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Climate Hustle

Ocean advocates are increasingly concerned about climate change

Posted on 17 June 2019 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Daisy Simmons

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The world’s oceans are deeply affected by climate change – and vice versa. But until recent years, ocean advocates throughout California had long tackled issues like over-fishing and coastal pollution without as much emphasis on the broad-reaching relationship between climate and oceans.

That’s all changed, as evidenced by a March annual lobbying event at the state capitol.

In 2004, when a dozen or so advocates gathered for the first Ocean Day, “climate change was a side issue,” said Environment California’s Dan Jacobson, who launched the event.

When more than 200 people convened from throughout the state last month, climate had become “the overarching issue” in legislator meetings on a range of topics.

“It’s become an underlying theme in everything we’re doing,” said Jacobson. “Even the guy who literally rescues animals stranded on the shore is saying, ‘Of course, this is all getting worse because of climate change.'”

Fast facts on Ocean Day 2019

Through the day, small groups from a mix of organizations like Environment California, Surfrider, and Azul met with state assembly-members and senators on a range of key ocean issues, such as offshore drilling, plastic pollution, and sea-level rise – with conversations often touching naturally on climate change.

Stern talking

State Senator Henry Stern met with several participating groups. (Photo: Courtesy of Daisy Simmons)

For example, the single-use plastic ban many groups advocated for is a wildlife issue – and a climate issue, too. Made from oil and natural gas, simply producing plastic contributes directly to an industry that fuels climate change. Plus, new research in PLOS One suggests plastic may produce “climate-relevant trace gases” that could increase as more is produced and accumulates in oceans.

Sea-level rise also figured prominently in meetings and additional activities, from a luncheon discussing the impacts of sea-level rise on disadvantaged communities, to a “Shark Tank” session, where one scientist won for her work analyzing the costs of sea-level rise on public institutions.

Bringing home the personal impact

Scientific research addressing climate and oceans is pouring in: oceans are losing oxygen and experiencing acidification, often at drastic rates; projected damages resulting from sea-level rise “could exceed those from the worst wildfires and earthquakes.”

But also inspiring change is mounting public awareness that climate change will cause more damage to our oceans – and to ocean life as we know it – if left unchecked.

Take Heirs to Our Oceans’ Aislinn Clark, a 13-year old ocean policy advocate from Pescadero. Working on a novel in her spare time, she says she wants to be a writer in part so she can help others imagine how climate change, or inaction on it, could play out in future realities.

In her group’s meeting with Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson of California’s 19th Senate District, this driven teen declared, “we’re going to be the decision-makers.”

Jackson’s response: “I’m not going to be able to accomplish [environmental protection to the extent needed] in my lifetime, but you might be able to do it in yours …. It’s your generation that’s going to make it happen.”

Jackson is a Democrat, but there was a sense throughout the day that protecting oceans from threats like sea-level rise is important to state legislators on both sides of the aisle.

“What’s interesting is that everyone is coming together on climate,” said Jacobson. “They’re still not singing the same tune, but they’re all singing.”

The hard thing now is agreeing on particular strategies.

Heirs booth

Cynthia Vasquez, left, and Sophie Mansoor, right, of Heirs to Our Oceans. (Photo: Courtesy of Daisy Simmons)

For example, Amy Wolfrum of the Monterey Bay Aquarium discussed how, in Pacific Grove, California, some favor building artificial sea walls while others would opt for natural solutions like dunes.

Time is of the essence, however, when it comes to mitigating future effects of climate change and reducing impacts now.

“We have 11 years, right, until everything we do is irreversible, Heirs to Our Oceans eighth-grader Sophie Mansoor said, perhaps thinking of a 2018 IPCC report. “If we don’t reduce emissions by 45 percent, my children won’t have a future.”

What happens in California … can have a ripple effect

In absence of federal action on climate, states like California are proving important torch-carriers of the Paris climate goals.

And encouraging legislators to connect the dots between climate and ocean issues could help bring more climate-smart policy to life in a state whose population is passionate about its coast.

Today some 26 million Californians live in coastal counties – about as many as live along the coast in New Jersey, Texas and Florida combined. The state’s ocean-based economy is valued at roughly $45 billion annually, and employs more than a half million people.

And as the fifth largest economy in the world, California has the potential to make a real dent in global emissions – and serve as an example to others.

As secretary of the state’s department of natural resources Wade Crowfoot said in his Ocean Day remarks, “If we can’t do it in California, where else in the world are we going to do it?”

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. In your efforts to identify people needing to be corrected regarding their position on climate science, including what political parties a claimed supporter of climate science would consider supporting, I suggest the following connection to Ocean concerns:

    If you encounter an Ocean-liker, especially someone who agrees with this concern about climate change impacts on the Ocean systems, ask them if they are aware of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And help them understand that the SDGs connect the corrections of developed attitudes and activities that are harmful to the future of Humanity, including protecting the Oceans and addressing Climate Change impacts.

    Then ask them which political parties they 'consider voting for'.

    Be familiar with all the Political Party positions related to all of the SDGs and point out the Parties they are considering that have actually resisted, claimed the need to harmfully compromise, the required corrections that would reduce the harm done to the Oceans, including resistance to climate change impact corrections.

    Then ask them if, based on their improved awareness and understanding, they would still consider supporting the Parties that are understandably harmful regarding those 2 of the 17 SDGs.

    If they still would consider those parties ask them specifically why. They may not initially offer the answer, but they may offer a main issue that they 'like' the parties position on.

    This is when being familiar with all of the Sustainable Development Goals and the corrections of developed harmful popular and profitable attitudes and activities is important.

    Knowing the Party positions regarding all of the Sustainable Development Goals you can probably point out that their main reason for considering the harmful Party is actually a harmful impediment to achieving another of the integrated Sustainable Development Goals that undeniably need to be achieved collectively for humanity to have a better future.

    Even if they will not offer up 'their main reason' for continuing to consider voting for the Ocean harmful parties, you can point out that the Ocean concern they have is one of the integrated Sustainable Development Goals. And you can point out how many other ways the Ocean-harming Party they are willing to still consider voting for is deliberately and misleadingly harmful to the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals.

    My developed understanding is that the Populist United Right movements growing popularity around the world abuse the power of misleading marketing to prey on people who are easily impressed to support an actually harmful attitude or action, people who will incorrectly apply confirmation bias and motivated reasoning to try to justify their interest in supporting that understandably harmful development that requires correction.

    Increasing and improving awareness and understanding of the harmfulness of political leadership, like the people who have taken over Conservative Parties and turned them into harmful United Right correction resistant parties, is a required correction of what has developed. And the SDGs are a robust basis for pointing out the harmful unacceptability of popular or profitable attitudes or actions, particularly for pointing out which groups, political parties or businesses, should not be considered to be potentially acceptable winners/leaders.

    Climate Action can only grow leadership action support if people who understand its importance are educated to keep them from being easily tempted to have a poor excuse for considering supporting a harmful political or business group.

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  2. On the face of it Bernie is the whole package. He is said to be too old, and seems to lack the command of many younger Democratic contenders who have over time demonstrated a commitment to effectively handling our climate issue as well. However, freeing governance from the toxic, persistent and mounting dire effects of big money is something that, as far as I know, only he alone has been striving for from within the government. Hopefully, others are doing so as well. More has to be exposed about this. In order to produce change that spans across election cycles this issue is at the very core of our current very distressing predicament. Otherwise, insidiously, we will continue to be controlled by sellouts who are only truly responsive to avaricious perceptions of a miniscule but powerful minority. They so act while manipulating to instill illusions that the vital concerns of their voter base are being served when just the opposite is in fact being played out. By ignoring the noise it is easy to see and the proof is in the pudding.

    Here in the U.S. compulsive attention to budget sapping preparations and adventures of international interference, falsely being represented as national security operations, are disabling our ability to adequately respond to the very real and rapidly mounting monumental global threat of climate change.

    Apart from this, in our winner take-all electoral system we are always being controlled by a minority. Many are compelled to vote defensively, not in accord with individual preferences. Therefore, the winner gains support from those whose heart lies elsewhere. Many despondently do not vote or are inhibited from voting. Therefore, with even an apparent large majority bringing candidates into office, they only, in spoken promises, represent a small minority.

    Furthermore, reactive voting resonates to polarize us and drive the persistent two-party duality and inherent unresponsiveness. This is bad enough, but the foregoing is unacceptable.

    Let me know if you consider others to be viable candidates.

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Please be careful with political comments. It is not appropriate for this thread to degenerate into a discussions of US 2020 election candidates.

  3. Sorry about the drift and some characterizations in the previous post. I can understand your postion.

    Informed and appropriate national policy along within a global framework is essential to implementing adequate responses. Unfortunately there is a lot of backsliding instead of needed cooperation. Certainly this is now so in the U.S.

    Outside of the U.S. 500 coal plants are about to be and another 1000 are slated to be constructed globally. The stated total is down 100 plants from two years ago. Perhaps the 350 organization and others, working to promote alternatives are having a crucial positive effect. I have read some that were started in India have become stranded assets. The new Australian President wants to build more. Without adequate energy storage or other national resource alternatives, Germany, unwisely, is replacing nuclear with coal for base load and load following for its misapplied solar technology. Following Fukushima, Japan is replacing its nuclear with coal. On top of wind and solar strides, China and India are domestically building more coal plants. The national government claims that these are local departures from national intentions. Disturbingly, two large Chinese companies are promoting outdated technology, coal fired plants to other developing regions under the aegis of Xi Jinping’s One Belt One Road’s commercial expansion. The new Brazilian president has pledged to increase the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

    This is crazy stuff that promotes warming and changes in the oceans. Thermohaline (temperature and salinity) mixing and overturning currents in the oceans have significant systematic influence. Wind driven currents producing cyclonic and anticyclonic gyres, also, play an important role in determining local climate aberrations. The Coriolis Effect has a role in shaping some of these currents. As water cools or salinity increases it becomes denser. Historically, there are flushing areas in the North Atlantic and off the coast of Antarctica where these qualities are abundantly present and large columns descend to the ocean floor and continue to flow down to deeper waters directed by topographical features there. Similarly, this water eventually ascends to the surface, circuitously, flowing back to flushing points. Coldest water temperatures occur in the high latitudes and it’s there that salinity can be increased when sea ice freezes, ejecting brine into local sea water. Less freezing ice and injections of fresh water from melting ice or rivers can reduce salinity and retard flushing. Such haloclines currently determine other local stratifications and will reinforce future widespread oceanic stratification. Similar mechanisms in the Antarctic will more directly affect circulation in other oceanic basins. The occurrence of these factors are now increasing and noticeably reducing the strength of north AMOC. It is projected to reduce the strength of the Gulf Stream and subsequently, produce local cooling of climate in areas now warmed by it. Congruently, colder North Atlantic and warmer South Atlantic sea surface temperatures resulting from the overall disruption of the AMOC by the above described fresh water input could have remote consequences. This could indirectly promote increased annual additions of CO2 of about 0.3 ppm up to a total of 40 ppm as happened 16,000 years ago. Intensified circumpolar wind pushed closer to Antarctica by a restructured pressure gradient would dredge up CO2 from deep southern oceanic waters to the atmosphere. Generally a slowdown of deep ocean circulation will affect the all oceanic basins ability to absorb and store heat and CO2 long term. Also, as formerly stated, uptake of these important factors will be diminished by reducing the active sink volume. Expanding areas of stratification will develop and support eutrophic conditions. Deep water oxygen depletion will also increase.

    In the Arctic ocean , the rapid loss of sea ice there is a major concern. Albedo loss and precipitous reduction of the endothermic summer melt will greatly add to SSTs there. Without the ice, looping feedbacks will ensue. Rapid warming of the water and subsequent discharges of CO2 and added evaporation will increase the greenhouse effect. This will oppose the Polar high pressure down flow. Subsequently, with major regional impacts the Polar Weather Cell may shift 15 degrees south to a colder high pressure center over Greenland as long as there is sufficient remaining land ice present. This will wrack both the Polar and Ferrel Cells and further derange both the Polar Jet and Vortex, while impacting the most heavily populated areas of the Earth, the north mid-latitudes. If there is no shift, it will weaken to the point that both the jet and vortex will become extremely deranged and ineffectual, further impacting both the Arctic and mid-latitudes. This will accelerate CO2, methane and nitrous oxide emissions with further feedbacks and will have warming impacts extending all of the way to the South Pole. Greenland would lose its ice and Antarctica’s loss would accelerate.

    Oceans are becoming more stratified so that areas of deep water are becoming more hypoxic or anoxic. The Baltic Sea has long presented expanding areas of hypoxia associated with nutrient inputs and eutrophic phytoplankton blooms. 70,000 square kilometers were affected including areas of severe hypoxia, anoxia and euxinia in 2018, four times that of 1950. Eight thousand square miles of the Gulf of Mexico and an average of about 7 % of the Chesapeake Bay present large seasonally enhanced hypoxic, anoxic and euxinic dead zones. These water bodies do not emit hydrogen sulfide to the atmosphere. Their affected bottom waters are capped by a metal ion strengthened chemocline layer. Numerous aquatic areas are now being similarly challenged globally in roughly 400 maritime locations, largely at river mouths and in numerous fresh water bodies.

    Recent emergence of purple surf along parts of Oregon’s coastline is indicative of purple sulfur bacteria thriving at the base of the surface waters on a source of hydrogen sulfide that is developing within deeper benthic zones. Occasionally, there are discharges of the highly toxic hydrogen sulfide gas. In a similar fashion, the only other oceanic location where this also occurs is along the coast of Namibia. The Oregon emissions are likely enhanced by the stalling polar jet and associated weather systems to be later discussed. The affected area is large, 40 by 200 km (8,000 sq. km) that has in recent years become seasonally more and less hypoxic containing areas of anoxia on the continental shelf along the Oregon and Washington coastline. There may be some association to numerous recently discovered methane hydrate seeps at about 500 meters depth in the same area as methanotrophs, also, consume oxygen in order to oxidize methane until shifting to sulfate reduction and promoting euxinia. However, it is reported that low oxygen, nutrient bearing, upwelling caused by more persistent northerlies is there promoting depleted benthic oxygen levels compounded by aerobic microbes there consuming the organic matter that descends from phototropic plankton blooms at the surface.
    With some interruptions, deep water in meromictic lakes, certain fiords and the Black Sea have been completely euxinic for a long time (7,500 hundred years without hydrogen sulfide emissions for the later), but this is due to morphological and halocline peculiarities.

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  4. 3-d construct @3

    Well said except the amoc has already slowed but not so much because of melting ice yet, but this will happn increasingly in the future. It's more  because of the decreasing temperature differential from equator to poles. 

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