Global warming blamed for Pacific coral bleaching

December 22, 2014
An undated handout photo received from the Australian Institute of Marine Science on October 2, 2012 shows bleaching on a coral reef in Australia's Great Barrier Reef

The Marshall Islands is experiencing its worst-ever coral bleaching as global warming threatens reefs across the entire northern Pacific, scientists said Monday.

Marine researchers said an El Nino weather pattern had been developing in recent months, raising ocean temperatures and stressing delicate coral reefs.

"The worst event ever recorded for the Marshall Islands has been occurring since mid-September," Karl Fellenius, a Majuro-based marine scientist with the University of Hawaii told AFP.

C. Mark Eakin, manager of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coral Reef Watch programme, said recent observations showed the problem was widespread across the vast waters of the northern Pacific.

"Major bleaching was seen in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), the Marshall Islands, and Kiribati," he said.

"Thermal stress levels set new record highs in CNMI and the NWHI and we saw the first widespread bleaching event in the main Hawaiian Islands."

Fellenius said coral bleaching was a naturally occurring phenomenon but not on the scale currently being seen.

"While bleaching can occur on very hot days in pools of water with little circulation (such as) very low tides on reef flats, it has become a global problem due to greenhouse gas emissions causing elevated temperatures under climate change."

He said sea surface temperatures had been on average half to a full degree Celsius higher than normal for months, adding: "This does not seem like a lot but it makes a big difference to corals."

Fellenius said the last major bleaching event was in 1997, when an exceptionally strong El Nino system affected about a quarter of the world's .

He said indications were that the latest episode had affected up to 75 percent of smaller corals and 25 percent of the larger varieties at some sites in the Marshalls.

He said the bleached coral was becoming covered with algae, hindering its chances of recovery.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) raised the alarm about rising sea temperatures this month on the sidelines of UN climate talks in Lima, saying 2014 was set to be the hottest year on record, consistent with man-made climate change.

"What is particularly unusual and alarming this year are the high temperatures of vast areas of the ocean surface," WMO chief Michel Jarraud said.

The Asian Development Bank warned last month that widespread coral bleaching would have a major impact on Pacific island nations, many of which are heavily reliant on tourism.

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18 comments

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aksdad
2.2 / 5 (10) Dec 22, 2014
Pointing out the obvious:

1. If "global" warming was responsible you would see the same magnitude of bleaching all over the globe, not just a swath of the Pacific Ocean.

2. Areas of the Pacific periodically warm due to El Niño. This has been known for decades and it has nothing to do with global warming.

3. If 2014 is the "hottest year on record" someone better tell the satellites measuring global temperature. They aren't showing it. I wonder why land-based measurements show it? Poor siting of land-based weather stations affected by local urban heat islands? Nah. Gotta be something else.

Satellite (UAH): http://nsstc.uah.edu/climate/
Satellite (RSS): http://images.rem...ies.html

4. Why renewed alarm about rising sea levels? There is no evidence the trend is accelerating. Just the same as it's been for the last couple decades: slow.

http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

5. Some people like to worry about non-problems.
Egleton
4 / 5 (8) Dec 22, 2014
Some people like to worry about their coal dividend.
Your links show the opposite of what you say.
humy
4.2 / 5 (10) Dec 22, 2014
1. If "global" warming was responsible you would see the same magnitude of bleaching all over the globe, not just a swath of the Pacific Ocean.

Not true: global warming would not to expect to occur completely evenly across the globe.
2. Areas of the Pacific periodically warm due to El Niño. This has been known for decades and it has nothing to do with global warming.

Not quite: although is would be far too simplistic to say that global warming was the 'cause' of any given particular El Niño event, the models predict a general increase in the frequency of El Niño events due to global warming.
Mike_Massen
3.9 / 5 (11) Dec 22, 2014
aksdad claimed
..same magnitude of bleaching all over the globe, not just..
No. Only if you R simple & expect oceans homogeneous.

aksdad claimed
2. Areas of the Pacific periodically warm due to El Niño
Only for simple minded folk, details complex, where does heat differential come from ?

aksdad claimed
.."hottest year on record" someone better tell the satellites measuring global temperature. They aren't showing
Takes time for data to filter through analysis, web site admin etc.

aksdad claimed
..Some people like to worry about non-problems
Many uneducated plebes get great comfort NOT expending a little effort to understand Science & instead make propagandist blurts on public sites Proving they have low Physics understanding :-(

Current data...
http://woodfortre...ormalise

wakeup
Maggnus
4 / 5 (8) Dec 22, 2014
1. If "global" warming was responsible you would see the same magnitude of bleaching all over the globe, not just a swath of the Pacific Ocean.
And it is. Caribbean: http://www.ploson....0083829 Mediterranean: http://www.nature...42a.html Atlantic: http://www.scienc....extract Great barrier: http://www.gbrmpa...leaching Philippines: http://tubbatahar...leaching What is it with deniers and their inability to just look before they make stupid and unsupported claims? C'mon aksdad are you for real?

Lets look at the rest of your bullcrap shall we?
Maggnus
4 / 5 (8) Dec 23, 2014
2. Areas of the Pacific periodically warm due to El Niño. This has been known for decades and it has nothing to do with global warming.
True, all global warming does is increase their frequency (http://www.nature...00.html) and intensity (http://www.nature...0.html). How about, aksdad, you spend just a few minutes and read about the garbage you try to spew on this site to demean something you appear to have very little knowledge about?

3. If 2014 is the "hottest year on record" someone better tell the satellites measuring global temperature. They aren't showing it. I wonder why land-based measurements show it? Poor siting of land-based weather stations affected by local urban heat islands? Nah. Gotta be something else.
A mad scramble of previously debunked misinformation? Is this the best you can come up with? Good gawd, no wonder the denialist camp is in such disarray!!
Maggnus
4 / 5 (8) Dec 23, 2014
4. Why renewed alarm about rising sea levels? There is no evidence the trend is accelerating. Just the same as it's been for the last couple decades: slow.
Oh, so you admit they are rising now I see. I guess the information you've been provided previously has begun to sink into that dull fog surrounding your head.

To remind you: Global: http://www.essie....as91.pdf
The US : http://oceanservi...vel.html
Europe: http://www.eea.eu...sessment
Pacific Islands: http://www.scienc...06000877

I find it interesting that you continue to link to those two charts, both of which show sea level is rising, and then assert that that somehow supports your denialist position. Puzzling - and laughable.

Maggnus
4.1 / 5 (9) Dec 23, 2014
5. Some people like to worry about non-problems.
And some people are like a frog in a pot of cold water placed on a fire. Off course some are deliberately obtuse or deliberately dishonest. Which catagory do you fall into aksdad?

You sound more like ubamoron every day. Dementia setting in?
ekim
4 / 5 (8) Dec 23, 2014
3. If 2014 is the "hottest year on record" someone better tell the satellites measuring global temperature. They aren't showing it. I wonder why land-based measurements show it? Poor siting of land-based weather stations affected by local urban heat islands? Nah. Gotta be something else.

Wouldn't "Poor siting of land-based weather stations affected by local urban heat islands" occur every year? Did the weather stations change or something? Why would 2014 be different than every other year?
Bill589
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 23, 2014
A former White House advisor has taken the brave step of coming forward to affirm that global warming–of as they are calling it this month, "climate change"–is the "greatest scientific fraud in history."

He finds it hard to believe "why so many people believe in a theory that has been proven to be so unreliable versus models that are very reliable," while saying that the models he uses, which rely on solar cycles, are over 90 percent accurate.

http://rightwingn...history/
Bill589
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 23, 2014
Pertinent scientific facts.
Governments and their capitalist cronies pay the university 'scientists'.
Governments and their capitalist cronies are set to benefit big from global warming government programs and their regulations.
After being lied to so often by our governments, it makes sense to NOT trust them.

So I don't trust them. I'll believe my eyes and reasoning, and the true scientists who oppose government/corporate influence.
Mike_Massen
4.5 / 5 (8) Dec 23, 2014
Maggnus offered re bleaching
And it is
http://www.ploson....0083829
http://www.nature...42a.html
http://www.scienc....extract
http://www.gbrmpa...leaching
http://tubbatahar...leaching
Yikes, here was I assuming it wasn't that bad or widespread, thanks Maggnus for updating me on the widespread nature of the issue.

Goes to show we need to be up to date as possible & especially so re arbitrary denier claims such as aksdad, who's so far behind it must be embarrassing. Tut tut to me too, should have taken the time to refresh current breadth of investigation, thanks again Maggnus for your patience & great links :-)
.
.
To Water_Prophet, please get education so U can answer my Q
https://en.wikipe...adiation
nevermark
3.9 / 5 (7) Dec 26, 2014
@bill589,

Did you really just suggest a single non-scientist politician is as credible as the worldwide body of climate scientists? And then post a link to a site laughably called "rightwingnews"?

WTF is wrong with people's basic honesty on this site? An honest/sane skeptic wouldn't undermine themselves by posting anything so daft.
humy
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 26, 2014
Pertinent scientific facts.
Governments and their capitalist cronies pay the university 'scientists'.
Governments and their capitalist cronies are set to benefit big from global warming ...
After being lied to so often by our governments, it makes sense to NOT trust them.
.

Who is "them"? It "it makes sense to NOT trust" who exactly? The governments? perhaps. The scientists and their scientific discoveries, nope. You are illogically implicitly trying to equate "Governments" with "scientists" with their scientific discoveries just because you don't like what they discovered. Their discovery of global warming,is just as valid regardless of the trustworthiness of governments or "capitalists". In addition, even the vast majority of climate scientists with strict socialist ideology would think man made global warming is real. Thus the trustworthiness of governments and capitalists is totally IRRELEVANT to the trustworthiness of the scientists findings.
Agomemnon
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 26, 2014
So where are the studies on the concentration of man-made chemicals like glyphosate, herbicides, pesticides and pharmaceuticals and its effects on coral?

Oh wait....that doesn't fit the AGENDA...got it.
Steve 200mph Cruiz
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 26, 2014
Agomemnon,
the reason they are talking about CO2 ocean acidification and not the chemical industry is because ocean acidification is what causes coral reefs to bleach.
Its a well known phenomenon that is repeated in marine laboratories all the time.
humy
5 / 5 (5) Dec 26, 2014
Oh wait....that doesn't fit the AGENDA...got it.

Agomemnon:
Studying scientifically takes money, time and resources that may be spent on better things if what you choose to study is unlikely to be one of the most important things in the world. Thus that "AGENDA", if you can call it that, would be to not waste good money, time and resources on studying for things that are not generally suspected by most rational scientists to be the main cause of a problem.

I should also add it is not possible to study literally everything thus there is a need to prioritize and study only what is currently thought to be most important.
Mike_Massen
5 / 5 (3) Dec 26, 2014
Elsewhere Water_Prophet claimed
How can you say I ignore longwave radiations?
By evidence, U ignored long wave (LW) radiation re CO2's interference to space, U only saw TSI.

U write fossil fuel (FF) proportion of TSI, yet U IGNORE FACT Earth converts short wave (SW) to LW & CO2 interferes with emission to Space. Nobody is disagreeing FF adds heat & CO2. But, U, as a claimed Physical Chemist (PC) haven't acknowledged CO2's interference U even claimed "CO2 is a red herring", which is obviously completely WRONG !

Water_Prophet claimed
..1998 was a very hot year; Industry was booming and the Sun was at/near a max
Huh? U claim Sun TSI was at max ? Not according to this
http://www.skepti...asic.gif

Water_Prophet claimed to be a PC, yet doesn't write like one, does Water_Prophet accept:-

1. TSI mainly SW
2. Earth converts SW to LW
3. LW to space interfered by CO2

Simple Water_Prophet I asked before, WHY do u STILL evade AGAIN ?

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