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Sudden Heat Increase In North Atlantic Seas Could Have Devastating Effects

Scientists have warned that an extreme marine heat wave off the UK and Ireland coasts is posing a major threat to marine species. According to the official blog of the UK’s Met Office, the global sea surface temperatures for April and May of this year were the highest since records began in 1850. Last month was the warmest May on record in the North Atlantic, with temperatures about 1.25 degrees Celsius higher than average over the 1961 to 1990 reference period. “The extreme and unprecedented temperatures show the power of the combination of human-induced warming and natural climate variability like El Niño,” said Daniela Schmidt, a professor of earth sciences at the University of Bristol.

Is Kelp The Next Ocean Hero?

New research shows we’ve long underestimated the environmental benefits from kelp forests. Now these important ecosystems are threatened. Floridians are bracing for an unwanted visitor this summer: sargassum. A 5,000-mile-long island of this rootless seaweed is floating around the Atlantic, and large swathes of it are expected to wash ashore in Florida and other states in the coming months. Smaller amounts have already arrived, and the rotting clumps of algae on the beach release hydrogen sulfide, giving off the smell of rotten eggs. A large landfall will be a health hazard — and a deterrent for tourists and nesting sea turtles alike.

Nations Agree On Historic Global Oceans Treaty

The Global Oceans Treaty agreed on today is the biggest conservation agreement in the history of the world. It provides a pathway to establish marine sanctuaries so that countries can turn their commitment to protect 30 percent of the ocean by 2030 into a reality. This is the minimum scientists have said we need to prevent ecosystem collapse in the oceans – our greatest shared resource and the foundation of life on this planet. This is a huge victory for the billions of people who depend on healthy oceans and for the animals that call the oceans home. It is a win against climate change and biodiversity loss. Everyone on Earth should breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Pandora’s Box: Emerging Threats To Climate Stability

Climate change is multifaceted. It has long been certain that CO2 emissions are altering the atmosphere, causing heating and disequilibrium — but it is also clear that CO2 is far from the only culprit, or that the Greenhouse effect is the only negative feedback cycle driving the temperature up. Methane emissions, Ice albedo decline, and ocean acidification are all components of Climate breakdown. Widely acknowledged, but also less understood. However, the story of climate breakdown continues to evolve. The more scientists study its effects and causes, the more ways they find human activity is forcing disequilibrium. Likewise, the more ways in which they find nature is now producing feedback mechanisms outside of our control. This article is a part of a series of summaries of some of these newer findings, and brief explanations of their mechanisms.

‘Time Has Run Out’ — UN Fails To Reach Agreement To Protect Marine Life

The fifth round of United Nations talks that began in New York on August 15 and were aimed at securing a UN Ocean Treaty to protect marine life in the international waters of the High Seas has ended in another stalemate, reported The Guardian. The treaty would have established regulations for the protection of biodiversity in two-thirds of the world’s non-territorial waters. “We’re disappointed that governments at the UN did not bring the High Seas Treaty over the finish line this week. However, it has been uplifting to witness the global momentum for ocean action steadily build throughout these negotiations. Communities across the world are asking for decisive ocean action to protect marine life and safeguard the vital role the ocean plays for the climate, global food security and the overall health of our planet.

A ‘Blue Commons’ Agenda To Stop The Plunder Of Our Oceans

Even though the oceans cover 70% of the Earth's surface and provide half the oxygen we breathe, they tend to be "out of sight, out of mind," especially in landlocked nations or regions. It's therefore important to recognize that the market/state system is hard at work ravaging this sector of the natural world, too. Industrial-style fish trawlers are overexploiting fisheries, pushing many to the brink of collapse, and mining companies are chewing up the ocean floor in search of oil, gas, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and rare-earth minerals.

United Nations: Four Key Climate Indicators Broke Records In 2021

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization released its annual State of the Climate report on Wednesday, and the result is a grim account of the progression of the climate crisis. The report found that four key climate indicators broke records in 2021: greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean acidification, ocean temperature and sea level rise. “Today’s State of the Climate report is a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption. Fossil fuels are a dead end – environmentally and economically,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in response to the report, as The Guardian reported. A WMO press release outlined how human activity led to broken climate records.

Despite Oceans ‘In Crisis,’ Global Treaty Talks Falter

In the wake of collapsed U.N.-backed talks, ocean defenders this week are urging global governments to reach a robust treaty by year's end to safeguard the world's high seas from exploitation and the climate crisis. "Government promises to protect at least a third of the world's oceans by 2030 are already coming off the rails," Will McCallum of Greenpeace's Protect the Oceans campaign said in a statement Monday. A failure to reach a Global Ocean Treaty in 2022 would mean "no way to create ocean sanctuaries in international waters to allow them to achieve that 30×30 goal," he said. "This treaty is crucial because all of us rely on the oceans: from the oxygen they give to the livelihoods and food security they provide."

Protests Grow In South Korea Over Japan’s Fukushima Water Plan

Seoul, South Korea - Lee Dong-ho, 73, has been fishing waters off South Korea’s southern coast near Japan for 40 years and his eldest son is now taking over the family business, their lifeblood. Lee farms snapper and yellowtail, mackerel and anchovy, and runs a drying and processing plant. “We are surrounded on three sides by the sea,” Lee, who lives in Dadae village on Geoje Island, told Al Jazeera. South Korea has transformed its fishing industry over the past 30 years amid criticism of overfishing. Lee represents positive change as most of his business involves marine-fish farming – as opposed to open-water catching – which now makes up more than half of South Korea domestic seafood production.

Should Marine Species Own The High Seas?

Later this year, the United Nations will finish hosting the final negotiations on a new conservation treaty for the high seas, as waters that lie outside national jurisdiction are known. These cover more than half of Earth’s surface and contain much of the planet’s biodiversity. The moment marks a tremendous opportunity in humanity's losing battle against biodiversity loss.  Thus far, however, conversations about how best to protect the high seas have missed a crucial element, one that could well be the single boldest, most important conservation move that humankind could make: recognizing the property interests of the marine species now living there. Every whale and shark and sea turtle, every tuna and toothfish, every octopus and even every salp and sea urchin and anemone, has a right to own their part of the ocean. 

Atlantic Ocean Current At Weakest State In ‘Over A Millennium’

The Atlantic Ocean current that plays a major role in the world’s weather is at its weakest state in “over a millennium”, researchers have found. The research combines various lines of evidence to create a “consistent picture” of how the ocean current system, which is known as the “Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation” (AMOC), has changed over the past 1,600 years. Sometimes called the Atlantic’s “conveyer belt”, the AMOC is a vast ocean current system that moves warm, salty water from the tropics to regions further north, such as the UK. The gulf stream is part of the AMOC. As the AMOC carries warm water northward, it releases heat into the atmosphere. The release of ocean heat keeps countries warm – and without it, winters in the UK could be close to 5C colder.

Bags And Balloons: Plastic Pollution Choking Sea Life

A dead manatee in Florida was found to have swallowed so many plastic bags they formed a cantaloupe-sized ball in its stomach, while a baby turtle had its intestines perforated by tiny plastic fragments. They are some of 1,800 marine mammals and turtles found to have ingested or been entangled by plastic along American coastlines since 2009, according to a report from conservation NGO Oceana published Thursday. The group's report attempts to describe the cumulative impact of plastic pollution on marine fauna in the United States in the last decade, despite growing recycling practices.

Deep Sea Mining Threatens More Than The Seafloor

Interest in deep-sea mining for copper, cobalt, zinc, manganese, and other valuable metals has grown substantially in the last decade and mining activities are anticipated to begin soon. Deep-sea mining poses significant risks, not only to the area immediately surrounding mining operations but also to the water hundreds to thousands of feet above the seafloor, threatening vast midwater ecosystems. Currently, 30 exploration licenses cover about 580,000 square miles of the seafloor on the high seas and some countries are exploring exploitation in their own water as well. Thus far, most research assessing the impacts of mining and environmental baseline survey work has focused on the seafloor. However, large amounts of mud and dissolved chemicals are released during mining and large equipment produces extraordinary noise—all of which travel high and wide. Unfortunately, there has been almost no study of the potential effects of mining beyond the habitat immediately adjacent to extraction activities.

Activists Charged With Felonies After Delivering Formosa Plastic Pollution To Lobbyists

Two Louisiana environmental activists, Anne Rolfes and Kate McIntosh, were taken in handcuffs and leg irons from a Baton Rouge police station to jail after they voluntarily surrendered themselves on felony charges after months' earlier delivering plastic pollution pulled from Texas waters to fossil fuel lobbyists' homes. The two posted bond and were released later the same day. “The women are accused of terrorizing oil and gas lobbyists by giving them a file box full of plastic pellets found in Texas bays near a plastic manufacturing facility owned by Formosa Plastics,” reports. Rolfes and McIntosh are being charged with felony “terrorizing” under Louisiana Revised Statute 14:40.1, according to their attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Pam Spees. The charges carry sentences of up to 15 years imprisonment.

Tired Of ‘Writing Obituaries For Coral Reefs,’ Surfing Scientists Find Ways To Save Them

Grim reports and unsettling headlines paint a bleak future for Earth’s coral reefs, which are projected to be wiped out by the end of the century due to climate change and pollution.  But a new study shows that this future can be prevented — and outlines the relatively small steps humanity can take to ensure coral reefs’ long-term protection and productivity.  Building off of previous work, a group of marine scientists — all of them ardent surfers — identified the criteria that make a coral reef receptive to conservation.  This research found that conservation efforts should focus on areas with low-to-medium human impacts on coral reefs, according to Jack Kittinger, a member of the research group and head of Conservation International’s global fisheries and aquaculture work.
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