Condition of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary good; climate change a growing concern

This just released from NOAA.


Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary habitats are in overall good condition, with stable or improving trends, but climate change impacts are a growing concern for sanctuary managers, according to a new NOAA report on the health of the sanctuary.

The sanctuary’s “Condition Report” includes information on the status and trends of resources in the sanctuary, pressures on those resources, and management responses to the pressures that threaten the integrity of the marine environment. 

The report, based on information from 2008-2019, concludes that overall, most habitats within the sanctuary are in good condition and show signs of stable or improving trends over time. However, there are concerns about the effects of climate change—especially for open ocean habitats.

Climate change effects—marine heatwaves, harmful algal blooms, hypoxic events, and ocean acidification—are the biggest threats to the condition of the sanctuary. Although wildlife populations of the sanctuary are fairly stable or increasing overall, certain keystone and foundational species populations—the purple sea star and sunflower star, Southern Resident Killer Whales, and some salmon species—are displaying cause for concern. 

The report uses a standardized method to summarize the condition and trends of the sanctuary’s resources, habitats, and ecosystem services, as well as pressures on those resources and management responses to the pressures.

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary was established in 1994 and includes 3,188 square miles of marine waters off the rugged Olympic Peninsula in northwest Washington state. Habitats within the sanctuary range from towering kelp forests to deep-sea coral and sponge communities, and there are over 200 reported shipwrecks. Twenty-nine species of marine mammals and more than 100 bird species reside in or migrate through the sanctuary, and it contains some of the most productive habitats for fish in the world.

In order to represent both traditional and modern-day perspectives of the relationship between humans and the ocean, this report includes the voices and knowledge of Indigenous people. Tribal Councils, tribal members, and participating staff from the four Coastal Treaty Tribes contributed to the report.

NOAA uses sanctuary condition reports as a standardized tool to assess the status and trends of national marine sanctuary resources. The assessment period for this report was 2008 through 2019, updating the previous 2008 report. It will inform the management plan review process for Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. 

A web story with details has been published by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

#  #  #

What new projections of sea level rise mean for Puget Sound and WA Coast – Seattle Times

Solid reporting on our future along the Salish Sea. 10 to 12 inches of sea level rise in a place like Port Townsend could put large areas under water much of the time. Think the boatyard, Lincoln Beach, Point Hudson, and other places at sea level now.


Sea level rise will affect each area of the planet in a unique way, but new projections are helping researchers and lawmakers in Washington state identify which coastal communities are most vulnerable. A new report published earlier this month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says sea levels will rise 10 to 12 inches in the contiguous U.S. by 2050 — with regional variations — which scientists say would trigger a “profound increase” in coastal flooding. Nicholas Turner reports.(Seattle Times)

What new projections of sea level rise mean for Puget Sound and the WA coast

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the Seattle Times.

Hottest ocean temperatures in history recorded last year – The Guardian

Not great news for those hoping to protect our oceans from the ravages of humankind. Sixth consecutive year. Whatever can be done to slow this must. While we are a small island of calm in the midst of this, nevertheless we cannot escape it. Forest fires, smoke, heat waves like last summer, acidifying oceans affecting sea food output etc. are all ahead.

“Last year saw a heat record for the top 2,000 meters of all oceans around the world, despite an ongoing La Niña event, a periodic climatic feature that cools waters in the Pacific. The 2021 record tops a stretch of modern record-keeping that goes back to 1955. The second hottest year for oceans was 2020, while the third hottest was 2019.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jan/11/oceans-hottest-temperatures-research-climate-crisis

Welcome to 2022 – King tides takes out shoreline homes and businesses in the Salish Sea

In a grand “Climate Change” welcome to 2022 King tides moved into the Salish Sea along with a major storm front. The outcome was widespread destruction across a huge swath of the shorelines, from the South Sound up through British Columbia. This is just a taste of what’s ahead, as we await the break off of a huge glacier in Antarctica, and it’s subsequent melt down, which will add to sea level rise. If you have a home or business on the shoreline, now is a good time to reconsider your long term options.

Let’s do a quick overview. If there is only one thing to see, watch this video that was posted by a homeowner from Blaine on Twitter.

And KUOW coverage opens with a scary photo of a neighborhood built on the “wrong side of the tracks”.

KUOW – Sea level on steroids: Record tides flood Washington coastlines

The CBC covered the British Columbia story.

B.C. coastal communities assess damage, look to future after king tides, extreme weather wreak havoc | CBC News

This does not even begin to cover the amount of businesses that have docks that may have been destroyed, nor the simple flooding that may have occurred.

I have watched with disbelief over the last decades as more and more luxury homes have been built on spits in Puget Sound. Some examples? Three Tree Point in South King County. A more recent one in is Miller Bay near Indianola. Let’s look! These houses are really expensive and right at sea level!

Image by Google Earth

Or how about our own Beckett Point in Jefferson County?

Image by Google Earth

Beckett Point is no stranger to flooding. It was wiped out in the 1930s by a massive wind storm. Back then it was just fishing shacks but those were replaced by homes. Bottom line, these people are living on a sandspit, at sea level, and likely their home owners insurance is provided by the Federal Government because there is no way they could afford to pay for private insurance, even if it’s available. Choosing to live here, while incredibly beautiful and usually no problem, is and will continue to be challenging.

Want to add your own and track more vulnerable communities on the Sound? Go to my little project on Google Earth. https://earth.google.com/earth/d/1ZiX9tu1nnWs16-Lwnm4CORazbgPMJJ5H?usp=sharing

It is worth remembering that these homeowners get federal insurance to live here, so our tax dollars go to help continue this behavior. Please make sure that you let our elected officials know that with rising costs due to sea level rise, we cannot continue to subsidize everyone who lives on the shore. Now is the time to end this practice and let these homeowners bear the full cost of their decision (and it is also the decision of the local land use officials and county officials).

I’ve left out the massive flooding all over western Washington and British Columbia in the last 60 days, along with wildfires in December in Colorado, and massive super tornadoes in Kentucky (can you picture a tornado 250 miles long? with winds of 94 MPH sustained over four hours and 24 minutes?). Global warming is upon us and our best situation is to begin making changes to issues like insurance and infrastructure to mitigate the worse that is yet to come in future decades.

For the Northwest, climate change was hard to ignore in 2021 -KUOW

A good wrap up of the Northwest climate change in 2021. The photo in the article is a great example of what a flood plain is and why so many restoration projects (i.e. the Dungeness) are working to recover old flood plains. So many of them were used for farming (as in the Nooksack pictured) or just putting in housing, like on the Dungeness. Building dykes is a long term failure strategy for salmon and the people trying to live on the flood plain. As shown, the dykes just won’t protect you from climate change as we are seeing it unfold.

From heat domes to record-breaking rainfall, climate change was hard to ignore in Washington.As temperature records were shattered around the state in late June, the 911 calls poured in.

https://kuow.org/stories/climate-change-was-hard-to-ignore-for-the-northwest-in-2021

Northern Washington Tribes fear devastation of salmon by extreme floodwaters – KUOW

While this story is not specifically about the Peninsula, it is about issues that we faced along with the Bellingham and B.C. environment in the last month. Our rivers flooded also, just not quite as bad. As we all know, the salmon of this region are on the brink of extinction, along with our Orcas. Every year our human induced climate brings 500 year floods to already destroyed ecosystems the fish become more threatened. The Salish Sea is an ecosystem itself, what is happening to the east and north of us is tied to us by the water.

When a month’s worth of rain hit northern Washington and southern British Columbia in just a couple of days in mid-November, the resulting extreme flows scoured streams and riverbeds. They flushed away gravel and the salmon eggs incubating just below the surface, likely by the millions.

KUOW

https://kuow.org/stories/northern-washington-tribes-fear-devastation-of-salmon-by-extreme-floodwaters-ffcd

How heat waves warp ecosystems – High Country News

Just this week I was in an online discussion with a noted wildlife journalist here on the Peninsula who wanted to blame a series of environmental horrors he had recently seen on a certain restoration project, because the project was close to the area he was viewing. I tried to explain that the last few years had seen a variety of shocks to our ecosystem, and what he was seeing was far more widespread than just the area in question. Fish kills, algae blooms, massive die offs of shellfish, are easily observed but hard to map to a single root cause. But today in my inbox was this story and so I share it to help all of us understand that what is happening is anything but a local issue. The effects are widespread and causing destruction across an enormous range of wildlife. Welcome to the new world of the Pacific Northwest ecosystem under global warming.

Initial reports were sobering: A billion shellfish and other intertidal animals baked to death on the coast of British Columbia. The Portland Audubon Society declared a “hawkpocalypse” as it tended to scores of sick and injured birds. And in eastern Oregon, state officials estimated that tens of thousands of sculpin, a bottom-dwelling fish, perished in streams already throttled by drought.

High Country News

Don’t Be So Quick to Doubt China’s Climate Change Dedication -NY Times

While watching the COPS-26 Circus in Glasgow over the last couple weeks it’s easy to get dismayed especially about China’s commitments to solving global warming. However this interesting article in the New York Times today has a different perspective on it from someone who has followed the Chinese environmental stories for the last 20 years. Well worth a read if you’re feeling down about what happened in Glasgow. some of you might have also missed that China announced about a month ago or so the largest solar farm in the world to be constructed in the deserts in eastern China. I think that China takes global warming far more seriously than we do in some cases. They are a leader in electric bike and car production and have ambitious goals to produce vastly more of them. It’s just that, given their behavior on the world stage, it’s very hard to know what it all really means.

www.nytimes.com/2021/11/07/opinion/cop26-china-climate.html

B.C. Sea Stars approaching extinction?

Seems hard to fathom, that we may be losing the entire species.

A new study published by the Royal Society said sea stars are getting close to extinction as waters along the west coast. Sea stars in the waters off British Columbia that died off in the billions about a decade ago are not recovering as expected, an expert says. Hina Alam reports. (The Canadian Press)

Expert says B.C. sea stars melting away because of wasting disease

Taking the Temperature of Salmon -Salish Sea Currents

Good overview of one of the most critical issues facing recovery of endangered salmon. Rising temperatures in streams.

In the Puget Sound region, elevated stream temperatures are believed to be one of the great downfalls for salmon, especially in areas where streamside vegetation has been removed by farming, forestry or development.

https://www.eopugetsound.org/magazine/taking-temperature-salmon

First-ever water shortage declared on the Colorado River, triggering water cuts for some states in the West – WA Post

While we watch as the megadrought blankets the west this should be a wake up call to those of us up here on the Peninsula that managing our water resources for the next ten years is likely to be a guessing game. Will the snows come again as expected? If not, how will it affect the flows in the rivers we rely on for our drinking water?

Right now, there has been discussions between the Port Townsend Mill and the City, on renewing a long term lease for the right to use our drinking water source for the mill manufacturing, as they have done for a century. My suggestion? Go for a 10 year lease and revisit it then. We seem to be ok for the immediate future. But 10 years from now it could be a very different situation.

22-year drought — the region’s most severe in more than a millennium — and climate change have made that fundamental problem worse. The alpine snowpack that feeds the river has been diminishing and was melting earlier this year. Parched soil soaks up much of it before it even enters rivers and streams. Extreme heat evaporates water in Lake Mead and other reservoirs more quickly and causes evaporation from plants.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/08/16/colorado-river-water-cuts-drought/

Hydrogen Fuel may not be the salvation we have been told.

New studies show the dangers in betting on hydrogen fuel. By the way, who has been promoting it’s use? The oil and gas industry, of course.

www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/climate/hydrogen-fuel-natural-gas-pollution.html

Biotoxins in shellfish lead to closure at Discovery Bay – Peninsula Daily News

Following on a recent post about the effects of the recent heatwave, here’s more economic and enviromental effects. Yes, global warming is costing all of us. Discovery Bay is home to a number of commercial geoduck operations as well as recreational shellfish harvesting.

Discovery Bay is closed to shellfish harvesting due to high levels of marine biotoxins discovered in the water. Shellfish samples taken from Discovery Bay were found to contain elevated levels of the marine biotoxin that causes diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, resulting in the state Department of Health closing the beaches around the bay for all shellfish harvesting, Jefferson County Environmental Health said in a press release. Zach Jablonski reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Read the whole story here:

Biotoxins in shellfish lead to closure at Discovery Bay

Vibriosis infections on rise, state officials say -Associated Press


A word of caution for those of us who like to eat shellfish. The recent heat wave has a cost.

An outbreak of vibriosis in Washington has already surpassed the highest number of cases ever recorded by the state for the month of July, the state Department of Health said in a press release. Health officials say 52 cases of vibriosis have been reported in July, KING-5 reported. They blame the record-breaking high temperatures that killed millions, if not billions, of sea creatures during the Pacific Northwest heat wave. The infections are associated with eating raw or undercooked shellfish, especially oysters, that are contaminated with Vibrio. (Associated Press)

Associated Press

Read the whole story here:

Vibriosis infections on rise, state officials say

Can biologists estimate the massive loss of shellfish caused by low tides, high temps? PSI

We are just beginning to understand the incredible loss of shellfish from the latest heat wave.


The putrid smell of rotting shellfish on some beaches in Puget Sound and elsewhere along the West Coast were a clear sign that large numbers of clams, mussels, oysters and other intertidal creatures were killed from exposure to extreme low tides, record-breaking temperatures and a blazing hot sun. The total losses of shellfish that perished late last month may be difficult to estimate, but experts are beginning to piece together evidence from shoreline residents, state and tribal biologists, and commercial shellfish growers. Their goal is to describe what took place during the record-breaking temperatures of June 25-29 during some of the lowest tides of the past century. Christopher Dunagan reports. (Puget Sound Institute)

Can biologists estimate the massive loss of shellfish caused by low tides, high temps?

How Trump tried, but largely failed, to derail America’s top climate report – NY Times

More fallout of the destructive force of Hurricane Trump. In this instance, scientists managed to hold off his flunkies from essentially gutting the report. As he leaves we can only look forward to rebuilding this nation’s science credibility world wide. Why is this important? Because the output of this report guides decision making for years to come.

North Pacific fishing crews on edge about what they’ll find this month, after a tough 2020 of small fish and COVID-19 – Seattle Times

This is a very good roundup of what happened to the Pollack fishing last year in the Bering Sea, and what the fishermen and scientists are doing to try and predict this year. Short story: Global warming is appearing to significantly affect the stocks of one of the basic fish we North Pacific fishing crews on edge about what they’ll find this month, after a tough 2020 of small fish and COVID-19eat in large quantities.

Though the weather often is rough, these winter harvests typically offer prime fishing as the pollock come together in the southern Bering Sea before spawning. But the disappointing fishing in the last half of 2020 has put Ganley on edge about what he and his four crew members will find when they drop their nets.


https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/skinny-small-fish-and-covid-19-made-2020-a-difficult-year-for-north-pacific-pollock-fleet/

Climate Action for Christmas? Omnibus bill includes biggest policy shift in years.

Good news being reported by NPR. This blog will check into the details and come back with a more comprehensive overview later.

“The massive spending package just passed by Congress includes the most significant climate legislation in more than a decade, along with significant changes in energy policy. It was easy to miss, nestled among pandemic relief payments, the annual spending bill, new Smithsonian museums and protection from surprise medical billing. But pull out the energy provisions alone, and the bill is remarkable: It includes $35 billion in funding for basic research, extensions of tax credits for renewable energy companies, and a long-delayed mandate to reduce the use of a particularly damaging greenhouse gas. The fact that Congress managed to pass climate legislation at all is noteworthy in and of itself. For years, thanks to gridlock and an administration actively hostile to climate action, legislators have struggled to set new climate policy, even on measures that enjoy widespread bipartisan support. Camila Domonoske & Jeff Brady report. (NPR)”


Climate Action For Christmas? Omnibus Bill Includes Biggest Policy Shift In Years

What 13,000 wildfires teach us about Washington forests – Crosscut

A deep dive into data from the Department of Natural Resources reveals some scary trends and surprising findings.

Crosscut took a deep dive into these 13,452 fire records to highlight some numbers that help put this year into context and tell the broader story of our state’s fires. 

https://crosscut.com/environment/2020/11/what-13000-wildfires-teach-us-about-washington-forests

U.S. Leaving Paris Agreement – ABC

Yes, the largest polluter of greenhouse gases is walking away from offering any global leadership as many of it’s citizens are turned into climate refugees in California, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and more. Beyond the fact that the U.S. is continuing to help doom all of the planet to a nightmarish future, the first people most hurt from from the 2016 Presidential election is that they are more likely to be Republicans that voted for Trump. (that statement based on reviewing New York Times data maps of the districts voting records vs where the fires covered). Still, people in these same areas voted again for Trump and their own worse outcomes. The good news? Economics drive behavior as much as anything. Solar power is getting cheaper and more widespread. Devices become more power efficient. Insurance companies are forcing people to make better decisions about their future homes and many more communities are working on creating better building standards and zoning restrictions. It won’t be enough to stop the tide, but it could help mitigate the pain. If Biden can win, at least we will go back to a President that can do something rather than nothing. Congress will still be deadlocked, but some small progress will be reinstated. Cross your fingers. The future is watching.


The U.S. is set to officially withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement on Wednesday, three years after President Donald Trump announced his intent to remove the country from participating in the global forum to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The historic accord seeks to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, the value that climate scientists have determined will have disastrous consequences if exceeded. Trump has assailed the agreement as economically detrimental and claimed it could cost the country 2.5 million jobs by 2025. He also said it gave other major emitters, such as China, a free pass. Julia Jacobo reports. (ABC)

The US is leaving the Paris Agreement: How that will affect the global mission to affect climate change r

%d bloggers like this: