Ove Hoegh-Guldberg wants us to consider putting sun shades over the Great Barrier Reef, but it begs the question — how much is the reef heating up, and how sure are we that it’s man-made and not natural?
John McLean digs into the data and finds that temperature variations on the reef appear to be closely tied to the ENSO cycle, and that there is little reason to think our SUVs and coal fired plants have anything to do with the rises and falls.
We wonder, as usual, why those paid by taxpayers can’t do the same basic calculations and graphs that the volunteers do online.
Great Barrier Reef sea temperatures – What the data says
Inspired by the absurdity of putting shades on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), I studied the observational data.
We can extract data for the grid cells that cover the reef from NOAA’s “Optimal Interpolation” sea surface temperature data (see here). When that data is averaged across the entire reef we find that the average sea surface temperature along the Great Barrier Reef has an annual cycle very similar to that of Willis Island, a Bureau of Meteorology observation [...]
These people are not good with numbers.
In a paper published in Nature Climate Change today, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, together with Greg Rau of the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California, and Elizabeth McLeod of The Nature Conservancy, say new tactics are needed to save oceans from CO2 emissions.
“It’s unwise to assume we will be able to stabilise atmospheric CO2 at levels necessary to prevent ongoing damage to marine ecosystems,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.
“In lieu of dealing with the core problem – increasing emissions of greenhouse gases – these techniques and approaches could ultimately represent the last resort.”
In addition to using shade cloth over coral reefs, the paper suggests novel marine conservation options, including applying low-voltage electrical current to stimulate coral growth and mitigate mass bleaching; adding base minerals such as carbonates and silicates to the ocean to neutralize acidity; and converting CO2 from land-based waste into dissolved bicarbonates that could be added to the ocean to provide carbon sequestration.
Alistair Hobday Research Scientist – Marine and Atmospheric Research at CSIRO said novel solutions are required. “We need to be mature enough to listen to [...]