Category: Oceans

Extreme weather could become norm around Indian Ocean

One more example of how countries in the poor part of the world will be hit by extreme weather and natural disasters as the globe heats up.

This study shows that there is a great likelihood that the weather in countries around the Indian Ocean is becoming more extreme due to cyclical changes in the ocean temperatures and the impact these have:

What do the torrential rains that swept across a swathe of East Africa in 1997 have in common with the record-breaking drought that Australia has just emerged from? Both can be blamed on El Niño’s Indian Ocean sibling.

A study looking at how climate change will affect this ocean oscillation pattern has predicted that if the world is allowed to warm uncontrollably, these kinds of extreme events will become the norm by 2050.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is an oscillation of warm water across the equator. In the oscillation\’s positive phase, sea surface temperatures in the Arabian Sea rise whereas temperatures around Sumatra, Indonesia, fall. In the negative phase, it’s the other way around.

As well as being blamed for Australia’s recent dry spell and the 1997 East African storms, the IOD\’s positive phase has been linked to droughts in Australia and dry weather in Indonesia over the last 6500 years, according to a 2007 study of fossilised coral. The study also concluded that positive events are becoming more frequent, with an unprecedented 11 occurrences over the past 30 years.

via Extreme weather could become norm around Indian Ocean – environment – 29 November 2013 – New Scientist.

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Floating Offshore Wind Turbines Could Drive Japan’s Renewable Energy Future

From Renewable Energy World:

Chris Rose

Less than three years after the disaster at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, a hotly-anticipated floating offshore wind turbine began operating 20 kilometres from the damaged site on Monday.

A number of news organisations reported that Yuhei Sato, governor of Fukushima, said that the floating turbine could become a symbol of the region’s desire to become a green energy centre.

“Fukushima is making a stride toward the future step by step,” Bloomberg quoted Sato saying at a ceremony marking the project’s initiation. “Floating offshore wind is a symbol of such a future.”

The experimental project is funded by the government and led by Marubeni Corp. It requires approval from local fishermen before becoming a commercial operation. The 2-megawatt turbine from Hitachi Ltd. was nicknamed “Fukushima Mirai,” the Bloomberg report said, adding a floating substation has also been set up and bears the name “Fukushima Kizuna.” Mirai means future, while kizuna translates as ties.

Two more turbines by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., with 7 MW of capacity each, are expected to also be installed. Bloomberg noted the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has said the floating offshore capacity may be expanded to 1,000 MW.

“For Japan, which is surrounded by deep oceans, floating wind turbines hold the promise of opening up large areas to produce clean energy,” the Bloomberg story added. “The technology involves attaching turbines to structures that float in areas too deep for traditional towers fixed to the seafloor.”

via Floating Offshore Wind Turbines Could Drive Japan’s Renewable Energy Future.

Coastal cities to pay high price for climate change

From the website: http://www.scidev.net

Global flood damage could cost cities US$1 trillion per year, say researchers …

The researchers looked at the 136 largest coastal cities in the world and found that cities in developing countries are particularly vulnerable to flood losses as they often lack resources for long term planning. …

The list is topped by cities such as Guangzhou in China, Guayaquil in Ecuador, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, Zhanjiang in China and Mumbai in India.Predictions for the highest losses in 2050, assuming current levels of defences and optimistic sea-level rises, include Jakarta in Indonesia, Alexandria in Egypt, Algiers in Algeria, and Barranquilla in Colombia.

via Coastal cities to pay high price for climate change.

As one can see it is clearly the cities in the developing part of the world that will be affected, and again, it is The Poor living in the low-lying slums that will be hit the most.

Read more about how The Poor will be hit on the page The Double Whammy, copied from the blog Demaskdeniers

Acidifying oceans will heat the planet more – New Scientist

Not only can the scientists measure that the capacity of oceans to absorb the carbon dioxide emitted through human activities is declining.

Now New Scientist reports that they have also found that life in the oceans will be affected by the more acid oceans and this in turn will reduce the amounts of clouds, thereby contributing to global warming:

WHAT goes around comes around. Our greenhouse gas emissions don’t just warm the planet, they also acidify the oceans. Now it turns out that the change in ocean chemistry they cause will feed back into the climate, further driving up temperatures.

Ocean acidification poses a threat to many marine organisms such as corals – the shells of some marine snails are already dissolving. Until now it seemed like this was strictly a problem for marine organisms and the people who depend on them: ‘climate scientists consider the carbon dioxide that is absorbed by the ocean to be stored and unable to affect the climate.

But research now suggests that the acidification it causes will rebound on the entire planet, by acting on tiny marine plants called phytoplankton. These produce a chemical called dimethyl sulphide (DMS) that drifts up into the air and reflects sunlight back into space, cooling the planet. DMS also makes clouds brighter, with the same effect.

via Acidifying oceans will heat the planet more – environment – 25 August 2013 – New Scientist.

Read here more about how oceans are linked to greenhouse gasses:

About half of the carbon our human societies emit to the atmosphere are taken up by the oceans. A scary thing is that scientists have found that a quite tiny sea (on a planetary scale) is responsible for a large part of this absorption. The North Sea between England and Scandinavia accounts for nearly one fourth of all the carbon emitted by human activities since industrialization. The North Sea functions like our kidneys and are especially well suited for taking up carbon, which then enters the North Atlantic Ocean where it is stored or circulated to the other oceans.

The scary thing is that we do not know for how long this will continue. Scientists can measure that the rate of absorption is decreasing, and no one can say how the coming changes in global currents will affect the absorption. This might be another example of a tipping point. The higher temperatures influence the global ocean currents. This then reduces the amount of carbon that our oceans can absorb, and the temperature increases as a result.

Another factor is that carbon has other roles than being part of a greenhouse gas. When more carbon is absorbed in the oceans, they turn more acidic. The more acidic the oceans become the less CO2 they are able to absorb. But this is not all. When oceans become more acidic, living conditions for many organisms will deteriorate. This is for example the case for corals and many smaller free swimming organisms that make shells of limestone. Limestone dissolves in acids. This not only means less living organisms but also less carbon absorbed, since huge amounts of carbon are found in the limestone deposits of corals and shells.

So, many reasons for researchers to get to understand more about how our oceans function and for us all to decide how we must ensure healthy and functioning oceans.