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Displaying items by tag: Climate Change

#MarineScience - Climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems, according to a new study spanning six continents.

More than 60 scientists took part in the research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and announced at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union on Wednesday 16 December.

The study – based on global analyses including unique long-term data from the Marine Institute's catchment research facility at Newport, Co Mayo – found that lakes are warming an average of 0.34C, or 0.61F, each decade.

That's greater than the warming rate of either the oceans or the atmosphere, and it can have profound effects, the scientists say.

At the current rate, algal blooms – which can ultimately rob water of oxygen – are projected to increase 20 percent in lakes over the next century. Algal blooms that are toxic to fish and animals would increase by five percent.

These rates imply that emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, will increase four percent over the next decade.

"Lakes are important because society depends on surface water for the vast majority of human uses," said co-author Stephanie Hampton, director of Washington State University's Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach.

"Not just for drinking water, but manufacturing, for energy production, and for irrigation of our crops. Protein from freshwater fish is especially important in the developing world."

Temperature is one of the most fundamental and critical physical properties of water. It controls a host of other properties that include intricate living processes that have evolved within strict boundaries.

When the temperature swings quickly and widely from the norm, life forms in a lake can change dramatically and even disappear.

"These results suggest that large changes in our lakes are not only unavoidable, but are probably already happening," said lead author Catherine O'Reilly, associate professor of geology at Illinois State University.

Earlier research by O'Reilly has seen declining productivity in lakes with rising temperatures.

Funded in part by NASA and the National Science Foundation, the study is the largest of its kind and the first to use a combination of long-term hand measurements and temperature measurements made from satellites, offsetting the shortcomings of each method.

Study co-author Simon Hook, science division manager at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said satellite measurements provide a broad view of lake temperatures over the entire globe. But they only measure surface temperature, while hand measurements can detect changes in temperature throughout a lake. Also, satellite measurements go back only 30 years while some lake measurements can go back more than a century.

Lough Feeagh in Co Mayo was one of 235 lakes in the study that have been monitored for at least 25 years. While that's a fraction of the world's lakes, they contain more than half the world's freshwater supply.

The Marine Institute measures the surface water temperature of Lough Feeagh as part of the long term ecological monitoring of the Burrishoole catchment. The Burrishoole research station is an internationally important index site for diadromous fish monitoring, and water temperature is a crucial variable controlling growth, migration and survival of salmon, trout and eel in the catchment.

"The inclusion of data from Lough Feeagh in this study highlights the value of collecting local environmental long term data to inform global analyses," said Dr Elvira de Eyto, a biologist at the Marine Institute facility in Burrishoole and one of the studies co-authors.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan added: "The sharing of such data with global scientific networks makes an important contribution to worldwide climate change analyses, and our understanding of how the warming climate will affect our valuable aquatic resources."

The surface water of Lough Feeagh has warmed at a rate of 0.35C per decade between 1985-2009, although the rate of warming was lower than some other northern hemisphere lakes.

"We want to be careful that we don't dismiss some of these lower rates of change," said Hampton. "In warmer lakes, those temperature changes can be really important. They can be just as important as a higher rate of change in a cooler lake."

The researchers said various climate factors are associated with the warming trend. In northern climates lakes are losing their ice cover earlier, and many areas of the world have less cloud cover, exposing their waters more to the sun's warming rays.

Many lake temperatures are rising faster than the average air temperatures. Some of the greatest warming is seen at northern latitudes, where rates can average 0.72C, or 1.3F, per decade.

Warm-water, tropical lakes may be seeing less dramatic temperature increases, but increased warming of these lakes can still have large negative impacts on fish. That can be particularly important in the African Great Lakes, home to one-fourth of the planet's freshwater supply and an important source of fish for food.

In general, the researchers write: "The pervasive and rapid warming observed here signals the urgent need to incorporate climate impacts into vulnerability assessments and adaptation efforts for lakes."

Published in Marine Science

Bray, Co Wicklow was the location for a unique Climate Change event on Friday (20th November) hosted by Seán Kelly MEP on the importance of achieving a global deal to reduce carbon emissions in Paris next month.

"I am honoured to have been chosen to be part of the delegation that will represent the European Parliament at the global UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December and will be the only Irish MEP to do so. We received our mandate with a huge majority from the Parliament last month and we are ready to work in Paris to get our key points across," Mr Kelly told attendees.

"Climate Change is truly one of the key challenges of this century. Failure to address it effectively will result in major adverse impacts that will affect all countries.

"Ireland, for example, is particularly vulnerable to loss of coastal assets due to rising sea levels, along with increased precipitation and the resulting flood risks - all of these would prove hugely costly, both socially and economically.

"The bottom line is, we need an ambitious and binding global agreement and we will push for that in Paris. If EU ambition is matched globally, we keep jobs and economic growth here, while meeting the 2oC objective," the MEP added.

Climate change is a cross sector challenge according to Mr Kelly which requires a concerted global effort. "We need to take action to limit these temperature increases, but we have a challenge to do so while meeting the parallel challenges of ensuring food security and maintaining EU competitiveness."

"The bottom line is, we need an ambitious and binding global agreement and we will push for that in Paris. If EU ambition is matched globally, we keep jobs and economic growth here, while meeting the 2oC objective," he said.

Event speakers included Jean-Pierre Thebault, French Ambassador to Ireland, Eamon Ryan, Leader of the Green Party, Mauro Poinelli, Head of Unit Environment, Forestry and Climate Change, European Commission, who examined the agricultural side of the debate and Neil Walker, IBEC’s Head of Infrastructure, Energy and Environment who presented the Irish business perspective.

Published in Coastal Notes
Tagged under

#MarineWildlife - Climate change is driving fish species away from the tropics for more hospitable, warming waters elsewhere, according to scientists from the University of British Columbia.

RTÉ News has more on the story, which outlines that even in the best case scenario, the waters of the tropics are set to warm by one degree Celsius, promoting fish to migrate some 15 kilometres every decade towards the Arctic and Antarctic.

The Canadian university researchers used climate modelling based on findings from the past few decades to predict the situation for more than 800 fish species and marine invertebrates – and the results could be catastrophic for all coastal communities as the ecosystem changes.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - "What if whales were nature's ultimate geoengineers?" That's the question Philip Hoare poses on the Guardian's Comment Is Free section upon the news that US scientists have identified cetacean waste as a potentially pivotal link in the climate change chain.

Marine scientists from the University of Vermont compiled decades' worth of research in their new report that claims whale faeces – and deceased whales on the ocean floor – might comprise "massive carbon sinks" absorbing the CO2 human industry puts into the environment while also providing nutrients for other marine wildlife.

Indeed, it's now thought that areas where cetacean populations have shown signs of recovery after decades of hunting are also seeing "higher rates of productivity" among commercial fishing species.

The new report also supports the notion that climate change "may have been accelerated by the terrible whale culls of the 20th century" that removed a necessary balancing effect to counter the huge levels of man-made carbon emissions.

As Hoare writes: "A burgeoning global population of cetaceans might not just be good for the whalewatching industry, they may play a significant role in the planet's rearguard action against climate change."

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Jellyfish - Jellyfish are coming to Ireland's shores in bigger numbers than ever before, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The "worrying" finding comes with the latest figures of the annual Coastwatch survey of the island of Ireland that concluded in mid October.

Stats collected from volunteers around the coast show that jellyfish have been sighted in more areas and in greater numbers than any other time in the 25-year history of the survey - most likely the result of climate change.

Among them was an "absolutely enormous" specimen more 5 feet in diameter, found on the West coast.

"What this says to us is that our waters are warming," said Coastwatch International co-ordinator Karin Dubsky, who highlighted an explosion in the numbers of small brown jellyfish "which do a lot of damage to wildlife".

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

#POWER FROM THE SEA - Marine-based renewable energy projects could be introduced without a damaging impact on marine wildlife, according to a new briefing paper from Friends of the Earth.

Business Green reports on the paper from the environmental campaign group, written by marine ecologist Martin Attrill of Plymouth University's Marine Institute, which draws together research on the biodiversity impact of offshore wave energy, tidal energy and wind power schemes.

Attrill found that the deployment of sea energy arrays could ultimately benefit many marine species by reducing the effects of fishing activity, and even acting as reefs to attract new sea life.

He cites the example of a grey seal colony in Strangford Lough that has steered clear of a nearby tidal turbine over the three years of its operation in the lough.

However, Business Green says the report makes clear that the deployment of such projects "must be done sensitively", noting that any negative impact on biodiversity "would be significantly lower than the damage done to marine wildlife by rising sea levels caused by climate change".

Business Green has more on the story HERE.

Published in Power From the Sea
Brendan Smith TD, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food visited (Saturday 2nd Oct) the Marine Institute laboratories in Co. Mayo to see at first hand the important work being carried out by the Institute in collaboration with UCD and Trinity College on the impacts of climate change. This work has been developed as part of the NDP funded RESCALE project (Review and Simulate Climate and Catchment Responses at Burrishoole) and involves the development of computer models to assist land use and fisheries managers to deal with impacts of climate change on sensitive peatland river catchments. In an Irish context this is the first time that Global Climate Models have been downscaled to a catchment scale and the work has clearly shown that in addition to milder winters and warmer summers we can also expect more frequent flood events in the west of Ireland by the 2080's. Inland Waterways

Launching the publication of the final report on RESCALE project, Minister Smith said that the project was a major milestone in our understanding of the effects of climate change on sensitive upland catchments in the west of Ireland. "While global climate change is a worldwide phenomenon, the research findings in this report provide information at the local level that will be invaluable to fisheries and land use managers," said the Minister. "Practical research work such as RESCALE is essential if we are to plan for the future management of our valuable agriculture, fisheries and forestry resources in the west of Ireland."

The project is studying data from an unbroken record of information on water temperature, air temperature, river discharge, rainfall and a host of other factors which exists for the catchment dating back to the 1950s for the Burrishoole river. This information collected at the Furnace facility and the neighbouring Met Eireann synoptic station, is invaluable as a resource, not only for measuring physical change over the past sixty years, but also as a proven yardstick to "ground-truth" any computer-generated models describing the likely effects of global warming. Minister Smith said "I am very impressed with the work being done here in Newport and the high level of collaboration between the Institute and the Universities on marine research and its practical application to real situations to help inform decision making into the future."

Published in Inland Waterways
The Marine Institute today welcomed the publication of a major international marine environmental status report highlighting evidence of climate change and ocean acidification in the North Atlantic and calling for the creation of more Marine Protected Areas. The Quality Status Report 2010 was compiled by an international team of scientists, including Marine Institute experts, from countries participating in the Oslo-Paris Convention (OSPAR).

Speaking from the launch of the report in Bergen, Norway, Minister of State with responsibility for Sustainable Transport, Horticulture, Planning and Heritage, Mr. Ciaran Cuffe T.D. said that Ireland welcomed this evidence-based assessment of the marine environment as a 'major milestone.'

"Such periodic holistic assessments are essential 'barometers' allowing policy makers to gauge overall progress towards sustainable management and identify those actions essential to deliver clean, diverse, healthy and productive seas around us," said Minister Cuffe. "Such actions are critical to maintaining our seas and oceans as a sustainable resource for this and future generations."

According to the Report, climate change and ocean acidification effects are now evident especially in the northern OSPAR areas. In addition, human uses of the marine environment, such as offshore renewable energy, offshore oil and gas production, mineral extraction and shipping, are increasing and must be managed in a coordinated way, backed up by research on impacts, if environmental damage is to be avoided.

Furthermore, the decline in biodiversity is far from being halted and actions, such as extending the network of offshore Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), are required to improve the protection of threatened and/or declining species and habitats. In December 2009 Ireland designated 19 MPAs including 4 offshore MPAs.

However, the Report states that there has been progress in reducing pollution from nutrients, certain hazardous substances and radioactive substances in our oceans and seas, although continued efforts are needed. In addition, there have been improvements in fisheries management, although fishing activities continue to have large impacts on marine ecosystems in the seas around Ireland.

"The Marine Institute is delighted to have participated closely in the development and production of this assessment by acting as the focal point for Irish involvement in the process and by providing data and scientific input," said Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute. The QSR 2010 Report is a product of cooperation between many experts from 15 OSPAR countries. The Department of Environment, Health and Local Government act as Head of Delegation for Ireland to OSPAR.

Published in Marine Science
The implications for Ireland's Coast and Inland Waterways are examined in a report by the Heritage Council and Failte Ireland. The report examines the potential impacts, as well as indirect impacts on heritage from adaptation responses such as flood relief schemes, and renewable energy generation. The main findings of the review show that the heritage of the coast is at particular risk, which will impact on related tourism activities too. Our inland waterways will also be affected by changes in precipitation patterns, flooding, increased water pollution, and extreme weather events. More HERE.

 

 

Published in Inland Waterways
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