Changes in the Ocean
play a critical role in moderating
climate change by helping in the regulation of both heat and carbon dioxide
levels. It is therefore critical to understand
the interrelationship between the
oceans and climate change to come up with
better climate change policies. The Oceans are vulnerable to adverse impacts
from human emissions of greenhouse gases. These impacts majorly include air and water temperature changes, the rise in ocean water levels, increased levels of
ocean acidification, coastal erosion and seasonal shifts. Ocean acidification
is brought about by rising in atmospheric
carbon and makes survival difficult for the
aquatic animals that depend on calcium carbonate for shell formation.
effects of acidification have been happening since the start of the famous industrial revolution, where pH levels
of the ocean have dropped. This has led to coral bleaching where the
organisms that help make up the coral die (Buchheim,
2013). It is vital to note that it is
from these unicellular organisms that the
coral feed from for proper nutrition. As a result, they are left so weak and
malnourished hence unable to offer protection and shelter to other marine
organisms. This poses a threat to the
marine food chain and ecosystem.
The rise in ocean temperatures is another
change of concern because increased warming in the ocean enhances ocean
stratification. Ocean stratification hinders important
processes such as photosynthesis and so constraining primary production hence
disrupting the marine food web. As the ocean water warms, many species will be
forced to migrate so they can maintain the temperature conditions they need for
feeding and reproduction. This affects the people and industries that rely on
the ocean for food and other natural resources. The upwelling areas, for
instance, provide some of the richest fishing grounds. It is known that the
coral reefs provide habitat for fish and other protein-rich food sources for
people as well as tourism attraction sites.
Ocean currents help in the role of
supplying the necessary nutrients required to sustain lives in the marine
ecosystem. The currents result due to varying temperatures associated with the
changing latitudes. Slow currents mean
fewer nutrients are brought for ocean
life sustenance and this in a way alters the marine ecosystem. Slow ocean
currents also mean that there is excess
carbon stored in the ocean because there is not
enough fresh water brought in to
neutralize the excess carbon.
concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads to increased global
temperatures. This results in thermal
expansion of ocean water as well as melting of ice sheets and so rise in sea levels
(Nicholls & Cazenave, 2010). Therefore it is critical to introduce policies
that have the upper hand in carbon
the change in the heat content of the ocean is important to understand how exactly the ocean is changing is with global warming. For
instance, a rise in sea level is a very notable change in the oceans. Due to
global warming, glaciers and ice sheets are
melted, and water flows to oceans
adding to the amount of seawater (Environmental Protection Agency, 1989). This, in turn, may lead to erosion of the
beaches, flooding or even increased the salinity
of aquifers and estuaries. The increased salinity poses a threat to the aquatic
animals and plants that cannot tolerate high levels of salinity.
Buchheim, J. (2013, May 07). Coral Reef Bleaching.
Retrieved from marinebiology: http://www.marinebiology.org/coralbleaching.htm
Environmental Protection Agency. (1989). Potential effects
of global climate change on the united states. National Service Center for
Environmental Publications (NSCEP), 10-15.
Nicholls, R., & Cazenave, A. (2010). Sea-level rise and
its impact on coastal zones. Southampton SO17 1BJ, 18(328), 1517-20.