RSRC seminar: “Futures for ocean and society from different CO2 emissions scenarios: where do we stand after COP21?​”, 14 march 2016, Saudi Arabia

Date & time: 14 March 2016, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Location: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Presented by: Jean-Pierre Gattuso, CNRS-UPMC, France

Abstract: While the ocean moderates anthropogenic climate change, this has great impacts on its fundamental physics and chemistry, with important consequences for ecosystems and people. Dr Gattuso evaluated changes to the ocean and its ecosystems, as well as to the goods and services they provide, under two contrasting CO2 scenarios: the current high emissions trajectory and a stringent emissions scenario consistent with the Copenhagen Accord of keeping mean global temperature increase below 2°C in the 21st century.

Four key messages emerged. First, the ocean strongly influences the climate system and provides important services to humans. Second, impacts on key marine and coastal organisms, ecosystems, and services are already detectable and several will face high risk of impacts well before 2100, even under the low emissions scenario. These impacts will occur across all latitudes, making this a global concern beyond the North/South divide. Third, immediate and substantial reduction of CO2 emissions is required to prevent the massive and mostly irreversible impacts on ocean ecosystems and their services that are projected with emissions greater than those in the low emissions scenario. Limiting emissions to this level is necessary to meet stated objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; a substantially different ocean would result from any less-stringent emissions scenario. Fourth, as atmospheric CO2 increases, the protection, adaptation, and repair options for the ocean become fewer and less effective.

The Paris Agreement negotiated in December 2015 at the Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change states “Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels…”. Dr Gattuso explored what that means in terms of implementation and of impacts on the ocean.

About the lecturer: Jean-Pierre Gattuso is CNRS Research Professor (Directeur de recherche) at the Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche, CNRS and Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6. He previously held positions in Australia, Perpignan, Monaco, the US and China.

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