El Nino Ends, Coral Reef Bleaching Ends
AFP, 20 June 2017 
4) Reminder: Coral Reefs Show Remarkable Ability To Recover From Near Death
Scientific American, 15 January 2015 
5) Gulf Of Eilat Corals Probed For Secret Of Surviving Global Warming
The Times of Israel, 21 June 2017
6) Reality Check: EU Divisions Hobble Bid to Lead Paris Climate Deal
The Wall Street Journal, 20 June 2017 
7) And Finally: Battering The Bats
GWPF blog, 21 June 2017

Full details:

1) As Pacific Ocean Cools, El Nino Is Cancelled
Bloomberg, 21 June 2017 
The chances of El Nino making a comeback this year are getting close to nada.

All eight climate models surveyed by Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology suggest tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures are likely to remain neutral for the second half, it said on its website on Tuesday. That reverses a June 6 report that showed four models predicting temperatures may exceed El Nino thresholds during the second half of 2017.
The bureau reset its outlook to inactive as the chances of El Nino forming this year fade. The U.S. earlier this month said the odds of it emerging between October and December were 36 percent from 46 percent previously predicted. Forecasts during the southern hemisphere’s autumn tend to have lower accuracy and begin to improve from June. El Nino and its La Nina counterpart can roil agriculture markets as farmers worldwide contend with too much or too little rain.
The bureau canceled its El Nino watch “after an easing of climate model outlooks, and a reversal of the early autumn warming in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean,” it said. “While models have steadily eased back the likelihood of El Nino, most still indicate an increased chance of warmer and drier than average conditions for Australia over winter.”
The previous El Nino ended in May 2016 and was the strongest since the record event of 1997-98. It reduced rainfall in the Indian monsoon and curbed production of cocoa in Ivory Coast, rice in Thailand and coffee in Indonesia.
Far eastern Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures, which were above normal near the Peruvian coast in March and April, cooled during May and June, according to the weather bureau.
Full story
2) Falling Ocean Temperatures Return To Pre-El Nino Levels
Science Matters, 13 June 2017
Ron Clutz
May Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) are now available, and we can see ocean cooling resuming after a short pause from the downward trajectory during the previous 12 months.
HadSST is generally regarded as the best of the global SST data sets, and so the temperature story here comes from that source, the latest version being HadSST3.
The chart below shows the last two years of SST monthly anomalies as reported in HadSST3 including May 2017.

After an upward bump in April 2017 due to the Tropics and NH, the May SSTs show the average declining slightly.  Note the Tropics recorded a rise, but not enough to offset declines in both hemispheres and globally.  SH is now two months into a cooling phase. The present readings compare closely with April 2015, but currently with no indication of an El Nino event any time soon.
Note that higher temps in 2015 and 2016 were first of all due to a sharp rise in Tropical SST, beginning in March 2015, peaking in January 2016, and steadily declining back to its beginning level. Secondly, the Northern Hemisphere added two bumps on the shoulders of Tropical warming, with peaks in August of each year. Also, note that the global release of heat was not dramatic, due to the Southern Hemisphere offsetting the Northern one.
Full post
3) After El Nino Ends, Coral Reef Bleaching Ends
AFP, 20 June 2017 
Coral reef bleaching may be easing after three years of high ocean temperatures, the longest such period since the 1980s, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday.
Bleached corral at the Great Barrier Reef.  Image: CORALWATCH
Its experts said satellite data and other analysis showed widespread bleaching was no longer occurring in all three ocean basins — Atlantic, Pacific and Indian — “indicating a likely end to the global bleaching event.”
Scientists from the NOAA, an agency of the US Department of Commerce, said they will closely monitor sea surface temperatures and bleaching “over the next six months to confirm the event’s end.”
Since 2015, all tropical coral reefs have seen above-normal temperatures, and more than 70 percent experienced prolonged high temperatures that can cause bleaching.
US coral reefs were hit hardest, with two years of severe bleaching in Florida and Hawaii, three in the Mariana Islands, and four in Guam, according to the NOAA.
“This global coral bleaching event has been the most widespread, longest and perhaps the most damaging on record,” said Mark Eakin, the NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch coordinator.
Healthy coral reefs protect shores from storms and offer habitats for fish and other marine life, including ecologically and economically important species.
However, after corals die, reefs quickly degrade and the structures that corals build erode. While corals can recover from mild bleaching, severe or long-term bleaching is often lethal, experts say.
Full story
4) Reminder: Coral Reefs Show Remarkable Ability To Recover From Near Death
Scientific American, 15 January 2015 
David Biello
Scientists have identified key factors that enable corals to recover from bleaching events brought on by global warming
As the planet heats up so do the world's waters, and that means more coral bleaching. But now a new study reveals that some corals can bounce back from such near death experiences.
The heat death of a reef reveals itself as whitening, dubbed coral bleaching, which results when corals expel the tiny plants that provide food and are responsible for the rainbow of reef colors. In 2014, coral bleaching happened in the northern Mariana Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Hawaiian Islands and even the Florida Keys. Severe bleaching has now happened two years in a row off Guam and overheated waters have now appeared off the Pacific island nations of Kiribati and Nauru and are also pooling near the Solomon Islands.

"The odds seem good for 2014 to be only the third recorded global scale mass bleaching," says Mark Eakin, coordinator of the Coral Reef Watchat the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This event may not be as bad as 2010 or the worst year ever—1998—but "any global-scale mass bleaching is a big issue."
A new study offers hope. Looking at reefs off two of the central Seychelles isles in the Indian Ocean, scientists from Australia found that reefs could rebound even from severe bleaching events, such as those that whitened more than 90 percent of a given reef in 1998. "This is perhaps the most severe coral bleaching event on record," notes Nicholas Graham, a coral researcher at James Cook University and lead author of the new study, published January 14 by Nature. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)
The team has monitored 21 reefs in the Seychelles since 1994, taking a range of measurements that include the total number of plant-eating fish and the amount of nutrients reaching the reefs. The majority of these reefs—12 out of 21—were able to recover after bleaching in warming waters in 1998. The other nine became seaweed-covered ruins.
The scientists have teased out the factors that most strongly predicted a resilient or doomed reef: water depth, the complexity of its shape, nutrient levels, amount of grazing by fish and survival rates for young coral. In fact, using just two of those—growth in waters 6.6 meters or more in depth and complex, branching shapes at least 30 centimeters high atop the reef—the team could predict which reefs would or would not recover 98 percent of the time.
The factors in reef resilience may not seem surprising; for instance, corals at greater depths may better resist heating waters because the warmest waters are closest to the surface. And this doesn’t mean that simple reefs in shallow, warm waters are necessarily doomed. Cutting down on the amount of nutrient and sediment pollution can boost the resiliency of shallow reefs as can cutting back on fishing for seaweed grazers. "Reducing local impacts as much as possible will give them the best chance of survival," Graham notes. "Managing the impacts to reefs is really about understanding and managing human actions."
Reefs that have survived one bleaching event may even be more resistant to future trouble, as reefs that weathered 1998 proved even more resilient in the 2010 bleaching event off Indonesia. "Many reef corals just might be capable of adapting fast enough to survive current rates of global environmental change," wrote marine biologist John Pandolfi of the University of Queensland in a commentary on the new research.
On the other hand, marine reserves did not seem to offer any extra protection to coral reefs, at least off the Seychelles islands of Mahe and Praslin, even though more seaweed-eating fish were present in these no-take reserves. Complex reefs in deeper water that are not deluged with pollution recover best, according to the new study, and may serve as coral refuges.

Full post
See also:
New Study: Some Coral Reefs Are Adapting To Warming Oceans Just Fine 
Coral Reefs Doing Better Than Expected in Many Areas
Forget The Doom: Coral Reefs Will Bloom

5) Gulf Of Eilat Corals Probed For Secret Of Surviving Global Warming
The Times of Israel, 21 June 2017
Colorful marine life seemingly impervious to high temperatures and may be longest to survive significant climate change

Researchers from the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat monitor coral growth while scuba diving on June 12, 2017 in the Red Sea off Eilat. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)
In the azure waters of the Red Sea, Maoz Fine and his team dive to study what may be the planet’s most unique coral: one that can survive global warming, at least for now.
The corals, striking in their red, orange and green colors, grow on tables some eight meters (26 feet) underwater, put there by the Israeli scientists to unlock their secrets to survival.

Tropical fish at the Eilat Dolphin Reef. (Asaf Zvuloni/ Israel Nature and Parks Authority/FLASH90)

They are of the same species that grows elsewhere in the northern Red Sea and are resistant to high temperatures.
Fine’s team dives in scuba gear to monitor the corals, taking notes on water-resistant pads.
“We’re looking here at a population of corals on a reef that is very resilient to high temperature changes, and is most likely going to be the last to survive in a world undergoing very significant warming and acidification of sea water,” Fine said at his nearby office ahead of the dive.
That is what has prompted Fine’s work, both in the Red Sea and on its shores. Global warming has in recent years caused colorful coral reefs to bleach and die around the world — but not in the Gulf of Eilat, or Aqaba, part of the northern Red Sea.
At the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat, dozens of aquaria have been lined up in rows just off the Red Sea shore containing samples of local corals.
A robot slowly dips its arms into each glass container, taking measurements and uploading them to a database.
“We exposed corals to high temperatures over long periods of time, beyond the current peak summer temperatures and even beyond the model-based temperatures we predict for the end of the century,” said Fine, a marine biology professor from Bar Ilan University in central Israel.
He explained: “They didn’t undergo bleaching.”
“Over the past 6,000 years they underwent a form of selection through a very, very hot body of water, and only those that could pass through that hot water body reached here, the northern Red Sea and Gulf of Eilat,” he said.
According to Fine, the Gulf of Eilat corals fare well in heat thanks to their slow journey from the Indian Ocean through the Bab al-Mandab strait, between Djibouti and Yemen, where water temperatures are much higher.
Full story
6) Reality Check: EU Divisions Hobble Bid to Lead Paris Climate Deal
The Wall Street Journal, 20 June 2017 
Emre Peker
BRUSSELS—European Union governments clashed Monday over joint efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, highlighting the challenges facing the bloc as it vies to lead the global fight against climate change.
Environment ministers from the EU’s 28 members struggled to bridge divides on legislation to cut emissions. Some pushed for carbon subsidies to help plug national shortcomings, while others warned such measures would undermine the bloc’s Paris Agreement commitments.
The EU’s internal squabbles come less than three weeks after President Donald Trump decided to pull the U.S. out of the global accord to halt climate change, providing an opening for Brussels to become the Paris deal’s cheerleader.
Yet so far EU leaders have failed to match words with actions. Delays to two bills that will codify EU efforts to cut emissions threaten the bloc’s ability to finalize its position before November, when the international community aims to clinch guidelines to implement the Paris deal.
“President Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Paris Agreement put us all face to face with our responsibilities,” Miguel Arias CaƱete, European commissioner for climate action and energy, told the bloc’s environment ministers Monday. “More than ever, there is a need for a strong signal from the European Union that we are ready to lead the way.”
The EU over recent months aligned itself with China, the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gasses and the U.S.’s top partner in securing the global agreement, as it became evident Mr. Trump would nix the 2015 accord.
Beijing and Brussels agreed to deepen cooperation on implementing the Paris deal during a summit that coincided with Mr. Trump announcing the U.S. exit. But because of longstanding disagreements over trade, EU and Chinese leaders killed a joint declaration on countering climate change, not presenting a strongly united front against Mr. Trump’s stance.
Now, EU governments and the European Parliament are debating bills that lay out how the bloc will cut emissions from buildings, agriculture, waste management, transport and the use of soil. They are also deliberating how to account for forests, and timber use for fuel. Brussels’ goal is to reduce releases across all those areas by 30% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.
“We have to be able to show that we can rise to the challenge,” Luxembourg Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg said, calling the lack of consensus “regrettable.”
Full post
7) And Finally: Battering The Bats
GWPF blog, 21 June 2017
Andrew Montford
The negative impact of windfarms on birds – and particularly raptors – has been fairly well documented over the years. There has also been quite a lot of discussion of the impact on bats, with gory discussions of how the pressure waves from the turbines cause the poor beasties’ lungs to explode. This is apparently all done in aid of the environment.

However, there is now a suggestion that windfarms might be even worse for bats than we thought. A new paper in the journal Biological Conservation claims that the impact could be so severe as to affect population levels of migratory bat species:
“Using expert elicitation and population projection models, we show that mortality from wind turbines may drastically reduce population size and increase the risk of extinction. For example, the hoary bat population could decline by as much as 90% in the next 50 years”
OK, it’s a computer simulation, and we know how cautious you have to be about those, but governments and environmentalists need to note the risks that they may be taking.

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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