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Rice University marine biologist Adrienne Correa takes samples at a reef in Flower Garden Banks. Jesse Cancelmo / Rice University

Hurricane Harvey Runoff Threatens Coral Reefs

Hurricane Harvey's record rains didn't just unleash a torrent of floodwaters into the Gulf of Mexico—this freshwater could be harming coral reefs which require saltwater to live, according to new research.

After Harvey dumped more than 13 trillion gallons of rain over southeast Texas, researchers detected a 10 percent drop in salinity at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, located 100 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas.

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Flooding covered much of Jacksonville during Hurricane Irma. Will Dickey / Florida Times-Union

Florida Faces 3 Toxic Crises Triggered by Flooding

By Dipika Kadaba

Ah, Florida—home to famous natural landscapes and amazing wildlife, but also to more than 20 million people and billion-dollar industries. Decades of booming development in Florida—all of it built in the path of Atlantic hurricanes—have brought to a head some toxic problems the state still struggles to solve. Every major flooding event, like the one following this year's Hurricane Irma, leaches toxic waste into people's homes and drinking water.

Florida is particularly vulnerable to storm surges and flooding from hurricanes like Irma. Scroll down to explore the natural disaster risks facing Florida and increasing its residents' toxic risks:

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Trump Watch

Trump Taps AccuWeather CEO to Head NOAA

President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Barry Myers, the CEO of private weather company AccuWeather, to lead the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the country's foremost scientific agency for oceanic and climate research.

The White House praised Myers and his company for its "highest grossing years, and its largest global web and mobile audience growth. He is one of the world's leading authorities on the use of weather information."

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Animals
iStock

Trader Joe's Stops Buying Mexican Shrimp After Pressure to Protect Vaquita

Conservation organizations announced Wednesday that Trader Joe's has declared it will stop buying shrimp from Mexico. The popular grocery store chain's decision follows pressure from organizations behind the Boycott Mexican Shrimp campaign, launched earlier this year to save the vaquita, the world's smallest porpoise, from decades of decline due to entanglement in shrimp fishing gear.

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Climate
Three Arch Bay, Laguna Beach. Don Ramey Logan / CC BY

Coastal Protection on the Edge: The Challenge of Preserving California’s Legacy

By Gary Griggs and Charles Lester

The California coast is an edge. It's the place where 1,100 miles of shoreline meets the largest ocean on the planet. Many different forces collide there, and a lot of exciting things happen. The coast is a geological edge, zippered to North America by 800 miles of the San Andreas Fault and battered by the Pacific Ocean.

It's also a social, political, cultural, spiritual, economic and technological edge. It is where the most populous state and sixth-largest economy in the world is exposed to wind, waves, tides, El Niños, earthquakes and tsunamis. These forces made California's coastline rugged, beautiful and beckoning.

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Starfish at low tide on Sanibel Island. Frank Kovalchek / Wikimedia Commons

Scientist Warns of Mass Marine Extinction

By Tim Radford

Mass marine extinction may be inevitable. If humans go on burning fossil fuels under the notorious "business as usual" scenario, then by 2100 they will have added so much carbon to the world's oceans that a sixth mass extinction of marine species will follow, inexorably.

And even if the 197 nations that agreed in Paris in 2015 to take steps to limit global warming in fact do so, then by 2100 humans will have added 300 billion tons of carbon to the seas. And a U.S. scientist has calculated that the critical threshold for mass extinction stands at 310 billion tons.

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Animals
Thomas A. Jefferson

Mexico Launches 'Risky' Vaquita Roundup to Prevent Extinction of Tiny Porpoise

Wildlife officials in Mexico next week will attempt to capture and protect some of the last vaquita on Earth in a desperate effort to save these small porpoises from extinction. The operation in the Gulf of California, scheduled to begin Oct. 12, will use trained U.S. Navy dolphins to locate vaquita, whose numbers have dwindled by 90 percent in the past five years. Fewer than 30 remain alive today.

"We support this last-ditch effort to save the vaquita from extinction, but it shouldn't be used as an excuse to allow fishing to continue in its habitat," said Alex Olivera, the Center for Biological Diversity's Mexico representative. "These beautiful animals deserve to live free in the Gulf of California, but that will never happen until the Mexican government eliminates the illegal gillnet fishing that has driven these porpoises to the very brink of extinction."

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Greenpeace Canada Oceans campaigner Sarah King with a collection of Coca-Cola bottles and caps found on Freedom Island, Philippines. Daniel Müller / Greenpeace

Coca-Cola Produced More Than 110 Billion Plastic Bottles Last Year

By Andrew McMaster

Every second, more than 20,000 drinks in plastic bottles are purchased around the globe.

That adds up to more than 1 million bottles a minute and nearly 500 billion bottles per year.

It may come as no surprise then that the largest beverage manufacturer, Coca-Cola, reportedly manufactured more than 110 billion plastic bottles in 2016.

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Pacific Ocean sunset in San Diego. Michael Matti / Flickr

Global Warming ‘Hiatus’ Is Over

By Tim Radford

It is official. The world is warming according to expectations. The so-called and much debated "pause" in global warming is over. And the culprit that tried to cool the planet in spite of ever-rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

Blame it on the Pacific Ocean. It went into a not-so-hot phase, part of a long-term natural cycle, which has now come to an end. This explains the apparent slowdown in the rate of global warming. The verdict comes from the UK Met Office, which is host to the oldest continuous record of temperatures in the world, and which pioneered weather science.

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