Anything else you are interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’s sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet” – Carl Sagan

 

The climate change project on Koh Tao aims to further understand the changes in climate and ocean parameters around the island and in the future, the aim is to also be able to identify any effects of these changing parameters and how they are being influenced by climate change and global warming.

We can use past climate records to predict future changes but with the current data constantly being recorded by the weather station, hopefully it will be possible to explain any changes occurring in those predictions. On Koh Tao, measurements that are being taken include wind speed and direction, precipitation or rainfall and atmospheric pressure and humidity. These parameters could give a good indication of a storm system. With climate change there is evidence for increasing storm intensity and potentially frequency however little research has been conducted around the island of Koh Tao about the influences this could have on the island ecosystems including coral reefs. Changes in these parameters cause fluctuations in mixing and vertical gradients and fronts.

Other ocean parameters being recorded include water pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen, nutrient content and temperature. All these factors influence each other and are related to the atmospheric conditions. The ocean-atmosphere circulatory system is important in controlling the ocean environments. For example, with an increasing atmospheric temperature, the ocean temperature will rise. This means less gases are absorbed and so more carbon dioxide may remain in the atmosphere contributing to the ozone layer, along with other effects of a warming climate, including melting icecaps and increased ocean salinity.

As we pump more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (measured on the weather station as equivalent CO2), we will be able to track the influence this has on the ocean parameters, for example increasing CO2 absorption into the ocean will cause the pH to decrease, this process is known as ocean acidification and can have adverse effects on many organisms in the ocean including calcifying corals and plankton. These projects of Koh Tao and around the world should help us understand the local changes in environment and maybe how specific areas of the world are effected in different ways.

One of the other negative changes to the environment is the increasing introduction of plastics and micro plastics into the environment. With an understanding of the currents around Koh Tao for example, we may be able to identify areas more negatively affected than others, or how these plastics are transported and where if anywhere they accumulate.

By monitoring the weather in Chalok and potentially in the future other locations around the island and progressively the world, and relating them to changes in water quality, we can potentially further understand certain effects of events such as storms, introduction of micro plastics and increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases and hopefully find a way to help ecosystems such as coral reefs cope with such devastating changes in the future. This information can be used globally in order to identify areas at most risk of these anthropogenic changes, but more positively, areas suitable for artificial reefs, coral restoration and clam and sea turtle head starting programs.

  • The weather station:

 

  • Some pictures of the breathtaking Chalok Bay… enjoy!

 

During the months of March, April and May small tornados can show up in the horizont
High tides are common during the first part of the year around Koh Tao when the sun is in the farthest point from the Earth
Raileigh dispersion happends when the sun is near the sunset, the sun rays needs to go across a thick atmosphere therefore changes in colours creating breathtaking sunsets
Extra Low tides happen at the beguining of summer when the sun is closest from the earth, this could be worse when the Monzoon starts in the mainlands, low preasures in Thailand move the water to the main coastline and it looks like the water is definitely gone!

 

Post written by: Jess Harding

visit our team: https://innoceana.org/en/team/