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Sam Andrews

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What the GBRMPA chair DID NOT say about my coral bleaching article

In April 2016 I submitted an article to The Marine Professional – a publication of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMarEST) focusing on the mass bleaching event that had hit the Great Barrier Reef at the time. In their September 2016 issue, The Marine Professional featured a comment from a reader, in which he stated that he shared the article with Dr. Russell Reichelt – chair of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. The reader alleged that Dr Reichlet told him that the article “contains some accurate things mixed with half truths and alarmism” .

A number of coral reef, marine biology, and climate scientists have been in touch to express their concern about Dr Reichelt’s alleged comments on my article. After liaising with Dr Reichelt’s office*, I am pleased to be able to set the record straight on what he did – or rather did not say.

*I did contact Dr Reichelt directly, but he replied via his office not directly.

After corresponding with Dr Reichelt’s office to determine where the “half truths and alarmism” were in the article, I have been informed that, whilst Dr Reichelt recalls the article being brought to his attention, he never made any such comments about the article. In fact, he hadn’t even seen the article to comment on in the first place. He has since read the piece and agrees that it is factual.

I have not attempted to contact the reader to find outwhere his comment came from.

I've put a copy of the submitted article on my blog (link below). For those who want to see the article after it has been through their editorial process, please see the June 2016 edition of The Marine Professional.

#greatbarrierreef   #coralreefs   #bleaching   #climatechange  
In April 2016 I submitted an article to The Marine Professional – a publication of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMarEST) focusing on the mass bleaching event…
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I like this, We know climate Change Oceans but we are together conservation and sustainable management Ocean Ecosystems. 
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Mariculture Can Adapt to Climate Change and Ocean Acidification

In this final of a three part series looking at potential climate change and ocean acidification impacts on the mariculture industry I have written for The Fish Site, I focus on adaptations the mariculture* industry could look to make in response to our changing oceans and atmosphere. 

The article is open access (no sign-up required!)

* Mariculture is a subdivision of aquaculture that deals with marine species

#marinescience   #science   #aquaculture   #mariculture   #climatechange   #oceanacidification  
Both climate change and ocean acidification are going to present challenges for the mariculture industry. Even if we were to immediately cease CO2 production, the time lag between alteration of CO2 concentrations and climactic response is not expected to be seen for some 1,000 years after emissions stop.
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Think this, the sun has been in a warming cycle for years; even other planets in this solar system has been warming. Three hundred years ago the Deleware river had ice in the winter, at that time the winters were warming and ice became less in the rivers. Did we have "global warming" then? Global warming is a joke! The real problem is the abominations of sinful man. The Holy Scriptures tells us that because of our great sin against the Living G_D and our fellow man, the rains cannot fall and nature itself will be strange. Those people who reject the Creator will be punished at the end of the age. 
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I've been moving around a lot this past month so apologies for the late posting.  A few weeks ago I had an article taking a brief look at climate change and mariculture* published on The Fish Site.  It is open access so feel free to have a read here  

This is the first of a three part series of articles looking at potential climate change and ocean acidification impacts on the mariculture industry.  

*Mariculture is a subdivision of aquaculture that deals with marine species

Image: This image taken by Bryce Groark in 2012 shows the Velella Mariculture Project,which raised fish in a submersible pen which drifting on deep ocean currents.   Read more about the project here  To see more of Bryce's work, head over here

#marinescience   #science   #aquaculture   #mariculture   #climatechange  
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สวยงามมากค่ะ 😉😉😉
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With rapidly warming ocean regions comes changes in marine species distributions.  Understanding and monitoring these changes is important for managing biosecurity threats as well as management of existing and changing living marine resources.  Detecting range changes in the marine environment is difficult and expensive.  For many species, assessment simply has not taken place.  To combat this data gap and assist managers in directing limited research resources, Dr Lucy Robinson, research fellow at the +Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) and colleagues suggest a new method – rapid screening assessment that uses a variety of sources.

Development of the method, which was recently published in Global Environmental Change , focused on waters off the east coast of Tasmania, and area where over the past 50 years warming has been nearly four times greater than the global average.  Using field data from a number of sources, primarily from the citizen science program +Redmap Australia, 47 species were assessed for range expansion.  Categorising species based on confidence in their range expansion, 8 species – 6 fish species, a lobster and an octopus species -  were categorised with a ‘‘high’’ confidence of potentially extending their ranges.  These species, the researchers argue, are the ones that should be prioritised for impact assessment, with those falling in the “medium” and “low” confidence categories coming after.  

The paper is behind a paywall, but if you have access (or want to buy a copy) you can find it here

Image:  The rainbow cale (Heteroscarus acroptilus) is one of the species assessed in this study.  The assessment had “high” confidence in a potential range extension for this beautiful fish.  Image taken By Nob Tsutaki. You can see more of Nob's work here
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Ako moze malo podataka najnovijih istrazivanja.Hvala.
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Newspaper reports on climate change:  The language used depends on where you live

Effective science communication isn’t that always easy.  Scientists themselves are not necessarily versed in good science communication skills (see an earlier post “What scientists say, and what the public hear”, and reporters don’t necessarily have a solid scientific background in the very thing they are reporting on.  Arguably one of the most pressing issues of our time is that of climate change.  Effective communication is vital.  But here’s the thing.  Despite the increasing evidence for climate change – and crucially climate change as a result of our actions, the media often portrays much more uncertainty among the scientific community than is necessarily there – particularly if those papers are based in America.  

In this paper, Adriana Bailey from the University of Colorado Boulder and fellow researchers analyse four newspapers during 2001 and 2007 - the years in which the +Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their reports on the physical science basis for climate change.  Two of these newspapers where from the USA, two where from Spain.  They analysed reports on climate change from the four newspapers for “hedging language” – where reporters communicated uncertainty surrounding the scientific basis for climate change.  It seems that U.S. newspapers are more likely to use “hedging” language than their Spanish counterparts.  But this isn’t the only thing they discovered.  Across newspapers in both countries, hedging language has been increasing.  

The paper, published in the journal Environmental Communication is open access – have a read of it here

Image: A flash (flood) mob of Oxford, UK residents who want to know “can we talk about climate change now?”.   Photographer unknown.  Taken from

#science #sciencecommunication #openaccess #climatechange
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Ok locking this thread now due to off-the-point and not very nice comments

Sam Andrews

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Where the wild things roam. Dispersal, connectivity, marine protected areas, and my PhD project

In my last post I mentioned that I am starting a PhD. I promised to tell you a little more about what my research will be looking at, so here we go!

The project outline

My research comes very broadly defined already - the work's raison d'être if you like. Here it is:

"Movement and dispersal connects marine populations, allowing restoration of depleted local populations by immigrants that renew genetic diversity. Although Canada’s Oceans Act prioritizes ‘linking Canada’s network of marine protected areas (MPA)’, connectivity has not weighed significantly in MPA network design in Canada. This study will optimize regional marine connectivity among protected areas in the Atlantic region by determining optimal locations for new MPAs and evaluating how commercially important species would be representative in the entire MPA network. To model species distribution based on larval dispersal, fishery pressure, and climate change, we will use 3-D ocean circulation models. Then, based on metapopulation theory, we will develop novel spatial network algorithms to optimise the number and spatial connectivity between MPAs under current and future scenarios of climate and fishery pressure that may alter larval supply"

Sounds complex? Yep, for me too.

Basically the study is saying, if we think about movement of marine animals, particularly larval (baby) ones, where would we put protection in the ocean? With some exceptions, you don’t tend to find all individuals of a species living in one single place. Instead you will find groups of individuals of the same species - populations - living in different places. These populations don't necessarily exist in isolation, with movement of individuals linking populations that are in different parts of the sea. Sometimes there is a lot of movement, sometimes a little. Sometimes a population will be connected to lots of others, sometimes to only a few. Sometimes animals only move when they are of a certain age.

When we are dealing with populations that are connected together, if we lose one or a few of these populations, you could put the whole lot at risk (not enough babies being produced, genetic diversity drops, and a few other things. I'll explain why these are troublesome in a later post). By thinking about where these populations are, and how they are connected, we could improve the survival chances of animal populations - both now and under future climate change (climate change is important because it will alter where different populations are located, and how they will move around).

Whilst this research focuses on marine protected area networks, the work can be applied to all sorts of different management measures, such as those that relate to fisheries, and even thinking about invasive species (e.g. where they are likely to appear, how many could come). The research will also add to our knowledge about the marine environment and areas of science including (but not limited to) spatial ecology (very broadly, why things are where they are), movement ecology (again very broadly, where things move to, and why), and metapopulation (also very broadly, where individuals or groups of individuals in a population are separated over an area).

The research is part of a larger, Canadian-wide Project

If we want to achieve sustainable use of the ocean, and afford other species some rights and protection, then we can't do it alone. Working together is necessary. What is really nice about this particular piece of research is that is just one piece in a larger puzzle that is the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network.

The Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe) is a partnership of 15 Canadian universities and several Canadian Federal Government Departments including Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). Yep - that’s a fair few people! The overarching aim is to address the need for scientific guidelines for conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity resources. The network projects have two broad but very interlinked themes: (1) Ecosystem characteristics that define the resilience and capacity of Canada’s oceans to recover or respond to management strategies such as Marine protected area networks, closures (e.g. for fishery management), or restoration, and (2) Identification of key stressors (things that "mess" with the environment), including cumulative impacts (e.g. what if we pollute the sea AND the sea gets warmer AND…. ) that alter biodiversity, different natural process, and services (stuff we get from the ocean - like fish to eat). My project falls under the first theme. Because this project is closely tied to DFO, there are also scientific deliverables too. Yep - the science done in this network should directly help Canada take better care of the ocean… hopefully…

Just in case you were thinking there wasn't enough connectivity surrounding my connectivity project, my particular project is connected at a much smaller level in the overall network. There is another PhD candidate working on a similar project but for the Pacific coast of Canada. There is also a Post Doctorate Fellow working on fancy algorithms to help make our models work. I've also secured some scientists from the Federal Government's Department of Fisheries and Oceans on my committee (more on what a committee is and how it works later) from both Atlantic and Pacific Canada, which should hopefully help with ensuring the work is relevant and useful to them.

Image : Canada sits right there at the top, below that white mass (hello Greenland and the Arctic!), and above the United States of America. Look how much ocean surrounds it! The rendering was created with Globe Master Android game. For the globe texture, Whole world - land and oceans composite image was used, created by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (public domain). Credit Dan Markeye/Flickr. Licence: CC-BY 3.0
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Sam Andrews

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Ocean acidification spells trouble for mariculture

In this second of a three part series looking at potential climate change and ocean acidification impacts on the mariculture industry I have written for The Fish Site, I focus on ocean acidification impacts - some of which have already been experienced.

The article is open access (no sign-up required!)

* Mariculture is a subdivision of aquaculture that deals with marine species

#marinescience   #science   #aquaculture   #mariculture   #climatechange   #oceanacidification  
July 2015 saw atmospheric CO2 reach average monthly level of 401.30 parts per million, a huge increase on levels recorded in 1959 – the first year with full high precision instrument data measurements – of 315.97 ppm, and a vast increase on pre-industrial levels of around 280 ppm.
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We cant accepect this kind of idea because its can make our oceano be dirty and automaticall will afect our fish and we also.
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With ever-warming waters, some European fish are on the move

We all have our favourite types of environment and weather.  Some love those warm, sunny days spent on a beach of golden sands.  Some love those rainy days in the forest, when everything glistens with the raindrops.  Some love nothing more than a cold crisp day in snowy mountains.  We humans are lucky.  We can not only survive but enjoy a wealth of different environmental conditions.  Many other species are not so adaptive.  In the oceans some creatures live in the seabed itself, others on top.  Some may stay in the water column dominated by a particular type of habitat like a kelp forest, whilst others roam into a variety of different locations throughout their lives.  Then there are the varying conditions of the ocean itself.  Some areas are generally calm whilst others may experience a lot of movement.  Salinity levels also vary, as does oxygen, as does temperature.  Actually temperature – as many a fisher will know - is a super important driver of species distribution.  There are a few reasons for this.  First, unlike us, most fish do not have the ability to control their own body temperature.  Their internal body temperature reflects that of the environment they are in.  The second primary reason relates to food.  If the major food of a fish – be it plant (phytoplankton) or animal – changes its abundance (how many) or its distribution (where it is), then the fish may follow.

The world's seas are getting warmer.  On a global scale, measurements indicate that between 1971 and 2010 the upper 75 meters of the ocean has warmed by 0.11⁰C.  Doesn’t sound like much but already numerous scientific studies as well data garnered from traditional ecological knowledge and those working in the oceans are pointing to shifts in some – but not all - species distributions.  Pelagic fish – those who spend their lives in the water column, seems to be on the move more than benthic fish, who spend their lives on or near the sea floor.  Then there is location.  The on a global scale the ocean surface may have warmed by 0.11⁰C, but it has not uniformly warmed by 0.11⁰C.  Twenty major global warming hotspots – areas in which the ocean is warming much more rapidly than the average – have been identified in the world.  One of those hotspots is the North Sea.  The North Sea is, like all seas, home to pelagic fish… pelagic fish that aren’t just ecologically important, but commercially.   Between 2000 and 2011 six such species - European sprat (Sprattus sprattus), Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus), Atlantic horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus), European pilchard (Sardina pilchardus) and European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) made up an average 39.1% of the 8,965,617 tonnes of fish harvested each year from the Northeast Atlantic.  These guys are also known as ‘forage fish’ and make up key positions in the Northeast Atlantic marine food web.  And because of their fairly quick lifecycles, they are among those most likely to respond to changes in water temperature.  It appears that they have done just that.

Ignasi Montero-Serra from the University of Bristol and University of Barcelona, and collaborators didn’t use and special monitoring techniques to uncover the changing distributions of these six key fish species.  Instead they used data that was already available.  To get a grasp of where species are – and indeed some key prey species, they used Fisheries-independent data from International Bottom Trawl Surveys collected between 1965 and 2012.  Wait a minute… bottom trawl you say?  These fish are pelagic right?!  This is true, but the authors note that the data collected by these surveys are reliable indicators*.  The UK Meteorological Office Hadley Centre’s Global Ocean Surface Temperature (GISST) databank was able to provide them with monthly mean sea surface temperatures for the same time, and the same areas the fish data came from.  Actually this study claims to be the first to be carried out over such a long time scale, and such a large area – both important factors for assessing changes in species distributions.  Put sea surface temperature, prey and the fish distribution data together, do some fancy calculations and you have information on how the six fish species distributions have changed over time – and how that correlates to any changes in average temperature and prey distribution.

Each species had its own unique distribution – and change in distribution over time.  Prey distribution does matter, but more important is sea surface temperature itself.  Generally, it seems that the sea surface temperature of the previous year had a strong influence on species occurrence.  In effect this means temperature matters for reproduction and larval survival, and reproduction and larval survival matter for abundance and distribution.  Warmer waters, the researchers note, can increase growth and metabolic rates of the early stages of fish, but it also means the larvae need to eat more – and thus are at greater risk of starvation (the risk of starvation – and indeed being eaten – is already very high for larval fish).  More specifically, it seems that sardines, anchovies and pilchards in particular are moving increasingly more north, occupying the higher temperature environments that are now found there.  For fishers in the south that target these guys, this shift is bad news.  Not all species changed latitudinal distribution though.  European sprat, Atlantic house mackerel, and Atlantic mackerel didn’t really shift (but did show changes in abundance with copepod blooms).

For more northerly fishers who may want to fish sardines, anchovies, and pilchards this shift may be good news.   Take home message for the North Sea fishing community… make sure you – and your community as a whole – can adapt to these changing distributions.  The source of your income may have moved on. 

* For those who are interested, have a look at the paper for a link – which is at the bottom of this post - to the survey methods

The paper was published in the journal Global Change Biology and has been made open access by the authors (hurrah!).  Have a read of it here

Image: A school of European pilchard (Sardina pilchardus) being eyed up as a meal by some hungry cetaceans.  The image was found on  Original photographer unclear.

#marinescience #sciencesunday #fish #climatechange #oceanwarming
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very cool

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Rivers and streams on the Greenland ice sheet a major contributing factor to global sea level rise

Meltwater runoff from the Greenland ice sheet, which covers 80% of the country, is a major contributing factor to global sea level rise.  The processes by which melting water reaches the ocean is still a subject of research, with most studies focusing on large chunks of ice that break off the ice sheet forming icebergs, or on large lakes which can abruptly drain.  Recently, a study lead by Dr Laurence Smith, Professor and Chair of Geography, and Professor of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences at University of California revealed that the network of 523 rivers and streams flowing on top of the Greenland ice sheet may be draining as much – if not more meltwater through sinkholes, than the other two processes combined.  

The research team utilised remote sensing, remotely controlled boats equipped with specially designed instruments, and helicopter flyovers to map the network of rivers and streams, and collect data on water flow.  Alongside the importance of rivers and networks, the study also indicated that discharge from the Isortoq River, one of the largest rivers on the ice sheet, is lower than expected given the amount of water flowing down it.  Where and how this ‘missing’ water is being captured under the surface is not yet understood, but is contrary to models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which assumes all meltwater goes into the ocean.  The study will help researchers refine climate models, ultimately developing better global sea level rise projections.

The paper which was published in PNAS is open access - you can read it through here:

Image:  Supraglacial river networks represent an important high-capacity mechanism for conveying large volumes of meltwater across the Greenland Icesheet surface.  Taken direct from the paper.  

#science   #scienceeveryday   #climatechange   #sealevelrise   #greenlandicesheet   #openaccess  
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We know that our climate isn’t static.  Over the billions of years our planet has been rotating around the sun, it has undergone periods when it is very very cold (glacial periods) and periods when things are warmer (interglacial periods).  We are sitting in an interglacial period right now.  This one is called the Holocene, and is one of 5 major interglacials that scientists have identified.  Today technology is allowing us to record all sorts of data – both at a global scale and at a local scale – about the weather and climate.  As this technology improves, so does the quality and quantity of information we can capture.  Even before technologies such as satellite remote sensing were around, people have kept long-term records of the weather they have experienced.  These records can be used to reconstruct the historical climate.  

But what about measuring oceanographic variables?  Today we have an array of tech to do this for us – like satellites, buoys, and autonomous vehicles providing all sorts of data on global and more fine-scale oceanographic conditions.  Before this technology?  Back in the 1700’s Benjamin Franklin (yep – one of the ‘founding fathers of the United States’ – he was a scientist too) had to use much simpler methods…dipping a thermometer into the ocean and recording the readings he got.  Franklin’s experiment is one of the earliest empirically-derived sea surface temperature datasets we have.  These readings are very much a one-shot deal – not something we can use in isolation to figure out what the average sea surface temperature was during that time, at the location he took them.  So how can we find out what historic ocean-climate was?  Turns out that there are all sorts of clever ways.  Here’s a couple of examples from science papers that have come out over the past couple of weeks.

Foraminifera are pretty awesome.  The single-celled critters that make up the order foraminifera are found in all marine environments, and have been pootling about since the Cambrian period (that’s around 541–485 million years ago).  Whilst they vary in size and shape, foraminifera all have something quite important to paleooceanographers…a shell.  Shells are constructed from calcite, but also trap impurities from the water.  It was one of these impurities in particular that +Oscar Branson  of the University of Cambridge in the UK, and his fellow researchers from the US and Japan were interested in for their study – magnesium.  As the shells of these tiny critters grow, the magnesium forms growth rings (rather like tree rings), and these bands appear for every day of that individual’s life.  So what’s the link with ocean temperature you ask?  Well it seems that the level of magnesium in these bands is related to water temperature.  The more magnesium a band has, the warmer the ocean was where that critter happened to be.  When these foraminifera die, they end up on the sea floor (or stay there if they are benthic), handily leaving their shells behind with those magnesium bands stored.  So, take a core sample (the different layers from these cores can be dated), take out the shells and bobs-your-uncle you have a record of ocean temperature for the life of those individuals.  And because these guys have been around for quite some time, their collective remains can give us an indication of what the ocean temperature were like in the very very…very distant past.  Sounds simple right?  Well it’s not quite that easy.  Each one of these bands is tiny.  On the nanometer-scale tiny, and not really visible with standard microscopes.  This was a job for the Advanced Light Source synchrotron - a huge particle accelerator that “produces light in the x-ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum that is one billion times brighter than the sun” (  

Pretty cool right!  Well so is the next paper.

Plankton aren’t the only ‘paleoproxies’ that are used for figuring out what the temperature of the oceans used to be.  Shayne McGregor of the +The University of New South Wales in Australia and colleagues recently reconstructed ENSO over the past 600 years.  ENSO – the El Nino Southern Oscillation – is the variation of sea surface temperature and surface air pressure over the tropical east Pacific.  You’ll most likely have heard of El Nino and La Nina years.  ENSO has a huge impact on weather patterns.  If you live on the east coast of Australia, you may be more familiar with how this can play out – cyclone activity, flooding, droughts….  The strength and frequency of ENSO events shows multi-decadal variability, but understanding the long-term changes in frequency and magnitude of these events is a little more tricky.  That’s because the technology to measure these events in the detail needed hasn’t been around long enough (around 150 years).  So to figure out anything past this, we need to use these paleoproxies.  For historic El Nino sea surface temperature data, these proxies tend to come in 3 flavours – tree rings, sediment cores and corals.  When scientists have tried to reconstruct ENSO patterns, they usually combine each individual proxy and then figure out what ENSO was doing.  Makes sense right?  The problem is that the reconstructions from these proxies don’t always line up perfectly, with a number of discrepancies between the dates of the measurements, causing issues with combining them together.  What Shayne and the rest of the team did is perhaps a little less intuitive.  They calculated ENSO activity based on each proxy individually, and then combined those activities to provide a reconstruction.  It seems to have worked well.  The team ran a number of simulations and compared it to more the recent measurements of ENSO.  These measurements have been taken from oceanographic monitoring instruments, so we can safely say they are pretty robust, and a great candidate for testing historical models against.  So what has this more robust reconstruction of ENSO told us?  Well it seems that if we look over the past 600 years – from the 1400s up to 2009, the most active 30 -year period was between 1979 – 2009.  These results aren’t the result of researchers arbitrarily choosing a 30-year window just to ‘show something’ either.  The 30-year sliding window was chosen to focus on that multi-decadal variability.  

Well it’s all very fascinating stuff this ‘what the ocean used to be like’ but…so what?  Well if we can reconstruct how the oceans used to be, and figure out how systems (biological, ecological, physical, chemical…) responded to those conditions then we can improve the predictions we make about our future climate.  This knowledge in turn can help us mitigate – and crucially adapt to – our ever-changing environment.

The paper by Shayne McGregor and co looking at ENSO variations was published in the journal Climate of the Past .  The paper is open access – take a look at it here 10.5194/cp-9-2269-2013 
The paper by Oscar Branson and co looking at the foraminifera shells is published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters .  This paper is also open access (hurrah!)  You can find it here 10.1016/j.epsl.2013.09.037

If you fancy finding out a little more about foraminifera, UCL have produced a nifty little site which goes into all sort of details – check it out here   The Natural history Museum in the UK have also put some really cool foraminifera posts up on their Micropaleaeontology blog – have a flick through here

Image: Baculogypsina sphaerulata (Starsand Foraminifera) from the Great Barrier Reef.  Image taken by Martin Langer of  the University of Bonn

#oceanography   #science   #sciencesunday   #climatechange  
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Climate has changed back and forth naturally over the history of this planet. Just another change we will have to get used to. But on another note things are about to alter for this planet on a massive scale and all peoples will be forever changed. This will happen within the next 5yrs maybe even 2yrs. The poles are about to rotate 26-28degrees. 
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