Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoralCoE) made an in-depth study of how coral communities and their colony sizes had changed between 1995 and 2017 along the entire length of the reef. The results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B Wednesday, sound an urgent call for climate action.
"There is no time to lose — we must sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions ASAP," the researchers said in a CoralCoE press release.
The researchers found a decline in every size and species of coral in both shallow and deep water. The corals were especially devastated by back-to-back bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, study author and James Cook University professor Terry Hughes told The Guardian.
While all the corals were impacted, these bleaching events took an especially heavy toll on branching and table-shaped corals, Hughes said in the press release. This is a big deal because these architectural corals provide habitats for fish. Without them, fisheries decline.
"The reef is flatter and less three dimensional now," Hughes told The Guardian.
Coral bleaching, which occurs when hot water temperatures drive the algae that gives corals food and color from their homes, also struck the southern part of the reef at the beginning of 2020. This event was not included in the study, so the reef may be even more depleted than the researchers calculated.
The study's findings also have implications for the reef's ability to reproduce itself.
"A vibrant coral population has millions of small, baby corals, as well as many large ones — the big mamas who produce most of the larvae," lead author of CoralCoE Dr. Andy Dietzel said in the press release. "Our results show the ability of the Great Barrier Reef to recover — its resilience — is compromised compared to the past, because there are fewer babies, and fewer large breeding adults."
Bob Richmond, a research professor and director of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who was not involved with the study, told The Washington Post he was impressed with the work and agreed the reef was in trouble.
"If I don't see one-year-old, two-year-old, three-year-old corals, I know that reef is dead," he said. "It just doesn't know it yet."
The Great Barrier Reef stretches almost 133,000 square miles, making it the largest coral reef in the world, according to CNN. It provides a habitat for more than 1,500 species of fish and 411 species of hard corals.
It is also hugely important for the economy of Australia, The Washington Post pointed out. It drew more than two million tourists every year before the pandemic. Despite this, Australia continues to be the world's top coal exporter.
Hughes explicitly called out Australia's pro-fossil fuel policies as a "profound policy-failure" for managing the reef on Twitter. He said the only hope for the reef's survival was to limit global warming in line with the Paris agreement.
"There's not much time to lose," he told The Guardian. "I think if we can control warming somewhere between 1.5-2C [above pre-industrial levels], as per the Paris agreement, then we'll still have a reef. But if we get to 3-4C because of unrestrained emissions then we won't have a recognisable Great Barrier Reef."
- 2020 Great Barrier Reef Bleaching Event Is Most Widespread to Date ›
- Coral Reef Tipping Point: 'Near-Annual' Bleaching May Occur ... ›
- The Great Barrier Reef is on a Knife Edge ›
- Scientists Discover Massive Coral Reef Taller Than Empire State Building - EcoWatch ›
By Jim Palardy
As 2021 dawns, people, ecosystems, and wildlife worldwide are facing a panoply of environmental issues. In an effort to help experts and policymakers determine where they might focus research, a panel of 25 scientists and practitioners — including me — from around the globe held discussions in the fall to identify emerging issues that deserve increased attention.
The panel, coordinated by the UK-based Cambridge Conservation Initiative, conducted a horizon scan — an effort to spot early signs of significant phenomena — of global biological conservation issues. For the resulting study, which was funded by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the panel winnowed down an initial list of 97 topics, settling on the following 15 because of their novelty or their potential to move the conservation needle in either a positive or negative direction over the coming decade.
1. Seabirds Could Help Spot Illegal Fishing
Seabirds often follow fishing vessels to score easy meals. Now, scientists are hoping to exploit this behavior to help spot illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, which accounts for up to $23.5 billion worth of seafood every year, or 1 in 5 fish sold. Researchers have had some success attaching transmitters to seabirds to locate fishing vessels in the Indian Ocean, but more study is needed to validate the use of this tactic.
2. Marine Vessels and GPS Spoofing
Vessels plying the ocean navigate and transmit their locations and identities mainly through the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) and automatic identification system (AIS). The panel points out that a recent rise in GNSS spoofing and AIS cloning incidents could facilitate the trade of illegal goods and hamper authorities' efforts to identify vessels engaged in illicit resource extraction activities such as fishing and dredging.
3. More Corals May Suffer From Lack of Oxygen
Several factors — including climate-driven marine heat waves and nutrient runoff from land — can lower oxygen levels in the ocean. Corals in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans have died from this hypoxia, and, although those events weren't widespread, some scientists fear that the threat may grow significantly as climate change further warms the ocean. Research is needed to better understand the extent and impact of low oxygen conditions on coral reefs.
4. Understanding the Impacts of Increased Dissolved Iron on Coastal Polar Ecosystems
Coastal zones in polar latitudes are among Earth's most productive — that is, they create and support large numbers of organisms ranging from tiny marine plants to animals such as polar bears and seals — a characteristic driven by the availability of dissolved iron from glaciers and ice. Increased melting in the polar regions will result in higher iron concentrations, which in turn will probably fuel more intense phytoplankton blooms and enable organisms on the seafloor to capture more carbon and other nutrients. Such changes could have wide-ranging effects — including impacts on the structure of the region's marine ecosystems and on carbon sequestration — and warrants investigation.
5. What to Do With a Growing Number of Decommissioned Offshore Energy Platforms
It is estimated that 3,000 offshore oil and gas platforms will be decommissioned in the coming decades and that the number of offshore wind farms will continue to grow. Currently, decommissioning practices vary by country and include full removal, conversion of platforms to artificial reefs, and abandonment. As new offshore energy infrastructure is built and old platforms are phased out, nations will need to evaluate the immediate and long-term impacts of their decommissioning strategies on the marine environment.
6. A Drug Problem in the Water
When some chemicals used in pharmaceuticals and in garden and farm products are introduced into waterways — usually through runoff or via sewage systems directly or in human waste — they can cause changes in fish and other organisms, including altering the number of female to males in a population, lower fertility, and deformities. There is emerging evidence that the effects of exposure can be multigenerational, affecting organisms that were never directly exposed.
7. Changes in Low Cloud Cover
Low clouds shade sizable portions of the planet in subtropical regions. It is predicted that these clouds will become increasingly unstable if atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to rise at current rates. The resulting changes could have negative effects on wildlife and human communities.
8. Tree Planting as a Simple Carbon Sequestration Solution
Pledges to plant large areas of trees to help tackle climate change are often perceived as a win for conservation. However, tree planting must be planned and implemented with a clear understanding of regional ecosystems to avoid negative effects on biological diversity.
9. Logging to Reduce Fire Risk
As nations around the world contend with more extreme wildfires, some policymakers suggest that tree removal may be part of the solution. However, the effectiveness of such policies is uncertain, and any short-term gains from removing trees are often offset by the growth of non-native grasses and flowering plants, which may themselves be highly flammable.
10. Large-Scale Adoption of Sustainable Farming Techniques Across India
Driven by government policies and local innovations, sustainable farming practices are becoming more prevalent in India. The state government of Sikkim has adopted organic farming as policy, and the state of Andhra Pradesh, with 6 million farmers, plans to adopt natural farming practices by 2025. Other states across the country plan to follow suit. Early evaluations indicate that these large-scale transitions boost crop yields and incomes, improve the health of farmers, and increase women's access to microfinance. With such results, there is the potential for similar large-scale shifts in other parts of the world.
11. Low Earth-Orbiting Satellites May Mislead Animals Responding to Celestial Cues
More than 2,600 artificial satellites currently orbit the earth, a number that is rapidly increasing. Many species of mammals, insects, and birds use celestial cues to migrate long distances and to orient themselves in local habitats and could be affected by the proliferation of satellites.
12. Bitcoin Mining With Stranded Energy
An emerging use for stranded energy sources, such as low-value methane byproducts vented from oil wells and excess energy produced by wind turbines and solar panels, is to power computers used for Bitcoin mining — the process of creating new Bitcoin by solving complex algorithms. Monetizing stranded energy in this way is a mixed bag that decision-makers will probably have to evaluate. The practice could increase carbon emissions from marginal fossil fuel sources but also could incentivize the deployment of renewable energy by guaranteeing a minimum selling price.
13. Open-Source Investigations of Environmental Threats
Scientists demonstrated some success with using online videos, social media posts, and other open-source data to document the effects of the locust swarms in East Africa in 2020. As faster internet connections and access to smartphones continue to grow globally, the use of open-source data may become an effective tool for researchers.
14. Self-Healing Building Materials
The potential to engineer building materials made of chemicals, polymers, and bacteria that can fix themselves when damaged could reduce the need for repairs and shrink the environmental footprints of construction projects. Recently, scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder used a type of cyanobacteria found in the ocean, along with other materials, to engineer a living building material that can regenerate when fractured.
15. A Waterway to Connect the Baltic and Black Seas
A planned 1,200-mile inland navigable waterway connecting the Baltic and Black seas would alter the flow of cargo and trade in the region. However, the waterway, which would pass through Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine, could alter habitat in 70 wildlife areas and numerous international conservation areas, introduce non-native species, and change the region's rivers and wetlands. Additionally, dredging in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone could disrupt radioactive sediment.
Jim Palardy is a project director with The Pew Charitable Trusts' conservation science program. He served on this year's horizon scan panel and is a co-author on the resulting study.
Reposted with permission from The Pew Charitable Trust.
- Six Eco-Friendly Pledges for 2021 - EcoWatch ›
- A 10-Step Plan to Save Our Seas - EcoWatch ›
- Bitcoin's 'Staggering' Energy Consumption Raises Climate Concerns - EcoWatch ›
Throughout Texas, there are a number of solar power companies that can install solar panels on your roof to take advantage of the abundant sunlight. But which solar power provider should you choose? In this article, we'll provide a list of the best solar companies in the Lone Star State.
Our Picks for the Best Texas Solar Companies
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Sunpro Solar
- Longhorn Solar, Inc.
- Solartime USA
- Kosmos Solar
- Sunshine Renewable Solutions
- Alba Energy
- Circle L Solar
- South Texas Solar Systems
- Good Faith Energy
How We Chose the Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
There are a number of factors to keep in mind when comparing and contrasting different solar providers. These are some of the considerations we used to evaluate Texas solar energy companies.
Different solar companies may provide varying services. Always take the time to understand the full range of what's being offered in terms of solar panel consultation, design, installation, etc. Also consider add-ons, like EV charging stations, whenever applicable.
When meeting with a representative from one of Texas' solar power companies, we would always encourage you to ask what the installation process involves. What kind of customization can you expect? Will your solar provider use salaried installers, or outsourced contractors? These are all important questions to raise during the due diligence process.
Texas is a big place, and as you look for a good solar power provider, you want to ensure that their services are available where you live. If you live in Austin, it doesn't do you much good to have a solar company that's active only in Houston.
Pricing and Financing
Keep in mind that the initial cost of solar panel installation can be sizable. Some solar companies are certainly more affordable than others, and you can also ask about the flexible financing options that are available to you.
To guarantee that the renewable energy providers you select are reputable, and that they have both the integrity and the expertise needed, we would recommend assessing their status in the industry. The simplest way to do this is to check to see whether they are North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certified or belong to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) or other industry groups.
Types of Panels
As you research different companies, it certainly doesn't hurt to get to know the specific products they offer. Inquire about their tech portfolio, and see if they are certified to install leading brands like Tesla or Panasonic.
Rebates and Tax Credits
There are a lot of opportunities to claim clean energy rebates or federal tax credits which can help with your initial solar purchase. Ask your solar provider for guidance navigating these different savings opportunities.
Going solar is a big investment, but a warranty can help you trust that your system will work for decades. A lot of solar providers provide warranties on their technology and workmanship for 25 years or more, but you'll definitely want to ask about this on the front end.
The 10 Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
With these criteria in mind, consider our picks for the 10 best solar energy companies in TX.
SunPower is a solar energy company that makes it easy to make an informed and totally customized decision about your solar power setup. SunPower has an online design studio where you can learn more about the different options available for your home, and even a form where you can get a free online estimate. Set up a virtual consultation to speak directly with a qualified solar installer from the comfort of your own home. It's no wonder SunPower is a top solar installation company in Texas. They make the entire process easy and expedient.
Sunpro Solar is another solar power company with a solid reputation across the country. Their services are widely available to Texas homeowners, and they make the switch to solar effortless. We recommend them for their outstanding customer service, for the ease of their consultation and design process, and for their assistance to homeowners looking to claim tax credits and other incentives.
Looking for a solar contractor with true Texas roots? Longhorn Solar is an award-winning company that's frequently touted as one of the best solar providers in the state. Their services are available in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, and since 2009 they have helped more than 2,000 Texans make the switch to energy efficiency with solar. We recommend them for their technical expertise, proven track record, and solar product selection.
Solartime USA is another company based in Texas. In fact, this family-owned business is located in Richardson, which is just outside of Dallas. They have ample expertise with customized solar energy solutions in residential settings, and their portfolio of online reviews attests to their first-rate customer service. We love this company for the simplicity of their process, and for all the guidance they offer customers seeking to go solar.
Next on our list is Kosmos Solar, another Texas-based solar company. They're based in the northern part of the state, and highly recommended for homeowners in the area. They supply free estimates, high-quality products, custom solar designs, and award-winning personal service. Plus, their website has a lot of great information that may help guide you while you determine whether going solar is right for you.
Sunshine Renewable Solutions is based out of Houston, and they've developed a sterling reputation for dependable service and high-quality products. They have a lot of helpful financing options, and can show you how you can make the switch to solar in a really cost-effective way. We also like that they give free estimates, so there's certainly no harm in learning more about this great local company.
"Powered by the Texas sun." That's the official tagline of Alba Energy, a solar energy provider that's based out of Katy, TX. They have lots of great information about solar panel systems and solar solutions, including solar calculators to help you tabulate your potential energy savings. Additionally, we recommend Alba Energy because all of their work is done by a trusted, in-house team of solar professionals. They maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and they have rave reviews from satisfied customers.
Circle L Solar has a praiseworthy mission of helping homeowners slash their energy costs while participating in the green energy revolution. This is another company that provides a lot of great information, including energy savings calculators. Also note that, in addition to solar panels, Circle L Solar also showcases a number of other assets that can help you make your home more energy efficient, including windows, weatherization services, LED lighting, and more.
You can tell by the name that South Texas Solar Systems focuses its service area on the southernmost part of the Lone Star State. Their products include a wide range of commercial and residential solar panels, as well as "off the grid" panels for homeowners who want to detach from public utilities altogether. Since 2007, this company has been a trusted solar energy provider in San Antonio and beyond.
Good Faith Energy is a certified installer of Tesla solar technology for homeowners throughout Texas. This company is really committed to ecological stewardship, and they have amassed a lot of goodwill thanks to their friendly customer service and the depth of their solar expertise. In addition to Tesla solar panels, they can also install EV charging stations and storage batteries.
What are Your Solar Financing Options in Texas?
We've mentioned already that going solar requires a significant investment on the front-end. It's worth emphasizing that some of the best solar companies provide a range of financing options, allowing you to choose whether you buy your system outright, lease it, or pay for it in monthly installments.
Also keep in mind that there are a lot of rebates and state and federal tax credits available to help offset starting costs. Find a Texas solar provider who can walk you through some of the different options.
How Much Does a Solar Energy System Cost in Texas?
How much is it going to cost you to make that initial investment into solar power? It varies by customer and by home, but the median cost of solar paneling may be somewhere in the ballpark of $13,000. Note that, when you take into account federal tax incentives, this number can fall by several thousand dollars.
And of course, once you go solar, your monthly utility bills are going to shrink dramatically… so while solar systems won't pay for themselves in the first month or even the first year, they will ultimately prove more than cost-effective.
Finding the Right Solar Energy Companies in TX
Texas is a great place to pursue solar energy companies, thanks to all the natural sunlight, and there are plenty of companies out there to help you make the transition. Do your homework, compare a few options, and seek the solar provider that's right for you. We hope this guide is a helpful jumping-off point as you try to get as much information as possible about the best solar companies in Texas.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
At least twelve deep-sea species were recently discovered in the Atlantic, BBC News reported. After five years of research, scientists of the ATLAS Project, a transatlantic assessment and deep-water management plan for Europe, discovered new species of sea mosses, molluscs and corals.
Although much of the deep sea remains unexplored, researchers warn that the impacts of climate change, like ocean acidification, could threaten deep-sea species and their habitats.
"We can still say we have better maps of the surface of the Moon and Mars than of the sea floor," Professor George Wolff, an ocean chemist from the University of Liverpool, told BBC News. "So whenever you go to the deep ocean, you find something new — not just individual species but entire ecosystems."
Professor Murray Roberts from the University of Edinburgh described the importance of deep-sea communities, such as those created by corals and sponges.
"If those cities are damaged by destructive human uses, those fish have nowhere to spawn and the function of those whole ecosystems is lost for future generations," Roberts told BBC News. "It's like understanding that the rainforest is an important place for biodiversity on the land; the same is true of the deep sea — there are important places that need to be protected and, crucially, they are all connected."
Protecting these places, however, could become increasingly difficult. The ATLAS researchers also found that ocean acidification, caused by an increase in carbon dioxide, reduces deep-sea habitats, BBC News reported.
Over the past two centuries, the ocean has absorbed nearly one-third of all emissions, according to research by The Ocean Foundation. This has led the ocean's surface to acidify at an increasing rate.
"The ocean plays a fundamental role in mitigating climate change by serving as a major heat and carbon sink," The Ocean Foundation wrote on its site. "The ocean also bears the brunt of climate change, as evidenced by changes in temperature, currents and sea level rise, all of which affect the health of marine species, nearshore and deep ocean ecosystems."
In their research, the ATLAS team found nearly 50 percent of the cold-water coral habitats were at risk of ocean acidification, the International Business Times reported. They also found that ocean acidification and fisheries threaten nearly 19 percent of deep-sea ecosystems.
Deep-sea corals are among those threatened, as they are growing more brittle as the ocean becomes more acidic, a recent study published by Frontiers in Marine Science found.
The Marine Science study sampled live corals and compared them to weakened human skeletons that suffered from osteoporosis. The results found that crumbling corals weakened similarly to human bones, according to Science Daily.
"By being able to adapt strategies to coral reefs that are used routinely to monitor osteoporosis and assess bone fracture risk, we may have powerful non-invasive tools at our disposal to monitor these fragile ecosystems," Dr. Uwe Wolfram of Heriot-Watt University told Science Daily.
The push to understand deep-sea ecosystems coincides with the beginning of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, set to begin in 2021.
In 2017, the United Nations announced an upcoming framework to ensure the protection and sustainable use of the ocean. Running until 2030, the program aims to mobilize communities to deepen their scientific understanding of the ocean and form science-based policies and mitigation strategies.
"The deep ocean can be so out of sight and out of mind that we're not really aware of what we're doing to its environments and the consequences of what we do," Professor Claire Armstrong, a natural resource economist from the University of Tromsø, told BBC News. "The value of all this knowledge is that it enables us to understand what we might risk losing."
- More Microplastics in Deep Sea Than Great Pacific Garbage Patch ... ›
- Race to Mine Deep Seabeds, With Unknown Ecological Impacts ... ›
- Ocean Warming Is Causing Deep-Sea Creatures to Migrate Toward ... ›
Researchers Warn of Looming Oil Spill Four Times Larger Than Exxon Valdez if Urgent Action Not Taken
By Andrea Germanos
A team of scientists issued a stark warning Tuesday that the possibility of averting an oil spill bigger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez catastrophe and "disastrous environmental and humanitarian consequences" posed by an abandoned oil tanker in the Red Sea are "quickly disappearing."
At issue is the corroding Safer, moored off the coast of Yemen and under control of Houthi rebels since 2015.
After blocking such efforts for years, Houthi authorities last month approved a United Nations plan to visit the tanker early in 2021. U.N. Environment Program executive director Inger Andersen warned in July that the vessel's deteriorating condition and the over 1 million barrels of oil it holds threaten long-term damage to local ecosystems.
In a policy brief published in Frontiers in Marine Science, researchers said the need to pump off the oil is urgent.
"A massive leak of over 1 million barrels of oil (4 times the Exxon Valdez tanker spill) is anticipated shortly off the coast of Yemen, in the Red Sea, where the Safer floating storage and offloading unit (FSO) is in the final stages of decay." That quantity, they continued, "guarantees a regional environmental and humanitarian disaster," with impacts certain to affect dozens of coastal countries and the sea's rich biodiversity, including its coral reefs.
Given the stakes, the paper called for the U.N. International Maritime Organization and U.N Secretary-General António Guterres to "take coordinated action and achieve access to the Safer by all means necessary in order to pump off the oil."
That action must happen before winter, they added, pointing to models showing that "winter oil dispersion will extend further north and into the center of the Red Sea as compared to a spill dispersing during summer."
"The time is now to prevent a potential devastation to the region's waters and the livelihoods and health of millions of people living in half a dozen countries along the Red Sea's coast," lead author Karine Kleinhaus, MD, MPH, an associate professor of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) at Stony Brook University, said in a statement.
"If a spill from the Safer is allowed to occur," she continued, "the oil would spread via ocean currents to devastate a global ocean resource, as the coral reefs of the northern Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba are projected to be among the last reef ecosystems in the world to survive the coming decades."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- Mysterious Oil Spill on Massachusetts' Charles River Spurs Major ... ›
- 20,000 Ton Oil Spill in Russian Arctic Has 'Catastrophic ... ›
- Mauritius' First Major Oil Spill Poses Environmental Crisis - EcoWatch ›
By Shawna Foo
Anyone who's tending a garden right now knows what extreme heat can do to plants. Heat is also a concern for an important form of underwater gardening: growing corals and "outplanting," or transplanting them to restore damaged reefs.
The goal of outplanting is to aid coral reefs' natural recovery process by growing new corals and moving them to the damaged areas. It's the same idea as replanting forests that have been heavily logged, or depleted farm fields that once were prairie grasslands.
I have studied how global stressors such as ocean warming and acidification affect marine invertebrates for more than a decade. In a recently published study, I worked with Gregory Asner to analyze the impacts of temperature on coral reef restoration projects. Our results showed that climate change has raised sea surface temperatures close to a point that will make it very hard for outplanted corals to survive.
Coral reefs support over 25% of marine life by providing food, shelter and a place for fish and other organisms to reproduce and raise young. Today, ocean warming driven by climate change is stressing reefs worldwide.
Rising ocean temperatures cause bleaching events – episodes in which corals expel the algae that live inside them and provide the corals with most of their food, as well as their vibrant colors. When corals lose their algae, they become less resistant to stressors such as disease and eventually may die.
Hundreds of organizations worldwide are working to restore damaged coral reefs by growing thousands of small coral fragments in nurseries, which may be onshore in laboratories or in the ocean near degraded reefs. Then scuba divers physically plant them at restoration sites.
Outplanting coral is expensive: According to one recent study, the median cost is about US$160,000 per acre, or $400,000 per hectare. It also is time-consuming, with scuba divers placing each outplanted coral by hand. So it's important to maximize coral survival by choosing the best locations.
We used data from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration's Coral Reef Watch program, which collects daily satellite-derived measurements of sea surface temperature. We paired this information with survival rates from hundreds of coral outplanting projects worldwide.
We found that coral survival was likely to drop below 50% if the maximum temperature experienced at the restoration site exceeded 86.9 degrees Fahrenheit (30.5 degrees Celsius). This temperature threshold mirrors the tolerance of natural coral reefs.
Globally, coral reefs experience an annual maximum temperature today of 84.9˚F (29.4˚C). This means they already are living close to their upper thermal limit.
When reefs experience temperatures only a few degrees above long-term averages for a few weeks, the stress can cause coral bleaching and mortality. Increases of just a few degrees above normal caused three mass bleaching events since 2016 that have devastated Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Sea surface temperatures on Aug. 3, 2020, measured from satellites. Warning = possible bleaching; Alert Level 1 = significant bleaching likely; Alert Level 2 = severe bleaching and significant mortality likely. NOAA Coral Reef Watch
Climate scientists project that the oceans will warm up to 3˚C by the year 2100. Scientists are working to create coral outplants that can better survive increases in temperature, which could help to increase restoration success in the future.
When coral restoration experts choose where to outplant, they typically consider what's on the seafloor, algae that could smother coral, predators that eat coral and the presence of fish. Our study shows that using temperature data and other information collected remotely from airplanes and satellites could help to optimize this process. Remote sensing, which scientists have used to study coral reefs for almost 40 years, can provide information on much larger scales than water surveys.
Coral reefs face an uncertain future and may not recover naturally from human-caused climate change. Conserving them will require reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting key habitats and actively restoring reefs. I hope that our research on temperature will help increase coral outplant survival and restoration success.
Shawna Foo is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the Arizona State University.
Disclosure statement: Shawna Foo receives funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
- Coral Reefs Could Be Completely Lost to the Climate Crisis by 2100 ... ›
- Coral Reefs Are Still Growing Atolls Despite Sea Level Rise - EcoWatch ›
- Scientists Discover Why Coral Reefs Are Turning White, Informing Restoration Possibilities - EcoWatch ›
By Johan Augustin
In a lab on Australia's east coast, scientists are concocting what they hope will be the solution to the steadily worsening problem of coral bleaching.
Few people understand the Great Barrier Reef, and the challenges it faces, better than the scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). And events of the past few years have them concerned about how well it can cope with rising water temperatures that have increased the frequency, severity and extent of coral-bleaching events.
As water temperatures rise, the coral polyps flush out the photosynthetic algae that live in their tissue and give them their color. The corals depend on the algae for their energy, and without these symbionts, the newly bare, or "bleached," reefs slowly start to die.
Historically, bleaching events have occurred far enough apart in time that reefs have been able to recover, typically within about a decade. But in March this year, the Great Barrier Reef suffered its third major bleaching event in just five years.
"Three major widespread mass bleaching events throughout the Great Barrier Reef are clear indicators that ocean warming is happening faster than expected and the severity of the warming events is pushing corals beyond levels that these reefs can sustain," says Neal Cantin, a coral reef biologist at the AIMS.
A branch of bleached coral. Jonas Gratzer / Mongabay
Water temperatures this time around didn't reach as high as during the 2016 event, but the bleaching was worse for two key reasons, Cantin says.
"The first is how soon it follows the 2016 and 2017 back-to-back bleaching events. The second concern is the footprint of heat in 2020," he says.
That "footprint" refers to the total extent of reef affected by bleaching. While the 2016 event had the most extreme levels of heat, Cantin says, it was limited mostly to the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef, severely bleaching 35% of the total reef area. This time around, the entire length of the reef — a span of 2,300 kilometers (1,300 miles) — was exposed to heat stress "capable of causing bleaching." That resulted in severe levels of bleaching on an additional 25% of the reefs, Cantin says.
Bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef. Jonas Gratzer / Mongabay
But brewing in the AIMS lab are pioneering experiments aimed at finding scientific breakthroughs for a problem that experts agree is bound to get worse over time. And they've already come up with a strong candidate for the answer to the bleaching problem: corals engineered to take the heat. In a method known as assisted gene flow — similar to how food crops are crossbred to emphasize favorable traits — scientists here single out the genetic properties that make certain coral species more resistant to heat, and find ways to pass it on.
These hybrids have already "demonstrated remarkable resiliency" to high water temperatures at the juvenile life stage inside the AIMS National Sea Simulator, says reef restoration scientist Kate Quigley. Her team also works with enhancing the symbiont algae.
"By pairing these enhanced corals with enhanced symbionts, we have been able to increase their heat resistance up to 26 times," Quigley says, pointing to a recently published study with those findings. The researchers have also found that breeding these enhanced corals creates new genetic diversity in key traits associated with resisting higher water temperatures.
"The early results we have found in regards to enhancing corals' heat tolerance are encouraging," Quigley says. "I would describe these early experiments as successes."
A tank of enhanced coral at the AIMS center being tested for their warm-water tolerance. Jonas Gratzer / Mongabay
The hybrids have one parent from northern, warmer, parts of the reef and one from the central, cooler, part. The results show that some of the strains have inherited the northern corals' temperature tolerance and can survive when placed in cooler environments. That suggests that over time, as these cooler regions heat up, these corals will be able to tolerate the rising temperatures better than the native corals.
"We have learned key fundamental biology about coral reproduction and heat tolerance that will be important moving forward in further developing new, scalable coral restoration methods," Quigley says. "We are [also] finding that heat tolerance can be passed from parents to offspring in reproducible, persistent ways."
These research projects fall under the wider Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program, which Cantin calls "the biggest single effort anywhere in the world to develop options for intervening on the reef to help it adapt and cope better with climate change."
"These interventions are promising," Cantin adds, "but none are ready to deploy large-scale."
For the enhanced corals to have any meaningful effect across a reef that stretches the same distance as New York City to Miami, they will need to be deployed in massive volumes. Another experiment at the AIMS, the Larval Restoration Project, is looking into how to do this, but with naturally occurring warm-adapted corals rather than the gene-edited ones from the AIMS lab. It's the largest coral reseeding project in history, launched in 2016 and funded by the Australian government.
The idea is that during the annual mass coral spawning, which takes place every year during the November full moon, researchers harvest millions of coral eggs and sperm. They then grow them in enclosures on the reef to produce coral larvae, which are later released onto bleached and damaged sections of the reef to repopulate them.
The coral species that spawn this year will be the ones that survived the bleaching in March, and therefore those with proven better heat tolerance. The harvest this time around "will allow us to find reefs, populations and individuals that are particularly hardy and that will act as breeding stock for the production of coral offspring able to withstand high heat," Quigley says.
"The search for hardy and resilient corals continues, but we have already seen some very promising results," she adds.
Reposted with permission from Mongabay.
- Coral Reef Tipping Point: 'Near-Annual' Bleaching May Occur ... ›
- Great Barrier Reef Has Third Major Bleaching Event in Five Years ... ›
- Severe Coral Reef Bleaching Now 'Five Times More Frequent' Than ... ›
Coral Reef Outplants: Sea Temperature an Often Overlooked but Vital Factor in Success, Scientists Find
By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
Coral reefs are often called the "rainforests of the sea" because they harbor some of the highest levels of biodiversity of any ecosystem in the world. But as sea temperatures rise, coral reef systems are suffering mass bleaching events, leading to widespread mortality. One way to try and restore coral reef systems is coral reef gardening or "outplanting," a method of growing coral fragments in a nursery and transferring them to ailing reef systems. But like naturally grown coral, it's hard to keep outplants alive, especially with climate change steadily raising global sea temperatures.
A coral nursery loaded with detached corals in Hawai'i off the coast of O'ahu. NOAA Fisheries
A new study, published this month in Environmental Research Letters, shows that coral reef outplant survival dropped below 50% when temperatures rose above 30.5° Celsius (86.9° Fahrenheit).
"In normal coral reefs, an increase of one degree [Celsius, or 1.9°F] can cause bleaching and death," Shawna Foo, lead author and postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University's Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science (GDCS), told Mongabay. "But it was not actually known what temperatures were important for coral outplants to survive, maybe because they've been grown in different conditions, or maybe [it was thought that] they could be less resilient to temperature or more resilient to temperature."
Foo and her co-author, Greg Asner, director of GDCS, analyzed hundreds of coral outplanting projects that took place around the world between 1987 and 2018 to collect data on coral survival rates and outplant locations and dates. They also gathered data on global sea surface temperature, obtained from NOAA's Coral Reef Watch program. What they eventually found was that coral outplants reacted to temperature the same way as natural coral reefs.
A Staghorn coral nursery in Puerto Rico. NOAA
Growing coral is an extremely labor-intensive activity that can cost up to $400,000 per hectare. Sites for coral reef outplanting tend to be chosen based on water clarity, a suitable seafloor environment, and the presence of an existing coral reef. But temperature isn't always considered, Foo said. While many factors can lead to the demise of coral outplants, including algae outbreaks and unfavorable water chemistry, temperature plays a key role in outplant health and survival, according to the study.
Another key finding is that outplant survival increased at sites with more temperature variability, rather than at sites that remained at a constant temperature night and day.
"We find that corals that are in these more variable conditions actually have higher survival, and this is probably because exposure to variability is increasing the resilience to temperature change, and … being exposed to low temperatures means they actually have a little bit of reprieve as well," Foo said.
Scientists maintaining corals growing in a coral reef nursery. NOAA
Foo says she hopes this study will help coral outplant practitioners choose the best sites for coral gardens to boost survival. Temperature is becoming an increasingly important consideration, especially as ocean warming is expected to accelerate more than four-fold over the next 60 years.
"Although sobering for reef conservationists and managers, our findings provide a critical compass as to where reef restoration efforts can have their greatest impact in the future," Asner said in a statement. "Reef restoration is just now turning from a cottage industry to a global enterprise, and this needs to happen in concert with the changing global geography of ocean temperature."
Reposted with permission from Mongabay.
- Coral Reefs Could Be Completely Lost to the Climate Crisis by 2100 ... ›
- Great Barrier Reef Authority Warns That Climate Action Is Needed ... ›
- Scientists Discover Why Coral Reefs Are Turning White, Informing Restoration Possibilities - EcoWatch ›
By David Elliott
Dive beneath the brilliant blue waters surrounding Thailand's Koh Tao island and you might come face to face with a giant sculpture of the sea goddess Mazu.
But a closer look reveals an even bigger surprise – Mazu is alive.
That's because, as the 1,800kg (almost 40,000-pound) centerpiece of a large artificial coral reef, she is teeming with sea life.
Built in 2018 by non-profit organization Global Coralition with the help of conservation group Eco Koh Tao, the sculpture and the 36 smaller pyramid structures that surround it hold 5,000 coral transplants. It attracts hundreds of divers a week and helps raise funds for local restoration groups, and is maintained by these divers and the local community.
Global Coralition now plans to return to the island to work with local conservation groups and scientists from Thailand's marine resources department to build the island's first land-based coral farm. The group is currently raising funds.
Small Pieces, Big Impact
Angeline Chen, Executive Director of Global Coralition – who spoke recently at the World Economic Forum's Virtual Ocean Dialogues event – is effusive about the benefits of growing coral on land and the role it could play in rebuilding damaged ocean habitats.
Coral can be grown up to 50 times faster this way, she says, using a technique called microfragmentation. This involves dividing a piece of coral into much smaller fragments, which stimulates the tissue to grow. The pieces are grown a short distance apart and – because corals are clonal animals – they fuse together when their edges meet, forming a single mass.
Combined with other scientific methods, like larval propagation and assisted evolution to increase the resilience and reproductive rate of corals, Chen believes the impact of such projects, practiced all around the world, could be massive.
"With these farms, we could be growing a diverse array of resilient coral on a huge scale," she says.
Many organizations are practicing these methods, including Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida, US, and the government of Hawaii, which is out-planting 1 meter by 1 meter (3.2 foot) corals grown in one year – the largest to be grown in a land-based nursery.
In the world of nursery raised corals, a one-meter coral is considered big. Yesterday, a team of biologists and te… https://t.co/wNWMyaARVf— DLNR (@DLNR)1590713599.0
Driving the work of Global Coralition and organizations like it is a simple fact: coral is vital to the planet.
Coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems on Earth, and they support nearly 1 million species of fish, invertebrates and algae. They're crucial to humans, too. They protect our coasts from storms and floods, and provide work, medicine and food to more than 1 billion people. In fact, coral reef ecosystems give society resources and services worth $375 billion per year, according to the United Nations.
But coral faces myriad threats, including overfishing, pollution and climate change. Almost half of reef-building coral species are under threat, according to UN figures. And scientists predict we'll lose up to 90% of all reefs in the next 20 years if something isn't done soon.
For Chen and the Global Coralition, the answer lies in engaging and empowering local communities with the knowledge, tools and resources to reduce the local impacts of reef degradation while increasing key habitats and species.
The organization uses art, like the sculpture of Mazu, to bring people together around cultural themes that are meaningful to their communities.
It then works with parties including local officials, marine ecologists, fisherman, students and dive centers to foster the unique skills to rehabilitate their local ecology. This work in turn improves quality of life, water quality, food security, income and employment opportunities and education in the region.
The world's reef-building corals. Statista
Global Coralition is currently building a marine farm in a fishing village in the Dominican Republic. It consists of an expansive underwater sculpture garden inspired by Taino wisdom, a land-based coral farm, mangrove and oyster restoration and a community education center.
As part of this project, Chen says, it used the World Economic Forum's UpLink platform to connect the community with a recycling facility that pays locals to collect trash, which can be turned into material to be sold back into the economy.
The organization wants to create 200 of these marine hubs across the globe in collaboration with local communities and governments, fishing villages, dive communities, restoration groups, hotels and local officials.
"Based on recovery rates, scientists predict we can rebuild marine life by 2050 if we can mitigate climate change, reduce local pressures and increase the abundance of our keystone habitats and species," Chen says.
"If these methods were applied all over the world, we could scale our collective rates of restoration."
Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.
- Coral Reefs Could Be Completely Lost to the Climate Crisis by 2100 ... ›
- This Scientific Breakthrough at the Florida Aquarium Could Save ... ›
- This Robot Is Delivering Coral Babies to the Great Barrier Reef ... ›
- NFL Green Tackles Coral Restoration Project in Tampa - EcoWatch ›
- NFL Green Tackles Coral Restoration Project in Florida - EcoWatch ›
Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus
On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.
SB 172 responds to and reverses the City of Key West's 2019 ban on the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate to protect its coral reef. The ban was set to take effect Jan. 1, 2021, but the new law strikes down that ban and prohibits similar ones.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Key West sits on Florida's Reef Tract, the only barrier reef in the continental U.S.
Florida's multi-billion coastal economy "is highly tied to the coral reefs and dependent on their health," the Environmental and Energy Study Institute found.
Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral, according to experts, reported ABC News.
"(Coral reefs) provide billions of dollars in economic and environmental services, such as food, coastal protection, and tourism," said a NOAA infographic article about the harms of sunscreens. The infographic focuses on how sunscreen chemicals enter the ocean environment, the harm they cause to marine life including corals, fish, algae, etc. and alternative, reef-safe ways to stay protected from the sun.
Common chemicals in sunscreens and cosmetics are "highly toxic" to marine life and "even very low concentrations" of oxybenzone and octinoxate accumulate in coral tissue, inducing bleaching, damaging coral DNA and deforming and killing young coral larvae, according to NOAA.
This harm to the next generation of reefs threatens the survival of corals generally at a time when reefs are already heavily imperiled. NOAA called nontoxic sunscreen alternatives "critical" to protect reefs against "exacerbating effects posted by climate change and bleaching."
Oxybenzone and octinoxate also disrupt the human endocrine system.
Even while the new Florida bill was moving towards DeSantis' desk, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration removed most chemical sunscreens from its list of "safe and effective" products pending health studies, instead designating mineral-based sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as "safe and effective, reported Florida Phoenix.
Proponents of the bill, including many business interests, claim sunscreen is necessary to protect the residents and visitors to the sunshine state from skin cancer.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley spearheaded the bill, disputing the science claiming that sunscreens harm reefs. He argued that protecting tourists and residents from cancer trumps protecting coral reefs, reported Florida Phoenix and CBS Miami.
Those criticizing the bill call it the latest attack on local government home-rule authority as well as on coral reefs, reported Star Tribune.
Some have called the bill a "gross overreaction" to Key West's "measured and reasonable limitation" meant to protect their lucrative, important natural resource, reported Sun-Sentinel.
"When it comes to protecting Florida's coral reefs, the Governor is standing with corporate interests, despite millions of taxpayer dollars spent on reef preservation and restoration," environmental groups said Tuesday in a joint press release, reported Florida Phoenix.
NOAA said that "although pollution is a major cause of coral reef degradation," it is also "the easiest factor to mitigate" because manufacturers and consumers can choose to create and purchase less harmful products. The only issue, NOAA found, was that regulation of the toxic chemicals in sunscreens "has largely been ignored."
DeSantis did not issue statements as his office Monday night released the new bill, reported CBS Miami.
- Your Guide to Reef Friendly Sunscreens - EcoWatch ›
- Hundreds of Sunscreens Don't Work or Have Unsafe Ingredients ... ›
- FDA Study: Sunscreen Chemicals Seep Into the Bloodstream ... ›
By Anthony Richardson, Chhaya Chaudhary, David Schoeman, and Mark John Costello
The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The number of marine species naturally tapers off as you head towards the poles.
Ecologists have assumed this global pattern has remained stable over recent centuries — until now. Our recent study found the ocean around the equator has already become too hot for many species to survive, and that global warming is responsible.
In other words, the global pattern is rapidly changing. And as species flee to cooler water towards the poles, it's likely to have profound implications for marine ecosystems and human livelihoods. When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90% of all marine species died.
The Bell Curve is Warping Dangerously
If you look at each line in this chart, you can see a slight dip in total species richness between 1955 and 1974. This deepens substantially in the following decades. Anthony Richardson, Author provided
This global pattern — where the number of species starts lower at the poles and peaks at the equator — results in a bell-shaped gradient of species richness. We looked at distribution records for nearly 50,000 marine species collected since 1955 and found a growing dip over time in this bell shape.
So, as our oceans warm, species have tracked their preferred temperatures by moving towards the poles. Although the warming at the equator of 0.6℃ over the past 50 years is relatively modest compared with warming at higher latitudes, tropical species have to move further to remain in their thermal niche compared with species elsewhere.
As ocean warming has accelerated over recent decades due to climate change, the dip around at the equator has deepened.
We predicted such a change five years ago using a modeling approach, and now we have observational evidence.
For each of the 10 major groups of species we studied (including pelagic fish, reef fish and molluscs) that live in the water or on the seafloor, their richness either plateaued or declined slightly at latitudes with mean annual sea-surface temperatures above 20℃.
Today, species richness is greatest in the northern hemisphere in latitudes around 30°N (off southern China and Mexico) and in the south around 20°S (off northern Australia and southern Brazil).
This Has Happened Before
We shouldn't be surprised global biodiversity has responded so rapidly to global warming. This has happened before, and with dramatic consequences.
252 million years ago…
At the end of the Permian geological period about 252 million years ago, global temperatures warmed by 10℃ over 30,000-60,000 years as a result of greenhouse gas emissions from volcano eruptions in Siberia.
A 2020 study of the fossils from that time shows the pronounced peak in biodiversity at the equator flattened and spread. During this mammoth rearranging of global biodiversity, 90% of all marine species were killed.
125,000 years ago…
A 2012 study showed that more recently, during the rapid warming around 125,000 years ago, there was a similar swift movement of reef corals away from the tropics, as documented in the fossil record. The result was a pattern similar to the one we describe, although there was no associated mass extinction.
Authors of the study suggested their results might foreshadow the effects of our current global warming, ominously warning there could be mass extinctions in the near future as species move into the subtropics, where they might struggle to compete and adapt.
During the last ice age, which ended around 15,000 years ago, the richness of forams (a type of hard-shelled, single-celled plankton) peaked at the equator and has been dropping there ever since. This is significant as plankton is a keystone species in the foodweb.
Our study shows that decline has accelerated in recent decades due to human-driven climate change.
The Profound Implications
Losing species in tropical ecosystems means ecological resilience to environmental changes is reduced, potentially compromising ecosystem persistence.
In subtropical ecosystems, species richness is increasing. This means there'll be species invaders, novel predator-prey interactions, and new competitive relationships. For example, tropical fish moving into Sydney Harbour compete with temperate species for food and habitat.
This could result in ecosystem collapse — as was seen at the boundary between the Permian and Triassic periods — in which species go extinct and ecosystem services (such as food supplies) are permanently altered.
The changes we describe will also have profound implications for human livelihoods. For example, many tropical island nations depend on the revenue from tuna fishing fleets through the selling of licenses in their territorial waters. Highly mobile tuna species are likely to move rapidly toward the subtropics, potentially beyond sovereign waters of island nations.
Similarly, many reef species important for artisanal fishers — and highly mobile megafauna such as whale sharks, manta rays and sea turtles that support tourism — are also likely to move toward the subtropics.
The movement of commercial and artisanal fish and marine megafauna could compromise the ability of tropical nations to meet the Sustainable Development Goals concerning zero hunger and marine life.
Is There Anything We Can Do?
One pathway is laid out in the Paris Climate Accords and involves aggressively reducing our emissions. Other opportunities are also emerging that could help safeguard biodiversity and hopefully minimise the worst impacts of it shifting away from the equator.
Currently 2.7% of the ocean is conserved in fully or highly protected reserves. This is well short of the 10% target by 2020 under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
But a group of 41 nations is pushing to set a new target of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030.
This "30 by 30" target could ban seafloor mining and remove fishing in reserves that can destroy habitats and release as much carbon dioxide as global aviation. These measures would remove pressures on biodiversity and promote ecological resilience.
Designing climate-smart reserves could further protect biodiversity from future changes. For example, reserves for marine life could be placed in refugia where the climate will be stable over the foreseeable future.
We now have evidence that climate change is impacting the best-known and strongest global pattern in ecology. We should not delay actions to try to mitigate this.
Anthony Richardson: Professor, The University of Queensland. Chhaya Chaudhary: University of Auckland, David Schoeman: Professor of Global-Change Ecology, University of the Sunshine Coast, Mark John Costello: Professor, University of Auckland
Disclosure statement: Anthony Richardson receives funding from the Australian Research Council.
Chhaya Chaudhary works for Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. During her PhD studies (2014- 2019), she received part- funding from the European Marine Observation Data Network (EMODnet) Biology project funded by the European Commission's Directorate—General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE), and received U21 Doctoral Mobility Scholarship from the University of Auckland in 2016.
David Schoeman receives funding from the Australian Research Council.
Mark John Costello does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
- Netflix's 'Seaspiracy': Viewers React to Fishing Documentary ... ›
- Mysterious Circling Behavior Observed in Large Marine Animals ... ›
By Nathalie Chalmers
The ocean is our lifeline - its health is essential to our health. Securing the ocean's well-being will have positive impacts across many global challenges we face today such as poverty, hunger, human health, unemployment, inequality and more. Finding and elevating promising ocean innovations wherever they may be, connecting them and helping them scale is crucial to ensure we protect one of our planet's most valuable assets.
In that vein, UpLink - a digital platform for scaling innovation and driving progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals - is proud to unveil its second cohort of ocean innovators.
To find these innovators, we launched our second Ocean Solutions Sprint alongside four partners: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), and the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).
We believe these innovations have the potential to address some of the key opportunities in the ocean space today, such as protecting and restoring coral reefs, scaling restorative aquaculture, unearthing technologies for marine protection and helping invest in nature-based solutions.
Scientists say climate change and pollution could kill off the world’s coral reefs by 2100. UpLink has launched a… https://t.co/kWgbY7ncq8— World Economic Forum (@World Economic Forum)1600707600.0
Over the next few months, we will work with the cohort to help them scale their impact through mentoring opportunities, capacity building workshops, exposure and visibility, as well as introductions to experts and potential investors where relevant. These organizations will join a growing community of UpLink innovators who are benefiting from the platform.
We would also like to thank supporting partners from the investment side Aquaspark, The Blue Natural Capital Financing Facility (BNCFF), Blue Ocean Partners, Hatch and Katapult Ocean for their support during this challenge.
Welcome to our new ocean innovators cohort:
Arc Marine's innovative Reef Cubes can help boost large-scale coral restoration projects and provide eco-friendly marine habitats while also protecting man-made assets.
A new home for endangered sea animals. 📕 Read more: https://t.co/QWeJtsxNDo @WEFUpLink https://t.co/nxKHUY2otR— World Economic Forum (@World Economic Forum)1603746000.0
Atlantic Sea Farms is creating products made from sustainably farmed sea greens, while also expanding opportunities for fishing communities and helping them to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification.
Cascadia Seaweed provides healthy plant-based nutritional food, climate action and ocean regeneration, and economic resiliency for Indigenous communities through seaweed cultivation in British Columbia.
CHARM, the innovative coral farming robot, combines scientific research with computer automation to reduce costs, save time, and grow resilient coral colonies at economies of scale.
Kelp Blue is a restorative large-scale offshore kelp cultivation enterprise that produces sustainable agri-foods and bio-stimulants which displace environmentally damaging alternatives.
Mussel Farm Mechanization in Brazil aims to increase productivity and competitiveness of small-scale mussel farms in Santa Catarina, through the adoption of mechanized farming systems and the integration between farmers and processing companies.
Plant a Million Corals and their adaptable, low-cost coral restoration units, can be deployed to not only increase coral growth but also to empower communities to take an active role in conservation.
Sea6 Energy modernizes tropical seaweed farming to produce large quantities of inexpensive biomass from which a whole range of products are derived.
Australian Seaweed Institute is developing seaweed biofilter technology to protect the Great Barrier Reef through a network of seaweed biofilters that can be harvested for use in products such as animal feed and biofertilizer.
SharkSafe Barriers help promote a friendly coexistence between sharks and humans by installing vertical bio fences that mimic kelp forests and use magnetism to deter shark species.
WIPSEA specializes in digital environmental surveys and deep-learning techniques to map large marine mammals and human activities at sea.
Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.
- House Democrats Introduce Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act ... ›
- How Innovation Is Driving the Blue Economy - EcoWatch ›
- 3 Innovations Leading the Fight to Save Our Ocean - EcoWatch ›
- Israeli Maritime Startups Boom as U.N. Decade of Ocean Science Kicks Off ›
A new study finds that plastic water bottles submerged three weeks at sea contained more detrimental bacteria than seawater, creating conditions that lead to ocean acidification.
In the study, published last week in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, international scientists concluded that plastic pollution, particularly single-use plastic water bottles, collected harmful bacteria and microorganisms, which flourish in carbon dioxide-rich environments.
Increased levels of CO2 in the world's oceans are one of the causes of coral bleaching, and rising carbon levels have accelerated the climate crisis. The Great Barrier Reef, the largest system of corals in the world, is now 50 percent bleached.
The study also found that beneficial bacteria, an important part of the carbon cycle, were adversely affected.
"Discarded plastic drinking bottles have become a common sight in our oceans and we were expecting to see them being colonized by different types of bacteria," said Dr. Ben Harvey, assistant professor at the University of Tsukuba's Shimoda Marine Research Center, and an author of the study.
As part of the experiment, the plastic bottles were immersed near Shikine, a Japanese island close to carbon dioxide seeps, where CO2 evaporates into the seawater. This condition is expected to materialize more in subsequent years.
"It was surprising to see the extent of that change and how the raised levels affected species differently. To see beneficial species dwindling while harmful species thrive is an obvious present and future cause for concern," said Harvey.
"Up to 13 million tons of plastics from land end up in the oceans each year and they have been shown to affect all types and sizes of marine species," said senior author of the study Jason Hall-Spencer, a professor of marine biology at the University of Plymouth.
Without coral reefs, starfish, sea urchin and sea turtle populations shrink, for example. Plus, acidification can cause sharks' scales and teeth to erode. And deep-sea life such as whales and rays face less prey to find.
Hall-Spencer, however, remains hopeful.
"It is... within our power to change cultures so that litter created on land does not become an environmental hazard in our oceans, both now and for future generations."
- Ocean Acidification Threatens Entire Ecosystems - EcoWatch ›
- Dungeness Crabs' Shells Are Dissolving From the Severity of Pacific ... ›
- Ocean Acidification from Climate Change Could Cost $1 Trillion ... ›
- What You Need to Know About Coastal Darkening ›