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News articles on oceans
Mongabay.com news articles on oceans in blog format. Updated regularly.
(07/19/2006) Gas escaping from the ocean floor may provide some answers to understanding historical global warming cycles and provide information on current climate changes, according to a team of scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The findings are reported in the July 20 on-line version of the scientific journal, Global Biogeochemical Cycles.
2006 on pace to be warmest year on record in the US
(07/17/2006) The average temperature for the continental United States from January through June 2006 was the warmest first half of any year since records began in 1895, according to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NOAA data showed that the average January-June temperature for the contiguous United States was 51.8 degrees F (11.0 degrees C) -- 3.4 degrees F (1.8 degrees C) above the 20th century (1901-2000) average. The government agency noted that five states (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri) experienced record warmth for the period while no state was cooler than average. NOAA also reported that last month was the second warmest June on record and national precipitation was below average. It said that continued below-normal-levels of precipitation combined with warmer-than-average temperatures expanded drought conditions across the country.
Some corals can adapt to ocean acidification
(07/06/2006) While scientists warn that increasing ocean acidity will doom marine animals that build skeletons and structural elements out of calcium carbonate, new research has found that corals can change their skeletons, building them out of different minerals depending on the chemical composition of the seawater around them. However, the research provides further evidence that corals are extremely sensitive to rapid environmental change and will be negatively affected by increased carbon dioxide levels in the short-term.
Genetic contact between reef fish across the 5000 km Pacific divide
(07/05/2006) Reef fish share genetic connections across what Darwin termed an 'impassable barrier', 5000km of deep ocean separating the eastern and central Pacific, according to a report by Smithsonian scientists.
Increasingly acidic oceans damaging to marine life
(07/05/2006) Carbon dioxide emissions are altering ocean chemistry and putting sea life at risk according to a new report released today. The report, "Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs and Other Marine Calcifiers," summarizes known effects of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide on marine organisms that produce calcium carbonate skeletal structures, such as corals. Oceans worldwide absorbed approximately 118 billion metric tons of carbon between 1800 and 1994 according to the report, resulting in increased ocean acidity, which reduces the availability of carbonate ions needed for the production of calcium carbonate structures.
Severe damage expected for Caribbean coral reefs in 2006
(07/04/2006) Caribbean Sea temperatures have reached their annual high two months ahead of schedule according to a report from The Associated Press. Scientists are concerned that the region's coral reefs may suffer even worse damage than last year when 70 percent of coral was bleached in some areas.
Sea creatures may have role in global warming
(07/04/2006) Small sea creatures known as salps may have a role in global warming by locking up carbon in surface seas and sending it to the depths of the ocean. By prevening carbon from re-entering the atmosphere, these animals may have a small role in countering climate change resulting from increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Ozone hole recovery slower than expected
(06/29/2006) Scientists from NASA and other agencies have concluded that the ozone hole over the Antarctic will recover around 2068, nearly 20 years later than previously believed. Researchers from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) have developed a new tool, a math-based computer model, to predict the timing of ozone hole recovery. Their findings will be published tomorrow in Geophysical Research Letters.
Great flood disrupted ocean currents, cooled climate, finds new research
(06/29/2006) Ocean circulation changes caused at the end of the past glacial period were more extensive than previously thought, according to new research scientists at the University of East Anglia and Cardiff University. The findings, published in the June 30 issue of the journal Science, indicate that the catastrophic freshwater release from glacial lakes in North America slowed ocean circulation and cooled the climate some 8200 years ago.
World's coral reefs threatened by lack of effective protection
(06/22/2006) Of the 18.7% of tropical coral reefs that lie within "Marine Protected Areas," less than 2% are extended protection complete with regulations on extraction, poaching and other major threats, according to an analysis published in Science Magazine on June 23. The research represents the first global assessment of the extent, effectiveness and gaps in coverage of coral reefs by MPAs. The team built a database of MPAs for 102 countries, including satellite imagery of reefs worldwide, and surveyed more than 1,000 MPA managers and scientists to determine the conservation performance of MPAs.
Madagascar's reefs escape damage from global warming
(06/22/2006) A survey of coral along Madagascar's northeast coast suggests that they island's reef may have so far escaped the damaging effects of warmer ocean temperatures attributed to global climate change. Researchers from conservation International (CI), a leading conservation group, found that the region's coral reefs have avoided the bleaching that has affected other Indian Ocean reefs. The scientists believe that cool water currents from adjacent deep ocean areas have helped offset the warming effects of climate change.
Mammals in war-torn Virunga National Park recovering finds WCS survey
(06/20/2006) A recent wildlife census conducted in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) revealed that several species of large mammal are now recovering from a decade of civil war and rampant poaching.
Why does Madagascar have so many unique animals?
(05/24/2006) Scientists have developed the first comprehensive theory to explain Madagascar's rich biodiversity. Madagascar, larger than California and about size the size of Texas or France, is the world's fourth largest island. Isolated in the Indian Ocean off the coast of southern Africa, about 70% of the estimated 250,000 species found on the island exist nowhere else on the globe. The island is home to such evolutionary oddities as lemurs, a group of primates endemic to the island; brilliantly colored lizards including geckos and chameleons; tenrecs, spiny hedgehog-like creatures; and the fossa, a carnivorous animal that looks like a cross between a puma and a dog but is closely related to the mongoose.
2006: Expect another big hurricane year says NOAA
(05/22/2006) The 2006 hurricane season in the north Atlantic region is likely to again be very active, although less so than 2005 when a record-setting 15 hurricanes occured, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On average, NOAA says the north Atlantic hurricane season produces 11 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including two major hurricanes. In 2005, the Atlantic hurricane season contained a record 28 storms, including 15 hurricanes. Seven of these hurricanes were considered major, of which a record four hit the United States. The warning from NOAA comes after a slew of studies have indicated that climate change could increase the frequency and intensity of powerful storms. Last year, two earlier studies published in the journals Nature and Science found a strong correlation between rising tropical sea surface temperatures and an increase in the strength of hurricanes.
Exxon Valdez oil spill more damaging to wildlife finds study
(05/16/2006) New evidence suggests that oil from the Exxon Valdez may still causing damage to Alaska's Prince William Sound, 17 years after the ship ran aground. The study, by chemist Jeffrey Short and colleagues at the National Marine Fisheries Service in Juneau, Alaska, appears today on the Web site of the American Chemical Society's journal.
Global warming may cause permanent damage to coral reefs
(05/15/2006) Global warming has had a more devastating impact on coral reefs than previously believed says a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research, the first to show the long-term impact of rising sea temperatures on coral and fish communities, suggests that "large sections of coral reefs and much of the marine life they support may be wiped out for good," according to a news release from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, an institution involved in the project.
History of the Chilean Sea Bass market
(05/04/2006) Today The Wall Street Journal ran an account of how the Chilean Sea Bass was first brought to market in 1977. Since its introduction, the species -- also known as the Patagonian toothfish -- has gone from being shunned to being welcomed at the worst's finest restaurants. But demand for the fish has taken its toll and the slow-growing species which takes 10-12 years to reach sexual maturity suffers from illegal over fishing in parts of its range. Some groups estimate that the illegal take may be up to five times the legal catch limit, leading some ecologists to predict the immanent collapse of the fishery.
La Nina will not affect 2006 Atlantic hurricanes
(05/04/2006) NASA oceanographers agree that the recent La Nina in the eastern Pacific Ocean is not expected to have an effect on the Atlantic hurricane season this year. That's good news, because normally a La Nina tends to increase Atlantic hurricane activity and decrease Pacific Ocean hurricanes.
Scientists discover Zooplankton species key to ocean food chain
(05/04/2006) Census of Marine Life scientists trawled rarely explored tropical ocean depths between the southeast US coast and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to inventory and photograph the variety and abundance of zooplankton -- small sea bugs that form a vital link in the ocean food chain -- and other life forms.
Pacific wind pattern driving el Nino slows due to global warming
(05/03/2006) Global warming has caused a key wind circulation pattern over the Pacific Ocean to weakened by 3.5 percent since the mid-1800s and scientists warn that it be further diminished by another 10% by 2100. The study, published in the May 4 issue of Nature, says that the weakening of the Walker circulation could could alter climate -- including el Nino and La Nina events -- and the marine food chain across the entire Pacific region. The Walker circulation, an atmospheric circulation of air at the equatorial Pacific Ocean which spans almost half the circumference of Earth, pushes the Pacific Ocean's trade winds from east to west, generating rainfall in Indonesia while creating ocean upwelling off the coast of South America that nourishes marine life.
16,119 species at risk of extinction
(05/02/2006) The number of known threatened species reaches 16,119. The ranks of those facing extinction are joined by familiar species like the polar bear, hippopotamus and desert gazelles; together with ocean sharks, freshwater fish and Mediterranean flowers. Positive action has helped the white-tailed eagle and offers a glimmer of hope to Indian vultures. The total number of species declared officially Extinct is 784 and a further 65 are only found in captivity or cultivation. Of the 40,177 species assessed using the IUCN Red List criteria, 16,119 are now listed as threatened with extinction. This includes one in three amphibians and a quarter of the world's coniferous trees, on top of the one in eight birds and one in four mammals known to be in jeopardy
Forest restoration important in Guyana
(05/01/2006) Located on the northern edge of South America, bordered by Suriname, Brazil, Venezuela, and the Atlantic Ocean, lays a small but vibrant country with a wealth of culture, biodiversity and opportunity. During the week of 13-17 March 2006, representatives from Guyanese government departments, civil society and indigenous peoples' organizations met in the capital city, Georgetown, with the World conservation Union (IUCN) and the International Tropical Timber Organization at a national workshop on Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR). The workshop introduced the concept of FLR with the intention of better understanding how it may be applied in the Guyana context.
Greenhouse gases hit record in 2005
(05/01/2006) Atmospheric levels of gases believed to be fueling global warming continued to climb in 2005 according to analysis released by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency said its index of greenhouse gases -- the Annual Greenhouse Gas Index or AGGI -- showed an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide but a leveling off of methane, and a decline in two chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), gases that contribute to the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica. NOAA reports that overall, the AGGI "shows a continuing, steady rise in the amount of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere."
Corals may survive global warming by gorging themselves
(04/26/2006) A new study published in Nature says some coral are able to survive bleaching events by gorging themselves. An experiment with Hawaiian corals showed that when bleached, one species sharply increased its intake of food, increasing the likelihood that it would survive elevated water temperatures.
Global warming could doom the walrus finds new study
(04/14/2006) Add the walrus to the list of species threatened by climate change. A new study finds unprecedented pup abandonment in the Arctic due to disappearing sea ice. A new study warns that walrus calves are being stranded by melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Researchers aboard the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy during a cruise in the Canada Basin in the summer of 2004 found lone walrus calves swimming far from shore--something never before documented. The sightings suggest that increased polar warming may be forcing mothers to abandon their pups as they follow the rapidly retreating ice northwards. If these observations portray a larger trend, a warming Arctic ice may lead to decreases in the walrus population say the scientists whose research was published in the April issue of Aquatic Mammals.
Damaged Caribbean reefs under attack
(04/10/2006) After experiencing one of the most devastating coral bleaching events on record during September and October of 2005, reefs in the Caribbean are under attack from deadly diseases according to Reuters.
Long-term cooling driven by Antarctica, not glaciers in Northern Hemisphere
(04/10/2006) Researchers from Brown University have reconstructed 5-million years of climate using tiny marine fossils found in mud off the coast of South America. The climate record unearthed by the Brown team is the longest continuous record of ocean temperatures on Earth.
Recent Coral Bleaching at Great Barrier Reef
(04/05/2006) An international team of scientists are working at a rapid pace to study environmental conditions behind the fast-acting and widespread coral bleaching currently plaguing Australia's Great Barrier Reef. NASA's satellite data supply scientists with near-real-time sea surface temperature and ocean color data to give them faster than ever insight into the impact coral bleaching can have on global ecology. Australia's Great Barrier Reef is a massive marine habitat system made up of 2,900 reefs spanning over 600 continental islands. Though coral reefs exist around the globe, researchers actually consider this network of reefs to be the center of the world's marine biodiversity, playing a critical role in human welfare, climate, and economics. Coral reefs are a multi-million dollar recreational destinations, and the Great Barrier Reef is an important part of Australia's economy.
Deep-Sea Fish Populations Boom Over the Last 15 Years, New Scripps Study Shows
(04/03/2006) Scientists make progress toward understanding mysteries surrounding animals that live in the dark recesses of the oceans.
Climate change threatens coldwater reefs
(04/03/2006) Increasing amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, are dissolving into the oceans, causing them to become slightly more acidic. This change in seawater chemistry could harm deep-sea calcifying animals like corals.
Pacific Ocean getting warmer and more acidic
(03/31/2006) The Pacific Ocean is getting warmer and more acidic, while the amount of oxygen is decreasing, due to increased absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide say scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and the University of Washington.
Lack of oxygen triggers sex imbalance in fish
(03/29/2006) Oceanic oxygen depletion resulting from agricultural run-off and pollution can trigger sex imbalance in fish and pose an extinction risk according to a new study published by researchers in Hong Kong. The finding raises new concerns about "dead zones",expanses of water so devoid of oxygen that most sea life cannot survive.
Global warming causing stronger hurricanes
(03/16/2006) The link between warmer ocean temperatures and increasing intensity of hurricanes has been confirmed by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Last year, two studies published in the journals Nature and Science found a strong correlation between rising tropical sea surface temperatures and an increase in the strength of hurricanes.
Reefs threatened by tsunami reconstruction
(03/16/2006) Indian Ocean coral reefs that escaped serious damage are coming under increasing threat from reconstruction efforts in the region according to a new report from the international environmental groups, World conservation Union and the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.
Record one-year increase in carbon dioxide levels
(03/13/2006) Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels jumped 2.6 parts per million (ppm) in 2005, one of the largest increases on record according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Carbon dioxide levels now stand at 381 ppm, about 36 percent above pre-industrial levels.
Photo of newly discovered blonde-haired lobster
(03/08/2006) Divers found a new species of crustacean living deep in hydrothermal vents of the South Pacific. The creature resembles a lobster covered with "silky, blond" fur say researchers who made the discovery.
Volcanic eruption cut warming in 20th century
(02/09/2006) Ocean temperatures might have been warmer and sea levels would have risen higher in the 20th century had Krakatoa not erupted in 1883, said a team of scientists. According to the researchers, the release of ashes and aerosols into the upper atmosphere had a significant long-term impact on global climate.
Great Barrier Reef in Trouble says Australian Scientist
(02/01/2006) Australia's Great Barrier Reef may be at risk of one of its worst coral bleaching event on record warned a leading Australian scientist Tuesday.
World's smallest fish title in dispute
(01/30/2006) Researchers dispute last week's claim of world's smallest fish in Sumatra. Evidence of an even smaller fish--a species of marine anglerfish 20 percent smaller than the carp found in southeast Asia--is presented by a University of Washington professor of aquatic and fisheries sciences. In a release from the University of Washington, professor Pietsch describes the tiny anglerfish, Photocorynus spiniceps, found in the Philippines.
Coral reefs and mangroves have high economic value
(01/24/2006) Protecting coral reefs and mangrove forests makes economic sense according to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The report argues that conserving these ecosystems for the services they provide--from fisheries protection to erosion control to a source for medical compounds--is cost-effective relative to destroying them and substituting their role with man-made structures.
Madagascar establishes new park system to protect lemurs, benefit people
(01/17/2006) Madagascar has created a new agency for managing the parks of the Indian Ocean island nation. The System of Protected Areas of Madagascar, or SAPM, simplifies the legal process used to create a protected areas, while providing for flexibility for local people to earn a living from conservation activities.
Lemur land, Madagascar now protected
(01/08/2006) With the official establishment of the Makira Protected Area last week, the government of Madagascar has brought the total area of land and marine zones under protection to one million hectares.
Tiny marine organisms reflect ocean warming
(01/05/2006) Sediment cores collected from the seafloor off Southern California reveal that plankton populations in the Northeastern Pacific changed significantly in response to a general warming trend that started in the early 1900s.
Climate change caused major disruption to past ocean currents
(01/05/2006) Massive climate change 55 million years ago caused major disruption to ocean currents according to new research by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.
Marine reserves improve health of coral reefs finds study
(01/05/2006) It may be no surprise that marine reserves protect the fish that live in them, but now scientists from the University of Exeter have shown for the first time that they could also help improve the health of coral reefs.
New resource documents Caribbean marine life of Bocas del Toro
(12/27/2005) Coral reefs, coastal rainforest, land-grab, industrial bananas and organic cacao, mangroves, tourist boom, eclectic cultural mix: A Caribbean Journal of Science special issue presents the first scientific overview of the marine environment in Bocas del Toro Province.
Risk/benefit analysis of farmed versus wild salmon
(12/23/2005) A new study shows that the net benefits of eating wild Pacific salmon outweigh those of eating farmed Atlantic salmon, when the risks of chemical contaminants are considered.
Caribbean reefs suffer severe coral bleaching event
(12/20/2005) The Caribbean experienced one of the most devastating coral bleaching events on record during September and October while hurricanes battered the Gulf of Mexico. In response, NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have sent a team to assess the situation.
Scandinavians mix sea and river water to generate electricity
(12/19/2005) Two Scandinavian groups have invented devices that generate electricity by mixing sea and river water. The technologies work based on the difference in salt concentration between ocean water and freshwater.
Permafrost could melt by 2100, worsening global warming
(12/19/2005) Global warming could cause the top 10 feet (3 meters) or more of Arctic permafrost to thaw by 2100 according to new simulations from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Melting could disrupt important ecosystems, damage roads and buildings, increase freshwater runoff into the Acrtic Ocean and release large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.
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