Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Jim Steele

Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

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It is puzzling why the recent 2017 publication in Nature, Global Warming And Recurrent Mass Bleaching Of Corals by Hughes et al. ignored the most critical factor affecting the 2016 severe bleaching along the northern Great Barrier Reef – the regional fall in sea level amplified by El Niño. Instead Hughes 2017 suggested the extensive bleaching was due to increased water temperatures induced by CO2 warming.

In contrast in Coral Mortality Induced by the 2015–2016 El-Niño in Indonesia: The Effect Of Rapid Sea Level Fall by Ampou 2017, Indonesian biologists had reportedthat a drop in sea level had bleached the upper 15 cm of the reefs before temperatures had reached NOAA’ Coral Reef Watch’s bleaching thresholds. As discussed by Ampou 2017, the…

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