Fubar Science from @UCDavis – Coping with climate stress in Antarctica

Coping with climate stress in Antarctica

Some polar fish can cope with warming or ocean acidification, but not both together

Some Antarctic fish living in the planet’s coldest waters are able to cope with the stress of rising carbon dioxide levels the ocean. They can even tolerate slightly warmer waters. But they can’t deal with both stressors at the same time, according to a study from the University of California, Davis.

The study, published recently in the journal Global Change Biology, of emerald rockcod is the first to show that Antarctic fishes may make tradeoffs in their physiology and behavior to cope with ocean acidification and warming waters.

Emerald rockcod in Antarctica can handle some increases in temperature and carbon dioxide levels, but not both at the same time. With climate change, you rarely have one climate stressor without the other. CREDIT Rob Robbins/US Antarctic Program

(The research is described in a web feature, “The Last Stop,” at the UC Davis Science & Climate website.)

“In dealing with climate stress, these fish are really bad multi-taskers,” said senior author Anne Todgham, an associate professor with the UC Davis Department of Animal Science. “They seem quite capable of coping with increases in CO2, and they can compensate for some warming. But they can’t deal with both stressors at the same time. That’s a problem because those things happen together–you don’t get CO2 dissolving in the ocean independent of warming.”


Antarctic fishes live in water that is typically about -1.9C (28.6F). At their field site in Antarctica, the authors exposed emerald rockcod to two temperatures: -1 degree Celsius (30F) and 2 degrees Celsius (36F). The latter is the threshold for global warming that the Paris Agreement targets to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. They also exposed the fish to treatments of three different levels of CO2 ranging from ambient to elevated projected levels.

Increased CO2 levels by themselves had little impact on the fish. After a couple of weeks, heart, ventilation and metabolic rates increased with warming. Their behavior also changed with warming. The fish swam less and preferred dark zones, which suggests they were attempting to conserve energy. Then after 28 days, juvenile rockcod were able to compensate for the warming temperatures. However, this temperature compensation only happened in the absence of rising CO2.


While some species are beginning to shift to cooler places to escape warming habitats, polar fish have no colder places to go. They have to cope by using their existing physiology, which the study shows is limited.

Emerald rockcod help form the basis of the Antarctic food web, supporting an ecosystem of species such as Emperor penguins and seals.

“The Antarctic has contributed very little to the production of greenhouse gases, and yet it’s one of the places on the planet receiving the most impact,” Todgham said. “I feel we have responsibility to care about the spaces that are so fragile. If we can provide reservoirs of areas that are less stressful to plants and animals through protecting natural places, we can buy ourselves some time to deal with things like climate change that will take a long time to get in line.”


The study’s authors include lead author and Ph.D student Brittany Davis, Erin Flynn and Nann Fangue of UC Davis, Frederick Nelson of UC Davis and Howard University; and Nathan Miller from San Francisco State University.

The study was funded through grants from the Division of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation, and University of California Agricultural Experiment Station.

Added: Here is the paper: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.13987/full

The above is the press release from Eurekalert, which conveniently left out this passage from the “feature” at UCDavis:

Back at the research station, Todgham and her team place the eggs and juveniles in plastic buckets with water that is 2 degrees Celsius, a temperature scientists predict will be the norm in 80 years. Researchers pump in various levels of CO2 via colorful tubes that snake in and out of each bucket.

For several weeks, Todgham measures how the fish cope. She looks at gene expression, the cellular stress response, metabolic changes and physiological factors like activity level and growth rates.

“We’re trying to predict how each species will cope with warmer water and higher CO2 emissions,” Todgham said.

The short answer: not well.

As anyone who has ever owned a saltwater aquarium and tried to keep it alive without crashing can tell you, a tank, let alone a plastic bucket, is a far cry from the actual ocean.

Of course these sci-fi kids don’t seem to understand that switching the environment from the sea to a plastic bucket is a stressor in and of itself. Further, the speed at which the water temperature change is induced on these hapless creatures removes any possibility of a long term natural adaptations. Let’s reduce 80+ years of predicted climate change induced ocean temperature and posited pH change to a few days in a bucket, without accounting for that change of environment, yeah, that’s the ticket.

I mean seriously, this is peer-reviewed science? This isn’t even at the junior science fair level.

Then there’s this:

Polar fish have nowhere colder to go, but so far, it looks like other species have not migrated in to their ecosystem. Antarctica is ringed by a circumpolar current that acts like a barrier, so it would not be easy for aquatic creatures to migrate in.

“Except for the crabs,” Todgham says. “It looks like they can enter by marching along the bottom.”

Gosh, a current is a “barrier” to fish? They can’t swim in water with a current? According to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the speed of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current is pretty low:

It is a very cold current with temperatures ranging from –1 to 5°C depending on the time of the year, and with speeds up to 2 knots (2.3 miles per hour or 3.7 km per hour). This is the same speed as a brisk walk. Antarctica is also the birthplace of deep ocean waters that make up part of the global Ocean Conveyor.

It’s more likely that fish at warmer southern hemisphere latitudes don’t like the subfreezing water near Antarctica and aren’t equipped with the cellular antifreeze to deal with it. So, they don’t go there.

The stupid, it burns.

You think that’s bad, watch the video they produced which due to the number of smiling headshots and irrelevant imagery of seals and penguins looks more like “my grant sponsored summer vacation in Antarctica“.

UPDATE: This is a curious development, within 30 minutes of publication of this critique, it seems the press release has disappeared. (h/t to David Middleton)

This was the original link: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-01/uoc%E2%80%93cwc011618.php

That link now gives:

Page not found.

The page you are looking for has moved. Please go to the main EurekAlert! homepage to locate the section you are interested in and reset your bookmarks.

For further assistance, please contact webmaster@eurekalert.org.

I still had my browser window open showing it in the daily feed, you can see it right at the top in this screencap:

That’s gone missing from Eurekalert too:


The feature at UCDavis still exists though:


And you can still see the press release in Google cache:


UPDATE2: I received this reply from the UC davis Press office (email redacted to prevent spamming):

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Mark Hansford
January 16, 2018 11:10 am

Yet again an idiotic science experiment – it seems to gloss over the fact that atmospheric increases in temperature of 2 degrees in 80 years are not going to be mirrored in the oceans that will take vastly longer – many many generations of rock cod

Bryan A
Reply to  Mark Hansford
January 16, 2018 12:37 pm

SOOOO how long (how many generations) did they take to reise the temperature that +3C reported and how long would it take the bottom water to warm by that ammount?
Also, over what span of time did they increase the CO2 levels and does it allow the fish generational time to adapt?
Evolution is a miraculous thing that can happen over just a few generations.

Reply to  Bryan A
January 16, 2018 1:24 pm

The UC Davis Science & Climate website states “They (the fish) seem quite capable of coping with increases in CO2, and they can compensate for some warming. But they can’t deal with both stressors at the same time. That’s a problem because those things happen together–you don’t get CO2 dissolving in the ocean independent of warming.”

Haven’t we all decided, years ago, that warming water tends to expel, rather then absorb, CO2? So actually the two things DON’T happen together. Am I wrong?

Reply to  Mark Hansford
January 16, 2018 10:44 pm

I have seen reports of a similar experiment & it had exactly the same defects.
1. rapid warming, giving the samples no time to adjust
2. extremely high levels of CO2, way above those that will be experienced in nature
3. This experiment doubles the temperature rise threatened by the ICCCP (-1.8 + 2 = 0.2, not 2).

Reply to  Hivemind
January 16, 2018 10:45 pm

and 4) taking samples out of nature & sticking them in a bucket.

You may as well write a paper on the impact of coating them in batter and immersing them in hot oil.

Go Home
Reply to  Hivemind
January 17, 2018 9:11 am


Good one, i needed a good chuckle this morning. That did the trick.

January 16, 2018 11:12 am

The oceans can never be acidic. The only way the oceans can warm is through more sunlight. There is thus no problem and this research can be binned and the money can be refunded to the taxpayers.

January 16, 2018 11:17 am

The article seems to have gone missing.

Page not found.

The page you are looking for has moved. Please go to the main EurekAlert! homepage to locate the section you are interested in and reset your bookmarks.

For further assistance, please contact webmaster@eurekalert.org.


Reply to  Anthony Watts
January 16, 2018 11:31 am

Too fast to be a retraction?

Phys.org also published a post about this.

It appears to even be gone from the UC Davis website and I can’t find the paper in Global Change Biology… Weird.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
January 16, 2018 11:34 am

This fluff bit from Oct. 2017 is still up on the UC Davis website…


Reply to  Anthony Watts
January 16, 2018 11:56 am
January 16, 2018 11:20 am

I prefer my fish to be line-caught, not netted … that way, I feel as though I am saving the dolphins. And I also boycott Starfish Tuna … wha? … what? … did I misunderstand the assignment ?

Curious George
January 16, 2018 11:28 am

Global Change Biology. Anything proclaiming an obvious truism “global change” is automatically suspect. It is like a sign posted outside of many homes proclaiming among other truisms “LOVE IS LOVE”.

Steve Zell
January 16, 2018 11:30 am

If these fish normally live in a cold current flowing at up to 2 knots, there is a continuous supply of oxygenated water which the fish can process through their gills. Put them in a bucket of salt water, even at -1.9 C, and the fish will rapidly use up the available oxygen, and their metabolism will slow down due to lack of oxygen.

When the researchers used their colorful tubes to bubble in CO2, did they think of bubbling in some oxygen (or air) to keep the fish alive, like the bubblers used with most aquariums whose owners want to keep the fish alive?

Reply to  Steve Zell
January 16, 2018 4:49 pm

Yes an interesting point about Dissolved Oxygen which was not mentioned in their methods. They did say:

“Two temperatures were selected; −1.0°C (~0.8°C warmer than ambient Ross Sea temperature) and 2°C (a +3°C increase from the control) simulating a Representative Concentration Pathway scenario (RCP8.5; IPCC, 2013). Three experimental CO2-acidification treatments were selected based on evidence that juvenile rockcod were tolerant to lower levels of elevated PCO2 (Davis et al., 2016) and more recent climate change scenarios predicted for 2100 (Gattuso et al., 2014; IPCC, 2013), where 450 μatm PCO2 represents Ambient seawater, 850 μatm PCO2 a Moderate scenario (RCP6.0) and 1,200 μatm PCO2 a High scenario prediction (RCP8.5; see actual experimental values in Table 1). Temperature was maintained by manipulating the flow-rate of incoming McMurdo Sound seawater into the tanks that served as water baths for the fish culture buckets,”

It occurred to me that the temperature control by means of streaming water into the tanks would mean that a lot more water was streamed into the -1 tank than the +2 tank, depending on the ambiant temperature etc. so perhaps over 28 days (when the effect apparently became significant) a lot more fresh water had passed through the control than the treatment and Dissolved Oxygen came to mind as one key parameter worth checking – all manner of differences may have occurred – physcial as well as chemical – persistent temperature gradients and so forth. But since I don’t know the volumes, flow rates, ambient temperatures and so on and so on, I can’t say.

Rick C PE
Reply to  Jay Willis
January 16, 2018 7:26 pm

As I read it their buckets were suspended in tanks with the sea water circulated through the tanks acting as a temperature control bath. So the fish would be isolated from the circulating sea water. Doesn’t make the study valid given the issues already raised.

WB Wilson
Reply to  Steve Zell
January 17, 2018 8:22 am

Fish don’t need CO2 in the water. They need O2. Where is the mention of O2?

January 16, 2018 11:34 am

“The fish swam less and preferred dark zones”….this is the typical reaction fish have when exposed to elevated ammonia…..or most toxins for that matter
Either they were not doing enough water changes…or none at all…no biological filtration to remove ammonia/ammonium….or could even be the “soap” they used to pop the plastic out of the mold

Reply to  Latitude
January 16, 2018 12:13 pm

Just how much can a fish swim in a bucket? Why would a fish swim to the other side of a bucket anyway? Fluorescent lighting anyone? Big ugly grant seeking creature going to attack again at any moment?

Fish feelings matter!

There’s too many in the #Me Too Climate Scare

Reply to  Latitude
January 16, 2018 1:44 pm

An argument can be posited that this silly woman engaged in animal cruelty, violating whatever anti-cruelty laws are in place there, by using improper equipment, by not providing a correct environment for the rock cod during the experiment, and by forcing them into an environment which they would normally have avoided if they were left in the wild to make such a choice.

Fish are sensitive to a lot of things in the water, whether it’s freshwater or sea water. Their lives depend on it, as well as where and when they will lay eggs or have live births. This experiment fails simply on that account. I think she could be charged with animal cruelty just for the use of buckets and forcing the fish into a CO2-laden environment without giving them at least a habitat comparable to what they’d encounter in the wild.

The experiment itself is bogus. All she did was suffocate some codfish to no purpose. Sharks would be kinder to the cod.

January 16, 2018 11:38 am

* 1 PhD grant
+1 fertile mine
+1 bucket of cold water
= a PhD thesis.

Freshly coined! A new PhD that’ll be ready-as-rain to type up scathing evaluations of the future of the planet; who will go on to fine careers as overpaid government watchdogs; they’ll lose their enthusiasm, become bitter and keep writing shît. Then they’ll retire at 55, with an 80% pension to cover them the rest of their and their husband’s lives. Tada!


Reply to  GoatGuy
January 17, 2018 9:16 am

Ready to light the world on fire, only to find one’s matches are wet.

January 16, 2018 11:41 am

80F degree difference when I walked inside my house the other day. It took me about 10 seconds to adapt after cursing at the cold air outside. -10F is **** temperature. Temperature racism?

Over-sensitizing the oceans is what the overzealous environmental scientists do. Extreme viewpoints require extreme examples.

Thanks for continuing to point this out, Anthony!

January 16, 2018 11:47 am

“While some species are beginning to shift to cooler places to escape warming habitats”….other species are hugely expanding their territories because of the same thing

Rare venomous sea snakes keep washing up on California beaches


January 16, 2018 11:51 am

So they typically live in -1.9C water and the authors exposed them to 2C water. So, they are projecting a 4C increase in the temperature of the freaking ocean? Seriously? Is there any model that predicts the entire ocean is going to warm by 4C?

Reply to  chadb
January 16, 2018 2:22 pm

It is common knowledge that Antarctic fish become distressed at 2 deg C if suddenly exposed to this higher temperature. This was shown dramatically when I was down there when the US Navy turned off power to all buildings in turn. The science labs had their power turned off so that the fish tanks cooling system stopped – and the fish died. Science ruined for the season. Thanks Navy. No wonder they were replaced as service providers. 24 Deg C, the usual temperature of US buildings on the ice and the bright lights also affected fish physiology due to radiant energy flows. Anyway, short termed experiments like hers give no information on the acclimation ability of the fish, or how long this would take when exposed to gradual increase in temperature. as it takes time for animals to make acclimation changes and this study gives no clue as to how quickly the fish could acclimatize. Also, the circumpolar current acts a distribution transporter, not a barrier.

Reply to  detnumblog
January 16, 2018 5:11 pm

detnumblog, but you absolutely know the media will suck this up and inject it into their narrative anyway. Garbage in, garbage out.

January 16, 2018 11:59 am

When is the Government going to sponsor a cable channel with a red team/blue team format to expose this crap science and to expose how our taxpayer dollars are reaping dividends in our college education system?

PBS might be a good starting spot. 1 hour of red team arguments followed by 1 hour blue team argument and a continual back and forth. There’s surely enough information for 365 days of the year of NON-STOP debate.

Rhoda R
Reply to  Patrick
January 16, 2018 1:38 pm

Great idea but the Blue Team tends to not want to play.

Reply to  Rhoda R
January 16, 2018 2:22 pm

and they keep threatening to have members of the red team arrested.

Michael 2
Reply to  Patrick
January 18, 2018 9:16 am

“When is the Government going to sponsor a cable channel with a red team/blue team format”

Would you believe the outcome? Probably not.

January 16, 2018 11:59 am

My first thought while reading this was exactly as the author stated. I am far from being a scientist but have kept several fresh water and salt water fish tanks. I do know that any quick change in the tank’s environment can be very hard on the fish or animals in it. Up to and including killing them. Salt water is especially sensitive to sudden changes. Cramming 80+ years of climate change into a few short weeks is not going to yield real world results. Marine animals are very adaptive to change. As long as that change occurs slowly. Make those changes quickly and you will have a very expensive collection of dead fish.

January 16, 2018 12:01 pm

I often perform the same experiment with lobster. The difference is only one of extent. Extent and butter.

January 16, 2018 12:04 pm

Actually good to see that a little bit of ridicule seems to have worked in this case.
As I continue my trolling war against Global Warming Drivel™ I’ve noticed ever decreasing kickback from the ‘faithful’. (or maybe Google has just developed an algorithm to keep me out of their faces?)

Scottish Sceptic
Reply to  Charles Gerard Nelson
January 16, 2018 1:11 pm

I have noticed very much the same. A few years ago Newspaper forums started to become vehemently sceptic to the extent that the alarmists just could not cope with being drowned out (you had to wait your turn to comment to them). The result was that many Newspapers stopped allowing comments on climate stories.

But still places like Twitter and obviously Wikipedia were filled with the activists. But recently I’ve begun to notice that when I go to twitter #climate there is often no one worth responding to. It’s a lot later, but it’s definitely the same trend: fewer and fewer alarmists to debate with and I’m now spending more and more time talking to people I agree with.

And even on the die hard alarmist website where I was blocked many many years ago – there’s now almost no alarmists commenting – and indeed the last one I found had a sceptic given them what for.

Alarmists willing to fight back – are getting a bit like Gold-dust. I can tell you where there a couple – but I’m not going to tell you because I like my entertainment bating alarmists and there’s now too few for us all to have one each.

Reply to  Scottish Sceptic
January 16, 2018 2:23 pm

All the more reason to keep Griff around.

Reply to  Scottish Sceptic
January 16, 2018 3:23 pm

” and I’m now spending more and more time talking to people I agree with.”

I’ll disagree with you on anything/everything,…cos I’m that kind of guy.
Do you want the 5 min argument or the full half hour ?

Reply to  Scottish Sceptic
January 17, 2018 2:03 pm

Reply to MarkW – just what I was thinking. Besides, Griff often makes me laugh. And he keeps me up to date with what’s being taught in high school now-a-days.

January 16, 2018 12:18 pm

I found the paper. It was in the December issue and had a less moronic title…

Antarctic emerald rockcod have the capacity to compensate for warming when uncoupled from CO2-acidification

Increases in atmospheric CO2 levels and associated ocean changes are expected to have dramatic impacts on marine ecosystems. Although the Southern Ocean is experiencing some of the fastest rates of change, few studies have explored how Antarctic fishes may be affected by co-occurring ocean changes, and even fewer have examined early life stages. To date, no studies have characterized potential trade-offs in physiology and behavior in response to projected multiple climate change stressors (ocean acidification and warming) on Antarctic fishes. We exposed juvenile emerald rockcod Trematomus bernacchii to three PCO2 treatments (~450, ~850, and ~1,200 μatm PCO2) at two temperatures (−1 or 2°C). After 2, 7, 14, and 28 days, metrics of physiological performance…



A 3 °C temperature increase and a tripling of CO2 in 28 days… And the fish didn’t like it. RCP 8.5 isn’t even this stupid.

Reply to  David Middleton
January 16, 2018 12:43 pm

They bubble CO2 into the bucket until they deplete the buffer….then they can lower pH
…that’s the way you do it in the lab…not the way it works in real life

Don Perry
Reply to  Anthony Watts
January 16, 2018 1:16 pm

When I was still teaching, I had 8th grade students submit science projects that were better than this tripe.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
January 16, 2018 1:42 pm

Yeah… One has to wonder how much of the negative physiological responses were the result of using a bucket of water as a fish hatchery.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
January 16, 2018 1:58 pm

Surely we’re misinterpreting the descriptor of “bucket”. Surely they didn’t use mere buckets. Please tell me that “bucket” is marine-biologist shorthand for “temporary experimental apparatus for approximating localized oceanic conditions.”


Reply to  Anthony Watts
January 16, 2018 5:05 pm

They do mention controls. The experimental design was reasonable for determining the result in terms of control and treatment and so forth. As I mentioned above there were questions in my view about how the temperature differences were maintained (by streaming external water) which would mean a persistent difference between control and treatment that was not measured (more ‘fresh’ seawater in the control – to keep it cooler, than in the treatment which was warmer). Since we don’t know what the ambiant temperature was we can’t tell the impact. (i.e. if it was 3C presumably no water was ever streamed into the treatment tanks – this is an extreme example to illustrate what I mean – but even a small difference in amount of fresh water over 28 days may have caused a significant difference). Anyhow, I think the paper is very worthy of criticism but it doesn’t help a case for realism and scientific accuracy to make exaggerated claims about just how bad it is 🙂

Reply to  Anthony Watts
January 16, 2018 5:07 pm

oops, 2C is what I meant. There is a 3C difference between treatment at 2C and control at -1C, I think I have understood it.

Anne Ominous
January 16, 2018 12:25 pm

This reminds me very much of that researcher who claimed to be “studying” how additional CO2 acidifies the ocean, by introducing extra CO2 into the air above an aquarium.

I saw no mention or even apparent consideration of the fact that in the real world, that aquarium would be 12,000 feet deep, complete with currents, waves, convection, etc.

Gary Pearse
January 16, 2018 12:50 pm

Com’on girls (the once manly pursuit of doomer climate science has been flooded with new female torch bearers – this must be another of the feminist wars or something – a sign that another white aging male bastion is being taken out), my dears CO2 is less soluble in warm waters, cheesh.

Biology was the first of the real science to be terminally corrupted by the marxbrothers… ..er…sisters? I hope they at least used new rubber gloves, unlike their male practitioners who, in search of the best amphibians for pregnancy test kits, brought a deadltly fungus from a South African toad to Costa Rica and elsewhere where it resulted in the 3xtinction of the Golden Toad. Hmm..yeast infections and papilloma are more common these days…nah that wouldnt happen would it?

Recall a few decades ago that there was a mysterious dying off of frogs and toads? Yeah, it was biologists that were killing them, but gulliblewarming came to their rescue. It made the continued unhygenic practice in Costa Rica a few years ago even that much more reprehensible- maybe criminal. These folks also killed off a lot of wild creatures by darting and tagging. They began bolting tel3vision cameras to penguins who died off, probably because it hampered their timing, aim or whatever in fishing and they starv3d to death. I dont buy the 3xplanation that they got addicted to TV. Out.

January 16, 2018 12:51 pm

Right off the bat, these folks reveal themselves to be complete idiots.

“you don’t get CO2 dissolving in the ocean independent of warming.”

Uh, yes you do. Warm water holds less CO2, not more.

From this point, use of the term rockcod references the alleged emerald rockcod described by the alleged researchers.

“At their field site in Antarctica, the authors exposed emerald rockcod to two temperatures: -1 degree Celsius (30F) and 2 degrees Celsius (36F).”

A) These fools do not even bother checking exactly how fast the rockcod’s actual environment is allegedly warming.
B) These fools fail to check what the rockcod’s environment is through all the seasons; ideally over a long cycle; i.e. greater than two solar output cycles.
C) These fools assume that ocean water will rise 2°C over some absurdly short period of time. Even where NOAA finds ocean warming, that warming rate will achieve 2°C increase centuries from now.

I didn’t see any mention where the researchers located numerous rockcod and thoroughly checked temperature and dissolved CO2 at every location and at all depths the rockcod is found.

“After a couple of weeks, heart, ventilation and metabolic rates increased with warming. Their behavior also changed with warming. The fish swam less and preferred dark zones, which suggests they were attempting to conserve energy. Then after 28 days, juvenile rockcod were able to compensate for the warming temperatures.”

I absolutely agree with Anthony’s and David Middleton’s criticisms.

This alleged research is another example of research that deserves Inspector General investigation; starting with grant application through this incredibly dismal result.

[Fixed the blockquote. -mod]

January 16, 2018 12:52 pm

Well, I was always under the impression that the solubility of gases in water decreased as the temperature was increased. It works with CO2: http://sites.chem.colostate.edu/diverdi/all_courses/CRC%20reference%20data/solubility%20of%20carbon%20dioxide%20in%20water.pdf
So acidification will be less of a problem if the water gets warmer.

Reply to  texasjimbrock
January 16, 2018 12:55 pm

I note that ATheoK and I almost simultaneously thought of this.

Reply to  texasjimbrock
January 16, 2018 1:37 pm

Oh, so you know about flat soda pop, too? The warmer it gets, the faster it goes flat!

J Mac
January 16, 2018 12:54 pm

Mmm MMM!
Emerald rockcod, seasoned and lightly battered, deep fried,
served with tartar sauce, warm rye bread, and cold Killians Irish Red!
Two ‘Yums Up’!!

Aaron Watters
January 16, 2018 12:55 pm

Of course they should have had controls in the experiment using similar buckets and everything else except for the temp and CO2 levels. If they didn’t then the study demonstrates nothing. I can’t tell whether they did as the study appears to be pay-walled.

January 16, 2018 12:55 pm

Fish have trouble dealing with a 2C change in water temperature.
I guess these fish come from a place that doesn’t have seasons.

January 16, 2018 1:04 pm

Can the ocean simultaneously warm and reduce pH simultaneously? If atmospheric CO2 partial pressure dominates reducing CO2 solubility with temperature then I guess so. Otherwise not. The system is complicated by oceanic temperature gradients with depth and with surface mixing issue, currents and so forth but without going further into it is doesn’t appear to be likely that the oceans are going to turn into hot acid any time soon. I would also like to see some demonstrable effects from the fossil records of similar catastrophes from epochs during which ocean temperatures were higher than they are today and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration was also very much higher.

January 16, 2018 1:04 pm

In addition to the bogus experimental bucket=aquarium setup, the blurb is wrong in other major ways. Emerald rockcod given their imaged size by definition cannot be near the bottom of the food chain. And the emotional appeal about their inability to cope endangering emperor penguins is worse than the polar bear nonsense. The Australian Antarctic Division has a whole website devoted to emperor penguins based on their years of research. Depending on season, the main emperor penguin diet is Antarctic silverfish, krill, or squid. Siverfish and krill are also the main diet for Adelie penguins and Antarctic toothfish. See essay No Bodies for those details. Krill feed on phytoplankton. Silverfish feed on copepods (similar to but much smaller than krill), which feed on phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are the bottom of the Antarctic food chain. And more dissolved CO2 would make them more abundant.

January 16, 2018 1:26 pm

Okay, okay, okay! Stop!!!

Do any of these so-called researchers EVER take into account how many species of fish have gone out of business in the past 180,000 years, never mind the past 65,000,000?
(No. I doubt sincerely that they have even a clue about that.)

Why were there no other species of cod included in this juvenile attempt to harm fish?
(Hint: no point in using other species when the experiment is specious to begin with.)

Has this individual taken any time to consider studying snow crab or king crab from Alaska, and why there are so many now, making crab so cheap?
(Hint: crab predators have been greatly reduced in numbers by overfishing).

This is a fine example of flawed research. Species come and go constantly. This is a lame attempt at creating a panic over nothing, a tempest in a plastic pail, a hollow-man result. There is nothing to it, and she should have been told to do it right or not do it at all. She knows nothing about fish.

Her results should be marked up with lots of check marks and yellow post-its, noting the flaws in the paper. How much grant money was she expecting to get for this bad piece of work, anyway? I’ll bet she doesn’t like being criticized, not one bit.

Reply to  Sara
January 16, 2018 1:50 pm

I totally agree. I’m so tired of reading about such shoddy experiments! Sheesh, when even the average internet denizen can pierce your thought bubble, it must have been pretty weak indeed.

Though…this makes it all the more pleasant when you do come across fantastically designed experiments. I watched one on quantum entanglement a while back that was fabulous. Basically a full 60 minutes explaining the precise, “paranoid” (her words, not mine), manner in which the experiment was designed. If these climate scientists were even half as hard on themselves and a tenth as rigorous as that particular physicist was, the difference in our knowledge basis would render our current understanding as infantile.


Bryan A
Reply to  Sara
January 16, 2018 2:20 pm

By only using one fish, does this make them a Specious Specist?

Reply to  Bryan A
January 16, 2018 2:26 pm


Reply to  Bryan A
January 16, 2018 3:03 pm

I don’t know if it’s speciesist, but it is very, very BAD science.

January 16, 2018 1:41 pm

This is yet more junk science in search of a lucrative future grant. These people should be prevented from torturing poor defenceless Polar fish by confining them to plastic buckets and test tanks. This is inhumane treatment in pursuit of senseless science.

January 16, 2018 1:46 pm

#Rock cod lives matter!!!!

Reply to  Sara
January 16, 2018 5:32 pm

Plus many.

January 16, 2018 2:16 pm

As others have said, this is pathetic – anybody with at least half a brain would have refused to have their name associated with it. But my question is this: Do funders know what sort of drivel (I’m being polite here) they may have supported?

Unless funding is unlimited, one would think that funders would want to get the biggest bang possible for their bucks. Certainly if I were in charge of grants, I would use my red pen to draw a line through the names of anybody who was in any way associated with this!

David Hoopman
January 16, 2018 2:33 pm

My work requires me to follow AGW issues and occasionally pronounce upon them, and for a long time my lack of a science background made me very nervous. But over time it’s become clear that a reasonably bright ten-year-old would ask questions a lot of “researchers” couldn’t honestly answer and as the movement is overtaken by “it’s now or never” panic, it all gets worse, not better. Warmer water = more dissolved CO2? Do these ninnies think we’re all that ignorant? Or did the preconceived experimental result just seem too attractive to bother with such trifling details??

January 16, 2018 2:36 pm

Incredible. ‘Fubar’ is absolutely appropriate for this.

January 16, 2018 3:04 pm

I knew an expert on Antarctic fish physiology. Worked on some of the early Antarctic science projects. One test of the paper would be to see if any references predated about 1995. Could not get the references.

Don’t know much about these, but they are very specialized, some with a type of anti-freeze, possibly not easy to get rid of. Also cold adapted enzymes. Tolerance range very narrow so their experimental conclusion could be a partial reason. More important than “Stressor-induced energetic trade-offs in physiology and behavior may be an important mechanism leading to vulnerability of Antarctic fishes to future ocean change.” I think we already knew that. Certainly important to be very careful with experimentally. Not very large changes in percentages found but very large changes in temperature relative to their tolerance range. This is really dumb–“Antarctica is nearly 9,000 miles from California, but in terms of environmental changes, it is right next door.”

He then became an expert on subtropical/temperate fish physiology, much more adaptable types.

Mike Maguire
January 16, 2018 3:14 pm

The sad thing is that the scientific bar has dropped so low in the last 2 decades, that the (lack of) quality of science in this study is not a shock or aberration anymore.

It’s more like……….ok, here’s another one.

January 16, 2018 3:31 pm

Did anyone add cesium137, strontium 90, plutonium, and the thousands of other isotopes Fukushima-Daiichi NPP dumps by the millions of tonnes into the Pacific STILL, or is this just a biology department scheme to extract more money out of the treasury, as I suspect? Nobody ever wants to discuss the nuclear elephant in the room for 24,000 more years, dammit.

John B
Reply to  Larry Butler
January 16, 2018 11:37 pm

Until comments like this approach reality, why bother? You claim “millions of tonnes” and expect to be taken seriously?

michael hart
January 16, 2018 4:10 pm

At their field site in Antarctica, the authors exposed emerald rockcod to two temperatures: -1 degree Celsius (30F) and 2 degrees Celsius (36F).

And ice melts at what temperature, with transfer of how much latent heat? And might that have an effect on future temperatures in Antarctica?

I guess I shouldn’t be too appalled that wannabe ‘climate scientists’ don’t appear to know anything about the physical properties of water. Only yesterday WUWT had an article where some of the climate-concerned demonstrated they didn’t know basic the basic mathematics of how area of a circle scales with the square of radius while the circumference only scales linearly with radius. The calibre of the people practising this faith is lamentable.

January 16, 2018 5:03 pm

I decided to something on behalf of the green rock cod, and looked up California’s anti-cruelty laws and it seems that they are rather strict.

“According to CPC 597, it is a crime to “kill, intentionally maim, physically harm, torture, neglect, or overwork an animal.” The code can also lead to imprisonment, a fine or both, if found guilty of the crime.”

A person can serve up to a year in county jail and fines can reach up to $20,000 if convicted of a misdemeanor. A felony for animal abuse can reach up to six months, and as much as three years in state prison and a similar maximum fine amount.

As is true in most states, animal abuse is regarded with a stink eye in California, and while those penalties may seem severe, they aren’t. They are worse in Illinois because of the number of dogs picked up who have been abandoned because they wouldn’t fight.

I think Ms. Todgham and her ‘team’ need a sharp setdown about what they did, which includes breaking those very animal abuse laws.

michael hart
Reply to  Sara
January 16, 2018 5:10 pm

For some reason, I can’t read “green rock cod” without thinking that it nearly says something very rude about the alleged researchers from UC Davis. Perhaps I am just borderline dyslexic, or maybe the carbon dioxide is getting to me.

Peter Lewis Hannan
January 16, 2018 7:52 pm

“Antarctic fishes live in water that is typically about -1.9C (28.6F). At their field site in Antarctica, the authors exposed emerald rockcod to two temperatures: -1 degree Celsius (30F) and 2 degrees Celsius (36F). The latter is the threshold for global warming that the Paris Agreement targets to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.” Notice the complete irrelevant non sequitur of the last sentence, in the context?

January 17, 2018 2:08 am

Oh Co2, see your fate in yon White Cliffs of Dover,
Purple Rock Cod, your trial will soon be over.

Michael Anderson
January 17, 2018 4:50 am

About that “oceanic acidification” meme – hoping someone can explain how the oceans sustained massive reefs and an enormous biomass for the hundreds of millions of years that atmospheric CO2 was 10 – 16 times pre-industrial? I’m absolutely serious: how do they explain it?

Steve Lohr
January 17, 2018 6:05 am

When these things get exposed I sit and wonder why I went into industry and had to work so hard. I had no idea all I had to do was drag out one of my old science fair projects and BOOM! PhD! This got far more attention than it should have and U.C. Davis, Shame!

January 17, 2018 7:55 am

“Antarctic fishes live in water that is typically about -1.9C (28.6F). At their field site in Antarctica, the authors exposed emerald rockcod to two temperatures: -1 degree Celsius (30F) and 2 degrees Celsius (36F). The latter is the threshold for global warming that the Paris Agreement targets to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.”

Odd, I get the difference between -1,9 and +2 degrees to be 3.9 degrees, not 2 degrees.

“While some species are beginning to shift to cooler places to escape warming habitats, polar fish have no colder places to go.”

No, and they won’t need to since it is very unlikely that the AABW that is at -1.9C will get any warmer. That temperature is determined by the fact that it is the temperature at which the surface water becomes dense enough to sink. The air above the polynyas that cools the water until it sinks comes off the antarctic continent due to catabatic winds and is vastly colder. AABW can only get warmer by becoming denser and sinking at a higher temperature which is only possible if it should somehow become much saltier. The other possibility is that production of AABW would somehow stop, which requires that the East Antarctic Icecap disappears first.

Smart Rock
January 17, 2018 8:06 am

It’s only slightly off topic, but this is a request for information, if anyone knows about it.

We’re always reading about the dreaded reduction in alkalinity acidification of the oceans, as something that’s going on now, expected to get worse due to RCP 8.5 and with the standard corollary “we’re all gonna die” or something equally unpleasant.

Is anyone aware of actual pH measurements, widely distributed in space and time, showing how ocean pH has varied? I’m too busy lazy to go looking for such data myself


Changing topic again: I’m not sure that you can quote Henry’s law for CO2 dissolved in sea water and say you’ve finalized the argument. Most of the CO2 in sea water is actually in the form of bicarbonate ions, and not a dissolved gas.There will be separate equilibria between CO2 in air, CO2 in water and bicarbonate in water. A complex and fairly well buffered system, and you probably can’t ignore the variation in cation species as well on the overall ability of sea water to hold CO2 at different temperatures. There are also carbonate ions and undissociated carbonic acid (H2CO3), but bicarbonate dominates between pH’s of 6.3 and 10.3 and these other species both reach their minima at pH 8.3 (which is about the normal pH of sea water and this is presumably not a coincidence). A good inorganic chemist should be able to give an analysis of the change with temperature, without the need for laboratory experiments.

Michael Anderson
Reply to  Smart Rock
January 17, 2018 9:12 am

Indeed. Also my question re: why it’s supposedly such a problem given what we know about pre-industrial CO2 levels. Presupposing there even IS detectable acidification, which given the track record of mendacity on the part of the alarmists I’m hardly taking for granted.

Bob Burban
January 17, 2018 9:36 am

My big problem with “ocean acidification” by CO2 rests with the observation that carbonated drinks are very popular. They are suffused with CO2 … what is the pH of (club) soda water?

Michael Anderson
Reply to  Bob Burban
January 17, 2018 10:04 am

Apparently about 3 or 4 (https://tinyurl.com/yc39bspf), but of course the CO2 concentration is far higher than anything possible in nature. From Wikipedia:

“Commercial soda water in siphons is made by chilling filtered plain water to 8 °C (46 °F) or below, optionally adding a sodium or potassium based alkaline compound such as sodium bicarbonate to reduce acidity, and then pressurizing the water with carbon dioxide. The gas dissolves in the water, and a top-off fill of carbon dioxide is added to pressurize the siphon to approximately 120 pounds per square inch (830 kPa), some 30 to 40 psi (210–280 kPa) higher than is present in fermenting champagne bottles.”

AGW is not Science
January 17, 2018 10:16 am

“That’s a problem because those things happen together–you don’t get CO2 dissolving in the ocean independent of warming.”

WHAT?! Water temperature increases = more CO2 LEAVING the ocean, NOT “dissolving” in it!! Didn’t these idiots ever drink a soda after it got warm?!

AGW is not Science
January 17, 2018 10:27 am

“Antarctic fishes live in water that is typically about -1.9C (28.6F). At their field site in Antarctica, the authors exposed emerald rockcod to two temperatures: -1 degree Celsius (30F) and 2 degrees Celsius (36F). The latter is the threshold for global warming that the Paris Agreement targets to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.”

WHAT?! If these fish live in water that is typically -1.9C, then the “threshold for global warming that the Paris Agreement targets to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change” (their “two degree” meme) added to that would be +0.01C, NOT 2.0C, which would be 3.9C above the “current” water temperature they live in, or about DOUBLE the “catastrophe” threshold according to the Climate Fascists. What is this, “Mannian” math?!”

And while we’re on this subject, who the hell said that the WATER temperature was a “threshold” that was the topic of discussion? It’s the “atmospheric” (i.e., AIR) temperature that they’re “worried” about, they have made no related prediction about the effect of such on the OCEAN temperature.

What a load of twaddle!

AGW is not Science
Reply to  AGW is not Science
January 17, 2018 10:30 am

+0.1C (typo)

AGW is not Science
January 17, 2018 10:39 am

“The Antarctic has contributed very little to the production of greenhouse gases, and yet it’s one of the places on the planet receiving the most impact,”

OBJECTION – assertion of “facts” not in evidence.

“Back at the research station, Todgham and her team place the eggs and juveniles in plastic buckets with water that is 2 degrees Celsius, a temperature scientists predict will be the norm in 80 years.”

More wild speculation based on the “fantasy model world.” Oh, and if Antarctic water temperatures are climbing, that would be the undersea volcanoes, NOT the non-existent “greenhouse gas catastrophe” that is to blame. And WE aren’t going to be able to stop it.

AGW is not Science
January 17, 2018 10:46 am

“The stupid, it burns.” – Best summation of this whole thing. Somebody paid MONEY for this “Ship High In Transit?!”

January 17, 2018 3:24 pm

I have noticed that some sciences have assumed an “astrology” type aspect. What this means is that an astrologer will make 20 claims, one of which turns out valid. He / She has no idea prior to the predictions which ones are correct. No failure or series of failures means anything about the astrologer. Real science operates by refutation. 20 predictions are made and if one if wrong then the whole theory is Kaput.

Science is a brutal world that way. Climate science is clearly in the astrologer camp. They make these predictions thousands of times. I have no idea how many species will die theories we’ve seen over the last 30 years but a lot. To my knowledge, none of them has panned out. The seals, plankton, polar bears and numerous other creatures are doing fine if not better than ever recorded before. We were going to suffer from Malaria due to global warming. We now have a much better vaccine in just the last year. Oops that prediction down.

So, who knows. Maybe as some have said the cod can evolve or maybe the experiment was flawed and the cod never see a problem. Maybe this particular cod dies but is replaced by a plethora of other cods or other fish. This is much more complicated than the article says.

If I were doing this science above the first thing is to state the assumptions and things that could invalidate this theory. What are the imperfections of my experiment and how does it differ from the real world? How have similar studies fared and the flaws with them. Has anybody duplicated this experiment? Where is the breakpoint where the fish seem to catastrophically die and why?

Of course, none of this in there because this is junk science. It’s all junk science. It’s obvious to anyone with any actual science background.

Michael Anderson
Reply to  logiclogiclogic
January 17, 2018 6:49 pm

As Stewart Brand of Whole Earth Catalog fame pointed out, there have been zero human-caused extinctions in the last half-century, so I’m mot too worried about the cod. Come to think of it, I’m not too worried about much of anything… except maybe the warning of Vaclav Klaus:

“We’ll be the victims of irrational ideology. They will try to dictate to us how to live, what to do, how to behave. What to eat, how to travel, and what my children should have. This is something that we who lived in the communist era for most of our lives — we still feel very strongly about. We are very sensitive in this respect. And we feel various similarities in their way of arguing or not arguing. In their way of pushing ahead ideas regardless of rational counter-arguments.”

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