Sea Stars and the ‘Polar Vortex’

January 30, 2019

(Illustration by Handoko Tjung, found here).

Cloudy and gray this Wednesday near-evening here on California’s north coast — although bright and beautiful for most of the day, got overcast and somber by late afternoon. Not bad at all, however.
I talked with my youngest daughter this morning, she lives in Duluth, Minn., where it was also cloudy, but the temperature was way-yonder down there — tomorrow’s high is forecast to be -3.
Minus three!
She didn’t sound too alarmed, though, so that’s good. I guess…

Freezing-ass conditions along the Great Lakes, and across a big chunk of the US, comes from the now-popular ‘polar vortex,’ and ravages of climate change. An explanation from the Guardian this afternoon:

“At the moment the vortex looks like two swirling blobs of cold air, one settled over North America, the other over Eurasia,” said Jennifer Francis, the senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center. “It splits up when there is sudden stratospheric warming.”
Studies have pointed to a recent increase in instances where the polar vortex has bulged down into heavily populated areas. Scientists are gaining a better understanding of why this is happening, with many identifying climate change as an influence.
There’s some evidence that the jet stream, a meandering air current that flows over North America and Europe, is slowing and becoming wavier as the planet warms. The jet stream interacts with the polar vortex, helping bring numbing temperatures further south.

“We aren’t entirely there yet but there’s more and more support for this concept,” said Francis. “It’s a new and developing hot research topic.”

Trump’s repeated tweets mocking climate science when the temperature drops are “ridiculous, in a word”, said Francis.
“He cares not to understand. It’s the only explanation.”

The T-Rump lives by his own ignorance.

And climate change’s impact on one section of earth — including here along our region.of the Pacific coastline. I  thought this problem had corrected itself
From Discover magazine this afternoon:

Sea stars, also commonly called starfish, are among the most abundant animals along the U.S. West Coast.
But now scientists say an epidemic spurred by warming ocean waters is decimating sunflower sea stars, a critical predator in kelp forests.
The sea stars’ collapse could wipe out the shallow water ecosystems that provide a home for seals, sea otters and commercially important fish.
“The epidemic was catastrophic and widespread,” said Drew Harvell, a marine ecologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, who led the new research.
“Infectious disease is causing endangerment in not just sea stars but also corals and abalone and other species.”

The researchers analyzed more than 20,000 bottom trawl and diver surveys from California to Alaska carried out between 2004 and 2017.
The surveys revealed that sunflower sea star populations were steady in the deep waters of the Pacific Northwest up until 2012, but then plummeted between 2013 and 2015.
After the epidemic, sea star abundance dropped 96 percent in some areas and as much as 100 percent in others, the team reports today in the journal Science Advances.
“We found the numbers are so low that [sunflower sea stars] are imperiled in the lower 48 and very rare in British Columbia and Alaska,” Harvell said.
“That is the entire range of this endemic species.”

Our environment is changing, rapidly — further via ScienceDaily:

Global warming due to a changing atmosphere is likely a major factor.
“The heat wave in the oceans — a product of increasing atmospheric temperatures — is exacerbating the sea star wasting disease,” said Harvell, a fellow at Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.
“It’s a lethal disease, and when you add a higher temperature to that, it kills faster, causing a bigger impact.”

Human disease foretold, too — per CNN:

A study in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Heart Association found that a larger number of babies will probably be born with congenital heart defects between 2025 and 2035 due to their mothers’ exposure to higher temperatures, triggered by climate change, while pregnant.
This especially holds true for moms who were pregnant through spring or summer.
Climate change could result in as many as 7,000 additional cases of congenital heart defects in the United States over an 11-year period, according to the study.
The Midwest will probably see the biggest percent increase, followed by the South and Northeast regions of the United States.

Addressing the real-time horror of climate change should be number-one right now on every list, and because the shit-shenanigans by the T-Rump and others, most-likely we’re going to need some quickly-produced drastic measures if we’re going to avoid some seriously-bad shit in the near-close future.– hyphens not included…

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