Coral remains resilient regardless of warming oceans


Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | March 16, 2022

New research suggests several coral species are weathering warming oceans better than previously thought.

Scientists spent 22 months studying various species of coral in Hawaii and the north Pacific Ocean and found several species can survive warmer oceans, absent of other variables. The species can survive if global temperatures warm up by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature mark set by the Paris Agreement.

The research comes after warnings that coral in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef could be hit by massive bleaching events in 2022. When coral reefs die, essential food sources, shelter, and spawning grounds for several aquatic species. If coral die off in massive amounts due to warming ocean temperatures, marine biodiversity will suffer immensely.

The study’s results does have some limitations, according to NBC News. The study only looks at Hawaiian waters, so its results might not be applicable for all oceans and coral.

The US Will See Sea Levels Rise at an Unprecedented Rate


Via Flickr

Josie Taylor | February 21, 2022

According to a new government report, the US coastline will see sea levels rise in the next 30 years by as much as they did in the entire 20th century. The projected increase is especially alarming given that in the 20th century, seas along the Atlantic coast rose at the fastest clip in 2,000 years.

By 2050, seas lapping against the U.S. shore will be 10 to 12 inches (0.25 to 0.3 meters) higher, with parts of Louisiana and Texas projected to see waters a foot and a half (0.45 meters) higher, according to a 111-page report issued Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and six other federal agencies.

The report did have some good news, like the worst of the long-term sea level rise from the melting of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland probably won’t kick in until after 2100. 

The report “is the equivalent of NOAA sending a red flag up” about accelerating the rise in sea levels, said University of Wisconsin-Madison geoscientist Andrea Dutton, a specialist in sea level rise who wasn’t part of the federal report. The coastal flooding the U.S. is seeing now “will get taken to a whole new level in just a couple of decades.”

The reason why sea level rises more in some places than others is because of sinking land, currents and water from ice melt. The U.S. will get slightly more sea level rise than the global average. 

While higher seas cause much more damage when storms such as hurricanes hit the coast, they are also becoming a problem on sunny days.

Cities such as Miami Beach, Florida; Annapolis, Maryland; and Norfolk, Virginia, already get a few minor floods a year during high tides, but those will be replaced by several “moderate” floods a year by mid-century.

Scientists find coastal life on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch


Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | December 2, 2021

Coastal marine species are making new communities on the gloating Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The species included mussels, barnacles, and shrimp-like amphipods.

Plants and animals are developing and reproducing on a gyre of marine debris particles that sit in the Pacific Ocean. According to NBC News, scientists have discovered over 40 species growing on the floating mass. Most of the debris is plastic. Prior to this finding, researchers did not know plants and animals could live in such conditions.

The patch is 610,000 square miles and hosts 79,000 metric tons of bottles, buoys, microplastics, and nets, reported EcoWatch. The team of four researchers does not know how widespread the species are and if any have found homes in other garbage gyres.

The research shows the ocean provides enough food to sustain the species living on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The patch itself was brought together by ocean currents and was first found in 1997. Multiple generations of various species were found by scientists, indicating the species have survived on the patch for years.

States resist federal move to expand offshore drilling


4733407088_697a7375e2_o.jpg
A 100 foot flame flares above the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. (Jim McKinley/flickr)

Jenna Ladd | January 18, 2018

More states are lining up to be exempt from the Trump administration’s plan to expand offshore oil drilling in the United States.

The administration released a proposal earlier in January to make nearly all U.S. coasts available for drilling over the next five years. Last week, the U.S. Interior Department’s Ryan Zinke granted Florida’s coasts exempt from the deal after a short meeting with Gov. Rick Perry, citing concern for the state’s tourist economy. Shortly after, requests to be excluded from the proposal from other coastal states rolled in. Governors and state officials from Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Delaware have asked for meetings with Zinke to discuss the plan’s threat to tourism industries.

Governor John Carney of Delaware posted a Tweet last week, “Tourism and recreation along the Delaware coastline account for billions in economic activity each year, and support tens of thousands of jobs.”

The only states in support of the plan are Alaska and Maine.

Aside from repelling tourists, offshore drilling has serious implications for ocean life and human health. One drilling platform typically releases 90,000 metric tons of drilling fluids and metal cuttings into the sea. Drilling fluids, or drilling muds, which lubricate wells and cool drill pipes, contain toxic chemicals that harm aquatic life. When oil is pumped, water from underground surfaces along with it. Called “produced water,” it contains anywhere from 30 to 40 parts per million of oil. For example, each year in Alaska’ Cook Inlet, 2 billion gallons of produced water contaminates the area with 70,000 gallons of oil.

This new plans marks another rollback of Obama’s environmental legacy, which prohibited offshore drilling in 94 percent of U.S.’s coastal waters.