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This century will see ‘unprecedented conditions’ in ocean, IPCC report

Sep 26, 2019, 7:46 am

As it was taught in the school, three-fourths of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. The oceans even provided sustenance and livelihoods for nearly 20 percent of the world’s people. The report says that continuous climate change is putting our oceans in danger.

On September 25, 2019, a groundbreaking report from, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) triggered our concerns. The report on the oceans and the cryosphere says that the human-driven climate change is already affecting our climate drastically. The carbon pollution is leaving a mark everywhere from our water body to the mountain region.

In a press meeting, Ko Barrett, the deputy assistant administrator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and report vice-chair, said:

This report is unique because for the first time ever, the IPCC has produced an in-depth report examining the furthest corners of the Earth from the highest mountains and remote polar regions to the deepest oceans. We have found that even, and especially in these places, human-caused climate change is evident.

Another IPCC report mentioned the problems rose due to global warming as the world temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). A recent report on the extinction crisis also shows how human actions are pushing a large number of species to go extinct.

Oceans in danger

As the report says, oceans have two major problems due to climate change: a warming top and cut-off depths. The ocean has absorbed double the amount of heat over the past 25 years, and this has caused the top 200 meters of the seas to warm faster than the depths.

The upwelling process that provides nutrients to the surface and oxygenating the water column is being disrupted due to the climatic change. The automatic process where warm and cold water gets replaced on the ocean body is also hampered. Therefore the dense water is locked in place below.

The IPCC report further explains that this stratification coupled with oxygen deprivation and ocean acidification is already in part causing California and Humboldt currents (two of the most productive ecosystems in the world) to struggle.

Rising temperature is also bringing harm to the plankton and other sea creatures that form the base of the food chain. Therefore, the report fears that “the ocean is projected to transition to unprecedented conditions” over the rest of the 21st century.

Rising tides

The climatic change not only affects the oceans but also address the impacts of rising seas. This matter alone attracts our utmost attention as this could result in floods engulfing a part of our lands. The report states:

Many low-lying mega cities and small islands (including SIDS) are projected to experience historical centennial events at least annually by 2050.

As a result of this extreme rise of the sea level, the low-lying island nations could become uninhabitable by 2050 as most of them will drown under the sea surface. They will run out of fragile freshwater and will often face storms in their regions. Due to the rise of sea level, the wind patterns will also be shifted.

What the future holds

The rise of the temperature will make the oceans more acidic that will cause the ice to meltdown in the process. After comparing the period of 2007-2016 to 1997-2006, the report indicates that Greenland’s ice loss has doubled while Antarctica’s has tripled, with all that extra melted ice pouring into the ocean and rising sea levels.

The ice and snowpack are reportedly disappearing on more inhabited landmasses, reducing water availability for people living down the valley. Up to 90 percent of low elevation mountain snowpack could disappear if carbon emissions continue to rise unabated.

The report also shows that under a more hopeful scenario where humans start drawing down emissions by 2030 and only 10 to 40 percent of low elevation mountain snowpack will disappear.

The report says that we can expect the coastal populations to grow in the coming decades and the population is expected to reach over 1 billion by 2050. Another 740 million to 840 million people are projected to live in mountainous areas along with 4 million people living in the Arctic. Altogether, that is our 20% of the world population that will be living in the coastal areas by 2050.

As a solution, the report suggests to use of offshore wind and wave energy to prevent climatic changes. According to Barrett, the high seas themselves can also sequester carbon. However, the oceans will eventually take up less and less carbon dioxide as they warm and all that extra carbon pollution contributes to ocean acidification, so it’s probably best to not rely on them to save ourselves, Barrett warns.

The report also emphasizes the adaptation planning. Due to climate change, the glaciers will still melt, and seas will still rise eventually. Therefore we may need more corporation with each other and have to foster ecosystems that can protect us. We may also need to relocate to the higher ground or to locations where plenty of water resources can be found.

Humans have to realize that this is our planet, we live in it and we alone can save it. If we don’t take preventive measures, we also will get extinct at a point of time. Therefore, we must take care of Mother Nature to save ourselves.

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