Climate Change & Oceans
Ocean acidification is at a 20 million year high and the rate is at a 300 million year high (see Jelle Bijma 2013)
Impact on the World's Oceans
July 2015 Science ConsensusvImmediate and substantial reduction of CO2 emissions is required to prevent the massive and mostly irreversible impacts on ocean ecosystems and their services that are projected with emissions greater than those in RCP2.6.
The oceans that collectively make up the World Ocean play a fundamental role in the global climate system.
According to a research paper published in Nature Climate Change (Aug 2013), ocean life is being forced to migrate faster than life on land due to climate induced changes that are occurring in the marine environment.
There is a clear consensus from the many scientific
statements that are now being made about ocean acidification, that rapid, unprecedented changes are
occurring (EPOCA statement). According to the NOAA on ocean acidity, the oceans are more acid than they have ever been over the past 20 million years. In 50 years acidity will increase 120% if no emergency response is initiated.
A 2009 Interacademy science statement warned that at current emission rates ... all coral reefs and polar ecosystems will be severely affected by 2050 or
potentially even earlier.
Ocean acidification is occurring faster today than it has over the past 300 million years.
The oceans are being warmed and acidified forever. Scientists expect that the ocean will eventually take up about 85% of anthropogenic CO2- because the ocean takes ~1000 years to mix, this process will take many hundreds to thousands of years (see Carbon and Climate).
The ocean (World Ocean) impact due to atmospheric CO2 pollution is often forgotten in climate change considerations. Our planet Earth is in effect the Ocean planet because the World Ocean provides an incomparably larger habitat for life than the land.
The oceans are the ultimate controller of the climate system. By absorbing CO2 from the air at the sea surface, carbon is combined with calcium by shell bearing marine organisms and sinks to the ocean floor when these organisms die, and in so doing gets locked up in ocean sediments. Over ages of time the calcium compressed in the sea floor sediment returns to the land as limestone and dolomite rock. This is the ultra-long ocean carbon cycle.
Global warming is largely ocean warming because the oceans have taken up over 90% of greenhouse gas heat (NOAA) that has been added to the lower atmosphere. Ocean heat content has been rapidly increasing-and accelerating since 2010.
The key reason as to why the global warming surface temperature increase has stalled is because, quite suddenly, near surface ocean heat is being transported into the deep ocean to such an extent, which in actual fact means that global heating has accelerated further.
This greenhouse gas heat that is stored in our oceans is a large reason for our future commitment to much more land surface warming than we have experienced to date.
It takes 30-50 years for the heat of a greenhouse gas emission to be diffused and circulate through the oceans and register as a temperature increase at the ocean surface. Consequently, due to the ocean heat lag, the heat taken up by the oceans is the primary cause of climate change inertia. Even if emissions were to stop, the ocean would continue to add heat to the planets surface. This is the ocean heat lag warming future commitment and also partly explains why global warming persists for over a thousand years.
The warming of the Ocean was initially limited to the surface water, but research on ocean heat content now shows that over the past decade there has been a large increase in heat transfer to the deep ocean. This explains the stalled global average surface warming, and in fact means global heating has increased.
Warming of the surface water causes bleaching and death of corals reefs, which play a fundamental role in supporting ocean biodiversity.
Deeper ocean warming slows currents that play a crucial role in bringing oxygen and food to marine creatures, and also in ocean cleansing. Consequently, deep hypoxic ocean dead zones are forming and expanding.
It is estimated that the oceans have absorbed as much as 40% of the emitted CO2 through the vast expanse of surface waters. CO2 gas dissolves in sea water to form carbonic acid, which results in ocean acidification. Acidification affects the ability of marine organisms to calcify - some shell forming species are showing signs of decalcification - and damages the biological carbon pump essential for assimilating and sinking carbon. Ocean acidification is yet another reason why atmospheric carbon pollution is catastrophically dangerous.
The World Ocean is by far the largest part of the climate system. Oceans hold 80% of all life.
Atmospheric greenhouse gas pollution damages the oceans in two ways - through ocean acidification and ocean warming.
Coral reefs cannot survive too much ocean warming nor too much ocean acidification.
Dec 2013 Huge loss of deep ocean life projected
16 March 2017 Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals
7 Mar 2017 multiple ocean stress Rapid emergence of climate change in
environmental drivers of marine ecosystems
Stephanie A. Henson
Sept 2016 IUCN Explaining Ocean Warming
27 April 2016 OCEANS Deoxygenation due to climate change threatens marine life
2016 UN The First Global Integrated Marine Assessment
29 March 2016 Australia's Great Barrier Reef hit by 'worst' bleaching (ever).
23 March 2016 Reviews and Syntheses: Ocean acidification and its potential impacts on marine ecosystems
extends 'the oceanic areas that constitute a source instead
of a sink or carbon dioxide presently mostly concentrated in
the equatorial zone' ... 'ocean acidification is expected to introduce deep changes in marine habitats, and food web processes.'
29 Jan 2016 Ocean acidification impacting population demography, hindering adaptation potential
1 Feb 2016 Phytoplankton rapidly disappearing from the Indian Ocean
30 Jan 2016 Atlantic acidification Rapid anthropogenic changes in CO2 and pH in the Atlantic Ocean: 2003–2014. An article
19 Jan 2016 Global ocean warming has doubled in recent decades (more 30% going deep), scientists find
15 Dec 2015 Baby fish will be lost at sea in acidified oceans
14 Dec 2015 Fish Stocks Are Declining Worldwide- Climate Change
12 Oct 2015 Global marine analysis suggests food chain collapseJune 2015 WARMING CATASTROPHIC COLLAPSE PHYTOPLANKTON Mathematical Modelling of Plankton–Oxygen
Dynamics Under the Climate Change
15 Jan 2015 Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says
23 Sept 2015 Earth's oceans show decline in microscopic plant life
20 July 2015 Ocean acidification -dramatic changes to phytoplankton
16 June 2015 Ocean acidification corrode marine animals' shells by 2030
24 Mar 2015 EU Very trapid warming of seas 10X past 100 year mean.
Nov 2014 Climate change to expand almost all coastal dead zones
July 2014 Science Consensus Contrasting futures for ocean and society.. CO2 emissionsJune 2015 Ocean warming sea life- higher stress more O2 needed but also less ocean O2.9 April 2015 Triassic mass extinction may give clues on how oceans will be affected by climate change.
24 March 2015 N. Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation slow down already. Jan 2014 T. Webb. Global Patterns of Extinction Risk in Marine and Non-marine Systems
20-25% well known marine species threat extinction- same as land plants and animals.
Feb 2015 Ocean depths heating steadily despite global 'pause'May 2014 Phytoplankton and zooplankton biomass will decrease 6 and 11 percent due to climate change.Jan 2014 Study projects unprecedented loss of corals in Great Barrier Reef due to warming reduced to 10% by
less than 1-2C warming.
July 2014 Mixing it up: Study provides new insight into Southern Ocean behavior [Nature Geoscience, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2200]
July 2014 Study reveals strong links between Antarctic climate, food web [Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5318]
June 2014 Warming climates intensify greenhouse gas given out by oceans; [Nature Geoscience; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2181]
June 2014 Fish and aquatic life living in the high seas are more valuable as a carbon sink than as food and should be better protected, according to new research.
June 2014 Value of high seas ecosystems; destroying deep sea carbon sponge
May 2014 Melting Arctic opens new passages for invasive species; early action could protect coasts [Nature Climate Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2244]
May 2014 West Antarctic Glaciers in Irreversible Decline
May 2014 Climate change and forest fires synergistically drive widespread melt events of the Greenland Ice Sheet [PNAS 2014; doi/10.1073/pnas.1405397111]
April 2014 California coast pteropod die off from acidification
Jan 2014 Life on the Edge Low latitude equatorial fish will not survive warming
2013 Climate change and the oceans – What does the future hold? J. Bijma Acidification+warming+
Jan 2014 Dramatic Spikes in Ocean Acidity May Drastically Impact
Dec 2013 Multi-decadal range changes vs. thermal adaptation
Eureka alertreport large loss of marine life projected
Nov 2013 Atlantic plankton Has climate change caused a drop-off in a food source crucial to ocean creatures?
Pacific Ocean Warming at Fastest Rate in 10,000 Years
Nov 2013 Science
Oct 2013 Study Ocean warming+ acidification No Safe Havens in Increasingly Acid Oceans. Nature paper (full free)The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability
Camilo Mora, et al.
Global mean ocean pH moved outside its historical variability by 2008.
6 Sept 2013 ... water temperature has a direct impact on maintaining the delicate plankton ecosystem of our oceans.
2011 Ove Hoegh Guldberg
Extinctions feared as ocean dead zones grow
2009 P. G. Brewer, E. T. Peltzer. Limits to marine life.Ocean Dead Zones Likely To Expand: Increasing Carbon Dioxide and Decreasing Oxygen. Brewer and Peltzer's calculations suggest that the partial pressure of carbon dioxide will increase even faster in the deep oxygen minimum zones.
2009 G. Shaffer Long-term ocean oxygen depletion in response to carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. Dramatic Expansion Of Dead Zones In Oceans Likely With Unchecked Global Warming
2008 Warmer ocean means less oxygen, more dead zones, study says.
The study Ocean oxygen minima expansions and their biological impacts
Already committed (locked in) ocean warming, acidification &
de-oxygenation is a dire planetary emergency
CLIMATE EMERGENCY INSTITUTE
The health and human rights approach to climate change
16 August 2015 World's coral reefs doomed even if the Dec 2015 UN Paris Climate Conference is successful.
27 April 2016 Deoxygenation- climate change threatens marine life
June 2015 WARMING CATASTROPHIC COLLAPSE PHYTOPLANKTON
Mathematical Modelling of Plankton–Oxygen Dynamics Under the Climate Change.
16 March 2017 Coral reefs are doomed without immediate measures on global warming