Tag Archives: ocean

La Niña is here, so 2017 won’t be the warmest year on record.

Kathleen Hartnett White, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, stammered through her confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

When Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, a Democrat, asked if she believes climate change is real, she wavered but settled on the right answer: “I am uncertain. No, I’m not. I jumped ahead. Climate change is of course real.”

That’s a surprise. Hartnett White, a former chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, has a long history of challenging climate science and promoting fossil fuels. Notably, she has said that carbon dioxide isn’t a pollutant.

But that’s not to say she’s made peace with established science. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, quizzed Hartnett White over how much excess heat in the atmosphere is absorbed by oceans. “I believe there are differences of opinions on that,” she said, “that there’s not one right answer.” For the record, the number is about 90 percent.

Then things got bizarre. Appearing frustrated with equivocating answers, Whitehouse pressed her on basic laws of nature, like whether heat makes water expand. “I do not have any kind of expertise or even much layman study of the ocean dynamics and the climate-change issues,” she said.

Watch below, if you dare:

After the hearing, Whitehouse tweeted, “I don’t even know where to begin … she outright rejects basic science.”

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La Niña is here, so 2017 won’t be the warmest year on record.

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Climate science foe Lamar Smith says geoengineering is ‘worth exploring.’

Kathleen Hartnett White, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, stammered through her confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

When Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, a Democrat, asked if she believes climate change is real, she wavered but settled on the right answer: “I am uncertain. No, I’m not. I jumped ahead. Climate change is of course real.”

That’s a surprise. Hartnett White, a former chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, has a long history of challenging climate science and promoting fossil fuels. Notably, she has said that carbon dioxide isn’t a pollutant.

But that’s not to say she’s made peace with established science. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, quizzed Hartnett White over how much excess heat in the atmosphere is absorbed by oceans. “I believe there are differences of opinions on that,” she said, “that there’s not one right answer.” For the record, the number is about 90 percent.

Then things got bizarre. Appearing frustrated with equivocating answers, Whitehouse pressed her on basic laws of nature, like whether heat makes water expand. “I do not have any kind of expertise or even much layman study of the ocean dynamics and the climate-change issues,” she said.

Watch below, if you dare:

After the hearing, Whitehouse tweeted, “I don’t even know where to begin … she outright rejects basic science.”

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Climate science foe Lamar Smith says geoengineering is ‘worth exploring.’

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Flint’s mayor, who promised to clean up its water problems, faces a recall election.

Kathleen Hartnett White, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, stammered through her confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

When Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, a Democrat, asked if she believes climate change is real, she wavered but settled on the right answer: “I am uncertain. No, I’m not. I jumped ahead. Climate change is of course real.”

That’s a surprise. Hartnett White, a former chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, has a long history of challenging climate science and promoting fossil fuels. Notably, she has said that carbon dioxide isn’t a pollutant.

But that’s not to say she’s made peace with established science. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, quizzed Hartnett White over how much excess heat in the atmosphere is absorbed by oceans. “I believe there are differences of opinions on that,” she said, “that there’s not one right answer.” For the record, the number is about 90 percent.

Then things got bizarre. Appearing frustrated with equivocating answers, Whitehouse pressed her on basic laws of nature, like whether heat makes water expand. “I do not have any kind of expertise or even much layman study of the ocean dynamics and the climate-change issues,” she said.

Watch below, if you dare:

After the hearing, Whitehouse tweeted, “I don’t even know where to begin … she outright rejects basic science.”

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Flint’s mayor, who promised to clean up its water problems, faces a recall election.

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Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science – Robert Kunzig

READ GREEN WITH E-BOOKS

Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science

Robert Kunzig

Genre: Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: October 17, 2000

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton


A vivid, up-to-date tour of the Earth's last frontier, a remote and mysterious realm that nonetheless lies close to the heart of even the most land-locked reader. The sea covers seven-tenths of the Earth, but we have mapped only a small percentage of it. The sea contains millions of species of animals and plants, but we have identified only a few thousand of them. The sea controls our planet's climate, but we do not really understand how. The sea is still the frontier, and yet it seems so familiar that we sometimes forget how little we know about it. Just as we are poised on the verge of exploiting the sea on an unprecedented scale—mining it, fertilizing it, fishing it out—this book reminds us of how much we have yet to learn. More than that, it chronicles the knowledge explosion that has transformed our view of the sea in just the past few decades, and made it a far more interesting and accessible place. From the Big Bang to that far-off future time, two billion years from now, when our planet will be a waterless rock; from the lush crowds of life at seafloor hot springs to the invisible, jewel-like plants that float at the sea surface; from the restless shifting of the tectonic plates to the majestic sweep of the ocean currents, Kunzig's clear and lyrical prose transports us to the ends of the Earth. Originally published in hardcover as The Restless Sea. "Robert Kunzig is a creator of what oceanographer Harry Hess once referred to as 'geopoetry.' He covers vast tracts of time and space and makes his subjects electrifying."—Richard Ellis, The Times [London] "The Restless Sea immediately surfaces at the top of the list of journalistic treatments of oceanography. . . .The book opened my eyes to numerous wonders."—Richard Strickland, American Scientist  "When you head for the coast this summer, leave that trashy beach novel at home. Instead, pack Robert Kunzig's book. Because just beyond your rental cottage lies the restless sea, where three-mile-tall mountain ranges criss-cross the ocean floor, and deep trenches harbor mysterious creatures. . . . The book is easy to read, and will bring you up to date on the startling discoveries oceanographers have made during the past few decades."—Phillip Manning, The News and Observer [Raleigh, North Carolina] ] "Anyone who loves the sea should read this book."—Sebastian Junger

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Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science – Robert Kunzig

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Hurricane Irma has made landfall in the Florida Keys

One of the strongest storms ever to touch U.S. soil  arrived on Sunday morning, crossing near Key West as a Category 4 hurricane. With sustained winds of 130 mph, a storm surge as high as 15 feet, and waves an additional 30 feet on top of that, Irma is expected to lash nearly the entire state for at least 24 hours.

The storm is so huge that tropical storm watches extend as far inland as Atlanta. As of midday Sunday, it yielded around 80 terajoules of energy, more than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The biggest worry for meteorologists is Irma’s immense coastal flooding potential, which could perfectly align to create a worst-case scenario for Gulf Coast cities like Naples, Ft. Myers, and Tampa. Nearly 7 million people have fled the path of the storm, the largest mass evacuation in U.S. history.

Meanwhile, photos of complete devastation continue to pour in from the Caribbean. On the island of St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, forests were flattened and twisted into mangled messes. In the Bahamas, Irma’s offshore winds were so strong on one beach that they pushed the ocean completely out of sight. Barbuda was so ravaged that the normally lush island appeared brown from space.

And if you’re wondering, climate change is a huge part of the story here. Since 2010, seas have risen in Florida at one of the fastest rates anywhere in the world.

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Hurricane Irma has made landfall in the Florida Keys

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Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida

One of the strongest storms ever to touch U.S. soil arrived on Sunday morning, crossing near Key West as a Category 4 hurricane. With sustained winds of 130 mph, a storm surge as high as 15 feet, and waves an additional 30 feet on top of that, Irma is expected to lash nearly the entire state for at least 24 hours.

The storm is so huge that tropical storm watches extend as far inland as Atlanta. As of midday Sunday, it yielded around 80 terajoules of energy, more than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The biggest worry for meteorologists is Irma’s immense coastal flooding potential, which could perfectly align to create a worst-case scenario for Gulf Coast cities like Naples, Ft. Myers, and Tampa. Nearly 7 million people have fled the path of the storm, the largest mass evacuation in U.S. history.

Meanwhile, photos of complete devastation continue to pour in from the Caribbean. On the island of St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, forests were flattened and twisted into mangled messes. In the Bahamas, Irma’s offshore winds were so strong on one beach that they pushed the ocean completely out of sight. Barbuda was so ravaged that the normally lush island appeared brown from space.

And if you’re wondering, climate change is a huge part of the story here. Since 2010, seas have risen in Florida at one of the fastest rates anywhere in the world.

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Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida

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After 3 hot years, reefs can finally chill a little.

This week, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced a new initiative to combat climate change–augmented extreme heat in the city. It comes down to: Plant a tree! Make a palThose are actually not bad ideas. 

The $106 million package — dubbed Cool Neighborhoods NYC, which, yikes — will largely go to tree-planting across more heatwave-endangered communities in the South Bronx, Northern Manhattan, and Central Brooklyn. Funding will also further develop the unpronounceable NYC °CoolRoofs program, which aims to cover 2.7 million square feet of city roofs with foliage.

But, to me, the more noteworthy component of the plan is Be A Buddy NYC — again, yikes — which “promotes community cohesion” as a means of climate resilience.

“A heat emergency is not the time to identify vulnerable residents,” explains the Mayor’s Office’s report. “Rather, it is important to build social networks that can help share life-saving information prior to such an emergency, and can reach out to at-risk neighbors during an extreme heat event.”

The new policy supports the argument that this whole community engagement thing is a crucial tactic in the fight against climate change.

Excerpt from – 

After 3 hot years, reefs can finally chill a little.

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The dam truth: Climate change means more Lake Orovilles

Just two years ago, Lake Oroville was so dry that submerged archaeological artifacts were starting to resurface. That was in the middle of California’s epic drought — the worst in more than a millennium.

And then the rains came. This winter is on track to become Northern California’s soggiest on record. A key precipitation index is running more than a month ahead of the previous record pace, set in the winter of 1982–1983 (records go back to 1895). Lake Oroville is so full that it spilled over for the first time, spurring evacuations downstream.

California’s climate has always been extreme (even before humans got seriously involved), but what’s happening right now is just ridiculous. We are witnessing the effects of climate change play out, in real time.

California Department of Water Resources

Lake Oroville is as full as it has ever been, and remains vulnerable: We’re still in the peak of the rainy season, and more rain is on the way. On Tuesday and Wednesday, crews at the beleaguered dam worked around the clock to stabilize and reinforce the emergency spillway in anticipation of a fresh torrent of rainfall. But the scale of action — truck after truck of giant boulders dumping 1,200 tons of rock per hour — was small in comparison to the immense scale of erosion that has already taken place. There’s a real risk that the lake could spill over the top a second time.

And it’s not just Oroville. Major reservoirs ring the Central Valley, and nearly every one is full, or nearly so, as the Sacramento Bee reported earlier this week. Several levees statewide are seeping, and workers intentionally breached one along the Mokelumne River in Northern California over the weekend to relieve pressure. The levee system was simply not designed to be this stressed for extended periods of time.

Five successive waves of storms in the coming week could bring another foot of rainfall. The graphic below shows the amount of rain (and liquid-equivalent snow) on the way over the next seven days — enough to prompt renewed warnings from the National Weather Service.

NOAA/GFS model/Tropicaltidbits.com

Climate science and basic physics suggest we are already seeing a shift in the delicate rainfall patterns of the West Coast. A key to understanding how California’s rainy season is changing lies in understanding what meteorologists call “atmospheric rivers,” thin, intense ribbons of moisture that stream northeastward from the tropical Pacific Ocean and provide California with up to half of its annual rainfall. Exactly how atmospheric rivers will change depends on greenhouse gas emissions and science that’s still being worked out.

Atmospheric rivers are already responsible for roughly 80 percent of California’s flooding events — including the one at Lake Oroville — and there’s reason to believe they are changing in character. Since warmer air can hold more water vapor, atmospheric rivers in a warming climate are expected to become more intense, bringing perhaps a doubling or tripling in frequency of heavy downpours. What’s more, as temperatures increase, more moisture will fall as rain instead of snow, increasing the pressure on dams and waterways during the peak of the rainy season. There’s even new evidence that especially warm atmospheric rivers can erode away existing snowpack.

Peter Gleick, chief scientist of the Pacific Institute and frequent visitor to the Oroville area, is clear about what the drama at Oroville represents. “We’re seeing evidence of more extremes,” he says. “To ignore that would be a mistake.”

We’ve built dams based on old weather patterns, not for the extremes we’re now seeing. A clear problem emerges when we manage society for how things were, not how things are. In many ways, we are planning for the future with the expectation that the weather will be more or less the same as in the past. It won’t be.

The acting director of the California Department of Water Resources, Bill Croyle, made a telling statement earlier this week when asked why the infrastructure at Oroville seemed so fragile. “I’m not sure anything went wrong,” Croyle said. “This was a new, never-happened-before event.”

If we don’t start imagining and preparing for more “new, never-happened-before events,” more people will be put in danger — like they are right now in Oroville.

The near-disaster at Oroville has prompted another broad discussion about our country’s decrepit infrastructure, which arrives in the context of the Trump Administration’s plans to boost infrastructure spending.

But this is about more than just spending money to fix up our aging dams. The entirety of our country’s infrastructure needs to be reevaluated with the understanding that we have a unique opportunity to reimagine our shared future. If things are rapidly changing anyway, we might as well build a future consistent with our new weather reality.

At a place like Lake Oroville, that might mean leaving more space in the reservoir for flooding than has been done in the past. That wouldn’t be popular, because it would reduce the reservoir’s capacity, even as rising temperatures spur demand for more water. It may also mean increased resources for counseling services in coastal and riverine communities, as flooding events become more frequent and families consider whether to relocate. The state is already on a good start: Earlier this week, the California Department of Water Resources released a draft resolution for a comprehensive response to climate change, including dam operation.

After the current storms pass, California will still have two months left in its rainy season. It seems likely that 2016–2017 will become the wettest rainy season in state history. That means the danger at Lake Oroville won’t completely pass until this summer.

“They’re going to have to run the main spillway all spring in order to prevent additional flooding,” Gleick said. “I think people are going to be a little nervous for the next few months.”

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The dam truth: Climate change means more Lake Orovilles

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Trump team wants details on the State Department’s climate efforts. That can’t be good.

The administration announced Tuesday that President Obama will use a provision in the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to halt new offshore drilling in parts of federally owned Arctic and Atlantic waters — forever. While previous presidents have used that act to protect parts of the ocean, this is the first time it’s been exercised to enact a permanent ban on drilling. Canada will also indefinitely ban future drilling in its Arctic territory, the country said in the joint announcement.

The announcement came four weeks shy of Obama’s White House departure. President-elect Trump, a climate change denier, has vowed to undo many of Obama’s executive orders as well as dismantle the Clean Power Plan, open more federal lands to drilling, and withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

But by using an existing act instead of issuing an executive order, Obama made the reversal of this drilling ban more difficult for his successor.

“We know now, more clearly than ever, that a Trump presidency will mean more fossil fuel corruption and less governmental protection for people and the planet, so decisions like these are crucial,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Travis Nichols. “President Obama should do this and more to stop any new fossil fuel infrastructure that would lock in the worst effects of climate change.”

This story has been updated. 

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The Heartbreaking Reason Plastic Kills So Many Birds

Plastic waste is slowly taking over our oceans.

For years environmentalists have been warning us about “garbage patches,” swirling gyres of floating plastic bigger than entire countries.

Scientists estimate that millions of plastic trash end up in the ocean each year, a number that’s to increase tenfold in the next decade.

Related: The Dangers Of Plastic

The effects of our plastic addiction and refusal to dispose of it responsibly are worse than just the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, however. There’s also the direct impact that marinewaste has on the creatures who depend on the ocean for their sustenance.

Mistaking bits of floating plastic waste for food, sea creatures consume these items, often with fatal results. But it’s not just how plastic looks that confuses wildlife. Scientists at UC Davis recently discovered that birds are also choked and poisoned by marine wastebecause of how it smells.

“Marine plastic debris emits the scent of a sulfurous compound that some seabirds have relied upon for thousands of years to tell them where to find food, reportsKat Kerlinfor UC Davis. “This olfactory cue essentially tricks the birds into confusing marine plastic with food.”

The culprit is dimethyl sulfide, or DMS. This smelly compound is releasedwhen algae is eaten by animals like krill, one of the birds favorite meals. Unfortunately, it’s also released by the algae that coats floating plastic. When they smell DMS, birds assume it’s time to eat, and they swoop in on what they thing is the source. But instead of krill, it’s a plastic twist tie, bottle cap, bead or straw.

Many seabirds, like this Tristrams storm-petrel, mistake tiny plastic particles for food, and the effects can be fatal. Credit: Sarah Youngren/ Regents of the University of California, Davis campus.

The study also found that the DMS phenomenon affects certain birds disproportionately.

“…species that dont receive lot of attention, like petrels and some species of shearwaters, are likely to be impacted by plastic ingestion, Nevitt said. These species nest in underground burrows, which are hard to study, so they are often overlooked. Yet, based on their foraging strategy, this study shows theyre actually consuming a lot of plastic and are particularly vulnerable to marine debris.

TheEllen Macarthur Foundationprojects that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.

Related:7 Tips For Reducing Plastic Pollution and Saving Our Marine Species

Image Credit: Thinkstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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The Heartbreaking Reason Plastic Kills So Many Birds

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