IUCN reports that oceans are disguising the full extent of global warming

With regard to the effect that global warming is having on the oceans and the planet, newsdeeply.com reports on evidence presented to the IUCN (international Union for the Conservation of Nature) World Conservation Congress, 8th September 2016.

The report, released during the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii, highlights the impacts of ocean warming on marine life, from micro-organisms to mammals. Eighty scientists from a dozen countries worked on the report, considered to be the most comprehensive collection of research on the planet’s warming oceans.

“We were astounded by the scale and extent of ocean warming effects on entire ecosystems made clear by this report,” said Dan Laffoley, an IUCN marine adviser and one of the report’s lead authors.

The world’s oceans have acted as a buffer against climate change. A “staggering 93 percent” of the heat produced by human activities has been absorbed by the world’s oceans, Laffoley said. If the heat had entered the atmosphere instead of the oceans, the Earth would have warmed not by the 1°C (1.8°F) we have already experienced, but by 36°C (64.8°F). “Up to now, the ocean has shielded us from the worst impacts of climate change,” the report’s authors write.

Temperatures have risen most dramatically in the Arctic, where air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean have increased by 1–2°C (1.8–3.6°F) since 1980, melting sea ice and the undersides of glaciers.

The loss of sea ice has many consequences. Ice acts as a physical barrier, preventing species from moving from one ocean to another and filtering the amount of light that enters the water. Without it, there is an increased chance that species could use Arctic waters to migrate between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the report said.

The thinning ice has also led to plankton blooms, which fundamentally shift the food available in the ecosystem, said Olof Linden, a marine environmental scientist at the World Maritime University, at the U.N.’s International Maritime Organization, and the author of the Arctic chapter in the report.

Linden said the report focused on the biological aspects of warming Arctic waters, but he recognized that there would be many knock-on effects for the people who live along the coasts.

“The change in ice cover has a dramatic impact on the ecosystem and biodiversity,” said Linden. “At the surface, there is now a soup of plankton and short-lived pelagic fish, like herring and sprat living up there. The groupers, the haddock are all gone because they cannot live off of those plankton.”

The length of the Arctic summer (reduced ice conditions) has already increased by 5–10 weeks throughout the Arctic — and by more than 20 weeks in the Barents Sea region, putting ice-dependent mammals on the edge.

And, at some point, the report said, the warming ocean could unlock billions of tons of methane frozen within the permafrost contained within the seabed, beneath the oceans.

Source: Newsdeeply.com, 8th September 2016. For the full details, see www.newsdeeply.com/arctic/articles/2016/09/08/ocean-warming-is-already-affecting-arctic-fish-and-birds

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