Global Warming Unlikely Reason for Slow Coral Growth

“Researchers in Australia say the growth of coral on the country’s iconic Great Barrier Reef (GBR) has fallen since 1990 to its lowest rate in 400 years,” variations of this message have been repeated around the world from South Korea to London with global warming, and the associated acidification of oceans, claimed to be the cause.

These reports are repeating claims in an Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) media release made just last Friday to coincide with the publication of research findings in the journal Science [1].

The media release also claimed the research to be “the most comprehensive study to date on calcification rates of GBR corals”.

Having followed GBR issues for many years I was surprised to hear global warming associated with slow coral growth rates, indeed AIMS’s researchers Janice Lough and David Barnes have published detailed studies concluding that coral growth rates increase significantly with an increase in annual average sea surface temperature [2]. Furthermore growth rates actually decrease from north to south along the GBR as this corresponds with a cooling temperature gradient of 2-3 degrees C.

If there has been a slowing in growth rates of coral over the last nearly 20 years, as suggested by this new research, a most obvious question for me would be: Have GBR waters cooled?

This new research paper in Science presents evidence for a decline in coral growth rates since 1990, but no credible reason for the decline. While the study hints that the cause could be ocean acidification no direct evidence is provided to support this claim – not even a correlation. Indeed no data is presented to suggest the PH (a measure of acidity) of GBR waters has changed, and based on modelling of hypothetical changes in PH associated with increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide there is a timing problem – the decline in calcification rates should apparently have started years earlier.

Confronted with a lack of evidence in support of this hypothesis – that ocean acidification has caused the drop in growth rates – the researchers suggest in the paper “synergistic effects of several forms of environmental stress” and implicate higher temperatures. But no data is presented in the paper to contradict the well established relationship between increasing temperature and increasing growth rates – though various confusing statements are made and it is suggested that global warming has increased the incidence of heat stress in turn reducing growth rates – while at the same time the researchers acknowledge higher growth rates in northern, warmer, GBR waters.

Marine Biologist Walter Starck has perhaps aptly described the research as part of “the proliferation of subprime research presenting low value findings as policy grade evidence” and has suggested this has “science headed in the same direction as Wall Street.”

Interestingly, Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, has decided the “massive decline in the reef’s growth” will require new laws.

None of this, however, gets us any closer to understanding why there has been an apparent dramatic decline in the growth rates of GBR corals over the last 20 years.

*********************

Notes

[1] G. De’ath, J.M. Lough and K. Fabricius (2009) Declining Coral Calcification on the Great Barrier Reef. Science. Volumne 323, pages 116-119

[2] J.M. Lough and D. J. Barnes (1999) Environmental controls on growth of the massive coral Porites. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. Volume 245, Issue 2, pages 225-243

Picture from Walter Starck’s collection.

117 Responses to Global Warming Unlikely Reason for Slow Coral Growth

  1. Luke January 5, 2009 at 12:11 am #

    http://www.agu.org/journals/gl/gl0814/2008GL034634/

  2. Luke January 5, 2009 at 12:23 am #

    Starck’s comments are predictably part of the dreary pseudo-sceptic response to some very good work on a solid theme. Ocean pH has likely dropped 0.1 units since industrialisation. The authors don’t overstate the case.

    Lough’s paper above is part of larger SH changes that the pseudo-sceptics have missed and continue to overlook.

  3. Jeff Wagner January 5, 2009 at 1:05 am #

    You’d think corals only evolved 3.0 million years ago when CO2 finally dropped to stay below 350 ppm.

    Corals evolved 540 million years ago when CO2 levels were as high as 7,000 ppm. Other calcium carbonate-based life forms, like the Ammonites and Trilobites, have totally dominated the oceans when CO2 was 3,000 ppm to 4,000 ppm.

    The Permian Extinction is the danger zone when ocean acidity was extremely high but this was likely caused by the largest volcanic event known, the Siberian Traps, which may have covered an area half the size of Australia with magma.

  4. Walter Starck January 5, 2009 at 3:04 am #

    The purported slowing of coral growth rates on the GBR appears to be a remake of “The Hockeystick” with Splines playing the role of Principal Component Analysis. De’ath et al. offer no actual growth data in the paper or online supporting evidence. What they present are splines derived from the data. These depict a dramatic reduction in growth after 1990. During this period the GBR suffered two severe bleaching events in 1998 and 2002. Both were associated with El Niño induced extended summer calms and resultant SST spikes.

    Splines are only a curve fitting tool and various different splines can be constructed to fit the same data. In this instance it is apparent that the knots chosen for construction of these particular splines are ones which result in a sharp downturn after 1990 due to the hiatus in growth from the bleaching events. This is obvious from the fact that neither the bleaching events nor the subsequent recovery appear as distinct changes in the curves but have both been smoothed into a sharp decline continuing down to the end in 2005. That the data set ends in 2005 also helps in exaggerating the decline by truncating the ongoing recovery in growth after the 2002 bleaching.

    Interestingly this study comes only a few days after the report that recovery of corals from the Boxing Day tsunami has been found to be occurring much faster than expected.

    This latest De’ath of the GBR looks like a case for McIntyre and McKitric.

    There now seems to be an endless demand for subprime findings to repackage as climate change derivatives and market as policy grade research with Science and Nature providing AAA grade ratings. The Academy might do well to read the Wall Street Journal to see where they are headed.

  5. Walter Starck January 5, 2009 at 3:26 am #

    Luke,

    De’ath et al. make no attempt to attribute the purported growth reduction to acidification. That is only your suggestion. In this regard you may be interested to consider that the best developed reefs in the tropical Atlantic are in the western Caribbean where oceanic pH is about 0.1 lower than on the GBR.

  6. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 4:51 am #

    Jennifer,

    “a most obvious question for me would be: Have GBR waters cooled?”

    This seems like a too simplistic (or linear) interpretation of the De’ath et al data. We know this isn’t the case for the GBR over the time period in concern. Can you suggest any other credible alternatives as to why calcification has decreased over the last 20years?

    Thomas

  7. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 4:56 am #

    Walther,

    Have you even read the paper?

    “De’ath et al. make no attempt to attribute the purported growth reduction to acidification”

    The last three paragraphs of the paper discuss the implications of biotic calcification and aragonite saturation state (Ω arag) in detail.

    Frankly, Walter, here is a classic example of subprime research:

    “Walter Starck, a pioneer in the scientific investigation of coral reefs, looks at the evidence behind these claims and finds that the reality is much different.”

    http://www.ipa.org.au/publications/614/%27threats%27-to-the-great-barrier-reef

  8. John F. Pittman January 5, 2009 at 4:57 am #

    “”But no data is presented in the paper to contradict the well established relationship between increasing temperature and increasing growth rates – though various confusing statements are made and it is suggested that global warming has increased the incidence of heat stress in turn reducing growth rates – while at the same time the researchers acknowledge higher growth rates in northern, warmer, GBR waters.””

    Thank god for the various confusing statements, otherwise this would be another peer-reviewed paper that showed the dendro’s assumption of linear tree-ring growth response to temperature is simply false.

  9. Indur Goklany January 5, 2009 at 5:40 am #

    My reading of the paper is that while the researchers don’t know what reduced calcification, they do (kind of) exonerate sea surface temperatures. In fact their write-up confirms Lough and Barnes’ analysis that coral growth rates increase with temperature. Specifically, De’ath et al. note:

    “Calcification also increased linearly with SST-SPAT at a rate of 0.122 g cm–2 year-1 oC–1 (SE = 0.041), corresponding to an increase of 0.36 g cm–2 year–1 from south to north of the GBR due to the 3°C mean temperature difference. Calcification also decreased with negative SST-ANOM values but was highly variable for positive SST-ANOM.”

    And further on they note:

    “Our data confirmed previous studies (10, 22) that coral calcification increases linearly with large-scale mean annual SST. However, studies addressing shorter time periods show declining calcification at both high and low SST (18, 23, 24) and that thermally stressed corals show reduced calcification for up to 2 years (19).”

    Note that the two above sentences are not inconsistent since short term thermal stress may help select for colonies that do better under long term temperature increase.

  10. Walter Starck January 5, 2009 at 6:32 am #

    Thomas,
    Although De’ath et al. discuss the possibility of reduced calcification from a combination of reduced aragonite saturation and increased temperatures they explicitly state that “The causes of the decline remain unknown….” No pH data is presented other than a very uncertain estimate of a global decrease of 0.1 since the beginning of industrialization.

    I accept your point. I might better have qualified my comment as, De’ath et al. make no attempt to attribute the purported growth reduction to acidification, other than as an unsupported hypothetical speculation.”

    However, the more important issue is whether any actual decline in growth has occurred at all or is the purported decline entirely an artifact of smoothing out of the effects of the two bleaching events. Also important is better assessment of the real world effects of pH on coral growth with particular reference to the fact that the pH of GBR waters is higher than that of most other reef areas including even the famed Coral Triangle where reefs reach their greatest profusion.

  11. david January 5, 2009 at 6:42 am #

    So a blog entry overturns careful peer reviewed science…

  12. Slim January 5, 2009 at 6:50 am #

    david – that’s what we do here!

  13. CoRev January 5, 2009 at 6:53 am #

    David said: “So a blog entry overturns careful peer reviewed science…’, and I answer it points out the value of ?careful peer review?, and apparently, yes, it may very well overturn some poor science.

  14. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 7:00 am #

    Walther,

    What exactly are the effects of two bleaching events?

    Do you have a reference for the pH of GBR waters being higher than that of most other reef areas?

    Thomas

  15. david January 5, 2009 at 7:30 am #

    CoRev, have you ever published a peer reviewed science paper? Do you have any expertise in coral reef ecology, ocean acidification or climate science? On what basis are you able to overturn science outside of your field of expertise?

    The issue of acidification and its impacts on calcifying organisms has been established in the literature for years (e.g., Nature 2000. Reduced calcification of marine plankton in response to increased atmospheric CO2, Nature, 2005. Anthropogenic ocean acidification over the twenty-first century and its impact on calcifying organisms).

    The “sceptics” inability to publish anything materially relevant to climate change science in peer reviewed journals shows this is not a science “debate”.

  16. Luke January 5, 2009 at 7:32 am #

    Little attempt to read the papers or press release. Lots of assertions to smear.

    Why – as this paper is a serious threat to the increasingly fragile views of faux sceptics.

    My first reference shows the water have warmed.

    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 35, L14708, doi:10.1029/2008GL034634, 2008

    Shifting climate zones for Australia’s tropical marine ecosystems

    J. M. Lough

    Australian Institute of Marine Science,
    Townsville, Queensland, Australia

    Abstract

    [1] Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are significantly warming along the northwest (NW) and northeast (NE) coasts of Australia – regions containing well-protected and internationally significant tropical marine ecosystems. The magnitude and spatial distribution of observed warming of annual, maximum and minimum SSTs is examined, 1950–2007. Observed warming is comparable along the NE and NW coasts although greater along the NE coast south ~15°S, greater at higher than lower latitudes, and greater for annual minimum than annual maximum SSTs. Average climate zones have also shifted >200 km south along the NE coast and about half that distance along the NW coast. If current trends continue, annual average SSTs in northern parts could be ~0.5°C warmer and those of more southern parts ~2.0°C warmer within the next 100 years. These rapid changes in oceanic climate are already causing responses in Australia’s tropical marine ecosystems and these responses, if present rates of warming continue, can only intensify.

    Received 8 May 2008; revised 16 June 2008; accepted 26 June 2008; published 29 July 2008.

  17. Luke January 5, 2009 at 7:39 am #

    And follows hot on the heels of http://www.pnas.org/content/105/45/17442.short

    Ocean acidification causes bleaching and productivity loss in coral reef builders

    1. K. R. N. Anthony1,
    2. D. I. Kline,
    3. G. Diaz-Pulido,
    4. S. Dove, and
    5. O. Hoegh-Guldberg

    1.
    Centre for Marine Studies and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, The University of Queensland, St Lucia 4072 Queensland, Australia

    1.

    Edited by David M. Karl, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, and approved September 26, 2008 (received for review May 8, 2008)

    Ocean acidification represents a key threat to coral reefs by reducing the calcification rate of framework builders. In addition, acidification is likely to affect the relationship between corals and their symbiotic dinoflagellates and the productivity of this association. However, little is known about how acidification impacts on the physiology of reef builders and how acidification interacts with warming. Here, we report on an 8-week study that compared bleaching, productivity, and calcification responses of crustose coralline algae (CCA) and branching (Acropora) and massive (Porites) coral species in response to acidification and warming. Using a 30-tank experimental system, we manipulated CO2 levels to simulate doubling and three- to fourfold increases [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projection categories IV and VI] relative to present-day levels under cool and warm scenarios. Results indicated that high CO2 is a bleaching agent for corals and CCA under high irradiance, acting synergistically with warming to lower thermal bleaching thresholds. We propose that CO2 induces bleaching via its impact on photoprotective mechanisms of the photosystems. Overall, acidification impacted more strongly on bleaching and productivity than on calcification. Interestingly, the intermediate, warm CO2 scenario led to a 30% increase in productivity in Acropora, whereas high CO2 lead to zero productivity in both corals. CCA were most sensitive to acidification, with high CO2 leading to negative productivity and high rates of net dissolution. Our findings suggest that sensitive reef-building species such as CCA may be pushed beyond their thresholds for growth and survival within the next few decades whereas corals will show delayed and mixed responses.

  18. Allan January 5, 2009 at 7:54 am #

    I find it difficult as a layman to accept such sweeping statements that the Great Barrier Reef, inferring the whole reef, is suffering or will suffer a reduction in growth through out it’s entire habitat in the next 40 years.
    I went to Wikipedia and the blurb there says, among other information, that the reef extends through 14dgs of latitude (the equivalent of Port Macquarie to Hobart for us southerners) extends some 2500kms and descends from sea level to a depth of 150 metres, the limit of required sunlight.
    Just the temperature lapse rates from sea level to 150metres depth would overwhelm the recorded change in water temperature.
    To accept that the pH of the sea throughout the vast GBR habitat is uniform also strains credibility.
    To me it is like saying that the habitat of the whole Alpine/Montane areas of NSW and Victoria are uniform.
    Sorry, lot’s of question’s yet to be answered by this research.

  19. Luke January 5, 2009 at 8:08 am #

    Well they are reporting on 328 colonies of massive Porites corals from 69 reefs of the Great Barrier Reef from 12 S to 24 S – a non trivial sample.

    We look forward to Walter’s published rebuttal of the detailed statistical analysis found in the supplementary material to the paper – titled – Supporting Online Material for Declining Coral Calcification on the Great Barrier Reef

  20. david January 5, 2009 at 8:33 am #

    >I find it difficult as a layman to accept such sweeping statements that the Great Barrier Reef, inferring the whole reef, is suffering or will suffer a reduction in growth through out it’s entire habitat in the next 40 years.

    Global warming and acidification are global pheonmena. It would be most surprising if most places are NOT affected.

  21. CoRev January 5, 2009 at 9:27 am #

    David said: “The “sceptics” inability to publish anything materially relevant to climate change science in peer reviewed journals shows this is not a science “debate”.” Absolutely correct. it is not a “science” debate, but a debate over the quality of some science.

    To answer you quest ion about my “peer reviewed” writings, it does not happen in my field, but I have won an award for being one of the top 100 in it. Does that matter? Not a bit!

    David said : “Global warming and acidification are global pheonmena. It would be most surprising if most places are NOT affected.” To clarify: not most but ALL places are affected by climate change. Acidification is obviously more limited.

    Luke, my boy, loved your latest responses. Much more like the old concerned scientist Luke, versus, the defensive, sniveling, snotty Luke of late. Good job.

    The first reference smacks of more climate model outputs with: “annual average SSTs in northern parts could be ~0.5°C warmer and those of more southern parts ~2.0°C warmer within the next 100 years.” Dunno, just noting. Also, are the measurements used from the Argo buoys or some other source?

  22. cohenite January 5, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    Very good David; Allan says he finds it difficult, as a layman, to accept the sweeping statements about the GBR, and you rebut him with sweeping statements.

    Luke; that Anthony study is a bit light on; they filled a couple of bath-tubs out the back for 8 weeks and then made their “likely, may, little is known, manipulate, mixed responses” conclusions. On temperature and cloud cover around the GBR this is interesting; of course it isn’t peer-reviewed so Slim and the other toffy lads will scorn it;

    http://mclean.ch/climate/GBR_sea_temperature.htm

  23. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 9:36 am #

    Cohenite,

    See John Bruno’s response to the McClean “GBR_sea_temperature” graph here: http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=861

    Can you be a little more specific with your criticism of the Anthony study rather than attempting to smear the science by saying they “filled a couple of bath-tubs out the back for 8 weeks”?

    Thomas

  24. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 9:55 am #

    Hi Walther,

    As Luke said, “we look forward to Walter’s published rebuttal of the detailed statistical analysis found in the supplementary material”. See below (if anyone else is interested) if you haven’t seen it yet.

    I’m also curious as to your statement:

    “This is obvious from the fact that neither the bleaching events nor the subsequent recovery appear as distinct changes”

    What exactly are the effects of two bleaching events?

    Thomas

    Statistical Analyses

    Linear mixed effects models were used to analyze calcification, extension and density (S3, S6). The
    predictors included temporal and spatial variables and SST. The temporal predictor was the year
    associated with each band of the coral, although additional preliminary analyses were also
    undertaken to assess differences due to periods at which collections were made. The spatial
    predictors were relative distance across and along the GBR continental shelf (across and along), as
    opposed to the traditional coordinate system of latitude and longitude. Previous studies have shown
    the across-along coordinate system better explains and predicts spatial distributions on the long and
    narrow GBR with its steep cross-shelf gradients (S4), (S5). Along the shelf is set to 0 in the south
    (26º 38′ S) and 1 in the north (10º 42′ N), and across the shelf is 0 at the coast and 1 at the outer
    edge of the continental shelf (80 m bathymetry).

    The effects of SST were included in one of the sets of analyses for data set 1900 – 2005. To assist in
    the interpretation of temperature effects, SST was partitioned into three components: the spatial
    component (SST.SPAT; mostly reflecting the latitudinal gradient), the long-term temporal trend
    (SST.TEMP) and the anomaly component (SST.ANOM). The last of these components represents
    annual deviations from broad spatial patterns and longer-term trends. This was done by jointly
    fitting a spatial smooth in space [latitude (correlation with along = 0.98) and across] and a smooth
    across years. The degree of smoothness of effects was selected by cross-validation (S6). The SST
    variation across the shelf was negligible due the low spatial resolution (one-degree squares) and this
    component of SST was discarded.

    Linear mixed effects analyses

    In this section the details of the analysis for data set 1900 – 2005 that included SST and spatial
    predictors are presented in detail. Similar models and fitting procedures were followed for the
    purely temporal analyses of the data 1900 – 2005 (all colonies) and the data 1572 – 2001 (10
    colonies), but details are omitted as the procedures were simpler since no selection of predictors
    was required.

    Based on the sampling of the data and exploratory analyses of individual core data, initial models
    for each of calcification, extension and density included predictors of fixed effects of natural splines
    in year, SST, and relative distances across and along the GBR, and random effects in reef, colony
    and natural splines in year. At this stage SST was included as a single predictor since the spatial and
    temporal components of SST were highly correlated with across and along, and years respectively.
    All splines had 3 degrees of freedom (df), other than for the fixed effects of year that initially used
    12 df splines. All analyses were done using the statistical program R (S7) with packages lmer,
    nlme and mgcv being used.

    The method of model selection was as following. Firstly, the random effects of the model were
    identified based on REML (Residual Maximum Likelihood) fits of the models using the R-package
    lmer. The random effects of the include three options; random intercepts for colony and reef,
    random intercepts and linear trends for colony and reef, and random intercepts 3 df splines for
    colony and reef. The fixed effects were all included with maximal df for the splines of the
    predictors for this stage of the analyses. Several criteria are widely used for comparing model fits,
    including significance tests, AIC and BIC, and the results for these three criteria are presented
    below for the analyses of calcification, extension and density. For these data, the penalty for each
    degree of freedom in a model is 2 for AIC and 9.4 for BIC and hence AIC will favor simpler rather
    than complex models. For each of the three responses there was, as expected, considerable variation
    in the choice of model according to these criteria (see Model selection diagnostics below). We
    adopted a conservative approach of favoring the more complex models and hence selected random
    effects comprising 3 df splines in year for each reef, and for each colony within reef.

    Having selected the random effects of the models, the fixed effects were then selected based on ML
    (Maximum Likelihood) fits of the models. The model selection criteria were (surprisingly)
    relatively consistent across the responses. Significance tests suggested the trends in SST were non-
    linear for calcification and density, but given we were to decompose SST for the final estimation,
    this was not critical. For density only the effects of year were identified as worthy of inclusion.
    Relative distance across and along were dropped from all models and splines in years and SST were
    retained for consistency.

    SST was then decomposed into the three components as described above, and the models were
    refitted. The smoothness of the splines of the fixed effects were then selected using cross validation
    (S6); (S8). The final models for calcification, extension and density were fitted using the R package
    mgcv and partial effects plots were used to illustrate the effects of year and SST on calcification,
    extension and density. For calcification, extension and density, the temporal trends were selected
    with ~9 df. The temperature effects on calcification and extension were significant for the spatial
    and anomaly components, but not for temporal trend. The temperature effects for density were all
    non-significant. For calcification, the spatial (latitudinal) effect was linear, however the anomaly
    effect was non-linear.

    Here we present the model selection for the 1900-2005 data for the analyses of calcification,
    extension and density with all the covariates, i.e. years, SST (spatial, temporal and anomalies),
    relative distance across and along the reef, reef and colony. The model selection of the temporal
    analysis of the 1900-2005 and 1572 – 2001 data followed the same procedures, but excluded SST,
    across and along effects, and were hence simpler and details are not reported.

  25. Jennifer Marohasy January 5, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    Thomas,

    John Bruno does not appear to have a problem with John McLean’s graph. But he seems to think it suggests an increase in temperature maximums. I can’t see this. Can you?

    David,

    What do you think of John McClean’s graph … http://mclean.ch/climate/GBR_sea_temperature.htm ?

    Is there better data on GBR temperatures somewhere else? … at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology?

    Luke has been trying to post this link: http://www.aims.gov.au/docs/media/news2009/20090102.html
    Apparently spam has been swallowing it. Sorry.

  26. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    Jennifer,

    Yes. As John McClean himself notes: “Maximum temperatures vary more than minimums and the latter show little increase since 1987″. At a quick glance, there are six points where the monthly mean exceeds 29c. Because the x axis of McClean’s excel graphs are difficult to read, it’s not entirely clear which years they correspond, but it appears that these years are 1982, 1987, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004. Does this not suggest an increase in temperature maximums?

    You seem to have missed my original question:

    “a most obvious question for me would be: Have GBR waters cooled?”

    This seems like a too simplistic (or linear) interpretation of the De’ath et al data. We know this isn’t the case for the GBR over the time period in concern. Can you suggest any other credible alternatives as to why calcification has decreased over the last 20years?

    Thomas

  27. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 10:21 am #

    Jennifer,

    About that McClean graph: it’d be great if he supplied a link to the raw dataset he used to generate the excel graphs. We hear nothing but criticism about how people don’t supply the raw data in peer reviewed publications, and instead use graphs to make their case (see Walter Starck’s criticism above). Yet, here we are presented with monthly data and a 12 month running average that is supposed to show that the GBR hasn’t experienced warming. As John Bruno points out:

    “Yet this GBR temperature graphic shows exactly what all the reef scientists I know have been saying; most summers over the last decade have seen especially high maximum temps, generally above 29C. Whereas before 1998, this was quite rare and the anomalies lasted for only a few days, rather than a few weeks”

    Considering this graph is averaged to monthly resolution, it’s not likely that it will show the duration and extent of anomalies that induce coral bleaching. See NOAA’s page on degree heating weeks and coral bleaching for more information (http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/dhw_retro.html).

    When you say “better data”, what are you looking for? Many datasets exist on sea surface temperatures on the GBR. What sort of spatial or temporal resolution?

    Thomas

  28. jennifer January 5, 2009 at 10:21 am #

    Thomas,

    1. I can’t see an increase in maximum temperatures given the available information.

    2. I have not got an alternative hypothesis for the apparent drop in growth rates.

    Walter Starck suggests that the drop in calcification rates are an artifact of the method of analysis. What do you think?

  29. jennifer January 5, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    Thomas,

    My previous reply was too your earlier comment.

    I’ve now just seen your post of 10.21am and my reply is:

    It would be nice if a relevant temperature graph was provided with the publication by De’ath. In fact it amazing that the journal let them publish a graph from 1900 when the period of concern is from 1990.

    Also there are lots of people at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology – maybe they could provide a better graph and put it up at their website?

    John McLean does this sort of thing as a hobby. Thank goodness for the John McLeans of this world.

  30. sod January 5, 2009 at 10:33 am #

    2. I have not got an alternative hypothesis for the apparent drop in growth rates.

    this is totally absurd, again. the decline is observed. scientists publish results and give a reason. Jennifer doesn t have n explanation of her own, but still titles: “Global Warming Unlikely Reason for Slow Coral Growth”, a title that claims the DIRECT OPPOSITE of the findings of the scientists!

    if it wasn t that sad, it would be funny!

  31. janama January 5, 2009 at 10:39 am #

    from Luke’s link:

    QUOTE:”The causes of this sharp decline remain unknown, but our study suggests that the combination of increasing temperature stress and ocean acidification may be diminishing the ability of GBR corals to deposit calcium carbonate,” he said.

    ’causes remain unknown’ ‘may be diminishing’?? is this science or sub-prime science. Sure the measurements are accurate but is the conclusions?

    yet the openning para is this:

    QUOTE: It’s official: the biggest and most robust corals on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have slowed their growth by more than 14 per cent since the “tipping point” year of 1990. Evidence is strong that the decline has been caused by a synergistic combination of rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification.

    I also find it interesting that it assumes a linear progression for calcification and temperature change to 2050 yet CO2 doesn’t alter ph in a linear fashion.

  32. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 10:55 am #

    Jennifer,

    1) As I mentioned above, it’d be somewhat helpful if McClean would show us his data set. But back to the point: are you taking issue with the fact that there is no increase maximum temperatures in the available information, or that the available information (1980-2008 data set) is too short to determine a trend? These are two very different responses.

    2) If you can’t suggest a credible alternative hypothesis, then why did you entitle this post “Global Warming Unlikely Reason for Slow Coral Growth”? Not to try and pin you down to a statement, but: do you agree with Walter Starck that the drop in calcification is an artifact of the method of analysis?

    As of yet, Walter Starck has offered no justification for the drop in calcification rates as an artifact of the method of analysis, other than a wild assumption that this is somehow related to the infamous ‘hockey stick’ case.

    I’m waiting on Walter’s response to several of the points he has made, in particular as to what the exact effects of the two bleaching events would be on the growth rates of corals. I’ve also pasted the detailed statistical methods used by the AIMS researchers, and as with Luke I am looking forward to a critique of this by Walther.

    Thomas

  33. Luke January 5, 2009 at 11:00 am #

    I think I’ll take Lough’s GRL analysis of regional SST trends over “Dr” McLean’s any day despite his obvious prowess as Australia’s “greatest” climate analyst.

    A strong upward trend in max and min SSTs since 1950 to date IMO looking at her paper. Janice has done the paper on SSTs this year? Why should we not go with that?

    And Cohers and Jen – here we go again – shades of MDB – the interaction of all this with Antarctic Southern Annular Mode is confronting.

    Yes none of this is 100% – but I reckon if this was the structural engineers report on your house foundations you’d be having a bloody good look !!

    Also doesn’t imply an ETS is a great idea or that an ETS would make one zot of difference without global action.

    But the automatic knee jerk reaction to pooh pooh this work is lamentable.

    Anyway from her paper (http://www.agu.org/journals/gl/gl0814/2008GL034634/ ) here’s the climate change punchline gotcha -

    “This paper has identified current rates of SST warming
    along Australia’s east and west coastlines. It is beyond
    the scope of this study to identify proximate causes but
    these are likely to include both modified air-sea heat fluxes
    and changes to local and large-scale ocean dynamics.
    Studies in the Indian Ocean, for example, note that widespread
    surface warming is associated with subsurface temperature
    changes related to a modelled 0.5 southward shift
    of the Indian Ocean subtropical gyre [Alory et al., 2007].
    Indian Ocean water temperatures and ocean dynamics are
    also modulated, via the Indonesian Through Flow, by
    ocean-atmosphere conditions in the Pacific Ocean [Alory
    et al., 2007; Wainwright et al., 2008] and, possibly, larger scale
    impacts on SH ocean circulation of increased NH
    aerosols [Cai and Cowan, 2007; Cai et al., 2007] and
    changes in the Southern Annular Mode induced by Antarctic
    ozone depletion [Cai, 2006]. On Australia’s Pacific coast, a
    long-term (1944–2003) observational record off eastern
    Tasmania (43S) shows a warming (0.23C/decade)
    consistent with a southward advance of the East Australian Current
    350 km [Ridgway, 2007] and increased southward
    penetration of lower-latitude marine organisms [Poloczanska
    et al., 2007].”

    So for the life of me I’ve been trying to get your attention and Cohenite’s attention to these major ongoing changes in the southern hemisphere for just a few years now.

    Changes in SAM, sub-tropical ridge latitude, ocean temperatures, ocean circulation and temperature, decrease in Walker circulation. As far as may lay understanding goes CSIRO seems to be validating some of these interactions in a modelling context which is an important test of whether you know anything at a mechanistic level.

    And yes all acting in a mix of background ENSO and PDO.

    For you guys not be tunnelling in and checking this stuff out in some detail is blindness.

    These issues transcend niggling worries about the siting of met stations.

    These issues are the real deal !

    (Note I have not said what to do about it nor do I think any solution is trivial !)

    (And yes for our US and Canadian blog inmates an scoundrels – the southern hemisphere is a big area below the equator that has some importance to us down here)

  34. SJT January 5, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    Pearls before swine, Luke, but I appreciate the effort.

  35. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    Jennifer,

    It would be nice if a relevant temperature graph was provided with the publication by De’ath. In fact it amazing that the journal let them publish a graph from 1900 when the period of concern is from 1990.

    Although a temperature graph wasn’t published with the original manuscript (probably due to limitations with space), the supplimentary online material clearly states that:

    “Mean monthly sea surface temperatures (SST) were obtained at one-degree latitude by longitude
    resolution within the GBR from the global HadISST 1.1 database”

    Why on earth is it amazing that “the journal let them publish a graph from 1900″? The key context of the paper was that calcification declined by 14.2% between 1990-2005. Without publishing the entire graph, there would be no decline (assuming you are talking about Fig 2a-c). If you are referring to Fig 3 D-I, I have no issues with this for the reason just stated, and also because the HadISST database runs from 1871 – present.

    Also there are lots of people at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology – maybe they could provide a better graph and put it up at their website?

    I’d assume for several reasons – primarily that the SST graph presented by McClean is from NOAA, not BOM, and also because the source data is produced and owned by different agencies. Feel free to contact BOM and ask them to put up a “better graph”, but i’m not exactly sure what you mean by “better”?

    John McLean does this sort of thing as a hobby. Thank goodness for the John McLeans of this world.

    Why thank goodness? No disrespect to hobbyists, but i’m more inclined to believe the argument put forward by Lough (2008) in Geophysical Research Letters than the excel graphs presented on McClean’s website.

    Thomas.

  36. USpace January 5, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    .
    Throughout history cold periods have been the worst times for humanity, warm ones have been better for human prosperity.

    The CNN Meteorologist saying that the Man-Made Climate Change theory is “arrogant” is a great advancement in the cause of educating the masses with the truth. Hopefully more of the MSM will start speaking out. The word is spreading, tell all your friends and family, and tell them to do the same.

    Gore and his Man-Bear-Pig. The politicians on board with this scam must be simply out of their minds.
    For one thing, there’s plenty of oil and NG, we just need to drill for it and refine it. Also expand and improve nuclear, wind, hydro, solar and hemp fuel.

    Can’t anybody talk some sense into Gore, McCain, Bush and Obama about how temperatures rise first, and THEN carbon-dioxide levels rise.
    Carbon-dioxide doesn’t cause warming, sun activity does, warming causes CO2 levels to rise.
    .
    absurd thought -
    God of the Universe says
    humans’ breath is poison

    just one child hurts the world
    worse than a jet engine

    .
    absurd thought -
    God of the Universe says
    don’t research all theories

    put an end to all debate
    silence all your critics

    .
    absurd thought -
    God of the Universe says
    spread hysteria

    wildly exaggerate
    scare little kids not ready

    .
    absurd thought -
    God of the Universe says
    keep people all worked up

    about global warming
    despite inconvenient facts
    .
    All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech there can be no real freedom.
    .
    The Great Global Warming Scam Movie
    .
    Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
    .
    USpace

    :)
    .

  37. cohenite January 5, 2009 at 12:37 pm #

    Thomas; you want a less smearing and more specific appraisal of luke’s Anthony paper; OK; they filled 30 bathtubs out the back for 8 weeks; is that better? 8 weeks and you want me to take it seriously? As for Bruno’s response to McLean; well, its more of a reflex than a response, and quite wrong; there are 2 post-1998 29C plus maximums and one pre-1998; so what? Here is a bit of perspective as to what really is happening with sea temps;

    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2008/12/lingering-effects-of-199798-el-nino.html

    As for this coral bleaching, I think a blast from the past is required; luke, whatever happened to your mate Steve Watkinson? Do you remember this tiff you had with Steve Short:

    http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/003285.html#comments

  38. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    Cohenite,

    Why is an 8 week experiment not to be taken seriously? “OK; they filled 30 bathtubs out the back for 8 weeks; is that better?” isn’t very scientific. Can you be more specific in your criticism?

    As for John Bruno’s response (and my response to Jennifer), it appears from the McClean graph that the >29c years are 1982, 1987, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004. When you say “as to what really is happening” with sea temps, what are you referring to here?

    I read the blog archive (blog/archives/003285.html), but I can’t find anything here relating to coral bleaching. Are you sure this is the right link?

    Thomas

  39. Luke January 5, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

    Oh yes Cohers – and you will note this is about calcification rate and not dissolution. You’ll also note that the new paper has 400 years of data.

    And no they didn’t use bathrubs in the other paper – don’t be so stupid. You have course have missed the import of that experiment and relevance here. But what’s new. Dumb bum.

    And if you think McLean’s sketch beats Lough’s temperature analysis well ROTFL. And OMIGOD – you’re back to “building heat” again. Where’s the 400 year temperature correlation with temperature matey?

    But sigh – as all know – pseduo-sceptics don’t publish … except in E&E of course.

    And I wonder why the NW coast is also behaving the same….. sigh …

  40. david January 5, 2009 at 1:10 pm #

    John’s analysis shows that we are seeing an abnormally frequent occurrence of very hot water temperatures – that is what is stressing corals.

    In response to erroneous claims by Kininmonth and otI’m to hers in 2006. I constructed the graph – http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3268/3169394630_141b77d605.jpg?v=0 which appeared in Engineers Australia, Vol 77, 2005. The trend is very clear and its consequences for corals which are intolerant of abnormally high temperatures is also very clear.

  41. david January 5, 2009 at 1:11 pm #

    Oops something scrambled in the post… A repost

    John’s analysis shows that we are seeing an abnormally frequent occurrence of very hot water temperatures – that is what is stressing corals.

    In response to erroneous claims by Kininmonth et al. in 2006. I constructed the graph – http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3268/3169394630_141b77d605.jpg?v=0 which appeared in Engineers Australia, Vol 77, 2005. The trend is very clear and its consequences for corals which are intolerant of abnormally high temperatures is also very clear.

  42. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    David,

    Interesting graph – this is from the NCDC’s Experimental Land and Ocean Dataset, right? Where can I find your paper / source data for this?

    Thomas

  43. steve from brisbane January 5, 2009 at 1:25 pm #

    cohenite: Luke’s mate (me) still lurks around here, but can’t often be bothered entering into debate. It’s pretty pointless, really, given that the skepticism (in my view) has taken on its own quasi-religious imperviousness to rebuttal.

    (Yes, I agree that deep Greens use environmentalism as a substitute religion, but it’s like the odd way that the far Right and far Left meet up around the back of the circle and find they’re not so different after all.)

    And as for that exchange with Steve Short: I still say he ignored the point I repeatedly tried to make. That is, decreased saturation levels of carbonate is expected to make calcification harder for coral polyps, and while it does, natural weathering means that coral reefs slowly erode and don’t get replaced. You don’t have to get to the situation that Short went on about (with saturation levels having to get to a point where it dissolves existing coral) for there to be a problem. This latest paper supports the concern.

  44. Louis Hissink January 5, 2009 at 1:27 pm #

    It seems the repartee here involves government funded scientists hiding behind pen-names verballing incovenient posts made by sceptics, some of whom have not received instruction in the scientitic method.

    It’s basically the Lysenkists verballing the mug punters for their disbelief of official pronouncements via the censored science journals.

    Sad, isn’t it.

  45. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 1:44 pm #

    Louis,

    “verballing incovenient posts made by sceptics, some of whom have not received instruction in the scientitic method.”

    You hit the nail on the head, great observation.

    Thomas

  46. Luke January 5, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    What Louis really means is that any incompetent punter and pseudo-sceptics should be allowed to publish nonsense and twaddle in journals of their choice. I imagine Sinkers fancies his hand at brain surgery research – having experimented on himself.

  47. cohenite January 5, 2009 at 3:42 pm #

    It’s always the posterior with you luke, “dumb bum”; and you are also fickle; remember your declaration to Steve at 09.20AM on July 4;

    http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/003220.html#comments

    As to calcification and dissolution, it is the AGW which puts forward the apocalyptic with dissolution always on the cards; Gary Gulrud and DDA man have some sensible things to say about calcification as does Anthoni; and luke, you didn’t watch Bob’s animation about SST’s around the east coast did you? And if you don’t like Bob’s stats with SST [and that is what Bob does, compiles stats from all the sources then graphs the correlations; your critique of him continually misses this point] then what about Compo and Sardeshmukh’s findings on SST and AGW effects?

    David, your graph is on the face of it astounding; I’m trying to reconcile it with this;

    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=1100

    And quite frankly, I can’t. Who are these Smith and Reynolds characters?

  48. david January 5, 2009 at 4:11 pm #

    >http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=1100
    >And quite frankly, I can’t.

    They are entirely consistent. A small warming in the deep tropics leads to large changes in the excedence of thresholds owing to low variability. You are also looking at the troposphere on climateaudit not at the ocean surface so not exactly the same.

    >Who are these Smith and Reynolds characters?

    Famous and highly published oceanographers. Try google scholar for references – there are many and many cites.

  49. cohenite January 5, 2009 at 4:23 pm #

    The Mears and Wentz globe at the beginning of the CA piece deals with SST, as do the Spencer and Christy latitudinal bands.

  50. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    Cohenite:

    >Who are these Smith and Reynolds characters?

    The first google search string I tried bought up Smith Reynolds Airport (http://www.smithreynolds.org/).

    Ho hum.

    Slightly refining the search string shows that both authors are from the National Climatic Data Center (Asheville, North Carolina), and that the 2004 Smith and Reynolds paper has been cited over 200 times in less than 5 years (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/Smith-Reynolds-dataset-2004.pdf)

    But back to the original topic and avoiding the name calling: I still haven’t gotten a clear answer as to why Walter Starck or anyone else thinks that the decline in coral calcification is artificial, or why bleaching events would impact coral calcification (particularly as warm water is ‘good for coral growth’).

    Furthermore, it’s still unclear from the discussion why: if SST’s aren’t increasing (as the McClean graph is supposed to demonstrate unequivocally), why the only declines in coral calcification over the past 100yrs occur following 1990. If indeed SST’s aren’t increasing (thereby not increasing the incidence of coral bleaching), then there shouldn’t be any decrease in calcification at all over the past 100years – yet these are directly linked to “two severe bleaching events in 1998 and 2002″ by Walter Starck’s own admission. Both of these occur in the last decade – where is the evidence of similar events over the past century?

    Finally, I still have no clarification over the topic of this post: why is global warming is an unlikely reason for slow coral growth? particularly as Jennifer herself admits that she doesn’t have an alternative hypothesis for the apparent drop in growth rates.

    As Luke said, “we look forward to Walter’s published rebuttal of the detailed statistical analysis found in the supplementary material”

    Thomas

    Oh and Cohenite, why is an 8 week experiment not to be taken seriously? “OK; they filled 30 bathtubs out the back for 8 weeks; is that better?” isn’t very scientific. Can you be more specific in your criticism of the Anthony et al (2008) article?

  51. Luke January 5, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    You didn’t listen Cohenite – read it again – calcification is not dissolution. In any case you would like to argue with 400 years of data, 328 colonies on 69 separate reefs from top to bottom. Would you?

    If you’re going have a go at AIMS take a really big knife – they’ll have you for brekky.

    “Who are these Smith and Reynolds characters” LOLZ and WTF !!!! – Cohers . Shows we’re you’re at mate. Deep in the denialist-osphere swamp without a candle.

    Oh dear … all part of what Cai et al have documented but they still don’t get it …. ho hum …

  52. Mainspring January 5, 2009 at 4:54 pm #

    “Shows we’re you’re at mate.”

    And you pretend to be educated Fluke?

  53. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    Interesting – it seems that although this morning my posts were being posted instantly, they now appear to be held in a moderation queue, or there is a delay in the posting. What is the policy for post moderation in this blog?

  54. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

    Ignore the above post, i’ll assume the comment below got stuck in Jennifer’s spam filter, so i’ve removed all the URL links:

    Cohenite:

    >Who are these Smith and Reynolds characters?

    The first google search string I tried bought up Smith Reynolds Airport.

    Ho hum.

    Slightly refining the search string shows that both authors are from the National Climatic Data Center (Asheville, North Carolina), and that the 2004 Smith and Reynolds paper has been cited over 200 times in less than 5 years.

    But back to the original topic and avoiding the name calling: I still haven’t gotten a clear answer as to why Walter Starck or anyone else thinks that the decline in coral calcification is artificial, or why bleaching events would impact coral calcification (particularly as warm water is ‘good for coral growth’).

    Furthermore, it’s still unclear from the discussion why: if SST’s aren’t increasing (as the McClean graph is supposed to demonstrate unequivocally), why the only declines in coral calcification over the past 100yrs occur following 1990. If indeed SST’s aren’t increasing (thereby not increasing the incidence of coral bleaching), then there shouldn’t be any decrease in calcification at all over the past 100years – yet these are directly linked to “two severe bleaching events in 1998 and 2002″ by Walter Starck’s own admission. Both of these occur in the last decade – where is the evidence of similar events over the past century?

    Finally, I still have no clarification over the topic of this post: why is global warming is an unlikely reason for slow coral growth? particularly as Jennifer herself admits that she doesn’t have an alternative hypothesis for the apparent drop in growth rates.

    As Luke said, “we look forward to Walter’s published rebuttal of the detailed statistical analysis found in the supplementary material”

    Thomas

    Oh and Cohenite, why is an 8 week experiment not to be taken seriously? “OK; they filled 30 bathtubs out the back for 8 weeks; is that better?” isn’t very scientific. Can you be more specific in your criticism of the Anthony et al (2008) article?

  55. cohenite January 5, 2009 at 5:29 pm #

    Well, irony and a sense of humour are not present in the AGW camp; you nong luke, some Smith and Reynold’s stuff was amongst the first gear you threw at me.

  56. Luke January 5, 2009 at 5:47 pm #

    Thomas – Lough GRL 2008 does not agree with McLean. 1st comment this thread.

    SSTs increasing since 1950

    - also this current calcification reduction is in contrast to the last 400 years.

    Anyway for a hypothesis what do we have
    (1) CO2 (3) SSTs (3) Terrestrial runoff of sediment, nutrients and herbicides (4) some combination of 1,2, and 3

    (5) ???

    Surely bleaching is not unprecedented and should show in the last 400 years of record ??
    Lough 2007 shows ENSO and PDO running over the last 400 years in coral core samples.
    Although climate variability seems to have increased over the last century. Perhaps a factor too.

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2007/2006PA001377.shtml

    Tropical river flow and rainfall reconstructions from coral luminescence: Great Barrier Reef, Australia
    Tropical river flow and rainfall reconstructions from coral luminescence: Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Janice M. Lough

    Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

    Rainfall and river flow in northeast Queensland, Australia, are highly seasonal and show high interannual and decadal variability that is modulated by El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Reconstructions of October–September freshwater input to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon and October–September Queensland rainfall are developed from visual assessment of the occurrence and intensity of luminescent lines in massive Porites from up to 25 coral cores from 15 nearshore reefs regularly influenced by river flood plumes. Separate reconstructions are developed for four rivers (Herbert, Burdekin, Pioneer, and Fitzroy), and these are used to reconstruct total annual freshwater flow into the Great Barrier Reef (69–74% variance calibrated) and an index of Queensland rainfall (53–57% variance calibrated). The reconstructions extend back to 1631 but are most reliable from 1661 and capture significant decadal variability. The reconstructions provide insights into long-term tropical rainfall and river flow variability and the behavior of ENSO and the PDO over several centuries. Significant, though weak, relationships are found between these reconstructions and an independent reconstruction of ENSO. The reconstructions highlight that observations from the instrumental records of high interannual and decadal rainfall and river flow variability in northeast Australia also characterize the past few centuries. Although there appears to be no overall trend toward wetter or drier conditions, the reconstructions suggest that the variability of rainfall and river flow has increased during the twentieth century with more very wet and very dry extremes than in earlier centuries, as projected for the region as a consequence of global warming.

    Received 11 October 2006; accepted 12 February 2007; published 27 June 2007.

    Citation: Lough, J. M. (2007), Tropical river flow and rainfall reconstructions from coral luminescence: Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Paleoceanography, 22, PA2218, doi:10.1029/2006PA001377.

  57. cohenite January 5, 2009 at 6:27 pm #

    You see luke, that’s what I don’t get; you come on here stridently berating anyone who can’t see these clear, profound portents of AGW which your papers obstensibly and plainly manifest; just looking at Lough’s effort remined me of Helman’s piece (I’ll throw some Smith and Reynolds back at you and condescending Thomas later on too);

    Abstract
    Extensive research on past records on the New South Wales and south east Queensland coast has revealed changes that have been related to sea level trends and multi-decadal phases of Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). Indicators suggest that before European settlement of Australia sea level trend was stable or slightly falling. Sea level commenced a slowly rising trend from the 1820’s. The rise is detected in early tide gauge observations in Tasmania during the early 1840’s, as well as tide gauge observations at Sydney (from 1886) and Auckland (from 1899). The rising trend is attributed to: gradual warming that followed the global sea level fall after the Tambora eruption (1815), a long negative IPO phase (from the 1850’s to 1890’s) and global warming during the 1900’s. Observations at Sydney indicate sea level rise of around 100mm/100 years, well below the global average of 180mm/100 years. The relatively small rise on the east coast has resulted in erosion of barrier dunes, deposition in estuaries, and washover of barriers and spits. The timing of coastal events is generally related to the oscillation of the IPO. During positive phases of IPO the east coast experiences recurring droughts, low storminess, sea level below the long term trend and inshore accretion. During negative IPO phases the east coast experiences wet periods, major floods, sea level above long term trend and coastline erosion. Coastline changes at specific sites illustrate the impact of sea level rise, due to climate change and climatic variability, largely influenced by IPO phase.

    http://www.coastalconference.com/2007/papers2007/Peter%20Helman.doc

    Both Helman and Lough detail centuries long phases of PDO/IPO as the determinators of Australian east coast climate and then, as an after thought, attach these incongrous tips of the hat to AGW; it’s ludicrous.

  58. Luke January 5, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

    We’re joshing you about Smith and Reynolds coz if you look for SST data sets you’ll find their names in 10 seconds flat.

    But yes Cohers – you still don’t get it.

    - all the ENSO / PDO and IPO stuff is fine.

    But there are other factors coming in over the top (as well).

    And Helman definitely believes in AGW and sea level rise. However having heard him speak – how this will manifest itself will be episodic – in a cool phase you will get lots more coastal action than a warm PDO phase. And ENSO and PDO also impact sea level too.

    I believe the current oceanic changes are beyond PDO – ditto sub-tropical ridge – ditto SAM – and it’s all linked together – AGW has expressed a major southern hemisphere change.

    You will notice that Lough finds much greater variability in the 20th century than in the other 3 centuries of coral paleo cores.

    And now Lough finds calcification rates off the scale – more indication of bigger moves afoot.

    And do a mind experiment – how would it work if AGW was really happening. Don’t you think you’d start to see evolving changes confounded by seasonal, interannual and decadal variation. Or do you think you’d see nice orderly patterns with a pink ribbon on it? Would you be surprised by unexpected feedbacks perhaps?

    Do you think God would hand it to you on a platter?

    And as Brad is reporting elsewhere on blog – the ever expanding ocean is the best evidence of additional energy being sunk …

    Which is why Hadley is now going gang busters on decadal variability and well as biosphere feedbacks.

    Does it mean Rudd should have an ETS ? Weeellll – that’s another debate ….

    I just want to know where this bouncing ball leads – the first and original Australian problem is drought and water security.

    That’s it !

    So the knee jerk reaction by faux sceptics to clobber every published paper is pretty juvenile don’t you think?

    The authors of this paper have left the final explanation open. But golly – Cohers – aren’t you the teeniest bit curious?

  59. Louis Hissink January 5, 2009 at 7:59 pm #

    Luke: “What Louis really means is that any incompetent punter and pseudo-sceptics should be allowed to publish nonsense and twaddle in journals of their choice. I imagine Sinkers fancies his hand at brain surgery research – having experimented on himself”

    If you belief that then the lifeline connecting you with reality was severed quite some time ago – probably during your previous incarnations.

    As most of us know you have been awarded a BSc. (Hons) in geology, and as you have been verballing people here for 3-4 years, one wonders why you never worked as a geologist during the last mining boom, which tanked last October).

    Perhaps the reason is scientific incompetence? Your posts here do suggest this.

  60. Louis Hissink January 5, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    Thomas: ““verballing incovenient posts made by sceptics, some of whom have not received instruction in the scientitic method.”

    You hit the nail on the head, great observation. ”

    A scientist would know this and abstain from verballing the ignorant. The Lysenkoists don’t.

  61. Tim Curtin January 5, 2009 at 8:43 pm #

    re Luke Jan 5th: that wonderful study you cite so approvingly bubbled CO2 into its bath tubs, turning the water therein into good approximations of soda for my whiskey or tonic for my gin. My doctor tells me both are bad for me. The atmospheric level of CO2 is something else, as it is not (alas!) bubbled into the ocean, I say alas, because at $1.25 per litre my tonics are more expensive than my petrol. Un’appy noo year! The experiment you endorse is bogus, like everything published on the GBR by the likes of Science. For example, the paper heading this thread would have us believe that the rate of growth of the rate of growth of coral reefs is declining by up to 1.7% p.a. Suppose the growth rate was 5% pa. in 1990, then by the 2040s it will still be around 2% p.a., well above current ASX portfolio growth rates of minus 30%.

  62. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    Tim,

    “For example, the paper heading this thread would have us believe that the rate of growth of the rate of growth of coral reefs is declining by up to 1.7% p.a. Suppose the growth rate was 5% pa. in 1990, then by the 2040s it will still be around 2% p.a., well above current ASX portfolio growth rates of minus 30%.”

    Your calculations are inaccurate. The paper ‘has us believe’ that the decline in calcification between 1990-2005 is 14.2%. This equates to roughly 0.95% per annum.

    Let’s do some back of the envelope calculations: if the growth rate of coral reefs was +5% in 1990, by 2040 (50 years later), assuming a decline of 0.95% pa (considerably less than the 1.7% pa you are quoting), there would be -47.5% decline in coral reef calcification.

    Anyone who has this ASX portfolio would be looking to ditch their shares and invest anywhere long before 2040.

    Either way, can you tell us what the growth rate of the GBR is (without supposing)?

    Thomas

  63. Tim Curtin January 5, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    Hi Thomas,

    It is a very poorly written paper (par for the course), but it does say (p.117) that “of the 189 colonies 72.5% show negative linear trends, with an average decline of 1.7% p.a.” Ask De’ath what the actual growth rate was in 1990, I doubt you will ever get a reply!

    More generally, a serious paper would provide data on the age of each sample, with its respective growth rate (corals are not unlike trees, as they get older their growth tends to decline before stopping altogether, as they either spread too deep or get too close to the sea surface). De’ath et al like their favourite source Uwe actually know less than nothing about corals. The growth rates of the ages of De’ath et al like those of us all decline from birth until our de’aths (oops!). same for corals. Without an age, depth, and space distribution of their samples, their paper is totally worthless, just like the MBH hockey stick (coral growth rings, like tree rings reflect temps and/or rain, reflect pH and/or temps and much else; serious analysis would do regressions on all relevant variables). Death and mates fail to do this, knowing that Science couldn’t care less.

  64. Luke January 5, 2009 at 9:32 pm #

    Gee Louis – jeez you’re a dour bugger – I’m pulling your chain mate.

    So your world view is so constrained that you think I should be a geologist. errr – well interesting though geology is – I’m not a geologist. So – ummm – the end.

    But Louis I thought it was YOU verballing us AGW types. You only see the world through your glasses – get’em checked mate. As for all this Lysenko Reds under the bed stuff – yawn – all very tedious – you miss Bob Santamaria don’t you.

    Anyway here’s the way it works Louis – great first class science gets done – being a crusty old geologist and arch right winger you put up bogus arguments why it’s crap – so we expose you for being a boofhead – then you get ancy – and then we ridicule you – then you get mad. Deal?

  65. Luke January 5, 2009 at 9:45 pm #

    Timmy – your comments are simply the disingenuous whiney bleatings of a little faux sceptic turd.

    Have you communicated with AIMS. Of course not. You’re talking to AIMS not some broken down retirees that inhabit the pseudo-sceptic lurks.

    What’s your opinion on use of REML given you’re such a stats whiz.

  66. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 10:35 pm #

    Hi Tim,

    More generally, a serious paper would provide data on the age of each sample, with its respective growth rate (corals are not unlike trees, as they get older their growth tends to decline before stopping altogether, as they either spread too deep or get too close to the sea surface).

    Can you provide a reference any of the above? How do corals ‘spread too deep’?

    De’ath et al like their favourite source Uwe actually know less than nothing about corals.

    You are rapidly losing credibility here – the co-authors between them have 107 published papers on coral reefs.

    The growth rates of the ages of De’ath et al like those of us all decline from birth until our de’aths (oops!). same for corals.

    Again, can you provide a reference for any of this? Or is it based upon personal observations?

    Without an age, depth, and space distribution of their samples, their paper is totally worthless, just like the MBH hockey stick (coral growth rings, like tree rings reflect temps and/or rain, reflect pH and/or temps and much else; serious analysis would do regressions on all relevant variables). Death and mates fail to do this, knowing that Science couldn’t care less.

    Sorry, but the above comes across as making very little sense. Where exactly are you getting all this information from? Furthermore, if De’ath et al gave you the information on where the corals were taken from (size, depth, age etc), would you be able to interpret this data and respond with valid criticism?

    Thomas

  67. cohenite January 5, 2009 at 10:40 pm #

    luke; thanks for the info.

  68. Thomas Moore January 5, 2009 at 11:03 pm #

    Oh, and Tim – even accepting a 1.7% pa decline, your initial calculations are still wrong.

    Thomas

  69. jae January 6, 2009 at 1:11 am #

    Luke: “Pseudo-scetptic” is a new one on me. Is that the same thing as a “closet believer?”

  70. Demesure January 6, 2009 at 2:23 am #

    “Again, can you provide a reference for any of this? Or is it based upon personal observations? “

    @Thomas
    Why don’t you ask Luke to provide a reference on observations which lead him to vent hot airs like “Ocean pH has likely dropped 0.1 units since industrialisation” that he hels as “very good work on a solid theme” (no kidding!).

  71. Walter Starck January 6, 2009 at 4:47 am #

    Thomas,
    When corals bleach they stop growing and months are required for recovery. Most or all of a year’s growth may be wiped out depending on the severity of bleaching. This leaves a distinct scar in the skeleton. The growth curves presented show a smooth decline after 1990. This an obvious artifact of the statistical smoothing used as no changes in the rate of growth decline are evident in either of the major bleaching years. My question is, how much of the decline is due to the bleaching events? Over the time period since 1990 two years of little or no growth could account for most or all of the reduced growth depicted in the splines if smoothed over the same period. This obvious uncertainty could easily be clarified by presenting the annual growth data but this was not included in the supporting material.

    As for the validity of the statistical methodology I have no quibble other than the question of what it may be concealing. My only request for De’ath et al. is to simply show us the evidence not just a curve claimed to represent it.

    My skepticism is founded largely on direct observation of profuse recovery since the more severe 2002 bleaching. What is abundantly observable on the reef is hard to reconcile with a precipitous decline in growth.

  72. Thomas Moore January 6, 2009 at 8:17 am #

    Demesure,

    I’m sure you are capable of asking Luke yourself. I’ve asked many questions here and have yet to see many answers.

    Thomas

  73. Thomas Moore January 6, 2009 at 8:48 am #

    Walter,

    When corals bleach they stop growing and months are required for recovery. Most or all of a year’s growth may be wiped out depending on the severity of bleaching. This leaves a distinct scar in the skeleton.

    Do you mean growth hiatuses? What is this scar? Can you provide any references to this in the literature?

    The growth curves presented show a smooth decline after 1990. This an obvious artifact of the statistical smoothing used as no changes in the rate of growth decline are evident in either of the major bleaching years. My question is, how much of the decline is due to the bleaching events? Over the time period since 1990 two years of little or no growth could account for most or all of the reduced growth depicted in the splines if smoothed over the same period. This obvious uncertainty could easily be clarified by presenting the annual growth data but this was not included in the supporting material.

    The one thing that you still haven’t clarified yet: if indeed 1998 and 2002 caused decline due to the bleaching events, we can assume from the dataset that there is no evidence of a similar decline over the past 100years. Does that then mean that the ’98 and ’02 bleaching events are unprecidented?

    Back to the bleaching impact question: I’m still surprised that you, Peter Ridd and Bob Carter are always telling us that coral bleaching isn’t a bad thing, yet here you are telling us it has caused a considerable downturn in calcification that is unprecedented in a century. Given that the 1998 and 2002 bleaching events were spatially patchy, I strongly doubt that the evidence presented by De’ath et al is an artifact. I’ve uploaded another figure by Berklemans et al (2004), which is somewhere on GBRMPA’s website, but I can’t find it to hand. Take a look at (http://tinyurl.com/9ftenm) and compare it to the sampling locations of De’ath et al (2008) – it’s difficult to reconcile such highly variable spatial patterns of bleaching with such a uniform downturn in calcification.

    As for the validity of the statistical methodology I have no quibble other than the question of what it may be concealing. My only request for De’ath et al. is to simply show us the evidence not just a curve claimed to represent it.

    I acknowledge your point, but I doubt it’s as nefarious as it seems. The paper preceeding the De’ath et al Science paper (Cooper et al 2008, Global Change Biology) used an almost identical technique on a subset of cores from the inshore GBR. I uploaded one of the figures from that text here (http://tinyurl.com/7d7wnu). Note that the temporal profiles are averaged over multiple cores. I assume that for the De’ath et al Science paper, averaging the profiles of 328 core profiles would have been quite a mess – hence the technique used.

    Why don’t you email AIMS directly and make that request to De’ath et al, rather than it becoming an obscure footnote at the bottom of a blog page? It would add some credibility to your claims.

    My skepticism is founded largely on direct observation of profuse recovery since the more severe 2002 bleaching. What is abundantly observable on the reef is hard to reconcile with a precipitous decline in growth.

    So your skepticism comes from attempting to reconcile your observations with the science, rather than the science being inherently problematic?

    Two things strike me here: first, you haven’t actually given any references for your prior statements, and secondly, how on earth do you expect to observe a downturn in calcification? Is there any way of visually assessing the growth trajectories of massive corals?

    Which reefs are you basing your observations on?

    Thomas

  74. Thomas Moore January 6, 2009 at 8:49 am #

    Jennifer,

    Are you going to reply to any of the comments above?

    Thomas

  75. jennifer January 6, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    Thomas,
    I stopped reading your long rants after it became apparent that you are more interested in grand-standing and politics than the actual data.
    I suggest you comment a bit less, read and think a bit more – that would be doing us all a favour.

  76. tty January 6, 2009 at 9:47 am #

    Hmm… That PNAS paper was interesting. It suggests that calcification of Porites actually increases substantially with higher temperatures (28-29 degrees) and increasing CO2 (520-700 ppm, pH 7,85-7,95). Obviously there is either something wrong with the experimental setup, or with the De’ath et al. hypothesis.

  77. Luke January 6, 2009 at 10:53 am #

    Well Demesure – http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/305/5682/367

    Others by Caldeira and also Feeley which I’m sure you’re aware of.

  78. Hasbeen January 6, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    I spent quite a bit of time building little jetties, with poured in situ concrete piles, grafted into the coral of atolls, & high islands in mostly the Coral, Solomon & Bismarck seas. I became quite intimate with the corals involved. You know, this coral grew quite well, despite living with SSTs 2o to 4o hotter than the GBR, even in it’s hotter areas.

    I then spent quite a few years in the tourist boat industry, on the GBR. I saw the development of the GBR marine park, the growth of AIMS, & James Cool marine biology department.

    I made a point, of helping under grads, & researchers with transport to, & accommodation on the reef. I made a point of trying to introduce these folk to some old professional reef fishermen I had met, who had who had forgotten more about the GBR than the sum total of knowledge of these places, combined.

    For example, one had told me that the huge brown & yellow patches, hundreds of acres in extent, floating on the water in October was dead coral spore. He explained the reason for this was that coral release its spore simultaneously. It was comon knowledge, amoung professionals. Imagine my a my amazament when some our scientists anounced the momentous discovery of this fact, 15 YRARS LATER.

    Unfortunately most of the researchers were too arrogant, or insecure, or both to take advantage of this opportunity to learn so much so easily. After a while I stopped offering the use of my facilities to any but students.

    Just because a bloke went comercial fishing at 12 years of age, does not mean he has a low IQ. Unfortunately many of our researchers are too dumb to know this.

    When I read a couple of posts by Thomas Moore, the memory of this arrogance came flooding back, leaving a nasty taste in my mouth. Needless to say I treat his posts with the disdain they deserve.

  79. Walter Starck January 6, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    Thomas,
    Am traveling overseas at present and must keep this brief

    You ask:
    Do you mean growth hiatuses? What is this scar? Can you provide any references to this in the literature?
    I do mean growth hiatuses. There are various references. Google coral bleaching scar.

    The one thing that you still haven’t clarified yet: if indeed 1998 and 2002 caused decline due to the bleaching events, we can assume from the dataset that there is no evidence of a similar decline over the past 100years. Does that then mean that the ‘98 and ‘02 bleaching events are unprecidented?

    No, we cannot assume there are no earlier bleaching events for the same reason the recent ones do not show. They would have been smoothed out.in the spline.

    Back to the bleaching impact question: I’m still surprised that you, Peter Ridd and Bob Carter are always telling us that coral bleaching isn’t a bad thing, yet here you are telling us it has caused a considerable downturn in calcification that is unprecedented in a century.
    Bad is your word not mine. Bleaching is a natural event evidence for which is commonly found in coral cores. There is nothing to indicate that the recent events are anything outside the natural variability of such events.
    Given that the 1998 and 2002 bleaching events were spatially patchy, I strongly doubt that the evidence presented by De’ath et al is an artifact. I’ve uploaded another figure by Berklemans et al (2004), which is somewhere on GBRMPA’s website, but I can’t find it to hand. Take a look at (http://tinyurl.com/9ftenm) and compare it to the sampling locations of De’ath et al (2008) – it’s difficult to reconcile such highly variable spatial patterns of bleaching with such a uniform downturn in calcification.

    No uniformity has been indicated other than averaging 328 different profiles into a single smoothed curve.

    Note that the temporal profiles are averaged over multiple cores. I assume that for the De’ath et al Science paper, averaging the profiles of 328 core profiles would have been quite a mess – hence the technique used.

    See above, and that is why the original data should be made available.

    Why don’t you email AIMS directly and make that request to De’ath et al, rather than it becoming an obscure footnote at the bottom of a blog page?

    Will follow up on that when I return to Townsville.

    It would add some credibility to your claims.

    Questions and doubts are not claims. As for credibility all I might hope for is that open minds might consider an alternate possibility. No amount of argument ever changes the mind of true believers.

    So your skepticism comes from attempting to reconcile your observations with the science, rather than the science being inherently problematic?

    When a hypothesis is contradicted by empirical observation I do question the hypothesis.

    Two things strike me here: first, you haven’t actually given any references for your prior statements, aould be difficult to observe viwsuallynd secondly, how on earth do you expect to observe a downturn in calcification?
    Is there any way of visually assessing the growth trajectories of massive corals?

    My comments are based on a combination of my own considerable experience in this area as well as the work of others. It is beyond the scope of a few brief comments on a blog to provide scholarly references for every easily verifiable fact that is mentioned nor is it my purpose to educate those who do not wish to consider anything not in accord with their own preferred beliefs.

    Growth in massive corals would indeed bbe difficult to observe but growth of smaller colonies is visually obvious and quantifiable over a few years as has just been reported in areas affected by the tsunami.

    Which reefs are you basing your observations on?

    Numerous in the far northern section.

  80. Thomas Moore January 6, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    Jennifer,

    I stopped reading your long rants after it became apparent that you are more interested in grand-standing and politics than the actual data.

    That’s odd: all of my comments have related to data, none have been political.

    My questions weren’t rhetorical either, and I have no idea what grand-standing has to do with this – I asked both you and Walther very specific questions regarding the actual data.

    In the absence of any other justification, I’m left to assume you stopped responding to my posts (or ‘rants’, as you call them) when you stopped being able to answer them.

    I suggest you comment a bit less, read and think a bit more – that would be doing us all a favour.

    May I suggest to you that you also read more, think more, and actually respond to direct questions regarding the science and the hard data, rather than making statements that you later cannot (or refuse to) answer using direct evidence, and stop writing headline grabbing post titles that you have no evidence with which to justify?

    Thomas

  81. Thomas Moore January 6, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    Walther,

    Thanks to replying to this ongoing thread.

    Why don’t you email AIMS directly and make that request to De’ath et al, rather than it becoming an obscure footnote at the bottom of a blog page?

    Will follow up on that when I return to Townsville.

    I look forward to hearing your response on this.

    Questions and doubts are not claims. As for credibility all I might hope for is that open minds might consider an alternate possibility. No amount of argument ever changes the mind of true believers.

    Agreed. Having said that, “Global Warming Unlikely Reason for Slow Coral Growth” sounds like a claim to me, and Jennifer herself admits that she has no idea what else could the cause of the decline.

    When a hypothesis is contradicted by empirical observation I do question the hypothesis.

    But so far, you haven’t offered anything empirical other than observations.

    My comments are based on a combination of my own considerable experience in this area as well as the work of others. It is beyond the scope of a few brief comments on a blog to provide scholarly references for every easily verifiable fact that is mentioned nor is it my purpose to educate those who do not wish to consider anything not in accord with their own preferred beliefs.

    I do not wish to belittle your personal experience in the area, and i’m sorry if it came across as such. My point being is that if this blog is going to continue to make wild claims about science, maybe it’s time that they start backing up such claims.

    I’m quite willing to hear a rational argument, but if you tell me that it’s beyond this blog to provide scholarly references, then your arguments will continue to be baseless.

    Growth in massive corals would indeed bbe difficult to observe but growth of smaller colonies is visually obvious and quantifiable over a few years as has just been reported in areas affected by the tsunami.

    I don’t follow your logic here – the De’ath et al paper report a downturn, not ceasing in calcification. How does this relate to the tsunami?

    Numerous in the far northern section.

    Which, by Fabricius’s own admission in a recent ABC news report:

    “There are still amazing, beautiful reefs in the Great Barrier Reef, especially the far north. It’s just breath taking in some places. But there are larger and larger areas that look degraded and that will continue. I mean, projected for in 20 years’ time will mean be even lower coral cover, even slower coral growth, a great amount of erosion. And eventually the coral reefs will be very simple, dull looking ecosystems”

  82. John January 6, 2009 at 1:12 pm #

    Ever since PCs, Microsoft, open-heart surgery and fuel injection have arrived, man thinks he can work out everything.

    The idea of being able to ascertain the growth rate of coral in an area as vast as the GBR, is extremely dubious, for obvious reasons.

    The idea of being able to ascertain the reasons for changes in growth rates, is ludicrous. There are so many dynamics involved, so many possible parameters not even dreamed of, that it is like saying that the sun got darker yesterday because someone turned on a flashlight in the daytime, the photons of which collided with the suns photons resulting in altering overall measured illunination.

    The piddly little bit of ‘research’, the piddly analysis, the piddly hypotheses tantamount to contemplating the weight of your belly button, the enormous pool of possible parameters, the political urge to prove global warming, all make the assertions not worth the paper they are printed on.

    And aside from all this, coral is dead anyway.

    There is one persistent problem with so-called scientific research, and that is its inevitable non-integration with the wider-scope dynamics of the problem being examined.
    I once did a recording in a city studio, and was producing. As I scrutinised the tape on playback, I criticised a guitarits ‘lick’, and suggested it might have to be done again. The bass player responded: “I think you’re getting too close to it”. What he meant was, we tend to become pedantic and over-meticulous as we attempt to strive for perfection. And so we miss the big picture. I needed to step back and listen to the tape as a whole, listen to the forest and forget about the twigs. I did so, and the problem that I thought was there, went away.

    Scientific research suffers from this same problem. Papers need to be catalogued, and read, but conclusions need to be delayed decades so that no-one overshoots the real problem and has us all running down the garden path in the nuddie.

    We also need to be less precious with regard to keeping everything the way it was, and in order to do this, we need to stop living in our minds and projecting sentimentalities onto issues which, if we were never told about them, would never enter anyone’s universe simply by virtue of their being too subtle and miniscule, and by virtue of the fact that no particular quantity or level of any phenomenon or artifact on earth, can be said at any point in time to be at a level that is SACROSANCT with regard to all other things. There is no sacrosanct level.

    It is this perception of what is SACROSANCT, which is a logical error, that is second only to the chief error in this whole ‘scientific’ analysis. And that chief error, is, as I implied in my opening sentence, pride.

  83. sod January 6, 2009 at 5:39 pm #

    Thomas,
    I stopped reading your long rants after it became apparent that you are more interested in grand-standing and politics than the actual data.
    I suggest you comment a bit less, read and think a bit more – that would be doing us all a favour.

    sorry Jennifer, but Thomas has posted a LOT of facts, and he is providing links and sources.

    <b<while you brought up ZERO support to defend your choice of a title.

  84. Tim Curtin January 6, 2009 at 6:03 pm #

    Thomas Moore (January 5th) commented on my claim that “a serious paper would provide data on the age of each sample, with its respective growth rate (corals are not unlike trees, as they get older their growth tends to decline before stopping altogether, as they either spread too deep or get too close to the sea surface)”: “Can you provide a reference any of the above? How do corals ’spread too deep’?” Loosely put perhaps, but corals grow sideways or to the light, but mostly not down beyond a certain depth (because of absence of light).*

    He also did not like my comment that “De’ath et al like their favourite source Uwe actually know less than nothing about corals”. To which I reply, their 107 papers are largely repetitive and almost all based on proving that coral reefs are an endangered species.

    Growth rates of physical dimensions of all living species decline with age, and the growth rate of their ages also declines and levels off before final death. Atolls in the Maldives and the South Pacific mostly comprise dead coral. Thomas adds: “Again, can you provide a reference for any of this? Or is it based upon personal observations?” Yes, it is, these are after all the facts of life and death, see Darwin.

    I repeat, without an age, depth, and space distribution of their samples, their paper is totally worthless, just like the MBH hockey stick (coral growth rings, like tree rings reflect temps and/or rain, reflect pH and/or temps and much else; serious analysis would do regressions on all relevant variables)…

    Thomas als asked : “if De’ath et al gave you the information on where the corals were taken from (size, depth, age etc), would you be able to interpret this data and respond with valid criticism?” Sure, but would they?

    More generally, De’ath et al however much you, Thomas, claim they know about corals are much less competent if possible on growth rates. Using second derivatives as they do is highly questionable as they are even more dependent on variability within a series. Commenters above have noted De’ath & co were careful not to separate out the El Nino bleachings from their series. It is also misleading to publish findings based on second derivatives while reporting them as actual growth rates. What is the 2nd derivative of your car’s speeds as it goes from 0 to 100 kph? would Holden publish these as their main selling point?
    *From Wiki:
    “…corals do not grow at depths of over 50 m (165 ft). Temperature has less of an effect on the distribution of tropical coral, but it is generally accepted that they do not exist in waters below 18 °C.[2], and that the optimum temperature is 26-27 °C for most coral reefs. The reefs in the Persian gulf however have coral adapted to changing temperatures of 13 °C in winter and 38 °C in summer, thus having significantly colder and hotter ambient environments respectively than most coral reefs. [3]” Why cannot De’ath et al bring themselves to admit these basic facts, and above all that calcification involves carbonates, a word they avoid whenever possible, because it betrays the wicked role of CO2 in the formation of corals in the first place?

  85. Luke January 6, 2009 at 7:46 pm #

    Jeez Curtin you must be an ornery bugger. If you read Lough 2007 – you will notice 400 years of PDO and ENSO documented in coral cores – i.e there would have been bleaching events from ENSO before in previous centuries. However this recent trend is exceptional. Would you like to assert that the recent bleaching events are exceptional – if so – sign here ……….

    If you were not such a total galoot you would know the paper has the location of the samples in a map. i.e. the whole reef 12-24S. Tells me you haven’t read the paper. But what would we expect from a disingenuous faux sceptic activist?

    Why don’t you phone/email the authors instead of assuming this and that.

  86. Thomas Moore January 6, 2009 at 9:37 pm #

    Tim,

    Thomas Moore (January 5th) commented on my claim that “a serious paper would provide data on the age of each sample, with its respective growth rate (corals are not unlike trees, as they get older their growth tends to decline before stopping altogether, as they either spread too deep or get too close to the sea surface)”: “Can you provide a reference any of the above? How do corals ’spread too deep’?” Loosely put perhaps, but corals grow sideways or to the light, but mostly not down beyond a certain depth (because of absence of light).*

    He also did not like my comment that “De’ath et al like their favourite source Uwe actually know less than nothing about corals”. To which I reply, their 107 papers are largely repetitive and almost all based on proving that coral reefs are an endangered species.

    Wait – are you being serious? Tim, you are an economist by training, attempting to discredit world leaders and experts in coral reef science, and the best you can come up with is that their papers are “largely repetitive” and “all based on proving that coral reefs are endangered species”?

    Growth rates of physical dimensions of all living species decline with age, and the growth rate of their ages also declines and levels off before final death. Atolls in the Maldives and the South Pacific mostly comprise dead coral. Thomas adds: “Again, can you provide a reference for any of this? Or is it based upon personal observations?” Yes, it is, these are after all the facts of life and death, see Darwin.

    Corals are colonial organisms, and their age is indeterminate. The best evidence you can cite here is Darwin?

    I repeat, without an age, depth, and space distribution of their samples, their paper is totally worthless, just like the MBH hockey stick (coral growth rings, like tree rings reflect temps and/or rain, reflect pH and/or temps and much else; serious analysis would do regressions on all relevant variables)…

    Thomas als asked : “if De’ath et al gave you the information on where the corals were taken from (size, depth, age etc), would you be able to interpret this data and respond with valid criticism?” Sure, but would they?

    I’m sorry, but this is where the discussion takes an abrupt turn (and I really have to clarify this): you are telling me that if you were provided with the list of age, depth, and ‘space distribution’ (whatever that variable may be), that you would be able to interpret the results of the journal article, whilst the authors (De’ath, Lough, Fabricius) wouldn’t be able to?

    More generally, De’ath et al however much you, Thomas, claim they know about corals are much less competent if possible on growth rates. Using second derivatives as they do is highly questionable as they are even more dependent on variability within a series. Commenters above have noted De’ath & co were careful not to separate out the El Nino bleachings from their series. It is also misleading to publish findings based on second derivatives while reporting them as actual growth rates. What is the 2nd derivative of your car’s speeds as it goes from 0 to 100 kph? would Holden publish these as their main selling point?

    *From Wiki:
    “…corals do not grow at depths of over 50 m (165 ft). Temperature has less of an effect on the distribution of tropical coral, but it is generally accepted that they do not exist in waters below 18 °C.[2], and that the optimum temperature is 26-27 °C for most coral reefs. The reefs in the Persian gulf however have coral adapted to changing temperatures of 13 °C in winter and 38 °C in summer, thus having significantly colder and hotter ambient environments respectively than most coral reefs. [3]” Why cannot De’ath et al bring themselves to admit these basic facts, and above all that calcification involves carbonates, a word they avoid whenever possible, because it betrays the wicked role of CO2 in the formation of corals in the first place?

    It’s fairly obvious to anyone involved that coral calcification involves carbonates (the skeleton is made of calcium carbonate after all). Why on earth would De’ath et al avoid this?

    Finally, I have no idea why you are citing Wikipedia, but if you believe this is right (that corals can adapt upto 38c), then following this logic, coral bleaching doesn’t matter, and there was no impact from the 1998 and 2002 bleaching events. Right?

  87. Tim Curtin January 7, 2009 at 5:46 pm #

    Thomas Moore:
    I see you didn’t respond to my comment about using the 2nd derivative to denote growth rates, as in the media release by De’ath & co:

    …“Researchers in Australia say the growth of coral on the country’s iconic Great Barrier Reef (GBR) has fallen since 1990 to its lowest rate in 400 years.” Their paper does NOT show this.

    You tell me why De’ath & co cannot bring themselves to admit that oceanic CO2 is the sine qua non of all coral growth.

    Your final point is puerile. What I glean from the Wiki entry is that coral is more resilient and opportunistic than you or D & co will ever admit.

  88. SJT January 7, 2009 at 6:01 pm #

    The reefs in the Persian gulf however have coral adapted to changing temperatures of 13 °C in winter and 38 °C in summer, thus having significantly colder and hotter ambient environments respectively than most coral reefs. [3]” Why cannot De’ath et al bring themselves to admit these basic facts, and above all that calcification involves carbonates, a word they avoid whenever possible, because it betrays the wicked role of CO2 in the formation of corals in the first place?

    I guess it’s because De’ath et al weren’t researching coral in the Persian Gulf? It also states the Persian Gulf coral is better adapted than most corals. Did you read what you posted?

  89. Thomas Moore January 7, 2009 at 9:18 pm #

    Tim,

    I see you didn’t respond to my comment about using the 2nd derivative to denote growth rates, as in the media release by De’ath & co:

    …“Researchers in Australia say the growth of coral on the country’s iconic Great Barrier Reef (GBR) has fallen since 1990 to its lowest rate in 400 years.” Their paper does NOT show this.

    Sorry, I missed this comment. I’ll reply to it, but let’s be fair, you have ignored every other comment i’ve made so far. So has Jennifer and quite a few others on this blog.

    The De’ath paper says: “The data suggest that such a severe and sudden decline in calcification is unprecedented in at least the past 400years”. From the data I agree. What do you disagree with now?

    You tell me why De’ath & co cannot bring themselves to admit that oceanic CO2 is the sine qua non of all coral growth.

    As I said before, it’s obvious. It’s like writing a paper on economics and saying WHY CAN’T THE AUTHORS ADMIT THAT MONEY IS MADE OUT OF PAPER, or reading something on astronomy and saying WHY CAN’T THE AUTHORS ADMIT THAT THERE ARE STARS IN THE SKY? Because it’s, uh, obvious to the authors, to the readers, and anyone else that is aware that corals form calcium carbonate skeletons.

    Your final point is puerile. What I glean from the Wiki entry is that coral is more resilient and opportunistic than you or D & co will ever admit.

    Tim, it’s Wikipedia. It’s somewhat akin to me opening the Enyclopedia Britannica, reading the section called “Money”, and trying to lecture an economist. What I’m trying to say (kindly) through analogies is that your interpretation of the Wikipedia data is shallow at best, ignoring an entire library of literature, and at worst it highlights your complete ignorance of coral reefs.

    Thomas

  90. Thomas Moore January 7, 2009 at 9:29 pm #

    One final point i’d like to make. In another post, Luke made this comment:

    “But then again there are so many ideas – which to choose from is a dilemma. It’s a veritable dog’s brekky mate. The world is cooling, but we don’t know the temperature so how can we know anything, it’s cosmic rays, no it’s solar torque, no “rebounding” from LIA, clouds from 50 different angles, no PDO building heat, volcanoes, it’s the moon, it’s my arthritis, it’s my dog …. spare us…”

    And so it goes here. We start with the central tenant that “Global warming unlikely reason for slow coral growth”. Let’s choose an explanation why: It’s bleaching, but bleaching doesn’t exist, corals have been around a long time, corals can adapt, corals scar because of coral bleaching, it’s an artifact of the statistics, corals evolved 540 million years ago therefore it can’t be CO2, the GBR is 0.1ph higher than other oceans, IT LOOKS LIKE A HOCKEYSTICK SO IT AS TO BE FAKE, the GBR waters have cooled not warmed, they didn’t use regressions, the SST data source is dodgy, the GBR is fine – I know this cause I can see it.

    As Luke said, spare us. It seems that the deniers will come up with every reason under the sun as to why the data is wrong, and can’t suggest a single credible alternative hypothesis. Or, you could be like John, and put it down to a work of god that man cannot understand, or like Tim Curtin, who in the absence of understanding a principle at hand will go to Wikipedia and make up his own conclusions.

    So far, nobody has actually come up with a reason as to why global warming is an unlikely reason for slow coral growth. Even Jennifer herself says she has no idea, although she’s smart enough to shut up when she can’t support her own argument, instead of digging a deeper and deeper hole.

    Thomas

  91. Luke January 7, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    Thomas – you can tell these guys are on the hop by how much they are biting. It ultra important for their bankrupt philosophical position to relentlessly machine gun any papers like this – imagine if they had any doubt and let it stand.

    Actually they’d then move to Plan B where it didn’t matter anyway as the ecosystem will adapt.

    There is NEVER anything that will convince these guys.

    But of more interest – Timmy has been trying to convince me what a quality read Quadrant is – and then I read this –

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/conservative-bible-falls-for-furphy-20090106-7b6m.html

    CONSERVATIVE historian Keith Windschuttle — who has previously derided left-wing academics for sloppy fact-checking and fabrication — has been caught in a hoax involving fake CSIRO research, genetic modification and a non-existent biotechnologist.

    Windschuttle, editor of the literary magazine Quadrant, published an essay in the current edition purporting to be by a biotechnologist, Dr Sharon Gould, who claimed the CSIRO had planned to commercialise wheat, mosquitoes and cows that had been modified with human genes.

    “Commercialisation of both these projects was abandoned, along with the wheat project … because of perceived ethical issues in the public and media understanding,” the article stated.

    Obviously Keef is now having a bit of a spit – but you have to admit – he’s been toasted. So maybe Timmy is REALLY a Greenpeace guy pulling our chain. Like how would we know? So Timmy – did the editor vet your piece like the GM hoax? You know quality journal and all that – hahahahahahahahaha …..

  92. Tim Curtin January 7, 2009 at 10:08 pm #

    I note that Thomas Moore still cannot respond to my comment about using the 2nd derivative to denote the media release by De’ath & co:
    …“Researchers in Australia say the growth of coral on the country’s iconic Great Barrier Reef (GBR) has fallen since 1990 to its lowest rate in 400 years.”

    Their paper does NOT show this, as the 2nd derivative rate can drop while the basic growth rate remains above zero.

    I also note that Luke endorses fraud like that of Madoff so long as it supports his own mindset.

    Best

    Tim

  93. Thomas Moore January 7, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

    Tim,

    Please explain the “2nd derivative rate”? I looked this up on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derivative) and came up with the following:

    Let ƒ be a differentiable function, and let f′(x) be its derivative. The derivative of f′(x) (if it has one) is written f′′(x) and is called the second derivative of ƒ. Similarly, the derivative of a second derivative, if it exists, is written f′′′(x) and is called the third derivative of ƒ. These repeated derivatives are called higher-order derivatives.

    A function ƒ need not have a derivative, for example, if it is not continuous. Similarly, even if ƒ does have a derivative, it may not have a second derivative.

    Unlike your previous efforts, I’m not going to add my own interpretation of a Wikipedia article – can you explain your above statement on the 2nd derivative, so I can answer you?

    Thomas

  94. Luke January 8, 2009 at 10:39 am #

    Timmy publishes in Quadrant – a magazine for hoaxers. ROTFL to the nth power.

  95. Tim Curtin January 8, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    Thomas Moore. To answer your query, let’s go back to the De’ath et al article. First the title: “Declining Coral Calcification on the Great Barrier Reef”. That seems to imply that the absolute extent of the GBR is “declining”, and some media have understood that to be the message of the paper. However the text clarifies that declining “calcification RATES” (in grams per square centimetre p.a.) are what the paper seeks to establish. Thus on page 117 we are told that the “rate of calcification has declined since 1990 “from 1.76 to 1.51 g/cm2/p.a.”, but we are not told what percentage 1.75 g/cm2 is of the average structure of the samples in question. If that was 1000 g/cm2, the decline seems marginal, or even if 100 g/mc2, still not huge, from growth in that case from 1.76% pa to 1.51%. But if language counts for anything at Science it is clear that calcification at the GBR is still growing, albeit somewhat more slowly, with growth having fallen by 0.25 g/cm2/pa, or 14.2%, between 1990 and 2005. Apparently the rate of decline (i.e. second derivative) increased from 0.3% pa to 1.5% in 2005 but as we are not told what the historic growth rate is – is it 10% pa or 20%? – how do we know whether a 1.5% decline in that rate is big or small? For example, if the historic growth rate was 10% pa. then a decline of 1.5% in that rate reduces it to 9.85%, hardly exciting enough for the hysterical media releases that heralded the De’ath paper.

    Moreover as is predictable for this kind of paper, it uses 1990 as start year, but that was a cool high growth La Nina year, while its end year 2005 was a hot low growth El Nino, but then why one would expect De’ath & co and their Institute to have heard of ENSO and its impact on climate at the GBR?

    At least Science’s Elizabeth Pennisi in her Comment on the De’ath paper noted the finding by Alina Szmant at UNC Wilmington “that it’s not clear that carbon dioxide enrichment will have negative effects on calcification rates”, or that either “lower pH or lower CaCo3 [resulting from acidification] will reduce calcification”. I noted before here that De’ath & co scarcely mention the carbonate involved in coral formation, as their stress on calcification implies that calcium is the only coral building block, until their final page, and then they state that with declining calcification “maintenance of the calcium carbonate structure that is the foundation of the GBR will be severely compromised”. Has there been a decline in marine calcium available for formation of aragonate (i.e. CaCo3)? No answer from De’ath. Clearly if he et al. are right, there is no shortage of CO2 to help produce the CaCo3. As Jen notes, the paper even admits growth rates seem higher in the hotter northern section of the GBR than in the colder southern stretches.

    Until AGW took over Science, it used to involve precise terminology and measurement. Both are absent from the De’ath paper (and from its so-called “Supporting Material”, which provides no data at all, not even on the alleged declining pH at the GBR for which it provides no shred of evidence even though it is touted upfront as the “cause” of the “declining calcification”).

  96. Luke January 8, 2009 at 11:05 pm #

    “That seems to imply that the absolute extent of the GBR is “declining”,”

    No it doesn’t

    … unless you were the sort of pseduo-sceptic that likes to publish in magzines that get hoaxed by nonsense. Hahahahahahaha

    And what sort of utter crap is this “No answer from De’ath” – You haven’t even asked him. What’s this “no answer” verballing.

    Precise terminology – now now Timmy – was your submission to Quadrant fair dinkum – you know – probably was – but just checking given hoaxers are about. LOL

  97. Tim Curtin January 9, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    Luke: since my last I have discovered a new hoaxer, this time up at AIMS, none other than Janice Lough. In her piece with Barnes (2000) she announced that calcification on the GBR is enhanced by rising SST in response to global climate change (p.226, JEMBE); in her joint effort with De’ath (Science, 2008)she finds the opposite, as discussed above by me; in her solo egffort for JEM 2008, she looks forward to a world “of low coral cover” as “one of the most profound consequences of [you guessed it] global climate change”. As it happens i have had early sight of her next paper for these journals, “Global cooling threatens survival of GBR”. I also have it on good authority that the Rudd-Wong team is developing an audacious plan to put the GBR onto floats that will enable it to be towed north to the equator or south to the Antarctic depending on Janice’s current prediction, and thereby provide countless jobs not only at AIMS but for all other equally unemployable in the real world Queenslanders. Are you Luke available to serve as consultant? Contact DCC.

  98. Luke January 9, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    Timmy you really are utterly ratshit as a denialist. Probably explains you publishing in Quadrant.

    Are you really that dense. What was the period for the 2000 study – weeeelll – pre-dates the recent study down-trend – different time periods. AND the tipping point is the whole point – you know 1990 tipping point. You didn’t read it – you big goosey gander. LOLZ !!!!! and ROTFL….

    The rate was going up until it turned over and has plummeted. Look at figure 2 in the 2008 paper. ooooo – I can hardly stand up …. tee hee and giggle …

    I really can’t believe you have tried this on. You’ve now passed Archibald as the silliest denialist ever.

    Must tell Nexus6 and Janice. HOHOHOHOHOHO !!!

    But anyway Tim was your article for Quadrant fair dinkum or a hoax. Just asking for the record. Given recent developments there readers might need reassuring. And how would we know. Does the editor check the material? Doesn’t look like he does.

  99. Julian Flood January 10, 2009 at 12:39 am #

    Re: Comment from: Thomas Moore January 5th, 2009 at 4:51 am

    “Can you suggest any other credible alternatives as to why calcification has decreased over the last 20years?”

    My resident marine biologist tells me that corals fix their CaCO3 direct from seawater. If, as other people have pointed out, this is not overly dependent on the pH then something else is reducing growth. Well, the polyps certainly aren’t waving their tentacles just for fun: growth rates must depend to a certain extent on captured prey.

    One of my explanations for the C12/C13 ‘anthropogenic signal’ in the atmosphere involves changes in oceanic silica levels — more silica, more diatoms, more pull down of heavy C compared with the usual rate because phytoplankton discriminate more against the heavy isotopes than diatoms do.

    Farming increases atmospheric dust and mineral run-off in the rivers is very visible as you fly into and out of Cairns. More dust, more silica in the ocean. Diatoms, which bloom earlier than phytoplankton, are limited by silica availability. More dust, more run-off, more diatoms and fewer phytos.

    Has the ratio of diatoms to phytoplankton changed? Is the dissolved silica level higher that historical levels? Do corals utilise calcium from their prey? Does a diatom diet provide them with the right mix of nutrients?

    So, in answer to your question, no, but I can easily suggest several lines of inquiry. The answer to the whole GW crisis is not spouting, as many do, the mantra ‘there is a consensus, the science is settled’, it’s demanding better science funding and asking _more_ questions. Too few people act as research gatekeepers in the current state of climate research: the money needs to spread more widely and with enough generosity to invoke serendipity. Good science will then triumph over hype and misinformation.

    One of the greatest experiences of my life was diving on the GBR. If anyone with millions to spare (oil companies, governments, Mr Gore, I’m not fussy) wants me to sacrifice a few months each year* to directing research efforts then I’d be happy to set up a small team in Cairns. (Thinking about it, I have immediate access to a PhD in phytoplankton carbon fixation, two scuba divers, two marine biologist BScs, an accountant to keep an eye on the money and that’s just in the family. I could do the cooking and drive the boat. Make that ‘I’d be more than happy…’)

    JF
    Thank you, Australia, for your GBR conservation efforts. I waited 50 years to see it and it was worth the wait.

    *Wet fog outside, 0.5 deg C.

  100. Luke January 10, 2009 at 11:12 am #

    Julian – the inner reef lagoon is often subject to exposure of sediment from extensive grazing catchments (water erosion not wind) and nutrients and herbicides from sugar cane lands. 5-10 fold increase of sediment from pre-European http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v421/n6924/full/nature01361.html

    So explanations for decline in calcification could be (a) temperatures (b) CO2 (c) water quality or some combination of all 3.

    However, water quality issues have been around for many decades. The effect reported is quite recent. Post 1990.

    Why not ask AIMS what work on diatoms/phytoplankton has been done. Might be looked at already.

    However insinuating that water quality is a factor also won’t win you any friends on this blog.

    But I do like your proposed research project :-)

  101. Rod January 11, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    Is Luke associated with AIMS? What a child.

  102. Thomas Moore January 12, 2009 at 11:12 am #

    Tim Curtin:

    To answer your query, let’s go back to the De’ath et al article. First the title: “Declining Coral Calcification on the Great Barrier Reef”. That seems to imply that the absolute extent of the GBR is “declining”, and some media have understood that to be the message of the paper. However the text clarifies that declining “calcification RATES” (in grams per square centimetre p.a.) are what the paper seeks to establish.

    Thus on page 117 we are told that the “rate of calcification has declined since 1990 “from 1.76 to 1.51 g/cm2/p.a.”, but we are not told what percentage 1.75 g/cm2 is of the average structure of the samples in question. If that was 1000 g/cm2, the decline seems marginal, or even if 100 g/mc2, still not huge, from growth in that case from 1.76% pa to 1.51%. But if language counts for anything at Science it is clear that calcification at the GBR is still growing, albeit somewhat more slowly, with growth having fallen by 0.25 g/cm2/pa, or 14.2%, between 1990 and 2005.

    Apparently the rate of decline (i.e. second derivative) increased from 0.3% pa to 1.5% in 2005 but as we are not told what the historic growth rate is – is it 10% pa or 20%? – how do we know whether a 1.5% decline in that rate is big or small? For example, if the historic growth rate was 10% pa. then a decline of 1.5% in that rate reduces it to 9.85%, hardly exciting enough for the hysterical media releases that heralded the De’ath paper.

    Can you explain the second derivative like I asked above?

    Moreover as is predictable for this kind of paper, it uses 1990 as start year, but that was a cool high growth La Nina year, while its end year 2005 was a hot low growth El Nino, but then why one would expect De’ath & co and their Institute to have heard of ENSO and its impact on climate at the GBR?

    It doesn’t use 1990 as the start year.

    At least Science’s Elizabeth Pennisi in her Comment on the De’ath paper noted the finding by Alina Szmant at UNC Wilmington “that it’s not clear that carbon dioxide enrichment will have negative effects on calcification rates”, or that either “lower pH or lower CaCo3 [resulting from acidification] will reduce calcification”. I noted before here that De’ath & co scarcely mention the carbonate involved in coral formation, as their stress on calcification implies that calcium is the only coral building block, until their final page, and then they state that with declining calcification “maintenance of the calcium carbonate structure that is the foundation of the GBR will be severely compromised”.

    You haven’t uncovered a conspiracy here, Tim. It’s obvious to anyone reading the paper that carbonate is involved in coral calcification. This was never questioned.

    Has there been a decline in marine calcium available for formation of aragonate (i.e. CaCo3)? No answer from De’ath. Clearly if he et al. are right, there is no shortage of CO2 to help produce the CaCo3. As Jen notes, the paper even admits growth rates seem higher in the hotter northern section of the GBR than in the colder southern stretches.

    What on earth is marine calcium?! Why on earth would there be a shortage of CO2?
    The paper clearly discusses temperature thresholds.

    No answer from De’ath? Have you emailed him?

    Until AGW took over Science, it used to involve precise terminology and measurement. Both are absent from the De’ath paper (and from its so-called “Supporting Material”, which provides no data at all, not even on the alleged declining pH at the GBR for which it provides no shred of evidence even though it is touted upfront as the “cause” of the “declining calcification”).

    No shred? At all? So this is one giant conspiracy?

  103. Thomas Moore January 12, 2009 at 11:20 am #

    Tim Curtin,

    since my last I have discovered a new hoaxer, this time up at AIMS, none other than Janice Lough.

    This highlights your misunderstanding of the science, rather than your ability to ‘discover a new hoaxer’.

    In her piece with Barnes (2000) she announced that calcification on the GBR is enhanced by rising SST in response to global climate change (p.226, JEMBE);

    Lough & Barnes (2000) data set = 1979-1986

    in her joint effort with De’ath (Science, 2008)she finds the opposite,

    De’ath et al (2008) data set = 1900 – 2005.

    The decline occurred after 1990, therefore there is no contrast in the two data sets.

    It’s really not that difficult to understand if you read the methods, Tim.

    in her solo egffort for JEM 2008, she looks forward to a world “of low coral cover” as “one of the most profound consequences of [you guessed it] global climate change”.

    Right.

    As it happens i have had early sight of her next paper for these journals, “Global cooling threatens survival of GBR”. I also have it on good authority that the Rudd-Wong team is developing an audacious plan to put the GBR onto floats that will enable it to be towed north to the equator or south to the Antarctic depending on Janice’s current prediction, and thereby provide countless jobs not only at AIMS but for all other equally unemployable in the real world Queenslanders. Are you Luke available to serve as consultant? Contact DCC.

    Have you emailed De’ath yet? I’m looking forward to you exposing this ‘hoax’.

    Thomas

  104. Thomas Moore January 12, 2009 at 11:47 am #

    Julian,

    “Can you suggest any other credible alternatives as to why calcification has decreased over the last 20years?”

    My resident marine biologist tells me that corals fix their CaCO3 direct from seawater. If, as other people have pointed out, this is not overly dependent on the pH then something else is reducing growth.

    Your initial assumptions are wrong – calcification is entirely dependent on pH.

    Well, the polyps certainly aren’t waving their tentacles just for fun: growth rates must depend to a certain extent on captured prey.

    Corals are indeed heterotrophic, but most corals are predominantly phototrophic (with exceptions)

    One of my explanations for the C12/C13 ‘anthropogenic signal’ in the atmosphere involves changes in oceanic silica levels — more silica, more diatoms, more pull down of heavy C compared with the usual rate because phytoplankton discriminate more against the heavy isotopes than diatoms do.

    Wait, you’ve lost me here. How does this relate to the De’ath paper? Are you saying corals are declining in calcification because there are less diatoms? Seriously?

    Farming increases atmospheric dust and mineral run-off in the rivers is very visible as you fly into and out of Cairns. More dust, more silica in the ocean. Diatoms, which bloom earlier than phytoplankton, are limited by silica availability. More dust, more run-off, more diatoms and fewer phytos.

    I think you are misunderstanding this – being autotrophs, diatoms are one of the most common types of phytoplankton.

    Besides which, along with the dust is large quantities of nutrients. How is this included in your theory?

    Has the ratio of diatoms to phytoplankton changed? Is the dissolved silica level higher that historical levels? Do corals utilise calcium from their prey? Does a diatom diet provide them with the right mix of nutrients?

    Again, diatoms ARE phytoplankton.

    Corals do not utilise calcium from their prey.

    As for a ‘diatom diet’ – corals are predominantly phototrophic, and thrive in oligotrophic waters.

    So, in answer to your question, no, but I can easily suggest several lines of inquiry. The answer to the whole GW crisis is not spouting, as many do, the mantra ‘there is a consensus, the science is settled’, it’s demanding better science funding and asking _more_ questions.

    I couldn’t agree more. However, none of the lines of inquiry you followed above actually make sense.

    Too few people act as research gatekeepers in the current state of climate research: the money needs to spread more widely and with enough generosity to invoke serendipity. Good science will then triumph over hype and misinformation.

    As I stated before, nobody has provided any (credible) alternative explanations.

    One of the greatest experiences of my life was diving on the GBR. If anyone with millions to spare (oil companies, governments, Mr Gore, I’m not fussy) wants me to sacrifice a few months each year* to directing research efforts then I’d be happy to set up a small team in Cairns. (Thinking about it, I have immediate access to a PhD in phytoplankton carbon fixation, two scuba divers, two marine biologist BScs, an accountant to keep an eye on the money and that’s just in the family. I could do the cooking and drive the boat. Make that ‘I’d be more than happy…’)

    You have a PhD in phytoplankton carbon fixation? On what grounds you delineating diatoms and phytoplankton?


    *Wet fog outside, 0.5 deg C.

    Winter?

    Thomas

  105. Thomas Moore January 12, 2009 at 11:48 am #

    Rod,

    Luke is providing answers, and you call him a child?

    Thomas

  106. Thomas Moore January 12, 2009 at 11:51 am #

    Tim,

    The long core data from the De’ath paper is lodged at:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/

    Put your money where your mouth is, and go show us exactly how De’ath et al are wrong.

    Thomas.

  107. Thomas Moore January 12, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

    Julian,

    http://www.floodsclimbers.co.uk/globalwarming.html

    Just wanted to add that the Plankton / DMS discussion was pretty intriguing.

    Thomas

  108. Thomas Moore January 12, 2009 at 4:31 pm #

    Still convinced that global warming is an unlikely reason for slow coral growth? A recent paper published in coral reefs suggests that this decline isn’t limited to the GBR:

    Tanzil et al. 2009 Coral Reefs – DOI 10.1007/s00338-008-0457-5

    “Decline in skeletal growth of the coral Porites lutea from the Andaman Sea, South Thailand between 1984 and 2005″

    Of the few studies that have examined in situ coral growth responses to recent climate change, none have done so in equatorial waters subject to relatively high sea temperatures (annual mean >27degC). This study compared the growth rate of Porites lutea from eight sites at Phuket, South Thailand between two time periods (December 1984–November 1986 and December 2003–November 2005). There was a significant decrease in coral calcification (23.5%) and linear extension rates (19.4–23.4%) between the two sampling periods at a number of sites, while skeletal bulk density remained unchanged. Over the last 46 years, sea temperatures (SST) in the area have risen at a rate of 0.161degC per decade (current seasonal temperature range 28–30degC) and regression analysis of coral growth data is consistent with a link between rising temperature and reduced linear extension in the order of 46– 56% for every 1 degC rise in SST. The apparent sensitivity of linear extension in P. lutea to increased SST suggests that corals in this part of the Andaman Sea may already be subjected to temperatures beyond their thermal optimum for skeletal growth.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/c3plnq6522742616/

  109. Tim Curtin January 12, 2009 at 4:36 pm #

    Thomas. Thanks for the link. However this is what I received when attempting to open each locality on the De’ath listing: Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage.

    However I was able to open the plots for calcification etc, and found for the first (Darnley) and last (Masthead) that neither went beyond 1990. Obviously it is not possible to analyse the plots unless one has the raw data, which is what you promised I would find. I have noticed before that Science et al consider plots to be data but that is not the case.

    Strange that the SI and data archive for a paper claiming to show declining trends since 1990 offers plots that end in 1990. It is however apparent from the plots that there are no obvious trends in any direction. So the ball is in your court. If you can locate the data, perhaps you could send it to me direct please.

    Regards

    Tim

  110. Thomas Moore January 12, 2009 at 9:09 pm #

    Tim,

    Coral index (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/indexcoral.html)

    Multi-site – Density, Extension, and Calcification Data (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/metadata/noaa-coral-1863.html)

    Try using something other than Internet Explorer. Firefox is good. Let me know if you are still having problems.

    Thomas

  111. Tim Curtin January 12, 2009 at 10:25 pm #

    Thomas> Thanks, but neither of your links works for me. What is Firefox? If that works for you, could you just download the data into Excel, and forward to me? My email address is readily available from Jen or my own website:

    http://www.timcurtin.com

    Regards

    Tim

  112. Tim Curtin January 13, 2009 at 11:31 pm #

    Thomas: Jen’s last was a timely post, at least for me, as I have just finished analyzing the De’ath data at NOAA to which I was helpfully linked by you. As you will recall, De’ath & co claimed to have evidence showing declining calcification rates at the GBR between 1990 and 2000/2001.

    I was eventually able to open the De’ath archive at NOAA, to find that of their 14 cores/samples, no fewer than 9 exhibited INCREASING calcification rates from 1990-2000/2001, pace their media release and assertions in their Science article. The density trends on their data are mostly flat.

    I fear that De’ath and Lough, et al. are merely (like most “scientists” these days) just a variant of the Bernie I “Madoff with our money” school, given that they are all funded by half-witted Ponzi taxpayers like you-me. The sooner AIMS at Townsville is shut down the better for all of us. The Media Release on their “discovery” is a travesty, like the rest of their work. What is it that impels no doubt well-meaning scientists to sell their souls to the devil, again and again? One supposes that De’ath et al are reasonable human beings like the rest of us, but that they cannot bring themselves to submit their work to a half-intelligent statistician to check their findings?

    For the record, of the 14 GBR sites they report, only THREE do not yield increasing calcification rates, this in a paper trumpeted around the world as showing that “climate change” would bring about the collapse of the GBR sooner rather than later.

  113. Thomas Moore January 14, 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    Tim,

    Thomas: Jen’s last was a timely post, at least for me, as I have just finished analyzing the De’ath data at NOAA to which I was helpfully linked by you. As you will recall, De’ath & co claimed to have evidence showing declining calcification rates at the GBR between 1990 and 2000/2001.

    I was eventually able to open the De’ath archive at NOAA, to find that of their 14 cores/samples, no fewer than 9 exhibited INCREASING calcification rates from 1990-2000/2001, pace their media release and assertions in their Science article. The density trends on their data are mostly flat.

    I fear that De’ath and Lough, et al. are merely (like most “scientists” these days) just a variant of the Bernie I “Madoff with our money” school, given that they are all funded by half-witted Ponzi taxpayers like you-me. The sooner AIMS at Townsville is shut down the better for all of us. The Media Release on their “discovery” is a travesty, like the rest of their work. What is it that impels no doubt well-meaning scientists to sell their souls to the devil, again and again? One supposes that De’ath et al are reasonable human beings like the rest of us, but that they cannot bring themselves to submit their work to a half-intelligent statistician to check their findings?

    For the record, of the 14 GBR sites they report, only THREE do not yield increasing calcification rates, this in a paper trumpeted around the world as showing that “climate change” would bring about the collapse of the GBR sooner rather than later.

    It seems that empty vessels make the most sound. Please, show us your analysis.

    Thomas

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Jennifer Marohasy » Sea-surface Temperatures along the Great Barrier Reef: A Note from John McLean - January 5, 2009

    [...] This note is republished from Mr McLean’s website with permission.   The information at the website, as republished here, was updated on January 5 (today) and is relevant to yesterday’s related blog ‘Global Warming Unlikely Reason for Slow Coral Growth’ http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/2009/01/global-warming-unlikely-reason-for-slow-coral-growth/ [...]

  2. Coral growth in decline at Great Barrier Reef - January 5, 2009

    [...] dear, envirofascists caught fearmongering AGAIN. Jennifer Marohasy Global Warming Unlikely Reason for Slow Coral Growth [...]

  3. Jennifer Marohasy » More Worst AGW Papers - April 25, 2009

    [...] http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/2009/01/global-warming-unlikely-reason-for-slow-coral-growth/?cp=al… [...]

  4. Jennifer Marohasy » Coral Calcification and Ocean Ph Revisited - June 5, 2009

    [...] 1. Global Warming Unlikely Reason for Slow Coral Growth, by Jennifer Marohasy, January 4th, 2009 http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/2009/01/global-warming-unlikely-reason-for-slow-coral-growth/  [...]

Website by 46digital