Salmon may lose the ability to smell danger as carbon emissions rise University of Washington

From Eurkealert

Public Release: 18-Dec-2018

This is the head of an adult coho salmon. Credit Andy Dittman/Northwest Fisheries Science Center Usage Restrictions Photo credit required.

The ability to smell is critical for salmon. They depend on scent to avoid predators, sniff out prey and find their way home at the end of their lives when they return to the streams where they hatched to spawn and die.

New research from the University of Washington and NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center shows this powerful sense of smell might be in trouble as carbon emissions continue to be absorbed by our ocean. Ocean acidification is changing the water’s chemistry and lowering its pH. Specifically, higher levels of carbon dioxide, or CO2, in the water can affect the ways in which coho salmon process and respond to smells.

“Salmon famously use their nose for so many important aspects of their life, from navigation and finding food to detecting predators and reproducing. So it was important for us to know if salmon would be impacted by future carbon dioxide conditions in the marine environment,” said lead author Chase Williams, a postdoctoral researcher in Evan Gallagher’s lab at the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.

The study, appearing online Dec. 18 in the journal Global Change Biology, is the first to show that ocean acidification affects coho salmons’ sense of smell. The study also takes a more comprehensive approach than earlier work with marine fish by looking at where in the sensory-neural system the ability to smell erodes for fish, and how that loss of smell changes their behavior.

“Our studies and research from other groups have shown that exposure to pollutants can also interfere with sense of smell for salmon,” said Gallagher, senior co-author and a UW professor of toxicology. “Now, salmon are potentially facing a one-two punch from exposure to pollutants and the added burden of rising CO2. These have implications for the long-term survival of our salmon.”

The research team wanted to test how juvenile coho salmon that normally depend on their sense of smell to alert them to predators and other dangers display a fear response with increasing carbon dioxide. Puget Sound’s waters are expected to absorb more CO2 as atmospheric carbon dioxide increases, contributing to ocean acidification.

In the NOAA Fisheries research lab in Mukilteo, the research team set up tanks of saltwater with three different pH levels: today’s current average Puget Sound pH, the predicted average 50 years from now, and the predicted average 100 years in the future. They exposed juvenile coho salmon to these three different pH levels for two weeks.

After two weeks, the team ran a series of behavioral and neural tests to see whether the fishes’ sense of smell was affected. Fish were placed in a holding tank and exposed to the smell of salmon skin extract, which indicates a predator attack and usually prompts the fish to hide or swim away. Fish that were in water with current CO2 levels responded normally to the offending odor, but the fish from tanks with higher CO2 levels didn’t seem to mind or detect the smell.

After the behavioral tests, neural activity in each fish’s nose and brain — specifically, in the olfactory bulb where information about smells is processed — was measured to see where the sense of smell was altered. Neuron signaling in the nose was normal under all CO2 conditions, meaning the fish likely could still smell the odors. But when they analyzed neuron behavior in the olfactory bulb, they saw that processing was altered — suggesting the fish couldn’t translate the smell into an appropriate behavioral response.

Finally, the researchers analyzed tissue from the noses and olfactory bulbs of fish to see if gene expression also changed. Gene expression pathways were found to be altered for fish that were exposed to higher levels of CO2, particularly in their olfactory bulbs.

“At the nose level, we think the neurons are still detecting odors, but when the signals are processed in the brain, that’s where the messages are potentially getting altered,” Williams said.

In the wild, the fish likely would become more and more indifferent to scents that signify a predator, Williams said, either by taking longer to react to the smell or by not swimming away at all. While this study looked specifically at how altered sense of smell could affect fishes’ response to danger, it’s likely that other critical behaviors that depend on smell such as navigation, reproduction and hunting for food would also take a hit if fish aren’t able to adequately process smells.

The researchers plan to look next at whether increased CO2 levels could affect other fish species in similar ways, or alter other senses in addition to smell. Given the cultural and ecological significance of salmon, the researchers hope these findings will prompt action.

“We’re hoping this will alert people to some of the potential consequences of elevated carbon emissions,” said senior co-author Andy Dittman, a research biologist at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. “Salmon are so iconic in this area. Ocean acidification and climate change are abstract things until you start talking about an animal that means a lot to people.”


Other co-authors are Paul McElhany, Shallin Busch and Michael Maher of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center; and Theo Bammler and James MacDonald of the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.

This study was funded by Washington Sea Grant and the Washington Ocean Acidification Center, with additional support from the UW Superfund Research Program, the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program and the Northwest Fisheries Science Center.

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David Chappell
December 19, 2018 2:21 am

Doesn’t pass the smell test.

Reply to  David Chappell
December 19, 2018 4:03 am

Thank you David – “Doesn’t pass the smell test.” = .TRUE.

Anadromous Pacific salmon have been here for roughly 15 millions of years, through numerous major changes in climate including about five continental glaciations in the past ~500,000 years. Nothing like a mile of ice over much of the planet to wipe out a species – but the salmon are still here!

There seems to be nothing that the warmists cannot scream about – no topic is too improbable for their alarmist hysteria.

Certain conclusions are irrefutable:

– Stephen Vizinczey

– Allan MacRae 🙂

Tim Mantyla
December 19, 2018 8:50 pm

Wow. Genius level comment from someone who did exactly NO research into the issue. Verdict: blather, noise, nada, less than useless hokum.

Only one way to transmogrify your skepticism into scientific reality and cement your aspirations as the new “SuperScience Skeptic” superhero:

Get the climatescience Phd and publish your amazing research. Whee! Just do it!

Will, hope against hope, another (heretofore labeled “lazy”) skeptic, finally *do something*–ANYTHING USEFUL, PLEASE!–to prove their empty claims and cherry-picked nuggets of golden, ageless wisdom against the preponderance of AGW evidence, now known as established science???

But…but…isn’t it true that no amount of armchair pontificating, even if thousands of fellow simpletons (sorry, I meant armchair skeptics) cry your name as synonymous with “genius,” will earn you a place in history as the Ultimate Scientific Debunker of Pesky, Scary, Silly Alarmism.

No, wait, that can’t be true. Not here, The Most Viewed Website on Climate Change, where popularity clearly trumps scientific inquiry. It’s a totally different scenario here–hopefully everywhere soon: Similar armchair geniuses, also unwilling to *work* at climate science–which isn’t necessary, because they’re SOOOO smart that we should bow to and revere every word bubbling up like golden baubles from their shining intellects–echo your profound, universal Truths, uttered as Ultimate Fact, known to reflect Reality a priori. Because who in hell needs real Science when geniuses gather and speak??

The newly curious and open-minded world is desperate for your prized, Capitalism-saving collective genius. By all means, keep posting–and for Heaven’s sake (because religious attitudes and orientation are such a big driver and creator of this Genius Climate Collective), don’t do Science! After all, it’s *such* dreary labor.

Of course, since this post references science, contains sarcasm and a touch of ridicule for the ridiculous, it won’t get posted. It won’t reflect popular opinion or dogma here.
It’s also too incisive and fact-based, likely to drive too much critical debate over Climate Change Hoax dogmas held sacred by uber-sensitive, self-appointed Guardians of the Skeptic Enclave.

It’s okay. Keep hiding here. There’s no need for real Science. You’ve no need to prove anything or provide evidence, as Climate Hoax Dogma is, itself, genius-level cemented True documenation of Reality.

Reply to  Tim Mantyla
December 19, 2018 9:15 pm

Tim Mantyla

I see many words. Much sarcasm.
NOTHING to refute ANY critique of what he said.

And, by the way, your comment IS PUBLISHED!
(As an exhibit of the lack of common sense and propaganda common to the CAGW philosophy and thought pattern perhaps, but it is published here. )

Is a PhD required in your world to think? To comment?

Tim Mantyla
Reply to  Tim Mantyla
December 19, 2018 9:20 pm

Correction: I see no scientific, peer-reviewed research posted among the pithy anti-academic quotations.

Clearly you’ve read enough somewhere, likely the Internet (fabled for it’s 100% factuality /sarc), and possibly science textbooks, to become a high-ranking Armchair Scientist-Pontificator.

Where’s your Certificate of Honorary Membership?

Reply to  Tim Mantyla
December 19, 2018 9:37 pm

Tim, you leaping, gaping, raving imbecile!

What part of this information do you not understand? The salmon are fine!

Anadromous Pacific salmon have been here for roughly 15 millions of years, through numerous major changes in climate including about five continental glaciations in the past ~500,000 years. Nothing like a mile of ice over much of the planet to wipe out a species – but the salmon are still here!

[Please be civil. Do not insult imbeciles on this web site by comparing them to CAGW alarmists. .mod]

Reply to  Tim Mantyla
December 19, 2018 9:59 pm

Tim Mantyla

Odd. I still [see] no facts, no calculations, no evidence in this self-called “rebuttal”.

Only a requirement for an (unnamed) PhD in an (unnamed) discipline citing (unspecified) “facts” to rebut an (unspecified) critical error.

Reply to  Tim Mantyla
December 20, 2018 3:36 am

Apologies Moderator – henceforth, I shall refrain from such commentary and restrict myself to quoting The Sage of Ottawa, born on Canada Day in our nation’s capital. I speak, of course, of Mr. Dan Aykroyd, Blues Brother, Ghostbuster, and perfect son of Miss Daisy.

To all those overheated, hot-flashing Global Warming Alarmists, female, male and other, I submit the following Wisdom from The Sage:

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  David Chappell
December 19, 2018 7:20 am

“To smell like a salmon you need to smell like a salmon.”
Ancient fishermens’ saying, after having been away from the washing-machine for months.

Reply to  David Chappell
December 19, 2018 10:09 am

I smell a rat.

Reply to  David Chappell
December 19, 2018 10:28 am

All of the “ocean acidification” freakout is based on unverified models. Actual measurements of ocean CO2 and pH show that nothing exciting is happening. See the results for La Push, Washington:

The first thing that stands out is how much CO2 concentration and pH varies seasonally; vastly more than the long-term trend (by 2050 or 2100) predicted by models. Why aren’t the salmon being decimated because their sense of smell alerting them to predators is severely hampered? Why aren’t numerous sea organisms dying en masse because of these wild seasonal swings in pH and CO2? Inquiring minds want to know.

Of course all the studies that find disabling problems with organisms from pH changes do what every seawater tank owner knows not to do: rapidly change the chemistry of the tank, which, incidentally, does not mimic the natural world or tell us anything about what’s really happening in the oceans.

There are an awful lot of dumb “scientists” out there who are deficient in critical thinking skills.

For more measurements of ocean CO2 and pH:

Yeah, believe it or not, that’s all the data. Pretty sparse, huh?

Tim Mantyla
Reply to  stinkerp
December 19, 2018 8:59 pm

Among all comments I’ve read so far (I’m not finished), this is the *only* one that uses anything approximating scientific methodology and valid, useful logic to begin to crack holes (not debunking it without verified research though) in the theories in the article above.

Everything else–bloviation, smartypants smarm and utterly useless BS.

Tim Mantyla
Reply to  David Chappell
December 19, 2018 9:12 pm

Well done–you’re the new King of Climate Skeptic’s Comedy! Do all agree, smarmy comment is far more useful than science and the expertise required to perform it?

Feeling sufficiently validated and admired yet?

Care to post contradictory, peer-reviewed research that drives useful, intelligent and fact-based debate on the validity of the science used in the study, the methodology, the evidence or the conclusions??

Or…maybe an open mic night at a comedy club is a better venue for such commentary.

Reply to  Tim Mantyla
December 20, 2018 2:02 am

Every accusation you’ve leveled is pure projection. You are your own worst enemy.

Ron Long
December 19, 2018 2:25 am

Wow! Let’s see what would happen in16 generations of salmon (two years per cycle and 2018 to 2050) and 43 generations of salmon (until 2100), maybe they evolve to respond correctly to any external pressure? Evolution in the style of Darwin, anyone? Looks like these researchers didn’t evolve. Acidification?

Reply to  Ron Long
December 19, 2018 7:30 am

Adapt – adaptation is when minor changes allow the critter to live better in current conditions. Evolution is when the species divides somehow and becomes two different species. The two go somewhat hand in hand, but what you are talking about is definitely adaptation – we aren’t getting new salmon species.

Reply to  marque2
December 19, 2018 8:38 am

If I recall my biology correctly:
Adaptation is a form of evolution if it occurs at the embryonic stage and involves gene changes. Speciation, the break-off a new species from its parent species, occurs when a sufficient number of gene changes have so altered the critters that they can no longer interbreed viably with members of their progenitor species. I do believe this takes numerous life cycles to accumulate enough changes.
I recall several years of breeding fruit flies (about 1 week maturity cycle) to look for variations under different conditions and could not generate anything close to speciation.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
December 19, 2018 9:17 am

You don’t necessarily have a gene change when you adapt. Certain genes already in existence in the population becomes more dominant, based on the new natural stimulus. Again, be careful with adaptation and evolution. Creatures adapt all the time without evolving.

Also your idea that evolution has to do with gene mutation is incomplete.

Ron Long
Reply to  Rocketscientist
December 19, 2018 10:32 am

marque2 and rocketscience, your comments are adapted to the dna era whereas my comments are those generally attributed to evolution. Speciation is not necessary to demonstrate evolution, at least not when I took biology and paleontology in college. Anyway, the salmon will do just fine, thank you.

Reply to  Ron Long
December 20, 2018 8:23 pm

How did you know I am a rocket scientist?

December 19, 2018 2:33 am

While such static tests may indicate a change in the behaviour, where is the evidence in the “Real World” that the vast Oceans and seas are becoming more acid.

This is the usual “What if” which is the stable of the Warmers crowd .


Tim Mantyla
Reply to  Michael
December 19, 2018 10:05 pm

It’s merely your clearly uneducated, unscientific claim that the established science supporting awareness of ocean acidification is a”what if”.

This website summarizes the evidence for AGW-based ocean acidification, with plenty of sources published for perusal and armchair verification… hopefully leading to more knowledgeable commentary/debate than such fact-free, unsupported (did you post any science-based links?) armchair pontification.

Beyond that…
Where’s your personally conducted, published, peer-reviewed research that scientifically, credibly (not rhetorically) rebuts all of it??

Anyone can say “Where’s the beef?” It takes 15 seconds. Armchair “work.” Nice hobby. It’s so low-cost in terms of effort and intellectual capacity, anyone short of a quite mentally impaired person can do it. YAYYY for you!

I know this much from experience:
It takes much greater effort, perhaps even intellectual courage, an open minded willingness to suspend cherished beliefs (often acquired nonjudgmentally–that is to say, unscientifically) from accepted political/social peers, and do internet research to attempt to discern and truly test the scientific validity of one’s original beliefs. Because beliefs have nothing to do with science, as you’d realize if you’ve succeeded in passing any science courses or conducted scientific investigations.

Imagine (as I must, being unwilling to take it on) the vastly greater effort and years of commitment working towards, then succeeding in earning a climate science PhD., likely taking 6-8 years minimum of intensive, focused study. Then further years investigating hypotheses that interest you–which just might qualify you to make valid judgments on the topic at hand, should that be one of your specific areas of expertise.

Would you then be accomplished and knowledgeable enough to challenge the validity of science on ocean acidification? If it were your chosen field of expertise, and you’d succeeded in all the above *work,* I’d vote yes for you!

Have at it!

Ancient Chinese saying:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Let’s hear your knowledgeable, *credible* skepticism after 10 or so years of hard study and publishing a peer-reviewed paper or three!

This is the kind of challenge required to truly rebut and find legitimate scientific validation and credibility for global warming skepticism.

Without it, skeptics’ opinions merely add to the “vast wasteland”* of internet cacaphony and inconsequential blather.

Reply to  Tim Mantyla
December 21, 2018 2:55 am

Oh Skep sci? The one, John Cook, who was co-author of the 97% consensus? The study that actually said 97.1% of 33.3% of abstracts* (not climate scientists as claimed) that had a position on climate change? The one that also said only 64 papers out of the 11,9444 said AGW was more 50% due to man? That one?

*Out of 11,944 papers 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% said no.

Petit Barde
December 19, 2018 2:38 am

Stopped reading after “Eurkealert”.

Reply to  Petit Barde
December 19, 2018 3:38 am

That is what I should have done Petit; but was curious. Quite obvious that Salmon have more brains than these researchers, with thousands of years of experience behind them.
This is another example of a University (Washington) dergrading the reputation of academia.
But we already know what goes on in that university do we not ? Rife with the CO2 Viral Meme.

Scott W Bennett
Reply to  Petit Barde
December 19, 2018 6:44 am

They picked the salmon for this! Are they nuts!

This is an animal with a pH*, salinity and habitable range tolerance like no other!

They tolerate a wide range of salinity (Euryhaline) and remarkably they match their body osmolarity to their environment (Osmoconformers) and also tightly regulate their body osmolarity (Osmoregulators) which always stays constant, once they have “conformed”.

In simple [English], they are born in fresh water spend there lives at sea and return to fresh water to spawn, completely changing [their] bodies twice along the way!

Juvenile salmon have to change [their] bodies before heading out to sea and therefore have strong behavioural instincts not to do so prematurely.

It just seems plain nuts to mess with pH levels at this crucial stage of transition! It is the equivalent of dumping them at sea before they are ready!!

The fish [salmon] must have, in advance, the behavioral instincts that keep it from charging out into the sea before its body is ready. – E. Toolson, UNM

*Between pH 6.0 – 9.0. So they can live in water 10 times more acidic and 100 times more caustic than pure water.

Scott W Bennett
Reply to  Scott W Bennett
December 19, 2018 6:47 am

F*^k! Their there!
[Fixed the there their problem up they’re so theirafter these them their problems are up they’re no more, so they’re! .mod]

Scott W Bennett
Reply to  Scott W Bennett
December 19, 2018 3:39 pm

mod, thank you very much!!

Tim Mantyla
Reply to  Petit Barde
December 19, 2018 10:28 pm

Petit Bard,

Stopped reading after you…looked at the name of the publisher. Because….why, exactly??

Advertising a peculiar combination of arrogance and ignorance, much??

If you’d had the smarts to click on the “EurekAlert” link, it explains the organization backing, and lists coverage areas of, the website:

“EurekAlert! is an online, global news service operated by AAAS, the science society. EurekAlert! provides a central place through which universities, medical centers, journals, government agencies, corporations and other organizations engaged in research can bring their news to the media. EurekAlert! also offers its news and resources to the public. EurekAlert! features news and resources focused on all areas of science, medicine and technology.”

For emphasis, because you clearly admitted missing/ignoring it, “NEWS and RESOURCES focused on ALL AREAS of SCIENCE, MEDICINE and TECHNOLOGY.”

What godlike scientific qualifications, research done, published papers could you possibly possess or have accomplished in order to credibly, knowledgeably, thoroughly refute ALL of its published work across such a vast range of scientific knowledge and investigation?? Including the article above?

Maybe you’re the singular, amazing Donald Trump counterpart in science and tech– a “stable genius” in all fields covered by (admittedly goofily-named) EurekAlert??

“Show me the money!” In case you’re not quite as well-versed in culture as you are in science, the phrase colloquially means “Prove it!”

December 19, 2018 2:42 am


The nasally-challenged piscine creatures will become food more easily -thus helping THEIR environment.
The nasally-discriminating will outbreed the losers and salmon will flourish.

So what’s special about that?

Reply to  Jon
December 19, 2018 7:35 am

Of course, not mentioned is that all the predators are suffering from CO2 poisoning as well. salmon won’t detect them, but the predators won’t be able to smell the salmon either.

Coeur de Lion
December 19, 2018 3:40 am

How acid was their fishtank? I thought the ocean was heavily buffered alkaline?

Steve O
December 19, 2018 4:10 am

Where is everyone’s faith in evolution? Maybe they’ll grow wings and fly to better pH waters. Perhaps mutations will bring them onto land. We should be applauding warming as a catalyst for species advancement!

Or perhaps they’ll devolve and vote for climate reparations and higher taxes.

Russell Johnson
December 19, 2018 4:43 am

Real Story: Money was available to conduct another “climate change” study. The funds would have been lost without this study. The loss of the funds has been confirmed.

Coach Springer
December 19, 2018 4:52 am

Good lord, that’s a huge number of professionals engaging in stupidity. What a gig!

Tom Abbott
December 19, 2018 4:52 am

I guess these authors don’t know any pertinent history.

The amount of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere has been *much* higher in the past than it is today or will be in 100 years, yet the salmon have miraculously survived and thrived!

Those who fail to take history into account run the risk of making some very ignorant predictions.

kent beuchert
December 19, 2018 4:52 am

Critical issues was where these folks got their data for future acidification from? Even the IPCC has a wide range of possible CO2 scenarios. We can assume they chose the worst case situation. Anyone who thinks CO2 density will increase dramatically over the next 50 years is living in a dream world.

Tom Abbott
December 19, 2018 5:00 am
December 19, 2018 5:02 am

Ocean acidification is one of the biggest scams going……

Tim Mantyla
Reply to  Latitude
December 19, 2018 10:41 pm

If you truly are an amazing climate and ocean science “stable genius”, capable of refuting all ocean acidification claims with a single astonishing Statement of Truth–perhaps due to your astonishing depth of published research?–please do the world one vast favor.

I beg your High Genius of Ocean Acidification (or Not?) Science:

FYI, those of us capable of using a simple “bullsh1t meter” don’t accept at face value ANY refutation or corroboration of claims, pro- or against AGW, without corroborating evidence.

IF it’s science, you can post the evidence.

If not, go on… keep blathering like a 4th grader:

4G1: “What I say is true!”

4G2: “Is NOT!”


Paul of Alexandria
Reply to  Tim Mantyla
December 20, 2018 7:57 pm

I’ve got an idea. How about reading the back issues at WUWT, perhaps you’ll learn something. This issue has been covered in depth before.

Komrade Kuma
December 19, 2018 5:04 am

More evidence that as ‘carbon emissions’ rise, universities becomme less and less institutions of learning and more and more places of intellectual idolatry. Satmon are too smart to fall for the bait that these religious loons cast.

December 19, 2018 5:10 am

Did they also expose fish to the higher pH levels that would have been prevalent 50 or 100 years ago, according to their logic? If not, they can’t rule out that these fish just don’t like step changes (Gavin tells us that it is the change from what we’re used to that matters, after all). And surely they will adapt if the change happens over decades.

December 19, 2018 5:53 am

Almost as bad as Polar Bears going to lose there hearing due to the constant sound of melting ice….

December 19, 2018 6:05 am

What does THC do to them or is that question allowed in advocacy land?

Edward Hanley
December 19, 2018 6:14 am

Sorry, son. That ain’t science. Before putting little salmon young’uns into the tank with the projected CO2 concentration of 50 years from now, you would have to put them into an environment similar to the Puget Sound and gradually increase the CO2 concentration over a period of 50 years. What the hell are ya?! A bunch of ignoramusi that don’t believe in evolution?!

December 19, 2018 6:27 am

I’m guessing the pH in the ocean varies somewhat from the pH of the fresh water rivers and lakes they also exist in? Coho specifically thrive in Lake Ontario and the Credit River where I grew up.

Reply to  Greg61
December 19, 2018 7:46 am

The PH of the ocean isn’t this uniform 8.2 either. It varies all over the place, especially when close to shore. I am surprised an average PH of the ocean can actually be calculated. It would be almost as hard as figuring the average temperature of the earth.

December 19, 2018 6:34 am

Here is a nice compilation of 30 natural systems in which global warming exerts both an effect and the opposite of that effect

It was first posted by Jimbo then re-posted by Pierre Gosselin at NoTricksZone, with links to papers:

Here they are as a text list:

Amazon dry season greener
Amazon dry season browner

Avalanches may increase
Avalanches may decrease – wet snow more though [?]

Bird migrations longer
Bird migrations shorter
Bird migrations out of fashion

Boreal forest fires may increase
Boreal forest fires may continue decreasing

Chinese locusts swarm when warmer
Chinese locusts swarm when cooler

Columbia spotted frogs decline
Columbia spotted frogs thrive in warming world

Coral island atolls to sink [?]
Coral island atolls to rise [? – ?]

Earth’s rotation to slow down
Earth’s rotation to speed up

East Africa to get less rain
East Africa to get more rain – pdf

Great Lakes less snow
Great Lakes more snow

Gulf stream slows down (and it causes warming)
Gulf stream speeds up a little (and it also causes warming)

Indian monsoons to be drier
Indian monsoons to be wetter

Indian rice yields to decrease – full paper
Indian rice yields to increase

Latin American forests may decline
Latin American forests have thrived in warmer world with more co2!

Leaf area index reduced [1990s]
Leaf area index increased [1981-2006]

Malaria may increase
Malaria may continue decreasing

Malaria in Burundi to increase
Malaria in Burundi to decrease [?]

North Atlantic cod to decline
North Atlantic cod to thrive

North Atlantic cyclone frequency to increase
North Atlantic cyclone frequency to decrease – full pdf

North Atlantic Ocean less salty
North Atlantic Ocean more salty

Northern Hemisphere ice sheets to decline [? – ? – ?]
Northern Hemisphere ice sheets to grow [?]

Plant methane emissions significant
Plant methane emissions insignificant

Plants move uphill
Plants move downhill [?]

Sahel to get less rain
Sahel to get more rain
Sahel may get more or less rain

San Francisco less foggy
San Francisco more foggy

Sea level rise accelerated
Sea level rise decelerated – full pdf

Soil moisture less
Soil moisture more

Squids get smaller
Squids get larger

Stone age hunters may have triggered past warming [?]
Stone age hunters may have triggered past cooling

Swiss mountain debris flow may increase
Swiss mountain debris flow may decrease
Swiss mountain debris flow may decrease then increase in volume

UK may get more droughts
UK may get more rain

Wind speed to go up [?]
Wind speed slows down [?]
Wind speed to speed up then slow down

Winters maybe warmer
Winters maybe colder

Dudley Horscroft
December 19, 2018 6:45 am

The CO2 levels of ocean water must always be adjusting towards an equilibrium with the CO2 in the adjacent atmosphere. As the atmospheric CO2 rises, so should the level in the water. BUT, CO2 is more soluble in cold water than warm water, so as the oceans warm, the CO2 levels in ocean water should drop.

Which way does the equilibrium shift?

Compare – human beings live happily in all sorts of temperatures. But shift one from cold northern Europe to Singapore and he is whacked by the heat. Shift one from Singapore to Stockholm and he freezes in temperatures that a Swede thinks as comfortable. Same logic for fish transferred to holding tank at unstated (in the above summary) CO2 level. Presumably that of Puget Sound? No wonder the fish acclimatized to water with high CO2 level were gob-smacked when shifted into water with lower CO2 levels. They may well have preferred the high CO2 level water, and been more wary of the ‘apparent’ danger in that high CO2 level water..

But what happened to all those fish we see swimming up river to be caught by brown bears? This implies that fish going from salt water to fresh water lose their sense of danger. Is this relevant?

Tim Mantyla
Reply to  Dudley Horscroft
December 19, 2018 10:56 pm

I like that terminology, “gob-smacked when shifted into water with lower CO2 levels.”

That appears to be EXACTLY what extremely rapid changes in overall CO2 (thus acidification) can do to fish.

The question is, how fast can the salmon adapt, meaning, is a mere 50-100 years (or more, given that AGW began around 1850) fast enough to “gobsmack” the fish into extinction?

Is the research-induced “gobsmacking” too fast to provide real-world equivalent when CO2 and acidification proceeds at ITS pace?

Thanks for another set of questions that do seem to pose scientific merit as an avenue for legitimate rebuttal.

Jim Gorman
December 19, 2018 7:04 am

“Finally, the researchers analyzed tissue from the noses and olfactory bulbs of fish to see if gene expression also changed. Gene expression pathways were found to be altered for fish that were exposed to higher levels of CO2, particularly in their olfactory bulbs.”

Someone please tell me how higher concentration of CO2 in the water changes gene expression pathways. Gene expression is basically creating proteins from the DNA contained in a cell nucleus. I’m not sure how CO2 would affect this inside a cell.

michael hart
Reply to  Jim Gorman
December 19, 2018 4:43 pm

Well, yes. Unfortunately the given information doesn’t make clear whether they actually used CO2 or, something else, to change the pH, and whether the changes were performed continuously all the time including when they were put in their final tanks. So many, many questions, and variables which are not accounted for in the available description. My hunch is that you’d find that they only did it to a handful of fish anyway so that it is statistically valueless before we even get to start considering the real science questions. The video of the moving fish seems somewhat unconvincing/ambiguous for something that appears to require a significant amount of subjective judgment by the human observer, and that is always their best data collected.

I would like to think better of the whole thing, but just can’t. It’s an extra source of disappointment for me because I spent many happy summer hours sitting by the salmon-spawning pond at the main UW campus, under the willow trees, looking out across Portage Bay towards my apt in Montlake when I was a Chemistry grad student at the UW.

michael hart
Reply to  michael hart
December 19, 2018 5:15 pm

I’ve just found the paper, and a quick scan indicates n=5 for RNA analysis. There you go.
Their CO2 exposure was 700 µatm (control) then 1,600 µatm and 2700 µatm for future elevated CO2 levels! (First rule of dubious bio-medical literature is that the researchers make sure they use an excessively large dose to make sure that something, anything, please, happens to the unfortunate cells/animals in the experiment.)

On the plus side, they do appear to be trying to do some science.

James Bull
December 19, 2018 7:04 am

It reminds me of the old joke,
“I say my dog has no nose”
“You say your dog has no nose! How does it smell?”

James Bull

Henning Nielsen
December 19, 2018 7:28 am

This will be beneficial to the salmon, or at least to the fish-farm salmon; they will not be able to smell the clear and present danger of harvesting, and can thus live happily and untroubled until their very carbondioxided end:

“Before killing, the fish are usually rendered unconscious in water saturated in carbon dioxide, although this practice is being phased out in some countries due to ethical and product quality concerns.”

Jon Scott
December 19, 2018 7:31 am

Bad Science or “non science”, say it quickly enough and you have nonsense! Take a human immediately to the top of Everest and they will die from shock in minutes. Does that prove man cannot go to the summit without oxygen? Not at all YET we are supposed to believe that shocking fish with a MODELLED pH level projected years in advance is good science? Such experiments are set up with the express purpose of forcing an unnatural reaction. The science of bunkum is surely settled to be the domain of anyone joining or riding the climate gravy train.

December 19, 2018 8:06 am

Fish were placed in a holding tank

That invalidates their study right there.

Joel Snider
December 19, 2018 8:12 am

Are these people just a bunch of bobble-heads sitting around agreeing with each other?

I mean how much bias HAS to exist to just come up this study?

James Clarke
December 19, 2018 8:26 am

Many Christmases ago, I boarded an airplane in Ft. Myers, Florida and flew to St. louis to spend the Holidays with Family. It was 81 degrees when I got on the plane. Hours later, I stepped out of the terminal in St. Louis and was greeted with an air temperature of -5 degrees. My lungs convulsed and I started coughing. I felt sick for the next 2 days, as my body adapted to the much lower humidity and cold air. My nose was so stuffy, I couldn’t smell anything for a day or two, not even salmon predators!

Then I adapted to the change and enjoyed my time with family and friends. This post is powerful evidence that I did not go extinct. Consequently, I have complete faith that the salmon will do just fine adjusting to tiny changes in their environment over the course of decades.

I realize that everyone before me has already made this point, yet I am compelled to reiterate it with verve and conviction!

Tim Mantyla
Reply to  James Clarke
December 19, 2018 11:33 pm

The analogy reveals a lack of the elementary scientific skepticism and discernment that should have dissuaded you from posting it.

It’s impossible to predict that any other species, let alone such a vastly separated branch of creatures on the “tree” of evolution, will respond/adapt in similar ways you did, or with any success, for several crucial reasons:

1) Temperature may be, but humidity certainly is not a relevant issue regarding the salmon!

2) You don’t share remotely equivalent biology with salmon, other than being bilaterally symmetrical vertebrates with distinct organs!

3) You weren’t isolated in a tank!

4) Your experience was in an uncontrolled, self-chosen environment you already knew with extremely high certainty, based on your (likely) previous and many others’ very public experiences, that you’d eventually adapt to the different conditions. It’s not as if humans have never experienced extreme changes in temps and humidity!

5) Your experience happened only to you, not thousands of randomized subjects similar to you but with only marginally different individual characteristics (the salmon). Therefore your highly individual experience bears ZERO relationship or significance to a randomized, professionally conducted scientific experiment with proper control subjects for comparison.

6) Your faith in the adaptive capabilities of salmon is TOTALLY irrelevant to anything that can or might happen to them. You don’t get to decide or with any credibility weigh in on what’s “just fine” for salmon, especially based on something as ephemeral and meaningless to reality as faith. essence, you have some (incredibly unrealistic) opinions on this issue. Alrighty then!

Might it be best to stick to enjoying and surviving your travels, without trying to compare them to scientific examinations of global warming scenarios?

December 19, 2018 8:38 am

Let’s see now this is from the same state where Amazon almost single handedly increased road freight emissions in the world. see IEA report

Nat Whilk
December 19, 2018 9:22 am

I recently cleaned my microwave for the first time in a year, and I can testify that salmon doesn’t lose its ability to smell.

James Clarke
Reply to  Nat Whilk
December 19, 2018 10:03 am


Stephen Singer
December 19, 2018 10:12 am

This bogus claim has been made a couple of times in the last 2-3 years. I think also from researchers from UW.

Tim Mantyla
Reply to  Stephen Singer
December 19, 2018 11:37 pm

Your evidence it’s bogus??

The lack of a posted credible refutation leads to the fair assumption…there isn’t one.

Gary Kerkin
December 19, 2018 12:40 pm

This is a good subject for some enterprising person to submit to the GWPF competition (“CHRISTMAS COMPETITION: THE TALLEST CLIMATE TALES OF 2018”).

Farmer Ch E retired
December 19, 2018 1:18 pm

I can personally testify that the salmon are successfully navigating to their spawning tributaries in SE Alaska despite rising CO2 concentrations. My wife and I, with the aid of a 10-hp fishing boat, caught our limits (6 each) by 7-am this past July. I was told by a local pro that the pinks & cohos were moving up the tributaries to the tune of about 10,000 fish per day – just in this one small bay.

December 19, 2018 1:27 pm

The salmon are obviously smarter than the people studying them. The salmon will not lose their sense of smell or go extinct, but for those studying them this is a real possibility.

December 19, 2018 5:05 pm

ocean pH at just over 8

puget sound pH at around 7.7

river pH at just over 7

So this shows that when the salmon move around today;

from stream, to river, to Sound, to ocean (with the areas of the ocean they swim through varying more than the estimated future in the future Puget Sound), to Sound, to river, to spawning stream; all with significantly varying pH;

that either salmon don’t depend on their sense of smell, or THE STUDY IS SHIT.

Peter Sable
December 19, 2018 7:04 pm

Well, the Orcas are having problems, and if the fish can’t smell the danger – that just means an easier dinner for the Orcas.

I see win-win here.

Andrew Ward
December 21, 2018 10:20 am

On the heels of the UW/Cliff Mass article of a few days ago, I see UW and immediately think “Isn’t that the place where the Dean of the Atmospheric Science Dept was strong-arming “his” professors into supporting his pet (pro CAGW) ballot measure?”

That’s enough to drop my interest in a dubiously headlined publication from “take a quick look” to “why bother?”

Good job on your institution’s (already waning) credibility, Dean.

Johann Wundersamer
December 26, 2018 6:20 am

In the NOAA Fisheries research lab in Mukilteo, the research team set up tanks of saltwater with three different pH levels: today’s current average Puget Sound pH, the predicted average 50 years from now, and the predicted average 100 years in the future. They exposed juvenile coho salmon to these three different pH levels for two weeks.”

For the next study, the NOAA butchers drew sheep up on chains and pulleys up to different height marks in order to determine up to which falling heights the sheep meat was still usable.

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