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 planktonplankton Plankton is a generic term for a wide variety of the smallest yet most important organisms form that drift in our oceans. They can exist in larger forms of more than 20cm as the larval forms of jellyfish, squid, starfish, sea urchins, etc. and can be algae, bacterial or even viral down to as small as 0.2µm. They are nutrient and light dependent, and form the essential foodchain baseline for larger dependent aquatic lifeforms. Fish species rely on the density and distribution of zooplankton to coincide with first-feeding larvae for good survival of their larvae, which can otherwise starve. Man-made impacts such as dredging, dams on rivers, waste dumping, etc can severely affect zooplankton density and distribution, which can in turn strongly affect larval survival and thus breeding success and stock strength of fish species and the entire ecosystem. They also form the essential basis of CO2 take up in our seas ecosystem, hence Global Warming. 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 biodiversitybiodiversity Biological diversity in an environment as indicated by numbers of different species of plants and animals.,” said Linden. “At the surface, there is now a soup of plankton and short-lived pelagicpelagic The ecological area consisting of the open sea away from the coast and the ocean bottom. The pelagic zone contains organisms such as surface seaweeds, many species of fish and sharks and some mammals, such as whales and dolphins. Pelagic animals may remain solely in the pelagic zone or may move among zones. 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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