An article by Damian Carrington in today’s issue of The Guardian summarizes some of the the problems created by warming oceans. I recommend the whole article, but here are a few extracts:
The number of heatwaves affecting the planet’s oceans has increased sharply, scientists have revealed, killing swathes of sea-life like “wildfires that take out huge areas of forest”.
The damage caused in these hotspots is also harmful for humanity, which relies on the oceans for oxygen, food, storm protection and the removal of climate-warming carbon dioxide the atmosphere, they say.
“You have heatwave-induced wildfires that take out huge areas of forest, but this is happening underwater as well,” said Dan Smale at the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, UK, who led the research published in Nature Climate Change. “You see the kelp and seagrasses dying in front of you. Within weeks or months they are just gone, along hundreds of kilometres of coastline.”
Dr Éva Plagányi at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia also likened ocean heatwaves to wildfires. “Frequent big hits can have long-lasting effects,” she said. “This study shows that record-breaking events are becoming the new normal.”
The damage global warming is causing to the oceans has also been shown in a series of other scientific papers published in the last week. Ocean warming has cut sustainable fish catches by 15% to 35% in five regions, including the North Sea and the East China Sea, and 4% globally, according to work published by Pinsky and colleagues.
“In the space of one week, scientific publications have underscored that unless we take evasive action, our future oceans will have fewer fish, fewer whales and frequent dramatic shifts in ecological structure will occur, with concerning implications for humans who depend on the ocean,” said Plagányi.