Saturday, November 15, 2008

California ordered to prepare for sea-level rise

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday ordered preparations for rising sea levels from global warming, a startling prospect for the most populous U.S. state with a Pacific Ocean coastline stretching more than 800 miles (1,290 km).

Recorded sea levels rose 7 inches (18 cm) during the 20th century in San Francisco, Schwarzenegger said in the executive order for study of how much more the sea could rise, what other consequences of global warming were coming and how the state should react.

California is considered the environmental vanguard of government in the United States, with its own standards for car pollution and a law to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the main gas contributing to global warming.

"The longer that California delays planning and adapting to sea level rise the more expensive and difficult adaptation will be," Schwarzenegger said, ordering a report by the end of 2010.

Reuters (Reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What will happen to our reefs?

Five documented major mass extinction periods in the earth's history show that coral reefs have had more negative impacts than any other ecosystems, reveals a new paper published in the Coral Reefs journal (see full reference below). 

Their analysis of ancient climate patterns (paleoclimates) and the remains of organisms ( fossil records) that lived during that particular period tells a story of how these mass reef extinctions occurred. The researchers found that during those events, ecosystems which were most dependent on plentiful availability of carbon for growth may have been replaced by highly productive non-carbon systems, making the ancient reef remains highly erosional and thus likely to degrade rapidly.

As we head towards a warmer planet and acidification of the oceans, island reef ecosystems are at high risk. Reef ecosystems are at the centre of livelihood in small islands and further degradation will acerbate coastal erosion and food security. As a result of the El Nino event which affected the Western Indian Ocean in 1998, around 50% to 95% of coral reefs around Seychelles were completely damaged. Although recovery is evident, repeated coral bleaching events in the last 10 years is impeding this recovery.

References:

Veron J.E.N Mass Extinctions and Ocean Acidification: Biological Constraints on Geological Dilemmas Coral Reefs 27:459-472