Two new reports from dramatically different climate zones on the face of the Earth both have the same conclusion: Global warming is being felt more intensely, and earlier, than expected.
From the Arctic, in what is now a familiar-sounding finding, we find that sea ice is not only receding to record and near-record extents each summer, but thinning to a degree unprecedented since modern measurements began decades ago.
The report, detailed by the BBC, shows that after five years of relative stability, last winter saw Arctic ice thin more than ever before, in some cases losing about a foot and a half.
From the tropics, a different study predicts that corals will suffer sooner than had been predicted, as the twin stresses of acidic carbon dioxide-laden oceans and warming waters lead to bleaching.
The new predictions call the old predictions far too conservative a common recent refrain in climate-related studies that show the effects of global warming showing up earlier, and having broader effects. The new study, detailed by Reuters, says some coral reefs, including the southern Great Barrier Reef, could disappear by 2050.
Ocean acidification is a sleeper issue many are unaware of. As the oceans absorb carbon dioxide, they become more acidic, and at a certain point will become too acidic to support certain marine organisms that form shells, like plankton at the base of the food chain and corals. Losing or disrupting plankton would have far-reaching effects because so many other fish and other marine organisms depend on them for food, and losing corals would devastate local ecosystems by removing diverse nurseries of life.
All in all, a depressingly familiar set of findings about the consequences of doing nothing to slow and reverse global warming.
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