Category Archives: Climate Change News

El Niño Weather and Climate Change Threaten Survival of Baby Leatherback Sea Turtles

sea turtle egg
“El nacimiento.” A sea turtle egg. Photo source: ©©Emmanuel Frezzotti


When leatherback turtle hatchlings dig out of their nests buried in the sandy Playa Grande beach in northwest Costa Rica, they enter a world filled with dangers. This critically endangered species faces threats that include egg poaching and human fishing practices.

Now, Drexel University researchers have found that the climate conditions at the nesting beach affect the early survival of turtle eggs and hatchlings. They predict, based on projections from multiple models, that egg and hatchling survival will drop by half in the next 100 years as a result of global climate change…

Read Full Article, Science Daily

Sea Turtle Egg Poaching Legalized in Costa Rica: The Debate, Coastal Care
An unusual project installed in 1990, to stabilize the population of Olive Ridley sea turtles in the coastal town of Ostional on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, that led the government of Costa Rica to legally permit an exemption to the 1966 nationwide ban on harvesting sea turtle eggs, remains controversial.

Seagrasses Can Store as Much Carbon as Forests

Seagrass at the waterline, Seychelles. Seagrasses are a vital part of the solution to climate change and, per unit area, seagrass meadows can store up to twice as much carbon as the world’s temperate and tropical forests. Photo source: ©© Lawrence Hislop /Unep


Seagrasses are a vital part of the solution to climate change and, per unit area, seagrass meadows can store up to twice as much carbon as the world’s temperate and tropical forests.

So report researchers publishing a paper this week in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The paper, “Seagrass Ecosystems as a Globally Significant Carbon Stock,” is the first global analysis of carbon stored in seagrasses.

The results demonstrate that coastal seagrass beds store up to 83,000 metric tons of carbon per square kilometer, mostly in the soils beneath them.

As a comparison, a typical terrestrial forest stores about 30,000 metric tons per square kilometer, most of which is in the form of wood.

The research also estimates that, although seagrass meadows occupy less than 0.2 percent of the world’s oceans, they are responsible for more than 10 percent of all carbon buried annually in the sea.

“Seagrasses only take up a small percentage of global coastal area, but this assessment shows that they’re a dynamic ecosystem for carbon transformation,” said James Fourqurean, the lead author of the paper and a scientist at Florida International University and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site.

The Florida Coastal Everglades LTER site is one of 26 such NSF LTER sites around the world in ecosystems from forests to tundra, coral reefs to barrier islands.

“Seagrasses have the unique ability to continue to store carbon in their roots and soil in coastal seas,” said Fourqurean. “We found places where seagrass beds have been storing carbon for thousands of years.”

The research was led by Fourqurean in partnership with scientists at the Spanish High Council for Scientific Investigation, the Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia, Bangor University in the United Kingdom, the University of Southern Denmark, the Hellenic Center for Marine Research in Greece, Aarhus University in Denmark and the University of Virginia.

Seagrass meadows, the researchers found, store ninety percent of their carbon in the soil–and continue to build on it for centuries.

In the Mediterranean, the geographic region with the greatest concentration of carbon found in the study, seagrass meadows store carbon in deposits many meters deep.

Seagrasses are among the world’s most threatened ecosystems. Some 29 percent of all historic seagrass meadows have been destroyed, mainly due to dredging and degradation of water quality. At least 1.5 percent of Earth’s seagrass meadows are lost every year.

The study estimates that emissions from destruction of seagrass meadows can potentially emit up to 25 percent as much carbon as those from terrestrial deforestation.

“One remarkable thing about seagrass meadows is that, if restored, they can effectively and rapidly sequester carbon and reestablish lost carbon sinks,” said paper co-author Karen McGlathery, a scientist at the University of Virginia and NSF’s Virginia Coast Reserve LTER site.

The Virginia Coast Reserve and Florida Coastal Everglades LTER sites are known for their extensive seagrass beds.

Seagrasses have long been recognized for their many ecosystem benefits: they filter sediment from the oceans; protect coastlines against floods and storms; and serve as habitats for fish and other marine life.

The new results, say the scientists, emphasize that conserving and restoring seagrass meadows may reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon stores–while delivering important “ecosystem services” to coastal communities.

The research is part of the Blue Carbon Initiative, a collaborative effort of Conservation International, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.

Read Original Article, NSF

Blue Carbon Initiative

Coastal Peoples Address Climate Change

“Trail of the Whispering Giants,” Sculptures by Peter Wolf Toth. Photo source: ©© Shmaktyc

Coastal Tribes Convene to Tackle Climate Change
Press release, by First Stewards

The inaugural First Stewards symposium, to be held July 17-20 in Washington, D.C is a national event that examines the impact of climate change on indigenous coastal cultures and explores solutions based on millennia of traditional ecological knowledge.

Hundreds of native leaders, witnesses and climate scientists will join policy-makers and non-government organizations for groundbreaking dialogue in what is planned to be an annual meeting at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

The Hoh, Makah and Quileute tribes and the Quinault Indian Nation created the symposium because tribal coastal people are among the most affected by climate change.

“We need everyone engaged in working on adaptations, mitigation and strategies and solutions to climate change,” said Micah McCarty, chairman of the Makah and of the First Stewards steering committee. “Even the polar bears and people of the Arctic Circle cannot escape the second-hand smoke of the vehicle tailpipe and the smokestack that leave such a large carbon footprint. Arctic Circle villages must adapt and change now while still trying to preserve their culture and way of life. The rest of us have a little time if we act now,” McCarty said. Traditional knowledge is needed to make climate science and subsequent models meaningful on a human and local scale.

“Coastal Indian people are already dealing with the effects of climate change,” said Billy Frank Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC). The NWIFC is an inter-tribal support services organization that assists 19 member tribes in western Washington with natural resources management. “The glaciers that feed our life-giving rivers are melting. Reservations are flooding more often, forcing some tribes to have to move their homes to higher ground. Tribes are the natural choice to lead the nation in the response to climate change, beginning with this symposium in July.”

Regional panels will share climate adaptation strategies from coastal and island ecosystems nationwide where Indian Country, Alaskan Natives and indigenous U.S. Pacific Islanders are at the forefront, creating an incubator for climate change solutions. Tribal regulatory environments allow for demonstrations of solutions to pressing needs, such as renewable energy and adaptation strategies for villages.

“We want to see meaningful collaboration borne out of this first symposium that over the coming years yields effective work to make changes in the way we live on earth to sustain all of us for centuries to come,” McCarty said.

The symposium is in partnership with scientific, tribal and governmental and non-governmental organizations including the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and National Marine Fisheries Service, The Nature Conservancy, National Congress of American Indians and Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. Other partners include Salmon Defense, United South and Eastern Tribes, Uncas Consulting Services, American Native Renewables, and EA Engineering, Science, and Technology.

Learn More, First Stewards

Living Planet Report 2012: Looks At Ecological State Of The Earth

Photo source: ©© Irrargerich


Twenty years on from the Rio Earth summit, the environment of the planet is getting worse not better, according to a report from WWF.

Humans are currently using the equivalent of one and a half Earths to support our activities. This and other startling findings were revealed tuesday with the release of World Wildlife Fund’s 2012 Living Planet Report…

Most alarming, says the report, is that many of these changes have accelerated in the past decade, despite the plethora of international conventions signed since the initial Rio Summit in 1992. Climate-warming carbon emissions have increased 40% in the past 20 years, but two-thirds of that rise occurred in the past decade…

Colby Loucks, WWF’s director of conservation science, explained that using the resources of one and a half planets is “akin to buying on credit.” He noted that by “rapidly eating into our capital” we continue to increase our “ecological debt.”

Loucks stressed the importance of using resources more efficiently and protecting nature. He said, “nature can no longer be seen as an object of luxury.” Rather, it must be viewed as an object of “necessity.”

Read Full Article, The Huffington Post

Earth’s environment getting worse, not better, Guardian UK

Monitoring Global Biodiversity- In Pictures, WWF Report, Guardian UK

Rio+20 summit leaders ‘must improve nature protection, BBC

World Wildlife Fund’s 2012 Living Planet Report, WWF

Green growth Is Not Just For Rich Nations: World Bank

Photograph: © SAF


The World Bank urged global governments Thursday to heed the environment when pursuing prosperity, rejecting what it called a myth that green growth is a luxury most countries cannot afford.

It urged governments to rethink their approach to growth, measuring not only what is being produced but what is being used up and polluted in the process…

Read Full Article, AFP

Small Island States in Clean Energy Race

Roseau, Dominica. Photo source: ©© Ted Rufus Ross


A new United Nations analysis of the most recent energy plans of 52 low lying poor countries, traditionally heavily dependent on imports of petrol and oil, shows the Caribbean island of Dominica leading the world with plans to become carbon “negative” by 2020.

With Tonga, Samoa, Nauru, Mauritius and many other countries also volunteering to switch to solar, geothermal and wind energy, the collective target of the group of 52 small island developing states is a 45% cut in emissions in the next 18 years, considerably more than the world’s rich countries who between them have pledged 12-18% cuts by 2020.

“We are showing the world leadership,” said Dominican ambassador to the UN, Vince Henderson, at a UN development programme meeting ahead of next week’s reconvened climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

“This is about survival as well as economics… We are demanding that all countries take their responsibilities.”

Read Full Article, Guardian UK

Methane Emissions from the Arctic Ocean


By Eric Kort, Jet Propulsion Laboratory / NASA

The fragile and rapidly changing Arctic is home to large reservoirs of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. As Earth’s climate warms, that methane is vulnerable to possible release into the atmosphere, where it can add to global warming.

Researchers have known for years that large amounts of methane are frozen in Arctic tundra soils and in marine sediments (including gas hydrates). But now a multi-institutional study led by Eric Kort—now at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory after conducting the research at Harvard University—has uncovered a surprising and potentially important source of methane: the Arctic Ocean itself.

The photograph above was taken by Kort, and it shows leads and cracks in the ice cover of the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska. During five research flights in 2009–10, Kort and colleagues measured increased methane levels while flying at low altitudes north of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in a National Science Foundation/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Gulfstream V aircraft as part of the HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO) airborne campaign.

The methane level detected during the flights was about one-half percent higher than normal background levels.
 But where was the methane coming from? The team detected no excess carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, which would have been a signature of methane coming from the human combustion of fuels. And based on the time of year, the location, and the nature of the emissions, it was unlikely that the methane was coming from high-latitude wetlands or geologic reservoirs.

By comparing the locations of the enhanced methane levels with airborne measurements of carbon monoxide, water vapor, and ozone, the researchers from six institutions pinpointed a source: the ocean surface, in places where there were cracks and openings in the sea ice cover. The cracks were allowing methane in the top layers of the sea to escape into the atmosphere. The team did not detect enhanced methane levels over areas of solid ice.

Kort noted that previous studies had detected high concentrations of methane in Arctic surface waters, but no one had predicted that this dissolved methane would find its way into the overlying atmosphere. Scientists are not yet sure how the methane is produced, but Kort suspects biological productivity in Arctic surface waters may be the culprit.

“While the methane levels we detected weren’t particularly large, the potential source region, the Arctic Ocean, is vast,” he said. “Our finding could represent a noticeable new global source of methane.”

Original Article, NASA

Global Climate Change: A Primer, by Orrin H. Pilkey and Keith C. Pilkey
This timely, informative book is exactly what the public needs to understand the ongoing disruption of the earth’s climate. The authors present an excellent summary of what we know, and what we don’t know, about the planet’s climate.

Climate Impacts Day: Connecting the Dots

Photo source: ©© Irargerich


Colorful photos and live video streamed in from events held in more than 100 countries on Saturday where citizens are “connecting the dots” between global climate change and extreme weather events.

The events, part of “Climate Impacts Day” and coordinated by international climate campaign, demonstrate how a string of weather disasters around the world provide mounting evidence of the hazards incurred by global warming.

“We just celebrated Earth Day. May 5 is more like Broken Earth Day, a worldwide witness to the destruction global warming is already causing,” said author, environmentalist and founder Bill McKibben. “People everywhere are saying the same thing: our tragedy is not some isolated trauma, it’s part of a pattern…”

Read Original Article, Huffington Post

Connect The Dots, by 350.Org

Climate change: what do models predict for Europe?

coastal erosion
Photo source: ©© Potomo


Global warming in Europe this century will mostly affect Scandinavia and the Mediterranean basin, the European Environment Agency warned.

Records show temperatures have increased in Europe – but what changes can we expect to see in the future? Experts at the European Environment Agency (EEA) have produced a series of maps showing projected changes in temperature and precipitation for this century…

Read Original Article, European Environment Agency

European climate change to hit Scandinavia and south hardest, AFP