NASA/Kathryn Hansen via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY 2.0
NASA/Kathryn Hansen via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY 2.0

Experts Predict Widespread Ocean Warming by 2050

NASA/Kathryn Hansen via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY 2.0
NASA/Kathryn Hansen via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY 2.0

A study published this week in the journal Nature Communications finds that climate change will affect up to 86 percent of the world’s oceans within the next few decades—and that it’s not too late to do something about it.

The Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) is a large-scale collaboration by atmospheric and climate scientists around the world. The fifth phase of the project, which ended in 2014, yielded 20 different models, or simulations, of our planet’s climate in the past, present, and future.

For the latest study, researchers combined data from 12 of the 20 CMIP models, focusing on how climate change could affect the oceans.

The results were grim. If humans proceed with business as usual and continue to degrade the environment, the researchers say, we can expect to see significant warming and acidification in more than four-fifths of the ocean.

On a global scale, that will mean melting ice caps and rising sea levels. It’ll also affect millions of marine species, including those central to human diet and industry. Changing waters will force species from plankton to polar bears to adapt, migrate, or die.

Migration will not be an option for coldwater species, lead author Stephanie Henson of the British National Oceanography Centre told Reuters. “Arctic fish don’t have anywhere to go.”

“How individual species will fare, or how the ecosystem as the sum of its parts will fare, is poorly understood,” the authors write. “What is clear however is that there are likely to be winners and losers in the future ocean.”

But it wasn’t all bad news. These predictions are based on a future in which humans have failed to protect the planet. It’s not too late, the researchers say, for us to do better.

“The exposure of marine ecosystems to climate change-induced stress can be drastically reduced via climate mitigation measures,” they write. The more steps we take to mitigate climate change, the more time we’ll be able to give marine species to adapt and survive.

Heatwaves Can Affect Your Ability to Think Clearly and Make Decisions

Dehydration and body odor aren't the only things to hate about oppressive heat. According to new research reported by The Guardian, living through a heatwave without relief hampers your ability to think quickly and clearly.

For their study, published recently in PLOS Medicine, researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health tested the mental performance of 44 students during a heatwave in Boston in 2016. Roughly half the students were living in newer dorm buildings with central AC, with the other half living in older dorms without it.

Over 12 days, researchers had participants take cognition tests on their phones immediately after waking up. The students living without AC took about 13 percent longer to respond to the questions and their answers were about 13 percent less accurate.

The results indicate that even if high temperatures don't pose an immediate threat to someone's health, they can impair them in other ways. “Most of the research on the health effects of heat has been done in vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, creating the perception that the general population is not at risk from heat waves,” Jose Guillermo Cedeño-Laurent, research fellow at Harvard Chan School and lead author of the study, said in a statement. “Knowing what the risks are across different populations is critical considering that in many cities, such as Boston, the number of heat waves is projected to increase due to climate change.”

Summers are gradually becoming hotter and longer in Boston—a trend that can be observed throughout most of the rest of the world thanks to the rising temperatures caused by human activity. In regions with historically cold winters, like New England, many buildings, including Harvard's oldest dorms, are built to retain heat, which can extend the negative effects of a heat wave even as the weather outside starts to cool. If temperatures continue to rise, we'll have to make a greater effort to keep people cool indoors, where American adults spend 90 percent of their time.

Our thinking isn't the only thing that suffers in the stifling heat. A study published last year found that hot weather does indeed make you crankier—which may not be as bad as bombing a test, but it's not exactly not fun for the people around you.

[h/t The Guardian]

Scientists Have Discovered Massive Canyons Beneath Antarctica's Ice Sheets

Scientists have been studying Antarctica for over a century, but details as basic as what it looks like beneath all that ice have largely remained a mystery. Now, Earther reports that a team of scientists from Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and the UK has published the most comprehensive data yet on the continent's subglacial topography near the South Pole.

As they report in the journal Geophysical Research Letters [PDF], central Antarctica is home to three massive canyons, one of which is deeper than the Grand Canyon and nearly as wide at some points. The researchers made the discovery by flying a plane with radar over the South Pole, a spot that isn't covered by imaging satellites. They expected to find mountains beneath the ice sheet, but the expansive chasms they detected between the mountains came as a surprise.

Of the three canyons, two hadn't been documented previously. The largest, the Foundation Trough, measures 218 miles long, up to 22 miles wide, and 6260 feet deep, putting it up there with the planet's most impressive canyons.

The discoveries are significant on their own, but the real purpose behind the research is to better understand how the West and East Antarctic Ice Sheets will react to rising temperatures. Human-induced climate change has destabilized some of the continent's ice, and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet especially has been slowly crumbling into the sea. If patterns continue, the coastal glaciers supporting the massive ice sheets could collapse, causing sea levels to rise a minimum of 10 feet. If this happens, the canyons could be a major factor in the speed and direction of ice flow from central Antarctica to the coast.

The event isn't likely to happen in the near future, but further study of Antarctica's topography will allow scientists to better predict when it might.

[h/t Earther]


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