Sea Hysteria Run: Global warming to undermine oceans by 2100 — ‘ Truly scary to consider how vast these impacts will be’

The media release is below.


World ocean systems undermined by climate change by 2100

Scientists warn against the high risk of degradation of marine ecosystems and associated human hardships

An ambitious new study describes the full chain of events by which ocean biogeochemical changes triggered by manmade greenhouse gas emissions may cascade through marine habitats and organisms, penetrating to the deep ocean and eventually influencing humans.

Previous analyses have focused mainly on ocean warming and acidification, considerably underestimating the biological and social consequences of climate change. Factoring in predictable synergistic changes such as the depletion of dissolved oxygen in seawater and a decline in productivity of ocean ecosystems, the new study shows that no corner of the world ocean will be untouched by climate change by 2100.

“When you look at the world ocean, there are few places that will be free of changes; most will suffer the simultaneous effects of warming, acidification, and reductions in oxygen and productivity,” said lead author Camilo Mora, assistant professor at the Department of Geography in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa (UH Manoa). “The consequences of these co-occurring changes are massive—everything from species survival, to abundance, to range size, to body size, to species richness, to ecosystem functioning are affected by changes in ocean biogeochemistry.”

The human ramifications of these changes are likely to be massive and disruptive. Food chains, fishing, and tourism could all be impacted. The study shows that some 470 to 870 million of the world’s poorest people rely on the ocean for food, jobs, and revenues, and live in countries where ocean goods and services could be compromised by multiple ocean biogeochemical changes.

Mora and Craig Smith with UH Manoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) worked with a 28-person international collaboration of climate modelers, biogeochemists, oceanographers, and social scientists to develop the study, which is due for publication October 15 in the scientific journal PLOS Biology.

The researchers used the most recent and robust models of projected climate change developed for the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to inform their analysis. They quantified the extent of co-occurrence of changes in temperature, pH, oxygen, and primary productivity based on two scenarios: a business-as-usual scenario wherein atmospheric CO2 concentrations could reach 900 ppm by 2100, and an alternative scenario under which concentrations only reach 550 ppm by 2100 (representing a concerted, rapid CO2 mitigation effort, beginning today).

They discovered that most of the world’s ocean surface will be simultaneously impacted by varying intensities of ocean warming, acidification, oxygen depletion, or shortfalls in productivity. Only a very small fraction of the oceans, mostly in polar regions, will face the opposing effects of increases in oxygen or productivity, and nowhere will there be cooling or pH increase.

“Even the seemingly positive changes at high latitudes are not necessary beneficial. Invasive species have been immigrating to these areas due to changing ocean conditions and will threaten the local species and the humans who depend on them,” said co-author Chih-Lin Wei, a postdoctoral fellow at Ocean Science Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.

The researchers assembled global distribution maps of 32 marine habitats and biodiversity hotspots to assess their potential vulnerability to the changes. As a final step, they used available data on human dependency on ocean goods and services and social adaptability to estimate the vulnerability of coastal populations to the projected ocean biogeochemical changes.

“Other studies have looked at small-scale impacts, but this is the first time that we’ve been able to look the entire world ocean and how co-occurring stressors will differentially impact the earth’s diverse habitats and people,” said co-author Andrew Thurber, a postdoctoral fellow at Oregon State University. “The real power is in the quantitative, predictive approach using IPCC climate models that allow us to see how much it will all change, and also how confident we can be in our estimates.”

By 2100, global averages for the upper layer of the ocean could experience a temperature increase of 1.2 to 2.6° C, a dissolved oxygen concentration reduction of ~2% to 4% of current values, a pH decline of 0.15 to 0.31, and diminished phytoplankton production by ~4% to 10% from current values. The seafloor was projected to experience smaller changes in temperature and pH, and similar reductions in dissolved oxygen.

Of the many marine habitats analyzed in the study, researchers found that coral reefs, seagrass beds, and shallow soft-bottom benthic habitats would experience the largest absolute changes in ocean biogeochemistry, while deep-sea habitats would experience the smallest changes.

Co-author Lisa Levin, a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, notes: “Because many deep-sea ecosystems are so stable, even small changes in temperature, oxygen, and pH may lower the resilience of deep-sea communities. This is a growing concern as humans extract more resources and create more disturbances in the deep ocean.”

“The deep-sea floor covers most of the Earth’s surface and provides a whole host of important ecosystem services including carbon sequestration in seafloor sediments, buffering of ocean acidity, and providing an enormous reservoir of biodiversity,” said Smith. “Nonetheless, very little attention has been paid to modeling the effects of climate change on these truly vast ecosystems. Perhaps not surprisingly, many deep seafloor ecosystems appear susceptible to the effects of climate warming over the next century.”

“The impacts of climate change will be felt from the ocean surface to the seafloor. It is truly scary to consider how vast these impacts will be,” said co-author Andrew K. Sweetman, who helped to convene the original team of investigators and now leads the deep-sea ecosystem research group at the International Research Institute of Stavanger, Norway. “This is one legacy that we as humans should not be allowed to ignore.”


18 thoughts on “Sea Hysteria Run: Global warming to undermine oceans by 2100 — ‘ Truly scary to consider how vast these impacts will be’”

  1. I was watching a thing about the Antarctica and Australia splitup, yesterday.
    It’s not the ice per say that causes the proliferation of plankton in the southern oceans circumpolar current, which gave rise to the whales, and the squids, and the sea lions.
    It’s all due to the massive amounts of carbondioxide churned up from the briny deep, by said current.

    That’s the consensus position. Heh.

  2. I didn’t have to read any farther than that. If you build your study on crap, your study is crap.

  3. Women, children and the elderly are hit the hardest when the food supply is cut off and there is no heat due to the AGW policies promoted by the authors.

  4. 26″ per century historical average, and 13″ per century currently.

    Sorry my innner Al Gore came out there for a few minutes 😀

  5. “Would those be the ones that can’t account for the absence of any significant warming for the last 17 years?” Why yes, John, yes, they are.

  6. Howdy marque2
    Miss a decimal? I have the idea the oceans are rising 1.3 inches per year. 13 inches a year would be a genuine big deal.

  7. I notice that this paper is built on the foundation of the latest IPCC computer models. Would those be the ones that can’t account for the absence of any significant warming for the last 17 years?

    I notice a further gaping hole in logic leading to the recommendations contained in this paper.The authors offer no proof that the admittedly rising atmospheric CO2 level is either wholly or partially anthropogenic, and if so, to what extent. This is important: I recall that the eruption under the Eyafjallajokull glacier in 2010 released CO2 in such quantities as to negate all mitigation efforts globally for the previous five years.

  8. The oceans have risen 120 meters in the last 18000 years or an average of 26″ per year for you non metric types. That is about twice our current 13″ per year. This ocean rise is a normal phenomena which has been highjacked by the alarmist.

  9. Didn’t the oceans change the most after receiving all that fresh water from the ice sheet melt off after last ice age? It rose sea level by how many hundreds of feet? Didn’t that have a huge effect on the oceans? I am totally in awe of the BS that is spewed by researchers today. I hope my tax dollars weren’t wasted on this gibberish.

  10. “The researchers used the most recent and robust models of projected climate change developed for the Fifth Assessment Report ”
    What robust models? There are none

  11. Since we have seen only transient changes in ocean temps, similar to those seen in natural cycles and other changes, there’s every reason to believe that ocean life will go on about like it has regarding temperatures or changes in pH.
    Many areas of the world experience considerable changes in ocean temperatures between seasons, as they do in land temperatures, yet their sea life thrives as the seasons change.
    For that matter, the predicted change in average world temps of 2C is rather less than most places on earth experience between dawn and a couple of hours later. And that’s surely overstated, according to all actual, you know, measurements.
    Real pollution and poor resource management could damage ocean environments and ocean life. Those we have some idea how to tackle.

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