Archive for the ‘effected wildlife’ Category

A Different Ocean

March 17, 2008

“Estimates of future atmospheric and oceanic carbon dioxide concentrations, based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change CO2 emission scenarios and general circulation models, indicate that by the middle of this century atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could reach more than 500 parts per million, and near the end of the century they could be over 800 ppm.  This would result in a surface water pH decrease of approximately 0.4 pH units as the ocean becomes more acidic, and the carbonate ion concentration would decrease almost 50 percent by the end of the century (Orr et al., 2005).

To put this in historical perspective, this surface ocean pH decrease would result in a pH that is lower than it has been for more than 20 million years (Feely et al., 2004).”

Written Testimony of Richard A. Feely, Ph.D.,Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce Hearing on Effects of Climate Change and Ocean Acidification on Living Marine Resources, Before the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, United States Senate, May 10, 2007

The prediction of the world’s oceans in 2100?  Dead, crumbling coral reefs and more slimy rocks, a different mix of plankton and fewer fish.  And this prediction is only when taking acidification into the scenario.  Additionally, melting glaciers will decrease salinity and ocean temperatures will rise, further stressing marine life.

 What does this mean to the average American?  I mean, who eats that much fish anyway?

According to the United Nations, one in every five humans depends on fish as the primary source of protein.  The ability of the ocean to produce fish is of vital importance to an estimated 200 million people worldwide as they depend upon the ocean for jobs and for food. (United Nations, 2004)

With Gaia, it’s not just one thing; it’s never just one thing. It’s an interconnected web of life, and baby, we’re unraveling it.


Salmon and Caribou in Trouble

March 5, 2008

Two reports today on species in trouble.  The first comes from National Geographic, about a phenomenon called “Rain on Snow“. What happens is that, when it warms just a little bit too much, water collects at ground level under the snow, and when it gets cold again, the water freezes. Animals like caribou and musk-ox starve, because they can’t break through the ice to feed.  

This happened in 2003, up in the Northwest Territories of Canada, killing off some 20,000 musk-oxen. “Stories told by local people suggest that these events occur in Russia, Sweden, Finland, and Canada, and affect approximately four million Arctic inhabitants.”

In a second release, the San Diego Union Tribune reports that “Scientists examining the sudden and widespread collapse of West Coast salmon returns are pointing to the unusual changes in weather patterns that caused the bottom to fall out of the ocean food web in 2005.”

Because this year has been colder than the last few, scientists are hoping that upwelling will improve, and the species might rebound.

NASA’s Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Service have a nice article describing this process: “When the Pacific Ocean is in what oceanographers consider a “normal” state, wind/water interactions along the Equator result in the world’s largest upwelling zone, which brings nutrient-rich subsurface waters to the surface. These nutrients sustain the growth of phytoplankton. However, when the Pacific Ocean is experiencing the phenomenon called El Niño, warmer water at the surface of the ocean suppresses upwelling, and phytoplankton growth is severely diminished.”

NASA scientists won’t say that there’s a link from increased El Niño events to a warming climate, but they do note that there have been an increase of El Niño events over the last two decades.