[Reader-list] Fwd: The Oceans are threatened more & more by increasing emissions

Nagraj Adve nagraj.adve at gmail.com
Wed Jun 23 10:44:08 IST 2010


Atmospheric CO2 was *392.94** *parts per million (ppm) in May 2010,
according to scientific data...an all-time high for at least 2.1 million
Ocean Changes May Have Dire Impact on People

ScienceDaily (June 19, 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.

Hoegh-Guldberg et al. *The Impact of Climate Change on the World's Marine
Ecosystems*. *Science*, 2010; 328 (5985): 1523 DOI:

In an article published June 18 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

The findings of the report 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


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