Ship noise extends to frequencies used by endangered killer whales (Canada, USA)

The ocean update

Two endangered Southern Resident killer whales rise in unison from the Salish Sea as a tanker passes through their critical habitat along the Canada-US border. Credit : beamreach.org Two endangered Southern Resident killer whales rise in unison from the Salish Sea as a tanker passes through their critical habitat along the Canada-US border. Credit : beamreach.org

February 2nd, 2016. When an endangered orca is in hot pursuit of an endangered salmon, sending out clicks and listening for their echoes in the murky ocean near Seattle, does the noise from the nearby shipping lane interfere with them catching dinner? To find out scientists measured underwater noise as ships passed their study site 3,000 times. This unprecedented characterization of ship noise will aid in the understanding of the potential effects on marine life, and help with possible mitigation strategies.

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Study shows global ocean warming has doubled in recent decades

The ocean update

Pacific and Atlantic southern sections showing upper-ocean warming for the past six decades (1955-2011). Red colors indicate warming and blue colors indicate cooling. Credit : Timo Bremer/LLNL Pacific and Atlantic southern sections showing upper-ocean warming for the past six decades (1955-2011). Red colors indicate warming and blue colors indicate cooling. Credit : Timo Bremer/LLNL

January 19th, 2016 (Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). Lawrence Livermore scientists, working with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and university colleagues, have found that half of the global ocean heat content increase since 1865 has occurred over the past two decades.

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An Oasis for Bears in Romania

By , February 3, 2016

LiBearty-1-cristi-si-lidia-020216
Guest Post: Claudia Flisi visits the LiBearty sanctuary for orphaned and abused bears in Transylvania.

Did my guide know something I didn’t? Adrian refused to accompany me inside the LiBearty Sanctuary outside of Zărnești in Braşov County, Transylvania. He knew about the work of the sanctuary of course; he is Romanian-born and a professional guide. But he demurred: “My heart is too soft so I cannot go with you. Please understand.”

I did understand. Zărnești is in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains, the crossroads of monstrous myths. Yet the back stories of the sanctuary’s shaggy residents are more unbelievable than Bram Stoker’s tales of Transylvanian vampires. Deliberate blinding, forced alcoholism, involuntary drug addiction, and calculated maiming – not to mention orphans sold into slavery – are oft-told tales at LiBearty Sanctuary.

The back stories of the bears at the sanctuary are more unbelievable than Bram Stoker’s tales of Transylvanian vampires.

The 69-hectare reserve is the largest refuge for brown bears in the world in area and numbers. Since Romania hosts 60 percent of all wild brown bears in Europe (not counting Russia) and also is home to the largest remaining virgin forest on the continent, the location makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is how the bears have fared in their proximity to man. LiBearty’s 80-some bears have suffered more cruelty and bestiality than the human mind can comprehend – never mind that humans alone have been responsible for such cruelty.

LiBearty-Graeme-020216Take Graeme for example. Graeme and his brother were orphaned by hunters in 1994. They killed the cubs’ mother for sport, then locked up the two brothers in a small cage to serve as attractions for visitors to a mountain mining company.

As mining declined, the growing cubs fought for what little food came their way, and Graeme was blinded in one eye. A zoo took him away to pace for years in a wire enclosure, while his brother was abandoned to starve to death in his tiny cage.

Graeme came to LiBearty in 2013 and now, after 21 years of suffering, enjoys open spaces with trees, ponds, and grass, and an ursine companion from his zoo days.

Or Max. Born in 1997 and orphaned soon after, Max became a tourist attraction as a cub. He was chained near a castle in Sinaia so visitors could pay to have their pictures taken with him. To make sure he wouldn’t cause problems as he grew, Max was deliberately blinded and his sharp canine teeth and claws were cut off. Pepper spray was sprayed into his nose to keep him from reacting to smells, and he was drugged every day with tranquilizers dissolved in beer.

LiBearty rescued him in 2006. They couldn’t restore his sight, so they created a private acre-large enclosure for him, where he bathes in his own pool, hibernates in his own den, and spends his days enjoying the sun and the sounds of nature.

“Soon she began to recognize the sound of our car and would stand up to greet us when we arrived.”

Max’s story, his expressive face, and his gentle demeanor move visitors more than those of any other resident of the sanctuary. When I mentioned seeing him to Adrian after my visit, he blanched. “I knew that bear. I would see him in Sinaia when he was still a cub. I knew something was wrong, but there was no one to complain to, back then …”

The fact that “there was no one to complain to” is what moved Cristina Lapis to create the sanctuary in the first place. A long-time animal activist, Lapis is a former journalist from the city of Brașov, about 30 km. northeast of Zărnești. She and her husband Roger, France’s honorary consul to Romania, established the Millions of Friends Association (AMP) in 1997, focusing on the rescue of stray dogs. It is the oldest animal welfare NGO in the country, and today looks after 700 dogs in two shelters.

LiBearty-Cristina-Lapis-020216Less than a year after starting AMP, Lapis encountered Maya. The young brown bear was in a small dirty cage near the tourist attraction of Bran Castle in Transylvania. She had no regular food, no care, no stimulation, only the jeering of tourists and the occasional beer bottle.

Lapis recalls her “boundless rage against the people who could condemn such an animal to a slow and painful death like this.”

For the following four years, Lapis, her husband, and friends traveled 100 miles every day to bring food, water and companionship to the neglected bear. Results were initially promising: “We were able to improve her health and lift her spirits … Soon she began to recognize the sound of our car and would stand up to greet us when we arrived.”

The problem was that Maya had nowhere to go. Zoos at that time were not an improvement in space or cleanliness. There were no shelters for large wild animals, and no money to maintain them, had they existed.

Maya became depressed again, as animals do in captivity. She self-mutilated her right paw, ripping her flesh to the bone. She lost her appetite and the will to live. She died literally in the arms of Cristina Lapis, as the latter rocked her and stroked her fur, on March 11, 2002. Over the bear’s stiffening body, Lapis vowed that she would create a sanctuary for other bears so that they would not suffer a similar fate.

Lapis vowed that she would create a sanctuary for other bears so that they would not suffer a similar fate

LiBearty Sanctury…

More: http://www.earthintransition.org/2016/02/oasis-bears-Romania/

View Video Presentations from the 2nd Pacific Anomalies Workshop – January 20-21, 2016

Alaska “Blob” Tracker

Atmospheric scientists, oceanographers and ecologists gathered in Seattle on the University of Washington Campus January 20-21, 2016, to discuss the unusual ocean, weather and climate patterns across the North Pacific basin and the underlying mechanisms driving those patterns.

Some extreme conditions in physical and biogeochemical parameters are occurring in many locations with some linkages to the warmer-than-normal water conditions in the the Pacific Ocean, referred to as the sea surface temperature (SST) Anomalies. These conditions appear to be seriously impacting pelagic ecosystems, including fisheries, marine mammals and birds.

5 summary presentations kicked off the workshop to provide an overview of what is known by region along the West Coast, with Russ Hopcroft from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks providing the first review.

  • Russell Hopcroft, Alaska
  • Richard Dewey, Canada
  • Julie Keister, Pacific Northwest
  • Eric Bjorkstedt, North-Central California
  • Mark Ohman, South-Baja California

You can watch the workshop presentations here, and quickly come up…

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Fishing ban on Geelong Star lifted after factory trawler takes action to stop albatross deaths (Australia)

The ocean update

The operators of factory trawler Geelong Star have taken 'mitigation measures' to reduce the risk of albatross deaths. Supplied : Steven Chown The operators of factory trawler Geelong Star have taken ‘mitigation measures’ to reduce the risk of albatross deaths. Supplied : Steven Chown

February 1st, 2016 (Lucy Shannon). The factory trawler, Geelong Star, has been given the all-clear to fish again, a few days after it was banned for causing seven albatross deaths.

The birds were killed when they struck a net sonde cable which connects a sonar device to the 95-metre trawler during fishing operations.

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Sea Ice Death Spiral Continues — Start of 2016 Sees Arctic Ocean Ice Hitting New Record Lows

robertscribbler

In January, Arctic sea ice extent hit a new record average low for the month. Meanwhile, during the first days of February, both Arctic sea ice extent and area hit new daily record lows even as global sea ice area also entered the second lowest range ever recorded. And so it seems that the sea ice death spiral of a record warm world continues.

January lowest sea ice on record

(According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Arctic sea ice extent averages were the lowest on record for the month of January since at least 1979. The new low beats out 2011, continuing an ongoing decadal January decline of about 420,000 square kilometers every ten years. Image souce: NSIDC.)

But before we go more into the new spate of record low Arctic and global sea ice measures, it’s important to consider the context — our world has not seen the current level of…

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A Deadly Climb From Glaciation to Hothouse — Why the Permian-Triassic Extinction is Pertinent to Human Warming

robertscribbler

In looking at the potential impacts of human caused climate change over the coming decades and centuries, scientists have often pointed toward more recent times such as the Eemian (the most recent warm interglacial in which global temperatures are similar to what they are now and where they are expected to be over the next 20 years), the Pliocene (2-3 million years ago and the most recent time in which CO2 levels were about equal to those of today), and the PETM (about 55 million years ago and the most recent period during which CO2 levels were above 600 ppm and in which there was very rapid warming, possibly due to methane hydrate release).

The PETM has been a period of very intense study for leading climatologists such as James Hansen who has warned of the potential for a mini-runaway warming event of this kind should humans continue along a…

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Excerpts from Freak Storms and Butterfly Die-Offs: This Is Your Climate on Fossil Fuels

Monday, 01 February 2016 00:00
Written by 
Dahr Jamail By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34631-freak-storms-and-massive-animal-die-offs-this-is-your-climate-on-fossil-fuels

…In late December 2015, a freakish oceanic storm moved into the Arctic where it pushed temperatures 50 degrees above normal, even causing melting at the North Pole in the dead of winter.

Large die-offs of birds, whales, antelope and other animals across the globe are now being attributed, in large part, to ACD.

December brought wild weather events in other places too, as the UK saw its single wettest month ever recorded, with nearly double the average rainfall. That month in the UK also shattered temperature records, with an average temperature that was 4.1 degrees Celsius higher than the long-term average.

Worldwide, December saw the planetary temperature increased to 1.4 degrees Celsius above the 1890 average. The annual increase of warming for that month, compared to the previous December, according to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, was the equivalent of cramming 20 years of anthropogenic warming into just one 12-month warming period.

And warming trends are not slowing down. They are, instead, continuing to speed up.

The UK’s Meteorological Office recently released its global temperature forecast, and the agency is already predicting that 2016 will most likely be even warmer than 2015.

A look at recent scientific reports, coupled with extreme weather events around the world, show that this prediction is already well on its way to becoming a reality.

Earth

In parts of California, so much groundwater has been pumped from the earth that the land is literally sinking, an issue that is now costing that state billions of dollars as it struggles to repair damaged infrastructure.

Of course, humans are not the only ones affected by these rapid, sweeping changes. Large die-offs of birds, whales, antelope and other animals across the globe are now being attributed, in large part, to ACD.

ACD is even affecting the behavior of our planet as it makes its way around the solar system.

“Unprecedented” numbers of murre seabirds have met their fate in a massive die-off across large areas of Alaska, and scientists are attributing it to starvation caused by ecosystem changes fueled by ACD. This isn’t a huge surprise; data from studies from both 2007 and 2012 warned that melting snow and permafrost were causing huge drops in lemming populations, which would impact food sources for many species, causing a rippling effect across the entire ecosystem of that part of the world.

It’s not just fauna that is threatened – flora is also experiencing ACD-fueled die-offs. Across the US Southwest, a recent study warns that ACD could likely trigger a “massive” die-off of coniferous trees, including junipers and pinon pines, sometime during this century.

In the UK, the Butterfly Conservation charity recently released a study showing that three-quarters of the UK’s butterfly species have declined in just the past 40 years. Along with habitat destruction and the increased use of pesticides, ACD was named as one of the primary culprits.

ACD is even affecting the behavior of our planet as it makes its way around the solar system. Climate disruption has now been shown to be causing the rotation of the entire planet to slow, thus making days longer in length. This is due to the amount of melting taking place across the world’s glaciers, which is adding to global sea level rise from that melt water, which is what is slowing down rotation.

Melting ice in Antarctica, both on land and in the water, is causing a large number of countries to position themselves on the icy continent in an effort to exert influence, looking forward to the day when the treaties that currently protect that continent from resource extraction and militarization expire.

Water

In Europe, the future of most of the continent’s ski industry is in doubt, as ACD-fueled temperatures are resulting in less snow and seasons are shortening.

Increasing planetary temperatures are now heating up all of the oceans – much faster than we previously thought. In fact, a recent study shows that the deep ocean has warmed as much in the last 20 years as it had during the previous 100 years combined.

Those warming water temperatures cause the water to expand, adding to rising sea levels already augmented by the ongoing melting of the planetary ice. The rising sea levels are particularly evident in Miami, where multimillion-dollar homes, roads and businesses are already being encroached upon by the sea. Eventually, they will be abandoned.

Making matters worse, even the depletion of groundwater from aquifers in places like California has recently been shown to be adding to rising sea levels, since much of it ends up flowing into the oceans.

“Where there were fish for decades, now there is very little.”

Meanwhile, within the oceans themselves, life as we’ve always known it is well on its way to being completely transformed. The extreme El Niño we are experiencing now, amplified by ACD, is warming water temperatures so much that major coral bleaching events, along with coral death events, are becoming widespread.

Water temperatures have already increased enough in the Indian Ocean that there has been a reduction in phytoplankton (the base of the food chain) by 20 percent, which means the food chain is rapidly diminishing. Thus, scientists are warning that the entire ocean could well become an “ecological desert” if things continue as they are.

“We seem to be spending more and more time out at sea looking for catch,” a 54-year-old fisherman who operates his boat up to 90 miles off the coast of Sri Lanka told Reuters recently. “Where there were fish for decades, now there is very little. It is strange, but all of us have been noticing that.”

A recent study by 16 authors shows that Greenland alone has lost more than 9 trillion tons of ice since 1900. And the rate of ice loss is increasing dramatically, with a doubling of ice loss per year between 2003 and 2010, compared to what the rate was throughout the last century.

To make matters worse, another recent study shows that Greenland is going to contribute in yet another way to global sea level rise, by the fact that rising global temperatures are changing Greenland’s ability to store excess water, which means more melting ice is likely running into the ocean than was previously believed.

Greenland saw a recent major melting event in January, of all months, which is disconcerting, to say the least.

Denial and Reality

It should come as little surprise that Sen. Ted Cruz leads the denial section in this month’s climate dispatch. The Republican presidential candidate, in the wake of the COP21 climate summit in Paris, said that if he were elected president he would withdraw the United States from the climate agreement.

In direct contradiction to Cruz’s statement, a Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that the majority of US Republicans actually support collaborating with other countries to work to mitigate ACD, and are even willing to take steps to do so.

More: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34631-freak-storms-and-massive-animal-die-offs-this-is-your-climate-on-fossil-fuels