You do not have to have the end of the world to use some common sense. If a storm is predicted that could knock out your power Check out the advise in about.
You do not have to have the end of the world to use some common sense. If a storm is predicted that could knock out your power Check out the advise in about.
BOSTON – A plan by the Weather Channel to name noteworthy winter storms has hit its competitors in the commercial forecasting industry like a face full of sleet.
It is almost arrogant to say that everybody else in the industry and science is going to follow their lead and use these random names they came up with, said Tom Downs, a forecaster at Weather 2000 Inc. in New York. It seems they have gone off the wall, if you will. It has no scientific merit and it could be very confusing to the public.
Clearing up confusion is part of the reason the Atlanta-based Weather Channel gives for drawing up a list of names for the 2012-13 season that includes Brutus, Draco, Iago, Kahn, Q and Rocky.
Winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophic losses, behind hurricanes and tornadoes, the Insurance Information Institute of New York said. The systems caused about $25 billion in insured losses from 1990 to 2009, according to the institutes website.
One of the worst storms on record, a blizzard in March 1888, dropped as much as 50 inches of snow in the Northeast and killed 400 people, according to a National Weather Service list.
Naming systems will help create public awareness of a threat and help alert specific areas that they may be hit, said Bryan Norcross, a Weather Channel spokesman.
The Weather Service doesnt have an official opinion about private weather enterprise products and services, and only rates a storms ferocity when its over.
A winter storms impact can vary from one location to another, and storms can weaken and redevelop, making it difficult to define where one ends and another begins, the Weather Service said in a statement emailed by Susan Buchanan, an agency spokeswoman.
The American Meteorological Society, which represents 14,000 forecasters across the U.S., doesnt have an opinion on the idea because this just came up a few days ago and for the society to react to it, we cant act that fast, said Keith Seitter, executive director.
Seitter said among the informal feedback he has received from members is a wish that the Weather Channel had conferred with the industry as a whole.
There is a sense that the Weather Channel would have been better served if they had spoken to other people, Seitter. They just sprung it out there. From a business point of view, that is their right.
The idea for naming storms sprang out of last years October storm that left more than 2.3 million customers without power from Maryland to New England. The Weather Channel named the storm Snowtober, a moniker that was picked up by other media outlets and became an easy way to describe the event and drive awareness of it, Norcross said.
The channel is owned by a consortium of NBC Universal, Bain Capital and the Blackstone Group, Norcross said. Its seen in more than 100 million U.S. households and has a website that receives 62 million unique views a month, according to a company statement.
The Weather Channel didnt include the Weather Service in its plans because of differing timeframes for making decisions, and didnt believe the Meteorological Society was in the business of setting policy, Norcross said.
AccuWeather Inc., a competitor of the Weather Channel, has rejected the idea of naming the storms.
Weather forecasting is based on a scientific foundation, said Joel Myers, founder and president of AccuWeather in State College, Pa. To cheapen it in this way for a PR stunt concerns me because in the publics mind it may end up reducing the publics perception of the credibility of meteorologists.
Myers said AccuWeather, which provides forecasts to 900 newspapers and TV and radio stations, has considered naming winter storms in the past and has always dropped the idea because the company decided there wasnt a way to develop criteria that would make sense.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Northwestern failed its first big test of the season.
A week after returning to the Top 25 for the first time since 2008, the No. 24 Wildcats wasted an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter, giving up three touchdowns in the final 9:49 in a 39-28 loss Saturday to Penn State.
Quarterback Matt McGloin had the go-ahead score on a 5-yard touchdown run with 2:37 left after earlier throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to Allen Robinson as the receiver dragged along the back line of the end zone.
Michael Zordich had a two-point conversion run to get Penn State within 28-25 before McGloins scramble across the front corner of the end zone sent the homecoming weekend crowd into a frenzy.
It was tough, safety Ibraheim Campbell said about the fourth quarter. Weve just got to find a way to make a play. Guys were out there for a while. The offense was out there the same as us. Weve just got to find a way to focus in, make a play and get off the field.
Penn State (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) then stuffed Northwesterns last-gasp drive after Trevor Siemians pass for Kain Colter was tipped away on fourth down to help hand the Wildcats their first loss of 2012.
Things looked so good for Northwestern (5-1, 1-1) after Venric Marks 75-yard punt return for a touchdown with 50 seconds left in the third quarter demoralized the blue-and-white faithful for a 28-17 lead.
Mark also ran for a score and finished with 72 yards on 13 carries.
The Wildcats couldnt get to 6-0 for the first time in 50 years. Even worse for Northwestern, the loss continued a disturbing trend of second-half shortfalls against Penn State. The Wildcats had halftime leads in two of the previous three years before falling to the Nittany Lions.
This year, they couldnt hang on to an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter.
We didnt get their B game today; we got their A game, and we were toe to toe, jaw to jaw with them all the way to the end when we really lost it, Fitzgerald said.
Adding to his reputation as a bold play-caller, Penn State coach Bill OBrien decided to go for two after Robinsons fourth-quarter score. Zordich rumbled up the middle to get the Nittany Lions within three.
WISCONSIN 31, ILLINOIS 14: In Madison, Wis., Joel Stave threw two touchdown passes and the Badgers running game showed signs of life in defeating the Illini.
Stave threw for 254 yards for the Badgers (4-2, 1-1), who rushed for 173 yards – 96 coming in the fourth quarter.
The offensive struggles of the Illini (2-4, 0-2) continued, with quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase the only positive. He finished with 178 yards passing and 84 rushing as Illinois gained 287 yards overall.
Scheelhaase ran for a 5-yard touchdown in the first quarter and threw for an 8-yard touchdown to Ryan Lankford to make it 24-14 late in the game.
But Jared Abberdaris fielded the ensuing onside kick, and Montee Ball scored his second touchdown of the game to snuff any hopes of an Illinois comeback.
Ball has 59 rushing TDs in his career, nine shy of the NCAA record. He finished with 19 carries for 116 yards.
Expect a damp drive home Friday evening as the work week ends much like it began, with heavy downpours in Orlando and elsewhere around Central Florida.
A wet weekend is ahead, but a change is coming next week.
Preliminary precipitation summary as of 8:15 p.m. from the National Weather Service
Update from the NWS:
Light showers…the remnants of earlier storms will dissipate through midnight over interior areas. Some isolated showers a few of which will contain occasional lightning strikes will affect the Martin and Saint Lucie county coastline. There will be a few locations along the Brevard and Volusia county coasts that can see a brief shower or storm overnight. Rain amounts of a tenth to a quarter of an inch will be possible in the heavier showers.
Update from the NWS:
Scattered slow moving storms have produced some locally heavy rain from Lake Okeechobee north to Lake Kissimmee. Showers and isolated storms will steadily decrease in coverage through 9 pm. Locations near Okeechobee to Fort Pierce and the Kissimmee area will see brief showers with rain amounts of a tenth to a quarter of an inch possible. Elsewhere, Isolated showers and lightning storms will be possible during the evening. The main hazard will be occasional cloud to ground lightning.
Significant Weather Advisory issued for NW Marion County for strong wind, small hail and lightning until 6:45 p.m.
At 5:53 p.m., NWS readar indicated strong thunderstorms centered 7 miles west of Micanopy, moving southeast at 10 mph. These strong thunderstorms will also affect areas around Micanopy through 6:45 p.m. Hail up to three quarter inch in diameter, excessive cloud-to-ground lightning and gusty winds of 45 to 55 mph can be expected along with possible minor damage. Heavy rainfall will produce ponding of water on roadways and minor flooding of low-lying areas.
Significant Weather Advisory issued for southwestern Marion County for strong winds, small hail and excessive lightning until 6 p.m.
At 5:19 p.m., NWS radar indiated strong thunderstorms centered 3 miles east of Dunnellon, moving east at 10 mph. These strong storms will also affect areas around Romeo, Rainbow Lakes Extates, Dunnellon and Ocala Airport through 6 p.m. Hail up to three quarter inch in diameter, excessive cloud-to-ground lightning and gusty winds of 45 to 55 mph can be expected along with possible minor damage. Heavy rainfall will produce ponding of water on roadways and minor flooding of low-lying areas.
Significant Weather Advisory issued for northwestern Marion County for strong winds, small hail and excessive lightning until 5:30 p.m.
At 4:42, NWS radar indicated strong thundestorms centered 5 miles east of Romeo, stationary. These strong thunderstorms will also affect areas around Romeo, Rainbow Lakes Extates, Reddick, Ocala Airport, Ocala, Lowell and Flemington through 5:30 p.m. Hail up to three quarter inch in diameter, excessive cloud-to-ground lightning and gusty winds of 45 mph to 55 mph can be expected along with possible minor damage. Heavy rainfall will produce ponding of water on roadways and minor flooding of low-lying areas.
Significant Weather Advisory issued for NW Flagler County for strong wind, small hail, lightning until 4 p.m. Heavy storms in Andalusia.
The East Coast sea breeze began to move inland late Friday afternoon, producing scattered showers and thunderstorms over the interior counties. Gusty winds, frequent lightning and torrential rain are likely in storms as they continue into the evening.
Showers and thunderstorms will continue through the late evening hours. Eventually, inland areas will quiet down by midnight, but we will keep a chance for rain in the outlook through the overnight hours.
Coastal showers will be possible overnight along the coast, where light onshore winds continue and areas of fog are likely to develop again over the interior counties.
The overall weather pattern has not changed much since Thursday, and we will continue to look for higher than normal temperatures and rain chances into the weekend.
Some very gradual drying of the atmosphere may occur on Sunday, but we will still keep a chance for showers and storms in the forecast for both Saturday and Sunday.
By Monday, more significant drying; but little cooling, is expected over east Central Florida, so we will see much lower rain chances in the forecast for the beginning of next week.
Low temperatures Saturday morning will be in the lower to middle 70s, with lots of humidity making it feel very sticky for this time of year.
This weekend, onshore winds continue and become a tad more southerly as another front moves into the Southeast. Each day, afternoon scattered showers and storms will be possible, and temperatures will be slightly above normal. Expect daytime highs in the upper 80s to near 90 degrees, with overnight lows in the low to middle 70s.
Heading into next week, the weak front clears the region, ushering in drier, less humid air. No cooldown is expected as onshore winds quickly develop, but the lower humidity will make the days more comfortable. Expect rain chances to be at or below 20 percent for much of the work week.
Heavy snow brought slippery roads, low visibility and power outages to the northern Red River Valley Thursday morning.
The Minnesota State Patrol blamed the near-blizzard conditions for the head-on collision that killed a woman in the Thief River Falls area.
Residents in various parts of the valley lost power for several hours early in the morning.
Preliminary numbers from the National Weather Service indicated 1 to 4 inches fell in eastern North Dakota, from Pembina to Fargo. Grand Forks received 3.5 inches.
Northwest Minnesota received heavier snow, from 1 to 8 inches in most places. Areas near Badger, Minn., received 12 to 14 inches.
The weather service’s winter storm warning remained in effect until 1 a.m. today for the northern Red River Valley and until 10 a.m. farther east, though the agency expected snowfall to taper off Thursday night.
“We might see a flurry or some raindrops but most of it will hit east of us,” said Vince Goden, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Grand Forks office.
Winds of 20 to 30 mph, with higher gusts, were expected to continue this morning.
Visibility was reduced to near whiteout early Thursday morning with blustery winds driving a mix of rain and snow. The accumulating slush made roads hazardous.
In northeast North Dakota, the state issued travel alerts, urging drivers to stay off the road unless they must drive. In northwest Minnesota, there were no travel advisories.
Outside of Grand Forks, there were multiple reports of vehicles in ditches. A section of Belmont Road, a key north-south route in town, was temporarily blocked after snow caused big branches to snap off of trees.
In the Thief River Falls area, Madonna Lallier, 63, of Plummer, Minn., died on state Highway 59 when her northbound PT Cruiser collided head on with a southbound Dodge Ram pickup, according to the state patrol.
Lallier was taken to Sanford Hospital in Thief River Falls, where she was pronounced dead. Elwin Ness, 54, of Middle River, Minn., was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Sanford.
The state patrol is still investigating, but it says slippery roads may have contributed to the accident.
The snow also caused problems for those staying indoors, cutting off power in several communities.
“Wet, heavy snow is sticking to the lines,” said Dan Schaefer, Nodak Electric Cooperative’s line superintendent. “With the weight on it, it’s pulling lines down.”
About 2,000 Nodak customers in a band from Lankin, N.D., to Mayville, N.D., lost power about 2 a.m., according Schaefer. By 9 a.m., all but 400 customers had power again. The co-op aimed to have all power restored by Thursday night.
Xcel Energy did not report any major outages in the northern valley, according to spokeswoman Judy Paukert.
A city official in Larimore, N.D., served by Xcel, said the city did lose power for about 75 minutes Thursday morning. The power came back on by 10 a.m., but classes in Larimore School District were cancelled.
In other school districts, classes were also cancelled or delayed.
The University of North Dakota didn’t cancel classes and students had mixed reactions to the first snow of the season.
Atmospheric science student David Nordel, 19, has lived in six other states, but said he wasn’t worried about the upcoming North Dakota winter. “I have an Astrostart so my car will be just fine.”
Andrea Dove, a 22-year-old geology student, was less than thrilled with the snow’s appearance. “It needs to go away. Now.”
Thursday’s snowstorm follows above average temperatures earlier in the week. The nearly 50-degree change in temperature from Monday’s high of 80 to Thursday’s high of 32 did not go unnoticed by the students.
“Well, at least we got a week of fall before winter hit,” Nordel said with a shrug.
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But forecaster’s initial public advisory on the storm says it isn’t expected to last long.
Tropical Storm Nadine is meanwhile moving northward and expected to become a post-tropical cyclone by Thursday or Friday. That would be for a second time, but the storm isn’t expected to regenerate this time as it did a week ago. It is expected to swipe past the Azores for a second time, dropping a couple of inches of rain.
Nadine has been an active storm for 21 days and counting as of Wednesday. That ranks the storm as the fifth-longest-lived in the Atlantic since 1851, according to the Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters.
The Atlantic hurricane season is on pace to be the quietest since 2009, when there were 11 named storms. But it is already busier than an average season, which sees a dozen named storms.
Have a weather question? E-mail me at email@example.com or tweet to @MdWeather.
The Weather Channel seems to think the country’s winter storms need names similar to those assigned to tropical storms and hurricanes, and though the plan has been met with skepticism by some fellow forecasters and weather observers since it was announced Tuesday, The Weather Channel is not backing down.
“We think this is an excellent plan, especially if we get people to focus on it from the standpoint of, it’s a communications plan, not a meteorology plan. Our forecasts are our forecasts, it doesn’t affect our forecasts,” said Bryan Norcross, senior executive director of weather content at The Weather Channel. Norcross stopped short of saying the naming idea was his, but he did say he “drove it along” and that those on the team that developed the plan and its guidelines report to him.
So, sometime in the next few months, you may hear of winter storms “Athena,” “Brutus,” “Caesar,” etc., if the storms meet The Weather Channel’s thresholds for naming: The system most likely involves snow and ice and may include extreme temperatures or wind; it significantly impacts travel; and it’s a storm TWC forecasters think people need to know about.
It’s that last part, Norcross said, that’s at the center of the naming plan — the need to convey weather information to people who are less reliant on traditional news and weather coverage and more plugged in to social media, where storms tend to organically develop names of their own.
“What we realized is that, as a practical matter, storms are going to get named in the modern world,” Norcross says, citing examples such as “Snowmageddon,” and last year’s popular “Snotober” on the East Coast. “If you’re going to communicate, you communicate with the name of something. That’s just the way things are done.”
The only difference is, TWC wants things done with its names. Early indications are, others may not follow suit.
“The notion of naming winter storms does seem a bit much to this forecaster,” WGN chief meteorologist Tom Skilling posted on his Facebook page Wednesday, adding that 79 percent of respondents to an unscientific WGN poll were against the idea. “It seems a ‘solution’ to a non-existent problem!
“Is anyone in this day and age unaware we have a major storm headed this way?” Skilling continued. “I seriously doubt it. And would naming the storms really address this situation? The vehicles trapped on Lake Shore Drive (were) shown in one of the video pieces announcing this plan. Is the suggestion that that wouldn’t have happened had we given the Groundhog’s Day storm a name ahead of time? I think not!”
The National Weather Service was a bit more reserved in a statement emailed to reporters, but also stopped short of endorsing the naming plan.
Tropical storm Nadine began as tropical depression on September 11, and has been a numbered system for 21 days as of 11 a.m. today. That extreme duration has earned Nadine a spot among the top-five longest-lived tropical cyclones in Atlantic history going back to 1851.
This morning, it’s tied for fifth place with hurricane #4 in 1926, and is lagging behind hurricane Kyle (2002) at 22 days, hurricane Inga (1969) at 24.75 days, hurricane Ginger (1971) at 27.25 days, and finally, hurricane #3 (1899) at 28 days. However, using the latest official National Hurricane Center forecast, Nadine is expected to remain a tropical entity for another 1.25 days, and if that verifies, Nadine would jump into fourth place.
At the 11 a.m. advisory, Nadine is a weakening tropical storm with 50 mph maximum sustained winds, and is located about 405 miles west-southwest of the Azores islands. It’s falling apart quickly now, and would need a miracle if it’s going to come back for another encore.
A recent satellite image (above) shows an exposed low-level circulation (I marked the center with a red L) and the colder (whiter) cloud tops associated with strong thunderstorms are all located to the east and south of the storm’s center.
New tropical depression: TD15
A disturbance in the central Atlantic that began as an easterly wave off the African coast a week ago has been classified tropical depression (TD) 15 as of 11 a.m. today. The embedded 29.77” (1008mb) low pressure is centered 1160 miles west of the Cape Verde islands and moving northwest, VERY far from land.
Models are in excellent agreement that this disturbance will become tropical storm Oscar very soon. The track forecasts take it north a little further, then recurve it to the northeast, passing near or over the Azores this weekend.
On Monday morning, the decision was made within NOAA to begin moving GOES-14 eastward to replace the GOES-13 satellite that suffered significant instrument anomalies on September 23. While engineers are still working to repair GOES-13, it’s possible that it might not be fixable.
As a refresher, these geosynchronous satellites orbit the globe at a fixed location, giving us the continuous satellite images and loops that you routinely see on television and the internet. This unique orbit requires that they are positioned exactly over the equator and at 22,236 miles above the Earth’s surface. The longitude that it’s “parked” over determines the field of view it will have, as illustrated in this figure (not to scale).
* Brian McNoldy is a senior researcher at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
A day after The Weather Channel (TWC) announced plans to name winter storms, a number of broadcast meteorologists are expressing significant concerns about the initiatve.
Most don’t have a conceptual problem with the act of naming storms, but TWC’s failure to coordinate with the rest of the meteorological community on the initiative is being viewed by many as self-serving and not in the interest of coordinated weather communication.
Andrew Frieden, a broadcast meteorologist in Richmond, put it bluntly: “Weather Channel to name Winter Storms! First Thought: “Who died and made them King?!”
Going quite a bit deeper, Nate Johnson, a broadcast meteorologist in Raleigh, thoroughly breaks down the flaws in TWC’s failure to engage partners in this effort on the blog Digital Meteorologist:
In making this change unilaterally, The Weather Channel has essentially tossed effective risk communication out the window and their partners in the National Weather Service and other corners of the “weather community” under the bus. One of the tenets of good risk and emergency communication is that communicators speak with “one voice”. That doesn’t mean everyone says the same thing; rather, it means those involved should speak in harmony with others. … By setting their own standards and making their own categorizations of winter storms behind closed doors, away from peer review and scientific scrutiny, they are jumping out and expecting the rest of the weather community to follow along…In other words, they’re telling the NWS, local TV stations, and local officials that “we will name the storms, and the rest of you should speak our language or you’ll be the one causing confusion.”
WJLA’s Bob Ryan shares similar criticism:
I think the preemptive decision by TWC to begin naming winter storms is, at best, a poor decision by a critical source of weather information…
. . .
I call this a “preemptive” decision because there was, from everything I have learned, NO coordination of this decision to name winter storms with the National Weather Service or any of the professional groups such as the Weather Coalition, groups within the AMS or NWA. Our shared goal is to communicate the best weather information so that everyone will make the best weather related decision.
Salisbury broadcast meteorologist Dan Satterfield piles on:
I’m not saying that it is an absolutely bad idea, but TWC doing it unilaterally is not really the way to go here IMHO. Talking with NOAA and the American Meteorological Society (AMS) might have been a good idea first. The AMS Board of Broadcast Meteorology, and others at the society would have been at least a good starting point.
They could also submit a paper ( my preference) to one of the peer-reviewed journals outlining the idea and stating the criteria for using it. That would begin a constructive feedback process (one hopes) that could lead to perhaps an informal adoption and perhaps a more formal adoption later on. The Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale and the Fujita tornado intensity scale began just this way.
The concerns raised by these various meteorologists and the fact they weren’t addressed in TWC’s rollout raise the question whether TWC thought through these issues sufficiently before making the announcement. And they reinforce the conclusion marketing professional Chris McMurry drew yesterday: “At the Weather Channel, It’s Marketing First…”
UPDATE: AccuWeather CEO Joel Myers has issued a statement with similar themes to what’s above:
“In unilaterally deciding to name winter storms, The Weather Channel has confused media spin with science and public safety. We have explored this issue for 20 years and have found that this is not good science and will mislead the public. Winter storms are very different from hurricanes.
Hurricanes are well-defined storms following a path that can be tracked. Winter storms are often erratic, affecting different areas unevenly. Their centers may not be well-defined. There may be multiple centers and they often shift. One area may get a blizzard, while places not too far away may experience rain or fog, or nothing at all. Naming a winter storm that may deliver such varied weather will create more confusion in the public and the emergency management community.”
A National Weather Service tornado watch for several counties across northwest Georgia, including the metro Atlanta area, expired uneventfully Monday night.
A flood warning, however, was in effect Monday night for areas along Big Creek near Cumming in Forsyth County. Minor flooding was expected in the natural flood plain of the creek, with the stream expected to crest by midnight at 0.1 feet above flood stage, the Weather Service said.
The Monday afternoon storms brought down trees and knocked out power to thousands across the metro Atlanta area.
In Johns Creek, a tree came down in front of Wilson Creek Elementary School, Channel 2 Action News reported. Another tree fell on top of a Toyota Avalon that was parked on Charles Allen Drive and 8th Street in Midtown Atlanta; no one was in the car at the time. And a tree fell on Melvin Lucas’ home in DeKalb County, coming within “four feet of hitting me,” the man told Channel 2.
On I-75 in Cobb County, a tractor-trailer lost control, hit a guardrail and then struck other cars, including James Carson’s vehicle.
“It fish-tailed and slid and it just hit us on the driver’s side,” Carson told Channel 2. Eight people were injured in the multi-vehicle accident.
In Atlanta, a woman lost control of her vehicle on Piedmont Road in Buckhead and slammed into a MARTA bus shelter, narrowly missing a man who was sitting in the shelter. The woman had to be extricated from her car and was taken to a hospital. The man was treated at the scene for cuts from flying glass.
Shortly before 3 p.m., 12,500 customers were without power due to downed trees and power lines, a Georgia Power spokesperson said.
About 11,000 of those outages were in the metro area, including 6,800 in East Atlanta and DeKalb County area and 4,199 south of the city, according to Georgia Power. By 3:30 p.m., the number of outages in metro Atlanta was just over 6,000, the utility said.
About 800 customers still in the dark late Monday night, Channel 2 reported.
Channel 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz said there was a chance of showers and storms early Tuesday before skies clear. Wednesday morning’s low will dip into the upper 50s, but Friday’s high is expected to reach 83 degrees.
* Great Barrier Reef suffers unprecedented coral loss
* Great Barrier Reef suffers unprecedented coral loss
* Study says storms, starfish, bleaching cause most damage
* Risk of rapid decline unless world adopts tough CO2 goals
By David Fogarty
SINGAPORE, Oct 2 (Reuters) – The world’s largest coral reef
- under threat from Australia’s surging coal and gas shipments,
climate change and a destructive starfish – is declining faster
than ever and coral cover could fall to just 5 percent in the
next decade, a study shows.
Researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science
(AIMS) in the northeastern city of Townsville say Australia’s
Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its coral in little more
than a generation. And the pace of damage has picked up since
Globally, reefs are being assailed by myriad threats,
particularly rising sea temperatures, increased ocean acidity
and more powerful storms, but the threat to the Great Barrier
Reef is even more pronounced, the AIMS study published on
“In terms of geographic scale and the extent of the decline,
it is unprecedented anywhere in the world,” AIMS chief John Gunn
AIMS scientists studied data from more than 200 individual
reefs off the Queensland coast covering the period 1985-2012.
They found cyclone damage caused nearly half the losses,
crown-of-thorns starfish more than 40 percent and coral
bleaching from spikes in sea temperatures 10 percent.
The starfish are native and prey on the reefs. But plagues
are occurring much more frequently.
Ordinarily, reefs can recover within 10 to 20 years from
storms, bleachings or starfish attacks but climate change
impacts slow this down. Rising ocean acidification caused by
seas absorbing more carbon dioxide is disrupting the ability of
corals to build their calcium carbonate structures. Hotter seas
stress corals still further.
Greens say the 2,000 km (1,200 mile) long reef ecosystem,
the centre-piece of a multi-billion tourism industry, also faces
a growing threat from shipping driven by the planned expansion
of coal and liquefied natural gas projects.
Those concerns have put pressure on the authorities to
figure out how to protect the fragile reef.
The researchers say the pace of coral loss has increased
since 2006 and if the trend continues, coral cover could halve
again by 2022, with the southern and central areas most
Between 1985 and 2012, coral cover of the reef area fell
from 28 percent to 13.8 percent.
“Coral cover on the reef is consistently declining, and
without intervention, it will likely fall to 5 to 10 percent
within the next 10 years,” say the researchers in the study
published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
journal. They called for tougher curbs on greenhouse gas
emissions as a crucial way to stem the loss.
Shipping and new ports on the Queensland coast are another
major threat, Greenpeace says.
Coal is one of Australia’s top export earners and the state
of Queensland is the country’s largest coal-producer. It also
has a rapidly growing coal-seam gas industry for LNG exports.
Earlier this year, Greenpeace estimated port expansion could
more than triple Queensland’s coal export capacity by 2020 from
257 million tonnes now. That would mean as many as 10,000 coal
ships per year could make their way through the Great Barrier
Reef area by 2020, up 480 percent from 1,722 ships in 2011,
according to the group.
The Queensland and national governments, which jointly
manage the reef, have launched a major review of managing the
risks facing the UNESCO-listed reef and its surrounding marine
area. The review will look at managing the threats from
increased shipping to urban development.
Gunn said better management was all about buying time and
improving the reef’s resilience to climate change. A key area
was improving water quality from rivers flowing into the reef
area, with studies suggesting fertiliser-rich waters help the
crown-of-thorns starfish larvae rapidly multiply.
(Editing by Jeremy Laurence)