JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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What a recovery! Hottest ever year causes… coral reefs to grow

Life bounces back

The Great Barrier Reef has had a good year. 2020 might have been the hottest or the second hottest year on record, but it was a bonanza year for reef recovery.

The reef covers 344,400 square kilometres, survived the Holocene Optimum, the Minoan warming, the Roman warming and the Medieval Warming, and is already recovering from a streak of few nasty El Ninos and a cyclone or two.

But the bottom line is that coral deaths are not easily relateable or predicted by hot weather or high CO2. If sea level changes or temperature volatility are the real culprits, the ocean currents or cloud cover may be the driver, and not the number of cars or solar panels in Australia.

As Peter Ridd has said for years: The Great Barrier Reef has about the same amount of coral as it did in 1985

Coral Cover, Northern Great Barrier Reef.

 

What a difference a few years makes. Where, here, is there any sign that either CO2 or high temperatures is a problem?

Coral Cover, Central Great Barrier Reef.

 

The trend appeared to be “all down” in 2011, but neither heat nor El […]

Busted: Reef fish aren’t bothered by “acidification” and James Cook Uni isn’t bothered by potential fraud.

“Clark et al. (2020) found 100% replication failure. None of the findings of the original eight studies were found to be correct.”

Scientists tried to repeat eight experiments that showed “acidification” would make reef fish get hyper, act like their predators smell nice, and generally swim in the wrong circles, behave weirdly and need therapy sessions. Turns out the fish will be OK, but James Cook Uni’s reputation may never recover. The original junk experiments and press releases came out of the coral reef centre at JCU.

This is the “replication crisis” Peter Ridd warned us about. He was fired from JCU in 2018 after stating that work from JCU’s coral reef centre (ARCCoE) was not trustworthy. He also helped expose manipulated photos of reef fish. Obviously this latest reef research shows he was right to be concerned about quality assurance at JCU. One JCU researcher, Oona Lönnstedt, had already been caught fabricating data in Sweden, and yet JCU “investigated” and sacked Ridd faster than it investigated her suspicious lionfish shots. Indeed, two years on, JCU has not even officially appointed the committee to investigate her potentially fraudulent work. It seems JCU would rather employ untrustworthy scientists than […]

Thin sunscreen layer to *save reef from bleaching* for first time in twenty million years

Scientists are suggesting that a thin layer of floating calcium carbonate can cut sunlight over reefs by 30% and save some high value reefs from bleaching.

This should work well on all the reefs that evolved in the last fifty years and which don’t have moving water.

But half of the coral genera around today have been around since the Oligocene (23-34 million years ago) and for most of that time the oceans were warmer. (Lucky human civilization evolved just in time to save all these reefs from extinction.)

Bleaching has probably been going on for millions of years longer than we have been scuba diving with cameras to film it. We only discovered coral bleaching in the 1980s. Not surprisingly, marine life has ways to adapt to heatwaves by chucking out the symbionts that don’t thrive in higher temperatures and replacing them with new inhabitants that do.

Yes, let’s cover our most diverse and important reef systems with an artificial layer that cuts incoming sunlight by a third — What could possibly go wrong?

Ultra-fine film possible saviour for Great Barrier Reef

Scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Biology say tests of a floating […]

Scientists “thrilled”: fish cope with acidification if tanks mimic normal large daily CO2 swings

The real story here is that past scares claiming that ocean acidification would create reckless fish were most likely an artefact of an inadequate experiment. There are big swings of CO2 and pH in shallow water environments, and the normal day-night cycle turns out to be good for fish. Putting them in a laboratory tank without these daily changes may create fish that behave badly. So ocean acidification is not only natural, but a good and necessary thing.

New hope for reef fish living in a high CO2 world

Chemical changes in the ocean, as a result of climate change, are leading to a more acidic environment, referred to as ‘ocean acidification’ (OA). In a laboratory setting, these changes have been shown to lead to a range of risky behaviours in the affected fish, with some fish unable to flee from their finned foes effectively.

But, when researchers recalibrated experiments to adjust for natural daily changes in concentrations of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary chemical driver of OA, they found that the fish were less affected than previously thought.

“Shallow water habitats where reef fish live can experience substantial natural fluctuations […]

Farmed fish doing alright at CO2 levels twenty, fifty, seventy times higher than today

The World Wildlife Fund tells us that global CO2 is bad for global fish stocks, but ponder that professional fish farms can reach levels of CO2 twenty or even seventy five times higher, and the fish appear to be doing OK. Current guidelines for fish farms even suggest that “safe limits of CO2 range from >5000 to >30 000 µatm*” which are “12.5 to 75 times higher than current atmospheric levels”.

So in another few thousand years we might really get into trouble with fish farms and climate change then? (Or maybe we won’t. James Hansen estimates if we burn every last barrel of fossil fuel on Earth we’ll get to 1,400ppm. The experience of fish farms all over the world is that fish can apparently adapt to levels ten times higher even than this worst case scenario.)

We have a situation where there are scores of reports fish suffering from ocean acidification and high CO2 levels, but they don’t mesh with the reality that fish farms have been dealing with for decades. A new paper tries to figure out why this is so. The study doesn’t prove that there are no bad effects from higher CO2, but […]

NOAA scientists admit in private that they can’t name any place affected by ocean acidification

There’s the truth, then there’s the whole truth.

From a climate expert at NOAA, the study of ocean acidification is so young “they don’t have any data sets that show a direct effect of OA on population health” and they can’t name any place in the world that is definitely affected by it.

Steve Milloy at Junkscience.com FOI’d emails among NOAA scientists discussing a NY times op-ed draft.The editor was serving up an apocalyse:

…and he wanted all the dirt:

Can the authors give us more specific, descriptive images about how acidification has already affected the oceans?

Tony Thomas writes that Dr Shallin Busch, who works for NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program discussed the draft of the article with fellow scientist Ms Applebaum. She warns that they can’t say that OA (Ocean Acidification) was definitely a problem anywhere at the moment:

Unfortunately, I can’t provide this information to you because it doesn’t exist. As I said in my last email, currently there are NO areas of the world that are severely degraded because of OA or even areas that we know are definitely affected by OA right now. If you want to use this type of […]

Life adapts — fish evolved from salt to fresh water in just fifty years

In 1964 an earthquake made some parts of the Pacific into ponds on a few islands. Fifty years later and the fish in those ponds are now freshwater fish. Apparently the genes for dealing with that sort of wild extreme change are held by some of the fish in the crowd and natural selection can work its wonders in a decade.

In terms of ocean acidification, this is as catastrophic as it gets, not only did the ocean become “more acidic” but it stopped being an ocean.

It can’t get much worse than this for a fish, and yet somehow life on Earth had the answer.

What’s the pH of those ponds — The ocean pH is 8.1, rain is 5.5. Those ponds will be somewhere in between.

And some people think a man-made “ocean acidication” that’s smaller than this and slower, will devastate the ocean.

 

Science Daily

Evolution is usually thought of as occurring over long time periods, but it also can happen quickly. Consider a tiny fish whose transformation after the 1964 Alaskan earthquake was uncovered by University of Oregon scientists and their University of Alaska collaborators.

The fish, […]

Researchers astonished: Coral reefs thriving in a more “acidic” ocean

Palau Islands

The researchers at Woods Hole have spent four years doing a comprehensive study at Palau Rock Islands in the far Western Pacific, where pH levels are naturally “more acidic” (which is big-government speak for less alkaline). Because of laboratory experiments Barkley et al [1] expected to find all kinds of detrimental effects, but instead found a diverse healthy system they describe as “thriving” with “greater coral cover” and more “species”.

A new study led by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that the coral reefs there seem to be defying the odds, showing none of the predicted responses to low pH except for an increase in bioerosion — the physical breakdown of coral skeletons by boring organisms such as mollusks and worms. The paper is to be published June 5 in the journal Science Advances.

‘Based on lab experiments and studies of other naturally low pH reef systems, this is the opposite of what we expected,’ says lead author Hannah Barkley, a graduate student in the WHOI-MIT joint program in oceanography.

Experiments measuring corals’ responses to a variety of low pH conditions have shown a range of negative impacts, […]

Does ocean pH shift with the PDO cycle?

The man who uncovered the 80 years of missing empirical data on ocean pH is Mike Wallace. That hidden data suggested the ocean had been getting slightly more alkaline in the 20th Century –the opposite of the man-made acidification theory — but that pH change hasn’t been a linear shift. The pH has been cycling up and down, and on his blog back in February Wallace suggested that the pH of the ocean was varying naturally as the PDO cycled*.

It’s an interesting theory. He’s used the PDO index and his global ocean pelagic zone pH time series chart that was based on 1.5 million pH readings.

It’s nice to watch a real scientist at work. His blog is worth a look.

..

 

*PDO means Pacific Decadal Oscillation – the 15 – 30 year long cycles of warmer or cooler sea surface temperatures in the northern Pacific. In a positive phase the western side is cool and the east is warmer, it rains more in California and less in Australia. The negative phase is the opposite.

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Oceans not acidifying – “scientists” hid 80 years of pH data

Co-authored James Doogue and JoNova

Empirical data withheld by key scientists shows that since 1910 ocean pH levels have not decreased in our oceans as carbon dioxide levels increased. Overall the trend is messy but more up than down, becoming less acidic. So much for those terrifying oceans of acid that were coming our way.

What happened to those graphs?

Scientists have had pH meters and measurements of the oceans for one hundred years. But experts decided that computer simulations in 2014 were better at measuring the pH in 1910 than the pH meters were. The red line (below) is the models recreation of ocean pH. The blue stars are the data points — the empirical evidence.

James Delingpole on ‘Breitbart’:

NOAAgate: ‘ocean acidification’ could turn out to be the biggest con since Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick

 

[CFACT] Marita Noon:

The alleged fraud was uncovered by Mike Wallace, a hydrologist with nearly 30 years’ experience now working towards his PhD at the University of New Mexico. While studying a chart produced by Feely and Sabine, apparently showing a strong correlation between rising atmospheric CO2 levels and falling oceanic pH […]