7 February 2013, by Tom Marshall. http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk
The chemicals that give some corals their luminous pink and red colours also protect them from damage caused by too much sunlight, scientists have shown.
The idea isn't altogether new, but this is the first conclusive evidence for it. Corals need light to survive, but too much can kill them, so they've evolved various countermeasures.
This research adds another to their arsenal – chemicals known as chromoproteins (CPs), which turn out to absorb potentially harmful portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Smith, E.G., D'Angelo, C., Salih, A., Wiedenmann, J. Screening by coral green fluorescent protein (GFP)-like chromoproteins supports a role in photoprotection of zooxanthellae. Coral Reefs. DOI: 10.1007/s00338-012-0994-9
ScienceDaily. Jan. 29, 2013 — Coral reefs build their structures by both producing and accumulating calcium carbonate, and this is essential for the maintenance and continued vertical growth capacity of reefs. An international research team has discovered that the amount of new carbonate being added by Caribbean coral reefs is now significantly below rates measured over recent geological timescales, and in some habitats is as much as 70% lower.
Coral reefs form some of the planet's most biologically diverse ecosystems, and provide valuable services to humans and wildlife. However, their ability to maintain their structures and continue to grow depends on the balance between the addition of new carbonate, which is mostly produced by corals themselves, set against the loss of carbonate through various erosional processes. Scientists have long known that reef ecosystems are in decline and that the amount of live coral on reefs is dwindling. But the paper, published on DATE TBC in Nature Communications, is the first evidence that these ecological changes are now also impacting on the growth potential of reefs themselves. Read more
Call your Representative today to stand up for our Atlantic wildlife
Seismic airgun testing is used to find deep pockets of oil in the sea floor. The decibels produced by airgun blasts are loud enough to kill a human at close range. For marine life, like the endangered North Atlantic right whale, the stakes are too high.
The Obama administration’s Department of the Interior will decide on whether or not to allow seismic airgun testing in 2013. To show public opposition to this proposal, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg is urging other members of the Senate to voice their opposition to airgun testing.
Call and ask your Senators to stand with Senator Frank Lautenberg and other leaders in Congress against seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic.
Jan. 10, 2013 — Mangrove forests of the Sundarbans are disappearing, taking endangered species like the Bengal tiger with them. RAPID deterioration in mangrove health is occurring in the Sundarbans, resulting in as much as 200m of coast disappearing in a single year. A report published January 11 in Remote Sensing by scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) states that as human development thrives, and global temperature continues to rise, natural protection from tidal waves and cyclones is being degraded at alarming rates. This will inevitably lead to species loss in this richly biodiverse part of the world, if nothing is done to stop it.
ZSL's Dr Nathalie Pettorelli, senior author of the paper says: "Our results indicate a rapidly retreating coastline that cannot be accounted for by the regular dynamics of the Sundarbans. Degradation is happening fast, weakening this natural shield for India and Bangladesh."
The name 'Sundarban' can be literally translated as 'beautiful forest' in the Bengali language. The area is is the largest block of continuous mangrove forest in the world, being home to almost 500 species of reptile, fish, bird and mammals, including the endangered Bengal tiger.
Sarah Christie, ZSL's tiger conservation expert says: "The Sundarbans is a critical tiger habitat; one of only a handful of remaining forests big enough to hold several hundred tigers. To lose the Sundarbans would be to move a step closer to the extinction of these majestic animals."
Although mangroves are rare, they are an important barrier against climate change, providing protection to coastal areas from tsunamis and cyclones. They are also the most carbon rich forests in the tropics with high carbon sequestration potential, meaning their degradation and loss substantially reduce our ability to mitigate, and adapt to, predicted changes in climatic conditions.
We petition the obama administration to: We, the people, demand the President of the United States and it's legislative body recognize Climate Change as great and Grave a threat to this nation as they would any other aggressive enemy. We demand that the President and Congress act against Climate Change as they have acted against Saddam Husein, Bin Laden, and Hitler for that matter. We demand a National Energy Policy that quickly begins to ween us off of Carbon Based fuels and expedites the inevitable and necessary transition to Clean Energy. We demand that our leaders act on the recommendations coming from an overwhelming majority of the scientific community to halt Climate Change and save the lives of untold millions.
Sign the petition at https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/declare-war-climate-change-we-demand-president-obama-and-congress-accept-climate-change-enemy-people/WxsynJ0Y?utm_source=wh.gov&utm_medium=shorturl&utm_campaign=shorturl
January 13, 2013
Bruce Ritchie, 01/02/2013 – 04:13 PM. http://www.thefloridacurrent.com/
A Florida Department of Economic Opportunity report on the state's business climate is calling for a statewide strategy to ensure adequate future water supplies and for a statewide energy strategy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
The Legislature in 2011 passed bills reducing state oversight of local government land-use decisions and eliminating the Department of Community Affairs, while moving state planners to the new Department of Economic Opportunity. The Legislature also directed the new department to issue a report on Florida's business and economic development climate each year before Dec. 31.
While mostly laying out strategies for attracting new industries and creating jobs, the 2011 report made only slight mention of the need for protecting "critical lands, waters and habitats" and addressing potential harm from major developments.
The 2012 report, received Wednesday from DEO in response to a request, still deals mostly with the need for coordination among government agencies to attract new businesses and create jobs. But it also adds a few details about the need for policies dealing with growth management and environmental protection.
The report says there is a critical need for a more "proactive, effective and collaborative approach" on development and infrastructure decisions at the state, regional and local levels.
DEO calls on the Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection to initiate a statewide process to address economic development, land use, infrastructure and environmental stewardship over a 50-year period.
Emerging consensus shows climate change is already having major effects on ecosystems and species
December 2012. Plant and animal species are shifting their geographic ranges and the timing of their life events – such as flowering, laying eggs or migrating – at faster rates than researchers documented just a few years ago, according to a technical report on biodiversity and ecosystems used as scientific input for the 2013 Third National Climate Assessment.
The report, Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services, synthesizes the scientific understanding of the way climate change is affecting ecosystems, ecosystem services and the diversity of species, as well as what strategies might be used by natural resource practitioners to decrease current and future risks. More than 60 US federal, academic and other scientists, including the lead authors from the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Wildlife Federation and Arizona State University in Tempe, authored the assessment.
Wide-ranging change to ecosystems
"These geographic range and timing changes are causing cascading effects that extend through ecosystems, bringing together species that haven't previously interacted and creating mismatches between animals and their food sources," said Nancy Grimm, a scientist at ASU and a lead author of the report.
Other key findings of the report include:
- Changes in precipitation and extreme weather events can overwhelm the ability of natural systems to reduce or prevent harm to people from these events. For example, more frequent heavy rainfall events increase the movement of nutrients and pollutants to downstream ecosystems, likely resulting not only in ecosystem change, but also in adverse changes in the quality of drinking water and a greater risk of waterborne-disease outbreaks.
- Changes in winter have big and surprising effects on ecosystems and their services. Changes in soil freezing, snow cover and air temperature affect the ability of ecosystems to store carbon, which, in turn, influences agricultural and forest production. Seasonally snow-covered regions are especially susceptible to climate change because small precipitation or temperature shifts can cause large ecosystem changes. Longer growing seasons and warmer winters are already increasing the likelihood of pest outbreaks, leading to tree mortality and more intense, extensive fires. Decreased or unreliable snowfall for winter sports and recreation will likely cause high future economic losses.
- The ecosystem services provided by coastal habitats are especially vulnerable to sea-level rise and more severe storms. The Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts are most vulnerable to the loss of coastal protection services provided by wetlands and coral reefs. Along the Pacific coast, long-term dune erosion caused by increasing wave heights is projected to cause problems for communities and for recreational beach activities. However, other kinds of recreation will probably improve due to better weather, with the net effect being that visitors and tourism dollars will shift away from some communities in favour of others.
- Climate change adaptation strategies are vital for the conservation of diverse species and effective natural resource policy and management. As more adaptive management approaches are developed, resource managers can enhance the country's ability to respond to the impacts of climate change through forward-looking and climate science-informed goals and actions.
- Ecological monitoring needs to be improved and better coordinated among federal and state agencies to ensure the impacts of climate change are adequately monitored and to support ecological research, management, assessment and policy. Existing tracking networks in the United States will need to improve coverage through time and in geographic area to detect and track climate-induced shifts in ecosystems and species.
on 7 January 2013, 3:10 PM. Science Now
Climate change is expected to devastate coral reefs, as warmer oceans are believed to be inhospitable to corals. But corals may be more robust than commonly thought. A number of studies have found coral colonies that endure high water temperatures. Now, a team of scientists has taken a step toward identifying the genetic mechanisms that might be giving some corals a natural resilience to thermal stress.
Coral reef ecologist Daniel Barshis and colleagues at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, took advantage of markedly different environmental conditions in two nearby but separate pools on a reef at Ofu Island, American Samoa. Because of local factors that isolate some areas of the reef from winds and waves that might mitigate temperature extremes, some pools in the reef are highly variable in temperature, with summertime water temperatures topping 34°C, which, depending on other factors, can trigger bleaching, or a damaging loss of the symbiotic algae that corals depend on. Yet Acropora hyacinthus, a common reef-building coral found in these pools, grows faster and is more thermally tolerant than corals of the same species in nearby pools that do not get as hot. The team took samples of corals from both the highly variable and the moderately variable pools and subjected them to thermal stress experiments under laboratory conditions while monitoring the levels of expression, or activity, of a wide range of genes.
PUBLISHED: 04 Jan 2013 07:56:26 | UPDATED: 04 Jan 2013 08:32:40.http://www.afr.com
author: Patrick Caruana
The Queensland government's own figures show the building of new coal ports in and near the Great Barrier Reef is not necessary, environmentalists say.
WWF Australia said the state government's Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy Economic Analysis showed coal ports in the region were operating at only 52 per cent of their planned capacity.