Drastic changes within the marine environment
Since the 1970s, the oceans have absorbed more than 93 percent of the enhanced heating caused by climate change, and this has led to drastic changes within the marine environment.
This was the conclusion of a new report compiled by 80 scientists from 12 countries, and presented at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in Hawaii.
Entitled Exploring Ocean Warming, the report covered the major marine ecosystems, all the way to the deep oceans. It recorded evidence showing changes in the behaviour and distribution of marine plants and animals.
For instance, jellyfish, seabirds and plankton have been moving towards the cooler poles by up to 10 degrees latitude, in response to the higher temperatures. Coral reefs worldwide have been dying at an unprecedented rate, adversely affecting those fish species that use such structures as a home.
The increased temperatures have also enabled microbes to dominate more areas in the ocean, leading to higher instances of disease in marine plants and animals.
Humans are not spared either. Pathogens like cholera-bearing bacteria and toxic algal blooms spread more easily in warmer waters; they can cause neurological illness like ciguatera poisoning. “We are no longer the casual observers in the room. What we have done is unwittingly put ourselves in the test tube where the experiment is being undertaken,” said Dan Laffoley, one of the lead authors of the report.
In response to the report, Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCN's Global Marine and Polar Programme reiterated the need to reduce greenhouse gases. He said, “There is no doubt in all our minds that we are the cause of this. We know what the solutions are. We need to get on with it.”
Further information: www.iucn.org
Link to the report: portals.iucn.org/library/node/46254