Displaying items by tag: Climate Change
#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.
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.
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.
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."
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.