Sunday, April 02, 2006


The Green/Left are of course only interested in those bits of history that suit their preconceptions and prejudices. Below is a bit of history that will NOT suit them. From Progress In Oceanography, Article in Press, Corrected Proof

The regime shift of the 1920s and 1930s in the North Atlantic

By Kenneth F. Drinkwater

Institute of Marine Research and Bjerknes Center for Climate Research, P.O. Box 1870 Nordnes, N-5817 Bergen, Norway


During the 1920s and 1930s, there was a dramatic warming of the northern North Atlantic Ocean. Warmer-than-normal sea temperatures, reduced sea ice conditions and enhanced Atlantic inflow in northern regions continued through to the 1950s and 1960s, with the timing of the decline to colder temperatures varying with location. Ecosystem changes associated with the warm period included a general northward movement of fish. Boreal species of fish such as cod, haddock and herring expanded farther north while colder-water species such as capelin and polar cod retreated northward. The maximum recorded movement involved cod, which spread approximately 1200 km northward along West Greenland. Migration patterns of "warmer water" species also changed with earlier arrivals and later departures. New spawning sites were observed farther north for several species or stocks while for others the relative contribution from northern spawning sites increased. Some southern species of fish that were unknown in northern areas prior to the warming event became occasional, and in some cases, frequent visitors. Higher recruitment and growth led to increased biomass of important commercial species such as cod and herring in many regions of the northern North Atlantic. Benthos associated with Atlantic waters spread northward off Western Svalbard and eastward into the eastern Barents Sea. Based on increased phytoplankton and zooplankton production in several areas, it is argued that bottom-up processes were the primary cause of these changes. The warming in the 1920s and 1930s is considered to constitute the most significant regime shift experienced in the North Atlantic in the 20th century.

1. Introduction

A regime shift in marine ecology is "a persistent radical shift in typical levels of abundance or productivity of multiple important components of the marine biological community structure, occurring at multiple trophic levels and on a geographical scale that is at least regional in extent"; distributional shifts are also often a characteristic of regime shifts (Bakun, 2004). The concept gained prominence in its application to the dramatic abundance changes in sardines and anchovies across the globe (Lluch-Belda et al., 1989 and Lluch-Belda et al., 1992) and to salmon and groundfish populations in the North Pacific during the mid-1970s (Venrick et al., 1987, Francis and Hare, 1994, Hare and Francis, 1995 and Hare and Mantua, 2000). As Bakun (2004) points out, ecosystem regime shifts are often linked to climate forcing but can also occur due to anthropogenic forcing, such as heavy fishing or pollution (e.g. Steele, 2004).

In the North Atlantic, scientists generally have been much slower to adopt the idea of regime shifts compared to their colleagues working in the North Pacific, however, this appears to be changing. The majority of papers identifying Atlantic regime shifts are associated with changes during the 1970s to 1990s in or around the North Sea (Reid et al., 2001, Beaugrand, 2004 and DeYoung et al., 2004). I would argue, however, that the largest and most significant climate-induced regime shift of the last century in the North Atlantic occurred earlier in the century and was much greater in geographical extent.

In the 1920s and 1930s, there was a dramatic warming of the air and ocean temperatures in the northern North Atlantic and the high Arctic, with the largest changes occurring north of 60oN (Rogers, 1985, Polyakov et al., 2003 and Johannessen et al., 2004). This led to reduced ice cover in the Arctic and subarctic regions and higher sea temperatures. Jensen and Hansen (1931) and later Jensen, 1939 and Jensen, 1949 documented the expansion of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) along the west coast of Greenland in response to the changes in the ocean climate. Other species were also observed to have undergone significant abundance and distributional changes. This was a clear case of an environmentally driven ecosystem response that became of paramount interest for fishery researchers at the time. This interest lead to the first scientific meeting by ICES on climate change held in 1948 at Copenhagen (ICES, 1949) entitled Climate Changes in the Arctic in Relation to Plants and Animals. Ahlmann (1949), in his introductory address, noted that the warming had broad geographic extent with significant effects in the region: increasing air temperatures, receding glaciers, decreasing Arctic ice extent and thickness, decreasing water levels in lakes through increased evaporation, and high sea-level elevations due to melting ice.

This warming event was associated with atmospheric changes causing increased transfer of heat from low to high latitudes (Brooks, 1938, Ahlmann, 1949 and Rogers, 1985). Indeed, increased southerly winds pumped warm air into the northern North Atlantic and also into the Arctic. Overland et al. (2004) showed that the Icelandic Low was located farther to the east than usual in the 1930s with the result that Northern Europe was subsequently warmed by winds from the southeast. This is in strong contrast to its normal warming from the southwest associated with a positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) phase. In the Northwest Atlantic, a high-pressure system over Greenland caused warm southerly flow over Baffin Bay (Overland et al., 2004). Bengtsson et al. (2004) proposed that the temperature increase was related to enhanced wind-driven oceanic inflow into the Barents Sea with an associated sea-ice retreat. Through feedback mechanisms, this in turn generated and enhanced the cyclonic low pressure in the region and created a strong surface heat flux over the ice-free areas, a mechanism previously proposed by dlandsvik and Loeng (1991). Modelling studies suggest that these changes might be caused by internal, non-linear dynamics of the atmosphere (Delworth and Knutson, 2000 and Bengtsson et al., 2004).

Large and significant changes in marine ecosystems occurred as a result of this warming and many of these changes were discussed at the 1948 Symposium (ICES, 1949) and in later papers (Beverton and Lee, 1965, Cushing and Dickson, 1976 and Cushing, 1982). The objective of the present paper is to provide a review of the changes to the marine ecosystems of the northern North Atlantic during the 1920s and 1930s and to discuss them in the light of contemporary ideas of regime shifts. Following a brief review of the changes to the climate, and in conjunction with the topic of this special issue, I will attempt to assess whether the ecosystem changes were primarily a top-down or bottom-up response. The description of the ecosystem responses during the warm period is presented by region and relies heavily upon information from fisheries, although not exclusively so.

Given the earlier reviews noted above, why is a new review needed? First, new information has become available, most noticeably on phytoplankton and zooplankton, as well as on the response of fish stocks such as capelin (Mallotus villotus) and herring (Clupea harengus). Second, our understanding and knowledge of some of the physical and biological processes have increased so we are in a better position to determine what likely happened. Finally, while many fisheries scientists working during that era were familiar with the event, many of today's marine ecologists and fisheries scientists have either forgotten or do not know about it. This needs to be rectified given the important lessons it can teach us about what to expect under future climate change.


4. Discussion

This review, the results of which are summarized in Table 1, describes the significant changes in the marine ecosystem in the northern North Atlantic that occurred during the 1920s and 1930s and how these were linked to a general warming of the oceans. This warming was not due to the large rise in air temperatures alone, but to an apparent change in ocean circulation that brought more warm water northward. This intensification of northward flowing ocean currents is believed to be linked to changes in the atmospheric wind pattern. The sea-ice edge shifted northward as a result of the warming. The ecosystem changes included significant northward shifts in distribution and changes in the timing and extent of the migration patterns of numerous species of fish, marine mammals and some seabirds. The northward movement of many boreal and subtropical species occurred concurrently with a retraction in the distribution of Arctic species. Spawning shifted northward and in some areas, such as West Greenland and Iceland, new spawning sites were established farther north than previously observed. Large increases in the biomass of several commercially important species, such as cod and herring, occurred, driven by increased recruitment and improved growth. The changes in fish populations had significant economic impacts, especially in West Greenland where there was a shift from a seal-dominated economy to one dependent upon cod. Where warm Atlantic waters replaced the cold Arctic waters or became relatively more important, primary and secondary production appears to have increased. Also, the benthos changed with the increased influence of the warm-water currents. It is clear, based on the definition of Bakun (2004), that this represents a large and important climate-forced "regime shift" in the northern North Atlantic. This new regime lasted for approximately 30-40 years and covered a geographical distribution extending several million square kilometres.


As temperatures declined in the northern North Atlantic during the 1960s, ecological conditions often returned to their previous state. In some regions, however, new regimes became established, e.g. off West Greenland where shrimp biomass increased and became the dominant economic fishery, replacing cod. This appears to be a new stable state. By the time of the change in the environmental conditions in the 1960s, expanding fisheries due to more extensive use of trawlers, the development of large long-distance foreign fishing fleets, and the general increase in the number of fishermen after the last world war, lead to significant impacts on fish populations. Thus, there has been much debate as to whether the observed decline in several fish species, such as cod in the 1960s, was mostly due to fishing or to climate. It is clear that both played a significant role.

The last question to ask, and of particular relevance to this volume, is: Were the observed changes driven by bottom-up process through increased production or was it dominated by top-down processes through predation from higher to lower trophic levels? A third possibility is a "wasp-waist" control when a forage species such as capelin might determine the overall changes to the system. While it is probably true that all three processes were operating during the warming event of the 1920s and 1930s, the increases in phytoplankton and zooplankton production observed off West Greenland and Iceland, which are consistent with recent studies in the Barents Sea, leads me to think that the primary response during the warm regime was driven by bottom-up processes. It has become clear that the increased presence of Atlantic waters contributed to higher primary and secondary production. In addition, with the reduced extent of ice-covered waters, more open water allows for higher production than in the colder periods. Modelling studies in the Barents Sea (Slagstad and Wassmann, 1996) suggests that primary production levels are as much as 400% higher in ice-free regions in a warm year (1984) compared to when these same areas are ice-covered during a cold year (1981). Relative to the entire Barents Sea region, reduced ice cover resulted in an approximately 30% increase in primary production. This occurred due to a combination of higher light levels in areas of decreased ice extent, higher nutrient levels in the Atlantic waters where they extended northward and eastward, and faster turn-over times due to the higher temperatures. Similar increases in primary and secondary production during the warm period of the 1920s to at least the late 1950s off Iceland (as suggested by the findings of Astthorsson and Vilhjálmsson, 2002) and off West Greenland (by Pedersen and Rice, 2002) were also a result of higher light levels (in areas affected by seasonal ice coverage), higher nutrient concentrations and faster turn-over times.

Studying the response to the early 20th century warming is of practical significance, in that this information may provide clues about what to expect under future climate scenarios. We are presently experiencing a warming trend, not only in the northern North Atlantic but globally. Several of the ecosystem changes observed during the 1920s and 1930s in the northern North Atlantic appear to be repeating themselves, a detailed analysis of which will be the topic of a future paper.

Kyoto and a climate of moralism

The debate about global warming has become a moral crusade against our allegedly 'excessive' lifestyles -- says Rob Lyons

'Climate change means that business as usual is dead. It means that economic growth as usual is dead. But the politics of economic growth and business as usual live on.... Our economic model is not so different in the cold light of day to that of the Third Reich - which knew it could only expand by grabbing what it needed from its neighbours. Genocide followed.'

Comparing Britain's failure to miss its carbon emission targets with the Nazi attempt to conquer Europe seems melodramatic, bordering on distasteful. But this crankish quote isn't from some member of the lunatic green fringe; it was uttered by backbench Labour MP Colin Challen, who is also chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group.

Of course, there have always been people on the back benches who could best be described as 'crankish'. But Challen is not alone in his emotive outburst at Britain's failure to provide leadership on global warming. Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, stuck his worshipful oar in this week, too.

'Nobody likes talking about governmental coercion in this respect, whether it's speed limits or anything else. Nobody for that matter likes talking about enforceable international protocols... [U]nless there's a real change in attitude we have to contemplate those very unwelcome possibilities if we want the global economy not to collapse and millions, billions of people to die.'

In other words, slowing down when you drive, turning the lights off and not leaving your telly on stand-by is the will of the Lord. And if the government launches a crackdown to make sure we do it, it's only doing God's good work.

Still, this is better than some of the views generated by the Independent's eight-page pullout of readers' letters on climate change, published on Wednesday. This was largely a collection of emotional spasms about how we are doomed and how the only answer is to restrict our lifestyles. 'It is so obvious that the planet cannot support the human population without disastrous consequences for all other creatures and resources', said one writer. Another was more forthright: 'Destroying America is the only chance the world has of buying time to save the world; if I had the means I would do it, albeit with a great sense of moral ambiguity.' Well, at least he'd be conflicted about it.

Such outpourings might make you think that Britain had suddenly become a carbon-emitting monster, throwing our futures on to some kind of ecological funeral pyre. In fact, the angst is a result of the report of a government policy review, which revealed that rather than achieving a 20 per cent cut in emissions by 2010, Britain would probably only cut emissions by 15 to 18 per cent. Despite this, Britain will probably still meet its targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

This is all a major embarrassment for Tony Blair. Having spent much of his premiership berating the world for failing to follow Britain's lead on climate change, he is receiving an unpleasant dose of moralising whup-ass himself. Given that Blair has been only too happy to highlight worst-case scenarios (such as the slim possibility that the world will warm by six degrees celsius over the next century) while professing that climate change is 'probably the greatest long-term challenge facing the human race', it is not hard to see why people now think he's a bit of a hypocrite.

None the less, we should be grateful for Britain's failure on this one. Environment secretary Margaret Beckett, presenting the report's findings, blamed economic growth for missing the target. If even government ministers are now guiltily confessing that the UK's anaemic growth rates are too high, we should all be concerned. It is the increased productivity of our society which holds open the potential for solving many of the problems we will face in the future, including environmental ones. Restricting growth will do little to affect the climate but a lot to reduce our capacity to respond to change, whatever form it takes.

The truth about climate change is that the world is likely to get a bit warmer in the future but whether things will get a lot warmer is really not known - and there are plenty of legitimate criticisms that can be made of the way the science has been distorted to present a particular political message.

But even if we took the more alarming figures for climate change at face value, there is nothing to suggest the world is about to end. Human beings have managed to adapt to an incredible variety of regional climates to develop successful societies, as science writer Robert Matthews notes: 'Yet despite this long history of successful adaptation, the climate change debate remains doggedly focused on mitigation strategies, such as the Kyoto Protocol, that seek to compel the whole atmosphere to do our bidding.'

When scare stories are presented about the effects of climate change, human beings are treated as passive victims rather than active subjects who will not only adapt to change, as Matthews suggests, but will actually innovate through adversity. Some of history's darkest hours have generated many of humanity's most creative impulses.

Still, such a discussion of human adaptability is at odds with the spirit of the age. The environment debate has become increasingly moralistic: restraint is good, production and consumption are bad. At a time when the decision to live a 'green' lifestyle is recast as 'ethical living', the ability to debate alternatives is closed down. As long as the debate about climate change is cast in such terms, we can expect more attacks on the notion of economic growth - and we will all be, literally, poorer for it.


Climate change: The rice genome to the rescue

This is a blatant example of bandwagon hopping. Now even rice research has to be shown as good for dealing with climate change. What they fail to mention is that rice LOVES warm weather -- so any warming would make rice grow better and in more places anyway

New evidence is emerging that climate change could reduce not only the world's ability to produce food but also international efforts to cut poverty. However, the recent sequencing of the rice genome is already providing researchers with some of the tools they need to help poor rice farmers and consumers avoid the worst effects of the problem.

The new knowledge generated by the sequencing effort is allowing scientists to both develop new rice varieties faster and with the specific characteristics needed to deal with climate change, such as tolerance of higher temperatures. However, scientists are calling for more research to fully understand the impact of climate change - especially the extreme weather it may cause - on international efforts to reduce poverty and ensure food security.

A "Climate Change and Rice" planning workshop this month at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines was told that climate change is already affecting Asia's ability to produce rice, and that this could eventually slow efforts to reduce poverty in the region, where most of the world's poor live.

The workshop was informed that, to overcome many of the climate change-related problems facing rice production in Asia - and continue to meet the demand for rice in the region - yields will have to double over the next 50 years. Research has confirmed that global warming will make rice crops less productive with increasing temperatures decreasing yields. "Clearly, climate change is going to have a major impact on our ability to grow rice," Robert S. Zeigler, IRRI director general, said. "We can't afford to sit back and be complacent about this because rice production feeds almost half the world's population while providing vital employment to millions as well, with most of them being very poor and vulnerable."

For these reasons, Dr. Zeigler announced at the workshop that IRRI - in an unprecedented move - was ready to put up US$2 million of its own research funds as part of an effort to raise $20-25 million for a major five-year project to mitigate the effects of climate change on rice production. "We need to start developing rice varieties that can tolerate higher temperatures and other aspects of climate change right now," he said. "Fortunately, the recent sequencing of the rice genome will allow us to do this much faster than we could have in the past," Dr. Zeigler added. "But, in addition to new rice varieties, we must develop other technologies that will help poor rice farmers deal with climate change."

In one of several examples presented to last week's climate workshop, researchers mentioned El Nio weather phenomena that hit the Philippines in 1996-97 and caused a severe drought, resulting in a sharp drop in national rice production. Other examples focused on the impact of climate change and variability on gross domestic product, generally causing it to slip by several percentage points. "One of the main problems with climate change is that the effects are felt mostly in poor, underdeveloped countries because of their reliance on agriculture as one of the main drivers for national development," Dr. Zeigler said. "In turn, agriculture is very dependent on climate. "Another more insidious effect may be more frequent extreme weather events such as typhoons, floods and droughts," Dr. Zeigler warned. "IRRI's research has shown that even one drought year can push millions of rice farmers back below the poverty line. This affects the whole family for many years after the drought year, as they will have sold their livestock and withdrawn their children from school just to survive."

IRRI's senior climate change researcher, John Sheehy, told the workshop that poor farmers need help in several challenging new areas. "We need to develop rice varieties tolerant of higher temperatures that can maintain yield and quality when extreme temperatures occur," Dr. Sheehy said. "We also need rice varieties that can take advantage of higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, rice that is vigorous enough to recover quickly from extreme weather events and disasters, and very high yielding rice that will provide a supply buffer for poor communities during periods of change. "We need to be able to protect poor people from the harmful effects of climate change, and rice is especially important because most of the world's poor depend on it," he added. "We also need to ensure that the world community is not adversely affected by greenhouse gas emissions from rice production systems."

Dr. Sheehy said researchers need to acquire knowledge and develop technologies critical to ensuring that rice production systems are sustainable in the face of climate change and do not adversely contribute to climate change.


Another scare fades

Warming does not kill coral

The Great Barrier Reef is far more resilient to rising water temperatures than scientists feared, with less than 1 per cent of its coral affected by bleaching after the hot summer. Scientists had predicted that as much as 60 per cent of the reef's coral might suffer bleaching, which occurs when warm temperatures rob the living coral of nutrition. But professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, from the University of Queensland's Centre for Marine Studies, said yesterday that samples he had collected from the various parts of the reef showed the fears were unfounded. Professor Hoegh-Guldberg's survey showed coral north of the Keppel Islands near Rockhampton had escaped bleaching, and less than 1 per cent of the outer reef had been affected. "I was surprised about the fact that we had some bleaching within the coastal regions, but it wasn't as bad as we'd seen in the Keppel Islands (previously)," he told ABC TV. "Probably about 1000sqkm of reef has experienced moderate to severe bleaching but, given the size of the Great Barrier Reef, this is quite a minimal impact."

In January, the professor's team at the University of Queensland had initially been concerned that the 2005-06 summer could be a repeat of 2001-02, when more than half the reef was bleached and between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of the coral died. The concern had arisen after above-average sea temperatures had been recorded through the summer months. "This year we are worried because we have higher (temperature) anomalies which may result in greater damage," Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said at the time.

But their concerns proved unfounded, confirming the views last month of scientist Peter Ridd, who said the Great Barrier Reef was one of the world's most resilient ecosystems. "The only place that's probably better is Antarctica," said Dr Ridd, from Townsville's James Cook University.

A spokesman for conservation organisation WWF, Richard Leck, still offered a warning if ocean temperatures rose. "By 2050, unless we build the resistance of the reef, we will be faced with a pretty diminished resource," Mr Leck said. [cheerfully ignoring the evidence]

Any damage to the reef would hurt the economies of Queensland and Australia. The reef is worth $5.8 billion to the national economy, employs more than 60,000 people and is visited by more than two million tourists each year. Scientists are urging state and federal governments to reduce greenhouse emissions to avoid the bleaching that hit east Africa in 1998, when 50 per cent of its reefs were lost. [NOT due to global warming]



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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