IAEA Brief: Nuclear and isotopic techniques help assess ocean acidification and climate change impacts

SUMMARY
• The factors that determine climate are complex. Oceans store about one quarter of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted through human activities, and play an important role in limiting impacts of climate change.
• Increasing carbon emissions and rising temperatures are disrupting oceanic processes,
with potentially major consequences for marine ecosystems, the global climate, shoreline protection and coastal industries such as fisheries and tourism.
• In order to understand and anticipate potential changes in the climate, it is important to understand the processes involved in the global carbon cycle.
• Increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere cause global warming leading to ocean temperature increase, but also ocean acidification, sometimes referred to as ‘the other CO2 problem’ alongside climate change.
• The IAEA supports Member States in using radioisotopes to understand the ocean carbon cycle and the ways ocean acidification can affect the marine environment and critical ecosystem services.

IAEA Office of Public Information and Communication, October 2017. Brief.

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