This is The ChangeUnderground for the 17th of July 2023.
I’m your host, Jon Moore
Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil!
Following on from last week’s heat wave stories comes an article from The Conversation, dated 23 June 2023:
If you take a plunge in the sea this winter, you might notice it’s warmer than you expect. And if you’re fishing off Sydney and catch a tropical coral trout, you might wonder what’s going on.
The reason is simple: hotter water. The ocean has absorbed the vast majority of the extra heat trapped by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It’s no wonder heat in the oceans is building up rapidly – and this year is off the charts.
That’s even without the likely arrival of El Niño, where the Pacific Ocean gets warmer than usual and affects weather all over the world. Our coastal waters are forecast to be especially warm over the coming months, up to 2.5℃ warmer than usual in many places.
Woo and indeed hoo! Further evidence of moves away from the equator. Somewhat easier for wee fishes and their cohabitants of the ocean, I’m sure if we looked we’d see similar things going on on land. So I looked, well googled and here’s a piece from the Guardian relating to the Northern Hemisphere, dated December 3, …. 2020 entitled: Atlas reveals birds pushed further north amid climate crisis.
Europe’s breeding bird populations have shifted on average one kilometre north every year for the past three decades, likely driven by the climate crisis, according to one of the world’s largest citizen science projects on biodiversity.
The European Breeding Bird Atlas (Ebba2) provides the most detailed picture yet of the distribution of the continent’s birds after 120,000 volunteers and fieldworkers surveyed 11m square kilometres, from the Azores in the west to the Russian Urals in the east
This week’s heat waves across the south west of the US, China, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Germany, as foreshadowed in the last episode, are but a continuation of the trends spotted by the birders and the oceanic research mentioned in the first article. On that article they do go to list the eight species travelling away from the equator, south on this occasion:
1 Moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus)
2 Branching coral (Pocillopora aliciae)
3 Eastern rock lobster (Sagmariasus verreauxi)
4 Gloomy octopus (Octopus tetricus)
5 Whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus)
6 Dugongs (Dugong dugon)
7 Red emperor (Lutjanus sebae) ~ A warm water game fish.
8 Long-spined sea urchin (Centrostephanus rodgersii)
I’ll leave you to read their stories except for the Gloomy Octopus. Once commonly found on the NSW coast, it’s now turning up down our way in Tasmania. About 1000 klicks in a straight line from Sydney to Hobart, the respective state capitals. Things are crook, as they say. Well the full quote from depression era NSW goes: Things are crook in Mollymook and there’s no work in Bourke. There you go, a little bit of bonus social history for you dear listener.
So what’s going on in the oceans?
From another piece in The Conversation, dated 21 June 2023 and entitled:Ocean heat is off the charts – here’s what that means for humans and ecosystems around the world
Ocean temperatures have been off the charts since mid-March 2023, with the highest average levels in 40 years of satellite monitoring, and the impact is breaking through in disruptive ways around the world.
The sea of Japan is more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) warmer than average. The Indian monsoon, closely tied to conditions in the warm Indian Ocean, has been well below its expected strength.
Spain, France, England and the whole Scandinavian Peninsula are also seeing rainfall far below normal, likely connected to an extraordinary marine heat wave in the eastern North Atlantic. Sea surface temperatures there have been 1.8 to 5 F (1 to 3 C) above average from the coast of Africa all the way to Iceland.
So that’s what’s been measured, why now?
Well we are moving into an El Nino event, that warms things a bit but not sufficiently to explain the full change. We’re also coming off a La Nina so things were a bit cooler and the neutral stage we used to have between El Nino and La Nina but, according to the article, and I have no reason to doubt it, quote:
Underlying everything is global warming – the continuing rising trend of sea surface and land temperatures for the past several decades as human activities have increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
Things are crook. Chickens have come home to roost. Whilst we are in the depths of winter here in the glorious North West of Tasmania and the winds are cool to cold, they have been predominantly coming from the north, north west, so off the mainland as the changes have swept across the Great Australian Bight. Some have popped up from the souwest, off Antarctica and they have been at the cooler end of things. We have some days with sunshine, sweet, but out of the wind and in the sun there’s just been an extraordinary amount of warmth. Anecdotal, I’ll admit but really in July? The southern hemisphere equivalent of the North’s January in seasonal terms. It fills me with foreboding for the coming summer, worrying enough here but very concerning for the mainland with the Canadian fires as an example of the sort thing we might have to l;ook forward to.
We have much in common with those marine species mentioned above. Mrs ChangeUnderground and I live in Tassie partly as Climate Change refugees and there are many others and the numbers only seem to be growing.
Mitigation efforts will be necessary before we get through this as a species. Change is happening, as I discussed last week but we still need to remove the excess GHGs still extant. Building codes, town planning, power grids, land use, workplace patterns and just about everything we do as an urbanised species will need to change. I’m not advocating for pouring iron filings into the ocean nor for giant sunscreens in space, yet but change is upon us. Do we react or try to get ahead of the curve? Hopefully the latter, for all of the biosphere’s sakes.
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
Thank you all for listening and I’ll be back, all things being equal, next week.
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Marine species are being pushed towards the poles. From dugong to octopuses, here are 8 marine species you might spot in new places
Atlas reveals birds pushed further north amid climate crisis
Ocean heat is off the charts – here’s what that means for humans and ecosystems around the world