Changes most pronounced in tropics and high latitudes
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — It may sound like a no-brainer, but a new report makes it clear that global warming is already affecting ocean life, in some cases to a significant degree. Those impacts are expected to increase in the coming years, putting marine resources —and the people and economies that depend on them — at high risk in a changing world.
The report was prepared as part of the 2013 National Climate Assessment and identifies the greatest impacts in tropical and high latitudes, as well as dramatic shifts in species distributions and range, and impacts on survival, growth and reproduction as some of the key threats. The research also shows that climate change interacts with other stressors, usually making things worse.
The report is aimed at helping marine resource managers, communities, and businesses understand, prepare for, and respond to climate impacts on U.S. ocean ecosystems and examines some of the key international implications of climate impacts on ocean ecosystems for the United States.
Some of the report’s key findings include:
- Because the physiological responses of organisms vary, climate change can have positive, negative, or null effects on species with different tolerances, so that both “winners” and “losers” are likely to emerge.
- Species ranges are shifting toward the poles and the rate of this shift is greater for marine organisms than for terrestrial ones.
- The societal impacts of climate change are enormous, affecting all sectors pertaining to human uses of the ocean, including fisheries, energy, transportation, security, human health, tourism, and maritime governance. These changes will require reassessment of governance regimes for ocean environments.
- Climate change will demand new international partnerships to ensure that management plans are coordinated for shared marine resources.
- Significant gaps remain in our knowledge of climate impacts on ocean ecosystems. We need to better understand the interactions between ocean environmental systems and ocean uses to be able to project and respond to future climate-driven changes.
The report concludes that marine ecosystems likely will continue to be affected — in most cases negatively — by anthropogenic-driven climate change and rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
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- We must set the right course to protect marine ecosystems: Guest opinion (oregonlive.com)
- Ocean acidification exacerbating climate change damage (dgrnewsservice.org)