Best of our wild blogs: 17 Aug 16

Celebrating National Day with RUM
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

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Dry weather to continue for rest of August

Today Online 16 Aug 16;

SINGAPORE — The island will continue to face dry weather conditions in the next two weeks, and daily maximum temperatures could reach between 32°C and 33°C on most days, and hit 34°C on a few days.

Short-duration thundery showers can also be expected on three or five days in the next fortnight, mostly in the late morning and early afternoon. Thundery showers with gusty winds due to Sumatra squalls may occur in the morning on one or two days, the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) said in its fortnightly outlook on Tuesday (Aug 16).

Due to the dry weather conditions the island has been experiencing in recent weeks, rainfall for this month is likely to be “significantly below normal”.

The total rainfall recorded for the first half of this month was 41.2mm, about 72 per cent below the long-term mean of 148.9mm for August.

According to the MSS, the past two weeks saw Singapore experiencing a few warm days, and the highest daily maximum temperature was 35.4°C, which was recorded on Aug 10 in the northern part of the island.

The mean monthly temperature recorded during this period was 28.9°C, about 1°C warmer than the long-term August mean temperature.

Despite the dry weather conditions in the past fortnight, there was some respite in the form of thundery showers, which affected a few areas on some days, mainly in the late morning and early afternoon. The heaviest rain fell over the Choa Chu Kang area on Aug 11, where a total of 65.6mm of rainfall was recorded. Earlier on Aug 3, a Sumatra squall that moved across Singapore in the pre-dawn hours brought strong gusts of wind of up to 86.1kmh around the West Coast areas.

In the first half of this month, the highest rainfall of 56mm — 39 per cent below average — was recorded around Serangoon. Rainfall was lowest around Jurong West where 4mm, or 95 per cent below average, was recorded, the MSS added.

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Malaysia: Central Sumatra hotspots cause of transboundary haze

The Star 16 Aug 16;

KLANG: The Klang Valley is being hit by encroaching haze believed to be caused by an increase in the number of hotspots in Central Sumatra over the weekend.

Selangor executive councillor for environment Elizabeth Wong said that “the haze experienced in the Klang Balley is transboundary haze after an exponential increase of hotspots in Central Sumatra since the weekend.

In addition to this Wong cautioned locals against adding to the problems by starting peat fires.

Wong said the local authorities had discovered the fire which had been started on vegetable plots in the area Tuesday morning.

"No suspects were found and follow- up action is being initiated," said Wong when contacted.

She added the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) quick response team, the Pantas Squad, had been constantly monitoring the peat areas and helping the Fire and Rescue Department at the Kesas Highway, Jalan Kebun and Johan Setia.

"They have been instructed to intensify their rounds since July 2016," said Wong.

She explained most of the fires in the areas were small and had been fully extinguished by the Fire and Rescue Department and MPK.

"This time it is relatively easier to do so with the state government using a product called PeatFirex (a non-chemical based product to suppress peat fires) which is specific to peat soil," she said.

According to Wong, besides people starting the fires on purpose, the dry weather was also a factor behind the peat fires in the area.

"If the ground is dry for long periods of time then even a smouldering cigarette can ignite," said Wong adding this is how the roadside fires are started.

She said on the part of the Selangor state government, a central command coordination team has been parked under the state secretary's office to monitor all peat fires.

Wong urged members of the public who sight fires to immediately inform the Fire and Rescue Department.

"If you see any neighbours burning leaves or branches please advise them to stop doing so.

"If they refuse please report to your respective local councils," said Wong.

Time to brace for haze again

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians have been waking up to haze for the past few days and are fearing more of the bad stuff after the air quality took a dip in many places.

With August proving a bad month for the phenomenon over the last three years, many Malaysians are bracing for a hit to their lifestyles and health.

Yesterday, the Air Pollutant Index (API) recorded 28 areas with moderate reading.

As at 6pm, two areas – Kampung Air Putih in Taiping and Kemaman – reached 71 and 70 on the index respectively.

The API reading for good air quality is below 50 while moderate is between 51 and 100.

The air quality is considered unhealthy if the reading is between 101 and 200.

Five more places reached a reading of 60 or more – Banting (65), Bukit Rambai (64), Nilai (61), Port Klang (60) and Shah Alam (60).

According to the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), there are four hotspots in Malaysia since the dry season started last month, compared with 49 in Kalimantan and 32 in Sumatra.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Madius Tangau had said that Malaysians should brace for drier weather and haze.

“We are now experiencing the southwest monsoon that started in May and it will last until mid-September.

“At this time, the atmospheric conditions throughout the country will be drier with less rain. As a result, haze associated with burning activities is expected to occur,” Tangau said on July 31.

On Monday, Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency in Pekanbaru, Riau, warned of recurring haze unless stakeholders took tougher measures to immediately extinguish land fires affecting several areas across the province, the Jakarta Post reported.

The agency’s Pekanbaru head Sugarin said there was a possibility of haze problems similar to previous years returning and affecting Indonesia’s neighbours.

Last year, Malaysia was hit with the worst haze so far, resulting in schools being closed.

The unprecedented severity of the haze also affected millions in Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, the southern part of the Philippines and the northern part of Laos.

“Currently, the wind tends to blow to the southeast. If haze occurs, there is a significant chance it will be brought by the wind to our neighbouring countries,” Sugarin said.

“In total, 92 hotspots were detected in Riau this morning, 84 of which were in coastal areas with a significant amount of peatland,” he said.

Shah Alam folks report haze smell
DAWN CHAN New Straits Times 16 Aug 16;

SHAH ALAM: City dwellers here woke up to the unexpected haze enveloping the skies this morning.

The Department of Environment Malaysia website, however, showed only moderate levels of the Air Pollutant Index (API) of between 51 and 100.

As of 2pm, the API was the highest in Petaling Jaya at 79, Banting at 70, 68 at Port Klang, 67 in Shah Alam and 57 in Kuala Selangor.

Housewife Salina Shahbuddin however hoped the weather condition would improved by the end of the day.

"It is not that bad now but I have chosen to close all my windows and the sliding doors this morning and afternoon as there is a slight burning smell," said the 42-year-old from Section 13, here.

The mother of three said she would consider not allowing her children out for their daily evening football games today unless the haze goes away by then.

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Indonesia: Haze making its annual comeback in Sumatra

Rizal Harahap, Jon Afrizal and Hans Nicholas Jong
The Jakarta Post 16 Aug 16;

Fire is raging through more areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan as the dry season has worsened in the regions.

The number of hot spots in Sumatra has dramatically increased to 158, with Riau ranking first with 80 hot spots, followed by Bangka Belitung ( 35 ), South Sumatra ( 20 ), North Sumatra ( 11 ) and 12 scattered in other places.

Residents of Duri, Mandau district, Bengkalis regency, Riau, claimed they could smell smoke from land and forest fires on Monday morning.

“I was woken up by the hot weather after midnight during a blackout. A few moments, later I realized there was a strong smell of smoke in the house,” said Duri resident Syukran Koto.

People voiced fear over a repeat of the haze disaster and news of haze spread quickly through social media.

“Oh my God, the haze has returned, and I feel sore in my nose and throat,” wrote Yuli Adi on his Facebook account. Local Peni Wulandari posted “The smell of haze is very disturbing” on her social media account.

A number of areas in Tanah Putih district, Rokan Hilir regency, were also shrouded in dense haze from Monday morning as a result of residual land fires in Putat village, Tanah Putih district, and Siarang-Arang village, Pujud district.

According to local Sany Panjaitan, firefighters had yet to put out a land fire covering more than 20 hectares in Putat that he was keeping an eye. “In addition to shrubs, the fire also raged through an oil palm farm with trees aged around two years,” he said.

Hot spots have appeared in Jambi province over the past several weeks, with low rainfall exacerbating conditions.

“Five of the 158 hot spots detected in Sumatra are in Jambi,” said Jambi Sultan Taha BMKG head Nurangesti.

Nurangesti said that based on Terra and Aqua satellite monitoring on Monday, the five hot spots were respectively located in Muaro Sebo Ulu district, Batanghari regency; Muaro Sebo district, Muaro Jambi regency; Senyerang district, West Tanjungjabung regency; Geragai district, East Tanjung jabung regency; and Tebo Ulu district, Tebo regency. “The dry season in Jambi will continue until September,” said Nurangesti.

The number of hot spots detected in West Kalimantan increased dramatically over the weekend, followed by haze from evening until morning. If on Tuesday only 17 hot spots were detected, the number rose to 165 over the weekend.

Pontianak’s Supadio BMKG station told The Jakarta Post on Sunday that satellite images showed the 165 hot spots were spread across 11 of the 14 regencies and cities across the province.

Pontianak resident Marti, 35, said the smell of smoke, like the smell of burning dry leaves and wood, was quite strong at night and early in the morning.

“I anticipate haze by always wearing a mask when outdoors, and I minimize outdoor activities at night. My 7-year-old son came down with an acute respiratory infection early last week and is still suffering,” said Marti.

The government plans to build at least 6,000 deep wells in peatland areas prone to fire by the end of this year to anticipate next year’s dry season, which is predicted to be more intense than this year’s.

“We’re lucky with this year’s dry season because it has been wetter than usual. Next year the dry season will return to normal, so what should we do to reduce land and forest fires? The answer is deep wells,” Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) head Nazir Foead said.

Nazir said the agency planned to build the wells because they had proven effective in combating fires as well as making dry peatland wet in Riau and Central Kalimantan.

First, building a deep well is very cheap as it only costs Rp 2.5 million per well.

Severianus Endi from Pontianak also contributed to the report.

Indonesia must go all out to prevent forest fires: Expert
Bambang Nurbianto The Jakarta Post 17 Aug 16;

The Indonesian government, plantation companies and communities need to take immediate action to prevent forest fires as hot spots have started to emerge in a number of forested areas in Kalimantan and Sumatra, an expert has warned.

“Before fires spread wildly and uncontrollably, we need to immediately stop them. The government, plantation companies and communities need to cooperate to address the problem,” Supiandi Sabiham, an expert with the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) and chairman of the Indonesian Peatland Association, told The Jakarta Post in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia on Wednesday.

The government needs to closely monitor the implementation of a regulation that allows farmers to clear land measuring less than 2 hectares by fire because such fires could spread to other areas and become wild fires, Supiandi added.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 15th International Peat Congress, Supiandi reminded that forest fires occurred on both peatland and in forests and had the potential to spread and be difficult to extinguish.

Fire occurs annually in both forest and peatland areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The resulting smoke leads to heavy air pollution that causes serious health problems among local people and disrupts air transportation.

In previous years, the haze has spread to Singapore and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Kalyana Sundram of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) said that Malaysia was able to control forest fires because the government strictly enforced a law that prohibited clearing land by fire. “Any plantation companies will face license revocation if they are found guilty of burning,” he added.

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Indonesia: Peat congress opens with call for further research into peatland

Bambang Nurbianto The Jakarta Post 16 Aug 16;

The 15th International Peat Congress was opened on Tuesday in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, by Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan bin Haji Satem with a call for sustainable development and further research into better peatland management.

“The challenge we face today is that tropical peatland, as compared to other soil types, is still quite an understudied soil,” said Adenan in his opening remarks, adding that this had sparked the wrong conclusion that the development of plantations on peatland soil was not recommended.

He criticized a negative campaign around the development of peatland into agricultural areas, saying the campaign had political motives to prevent the expansion of palm oil plantations that competed with other nabati oil-like sunflower oil and soya bean oil plantations, mostly developed in European countries and the US.

Indonesia and Malaysia are the largest producers of palm oil. Last year, Indonesia produced some 33 million tons, while Malaysia produced some 20 million tons.

The peat congress is attended by some 1,000 participants from 30 countries and will take place from Tuesday to Thursday.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI) chairman Joko Supriyono stressed that Indonesia and Malaysia needed to jointly cooperate to convince the world that developing palm oil plantations on peatland soil could be carried out sustainably.

He also called on the Indonesian government to revise the moratorium on palm oil plantations on peatland so that Indonesian could share in the growing demand for nabati oil.

Indonesian has 14.6 million hectares of peatland, but only 1.6 million hectares have been cultivated. (bbn)

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July 2016 was world's hottest month since records began, says Nasa

Nasa’s results, which combine sea-surface temperature and air temperature on land, show July was 10th month in a row to break monthly temperature record
Michael Slezak The Guardian 16 Aug 16;

Last month was the hottest month in recorded history, beating the record set just 12 months before and continuing the long string of monthly records, according to the latest Nasa data.

The past nine months have set temperature records for their respective months and the trend continued this month to make 10 in a row, according to Nasa. July broke the absolute record for hottest month since records began in 1880.

Similar data from the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) said the past 14 months have broken the temperature record for each month, but it hasn’t released its figures for July yet.

The new results were published on the Nasa database and tweeted by climatologist Gavin Schmidt, director of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Nasa’s results, which combine sea surface temperature and air temperature on land, showed July 2016 was 0.84C hotter than the 1951 to 1980 average for July, and 0.11C hotter than the previous record set in July 2015.

As the string of hottest months continues, 2016 is “virtually certain” to be the hottest year on record, said David Karoly, a climate scientist from the University of Melbourne.

That string was caused by a combination of global warming and El Niño, which spreads warm water across the Pacific, giving a boost to global temperatures.

Karoly pointed out that Nasa’s baseline temperatures, which new measurements are compared against, already included about 0.5C of warming in global temperatures. That meant July was about 1.3C warmer than the pre-industrial average.

Karoly said about 0.2C of that anomaly was likely due to the El Niño, leaving about 1.1C mostly due to human-induced climate change.

The El Niño itself has dissipated, but the effects on global air temperatures lag for between three and six months, Karoly said. As the El Niño declines, the size of the monthly anomalies has been decreasing, with February 2016 showing the biggest anomaly since records began, being an extraordinary 1.32C hotter than the average February between 1951 and 1980.

Eventually, the monthly temperature records will stop, Karoly said. “We are still seeing the tail end of the El Niño warming in global temperatures,” he said. “We’re not going to set any records later this year.”

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Marine Heatwaves Are Spawning Unprecedented Climate Chaos

MICHAEL SLEZAK Wired 16 Aug 16;

FIRST SEABIRDS STARTED falling out of the sky, washing up on beaches from California to Canada.

Then emaciated and dehydrated sea lion pups began showing up, stranded and on the brink of death.

A surge in dead whales was reported in the same region, and that was followed by the largest toxic algal bloom in history seen along the Californian coast. Mixed among all that there were population booms of several marine species that normally aren’t seen surging in the same year.

Plague, famine, pestilence and death was sweeping the northern Pacific Ocean between 2014 and 2015.

This chaos was caused by a single massive heatwave, unlike anything ever seen before. But it was not the sort of heatwave we are used to thinking about, where the air gets thick with warmth. This occurred in the ocean, where the effects are normally hidden from view.

Nicknamed “the blob”, it was arguably the biggest marine heatwave ever seen. It may have been the worst but wide-scale disruption from marine heatwaves is increasingly being seen all around the globe, with regions such as Australia seemingly being hit with more than their fair share.

It might seem strange given their huge impact but the concept of a marine heatwave is new to science. The term was only coined in 2011. Since then a growing body of work documenting their cause and impact has developed.

According to Emanuele Di Lorenzo from the Georgia Institute of Technology, that emerging field of study could not only reveal a hitherto underestimated source of climate-related chaos, it could change our very understanding of the climate.

The Eye of the Storm

On the other side of the Pacific from “the blob”, Australia has been buffeted by a string of extreme marine heatwaves. This year at least three parts of the coast have been devastated by extreme water temperatures.

Australia, it seems, could be smack in the middle of this global chaos. According to work published in 2014, both the south-east and south-west coasts are among the world’s fastest warming ocean waters.

“They have been identified as global warming hotspots,” says Eric Oliver, an oceanographer at the University of Tasmania. “The seas there are warming fast and so we might expect there to be an increased likelihood or increased intensity of the events that happen there.

“Certainly attention is being focused on ocean changes on the south-east and south-west of Australia.”

A Field Born in the Death of a Forest

It was in the study of a marine heatwave in south-west Australia that the term was coined just five years ago. In a report that still used the term “marine heatwave” in scare quotes, scientists from the West Australian department of fisheries found the heatwave off the state’s coast was “a major temperature anomaly superimposed on the underlying long-term ocean-warming trend”.

That year, the researchers found, Western Australia had an unprecedented surge of hot water along its coast. Surface temperatures were up to 5°C higher than the usual seasonal temperature. The pool of warm water stretched more than 1,500 km from Ningaloo to the southern tip of the continent at Cape Leeuwin, and it extended more than 200 km offshore. Unlike a terrestrial heatwave that will normally last a couple of weeks at most, this persisted for more than 10 weeks.

But five years later the full impact of that marine heatwave have are beginning to be more fully understood.

Thomas Wernberg, an ecologist from the University of Western Australia, examined the impact on the gigantic kelp forests that line the western and southern coast of Australia, publishing his results in the prestigious journal Science.

“It got so hot that the kelp forests died,” Wernberg says. For hundreds of kilometres, magnificent kelp forests that line the coast and support one of the world’s most biodiverse marine environments simply died in the heat

But it wasn’t just their death that was the problem. While heatwaves on land can kill and destroy large sections of terrestrial forests—usually by allowing fires to spread—those trees normally grow back. What was disturbing about this marine heatwave was that many of the vast underwater forests never came back. The warming climate created changes that meant the kelp didn’t recover. About 100km of kelp forests just disappeared, probably forever.

Mangrove Die-off

“At the same time, there was a range extension of tropical and subtropical fish that love eating seaweed. So that basically means that, even when the temperatures came down, the kelp couldn’t recover—there was a range extension of the herbivorous fishes that were eating the kelp.”

In the place of the kelp forest, Wernberg found coral was starting to emerge. It was as if the heatwave in 2011 bulldozed the area, making way for a shift in the ecosystem that climate change was already trying to impose.

“It is probably too early to say if this will eventually lead to new coral reefs,” Wernberg says. “However, this is how I imagine the process would start.”

Wernberg estimated those kelp forests were directly responsible for sustaining rock lobster and abalone fisheries, as well as a tourist industry, together worth $10 billion. If they were lost, it would be a serious problem for Australia, not to mention for the animals that rely on them.

Wernberg says the kelp forests in Western Australia were likely to keep contracting. “I think the next big heatwave is just going to push what we see in the north ultimately further down and then it just depends on how bad that heatwave is, whether we go all the way down to Perth or whether we just go another 10km,” he told the Guardian when the study first came out.

2016: The year of marine heat

In 2015 Wernberg established a working group of biologists, oceanographers and climate scientists in Australia to examine marine heatwaves. He saw it as an exciting new field of study.

That was timely, as less than a year later Australia would find itself virtually surrounded by pools of warm water that caused widespread and unprecedented destruction.

They were spurred on by a large El Niño, which spreads warm water across the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But El Niños had been seen before and these marine heatwaves appeared to be unprecedented.

Perhaps most dramatically, 2016 saw the Great Barrier Reef blasted by a marine heatwave that killed 22 percent of the coral there in one fell swoop. In the pristine northern sections, about half the coral is thought to have died.

The hotter water that bathed the reef has now subsided but the full damage is still being tallied. The immediate death of the coral is one thing but the after effects are starting to be seen, with a decline in fish numbers being reported.

And, unusually, there is continued bleaching in parts of the reef, even now as the southern hemisphere moves past the middle of winter.

Justin Marshall, of the University of Queensland, has been studying the reef ecosystem around Lizard Island in the remote northern part of the Great Barrier Reef and warns that there appears to be “complete ecosystem collapse” there.

He doesn’t have the final numbers from the surveys he is conducting but he says there are easily half as many fish there after the bleaching as there were before, and there are some species that were common before that are completely missing now.

Marshall says that could be the beginning of a “regime shift” there—where the once magnificent and resilient coral is replaced permanently by a bed of seaweed.

But as if disappearing coral reefs and kelp forests aren’t enough for one country, a marine heatwave in Australia in 2016 was also responsible for an unprecedented mangrove die-off.

On the other side of Cape York from the Great Barrier Reef, a related heatwave in the Gulf of Carpentaria spurred along what one expert studying said was the worst mangrove die-off seen anywhere in the world.

After hearing reports of the mangrove die-off, Norm Duke, an expert in mangrove ecology from James Cook University, got a helicopter and flew over 700km of coastline, to see what was happening.

He says he was shocked by what he saw. He calculated dead mangroves now covered a combined area of 7,000 hectares. That was the worst mangrove mass die-off seen anywhere in the world, he says.

“We have seen smaller instances of this kind of moisture stress before but what is so unusual now is its extent, and that it occurred across the whole southern gulf in a single month.”

Duke is assessing the precise structure of the die-off to figure out what the exact drivers were. By examining exactly which mangroves died, and measuring how far they were from the high-tide line, Duke hopes to figure out how much of the die-off is attributable to hot water and air, and how much to the dry weather. But, for now, Duke thinks all are to blame. “This is all correlated, so it’s hard to separate,” Duke says.

Greg Browning from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology says with all these changes in the water temperature and the rainfall, big changes in ecosystems would almost be expected. “In a nutshell, there have been significantly below-average rainfall totals in the last two wet seasons … and very warm sea surface temperatures,” he told the Guardian in July. “When you have those departures from average conditions, it’s bound to affect the ecosystem in some way.”

Just like the kelp forests and the coral reef, there is a distinct possibility some of these mangroves will be lost forever. Duke says if the disruption is severe enough, the mangrove-dominated regions can become salt pans—flat, unvegetated regions covered in salt.

And he says the most recent satellite images show the mangroves still haven’t recovered their leaves, suggesting they really are dead.

And last, but not least, Tasmania has been virtually poached this year.

Tasmania was bathed in an unprecedented pool of warm water that was 4.5°C higher than average, devastating lucrative oyster farms, causing a drop in salmon catches and killing swathes of abalone.

Are Marine Heatwaves on the Rise?
With two of the world’s global warming hot spots sitting just off the coasts of Australia, the country is likely to continue seeing these marine heatwaves bring chaos and destruction.

But the big question facing researchers is if they are increasing in frequency or severity or both, as a result of global warming.

Wernberg says it’s the apparent increase in the effects of marine heatwaves that has driven him and others to study them in more detail than ever before.

“It’s not that they’ve been understudied in the past,” he says. “It’s that they didn’t occur to the extent they are now.

“It seems like there are more and more extreme impacts attributed to them.”

Wernberg says it’s difficult to say “because you have one, then you have another one and then eventually you realise you are having more than you used to”.

Di Lorenzo, an oceanographer at Georgia Institute of Technology in the US, conducted a major study of “the blob”, which, at least by some measures, was the worst marine heatwave ever seen.

He says his study suggested it was made about 16 percent more likely as a result of climate change—but he warns that while he’s confident that the results show it was made significantly more likely by climate change, he’s not very confident with the precise figure. “I would feel comfortable with the sign of the effect, not necessarily with number.”

But generally, Di Lorenzo says, looking at what is happening, he thinks climate change is increasing both the frequency and severity of marine heatwaves. So much so, he wonders if climate models are wrong, and underestimating the fluctuations in temperature that will occur as the globe warms.

“The real system—if you look at the observations, and this is a paper I will publish very soon—the increase in variance is much much stronger than what models are predicting,” he says. “Maybe our models are too conservative.”

Di Lorenzo says this sort of “variance”—including things like heatwaves—will always be stronger in the ocean, because the ocean has a kind of “memory” that means events build on top of each other, multiplying their effects.

That memory is a result of temperature changing much more slowly in the ocean, as well as the ocean being able to absorb more heat in general.

Oliver, from the University of Tasmania, would not discuss the results because they were under review at a journal but data he presented at a conference, he and colleagues including Wernberg, found “more, longer, and more intense” marine heatwaves over the past century.

The results have not yet undergone peer-review but they found the same trend in many parts of the world. Since 1920, they found some regions were seeing an increase in frequency of about one extra marine heatwave every 20 years. But the plots show most of that increase happened in the past 30 years.

They also found they’re becoming hotter, increasing by almost 0.4°C per decade in some regions. And they’re lasting longer—an extra 0.4 days per decade.

Putting it all together, the results globally were even more significant. Around the world, marine heatwaves were increasing by two days every decade since 1900.

Over that time, he found the frequency and duration had doubled. As a result, the number of days in which there was a marine heatwave somewhere in the world had increased four-fold.

“On average, there are 20 more [marine heatwave] days per year in the early 21st century than in the early 20th century,” the presentation concluded.

Oliver and Wernberg declined to comment on the results, since some scientific journals refuse to publish results if the authors have already discussed them with the media.

But Di Lorenzo, who wasn’t involved in Oliver’s study, said the increasing frequency of these events is well outside of what anyone predicted, and he’s excited to see how it turns out.

“I personally, as a scientist, I’m curious to see what happens. I hope to live long enough—maybe 20 or 30 years—to see what this experiment is going to turn into.”

He said the situation is very grave for humanity but exciting for scientists. He compared the situation to a surgeon being faced with a sick patient. “If he has a very complicated surgery, of course he cares for the patient, but on the other hand he is very excited about trying a new surgery and potentially solving it.”

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