Study: Warming Oceans Cause Fish Decline As High as 35%

Researchers compared the changes in 235 fish and shellfish populations across 38 ocean regions that have occurred from 1930 to 2010 - a 4% decrease.

A new study concludes that climate change is adversely affecting the quantity of fish in the oceans. The scientists also noted that overfishing, specifically in the Sea of Japan region - where the decline is as high as 35%, has significantly added to the problem.

RELATED: Rising Levels of Carbon Dioxide Causing Fish to Lose Their Sense of Smell

“We were surprised at the strength the impact of warming has already had on fish populations,” study lead author and University of California Santa Barbara ecologist Chris Free, stated.

Researchers compared the changes in 235 fish and shellfish populations across 38 ocean regions that have occurred from 1930 to 2010 - a 4% decrease.

In 2016, 171 million tons of fish were taken from the sea, and that number is trending to rise to 201 million in the next 10 years.

Overall, about 8% of the fish and shellfish populations that was studied experienced losses as a result of the ocean warming, while a 4% population increase took place in others, according to Science journal.

Notably, the warmer waters can put metabolic stress on the fish, affecting reproduction or food sourcing - causing zooplankton - essential fish food - to decline.

“It's like a one-two punch,” study co-author Malin Pinksy, an ecologist at Rutgers, remarked.

“If fishing already knocks them down, they're more likely to respond poorly when it's hot. We knew that animals were moving into new locations, but I didn't realize it already affected the ability of these populations to produce fish.”

Pinksy warned that growing fish populations should be viewed with caution, since “fish are a bit like goldilocks. For some it's too cold, but warming will make it too hot.”

According to the study’s findings, the sustainable catch of 124 fish and shellfish species have been directly linked to warming of the world’s ocean, over the past 80 years.

“Food security is a big concern,” Pinksy explained, adding that an estimated three billion people use fish as their primary source of protein.

“Beyond that... we also know that it has very important local impacts for those who make their livelihoods catching these fish,” the Rutger ecologist said, noting that “no-take” zones could be implemented as a population replenishing mechanism.

The study also revealed that ocean temperatures have increased by about half a degree Celsius.  

Harrison Ford: leaders who deny climate change are 'on the wrong side of history'

Harrison Ford has launched a scorching attack on Donald Trump and other world leaders, for denying science in order to justify doing nothing to face the “moral crisis” of climate change.

The actor best known for fighting off Imperial stormtroopers as Han Solo and writhing in snake pits as Indiana Jones has now taken on the combined might of climate change deniers, with Trump a top target. Though Ford did not mention the US president by name, the subject of his speech at the final day of the World Government Summit in Dubai was beyond doubt.

“Around the world,” he said, “elements of leadership including in my own country to preserve their state and the status quo, deny or denigrate science. They are on the wrong side of history.”

Ford, at 76 four years Trump’s senior, has long been a campaigner for global environmental protection. He prefaced his speech at the summit with a short film, narrated in his trademark lion’s growl, featuring the character of Nature speaking about the future.

“If I’m not kept healthy, humans won’t survive, simple as that,” Nature says. “I could give a damn with or without humans, I’m the ocean. I covered this entire planet once, and I can always cover it again.”

Climate change denial and skepticism about established scientific truth have long been embraced by Trump. He has been propagating conspiracy theories about global warming since at least 2012, when he claimed it was a ruse by China to gain an unfair manufacturing advantage over the US.

In June 2017 Trump withdrew the US from the Paris agreement to limit global pollution levels and control temperature rise. Last November he responded to a dire US climate assessment by 13 government agencies and top scientists with the blunt words: “I don’t believe it.”

Only on Sunday, Trump issued yet another denigrating tweet in which he sought to mock the Democratic senator from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar, who had just launched a 2020 presidential bid, but ended up mocking climate science. He noted that Klobuchar had addressed global warming in her speech as snow fell around her.

“Bad timing,” Trump said.

In an interview with CNN before his Dubai appearance, Ford criticized directly the Trump administration for being “bent on dismantling all of the gains we’ve made in the protection of the environment”.

He lamented the “isolationism, nationalism that’s creeping into governments all across the developed world. The problems require attention on nature’s scale not on the scale of the next election.”

In his address to the summit, Ford called climate change “the greatest moral crisis of our time. We need nature now more than ever because nature doesn’t need people, people need nature.”

Antarctica losing six times more ice mass annually now than 40 years ago

Antarctica experienced a sixfold increase in yearly ice mass loss between 1979 and 2017, according to a study published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Glaciologists from the University of California, Irvine, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Netherlands' Utrecht University additionally found that the accelerated melting caused global sea levels to rise more than half an inch during that time.

"That's just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak," said lead author Eric Rignot, Donald Bren Professor and chair of Earth system science at UCI. "As the Antarctic ice sheet continues to melt away, we expect multi-meter sea level rise from Antarctica in the coming centuries."

For this study, Rignot and his collaborators conducted what he called the longest-ever assessment of remaining Antarctic ice mass. Spanning four decades, the project was also geographically comprehensive; the research team examined 18 regions encompassing 176 basins, as well as surrounding islands.

Techniques used to estimate ice sheet balance included a comparison of snowfall accumulation in interior basins with ice discharge by glaciers at their grounding lines, where ice begins to float in the ocean and detach from the bed. Data was derived from fairly high-resolution aerial photographs taken from a distance of about 350 meters via NASA's Operation IceBridge; satellite radar interferometry from multiple space agencies; and the ongoing Landsat satellite imagery series, begun in the early 1970s.

The team was able to discern that between 1979 and 1990, Antarctica shed an average of 40 gigatons of ice mass annually. (A gigaton is 1 billion tons.) From 2009 to 2017, about 252 gigatons per year were lost.

The pace of melting rose dramatically over the four-decade period. From 1979 to 2001, it was an average of 48 gigatons annually per decade. The rate jumped 280 percent to 134 gigatons for 2001 to 2017.

Rignot said that one of the key findings of the project is the contribution East Antarctica has made to the total ice mass loss picture in recent decades.

"The Wilkes Land sector of East Antarctica has, overall, always been an important participant in the mass loss, even as far back as the 1980s, as our research has shown," he said. "This region is probably more sensitive to climate [change] than has traditionally been assumed, and that's important to know, because it holds even more ice than West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula together."

He added that the sectors losing the most ice mass are adjacent to warm ocean water.

"As climate warming and ozone depletion send more ocean heat toward those sectors, they will continue to contribute to sea level rise from Antarctica in decades to come," said Rignot, who's also a senior project scientist at JPL.

Climate Change: Warming Oceans Set Heat Record in 2018

A team of Chinese and U.S. scientists estimated that the world’s oceans are warming by up to 40% faster than previously thought.

The oceans are warming faster than previously estimated, setting a new temperature record in 2018 in a trend that is causing major damage to marine life, a Science article published Thursday warns.

RELATED: Climate Change Causing 'Vicious C02 Circle': New Report

"How fast are the oceans warming?" was the main question addressed by a team of Chinese and U.S. scientists in a research which demonstrates that "global warming is here and has major consequences already. There is no doubt, none!"

New measurements, aided by an international network of 3,900 floats deployed in the oceans since 2000, showed more warming - since 1971 - than calculated by the 2013 UN assessment of climate change.

According to Lijing Cheng, a scientist from China's Institute of Atmospheric Physics, "2018 was the warmest year on record for the global ocean" as marine temperatures as far down as 2,000 meters rose about 0.1 degree Celsius. 

"Observational records of ocean heat content show that ocean warming is accelerating," the team of scientists stated and also explained that greenhouse gas emissions warm the atmosphere, and a large part of the heat gets absorbed by the oceans.

The heat absorption process, in turn, changes the physical-chemical properties of marine ecosystems, which displaces marine like forcing them to flee to cooler waters.

Ocean warming: past and future! Ocean warming has already been detected in the past 60 years, and is accelerating now and well projected in the future! Read our new science study:

Deep ocean temperatures are less influenced by annual variations in weather and can take more than 1,000 years to adjust to changes like regions closer to the surface. "The deep ocean reflects the climate of the deep and uncertain past," Kevin Trenberth, a co-author of the study, said.

Among effects, extra warmth can reduce oxygen in the ocean and damage coral reefs that serve as nurseries for fish, the scientists said. While warmer seas release more moisture that can stoke more powerful storms.

Despite growing evidence of the human-driven global climate change, some heads of state and government across the globe - mainly far-right administrations - deny the existence of a problem.

In that sense, for example, U.S. President Donald Trump and his allies, such as Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, have, recently, questioned and make advancements towards terminating some multilateral agreements and shuttering institutions that could help contain environmental threats to humanity.

 

200 Nations Start 2-Week Talks To End Political Divide On Climate Change

Katowice, Poland: Delegates from nearly 200 nations on Sunday began two weeks of talks to tackle deep political divisions at the most important U.N. meeting on global warming since the landmark 2015 Paris deal to shift away from fossil fuels.

Expectations are low that negotiations in Katowice, at the heart of Poland's coal region, will fully resolve concerns laid out in reports over recent weeks on the severity of rising greenhouse gas emissions.

The political climate has also been transformed since the Paris agreement and the fragile global unity that brought about that accord has shattered.

"This is a very, very important conference," U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa told reporters. "It also takes place in a scenario where we have clear signals about the urgency with which we need to address the issues of climate change."

4k393n8oDelegates said that one of the trickiest issues could be monitoring emissions as the United States, which cannot quit the pact until 2020, uses the talks to press for a level of detail it perceives as useful to its foreign policy dealings (Representational)

Four former presidents of U.N. talks, including Laurent Fabius of France, who led negotiations for the Paris agreement, issued a statement urging "decisive action".

"The world is at a crossroads and decisive action in the next two years will be crucial to tackle these urgent threats," they said in the joint statement.

However, political divisions were clear from the outset, with Brazil having withdrawn its offer to host the 2019 talks.

The United States, meanwhile, reiterated at the G20 summit in Argentina on Saturday its decision to withdraw from the Paris accord and a U.S. commitment to all energy sources.

Year-End Deadline

The other members of the group of industrialised nations - including the biggest polluter, China - reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the Paris deal, taking into account their national circumstances.

gq7e9d9G20 Summit, Buenos Aires, Argentina: Delegates said that one of the trickiest issues could be monitoring emissions as the United States, which cannot quit the pact until 2020, uses the talks to press for a level of detail it perceives as useful to its foreign policy dealings (Representational)

The Katowice talks precede an end-of-year deadline to produce a "rule book" to flesh out the broad details that were agreed in Paris on limiting the rise in global temperatures to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.

Delegates said that one of the trickiest issues could be monitoring emissions as the United States, which cannot quit the pact until 2020, uses the talks to press for a level of detail it perceives as useful to its foreign policy dealings.

Poland is hosting U.N. climate negotiations for a third time, but the nation remains hooked on coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. Coal provides about 80 percent of Poland's power and has been a major source of employment and national pride.

The younger generation is less emotionally attached to coal and is increasingly environmentally aware, though any phasing out of the fuel in Poland is likely to be slow.

The energy ministry said only last week that Poland plans to invest in new coal capacity while its long-term energy strategy assumes it will still obtain about 60 percent of its power from coal in 2030.

  • Published in World

California wildfires: statewide death toll rises to 50 as search for remains continues

The statewide death toll in California’s wildfires reached 50 late on Tuesday, as authorities reported six more deaths in the Camp fire in the north of the state.

The deaths from the Camp fire, the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history, have increased to 48, the Butte county sheriff, Kory Hone, said. Two people have also died in the Woolsey fire, a major blaze around Los Angeles.

  • Published in World

VIDEO depicts disturbing extent of Antarctic ice melt since 1976

Scientists have been issuing apocalyptic-level warnings over the melting ice caps for years, and now a new data-based animation highlights just how much ice has broken off Antarctica in recent decades.

The visualization by science animators Pixel Movers & Makers shows the accelerated level at which Antarctic icebergs have been melting since 1976 in just 51 seconds.

Pixel Movers & Makers @PixelMnM

Replying to @PixelMnM

We've been looking forward to making this!

Iceberg flux from Antarctica from 1976-2017.

Most icebergs travel counter-clockwise around Antarctica before travelling north through "Iceberg Alley" to the ACC. @kevpluck @MarloWordyBird

The alarming clip highlights the region’s recent disastrous climate change events, such as the journey of B-15, the world’s largest iceberg. It broke away in 2000, measuring a colossal 3,250 square kilometers wide (1,250 square miles) – or about the size of Connecticut.

READ MORE: Build that wall: Climate scientists propose walling off Antarctic ice sheets to protect them

Also captured is the collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf in 2002 – a 3,250 square kilometers (1,250 square mile), 20 meter (720 ft) thick area of the Antarctic Peninsula that splintered and collapsed over a month.

Climate change damaging male fertility

Climate change could pose a threat to male fertility -- according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

New findings published today in the journal Nature Communications reveal that heatwaves damage sperm in insects -- with negative impacts for fertility across generations.

The research team say that male infertility during heatwaves could help to explain why climate change is having such an impact on species populations, including climate-related extinctions in recent years.

Research group leader Prof Matt Gage said: "We know that biodiversity is suffering under climate change, but the specific causes and sensitivities are hard to pin down.

"We've shown in this work that sperm function is an especially sensitive trait when the environment heats up, and in a model system representing a huge amount of global biodiversity.

"Since sperm function is essential for reproduction and population viability, these findings could provide one explanation for why biodiversity is suffering under climate change.

"A warmer atmosphere will be more volatile and hazardous, with extreme events like heatwaves becoming increasingly frequent, intense and widespread.

"Heatwaves are particularly damaging extreme weather events. Local extinctions are known to occur when temperature changes become too intense. We wanted to know why this happens. And one answer could be related to sperm."

The research team investigated the red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum) to explore the effects of simulated heatwaves on male reproduction.

The beetles were exposed to either standard control conditions or five-day heatwave temperatures, which were 5°C to 7°C above their thermal optimum.

Afterwards, a variety of experiments assessed the potential damage to reproductive success, sperm function and offspring quality.

Heatwaves killed sperm

The team found that heatwaves halved the amount of offspring males could produce, and a second heatwave almost sterilised males.

Females, by contrast, were unaffected by heatwave conditions. However, female reproduction was affected indirectly because experiments showed that heatwaves damaged inseminated sperm within female reproductive tracts.

Following experimental heatwaves, males reduced sperm production by three-quarters, and any sperm produced then struggled to migrate into the female tract and were more likely to die before fertilisation.

Kirs Sales, a postgraduate researcher who led the research, said: "Our research shows that heatwaves halve male reproductive fitness, and it was surprising how consistent the effect was."

The group also explored the underlying causes of male vulnerability. Heatwaves caused some impact on male sexual behaviour -- with males mating half as frequently as controls.

Heatwaves caused damage across generations

"Two concerning results were the impact of successive heatwaves on males, and the impacts of heatwaves on future generations," said Sales.

"When males were exposed to two heatwave events 10 days apart, their offspring production was less than 1 per cent of the control group. Insects in nature are likely to experience multiple heatwave events, which could become a problem for population productivity if male reproduction cannot adapt or recover."

The research also shows that offspring sired by heatwaved dads -- or their sperm -- live shorter lives -- by a couple of months.

And the reproductive performance of sons produced by dads -- or sperm -- exposed to heatwave conditions was also impacted. Sons were found to be less able to fertilise a series of potential mates, and produced less offspring.

The researchers warn that this could add extra pressure to populations already suffering through climate change over time.

"Beetles are thought to constitute a quarter of biodiversity, so these results are very important for understanding how species react to climate change. Research has also shown that heat shock can damage male reproduction in warm blooded animals too, and past work has shown that this leads to infertility in mammals," added Sales.

The researchers hope that the effects can be incorporated into models predicting species vulnerability, and ultimately help inform societal understanding and conservation actions.

The work was funded by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the EnvEast DTP, UEA, and the Leverhulme Trust.

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Materials provided by University of East Anglia. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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