Tag Archives: El Niño

El Niño and war drive aid agencies to the brink

Governments must act immediately to end conflicts and counter the impact of climate disruption so as to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe affecting millions.

LONDON, 30 December, 2015 – The global humanitarian system, designed to save those at risk of dying because of human or natural disasters, faces unprecedented demands in 2016 from levels of strain it has never before had to face, a leading development agency says.

With more than 10 million people in a single African country expected to need international help next year, Oxfam says the effects of a super El Niño will intensify the pressures on a system already struggling to help people devastated by conflict.

If governments act now, Oxfam says, relief can reach those in the greatest need while there is still time. But if they don’t the crisis will overwhelm it and its counterparts who provide relief, and they will not be able to save those at risk.

Oxfam estimates the El Niño weather system could leave tens of millions of people facing hunger, water shortages and disease next year, and says it is already too late for some regions to avoid a major emergency.

In Ethiopia the government estimates that 10.2 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2016, at a cost of US$1.4 billion, because of a drought which is being exacerbated by El Niño.

Millions short

Oxfam plans to reach 777,000 people there to ensure they have clean water, sanitation and emergency food and livelihood support. But it faces a funding gap of $25m.

Jane Cocking, Oxfam GB’s humanitarian director, says: “Millions of people in places like Ethiopia, Haiti and Papua New Guinea are already feeling the effects of drought and crop failure.

“Aid agencies are stretched responding to the crises in Syria, South Sudan and Yemen. We cannot afford to allow other large-scale emergencies to develop elsewhere. If the world waits to respond to emerging crises in southern Africa and Latin America, we will not be able to cope.”

The UN says the number of people forced to flee their homes by conflict has reached 60 million, a level unknown since World War II.

In some regions the crisis is close. Food shortages are expected to peak in southern Africa in February. South Africa has already designated several provinces as disaster areas because of drought. Malawi’s national food security forecast for 2015–2016 estimates 2.8m people will require humanitarian assistance before March.

“If the world waits to respond to emerging crises in southern Africa and Latin America, we will not be able to cope”

Two million people across Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua already need food aid after drought and erratic rains. With floods expected in Central America in January, the situation is likely to deteriorate further.

Oxfam says governments and donors could be acting now to help people cope with drought or flooding, for example by conserving soil and water, reducing livestock, and ensuring the early treatment of malnutrition. A recent study by the UK government’s department for international development (DfID) found that on average these kinds of measures cut the cost of responding to an emergency by 40% per person.

El Niño is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the eastern Pacific roughly every seven to eight years. It takes its name from the Spanish term for the infant Christ, because it was observed in South America around Christmas. It can affect countries thousands of miles away.

Although El Niño is not directly caused by climate change, Oxfam says, global warming makes it more likely that strong El Niños will develop. And, in turn, El Niños involve the release of a large amount of heat from the Pacific, exacerbating climate change

Oxfam says the effects of this year’s strong El Niño should remind world leaders that they will need to continue to take strong climate action if they are to keep global warming to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This month’s Paris Agreement, reached at the UN climate talks in the French capital, aims to keep the world below 1.5°C.  – Climate News Network

Governments must act immediately to end conflicts and counter the impact of climate disruption so as to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe affecting millions.

LONDON, 30 December, 2015 – The global humanitarian system, designed to save those at risk of dying because of human or natural disasters, faces unprecedented demands in 2016 from levels of strain it has never before had to face, a leading development agency says.

With more than 10 million people in a single African country expected to need international help next year, Oxfam says the effects of a super El Niño will intensify the pressures on a system already struggling to help people devastated by conflict.

If governments act now, Oxfam says, relief can reach those in the greatest need while there is still time. But if they don’t the crisis will overwhelm it and its counterparts who provide relief, and they will not be able to save those at risk.

Oxfam estimates the El Niño weather system could leave tens of millions of people facing hunger, water shortages and disease next year, and says it is already too late for some regions to avoid a major emergency.

In Ethiopia the government estimates that 10.2 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2016, at a cost of US$1.4 billion, because of a drought which is being exacerbated by El Niño.

Millions short

Oxfam plans to reach 777,000 people there to ensure they have clean water, sanitation and emergency food and livelihood support. But it faces a funding gap of $25m.

Jane Cocking, Oxfam GB’s humanitarian director, says: “Millions of people in places like Ethiopia, Haiti and Papua New Guinea are already feeling the effects of drought and crop failure.

“Aid agencies are stretched responding to the crises in Syria, South Sudan and Yemen. We cannot afford to allow other large-scale emergencies to develop elsewhere. If the world waits to respond to emerging crises in southern Africa and Latin America, we will not be able to cope.”

The UN says the number of people forced to flee their homes by conflict has reached 60 million, a level unknown since World War II.

In some regions the crisis is close. Food shortages are expected to peak in southern Africa in February. South Africa has already designated several provinces as disaster areas because of drought. Malawi’s national food security forecast for 2015–2016 estimates 2.8m people will require humanitarian assistance before March.

“If the world waits to respond to emerging crises in southern Africa and Latin America, we will not be able to cope”

Two million people across Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua already need food aid after drought and erratic rains. With floods expected in Central America in January, the situation is likely to deteriorate further.

Oxfam says governments and donors could be acting now to help people cope with drought or flooding, for example by conserving soil and water, reducing livestock, and ensuring the early treatment of malnutrition. A recent study by the UK government’s department for international development (DfID) found that on average these kinds of measures cut the cost of responding to an emergency by 40% per person.

El Niño is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the eastern Pacific roughly every seven to eight years. It takes its name from the Spanish term for the infant Christ, because it was observed in South America around Christmas. It can affect countries thousands of miles away.

Although El Niño is not directly caused by climate change, Oxfam says, global warming makes it more likely that strong El Niños will develop. And, in turn, El Niños involve the release of a large amount of heat from the Pacific, exacerbating climate change

Oxfam says the effects of this year’s strong El Niño should remind world leaders that they will need to continue to take strong climate action if they are to keep global warming to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This month’s Paris Agreement, reached at the UN climate talks in the French capital, aims to keep the world below 1.5°C.  – Climate News Network

Monsoon brings late relief to scorched India

Meteorological researchers in India suspect that climate change is a contributory factor to the changing weather patterns that have caused  the late arrival of the monsoon after a summer of swelteringly dry heat that has broken temperature records

Kolkata, 24 June, 2014 − At last, the rains have come. The summer monsoon arrived in West Bengal last week – almost two weeks later than usual − and brought relief to Kolkata and other cities and states across India that have been enduring an unusually hot summer. A temperature of 41.5˚C was recorded in Kolkata in late May – the highest in 10 years – while temperatures in New Delhi  earlier this month exceeded 43˚C for seven consecutive days, and at one stage reached 48˚C. Other cities and states have had record temperatures, and many lives have been lost due to the heat. Livelihoods have also suffered. Kolkata is famous for its bustling streets and pavements crowded with hawkers, but throughout recent months there has been a deserted look to the city. “We have had to close our stalls earlier than usual and there’s been hardly any customers,” says Asraf Ali, a street hawker. “People from neighbouring districts, who are our main customers, have not been coming into the city due to the terrible heat.”

Absence of humidity

One thing that’s been worrying residents of Kolkata is an unusual period of what is called “dry heat” – an absence of humidity. Locals say this has made daytime conditions even more scorching. Aminul Hasaan, a worker in one of Kolkata’s notoriously polluting leather tanning factories, says: “I was working so hard, and usually I sweat so much. But in the weeks before the monsoon I felt my forehead was always dry. It made me feel sick.” Anshujyoti Das, who works for Express Weather, a private weather research organisation that aims to provide location-specific weather forecasts, says the dry heat indicates certain changes in weather patterns. He says: “We cannot claim that this is the direct result of climate change, but we can’t brush the issue under the carpet. We must conduct studies to ascertain the reasons behind such unusual weather patterns.” One possible cause for the dry conditions is thought to be the absence of the north-westerly storms that usually lash Kolkata and surrounding areas in the run-up to the monsoon. On average, five to seven such storms hit in April and May, but this year only one was recorded. There was also an absence of moisture-laden winds blowing from the south. Due to the conditions, the local government authorities extended summer vacations at 57,000 primary schools and more than 18,000 secondary schools. And the city police in Kolkata decided that traffic constables aged 55 and above should be relieved of their duties because of the extreme heat. Dilip Adak, a senior officer at Kolkata’s traffic department, said: “We try to help [traffic policemen] by providing oral rehydration kits and umbrellas, but often that is not enough.”

Driving up prices

About half of India’s 1.25 billon people are involved in agriculture and are dependent on the summer monsoon rains. The late arrival of the monsoon can have a serious impact, driving up prices of many agricultural goods. The latest report from the Indian Meteorological Department shows that the monsoon has not only arrived late but is less intense than normal, with many areas receiving well below average rainfall. Climate change and the influence of an El Niño – a periodic warming of waters in the western Pacific that affects prevailing trade winds, with serious consequences on both sides of the Pacific and Indian Oceans – are seen as important influences on the behaviour of the monsoon– Climate News Network

• Shiba Nanda Basu is a reporter with The Statesman newspaper, Kolkata, India.

• Additional reporting by Kieran Cooke.

Meteorological researchers in India suspect that climate change is a contributory factor to the changing weather patterns that have caused  the late arrival of the monsoon after a summer of swelteringly dry heat that has broken temperature records

Kolkata, 24 June, 2014 − At last, the rains have come. The summer monsoon arrived in West Bengal last week – almost two weeks later than usual − and brought relief to Kolkata and other cities and states across India that have been enduring an unusually hot summer. A temperature of 41.5˚C was recorded in Kolkata in late May – the highest in 10 years – while temperatures in New Delhi  earlier this month exceeded 43˚C for seven consecutive days, and at one stage reached 48˚C. Other cities and states have had record temperatures, and many lives have been lost due to the heat. Livelihoods have also suffered. Kolkata is famous for its bustling streets and pavements crowded with hawkers, but throughout recent months there has been a deserted look to the city. “We have had to close our stalls earlier than usual and there’s been hardly any customers,” says Asraf Ali, a street hawker. “People from neighbouring districts, who are our main customers, have not been coming into the city due to the terrible heat.”

Absence of humidity

One thing that’s been worrying residents of Kolkata is an unusual period of what is called “dry heat” – an absence of humidity. Locals say this has made daytime conditions even more scorching. Aminul Hasaan, a worker in one of Kolkata’s notoriously polluting leather tanning factories, says: “I was working so hard, and usually I sweat so much. But in the weeks before the monsoon I felt my forehead was always dry. It made me feel sick.” Anshujyoti Das, who works for Express Weather, a private weather research organisation that aims to provide location-specific weather forecasts, says the dry heat indicates certain changes in weather patterns. He says: “We cannot claim that this is the direct result of climate change, but we can’t brush the issue under the carpet. We must conduct studies to ascertain the reasons behind such unusual weather patterns.” One possible cause for the dry conditions is thought to be the absence of the north-westerly storms that usually lash Kolkata and surrounding areas in the run-up to the monsoon. On average, five to seven such storms hit in April and May, but this year only one was recorded. There was also an absence of moisture-laden winds blowing from the south. Due to the conditions, the local government authorities extended summer vacations at 57,000 primary schools and more than 18,000 secondary schools. And the city police in Kolkata decided that traffic constables aged 55 and above should be relieved of their duties because of the extreme heat. Dilip Adak, a senior officer at Kolkata’s traffic department, said: “We try to help [traffic policemen] by providing oral rehydration kits and umbrellas, but often that is not enough.”

Driving up prices

About half of India’s 1.25 billon people are involved in agriculture and are dependent on the summer monsoon rains. The late arrival of the monsoon can have a serious impact, driving up prices of many agricultural goods. The latest report from the Indian Meteorological Department shows that the monsoon has not only arrived late but is less intense than normal, with many areas receiving well below average rainfall. Climate change and the influence of an El Niño – a periodic warming of waters in the western Pacific that affects prevailing trade winds, with serious consequences on both sides of the Pacific and Indian Oceans – are seen as important influences on the behaviour of the monsoon– Climate News Network

• Shiba Nanda Basu is a reporter with The Statesman newspaper, Kolkata, India.

• Additional reporting by Kieran Cooke.

Human activities 'caused record Oz heat'

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Australia’s 2013 summer was the hottest on record only because of human influences on the climate,  meteorologists say. They report that people’s activities raised the likelihood of a record by about five times.

LONDON, 24 March – Australian researchers are in no doubt about what happened there last year. The country’s Bureau of Meteorology is a model of clarity: “2013 was Australia’s warmest year on record. Persistent and widespread warmth throughout the year led to record-breaking temperatures and several severe bushfires. Nationally-averaged rainfall was slightly below average.”

Now two Australian scientists say it is virtually certain that no records would have been broken had it not been for the influence on the climate of humans. They even put a figure on it: people, they say, raised the stakes about five times.

The World Meteorological Organization devotes a section in its report, WMO statement on the status of the global climate in 2013, to the scientists’ peer-reviewed case study, undertaken by a team at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of Melbourne. It was adapted from an article originally published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters,

The study used nine global climate models to investigate whether changes in the probability of extreme Australian summer temperatures were due to human influences.

More frequent extremes ahead

It concluded: “Comparing climate model simulations with and without human factors shows that the record hot Australian summer of 2012/13 was about five times as likely as a result of human-induced influence on climate, and that the record hot calendar year of 2013 would have been virtually impossible without human contributions of heat-trapping gases, illustrating that some extreme events are becoming much more likely due to climate change.”

The report also strikes a warning note: “These types of extreme Australian summers become even more frequent in simulations of the future under further global warming.”.

It says last year was notable as well because it was marked by what scientists call “neutral to weak La Niña ENSO conditions”, which would normally be expected to produce cooler temperatures across Australia, not hotter. El Niño is characterized by unusually warm temperatures and La Niña by unusually cool ones in the equatorial Pacific.

Before 2013 six of the eight hottest Australian summers occurred during El Niño years. The WMO says natural ENSO variations are very unlikely to explain the record 2013 Australian heat.

“There is no standstill in global warming…The laws of physics are non-negotiable”

Introducng the report the WMO secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, said many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change. And he repeated his insistence that claims of a pause in climate change were mistaken.

There is no standstill in global warming. The warming of our oceans has accelerated, and at lower depths. More than 90% of the excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans.

“Levels of these greenhouse gases are at record levels, meaning that our atmosphere and oceans will continue to warm for centuries to come. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.”

The report says 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have all occurred during this century, and each of the last three decades has been warmer than the previous one, culminating with 2001-2010 as the warmest decade on record. It confirms that 2013 tied with 2007 as the sixth warmest year on record, continuing the long-term global warming trend.

Temperatures in many parts of the southern hemisphere were especially warm, and Australia was not the only country to feel the impact: Argentina had its second hottest year on record.- Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Australia’s 2013 summer was the hottest on record only because of human influences on the climate,  meteorologists say. They report that people’s activities raised the likelihood of a record by about five times.

LONDON, 24 March – Australian researchers are in no doubt about what happened there last year. The country’s Bureau of Meteorology is a model of clarity: “2013 was Australia’s warmest year on record. Persistent and widespread warmth throughout the year led to record-breaking temperatures and several severe bushfires. Nationally-averaged rainfall was slightly below average.”

Now two Australian scientists say it is virtually certain that no records would have been broken had it not been for the influence on the climate of humans. They even put a figure on it: people, they say, raised the stakes about five times.

The World Meteorological Organization devotes a section in its report, WMO statement on the status of the global climate in 2013, to the scientists’ peer-reviewed case study, undertaken by a team at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of Melbourne. It was adapted from an article originally published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters,

The study used nine global climate models to investigate whether changes in the probability of extreme Australian summer temperatures were due to human influences.

More frequent extremes ahead

It concluded: “Comparing climate model simulations with and without human factors shows that the record hot Australian summer of 2012/13 was about five times as likely as a result of human-induced influence on climate, and that the record hot calendar year of 2013 would have been virtually impossible without human contributions of heat-trapping gases, illustrating that some extreme events are becoming much more likely due to climate change.”

The report also strikes a warning note: “These types of extreme Australian summers become even more frequent in simulations of the future under further global warming.”.

It says last year was notable as well because it was marked by what scientists call “neutral to weak La Niña ENSO conditions”, which would normally be expected to produce cooler temperatures across Australia, not hotter. El Niño is characterized by unusually warm temperatures and La Niña by unusually cool ones in the equatorial Pacific.

Before 2013 six of the eight hottest Australian summers occurred during El Niño years. The WMO says natural ENSO variations are very unlikely to explain the record 2013 Australian heat.

“There is no standstill in global warming…The laws of physics are non-negotiable”

Introducng the report the WMO secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, said many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change. And he repeated his insistence that claims of a pause in climate change were mistaken.

There is no standstill in global warming. The warming of our oceans has accelerated, and at lower depths. More than 90% of the excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans.

“Levels of these greenhouse gases are at record levels, meaning that our atmosphere and oceans will continue to warm for centuries to come. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.”

The report says 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have all occurred during this century, and each of the last three decades has been warmer than the previous one, culminating with 2001-2010 as the warmest decade on record. It confirms that 2013 tied with 2007 as the sixth warmest year on record, continuing the long-term global warming trend.

Temperatures in many parts of the southern hemisphere were especially warm, and Australia was not the only country to feel the impact: Argentina had its second hottest year on record.- Climate News Network

Human activities ’caused record Oz heat’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Australia’s 2013 summer was the hottest on record only because of human influences on the climate,  meteorologists say. They report that people’s activities raised the likelihood of a record by about five times. LONDON, 24 March – Australian researchers are in no doubt about what happened there last year. The country’s Bureau of Meteorology is a model of clarity: “2013 was Australia’s warmest year on record. Persistent and widespread warmth throughout the year led to record-breaking temperatures and several severe bushfires. Nationally-averaged rainfall was slightly below average.” Now two Australian scientists say it is virtually certain that no records would have been broken had it not been for the influence on the climate of humans. They even put a figure on it: people, they say, raised the stakes about five times. The World Meteorological Organization devotes a section in its report, WMO statement on the status of the global climate in 2013, to the scientists’ peer-reviewed case study, undertaken by a team at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of Melbourne. It was adapted from an article originally published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, The study used nine global climate models to investigate whether changes in the probability of extreme Australian summer temperatures were due to human influences.

More frequent extremes ahead

It concluded: “Comparing climate model simulations with and without human factors shows that the record hot Australian summer of 2012/13 was about five times as likely as a result of human-induced influence on climate, and that the record hot calendar year of 2013 would have been virtually impossible without human contributions of heat-trapping gases, illustrating that some extreme events are becoming much more likely due to climate change.” The report also strikes a warning note: “These types of extreme Australian summers become even more frequent in simulations of the future under further global warming.”. It says last year was notable as well because it was marked by what scientists call “neutral to weak La Niña ENSO conditions”, which would normally be expected to produce cooler temperatures across Australia, not hotter. El Niño is characterized by unusually warm temperatures and La Niña by unusually cool ones in the equatorial Pacific. Before 2013 six of the eight hottest Australian summers occurred during El Niño years. The WMO says natural ENSO variations are very unlikely to explain the record 2013 Australian heat.

“There is no standstill in global warming…The laws of physics are non-negotiable”

Introducng the report the WMO secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, said many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change. And he repeated his insistence that claims of a pause in climate change were mistaken. “There is no standstill in global warming. The warming of our oceans has accelerated, and at lower depths. More than 90% of the excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans. “Levels of these greenhouse gases are at record levels, meaning that our atmosphere and oceans will continue to warm for centuries to come. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.” The report says 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have all occurred during this century, and each of the last three decades has been warmer than the previous one, culminating with 2001-2010 as the warmest decade on record. It confirms that 2013 tied with 2007 as the sixth warmest year on record, continuing the long-term global warming trend. Temperatures in many parts of the southern hemisphere were especially warm, and Australia was not the only country to feel the impact: Argentina had its second hottest year on record.- Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Australia’s 2013 summer was the hottest on record only because of human influences on the climate,  meteorologists say. They report that people’s activities raised the likelihood of a record by about five times. LONDON, 24 March – Australian researchers are in no doubt about what happened there last year. The country’s Bureau of Meteorology is a model of clarity: “2013 was Australia’s warmest year on record. Persistent and widespread warmth throughout the year led to record-breaking temperatures and several severe bushfires. Nationally-averaged rainfall was slightly below average.” Now two Australian scientists say it is virtually certain that no records would have been broken had it not been for the influence on the climate of humans. They even put a figure on it: people, they say, raised the stakes about five times. The World Meteorological Organization devotes a section in its report, WMO statement on the status of the global climate in 2013, to the scientists’ peer-reviewed case study, undertaken by a team at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of Melbourne. It was adapted from an article originally published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, The study used nine global climate models to investigate whether changes in the probability of extreme Australian summer temperatures were due to human influences.

More frequent extremes ahead

It concluded: “Comparing climate model simulations with and without human factors shows that the record hot Australian summer of 2012/13 was about five times as likely as a result of human-induced influence on climate, and that the record hot calendar year of 2013 would have been virtually impossible without human contributions of heat-trapping gases, illustrating that some extreme events are becoming much more likely due to climate change.” The report also strikes a warning note: “These types of extreme Australian summers become even more frequent in simulations of the future under further global warming.”. It says last year was notable as well because it was marked by what scientists call “neutral to weak La Niña ENSO conditions”, which would normally be expected to produce cooler temperatures across Australia, not hotter. El Niño is characterized by unusually warm temperatures and La Niña by unusually cool ones in the equatorial Pacific. Before 2013 six of the eight hottest Australian summers occurred during El Niño years. The WMO says natural ENSO variations are very unlikely to explain the record 2013 Australian heat.

“There is no standstill in global warming…The laws of physics are non-negotiable”

Introducng the report the WMO secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, said many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change. And he repeated his insistence that claims of a pause in climate change were mistaken. “There is no standstill in global warming. The warming of our oceans has accelerated, and at lower depths. More than 90% of the excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans. “Levels of these greenhouse gases are at record levels, meaning that our atmosphere and oceans will continue to warm for centuries to come. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.” The report says 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have all occurred during this century, and each of the last three decades has been warmer than the previous one, culminating with 2001-2010 as the warmest decade on record. It confirms that 2013 tied with 2007 as the sixth warmest year on record, continuing the long-term global warming trend. Temperatures in many parts of the southern hemisphere were especially warm, and Australia was not the only country to feel the impact: Argentina had its second hottest year on record.- Climate News Network

Coral fights back slowly from ocean heating

EMBARGOED until 2301 GMT on Thursday 6 June The good news is that some coral can recover from periodic warming of the oceans: the bad news is it might take too long. LONDON, 6 June – Marine biologists’ worst fears seem to be confirmed: coral colonies take a long time to recover from catastrophic climate events. British and Brazilian biologists report in the Public Library of Science One – better known simply as PLoS One – that the richest habitats of the sea could also be among the most vulnerable to climate change. For more than 17 years, conservationists from Plymouth University in the UK worked with researchers from the Federal University of Bahia in Brazil to analyse the diversity and density of coral reefs and colonies off the coast of South America. Quite early in that 17 year span, there was an  El Niño event. This is a periodic eruption of unprecedented ocean temperatures: it is a natural phenomenon and seems to have happened periodically through recorded human history, distinguished by droughts and wildfires in those places that normally expect high rainfall, and floods on otherwise normally arid coasts. Rising temperatures The 1997-98 event lasted for 18 months and was considered one of the most devastating of all, with sea temperatures reaching a global record. Tropical coral reefs were affected almost everywhere; there were also devastating storms and floods in California and forest fires in Borneo. Corals are peculiarly sensitive to sea temperatures – they tend to bleach if seas get hotter – and many corals live and flourish at near the limits of their tolerance. Coral reefs are also home to an estimated 25% of all marine species, so the loss of a reef has a serious effect on marine biodiversity, as well as on the incomes of local fishermen – and local tourist operators. The British and Brazilian scientists monitored eight species of Scleractinian or stony corals and worked with the Brazilian Meteorological Office to build up a complete picture of the environmental conditions and the way these affected species behavior. Slow recovery During 1998, all the monitored corals showed increased mortality and one species disappeared completely from the reefs for at least seven years. Then, as temperatures dropped, the corals started to grow again. Recent measurements show that the coral colonies have fully recovered, and are now back to the levels recorded before 1998. That’s the good news. The bad news is that recovery took so long. “El Niño events give us an indication of how changing climate affects ecosystems as major changes within the Pacific impact the whole world,” said one of the authors, Martin Attrill of Plymouth’s Marine Institute. “If the reefs can recover quickly, it is probable they can adapt and survive the likely changes in water temperatures ahead of us. However, we found it took 13 years for the coral reef system of Brazil to recover, suggesting they may be very vulnerable to climate-related impacts.” – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 2301 GMT on Thursday 6 June The good news is that some coral can recover from periodic warming of the oceans: the bad news is it might take too long. LONDON, 6 June – Marine biologists’ worst fears seem to be confirmed: coral colonies take a long time to recover from catastrophic climate events. British and Brazilian biologists report in the Public Library of Science One – better known simply as PLoS One – that the richest habitats of the sea could also be among the most vulnerable to climate change. For more than 17 years, conservationists from Plymouth University in the UK worked with researchers from the Federal University of Bahia in Brazil to analyse the diversity and density of coral reefs and colonies off the coast of South America. Quite early in that 17 year span, there was an  El Niño event. This is a periodic eruption of unprecedented ocean temperatures: it is a natural phenomenon and seems to have happened periodically through recorded human history, distinguished by droughts and wildfires in those places that normally expect high rainfall, and floods on otherwise normally arid coasts. Rising temperatures The 1997-98 event lasted for 18 months and was considered one of the most devastating of all, with sea temperatures reaching a global record. Tropical coral reefs were affected almost everywhere; there were also devastating storms and floods in California and forest fires in Borneo. Corals are peculiarly sensitive to sea temperatures – they tend to bleach if seas get hotter – and many corals live and flourish at near the limits of their tolerance. Coral reefs are also home to an estimated 25% of all marine species, so the loss of a reef has a serious effect on marine biodiversity, as well as on the incomes of local fishermen – and local tourist operators. The British and Brazilian scientists monitored eight species of Scleractinian or stony corals and worked with the Brazilian Meteorological Office to build up a complete picture of the environmental conditions and the way these affected species behavior. Slow recovery During 1998, all the monitored corals showed increased mortality and one species disappeared completely from the reefs for at least seven years. Then, as temperatures dropped, the corals started to grow again. Recent measurements show that the coral colonies have fully recovered, and are now back to the levels recorded before 1998. That’s the good news. The bad news is that recovery took so long. “El Niño events give us an indication of how changing climate affects ecosystems as major changes within the Pacific impact the whole world,” said one of the authors, Martin Attrill of Plymouth’s Marine Institute. “If the reefs can recover quickly, it is probable they can adapt and survive the likely changes in water temperatures ahead of us. However, we found it took 13 years for the coral reef system of Brazil to recover, suggesting they may be very vulnerable to climate-related impacts.” – Climate News Network