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The impact of climate change on the oceans

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

If we consider that the oceans occupy 70% of the total surface area of Planet Earth, then perhaps we would be a little more respectful.

Learn about the impact of climate change on the oceans today on Way to Zero Waste.

Image from ITV

It is an ecosystem that accounts for 95% of the total surface area available for living and is a vital support for both the earth's surface and for the common good of all living things on earth. This is because water on our planet Earth provides us with services and goods such as food and oxygen.

The oceans regulate global warming. If it were not for them, Planet Earth would be uninhabitable today.

This is because over the years, the oceans have absorbed almost all of the global warming that is created by humans, but there is a limit to this, and the consequences are plain to see.

These are the consequences that climate change brings to the oceans:

1. Melting polar ice

While it is perfectly normal for polar ice to melt during the summer, spring and fall, it is not common for it to melt in the winter. And this is what is happening. In both the Arctic and Antarctic ice is melting rapidly even in the winter.

This problem brings other consequences that are closely linked:

  • Ice is the natural habitat of many animals such as walruses, whales, penguins and seals. When the ice is lost, the habitat of these animals is lost.

  • Algae as well as Antarctic krill depend on sea ice to grow and are the main food in the Arctic for whales, seals, polar bears, birds and mammals. As the ice decreases, so does the growth of algae and krill, affecting the livelihoods of these species.

  • As the polar ice melts, the sea level rises and the warmer water expands and takes up more space, which also causes the sea level to rise.

2. Ocean currents altered by the warming of oceanic waters

Climate change not only increases the temperature in the oceans but also modifies the wind currents, which as a consequence can alter the ocean currents.

If this happens, it has consequences:

  • Migrating species can be altered by the changing currents. The problem with this is that these species depend directly on currents for reproduction.

  • Reefs and corals fail to disperse their larvae if currents change.

  • Climate can also be altered as a result of altered ocean currents.

3. Affected seawater chemistry

Nearly 30% of greenhouse gases are absorbed by the seas, which in turn changes the chemistry of seawater.

As a consequence, ocean water acidifies and creates calcium carbonate, increasing the amount of corals and larger calcifications in crabs and lobsters, which can make these animals unable to detect their predators in time, thus altering the food chain.

Now you understand how climate change affects marine life and ourselves. As sea levels rise, coastal shorelines are affected in the form of flooding and extreme weather changes.

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