Extreme Climate Events Impact Marine Habitat Forming Communities Along 45% of Australia’s Coast

From Frontiers in Marine Science

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Mar. Sci., 24 July 2019 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00411

Severe Continental-Scale Impacts of Climate Change Are Happening Now: Extreme Climate Events Impact Marine Habitat Forming Communities Along 45% of Australia’s Coast

Russell C. Babcock1,2*, Rodrigo H. Bustamante1, Elizabeth A. Fulton3, Derek J. Fulton3, Michael D. E. Haywood1, Alistair James Hobday3, Robert Kenyon1, Richard James Matear3, Eva E. Plagányi1, Anthony J. Richardson1,4 and Mathew A. Vanderklift3,5

  • 1CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
  • 2School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia
  • 3CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart, TAS, Australia
  • 4Centre for Applications in Natural Resource Mathematics, School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD, Australia
  • 5CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, Crawley, WA, Australia

Recent increases in the frequency of extreme climate events (ECEs) such as heatwaves and floods have been attributed to climate change, and could have pronounced ecosystem and evolutionary impacts because they provide little opportunity for organisms to acclimate or adapt. Here we synthesize information on a series of ECEs in Australia from 2011 to 2017 that led to well-documented, abrupt, and extensive mortality of key marine habitat-forming organisms – corals, kelps, seagrasses, and mangroves – along >45% of the continental coastline of Australia. Coral bleaching occurred across much of northern Australia due to marine heatwaves (MHWs) affecting different regions in 2011, 2013, 2016, and 2017, while seagrass was impacted by anomalously high rainfall events in 2011 on both east and west tropical coasts. A MHW off western Australia (WA) during the 2011 La Niña extended into temperate and subtropical regions, causing widespread mortality of kelp forests and seagrass communities at their northern distribution limits. Mangrove forests experienced high mortality during the 2016 El Niño across coastal areas of northern and north-WA due to severe water stress driven by drought and anomalously low mean sea levels. This series of ECEs reflects a variety of different events – MHWs, intense rainfall from tropical storms, and drought. Their repeated occurrence and wide extent are consistent with projections of increased frequency and intensity of ECEs and have broad implications elsewhere because similar trends are predicted globally. The unprecedented and widespread nature of these ECE impacts has likely produced substantial ecosystem-wide repercussions. Predictions from ecosystem models suggest that the widespread mortality of habitat-forming taxa will have long-term and in some cases irreversible consequences, especially if they continue to become more frequent or severe. The abrupt ecological changes that are caused by ECEs could have greater long-term impacts than slower warming that leads to gradual reorganization and possible evolution and adaptation. ECEs are an emerging threat to marine ecosystems, and will require better seasonal prediction and mitigation strategies.

Introduction

Extreme climate events (ECEs), statistically rare or unusual climatic periods that alter ecosystem structure and/or function well outside normal variability (Smith, 2011), are receiving increasing attention as drivers of change in ecological and evolutionary communities (IPCC, 2012; van de Pol et al., 2017). ECEs are also associated with climate change, becoming more frequent and more intense (e.g., Herring et al., 2018). In coastal marine systems, heatwaves and floods could have greater ecosystem and evolutionary impacts than the more gradual effects of climate change (Campbell-Staton et al., 2017; Grant et al., 2017), and essentially represent a “pulse vs. press” dichotomy in terms of climate impact regime (Harris et al., 2018). For example, heatwaves compound the effects of underlying warming trends and provide little opportunity for organisms to acclimate or adapt, whereas slower warming is more likely to allow time for these processes to occur (Walther, 2010). Although there is a common perception that high-latitude areas will be most affected by climate change because the magnitude of warming is greater there (Burrows et al., 2011), low-latitude areas with dampened seasonal cycles, have the greatest emergence of extreme heat (Diffenbaugh and Scherer, 2011) and host many species that inhabit environments already close to the limits of their thermal tolerance (Sunday et al., 2011, 2012; Frieler et al., 2013; Pinsky et al., 2019). Global warming is increasingly affecting marine ecosystems including habitat forming sessile organisms (Poloczanska et al., 2013), which are often key ecosystem engineers and particularly vulnerable to heatwaves as individuals cannot physically move to cooler locations (Mislan and Wethey, 2015).

Here we synthesize the unprecedented large-scale impacts of a series of ECEs on coastal marine habitats around the Australian continent (Figure 1) between 2011 and 2017, spanning both strong El Niño and La Niña phases of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO). We also model how impacts on habitat forming organisms propagate through food webs and ecosystems under a range of impact scenarios. The impact of ECEs throughout most of northern Australia has broad implications as the climate change phenomena driving the ECEs are being experienced globally (Oliver et al., 2018a). These conditions are also a precursor of a future in which ECEs are increasingly common, since ECEs are episodic, thus providing little or no time for acclimation and evolution, thus potentially exacerbating damage through the shocks they create within ecosystems (IPCC, 2012).

FIGURE 1

Figure 1. (A) Cumulative habitat impact map (created by overlaying the individual event maps detailed in Figure 2). (B) Cumulative percentage of the Australian marine domain that experienced the maximum monthly SST for the period between 1985 and 2017, based on NOAA High Resolution Daily Sea Surface Temperature. The analysis was performed for each 0.25 × 0.25 degree cell in the domain (10–45° S, 110–160° E) for the period 1985–2017. The year in which the warmest month was recorded for each cell. The plot is the cumulative sum of these warmest years across all cells. For example, 50% of the ocean around Australia has experienced its warmest month between 2008 and 2017.

Full article here

HT/ozspeaksup

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52 thoughts on “Extreme Climate Events Impact Marine Habitat Forming Communities Along 45% of Australia’s Coast

  1. Remember that up to 70% of published research papers in climate sciences are wrong when published ( -Statistician John Ioannidis ( 2005).
    Others are later proved wrong.
    So there is less than a one in three chance that this research is correct
    .

    • Funding
      “This project was funded in part by the Gorgon Barrow Island Net Conservation Benefits Fund, which is administered by the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife and by the CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere.”

      Conflict of Interest Statement
      The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

      SHOULD THE GORGON GAS DEVELOPMENT BE LOCATED ON BARROW ISLAND NATURE RESERVE?
      The Gorgon Project is operated by Chevron Australia and is a joint venture of the Australian subsidiaries of Chevron (47.3 percent), ExxonMobil (25 percent), Shell (25 percent), Osaka Gas (1.25 percent), Tokyo Gas (1 percent) and JERA (0.417 percent).

      See https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00411

      If you fund the green cook book you get to input the recipes.

      So never ending climate change “research” is funded by the methane producers (Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell) versus nasty coal their competition. Who’d have thought?

      • No mention is made in this paper of the Gorgon Project. So, what, exactly, is your point?

      • This is called an UNHOLY ALLIANCE!

        Big Oil goes Big Green
        May 4, 2019
        Oil companies give billions to climate alarmists, but hardly a dime to climate realists

        http://bit.ly/2PLoKLX
        Big Oil companies now give at least a billion dollars a year to climate alarmists, projects and lobbying, to drive the Manmade Climate Chaos narrative. Why would they do that? Two reasons come to mind…

        …Another big irony is that the supposed alternative to abundant, reliable, affordable, civilization-enabling fossil fuels is supposedly “clean, green, renewable, sustainable, responsible” wind, solar and biofuel energy. (Hardcore environmentalists do not approve of nuclear or hydroelectric power, either.)

        Those alleged “alternatives” require inconceivably vast amounts of land – not just for the wind turbines, solar panels, backup batteries and biofuel farms, but to mine and process the billions of tons of iron, copper, rare earth metals, lithium, cadmium, limestone and other materials needed to make the turbines, panels, batteries, transmission lines, tractors, trucks and other “sustainable” infrastructure.

        All that mining, processing, manufacturing and transportation requires fossil fuels. And biofuels emit just as much (plant-fertilizing) carbon dioxide when they are burned as do coal, oil and natural gas.

        Even more disturbing, many of those raw materials are produced with widespread slave and child labor, under health, safety and environmental rules and conditions that would make Upton Sinclair and other early Twentieth Century reformers think their oppressed workers were living in paradise…

        Read the whole article. It is sickening.

  2. I hope one of the evolutionary forcings coming from the 45% increase in whatever is to raise the IQ of Australians. CSIRO? Similar to CONICEET here in Argentina and to some phases of the USGS in USA. Australia is doing fine as far as I can tell, given it is mostly a desert island big enough to be called a continent. This is a fake news story.

  3. Am I correct? The very first phrase of this paper is contrary to the (IPCC acknowledged) lack of confirmed increase in extreme events.
    Didn’t need to read much further.

    • Here here.
      As I understand it the IPCC says no trend in precipitation, heatwaves, drought, desertification, snow cover or depth, tropical cyclones, hurricanes and river flows.
      Sea level rise, no change or acceleration in the rate.
      Polar bears increasing, not decreasing.
      Area of sea ice within natural variability limits.
      Pacific islands increasing in land area, not decreasing.
      Zero climate refugees instead of 50 million by 2010.
      Some ocean warming, but no account of 30-60 year natural cycles in ocean temperatures.
      Food security. No negative impact on wheat, maize, rice and soya staples. CO2 massively fertilises plant growth and food security.

    • Ray:

      Precisely. That why I have not bothered to read it. The phrase generates the conclusions; so the rest of it will be cherry picked manipulation of dubious data.

  4. ECE’s result in more extreme ENSO ?

    Have I been under the mistaken impression that ECE is a consequence of ENSO not the cause ? The stronger the ENSO event, the more severe the climatic / weather response … do they know what the underlying cause of ENSO is or do they make a spurious correlation like the back to front temperature versus CO2 claims?

    • no, they ignore ENSO
      and if sealevels are rising then claiming that the entiore topend had extralow sealevels knocking mangroves around is funny as.

  5. All modelling. Claiming as fact what is not in evidence.
    This lot have their hands out for the $444 million offered by former premier Turnbull. Hopefully that has not been delivered, because it will all be wasted.
    None of them are up here (Brisbane is at the lower end of the GBR) so it looks like they didn’t involve the usual suspects at JCU. Maybe the latter are lying low now that the federal government is considering supporting Peter Ridd’s claims.
    The GBR handled the ECE that was a rise in sea level of 120+ metres after the end of the last ice age, followed by a drop of 2m that started around 4000 years ago. Corals are obviously one of the most resilient systems around.

  6. I propose that the value of a scientific paper is inversely proportional to the number of authors and the number of papers cited. Anyone done research on this?

    • As I recall, Willis E. put forth a similar, if not identical hypothesis some time ago. I don’t know if he pursued it.

    • Ronald, according to you, would a paper written by a single half-assed author would be more valuable than a paper written by a solitary full-assed author? 1/0.5 is greater than 1/1

    • Ronald

      No, but I can observe that in order to claim co-authorship, everyone has to certify that they made a significant contribution to the text/work. Once you get past eight authors it is hard to justify such claims. Even getting one PhD student with a helper (Masters) student, a supervisor and co-supervisor, a couple of remote profs and a department head whose name appears as a formality, is difficult to harmonize. Usually there are two or three who do nearly nothing other than pick over the grammar, if that.

      A fairly simple topic with 50 co-authors? What’s that about? Was it so difficult that it needed 50 expert opinions holding hands to produce?

      Health impact papers can routinely have that many if it is a multi-year study of health outcomes and 90% of the authors only filed interviews.

      It is held that another BS detector is the number of citations in the back. A simple product performance test with 115 citations is suspect.

      A friend calls it “cite-o-ology”. Perhaps we can call the former example “author-o-ology”.

  7. While I have not been to Australia, I have known a lot of their scientists in days gone by. I also have been around seagrasses, corals and lots of mangroves. Depending on where they are many have been under threat from human impacts almost ALL, not from CAGW, but from primarily domestic sewage and improperly treated stormwater. You cannot build in coastal areas and not expect impacts. From my experience none of those habitats have been catastrophically impacted by global warming. I have been in mangrove swamps were the water temperatures thirty years ago were over a hundred degrees F. Mangroves didn’t seem bothered at all. Now take them down to below freezing for extended periods and mangroves (and seagrasses) don’t do as well.

  8. “Recent increases in the frequency of extreme climate events”

    Climate is the 30 year average of weather (IPCC). There are weather events. There are no “climate events”.

    These guys take off on the wrong foot. If they cannot get their basic terminology right, how can we be expected to believe anything else they write?

    • Yeah. We had yesterday the odd warm day of the year, about +32C (90F) max. Today, we’ll have a cool day, about +20C (68F). However, today’s news already said the yesterday’s warmth, that was a local record at the local seaside measuring station, “tells us something”. It was an ECE and we should be concerned. In fact, it was just a warm day that cooled towards the night.

      I’m so tired of this ‘weather is climate change’ – for all warm days. For cold days, it’s still weather.

    • Crazy! Hawkes bay sits on a very active earth quake region and is continuously rising! In 1931, a large quake struck Napier and the whole side of the island rose several meters. Still, any excuse for the councils to increase rates.

  9. “Recent increases in the frequency of extreme climate events (ECEs) such as heatwaves and floods have been attributed to climate change, and could have pronounced ecosystem and evolutionary impacts because they provide little opportunity for organisms to acclimate or adapt.”

    Using unsupported propositions is no way to begin a science paper. I’m done with this.

  10. This is propaganda – with no critical analysis. Not the first time. Is Charles the Moderator a warmunist?

    • err WE are the critical analysts, or the smarter dudes here do that for us that miss the math n fiddlins

      but you were right its propaganda
      makes me ashamed to BE an Aussie
      and bloody wild! that we pay for this crap

    • Linda;

      If you were a regular here you wouldn’t ask that question about CTM.

      This is a site about climate (among other things). The paper is about climate. Unlike some sites, WUWT regularly publishes results that run contrary to what some might consider the “narrative” of this site; it’s not an echo chamber.

  11. Severe Continental-Scale Impacts of Climate Change Are Happening Now: Extreme Climate Events Impact Marine Habitat Forming Communities Along 45% of Australia’s Coast
    Russell C. Babcock1,2*, Rodrigo H. Bustamante1, Elizabeth A. Fulton3, Derek J. Fulton3, Michael D. E. Haywood1, Alistair James Hobday3, Robert Kenyon1, Richard James Matear3, Eva E. Plagányi1, Anthony J. Richardson1,4 and Mathew A. Vanderklift3,5

    Recent increases in the frequency of extreme climate events (ECEs) such as heatwaves and floods have been attributed to climate change, and could have pronounced ecosystem and evolutionary impacts because they provide little opportunity for organisms to acclimate or adapt.

    Maybe someday, science will advance sufficiently to cure these people.
    Maybe.
    They are deeply delusional.

  12. ”Recent increases in the frequency of extreme climate events (ECEs) such as heatwaves and floods have been attributed to climate change, and could have pronounced ecosystem and evolutionary impacts because they provide little opportunity for organisms to acclimate or adapt.”

    Since when do organisms need to adapt to weather extremes?

  13. The old “might have”, “could have”, “may have” Hail Mary paper with the usual value of toilet paper.

  14. Frontiers in Marine Science claims that it “publishes rigorously peer-reviewed research.”

    The first line of the conclusions, “Widespread and severe impacts of climate change are not simply a problem we might face in the future, they are happening now,” should not have passed any peer-review.

    The bios for the first-two authors mention a research emphasis on “climate change” impacts. Of course they are going to find links to climate change lol.

    • Whenever I hear or read the words ”peer review” now I automatically think bullsh*t. Pretty sad state of affairs really.

  15. Stopped reading at “extreme climate events” which is being used as a synonym for weather.

  16. Reading the comments here so far, I can only say to commenters –

    “come on guys, you’re reacting like ‘progressives’ do to Donald Trump’s tweets”

    Of course these ‘research findings’ are a load of tosh, as many of you have taken pains to point out.

    But the game being played, just as Donald does, is to put out something so patently inflammatory & outrageous to the other side that he just knows they will rise to the lure and engage with it. And then he plays them.

    So we’ skeptics are constantly engaging on ‘their’ terms. The CAGW religion is a political / media construct, pure & simple.

    What we skeptics have to start doing is playing the same “bullet points” social & mainstream media tactics that the CAGW religion adopts. No point in putting out well researched, rational facts about the fallacies of CAGW – the great unwashed doesn’t read anything these days (if they ever did).

    For example, what if Easy Tours promoted an over-ice adventure hike every summer from Siberia to the North Pole?

    Wouldn’t THAT get the CAGW disciples’ panties in a bunch? Especially when it could be pointed out that ice remains year-round in that region, despite what Al Gore et al say.

    • True indeed.

      “So we’ skeptics are constantly engaging on ‘their’ terms.”

      No one has pointed out what a pile of crap their phrase “climate change” actually is. It sure as hell isn’t actual climate change.

      • “No one has pointed out what a pile of crap their phrase “climate change” actually is. It sure as hell isn’t actual climate change.”

        Apparently you haven’t been paying attention. We point out what an idiotic phrase it is on an hourly basis, at least.

    • Mr. I agree 100%. It is very clear to me that the powers pushing the agenda are not buffoons and complete dolts. The useful idiots are those things at times. I believe they are using the useful idiots (especially the media) to set as many dumpster fires as possible in order to distract from the real agenda. What is the real agenda? Totalitarianism for some, immediate power for others, massive monetary gains for others. Such a perfect storm when it appeals to all the megalomaniacs out there and so many workers (proles)are so easily fooled into believing.

  17. The flimsy ‘hook’:

    “Recent increases in the frequency of extreme climate events (ECEs) such as heatwaves and floods have been attributed to climate change, and could have pronounced ecosystem and evolutionary impacts because they provide little opportunity for organisms to acclimate or adapt. 

    Followed by the same old unconvincing rationalization of all the things that “could” but won’t happen. This is the same litany of over 30yrs ago, two thirds of which time there was no global warming. It “could” then but it didn’t!

    30 years from now lets hope these clones have run out their string. The trend of the last 30 years of science has been downwards for the influence of CO2 on temperature rise and new science seems to be pointing to even further marginalization of this gas on temperature, and worse news for gas catastrophists, CO2 is proving to be hugely beneficial with an 18% increase in forest cover and “leafing out” on the planet, including arid regions, plus a doubling of harvests all courtesy of human fossil fuel activity! The same thing is expanding the base of the ocean nutrient pyramid. Hey, and folks the Great Greening is an endothermic process (cooling) which councided with the Dreaded Pause which falsified all this cargo cult science. This, of course, goes unacknowledged by alarmers stuck in their own Groundhog Day.

  18. “Recent increases in the frequency of extreme climate events (ECEs) such as heatwaves and floods have been attributed to climate change”

    Apart from the meaningless phrase “climate events”, weather can now be attributed to “climate change” just because they say so, and not because of any actual evidence.

  19. It is a “newspeak” article because it is based on speculation about modelled future phenomena. Sir Isaac Newton warned us that we must not replace phenomena with hypothesis however well documented by known science it is. Climate scientists do that all the time and they invent new words for well known phenomena instead of doing science.

  20. Whenever anyone complains that climate change is causing increasing drought and/or flooding rains in Australia I refer them to this poster link: https://data.longpaddock.qld.gov.au/static/products/pdf/WetDryDroughtPoster.pdf . It usually causes the complainers to change the subject or shuts them up completely. (The longpaddock web site has several other telling illustrations of Australia’s long term weather variability that are also available for download).

  21. Anything that is A) bad and B) has not remained exactly constant in the last 30 years can, is, has been, and will be blamed on climate change.

  22. It’s not just climate, everything is going bad. With few exceptions the literature cited are all from this millennium when all this started, actually with much earlier roots, somebody had to not teach them. As an example of an earlier study from the dirty 90s making a somewhat similar mistake, reviewing only the literature for the last two decades and concluding “ “…reports of marine diseases have increased…”
    Harvell, C. D., et al., 1999. Emerging marine diseases–climate links and anthropogenic factors. Science. 285:1505-1510. Am surprised that at least a couple didn’t know better (paper by committee, 14 authors). I knew one who produced good works on marine diseases.

    This earlier one discovered the “new” marine diseases–Williams, E. H., Jr. and L. Bunkley-Williams. 1990. Recurring mass mortalities of Caribbean herrings: implications for the study of major marine ecological disturbances. Journal of Aquatic and Animal Health. 2:230-236. Apparently homework since the dirty 90s only required for the last two decades, with only selected earlier ones considered.

    I suggest the dozen authors get together, buy a sailboat, head for Hawaii. Then re-read their paper. Failing that read this one. Lafferty, K. D., J. W. Porter and S. E. Ford. 2004. Are diseases increasing in the ocean? Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. 35:31-54. It is in their millennium and there is some common sense left around.

  23. “These conditions are also a precursor of a future in which ECEs are increasingly common, since ECEs are episodic, thus providing little or no time for acclimation and evolution,”

    If only the dinosaurs would listen to such profound words of wisdom instead of switching off. Tyrannosaurus Rex would still be with us today.

  24. What Australia dos need is moor water. The North of the country
    gets plenty of rain during the tropical monsoon, and it all ends up in the sea

    So all fresh water must be captured and then used to irrigate the integer, but what about the tiny number of Greens who want to walk by the Wild Rivers. Solution go to New Guinea, plenty up there.

    MJE VK5ELL

  25. Marines and land based life has no problem with temperature deviations. The animals do not have to look for new apartments in other latitudes and longitudes. They have feathers, furs, glossy skin however and if the sensed temperature does go up to 0.2 + – degrees, they simply depart, run, swim, glide to a more comfortable place ..

    Such studies are made in the pastime of under challenged researchers.

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