Category Archives: News

Gulf of Mexico coral reefs to protect from storm surge in the future — But will they?


Photo source: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Coral reefs support 25 percent of all marine life around the globe. Those in the Gulf of Mexico, along the coasts of Louisiana, Florida, Texas and Mexico serve as important barriers to storm surge, lessening the impact of dangerous hurricanes.

A team of researchers used coupled climate model simulations as well as studies of fossil corals to describe how climate change will impact reefs in the Gulf of Mexico in the not-so-distant future, including a realistic snapshot of years 2080-2100…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (12-04-2019)

Beached sperm whale found with 220 pounds of trash in his stomach


Photo courtesy of Multi Award-Winning Filmmaker: © Denis Delestrac
“When plastic ingestion occurs, it blocks the digestive tract, gets lodged in animals windpipes cutting airflow causing suffocation, or fills the stomach, resulting in malnutrition, starvation and potentially death.” — Claire Le Guern, author of “When The Mermaids Cry: The Great Plastic Tide” ©.

Excerpts;

A sperm whale that washed up on a beach was found with 220 pounds of plastic trash in his stomach. The whale beached itself and died on a northern Scottish island last Thursday, according to local researchers, who found the carcass several days later…

Read Full Article; CBS News (12-03-2019)

Pregnant whale washed up in Italian tourist spot had 22 kilograms of plastic in its stomach; CNN (04-01-2019)

Dead whale found with 40 kilograms of plastic bags in its stomach; CNN (03-18-2019)
A young whale whose carcass washed up in the Philippines died of “dehydration and starvation” after consuming 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of plastic bags, scientists have found….

Whale found In Thailand dies from eating over 80 plastic bags; Huffington Green (06-03-2018)

Whale found dying off coast of Norway with 30 plastic bags in its stomach; Telegraph UK (02-03-2017)

Kenya: Marine debris threaten to suffocate sea animals; The Star Kenya (01-24-2017)
Marine researchers spotted a dolphin suffocating in a plastic bag last week in Watamu, Kenya. The incident, the first to be witnessed there, has raised concern on the safety of the millions of sea animals in the Indian Ocean waters due to the increased cases of plastic waste.

Plastics found in stomachs of deepest sea creatures; Guardian UK (11-15-2017)
The study, led by academics at Newcastle University, found animals from trenches across the Pacific Ocean were contaminated with fibres that probably originated from plastic bottles, packaging and synthetic clothes…

60% of Loggerhead Turtles Stranded on Beaches in South Africa Had Ingested Plastic, EcoWatch (05-031-2016)

The Plastic Found In a Single Turtle’s Stomach, Independent UK (03-24-2011)

90 Percent of Seabirds Have Plastic in Their Stomachs, Newsweek (09-01-2015)
By 2050, nearly all seabirds will have plastic in their stomachs. Already, 9 out of 10 of the birds have some of the substance in their digestive tracts. Such are the sobering conclusions of a study published August 31 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…

Great Barrier Reef Corals Eat Plastic; Science Daily (02-27-2015)
Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution. Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic in the environment and are a widespread contaminant in marine ecosystems, particularly in inshore coral reefs…

Taste, not appearance, drives corals to eat plastics; Duke University (10-24-2017)

New UN report finds marine debris harming more than 800 species, costing countries millions; United Nations (12-05-2016)
Marine debris is negatively affecting more than 800 animal species and causing serious losses to many countries’ economies, according to a United Nations report launched December 5th, 2016…

Whale and shark species at increasing risk from microplastic pollution – study; Guardian UK (02-05-2018)
Whales, some sharks and other marine species such as rays are increasingly at risk from microplastics in the oceans, a new study published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, suggests…

Video captures moment plastic enters food chain, BBC News (03-11-2017)
A scientist has filmed the moment plastic microfibre is ingested by plankton, illustrating how the material is affecting life beneath the waves. The footage shows one way that plastic waste could be entering the marine and global food chain…

Brain damage in fish from plastic nanoparticles in water, Science Daily (09-25-2017)
A new study shows that plastic particles in water may end up inside fish brains. The plastic can cause brain damage, which is the likely cause of behavioral disorders observed in the fish…

How microplastics, marine aggregates and marine animals are connected; Science Daily (10-23-2018)

New UN report finds marine debris harming more than 800 species, costing countries millions; United Nations (12-05-2016)
Marine debris is negatively affecting more than 800 animal species and causing serious losses to many countries’ economies, according to a United Nations report launched December 5th, 2016…

Piling up: Drowning in a sea of plastic; CBS News (08-05-2018)
Piece by piece, an environmental threat is piling up, and we’re ALL to blame. Worse yet, even those of us trying to bring an end to the problem may not be doing as much good as we think…

These 10 companies are flooding the planet with throwaway plastic; Greenpeace (10-09-2018)
Nine months, six continents, 239 cleanup events, and more than 187,000 pieces of trash later, we now have the most comprehensive snapshot to date of how corporations are contributing to the global plastic pollution problem…

More Recycling Won’t Solve Plastic Pollution; Scientific American (07-06-2018)

More than 8. 3 billion tons of plastics made: Most has now been discarded; Science Daily (07-19-2017)
Humans have created 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics since large-scale production of the synthetic materials began in the early 1950s, and most of it now resides in landfills or the natural environment, according to a study.

Biodegradable plastic ‘false solution’ for ocean waste problem; Guardian UK (05-23-2016)

Plastic Pollution: When The Mermaids Cry, The Great Plastic Tide, Coastal Care
Washed out on our coasts in obvious and clearly visible form, the plastic pollution spectacle blatantly unveiling on our beaches is only the prelude of the greater story that unfolded further away in the world’s oceans, yet mostly originating from where we stand: the land…

World War II Hazards Emerge on Massively Eroded Australian Beach


Australia. Photo source: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Unprecedented coastal erosion on an Australian beach has uncovered thousands of potentially hazardous spiky World War II tank traps…

Read Full Article; Weather News (12-03-2019)

D-Day’s Legacy Sands, Omaha Beach; By Earle F. McBride & M. Dane Picard; Coastal Care’s Beach of the Month June 2012
Before dawn on June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops began storming the shores of Normandy, France, in what would be the turning point of World War II. Troops poured out of planes and off ships along an 80-kilometer stretch of coastline. Omaha Beach sand retains evidence of the Invasion…

Great Barrier Reef study shows how reef copes with rapid sea-level rise

great-barrier-reef
Great barrier of reef, Australia. Photo source: ©© Secruza

Excerpts;

A survey of coral reef cores on the Great Barrier Reef has revealed how it has responded to recent periods of rapid sea-level rise. The study, covering the past 9000 years, has revealed a system in delicate balance.

Read Full Article; Science Daily (12-03-2019)

Great Barrier Reef health outlook downgraded to “very poor” due to ocean warming; CBS News (08-30-2019)

Why the Great Barrier Reef is in danger; MNN (09-07-2018) (09-12-2018)

Video Captures the Violent Act of Coral Bleaching, LiveScience (08-17-2016)

Global warming is transforming the Great Barrier Reef; Science Daily (04-18-2018)
A new study shows that corals on the northern Great Barrier Reef experienced a catastrophic die-off following the extended marine heatwave of 2016…

Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching has started early, biologist says; Guardian UK (01-19-2018)
Warm water has already begun bleaching coral on the Great Barrier Reef, weeks ahead of the period with highest forecast risk. Satellite data suggest widespread bleaching is possible by March…

A Close-Up Look at the Catastrophic Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef; Yale E360 (04-10-2017)
Scientists are reporting the second mass bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef in the last year. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, researcher Terry Hughes says these events have damaged two-thirds of the world’s largest coral reef and are directly caused by global warming…

Coral bleaching hits 93% of Great Barrier Reef, Video, Science Daily (04-21-2016)
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is suffering its worst coral bleaching in recorded history with 93 percent of the World Heritage site affected, scientists say as they reveal the phenomenon is also hitting the other side of the country…

Great Barrier Reef: the scale of bleaching has the most sober scientists worried, Guardian UK (04-16-2016)
I have dived hundreds of times, with different teams of scientists, along the reef. Yet the scale of this bleaching event has even the most sober and senior coral reef scientists worried. If the rhetoric from marine biologists is to be believed, then the Great Barrier Reef is now in the grip of a “bommie apocalypse”…

Great Barrier Reef’s Unprecedented Threat From Dredging, Dumping; Guardian UK (05-07-2014)
The impact of dredging and dumping sediment on the Great Barrier Reef has been far greater than the mining industry has claimed, with nearly 150m tonnes of new dredging set to take place in the reef’s waters, a study shows…

Bacterial communities ‘hitchhiking’ on marine plastic trash


“The unprecedented plastic waste tide plaguing our oceans and shores, can become as limited as our chosen relationship with plastics, which involves a dramatic behavioral change on our part…”
Captions and Photo: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Millions of tons of plastic trash are fouling the world’s ocean, most of it tiny pieces of microplastic less than a quarter-inch in size. Even the smallest marine animals can ingest these microplastics, potentially threatening their survival.

Marine microplastics aren’t floating solo, either — they quickly pick up a thin coating of bacteria and other microbes, a biofilm known as “The Plastisphere.”

Using an innovative microscopy method, scientists have revealed the structure of the microbial communities coating microplastic trash collected from a variety of ocean sites…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (12-02-2019)

New UN report finds marine debris harming more than 800 species, costing countries millions; United Nations (12-05-2016)
Marine debris is negatively affecting more than 800 animal species and causing serious losses to many countries’ economies, according to a United Nations report launched December 5th, 2016…

Plastic pollution: When The Mermaids Cry: The Great Plastic Tide, Coastal Care
Washed out on our coasts in obvious and clearly visible form, the plastic pollution spectacle blatantly unveiling on our beaches is only the prelude of the greater story that unfolded further away in the world’s oceans, yet mostly originating from where we stand: the land…

Antarctic ice sheets could be at greater risk of melting than previously thought


Antarctica. Photo courtesy of © Denis Delestrac for Coastal Care’s Photo of the Month, July and August 2018.

Excerpts;

Antarctica is the largest reservoir of ice on Earth — but new research by the University of South Australia suggests it could be at greater risk of melting than previously thought…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (12-02-2019)

315 billion-tonne iceberg breaks off Antarctica; BBC News (09-30-2019)
The Amery Ice Shelf in Antarctica has just produced its biggest iceberg in more than 50 years…

This Florida Keys neighborhood has been flooded for nearly 3 months


Photo source: ©© Bryan Elkus

Excerpts;

The flooding here and elsewhere is happening during so-called “king tides.” Those are times, mostly in the fall, when the moon’s gravitational pull means tides are higher than usual.

Read Full Article; NPR (11-28-2019)

Rising tides force Miami Beach residents to seek higher ground; CBS News (09-25-2019)

Column: High-rises spell the end for Florida beaches; By Orrin H. Pilkey and J. Andrew G. Cooper; Tampa Bay (07-25-2017)
Floridians are becoming more attuned to sea level rise and more familiar with nuisance flooding related to the rising sea. However, we believe there is less recognition that by century’s end it is likely that most of Florida’s major beaches will be permanently gone…

California King Tides Project: January 10-12 and February 8-9, 2020; California Coastal Commission (10-31-2019)

Worst floods for 50 years bring Venice to ‘its knees’; CNN (11-13-2019)
The worst flooding to hit Venice in more than 50 years has brought the historic city to its knees. Local authorities in the Italian lagoon city called for a state of emergency to be imposed…

Indian Ocean Dipole spells flood danger for East Africa; The New Humanitarian (10-22-2019)
Hundreds of thousands of people in East Africa are affected by heavy rains and floods linked to record-breaking temperature changes in the Indian Ocean. As a result, higher evaporation off the African coastline is being dumped inland as rainfall: a simplified description of 2019’s positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) episode…

Engineers hope high-tech sandbags will keep the beach in Waikiki from disappearing

hawaii-coastal-erosion
Coastal erosion, Hawaii. “Sandbagging is pretty much an exercise in futility. The only benefit is psychological, the feeling of doing something…” Captions and Photo source: ©© Davidd

Excerpts;

A fresh round of repairs to Hawaii’s most famous beach have been completed ― and engineers hope their latest idea will do more to help the shoreline from washing away.

Over the last three weeks, and at a cost of roughly $700,000, engineers worked to install a 95-foot sandbag groin at Waikiki Beach, along with hauling in tons of new sand to help replenish it…

Read Full Article; Hawaii News (11-29-2019)

‘Sand mattress’ technology to combat Mother Nature at Kuhio Beach; KHON News (12-17-2017)

Waikiki Beach Is Totally Man-Made And Disappearing. Can Hawaii Save It?Huffington Green (03-10-2015)

Doubling of Coastal Erosion by Mid-Century in Hawai’i, Science Daily (03-24-2015)
Chronic erosion dominates the sandy beaches of Hawai’i, causing beach loss as it damages homes, infrastructure, and critical habitat. Researchers have long understood that global sea level rise will affect the rate of coastal erosion. However, new research indicates that coastal erosion of Hawai’i’s beaches may double by mid-century…

Terminal Groins Don’t Stop Erosion; Coastal Review (05-03-2016)

The Negative Impacts Of Groins, (02-12-2009)
The negative impact of groins on downdrift shorelines is well understood. When a groin works as intended, sand moving along the beach in the so-called downdrift direction is trapped on the updrift side of the groin, causing a sand deficit and increasing erosion rates on the downdrift side. This well-documented and unquestioned impact is widely cited in the engineering and geologic literature.

Seawalls: Ecological effects of coastal armoring in soft sediment environments; Science Daily (07-24-2017)
For nearly a century, America’s coasts — particularly those with large urban populations — have been armored with human made structures such as seawalls. These structures essentially draw a line in the sand that constrains the ability of the shoreline to respond to changes in sea level and other dynamic coastal processes…

“Seawalls Kill Beaches,” Open Letters by Warner Chabot And Rob Young; (10-03-2014)

Living on the shores of Hawaii: natural hazards, the environment, and our communities, A book by Chip Fletcher; Robynne Boyd, William J. Neal and Virginia Tice.
“Living on the shores of Hawaii: natural hazards, the environment, and our communities” addresses a wide range of environmental concerns within the context of sustainability and their influence on the future of Hawaii…

Sandbagging at the Shore: North Carolina’s Coastal Sand Bags and Political Sandbaggers; By William Neal, Orrin Pilkey & Norma Longo;
The wonder of modern English is how social use of language expands and changes the meaning of words. Sand bag is a bag filled with sand used for temporary construction—quickly made, easily transported, and easily removed. Typically, sandbagging is the emplacement of sand bags to construct a temporary protective wall or barrier, such as a dike or dam to hold back flood waters, or protection on the battlefield. But the term ‘sandbagging’ has taken on an array of other meanings…

Rethinking Living Shorelines, By Orrin H. Pilkey, Rob Young, Norma Longo, and Andy Coburn;Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines / Western Carolina University, March 1, 2012, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
In response to the detrimental environmental impacts caused by traditional erosion control structures, environmental groups, state and federal resource management agencies, now advocate an approach known as “Living Shorelines”that embraces the use of natural habitat elements such as indigenous vegetation, to stabilize and protect eroding shorelines.

waikiki-beach-renourishment
Waikiki beach-renourishement, 2012. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care.
“Hawaii’s famed Waikiki Beach started to erode again, less than a year after the completion of a $2.2 million project to replenish the sand on about 1,730 feet of shoreline that had been suffering from chronic erosion.”
“Development is absolutely responsible for the majority of the beach nourishment,” Andrew Coburn, assistant director of The Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University, said. “Well over 99 percent of the shorelines that are nourished are developed so there is some economic value placed behind them.”

New Earth mission will track rising oceans into 2030


The Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 mission that will track sea level rise, one of the clearest signs of global warming, for the next 10 years. Sentinel-6A, the first of the mission’s two satellites, is shown in its clean room in Germany and is scheduled to launch in November 2020. Credits: IABG

By NASA;

Earth’s climate is changing, and the study of oceans is vital to understanding the effects of those changes on our future. For the first time, U.S and European agencies are preparing to launch a 10-year satellite mission to continue to study the clearest sign of global warming — rising sea levels. The Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission (short for Jason-Continuity of Service), will be the longest-running mission dedicated to answering the question: How much will Earth’s oceans rise by 2030?

By 2030, Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will add to nearly 40 years of sea level records, providing us with the clearest, most sensitive measure of how humans are changing the planet and its climate.

The mission consists of two identical satellites, Sentinel-6A and Sentinel-6B, launching five years apart. The Sentinel-6A spacecraft was on display for the media on Nov. 15 for a last look in its clean room in Germany’s IABG space test center. The satellite is being prepared for a scheduled launch in November 2020 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS follows in the footsteps of four other joint U.S.-European satellite missions — TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1, Ocean Surface Topography/Jason-2, and Jason-3 — that have measured sea level rise over the past three decades. The data gathered by those missions have shown that Earth’s oceans are rising by an average of 0.1 inches (3 millimeters) per year.

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will continue that work, studying not just sea level change but also changes in ocean circulation, climate variability such as El Niño and La Niña, and weather patterns, including hurricanes and storms.

“Global sea level rise is, in a way, the most complete measure of how humans are changing the climate,” said Josh Willis, the mission’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “If you think about it, global sea level rise means that 70% of Earth’s surface is getting taller — 70% of the planet is changing its shape and growing. So it’s the whole planet changing. That’s what we’re really measuring.”

Decades of space- and ground-based observations have documented Earth’s surface temperature rising at a rapidly accelerating rate. The oceans help to stabilize our climate by absorbing over 90% of the heat trapped on the planet by excess greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, that have been emitted into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

As the oceans warm, they expand, increasing the volume of water; the trapped heat also melts ice sheets and glaciers, contributing further to sea level rise. The rate at which it is rising has accelerated over the past 25 years and is expected to continue accelerating in years to come.

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will measure down to the millimeter how much global sea level rises during the 2020s and how fast that rise accelerates. As the rate increases, humans will need to adapt to the effects of rising seas — including flooding, coastal erosion, hazards from storms and negative impacts to marine life.

Along with measuring sea level rise, the mission will provide datasets that can help with weather predictions, assessing temperature changes in the atmosphere and collecting high-resolution vertical profiles of temperature and humidity.

As with its Jason-series predecessors, Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will gather global ocean data every 10 days, providing insights into large ocean features like El Niño events. However, unlike previous Jason-series missions, its higher-resolution instruments will also be able to provide data on smaller ocean features — including complex currents — that will benefit navigation and fishing communities.


One week’s worth of data from NASA’s Earth observing satellites show the rising sea level on Earth between Oct. 29 and Nov. 7, 2019. Areas in red show higher levels, while blue show the lowest. The joint U.S.-European Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission will continue efforts to track sea level rise. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Global sea level rise is one of the most expensive and disruptive impacts of climate change that there is,” said Willis. “In our lifetimes, we’re not going to see global sea level fall by a meaningful amount. We’re literally charting how much sea level rise we’re going have to deal with for the next several generations.”

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS is being jointly developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellite (EUMETSAT), NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with funding support from the European Commission and support from France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). NASA’s contributions to the Sentinel-6 mission are science instrument payloads for the two Sentinel-6 satellites, launch services for those satellites, ground systems supporting the science instruments operations and support for the international Ocean Surface Topography Science Team.

Original Article; NASA (11-20-2019)