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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wasted no time returning from the shutdown and extended restrictions on shipping in an area off Cape Cod on the way into Boston Harbor to protect the highly endangered Northern right whale. The “Ship Strike Rule” mandates speed restrictions of no more than 10 knots for vessels 65 feet or greater in certain locations and at certain times of the year along the east coast of the United States.
Sea level rise caused by rapidly melting ice sheets in Greenland is now even more likely to adversely impact the most vulnerable coastal cities: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Osaka (Japan), Rio de Janeiro, and Miami, according to a news report in The Guardian. A new study published by the National Academies of Sciences led by scientists from Ohio State found that ice loss between 2003 and 2013 was greater than previously thought because in addition to glaciers, a greater amount of melting during that time came from ice sheets in the southwest region of the island, which is largely glacier-free and had not been as closely studied in the past.
The Miami Herald reported yesterday that the Key West City Commission on Tuesday unanimously voted to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain two ingredients — oxybenzone and octinoxate — that a growing body of scientific evidence says harm coral reefs. While opponents to the ban claim that it will increase rates of skin cancer City […]
A new study published by the National Academy of Sciences delivered some sobering news on Monday — that Antarctica is losing ice at a rate six times faster than it has in the past. According to CNN, the rate of ice loss has increased each decade over the last 40 years — from a loss of 40 gigatons (a gigaton is one billion tons) per year from in the decade from 1979 to 1990 to a loss of 252 gigatons per year in the decade from 2009 to 2017. And Axios explained that this finding is “important” because “previous studies had regarded that part of the continent as stable or not yet undergoing a net loss.”
Oceans are heating up at a rate as much as 40% faster than the global consensus of scientists studying climate change had previously predicted. A team of scientists looking at the numerous recent studies which made that claim have now validated those studies’ conclusions based on ocean heat content (OHC) observations (actual ocean temperature data), according to a new report published in the journal Science on Friday. It also validates (as if we needed more proof) that the planet is clearly warming.
Why This Matters: Science matters. The more data scientists have to work with, the better they can understand the changes that are wreaking havoc with our planet. With more ocean observing sensors, which could be much more beneficial if we expanded the network of buoys and added sensors to more ships, we would not have to fill in nearly so many gaps and could do a much better job of forecasting risks and impacts, such as sea level rise, coral bleaching, and ocean acidification. As the experts who conducted the review said, “There is a clear need to continue to improve the ocean observation and analysis system to provide better estimates of OHC, because it will enable more refined regional projections of the future.”
A new “front” opened yesterday in the fight to ensure that the world’s ocean resources are used sustainably, with the launch of the Stephenson Ocean Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The Project’s web site explains its objective — to raise awareness about the ways that competition for marine resources contributes to instability and geopolitical risk for the United States.
Why This Matters: Full disclosure — I (Monica) have had a long standing interest in the issue of ocean resources and national security, and have been working to help CSIS get the ball rolling on the project. I believe that if you substituted the word “oil” for “fish” in the paragraphs above, no one would even blink at the national security implications and environmental significance of this work. Fish in my view could be even more important than oil to a larger segment of the public globally — those in the developing world who don’t have cars but do eat fish. The resources available at the Department of Defense (both technical and financial) could be a game changer for efforts to ensure ocean sustainability into the future.
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