Sea Creatures Store Carbon in the Ocean – Could Protecting Them Help Slow Climate Change?

April 17, 2019
File 20190415 147502 15sm3nq.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
A sperm whale goes down for a dive off Kaikoura, New Zealand. (Photo by Heidi Pearson, CC BY-ND)

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

As the prospect of catastrophic effects from climate change becomes increasingly likely, a search is on for innovative ways to reduce the risks. One potentially powerful and low-cost strategy is to recognize and protect natural carbon sinks – places and processes that store carbon, keeping it out of Earth’s atmosphere.

Forests and wetlands can capture and store large quantities of carbon. These ecosystems are included in climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies that 28 countries have pledged to adopt to fulfill the Paris Climate Agreement. So far, however, no such policy has been created to protect carbon storage in the ocean, which is Earth’s largest carbon sink and a central element of our planet’s climate cycle.

As a marine biologist, my research focuses on marine mammal behavior, ecology and conservation. Now I also am studying how climate change is affecting marine mammals – and how marine life could become part of the solution.

A sea otter rests in a kelp forest off California. By feeding on sea urchins, which eat kelp, otters help kelp forests spread and store carbon. (Photo by Nicole LaRoche, CC BY-ND)

What is marine vertebrate carbon?

Marine animals can sequester carbon through a range of natural processes that include storing carbon in their bodies, excreting carbon-rich waste products that sink into the deep sea, and fertilizing or protecting marine plants. In particular, scientists are beginning to recognize that vertebrates, such as fish, seabirds and marine mammals, have the potential to help lock away carbon from the atmosphere.

I am currently working with colleagues at UN Environment/GRID-Arendal, a United Nations Environment Programme center in Norway, to identify mechanisms through which marine vertebrates’ natural biological processes may be able to help mitigate climate change. So far we have found at least nine examples.

One of my favorites is Trophic Cascade Carbon. Trophic cascades occur when change at the top of a food chain causes downstream changes to the rest of the chain. As an example, sea otters are top predators in the North Pacific, feeding on sea urchins. In turn, sea urchins eat kelp, a brown seaweed that grows on rocky reefs near shore. Importantly, kelp stores carbon. Increasing the number of sea otters reduces sea urchin populations, which allows kelp forests to grow and trap more carbon.

Scientists have identified nine mechanisms through which marine vertebrates play roles in the oceanic carbon cycle. (Image by GRID ArendalCC BY-ND)

Carbon stored in living organisms is called Biomass Carbon, and is found in all marine vertebrates. Large animals such as whales, which may weigh up to 50 tons and live for over 200 years, can store large quantities of carbon for long periods of time.

When they die, their carcasses sink to the seafloor, bringing a lifetime of trapped carbon with them. This is called Deadfall Carbon. On the deep seafloor, it can be eventually buried in sediments and potentially locked away from the atmosphere for millions of years.

Whales can also help to trap carbon by stimulating production of tiny marine plants called phytoplankton, which use sunlight and carbon dioxide to make plant tissue just like plants on land. The whales feed at depth, then release buoyant, nutrient-rich fecal plumes while resting at the surface, which can fertilize phytoplankton in a process that marine scientists call the Whale Pump.

And whales redistribute nutrients geographically, in a sequence we refer to as the Great Whale Conveyor Belt. They take in nutrients while feeding at high latitudes then release these nutrients while fasting on low-latitude breeding grounds, which are typically nutrient-poor. Influxes of nutrients from whale waste products such as urea can help to stimulate phytoplankton growth.

Finally, whales can bring nutrients to phytoplankton simply by swimming throughout the water column and mixing nutrients towards the surface, an effect researchers term Biomixing Carbon.

Fish poo also plays a role in trapping carbon. Some fish migrate up and down through the water column each day, swimming toward the surface to feed at night and descending to deeper waters by day. Here they release carbon-rich fecal pellets that can sink rapidly. This is called Twilight Zone Carbon.

These fish may descend to depths of 1,000 feet or more, and their fecal pellets can sink even farther. Twilight Zone Carbon can potentially be locked away for tens to hundreds of years because it takes a long time for water at these depths to recirculate back towards the surface.

‘Marine snow’ is made up of fecal pellets and other bits of organic material that sink into deep ocean waters, carrying large quantities of carbon into the depths.

Quantifying marine vertebrate carbon

To treat “blue carbon” associated with marine vertebrates as a carbon sink, scientists need to measure it. One of the first studies in this field, published in 2010, described the Whale Pump in the Southern Ocean, estimating that a historic pre-whaling population of 120,000 sperm whales could have trapped 2.2 million tons of carbon yearly through whale poo.

Another 2010 study calculated that the global pre-whaling population of approximately 2.5 million great whales would have exported nearly 210,000 tons of carbon per year to the deep sea through Deadfall Carbon. That’s equivalent to taking roughly 150,000 cars off the road each year.

A 2012 study found that by eating sea urchins, sea otters could potentially help to trap 150,000 to 22 million tons of carbon per year in kelp forests. Even more strikingly, a 2013 study described the potential for lanternfish and other Twilight Zone fish off the western U.S. coast to store over 30 million tons of carbon per year in their fecal pellets.

Scientific understanding of marine vertebrate carbon is still in its infancy. Most of the carbon-trapping mechanisms that we have identified are based on limited studies, and can be refined with further research. So far, researchers have examined the carbon-trapping abilities of less than 1% of all marine vertebrate species.

The brownish water at the base of this humpback whale’s fluke is a fecal plume, which can fertilize phytoplankton near the surface. Photo taken under NMFS permit 10018-01. (Photo by Heidi Pearson, CC BY-ND)

A new basis for marine conservation

Many governments and organizations around the world are working to rebuild global fish stocks, prevent bycatch and illegal fishing, reduce pollution and establish marine protected areas. If we can recognize the value of marine vertebrate carbon, many of these policies could qualify as climate change mitigation strategies.

In a step in this direction, the International Whaling Commission passed two resolutions in 2018 that recognized whales’ value for carbon storage. As science advances in this field, protecting marine vertebrate carbon stocks ultimately might become part of national pledges to fulfill the Paris Agreement.

Marine vertebrates are valuable for many reasons, from maintaining healthy ecosystems to providing us with a sense of awe and wonder. Protecting them will help ensure that the ocean can continue to provide humans with food, oxygen, recreation and natural beauty, as well as carbon storage.

Many sharks closer to extinction than feared

: Red List

Marlowe Hood

Agence France-Presse
Paris / Mon, March 25, 2019 / 09:00 pm
49
Shares

A picture of mako shark. Seventeen of 58 species evaluated were classified as facing extinction, the Shark Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation (IUCN) said late Thursday in an update of the Red List of threatened animals and plants.
(Shutterstock/saulty72)

Human appetites are pushing makos and other iconic sharks to the brink of extinction, scientists warned in a new assessment of the apex predator’s conservation status.

Seventeen of 58 species evaluated were classified as facing extinction, the Shark Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation (IUCN) said late Thursday in an update of the Red List of threatened animals and plants.

“Our results are alarming,” said Nicholas Dulvy, who chairs the grouping of 174 experts from 55 countries.

“The sharks that are especially slow-growing, sought-after and unprotected from overfishing tend to be the most threatened.”

That category includes the shortfin mako, whose cruising speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) — punctuated by bursts of more than 70 km/h — makes it the fastest of all sharks.

Along with its longfin cousin, the two makos are highly prized for their flesh and fins, considered a delicacy in Chinese and other Asian culinary traditions.

“Today, one of the biggest shark fisheries on the high seas is the mako,” Dulvy told AFP. “It is also one of the least protected.”

In May, nations will vote on a proposal by Mexico to list the shortfin mako on Appendix II of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

An Appendix II status would not ban fishing or trade, but would regulate it.

Six of the species reviewed were listed as “critically endangered,”
three for the first time: the whitefin swellshark, the Argentine angel shark, and the smoothback angel shark.

Eleven others were classified as either “endangered” or “vulnerable” to extinction.

The IUCN’s shark group is conducting a two-year review of more than 400 species of sharks.

Read also: ‘They’re all dead’: 110 captive sharks in Karimunjawa die mysteriously

For land animals, conservation biologists focus on population size and geographic range in assessing extinction threat.

For sharks and other marine animals they use another approach, looking instead at how quickly populations decline.

‘Way worse than thought’

But that requires a benchmark, especially for pelagic — or open ocean
— species, Dulvy explained.

Only within the last 10 years have scientists been able to establish one, partly with the help of tuna fisheries that began to keep tallies of sharks by-catch.

“A decade on, we now know that the situation is way worse than we ever thought,” Dulvy said.

Ironically, fisheries management organisations doing a better job policing tuna catches has increased the incentive for fishermen to target sharks for extra income.

“In the Indian Ocean” — along coastlines in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal — “the tuna fishery is really a shark fishery with tuna by-catch,” Dulvy said.

In light of its new findings, the Shark Specialist Group is calling for “immediate national and international fishing limits, including complete bans on landing those species assessed as ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’,” said Sonja Fordham, deputy chair of the group and an officer at The Ocean Foundation.

Sharks have lorded over the world’s oceans for some 400 million years, playing a critical role in global food chains.

But the top-level predators have proven especially vulnerable to human
predation: they grow slowly, become sexually mature relatively late in life, and produce few offspring.

The greeneye spurdog — newly classified as endangered — has a gestation period of nearly three years, the longest in the animal kingdom.

A 2013 peer-review study estimated that upward of 100 million sharks are fished every year to satisfy a market for their fins, meat, and liver oil.

More than half of shark species and their relatives are categorised as threatened or near-threatened with extinction.

https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2019/03/25/sharks-closer-to-extinction-red-list.html

Undersea gases could superheat the planet

Carbon reservoirs on ocean floor caused global warming before — and could do it again

Date:
February 13, 2019
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Geologic carbon and hydrate reservoirs in the ocean pose a climate threat beyond humanmade greenhouse gases.
Share:
FULL STORY

A deep-sea reservoir near Taiwan spews carbon dioxide when its slurry-like hydrate cap ruptures.
Credit: National Academy of Sciences

The world’s oceans could harbor an unpleasant surprise for global warming, based on new research that shows how naturally occurring carbon gases trapped in reservoirs atop the seafloor escaped to superheat the planet in prehistory.

Scientists say events that began on the ocean bottom thousands of years ago so disrupted the Earth’s atmosphere that it melted away the ice age. Those new findings challenge a long-standing paradigm that ocean water alone regulated carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during glacial cycles. Instead, the study shows geologic processes can dramatically upset the carbon cycle and cause global change.

For today’s world, the findings could portend an ominous development. The undersea carbon reservoirs released greenhouse gas to the atmosphere as oceans warmed, the study shows, and today the ocean is heating up again due to humanmade global warming.

If undersea carbon reservoirs are upset again, they would emit a huge new source of greenhouse gases, exacerbating climate change. Temperature increases in the ocean are on pace to reach that tipping point by the end of the century. For example, a big carbon reservoir beneath the western Pacific near Taiwan is already within a few degrees Celsius of destabilizing.

Moreover, the phenomenon is a threat unaccounted for in climate model projections. Undersea carbon dioxide reservoirs are relatively recent discoveries and their characteristics and history are only beginning to be understood.

Those findings come from a new research paper produced by an international team of Earth scientists led by USC and published in January in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

“We’re using the past as a way to anticipate the future,” said Lowell Stott, professor of Earth sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and lead author of the study. “We know there are vast reservoirs of carbon gas at the bottom of the oceans. We know when they were disrupted during the Pleistocene it warmed the planet.

“We have to know if these carbon reservoirs could be destabilized again. It’s a wild card for which we need to account,” Stott said.

At issue are expanses of carbon dioxide and methane accumulating underwater and scattered across the seafloor. They form as volcanic activity releases heat and gases that can congeal into liquid and solid hydrates, which are compounds stuck together in an icy slurry that encapsulates the reservoirs.

These undersea carbon reservoirs largely stay put unless perturbed, but the new study shows the natural reservoirs are vulnerable in a warming ocean and provides proof the Earth’s climate has been affected by rapid release of geologic carbon.

The scientists say it occurred in the distant past when the Earth was much warmer, and it’s happened more recently — about 17,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene epoch when glaciers advanced and receded, which is the focus on the new study. Warming was evident due to changes in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, based on ice cores, marine and continental records.

But how did that happen? What forced such dramatic change in the first place? Scientists have been searching for that answer for 40 years, with focus on oceans because they’re a giant carbon sink and play a central role in carbon dioxide variations.

They soon realized that processes that regulate carbon to the ocean operated too slowly to account for the surge in atmospheric greenhouse gases that led to warming that ended the ice age. So, scientists around the world began examining the role of Earth’s hydrothermal systems and their impact on deep-ocean carbon to see how it affected the atmosphere.

The new study by scientists at USC, the Australian National University and Lund University in Sweden, focused on the Eastern Equatorial Pacific (EEP) hundreds of miles off the coast of Ecuador. The EEP is a primary conduit through which the ocean releases carbon to the atmosphere.

The scientists report evidence of deep-sea hydrothermal systems releasing greenhouse gases to the ocean and atmosphere at the end of the last ice age, just as the oceans were beginning to warm. They measured increased deposition of hydrothermal metals in ancient marine sediments. They correlated glaciation intervals with variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide with differences in marine microorganism ages. They found a four-fold increase in zinc in protozoa (foraminifera) shells, a telltale sign of widespread hydrothermal activity.

Taken together, the new data show that there were major releases of naturally occurring carbon from the EEP, which contributed to dramatic change in Earth’s temperature as the ice age was ending, the study says.

Elsewhere around the world, more and more deep-ocean carbon reservoirs are being discovered. They mostly occur near hydrothermal vents, of which scores have been identified so far, especially in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. They occur where the Earth’s crust spreads or collides, creating ideal conditions for the formation of deep-sea carbon dioxide reservoirs. Only about one-third of the ocean’s volcanic regions have been surveyed.

One such reservoir of undersea carbon dioxide, seen in the accompanying video, was discovered about 4,000 feet deep off the coast of Taiwan. Similar discoveries of carbon gas reservoirs have been made off the coast of Okinawa, in the Aegean Sea, in the Gulf of California and off the west coast of Canada.

“The grand challenge is we don’t have estimates of the size of these or which ones are particularly vulnerable to destabilization,” Stott said. “It’s something that needs to be determined.”

In many cases, the carbon reservoirs are bottled up by their hydrate caps. But those covers are sensitive to temperature changes. As oceans warm, the caps can melt, a development the paper warns would lead to a double wallop for climate change — a new source of geologic carbon in addition to the humanmade greenhouse gases.

Oceans absorb nearly all the excess energy from the Earth’s atmosphere, and as a result they have been warming rapidly in recent decades. Over the past quarter-century, Earth’s oceans have retained 60 percent more heat each year than scientists previously had thought, other studies have shown. Throughout the marine water column, ocean heat has increased for the last 50 years. The federal government’s Climate Science Special Report projected a global increase in average sea surface temperatures of up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, given current emissions rates. Temperature gains of that magnitude throughout the ocean could eventually destabilize the geologic hydrate reservoirs, Stott said.

“The last time it happened, climate change was so great it caused the end of the ice age. Once that geologic process begins, we can’t turn it off,” Stott said.

Moreover, other similar events have happened in the distant past, helping shape the Earth’s environment over and over again. In earlier research, Stott discovered a large, carbon anomaly that occurred 55 million years ago. It disrupted the ocean’s chemistry, causing extensive dissolution of marine carbonates and the extinction of many marine organisms. The ocean changes were accompanied by a rapid rise in global temperatures, an event called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maxima (PETM), a period lasting less than 20,000 years during which so much carbon was released to the atmosphere that Earth’s temperatures surged to about 8 degrees Celsius hotter than today.

“Until quite recently, we had no idea these events occurred. The PETM event is a good analog for what can happen when undersea carbon escapes through the water column to the atmosphere. And now we know the PETM event was not a unique event, that this has happened more recently,” Stott said.

The study comes with some caveats. Much of the ocean floor is unexplored, so scientists don’t know the full extent of the carbon dioxide reservoirs. There is no inventory of greenhouse gases from these geologic sources. And ocean warming is not uniform, making it difficult to predict when and where the undersea carbon reservoirs will be affected. It would take much more study to answer those questions.

Nonetheless, the study makes clear the undersea carbon reservoirs are vulnerable to ocean warming.

“Geologic carbon reservoirs such as these are not explicitly included in current marine carbon budgets” used to model the impacts of climate change, the study says. Yet, “even if only a small percentage of the unsampled hydrothermal systems contain separate gas or liquid carbon dioxide phases, it could change the global marine carbon budget substantially.”

Said Stott: “Discoveries of accumulations of liquid, hydrate and gaseous carbon dioxide in the ocean has not been accounted for because we didn’t know these reservoirs existed until recently, and we didn’t know they affected global change in a significant ways.

“This study shows that we’ve been missing a critical component of the marine carbon budget. It shows these geologic reservoirs can release large amounts of carbon from the oceans. Our paper makes the case that this process has happened before and it could happen again.”

The study authors are Lowell Stott of USC, Kathleen M. Harazin of the Australian National University and Nadine B. Quintana Krupinski of Lund University, Sweden. U.S. funding for the study comes from a National Science Foundation Marine Geology and Geophysics Grant (1558990).

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Southern CaliforniaNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Undersea gases could superheat the planet

Carbon reservoirs on ocean floor caused global warming before — and could do it again

Date:
February 13, 2019
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Geologic carbon and hydrate reservoirs in the ocean pose a climate threat beyond humanmade greenhouse gases.
Share:
FULL STORY

A deep-sea reservoir near Taiwan spews carbon dioxide when its slurry-like hydrate cap ruptures.
Credit: National Academy of Sciences

The world’s oceans could harbor an unpleasant surprise for global warming, based on new research that shows how naturally occurring carbon gases trapped in reservoirs atop the seafloor escaped to superheat the planet in prehistory.

Scientists say events that began on the ocean bottom thousands of years ago so disrupted the Earth’s atmosphere that it melted away the ice age. Those new findings challenge a long-standing paradigm that ocean water alone regulated carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during glacial cycles. Instead, the study shows geologic processes can dramatically upset the carbon cycle and cause global change.

For today’s world, the findings could portend an ominous development. The undersea carbon reservoirs released greenhouse gas to the atmosphere as oceans warmed, the study shows, and today the ocean is heating up again due to humanmade global warming.

If undersea carbon reservoirs are upset again, they would emit a huge new source of greenhouse gases, exacerbating climate change. Temperature increases in the ocean are on pace to reach that tipping point by the end of the century. For example, a big carbon reservoir beneath the western Pacific near Taiwan is already within a few degrees Celsius of destabilizing.

Moreover, the phenomenon is a threat unaccounted for in climate model projections. Undersea carbon dioxide reservoirs are relatively recent discoveries and their characteristics and history are only beginning to be understood.

Those findings come from a new research paper produced by an international team of Earth scientists led by USC and published in January in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

“We’re using the past as a way to anticipate the future,” said Lowell Stott, professor of Earth sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and lead author of the study. “We know there are vast reservoirs of carbon gas at the bottom of the oceans. We know when they were disrupted during the Pleistocene it warmed the planet.

“We have to know if these carbon reservoirs could be destabilized again. It’s a wild card for which we need to account,” Stott said.

At issue are expanses of carbon dioxide and methane accumulating underwater and scattered across the seafloor. They form as volcanic activity releases heat and gases that can congeal into liquid and solid hydrates, which are compounds stuck together in an icy slurry that encapsulates the reservoirs.

These undersea carbon reservoirs largely stay put unless perturbed, but the new study shows the natural reservoirs are vulnerable in a warming ocean and provides proof the Earth’s climate has been affected by rapid release of geologic carbon.

The scientists say it occurred in the distant past when the Earth was much warmer, and it’s happened more recently — about 17,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene epoch when glaciers advanced and receded, which is the focus on the new study. Warming was evident due to changes in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, based on ice cores, marine and continental records.

But how did that happen? What forced such dramatic change in the first place? Scientists have been searching for that answer for 40 years, with focus on oceans because they’re a giant carbon sink and play a central role in carbon dioxide variations.

They soon realized that processes that regulate carbon to the ocean operated too slowly to account for the surge in atmospheric greenhouse gases that led to warming that ended the ice age. So, scientists around the world began examining the role of Earth’s hydrothermal systems and their impact on deep-ocean carbon to see how it affected the atmosphere.

The new study by scientists at USC, the Australian National University and Lund University in Sweden, focused on the Eastern Equatorial Pacific (EEP) hundreds of miles off the coast of Ecuador. The EEP is a primary conduit through which the ocean releases carbon to the atmosphere.

The scientists report evidence of deep-sea hydrothermal systems releasing greenhouse gases to the ocean and atmosphere at the end of the last ice age, just as the oceans were beginning to warm. They measured increased deposition of hydrothermal metals in ancient marine sediments. They correlated glaciation intervals with variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide with differences in marine microorganism ages. They found a four-fold increase in zinc in protozoa (foraminifera) shells, a telltale sign of widespread hydrothermal activity.

Taken together, the new data show that there were major releases of naturally occurring carbon from the EEP, which contributed to dramatic change in Earth’s temperature as the ice age was ending, the study says.

Elsewhere around the world, more and more deep-ocean carbon reservoirs are being discovered. They mostly occur near hydrothermal vents, of which scores have been identified so far, especially in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. They occur where the Earth’s crust spreads or collides, creating ideal conditions for the formation of deep-sea carbon dioxide reservoirs. Only about one-third of the ocean’s volcanic regions have been surveyed.

One such reservoir of undersea carbon dioxide, seen in the accompanying video, was discovered about 4,000 feet deep off the coast of Taiwan. Similar discoveries of carbon gas reservoirs have been made off the coast of Okinawa, in the Aegean Sea, in the Gulf of California and off the west coast of Canada.

“The grand challenge is we don’t have estimates of the size of these or which ones are particularly vulnerable to destabilization,” Stott said. “It’s something that needs to be determined.”

In many cases, the carbon reservoirs are bottled up by their hydrate caps. But those covers are sensitive to temperature changes. As oceans warm, the caps can melt, a development the paper warns would lead to a double wallop for climate change — a new source of geologic carbon in addition to the humanmade greenhouse gases.

Oceans absorb nearly all the excess energy from the Earth’s atmosphere, and as a result they have been warming rapidly in recent decades. Over the past quarter-century, Earth’s oceans have retained 60 percent more heat each year than scientists previously had thought, other studies have shown. Throughout the marine water column, ocean heat has increased for the last 50 years. The federal government’s Climate Science Special Report projected a global increase in average sea surface temperatures of up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, given current emissions rates. Temperature gains of that magnitude throughout the ocean could eventually destabilize the geologic hydrate reservoirs, Stott said.

“The last time it happened, climate change was so great it caused the end of the ice age. Once that geologic process begins, we can’t turn it off,” Stott said.

Moreover, other similar events have happened in the distant past, helping shape the Earth’s environment over and over again. In earlier research, Stott discovered a large, carbon anomaly that occurred 55 million years ago. It disrupted the ocean’s chemistry, causing extensive dissolution of marine carbonates and the extinction of many marine organisms. The ocean changes were accompanied by a rapid rise in global temperatures, an event called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maxima (PETM), a period lasting less than 20,000 years during which so much carbon was released to the atmosphere that Earth’s temperatures surged to about 8 degrees Celsius hotter than today.

“Until quite recently, we had no idea these events occurred. The PETM event is a good analog for what can happen when undersea carbon escapes through the water column to the atmosphere. And now we know the PETM event was not a unique event, that this has happened more recently,” Stott said.

The study comes with some caveats. Much of the ocean floor is unexplored, so scientists don’t know the full extent of the carbon dioxide reservoirs. There is no inventory of greenhouse gases from these geologic sources. And ocean warming is not uniform, making it difficult to predict when and where the undersea carbon reservoirs will be affected. It would take much more study to answer those questions.

Nonetheless, the study makes clear the undersea carbon reservoirs are vulnerable to ocean warming.

“Geologic carbon reservoirs such as these are not explicitly included in current marine carbon budgets” used to model the impacts of climate change, the study says. Yet, “even if only a small percentage of the unsampled hydrothermal systems contain separate gas or liquid carbon dioxide phases, it could change the global marine carbon budget substantially.”

Said Stott: “Discoveries of accumulations of liquid, hydrate and gaseous carbon dioxide in the ocean has not been accounted for because we didn’t know these reservoirs existed until recently, and we didn’t know they affected global change in a significant ways.

“This study shows that we’ve been missing a critical component of the marine carbon budget. It shows these geologic reservoirs can release large amounts of carbon from the oceans. Our paper makes the case that this process has happened before and it could happen again.”

The study authors are Lowell Stott of USC, Kathleen M. Harazin of the Australian National University and Nadine B. Quintana Krupinski of Lund University, Sweden. U.S. funding for the study comes from a National Science Foundation Marine Geology and Geophysics Grant (1558990).

Oceans warming even faster than thought

A new analysis has found that Earth’s oceans are heating up 40% faster than a United Nations panel estimated 5 years ago.

Ship on the water with a buoy in the foreground.

Since the mid-2000s, a fleet of nearly 4,000 floating robots have been drifting throughout Earth’s oceans, every few days diving to a depth of about 1.25 miles (2,000 meters) and measuring the ocean’s temperature, pH, salinity and other bits of information as they rise back up. This ocean-monitoring battalion is called Argo.

New research finds that ocean warming is accelerating more rapidly than previously thought. The new analysis, published January 9, 2019, in the peer-reviewed journal Science, found that Earth’s oceans are heating up an average of 40 percent faster than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago.

Zeke Hausfather is an environmental economist at University of California Berkeley and co-author of the paper. Hausfather said in a statement:

If you want to see where global warming is happening, look in our oceans. Ocean heating is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have robust evidence that it is warming more rapidly than we thought.

Ocean heating is a critical marker of climate change because an estimated 93 percent of the excess solar energytrapped by greenhouse gases accumulates in the world’s oceans. And, unlike surface temperatures, ocean temperatures are not affected by year-to-year variations caused by climate events like El Nino or volcanic eruptions. Hausfather said:

While 2018 will be the fourth warmest year on record on the surface, it will most certainly be the warmest year on record in the oceans, as were 2017 and 2016 before that. The global warming signal is a lot easier to detect if it is changing in the oceans than on the surface.

Expanse of shallow water with dark land on the horizon and blue sky.

Trends in ocean heat content match those predicted by leading climate change models. Overall ocean warming is accelerating. Image via ScienceDaily/Michele Hogan.

The new analysis looked at four studies published between 2014 and 2017. Three of the studies calculated ocean heat content back to 1970 and before, using new methods to correct for calibration errors and biases in the data. The fourth takes a completely different approach, using the fact that a warming ocean releases oxygen to the atmosphere to calculate ocean warming from changes in atmospheric oxygen concentrations, while accounting for other factors, like burning fossil fuels, that also change atmospheric oxygen levels. Hausfather said:

Scientists are continually working to improve how to interpret and analyze what was a fairly imperfect and limited set of data prior to the early 2000s. These four new records that have been published in recent years seem to fix a lot of problems that were plaguing the old records, and now they seem to agree quite well with what the climate models have produced.

Oceans are warming dramatically faster, new study warns

A new study finds the world’s oceans are warming significantly faster than previously thought. The analysis, published Thursday in the journal Science, raises the stakes for curbing climate change.

Since 1970, the ocean has warmed 40 percent more than previous estimates, according to climate scientist Zeke Hausfather, one of the authors of the study.

The study examined four new or updated Ocean Heat Content records — a fancy term for measuring how warm the ocean is, taking into account deeper water, not just surface temperatures — and finds the ocean warming is significantly higher than estimated in the last comprehensive report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013.

Ninety-three percent of the excess heat trapped in the Earth’s system by human-caused greenhouse gas emissions is stored in the oceans. If it weren’t for this ocean buffer absorbing so much heat, our atmosphere would be roasting us by now.

According to Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist from the National Center for Atmospheric Research and co-author of the study, the increase in ocean heat content observed since 1992 is about 2,000 times the total electricity generation by U.S. utility companies in the past decade.

That heat build-up has a debilitating impact on many aspects of ocean life. Coral reefs are a good example.

Coral is very sensitive to increases in water temperature. When the water is too warm the corals bleach, turning white. A 2016 study estimates that 98 percent of coral reefs worldwide will experience bleaching-level stress each year by 2050.

Bleaching can eventually lead to death of the reef community, turning them into Ghost Reefs. Since 25 percent of all life in the ocean depends on coral reefs, this loss has a ripple effect on the ecosystem.

Warmer water also holds less carbon dioxide, meaning more heat-trapping gas escapes back into the atmosphere, creating a self-reinforcing feedback loop of perpetuated warming.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, literally. Warm water hastens the rate of glaciers melting, and expands the water column, and together the two phenomena raise sea levels. By 2100 the IPCC estimates sea levels may rise 2 to 3 feet, and some studies say more. The destabilizing effects of this on society are incalculable.

The most dramatic effect of warmer water is the impact we already feel most directly: extreme weather. A warmer ocean means stronger hurricanes and heavier flooding events.

For example, it’s estimated that rainfall from Hurricane Harvey was 15 percent to 38 percent greater because of climate change. As the ocean and air warms, extreme flooding events will increase.

Embedded video

NASA Precipitation

@NASARain

Last Friday 8/25 the GPM satellite measured heavy rainfall in Hurricane as it moved towards the Texas coast https://pmm.nasa.gov/extreme-weather/gpms-radar-measures-intense-rain-hurricane-harvey 

25 people are talking about this

A well-cited study by highly respected NOAA climate modeler Tom Knutson shows that by late this century the number of Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes may increase by 42 percent in the Atlantic Basin and over 300 percent in the Eastern Pacific. This is due to warmer water which acts as high-octane fuel to power storms. Stronger storms mean exponentially more damage.

https://www.cbsnews.com/embed/video/?v=1.275a5a9714128da8b682ce28833b88f36e18f6a6#zVZtb9w2DP4rhoFtX045yy9n%2B4CiaNd1DVq0wdKsw3rFQZbosxrbMiQ7l1uR%2Fz7S9l2y7kOHdSjWoGeZIinxIfnQn3wx9KarxcFfl6J2sPBvtALjrz%2F5uofG%2Bev3n%2Fz%2B0IG%2F9m%2BM8he%2BVrhUabwqg7RgZRpzFmfZiuVRmTIVx1FSJqtVHgao23S3v0B5ThZGPHsD%2BlVVl%2B5Xd%2FW02m2vzq9e%2Fvb2fPvm6jlUHyftUfX2VfLitQx%2FP3%2FxJkWxq4cdSvfCNmCZkSBax3QrLQgHzGp3zUzJ9uB6Jo3A32qwVkvRgkPrXvc1Xf7FSejp1usr8N6hhfcjWTz2zvsfnCc8coY25VDXR7t347HedKx3PHbU9Ez5wIn3l2PxaVp8q99%2BnZ9eN7gjms5f8ySKk5xnAf1b%2BGqwotempY34%2FvWVKKDG84JwHcXooJ7eWwwJc9eIHbrF5DoCuur7zq03y81SFq6FveNnuNB4Xq%2FlmTTNZlkNxWapN0u7WYYBzzbLAP%2FTE%2BJSFVkIjBdQsFiVGcshTVmaFUUpuEhDxTfLvhqaohW63ixXcXAbrQK0DFegAPiKh1GiJIQA8SqOc1WCirnM6QyeMSf6xoxpHbN6QoUdBimFY3wVZTHnbPZ79rHbYbjVN4%2BLh1lwm4YYGE9LkYooUMCTNMlUInNR8FWmlBI5j7KvCOxu4XcWbjTsryxll2LrhqLGcG50fWhvp6iUtiD7zTIrZcRTHipIeQSBjGKZJDIuJARRtOIxav6DBsYjrFnleMJet8rsz5qOKmomCLyD6BDBG4Sj1DX0xjmE47Ezg5XwSHdCMddjlTe63X3fib569F34vAGlBT27W%2Fwl6PER0M%2B44lHA0yjMI57Hq3GHZ9sRsO3fAdtOgG0nwNJtV5kWzppoyI63DP%2F31xzGdN4X7H6%2FP5uLdkrpGAfK%2FwX7bZZE1%2B686YzrwZ4YHglfy5HhqVnSkhdhWMQsSqjqOUQsk5CxIE5VWvCkyEO4Z2G8G%2Bsr7VhjbIuIUTUPVuH8wN7TYIWVFc6S96TokaI3KxInfibyTrYfsL6h084opEqOh2FwxGw%2Bp5Nh10DbTxtDh33g3CkWUddPpETJ09rI6xPPuSsH9nIonLS6AHVSd51pnbFHvQpunzyDUgx1T5S5wD9%2FlD69l0b5Ik4WSe7ffcARBb0Y6bNHtoXdgdYoqwwhKboOWuXf3Z3QGpPHzA1YnLCsM91QC0usPg3UGilpguY4bajR0bW8JjFlyP3UiqKmCHo7ULwWKayGJwOeaWlavveTXBWQBpyJKEbGSsOYFbEomYJAxJCrDJLA%2F%2FCZ6WvRABl%2FhLL0CsqbgrrWD%2FTGUZyv0iRHEmLYAcDQW8LyTCYsFkggMgkS4EQJs8nFUDxDWNAOOyZHG8ZDLwjWQbzm4b3acSTOs1BY8Ki8qSKUFQ2RNKb14JWCynbhYTN4rh%2FUgdRa98DRBKM0bY8Fsp2luK%2BQKuVxW4G7xpIfe%2BEZ3NDtcN3hJJwVqNm29LVDxYbPF5qa5b3fg6wIEJJdIq%2BOw3aSTsLZHguSykrfYBxQ%2BHODjfiFPC%2BynMeM5gE1V8hyxUMWIJ4lZCIIiuBoMKXk6H%2FAAp7906cESorrSzyT3EZRhB8AtW40Fmh8guNypLSpSQk0QqqwolUXtehLY5vxSjO7bCmA7T029DrfYNYYcWzMzoqu0vIlHNxYMKZ4PrQTGAt6%2B5EawVgiAJwSA3YGLZG7ugGzd2FNqaWGVh6loj1c6j8oSzvsFqB2wFT8bM3QjRpDSx4Q9h5ErYeG2qAjL%2FWDu9FtURtaSifuKmqc0zfX1ZdIlVab5UymWH9srj%2F2sP7YVH8MlZlEsDFONpYhG8twZNdxTlwYvA7iMacLGmKcqcK%2B3U3otDl%2F%2F6HXkcC%2BGMTXzai7uz8B

Because the oceans are so large and less variable than the atmosphere, it makes ocean heat content a much better gauge for the pace of global warming.

Trenberth says, “The warmer ocean is the memory of the past climate change and the ocean heat content is breaking records every year.”

Unlike the surface temperature record which can vary dramatically from year to year, the Ocean Heat Content record acts a bank and steadily accumulates heat. So, if the Earth is trapping excess heat, the Ocean Heat Content record will tick upward, with no ambiguity.

And that is where this study lays to rest a misconception about whether there was a global warming “hiatus” between 1998 and 2013. If you look at a short-term snippet of the surface temperature record, one could conclude that warming was negligible during that 15-year period. Those skeptical of climate change often refer to this to poke holes in the evidence.

But in this new analysis, the authors of the study say, “Although climate model results have been criticized during debates about a ‘hiatus’ or ‘slowdown’ of global mean surface temperature, it is increasingly clear that the pause in surface warming was at least in part due to the redistribution of heat within the climate system.”

In other words, the oceans were just hiding the heat and now new tools have enabled scientists to find it.

Zeke Hausfather@hausfath

The broader point I was trying to make is that unlike in the case of surface temperature, ocean heat content has increased fairly smoothly, with no decadal-scale slowdowns or “hiatuses”. You can see this clearly in the Cheng et al data, for example:

34 people are talking about this

The improvement in the four new datasets examined in this study is due partially to new analysis methods and partly due to the development of a vast network of ocean sensors called Argo. It’s a global array of nearly 4,000 temperature and salinity profiling floats measuring temperatures as deep as 2,000 meters down.

The study also lays to rest a long-standing discrepancy in the climate science community, namely the question of why climate models over-project ocean heating. According to this new study, it turns out they don’t.

The new measure of actual ocean heat matches almost perfectly the average projection from the best coupled ocean-atmosphere models (CMIP5). By this metric, the climate models are performing very well. It gives climate scientists and the public greater reason for confidence in future projections.

This study is a reminder that the state of our oceans is the best bellwether of our changing climate. And the evidence shows our current climate is changing much faster than at any time in human history.

Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds

 

Rising ocean temperatures can bleach corals, like these off of Papua New Guinea.CreditJurgen Freund/NPL/Minden Pictures
Image
Rising ocean temperatures can bleach corals, like these off of Papua New Guinea.CreditCreditJurgen Freund/NPL/Minden Pictures

Want climate news in your inbox? Sign up here for Climate Fwd:, our email newsletter.

Scientists say the world’s oceans are warming far more quickly than previously thought, a finding with dire implications for climate change because almost all the excess heat absorbed by the planet ends up stored in their waters.

A new analysis, published Thursday in the journal Science, found that the oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago. The researchers also concluded that ocean temperatures have broken records for several straight years.

“2018 is going to be the warmest year on record for the Earth’s oceans,” said Zeke Hausfather, an energy systems analyst at the independent climate research group Berkeley Earth and an author of the study. “As 2017 was the warmest year, and 2016 was the warmest year.”

As the planet has warmed, the oceans have provided a critical buffer. They have slowed the effects of climate change by absorbing 93 percent of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases humans pump into the atmosphere.

“If the ocean wasn’t absorbing as much heat, the surface of the land would heat up much faster than it is right now,” said Malin L. Pinsky, an associate professor in the department of ecology, evolution and natural resources at Rutgers University. “In fact, the ocean is saving us from massive warming right now.”

But the surging water temperatures are already killing off marine ecosystems, raising sea levels and making hurricanes more destructive.

You have 9 free articles remaining.

Subscribe to The Times

As the oceans continue to heat up, those effects will become more catastrophic, scientists say. Rainier, more powerful storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and Hurricane Florence in 2018 will become more common, and coastlines around the world will flood more frequently. Coral reefs, whose fish populations are sources of food for hundreds of millions of people, will come under increasing stress; a fifth of all corals have already died in the past three years.

People in the tropics, who rely heavily on fish for protein, could be hard hit, said Kathryn Matthews, deputy chief scientist for the conservation group Oceana. “The actual ability of the warm oceans to produce food is much lower, so that means they’re going to be more quickly approaching food insecurity,” she said.

Because they play such a critical role in global warming, oceans are one of the most important areas of research for climate scientists. Average ocean temperatures are also a consistent way to track the effects of greenhouse gas emissions because they are not influenced much by short-term weather patterns, Mr. Hausfather said.

“Oceans are really the best thermometer we have for changes in the Earth,” he said.

But, historically, understanding ocean temperatures has been difficult. An authoritative United Nations report, issued in 2014 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, presented five different estimates of ocean heat, but they all showed less warming than the levels projected by computer climate models — suggesting that either the ocean heat measurements or the climate models were inaccurate.

[The I.P.C.C. also issued a report last year that described a climate crisis as soon as 2040.]

Since the early 2000s, scientists have measured ocean heat using a network of drifting floats called Argo, named after Jason’s ship in Greek mythology. The floats measure the temperature and saltiness of the upper 6,500 feet of the ocean and upload the data via satellites.

An ocean sensor deployed by the French research ship Pourquoi Pas? as part of the Argo project.CreditOlivier Dugornay/IFremer/Argo Program
Image
An ocean sensor deployed by the French research ship Pourquoi Pas? as part of the Argo project.CreditOlivier Dugornay/IFremer/Argo Program

But before Argo, researchers relied on temperature sensors that ships lowered into the ocean with copper wire. The wire transferred data from the sensor to the ship for recording until the wire broke and the sensor drifted away.

That method was subject to uncertainties, particularly around the accuracy of the depth at which the measurement was taken. Those uncertainties hamper today’s scientists as they stitch together 20th-century temperature data into a global historical record.

In the new analysis, Mr. Hausfather and his colleagues assessed three recent studies that better accounted for the older instrument biases. The results converged at an estimate of ocean warming that was higher than that of the 2014 United Nations report and more in line with the climate models.

The waters closest to the surface have heated up the most, and that warming has accelerated over the past two decades, according to data from the lead author of the new study, Lijing Cheng of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Beijing.

As the oceans heat up, sea levels rise because warmer water takes up more space than colder water. In fact, most of the sea level rise observed to date is because of this warming effect, not melting ice caps.

ADVERTISEMENT

Absent global action to reduce carbon emissions, the authors said, the warming alone would cause sea levels to rise by about a foot by 2100, and the ice caps would contribute more. That could exacerbate damages from severe coastal flooding and storm surge.

The effects of the warming on marine life could also have broad repercussions, Dr. Pinsky said. “As the ocean heats up, it’s driving fish into new places, and we’re already seeing that that’s driving conflict between countries,” he said. “It’s spilling over far beyond just fish, it’s turned into trade wars. It’s turned into diplomatic disputes. It’s led to a breakdown in international relations in some cases.”

A fourth study reviewed by the researchers strengthened their conclusions. That study used a novel method to estimate ocean temperatures indirectly, and it also found that the world’s oceans were heating faster than the authors of the 2014 study did.

The study initially contained an error that caused its authors to revise their estimates downward. But as it turned out, the downward revision brought the study’s estimates much closer to the new consensus.

“The correction made it agree a lot better with the other new observational records,” Mr. Hausfather said. “Previously it showed significantly more warming than anyone, and that was potentially worrisome because it meant our observational estimates might be problematic. Now their best estimate is pretty much dead-on with the other three recent studies.”

The scientists who published the four studies were not trying to make their results align, Mr. Hausfather said. “The groups who were working on ocean heat observations, they’re not climate modelers,” he said. “They’re not particularly concerned with whether or not their observations agree or disagree with climate models.”

A dead coral reef in waters off Indonesia.CreditEthan Daniels/Stocktrek Images, via Science Source
Image

A dead coral reef in waters off Indonesia.CreditEthan Daniels/Stocktrek Images, via Science Source

Laure Zanna, an associate professor of climate physics at the University of Oxford who was not involved in the study, said the new research was “a very nice summary of what we know of the ocean and how far the new estimates have come together.”

Dr. Zanna published a study this week that used existing data to estimate ocean temperatures dating back to 1871. The goal was to figure out places where sea level rise might happen even faster than expected because of the way ocean currents redistribute heat, allowing regions that are especially at risk to better plan for those changes.

[Here’s more on how the oceans are absorbing most of the planet’s excess heat.]

“We are warming the planet but the ocean is not warming evenly, so different places warm more than others,” Dr. Zanna said. “And so the first consequence will be that sea level will be different in different places depending on the warming.”

Though the new findings provide a grim forecast for the future of the oceans, Mr. Hausfather said that efforts to mitigate global warming, including the 2015 Paris climate agreement, would help. “I think there’s some reason for confidence that we’ll avoid the worst-case outcomes,” he said, “even if we’re not on track for the outcomes we want.”

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

Kendra Pierre-Louis is a reporter on the climate team. Before joining The Times in 2017, she covered science and the environment for Popular Science. @kendrawrites

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Ocean Temperatures Rising Faster, as Are Fears. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

World’s smallest porpoise ‘at the edge of extinction’ as illegal gillnets take toll

Now only 60 of Mexico’s vaquita marina left despite the navy enforcing a ban on the fishing net, latest study shows

There are just 60 vaquita marina left in the wild, according the the latest estimate.
 There are just 60 vaquita marina left in the wild, according the the latest estimate. Photograph: Ho New/Reuters

Environmentalists warned on Friday that Mexico’s vaquita marina, the world’s smallest porpoise, was close to extinction as the government reported that only 60 were now left.

The population has dramatically dropped despite the arrival of navy reinforcements in the upper Gulf of California in April 2015 to enforce a ban on fishing gillnets blamed for the vaquita’s death.

The porpoise’s population had already fallen to fewer than 100 in 2014, down from 200 in 2012, according to the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), a global group of scientists.

Mexico’s environment ministry said in a statement a joint study with CIRVA between September and December estimated the latest population at “around 60”.

“The vaquita is at the edge of extinction,” the World Wildlife Fund said in a statement, warning that 20% more have probably died in nets since January.

The vaquita’s fate has been linked to another critically endangered sea creature, the totoaba, a fish that has been illegally caught for its swim bladder, which is dried and sold on the black market in China.

Poachers use illegal gillnets to catch the totoaba and the vaquita, a shy 1.5-metre-long (5ft) cetacean with dark rings around the eyes, is believed to be the victim of bycatch.

President Enrique Peña Nieto imposed a two-year ban on gillnets in April 2015 and increased the vaquita protection area tenfold to 13,000 square kilometres (5,000 square miles).

He deployed a navy patrol ship with a helipad, a dozen high-speed boats and two planes to enforce the prohibition.

Environment minister Rafael Pacchiano said three vaquitas had been found dead and that protective measures needed to be reinforced, but federal authorities are convinced the vaquita can still be saved.

He urged the local population to report illegal activities.

The Mexican government agreed to compensate local fishermen in a $30m-a-year program to give up gillnet fishing while they look for safer alternative nets.

But navy sailors said during a tour of their mission in April that they were catching gillnets every day – three to 10 times the length of a football field, often ensnaring totoabas, dolphins, turtles and sea lions.

The environment ministry said 600 nets were seized in the past year, while 77 people were detained.

Officials say fishermen sell the totoaba’s swim bladders to smugglers who store them in border towns before sending them to the US or shipping them directly to Asia in suitcases or through parcel services.

Each bladder fetches about $1,500-$1,800 in Mexico, rising to $5,000 in the US and $10,000 to $20,000 apiece in Asia, according to US authorities.

Consumed in soup, maw is believed to cure a host of ailments, from arthritis to discomfort in pregnancy, and plump up skin due to its high collagen content.

WWF urged the governments of Mexico, the US and China to take urgent measures and coordinate to stop the smuggling to totoaba bladders.

“In the end, if the vaquita goes extinct, the three countries will share the responsibility,” the environmentalist group said.

The group said Mexico should ban all fishing in the vaquita habitat, compensate fishermen and deploy a newly created environmental police to the region.

“At WWF we are convinced that it is still possible to save the vaquita, but this is clearly its last chance,” said WWF’s Mexico director, Omar Vidal.

Bungled attempt to clean up ocean rubbish using floating dragnet cancelled after device broke apart at sea

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8130113/ocean-cleanup-project-pacific-plastic-waste-failed/

The 2,000-foot-long barrier had aimed to collect half of the Pacific rubbish patch between California and Hawaii which covers an area three times the size of France, in five years

A BOTCHED multi-million pound effort to clean up ocean pollution has been halted after sweeping up no plastic waste.

A 60ft part of the £31million floating device broke away from the Pacific Ocean cleanup, which was sent to corral a swirling island of rubbish between California and Hawaii.

<img class="lazyautosizes lazyloaded" src="data:;base64,” sizes=”620px” srcset=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 180w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 360w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 540w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 720w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 900w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 1080w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 1296w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 1512w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 1728w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 1944w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 2160w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 2376w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 2592w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 2808w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 3024w” alt=” A ship tows The Ocean Cleanup’s first buoyant trash-collecting device toward the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco en route to the Pacific Ocean in September” data-credit=”AP:Associated Press” data-sizes=”auto” data-img=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?strip=all&w=960″ data-srcset=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 180w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 360w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 540w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 720w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 900w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 1080w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 1296w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 1512w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 1728w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 1944w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 2160w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 2376w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 2592w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 2808w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925972.jpg?w=960 3024w” />

AP:ASSOCIATED PRESS
6
A ship tows The Ocean Cleanup’s first buoyant trash-collecting device toward the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco en route to the Pacific Ocean in September

The crucial component of the 2,000ft barrier in the ocean came apart two months into the project.

And that came after the device had already failed to hold the plastic debris it caught — accidentally spilling trash back into the sea.

The ambitious project had hoped to collect half of the Pacific rubbish patch, which covers an area three times the size of France, in five years.

Now the failed structure will have to be towed back to the United States.

<img class="lazyautosizes lazyloaded" src="data:;base64,” sizes=”620px” srcset=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 180w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 360w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 540w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 720w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 900w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 1080w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 1296w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 1512w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 1728w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 1944w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 2160w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 2376w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 2592w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 2808w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 3024w” alt=” The trash collection project was deployed to corral plastic litter floating between California and Hawaii in an attempt to clean up the world’s largest floating rubbish patch” data-credit=”EPA” data-sizes=”auto” data-img=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?strip=all&w=960″ data-srcset=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 180w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 360w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 540w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 720w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 900w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 1080w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 1296w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 1512w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 1728w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 1944w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 2160w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 2376w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 2592w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 2808w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000432075457.jpg?w=960 3024w” />

EPA
6
The trash collection project was deployed to corral plastic litter floating between California and Hawaii in an attempt to clean up the world’s largest floating rubbish patch
<img class="lazyautosizes lazyloaded" src="data:;base64,” sizes=”620px” srcset=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 180w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 360w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 540w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 720w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 900w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 1080w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 1296w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 1512w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 1728w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 1944w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 2160w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 2376w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 2592w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 2808w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 3024w” alt=” The 80,000 tonne floating plastic patch is the size of France and it is in between Hawaii and California” data-credit=”The Ocean Cleanup” data-sizes=”auto” data-img=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?strip=all&w=960″ data-srcset=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 180w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 360w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 540w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 720w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 900w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 1080w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 1296w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 1512w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 1728w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 1944w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 2160w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 2376w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 2592w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 2808w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NINTCHDBPICT000430047413.jpg?w=960 3024w” />

THE OCEAN CLEANUP
6
The 80,000 tonne floating plastic patch is the size of France and it is in between Hawaii and California
<img class="lazyautosizes lazyloaded" src="data:;base64,” sizes=”620px” srcset=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 180w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 360w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 540w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 720w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 900w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 1080w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 1296w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 1512w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 1728w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 1944w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 2160w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 2376w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 2592w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 2808w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 3024w” alt=” The current size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, with the worse parts highlighted” data-credit=”The Sun” data-sizes=”auto” data-img=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?strip=all&w=750″ data-srcset=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 180w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 360w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 540w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 720w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 900w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 1080w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 1296w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 1512w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 1728w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 1944w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 2160w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 2376w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 2592w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 2808w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/af-map-garbage-patch.jpg?w=960 3024w” />

THE SUN
6
The current size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, with the worse parts highlighted

Boyan Slat, 24, the Dutch entrepreneur behind the Ocean Cleanup group, admitted the project had failed.

He told NBC.com: “Of course there is slight disappointment, because we hoped to stay out there a bit longer to do more experiments and to….solve the [plastic] retention issue.

“But there is no talk whatsoever about discouragement.

“This is an entirely new category of machine that is out there in extremely challenging conditions.”

<img class="lazyautosizes lazyloaded" src="data:;base64,” sizes=”620px” srcset=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 180w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 360w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 540w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 720w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 900w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 1080w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 1296w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 1512w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 1728w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 1944w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 2160w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 2376w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 2592w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 2808w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 3024w” alt=” Dutch innovator Boyan Slat still hopes the idea will work” data-credit=”AP:Associated Press” data-sizes=”auto” data-img=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?strip=all&w=960″ data-srcset=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 180w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 360w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 540w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 720w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 900w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 1080w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 1296w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 1512w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 1728w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 1944w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 2160w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 2376w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 2592w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 2808w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NINTCHDBPICT000456925973.jpg?w=960 3024w” />

AP:ASSOCIATED PRESS
6
Dutch innovator Boyan Slat still hopes the idea will work
<img class="lazyautosizes lazyloaded" src="data:;base64,” sizes=”620px” srcset=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 180w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 360w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 540w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 720w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 900w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 1080w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 1296w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 1512w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 1728w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 1944w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 2160w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 2376w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 2592w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 2808w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 3024w” data-credit=”” data-sizes=”auto” data-img=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?strip=all&w=750″ data-srcset=”https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 180w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 360w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 540w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 720w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 900w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 1080w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 1296w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 1512w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 1728w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 1944w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 2160w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 2376w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 2592w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 2808w, https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AD-GRAPHIC-Plastic-Cleanup.jpg?w=960 3024w” />

6

A ship towed the 2,000-foot-long barrier in September from San Francisco to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch an island of trash twice the size of Texas. It has been in place since the end of October.

The plastic barrier with a tapered 10-foot-deep screen was intended to act like a coastline.

It was hoped it would have trapped some of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that scientists estimate are swirling in the patch while allowing marine life to safely swim beneath it.

Climate change causing plunge in number of available oysters, farmers say

Many French producers fear warming temperatures may force oyster farms to move north
Many French producers fear warming temperatures may force oyster farms to move north CREDIT:  ROB GILHOOLY

Oysters are a must on French dinner tables during the festive season, but shellfish farmers say climate change has caused production to plummet by up to 30 per cent.

Many French producers fear warming temperatures may force oyster farms to move north in search of cooler weather, possibly outside France.

Oyster production depends on cold winters when the shellfish “can rest and mature,” according to Yoann Thomas of the French Research Institute for Development.

Philippe Le Gal, head of the French shellfish producers’ association, said: “The warmer climate is beginning to have an impact. Oyster farmers are seeing volumes down by 20 to 30 per cent for 2018.”

Mr Le Gal told the AFP news agency that just a 10-gram decrease in the weight of each oyster brings down the price. France’s 4,500 oyster farmers sold about 100,000 tons in 2017 at an average price of £4,500 per ton.

Warmer sea temperatures also favour the spread of viruses that attack oysters. Over the past decade, up to three-quarters of young oysters have been lost to disease in some years, according to Fabrice Pernet of the Ifremer marine research institute. He warned that fish moving north to escape rising sea temperatures could bring new diseases to French oyster beds.

Another French festive delicacy, foie gras, has also suffered a decline in recent years as outbreaks of bird flu have forced massive culls of ducks and geese. But farmers say production has returned to normal after two lean years.

Daniel Coirier, head of a shellfish association in south-western France, said most French oyster farmers in his region are reluctant to migrate north.

“Even if they’re not as big, our oysters are still magnificent,” he said.