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. The present readings compare closely with April 2015, but currently with no indication of an El Nino event anytime soon. –Ron Clutz, Science Matters, 13 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. 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. —Bloomberg, 21 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. 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.” Since 2015, all tropical coral reefs have seen above-normal temperatures, and more than 70 percent experienced prolonged high temperatures that can cause bleaching. —AFP, 20 June 2017
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. 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. 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. 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. –David Biello, Scientific American, 15 January 2015
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. They are of the same species that grows elsewhere in the northern Red Sea and are resistant to high temperatures. “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. “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. —The Times of Israel, 21 June 2017
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. –Emre Peker, The Wall Street Journal, 20 June 2017
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. 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” –Andrew Montford, GWPF blog, 21 June 2017
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