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Coral reefs likely to disappear from planet by mid-century

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Prague: Coral reefs are likely to disappear from the planet by mid-century even if world leaders agree on efforts to limit temperature increase to less than two degree Celsius by the end of the century at December’s Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, scientists have warned.
coral reef“Even if Paris is wildly successful, and a treaty is struck, ocean warming and ocean acidification are going to continue beyond the end of this century,” said professor Peter Sale from University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada.

Speaking at a plenary session of the ongoing Goldschmidt 2015 conference, one of the world’s major gathering of geochemists, in Prague, Czech Republic, Sale said he sees little hope for reefs unless the world embarks on a more aggressive emissions reduction plan.

“This is now serious; I find it very unlikely that coral reefs as I knew them in the mid-1960s will still be found anywhere on this planet by mid-century. Instead, we will have algal-dominated, rubble-strewn, slowly eroding limestone benches,” Sale pointed out.

Coral reefs are hot spots for bio-diversity and crucial for the economies of many coastal communities.

Besides providing habitats and shelter for many marine organisms, they protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms.

They are now considered one of the most vulnerable ecosystems to future climate change due to rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification, which is caused by higher atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2).

“Aiming for CO2 at 350 ppm (parts per million), or a total warming of around 1C is scientifically defendable, and would give reefs a good chance; a number of coral reef scientists have called for this,” Sale noted.

“This is a global emergency, which requires us to decarbonise within the next 20 years, or face temperatures that will eliminate ecosystems like coral reefs, and indeed many systems that humans depend on,” said professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from University of Queensland in Australia.

(IANS)

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A Warmer Winter For The United States Due To El-Nino And Climate Change

While El Nino is the biggest factor in the forecast, long-term warming from human-caused climate change is a factor.

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winter
A large cloud gathers over the skyline of San Francisco, California, Dec. 12, 2014. While the Pacific Northwest is expected to have a mild winter, California's forecast is unsure. VOA

Winter looks wet and especially mild for much of the country, thanks to a weak El Nino brewing, U.S. meteorologists said.

The National Weather Service on Thursday predicted a warmer than normal winter for the northern and western three-quarters of the nation. The greatest chance for warmer than normal winter weather is in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, Montana, northern Wyoming and western North Dakota.

No place in the United States is expected to be colder than normal, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the government’s Climate Prediction Center.

The Southeast, Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic can go any which way on temperature, Halpert said.

Winter
Overall the winter looks a lot like the last few, Wamrer. Wikimedia Commons

Overall the winter looks a lot like the last few, Halpert said.

“The country as a whole has been quite mild since 2014-2015,” Halpert said.

Winter weather expert Judah Cohen, of the private company Atmospheric and Environmental Research, uses different indicators to predict winter for the National Science Foundation. He also forecasted a warm winter, heavily based on weak snowfall in Siberia.

Precipitation

Halpert said the southern one-third of the United States and much of the East Coast could be hunkering down for a wetter than normal December through January. The chances are highest in southeastern Georgia and much of northern and central Florida.

Hawaii, Montana, Michigan, parts of Idaho, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio are forecast to be drier than normal, with the biggest likelihood in Hawaii, Montana and Michigan.

The middle belt of the nation and some of the north from California to New York can go any which way on precipitation.

Hurricane Florence, winter
A member of the North Carolina Task Force urban search and rescue team wades through a flooded neighborhood looking for residents who stayed behind as Florence continues to dump heavy rain in Fayetteville, N.C. VOA

The weather service’s forecast doesn’t look at snow likelihood.

El Nino

Halpert said the biggest factor in the forecast is a likely El Nino , the natural warming of parts of the central Pacific Ocean that influences weather worldwide.

The El Nino hasn’t quite formed yet, but it’s almost warm enough. Meteorologists predict there’s a 75 percent chance it’ll be around this winter. But it will be weak, not strong like the El Nino that helped lead to the record warm 2015-2016 winter, Halpert said.

Background warming

While El Nino is the biggest factor in the forecast, long-term warming from human-caused climate change is a factor, too, Halpert said.

Climate change, Australia
The coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Georgia. VOA

“All things being equal, the slight kick we get out of the climate signal does tilt things toward the warm side,” Halpert said.

Also Read: Balloon Mission By NASA May Lead To Improved Weather Forecasting

But it’s not enough to outweigh other factors if they push toward cold.

“Even on a warming planet,” he said, “it doesn’t mean winter goes away and it’s never cold again.” (VOA)