• Nothing says Christmas like a new species of sponge.

    Posted on December 19th, 2009 Chris Knight No comments

    In all my diving experience, whether it was for work or for fun, I’ve always likened healthy coral reefs to Christmas trees. They’ve always looked to me like they have been purposefully decorated,  exploding with color and life that always puts me in a virtual holiday mood. I suppose it is with the same sort of holiday spirit in mind that researchers in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument announced this week the addition of  new “decorations” for the deep water Xmas tree with the discovery of several species of coral and sponge.

    Working with a submersible from the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL), NOAA and State of Hawaii scientists observed previously unseen six-foot tall sponges and 20-foot long corals that are now

    Hawaii Now News link

    joining the ranks of known deep water inhabitants. Fascinating stuff and I think only the tip of the iceberg as more funding is made available for research in our newest National Marine Monument.

    While the final reports are pending, Hawaii Now News provides a brief article and a nice video segment link on the right side of the article. Enjoy the observations of research coordinator Cori Kane, a former colleague and all-around good chica who now works for the state of Hawaii. As part of her employment, she is forced to deploy for long periods of time to the NW Hawaiian Islands National Monument instead of being happily stuck in an office like most of us. Life can be tough and oh yes, I hate her too.

    BTW, our apologies for the last weeks inactivity’s on the blog. There were some server problems at SIO  that required some extra effort to resolve by our crack IT Staff. Thanks for your patience.

  • Connie Hedegaard

    Posted on December 10th, 2009 grant 2 comments


    She’s the Dane who is in charge of making something happen in Copenhagen. She’s the Danish Minister for Climate and Energy, the President of COP15, and the host of this whole thing. The whole world is watching her.  A quote:  “If the whole world comes to Copenhagen and leaves without making the needed political agreement, then I think it’s a failure that is not just about climate. Then it’s the whole global democratic system not being able to deliver results in one of the defining challenges of our century. And that is and should not be a possibility. It’s not an option.”

    This morning, I met her. I saw her in the hall, walked up to her, introduced myself, and told her that she is doing a great job. As she headed off to chair yet another stressful morning with little progress, I said, “Good luck.”

    Actually, that’s not true. I did see her in the hall. I did walk past her, nearly brushing arms. I did think all of those things. But, I decided to leave her to her thoughts. She has more to worry about than meeting a grad student from California…even one with some encouraging words. She has a huge task. And with all the competing interests here, I really do want to wish her luck. I guess I missed my chance. Maybe I shouldn’t have passed up that opportunity…

  • Opening Ceremonies

    Posted on December 10th, 2009 grant No comments

    I missed the opening as that was my travel day, but I found an article about it with some links to a few videos.  It looks like it was pretty awesome.  A review of the comments on the opening movie is quite depressing and makes me wonder if we will ever get anything done.  Man.

  • Let the games begin!

    Posted on December 9th, 2009 grant 2 comments

    This morning, I spent an hour watching the main negotiating body.  It was fascinating.  While it seemed to start out as mostly an informational session or a chance for the COP15 President to make some announcements, it quickly turned into the start of the bricklaying that will lead to the major negotiations early next week.  The announcement that several potential plans, frameworks, protocols have been submitted to the Secretariat triggered quite a response from several delegates.  Tuvalu, a small island state that is one of those most threatened by climate change, spoke for five minutes in support of their submitted amendments to the Kyoto Protocol to strengthen it before its expiration in 2012 and proposed new Copenhagen Protocol which would offer legally binding emission reductions; support of technology, science, and adaptation centers; and stable financing for developing states.  Their speech was received with rousing applause and started a chain of events that was fun to watch and gave me an idea of just how difficult this is going to be.  ALL of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) lined up to support Tuvalu’s speech, plan, and general idea.  Coastal African states came up next.  Cape Verde was not subtle in their claims that climate change is a human rights issue and that folks will die.  They went so far as to say that coastal and island people will not be the only to die, just the first.  Cue second round of loud applause.  Then, the other side started to line up against this plan.  China, India, Venezuela, and the Middle East began giving statements to the contrary:

    You are wasting our time…this is not the appropriate time to discuss this…we have a strong, existing protocol that should be implemented more fully.

    No, the political will will never be higher than it is now…we must act…the time to act is now

    We have a strong protocol in place now…this is not the time to try to start a new discussion…it’s the time to finish the ongoing one.

    After rounds and rounds of objections, it seemed like the President almost did not know what to do.  She suggested the body move on; continue giving announcements.

    Tuvalu: We object.  These negotiations must be done with transparency.  If all the negotiations will be behind closed doors between developed states, then we move to suspend COP15.

    A long pause…

    President:  “We are moving on.”

    110 heads of state will arrive next week.

  • Some obervations from Copenhagen…

    Posted on December 8th, 2009 grant 2 comments

    I can actually walk right into the main negotiations and watch.  UN interpreters know LOTS of languages.  I did not need to bring my sunglasses to Copenhagen.  I did need to bring a power converter to plug in my computer.  Watching a booth is a great way to meet a lot of like-minded people.  Copenhagen is a very expensive city.  I am not very good at operating in a country that speaks another language, even when everyone in that country also speaks English.  I just find myself acting very shy (and therefore eating a candy bar for dinner…).  I must know more Spanish than I thought because I don’t have these same problems in Mexico.  It is totally dark here at both 8 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon.  Despite my insistence that I have defeated jet lag, I have been up since 4 this morning.  It’s now 7.  Time to get ready for a new round of getting the word out.  Don’t forget the ocean!!

    Also check out the dedicated COP15 Scripps delegation website/blog at www.sio.ucsd.edu/cop15.

  • CMBC correspondent in Copenhagen, Grant Galland

    Posted on December 8th, 2009 emily 2 comments

    A quick follow-up to Grant’s post (COP15)–

    Grant-galland-webGrant is a 3rd year CMBC PhD student in Marine Biology at Scripps who is among the 15,000 estimated to be attending the UN climate talks in Copenhagen.  Of particular importance to Grant and the rest of the Scripps community is the impact of increased atmospheric CO2 on the oceans.  While interning with IUCN this past year via the IGERT / CMBC program, Grant co-authored a report to this end (The Ocean and Climate Change: Tools and Guidelines for Action), including policy recommendations for how to address these impacts.  Grant is in Copenhagen now doing the leg-work of spreading the word on climate impacts on the ocean and in the meantime, keeping us posted on the latest.

    Good luck, Grant!  Looking forward to hearing more news from the conference center.

  • COP15

    Posted on December 8th, 2009 grant 2 comments

    I have made it to Copenhagen, and this place is great!  Denmark’s commitment to tackling the climate change issue is quite impressive.  The entire city is completely dedicated to this meeting.  It’s the biggest thing to ever happen here.  And “ever” is a long time.  Copenhagen is an old place…older than my country.

    They have added a new conference center; they have added bus routes, all public transportation is free for COP15 participants.  A big square downtown has been completely transformed into climate change central, complete with stage, bike-powered Christmas tree, and GIANT magic globe.  Everything is really impressive.

    And it’s not just the conference.  The Danes are committed to sustainability in most of what they do.  I was almost hit by a bike yesterday, because the bike lanes look like roads, and they are often overwhelmingly full.  Their airlines are efficient.  They love wind power.  They are a conscientious crowd, and it really shows in their operation of this conference.  More on that later.

    One other cool thing:  last night I saw a bigwig UN climate person introduced with concert-like excitement and to a roaring crowd.  I’m sure it was pretty new and exciting for her.  It is only fitting that she was opening for a German rock band…

  • And the winner is

    Posted on December 7th, 2009 emily No comments

    Having trouble falling asleep thinking about the week to come?  Glued to the latest from the White House?  Getting sweaty palms just thinking about it???  YES!  Copenhagen is finally here!  and what a day to start.  The long intros, the video of a ruin planet with a young girl beseeching delegates to make decisions and targets to prevent such a world, continued grumblings about the leaked climate data emails, and the enviros out in full force.

    and the Fossil of the Day!  Your best bet for the summary of the day’s work (or lack thereof) in the climate talks.  Awarded to those that have done their darndest to impede progress, today’s winners are:

    FossiloftheDay_1207091st place – All rich countries

    2nd place – Sweden, Finland, Austria

    3rd place – Canada

    Honorable mention – Saudi Arabia

    Congratulations to our winners!  and while getting the thumbs-down from the Climate Action Network for the day doesn’t necessarily sway national policy, let’s hope their trophies bring home the message this time.

  • I Am More Like Coral Reef Fish Than I Thought

    Posted on December 6th, 2009 Chris Knight 1 comment

    Tropical researchers have recently documented further potential impacts of global warming on coral reefs ecosystems, with data showing that reef fish become more active and aggressive as water temperatures increase. By way of comparison, I’ve known that about myself since my days of hanging out in the hot tub capital of the world, Marin County. In what I’ve dubbed “spa science,” Scientists at UNSW in Australia discovered that temperature variations of only 3 to 4 degrees could lead to up to 30% percent more aggressive behavior in terms of food acquisition and exposure to predators.

    While this variation can often occur over the course of a day, the significance of long term effects due to climate change and environmental variations could lead to changes in the basic function and balance of these fragile ecosystems. The variations could also lead to a greater vulnerability of species to extractive efforts. We just don’t know for sure however. What we do know is that we’ve found one more area of potential danger due to the continual rise of the oceans temperatures and that we need to consider this when mapping out our ocean strategies for the next 100 years.

    UnderwaterTimes Article

    UnderwaterTimes Article

  • Shocking News Just In- Marine Reserves Work!

    Posted on December 2nd, 2009 Chris Knight 1 comment

    I hope everybody had a good Thanksgiving. It wasn’t all just turkey and gravy for me however. In between mouthfuls of holiday goodness, I managed to read a really interesting study out of UC Santa Cruz regarding careful examination of  larval dispersal in the northern Gulf of California. The model developed showed that marine reserves do have the ability to replenish stocks in adjacent open areas. This is both an interesting and timely read as Californians discuss MPA’s up and down the coast. Enjoy.

    UCSC Research Article on PLoS ONE

    UCSC Research Article on PLoS ONE