Navigation Links
Ocean changes may have dire impact on people
Date:6/18/2010

The first comprehensive synthesis on the effects of climate change on the world's oceans has found they are now changing at a rate not seen for several million years.

In an article published today in Science magazine, scientists reveal the growing atmospheric concentrations of man-made greenhouse gases are driving irreversible and dramatic changes to the way the ocean functions, with potentially dire impacts for hundreds of millions of people across the planet.

The findings of the report, "The impact of climate change on the world's marine ecosystems" emerged from a synthesis of recent research on the world's oceans, carried out by two of the world's leading marine scientists, one from The University of Queensland in Australia, and one from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the USA.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, lead author of the report and Director of The University of Queensland's Global Change Institute, says the findings have enormous implications for mankind, particularly if the trend continues.

He said that the Earth's ocean, which produces half of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs 30% of human-generated CO2, is equivalent to its heart and lungs. "Quite plainly, the Earth cannot do without its ocean. This study, however, shows worrying signs of ill health.

"It's as if the Earth has been smoking two packs of cigarettes a day!"

He went on to say, "We are entering a period in which the very ocean services upon which humanity depends are undergoing massive change and in some cases beginning to fail", says Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg. "Further degradation will continue to create enormous challenges and costs for societies worldwide."

He warned that we may soon see "sudden, unexpected changes that have serious ramifications for the overall well-being of humans," including the capacity of the planet to support people. "This is further evidence that we are well on the way to the next great extinction event."

The "fundamental and comprehensive" changes to marine life identified in the report include rapidly warming and acidifying oceans, changes in water circulation and expansion of dead zones within the ocean depths.

These are driving major changes in marine ecosystems: less abundant coral reefs, sea grasses and mangroves (important fish nurseries); fewer, smaller fish; a breakdown in food chains; changes in the distribution of marine life; and more frequent diseases and pests among marine organisms.

Report co-author, Dr John F. Bruno, an Associate Professor at The University of North Carolina, says greenhouse gas emissions are modifying many physical and geochemical aspects of the planet's oceans, in ways "unprecedented in nearly a million years". "This is causing fundamental and comprehensive changes to the way marine ecosystems function," Dr Bruno said.

"We are becoming increasingly certain that the world's marine ecosystems are approaching tipping points. These tipping points are where change accelerates and causes unrelated impacts on other systems, the results of which we really have no power or model to foresee."

The authors conclude: "These challenges underscore the urgency with which world leaders must act to limit further growth of greenhouse gases and thereby reduce the risk of these events occurring. Ignoring the science is not an option."

In their study, the researchers sought to address a gap in previous studies that have often overlooked the affects of climate change on marine ecosystems, due to the fact that they are complex and can be logistically difficult to study.

According to leading US marine scientist, the University of Maine's School of Marine Services Professor Robert S. Steneck, the study provides a valuable indicator of the ecological risk posed by climate change, particularly to coastal regions.

"While past studies have largely focused on single global threats such as 'global warming', Hoegh-Guldberg and Bruno make a compelling case for the cumulative impacts of multiple planet-scale threats," Prof. Steneck said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Rob Mackay-Wood
r.mackaywood@uq.edu.au
61-041-049-1159
Global Change Institute
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Oceanographers call for more ocean observing in Antarctica
2. Scientist links increase in greenhouse gases to changes in ocean currents
3. WHOI scientist takes comprehensive look at human impacts on ocean chemistry
4. Scientists call for a new strategy for polar ocean observation
5. New research into the deep ocean floor yields promising results for microbiologists
6. University of Washington institute to get as much as $100 million to study atmosphere, ocean
7. Crocodiles ride ocean currents for ocean travel
8. Coastal birds carry toxic ocean metals inland
9. Met Office and NOC enhance ocean observatory
10. Europes scientists call for more effort in tackling rising ocean acidity
11. Massive Southern Ocean current discovered
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/11/2016)... 2016 http://www.apimages.com ) - --> ... available at AP Images ( http://www.apimages.com ) - ... to produce the new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will be unveiling ... in Hanover next week.   --> ... used to produce the new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will be ...
(Date:3/10/2016)... , March 10, 2016   Unisys Corporation (NYSE: ... Border Protection (CBP) is testing its biometric identity solution ... Diego to help identify certain non-U.S. citizens leaving ... The test, designed to help determine the efficiency and accuracy ... in February and will run until May 2016. --> ...
(Date:3/9/2016)... BEACH GARDENS, Fla. , March 9, 2016 ... identity management authentication and enrollment solutions, today announced ... DigitalPersona ® Altus multi-factor authentication ... IT and InfoSec managers to step-up security where ... Washington, DC . ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/26/2016)... Q BioMed Inc. (OTCQB: QBIO), a biotechnology acceleration ... at the 5th Annual Marcum MicroCap Conference on Thursday, June ... at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. The Company,s presentation ... scheduled to begin at 11a.m ET in the Broadway Room. ... and outline milestones for the balance of 2016 and beyond. ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... After several promising treatments ... at the City of Knowledge in Panama, a 6 year-old Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy ... earlier this year following FDA approval of a second application for a single ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... ... cuvettes are used in leading laboratories all over the globe. Their cute firefly ... addition to manufacturing awesome cuvettes, FireflySci makes spectrophotometer calibration standards that never require ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... ... delegation at BIO 2016 in San Francisco. Located at booth number 7301, representatives ... to answer questions and discuss the Thai biotechnology and life sciences sector. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: