Global warming likely to take a huge toll on marine life
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Sounding another dire warning about global warming impacts to the world’s oceans, researchers from universities and conservation groups say increasing levels of atmospheric carbon are likely to be fatal to many marine organisms.
When carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, a significant fraction is passively taken up by the ocean in a form that makes the ocean more acidic. This acidification has been shown to be harmful to many species of marine life, especially corals and shellfish.
“Our concern is that the specific actions to counter such impacts as identified in current policy statements will prove inadequate or ineffective,” wrote the authors of a new paper published in Nature Climate Change. “A much broader evaluation of marine management and mitigation options must now be seriously considered.”
The researchers, led by University of California, Santa Cruz researcher and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory visiting scientist Greg Rau, included includes Elizabeth McLeod of The Nature Conservancy in Hawaii and Ove Hoegh- of the University of Queensland in Australia.
At the current rate of CO2 increases, the globe will likely warm by at least 2 degrees Celsius and the oceans will experience a more than 60 percent increase in acidity relative to pre-industrial levels by the middle of this century.
Earlier research has shown that ocean acidification can cause exoskeletal components to decay, retard growth and reproduction, reduce activity and threaten the survival of marine life including coral reefs.
Current marine policy recommends three calls to action to address ocean warming and acidification: Stabilizing or reducing atmospheric CO2 levels; increasing monitoring to better understand and predict the ocean’s physical, chemical and biological responses to elevated CO2; and preserving ecosystem resilience and adaptability by reducing non-CO2 related environmental threats.
While Rau and colleagues agree with the current policies, they conclude that these alone are unlikely to be enough.
“We are concerned that conventional marine environmental management methods may prove to be insufficient or not fully achievable in the time frame necessary to ensure the preservation of current marine ecosystems and their services in the face of CO²-related threats,” Rau said.
The team suggests that policy makers solicit and evaluate all potential marine management strategies, including unconventional ones to determine which if any might satisfy the 1992 Convention of Biological Diversity’s call for cost-effective prevention of environmental degradation.
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, coral reefs, Environment, global warming, Marine biology, ocean conservation, Uncategorized Tagged: | carbon dioxide, climate change, global warming, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, ocean acidification