Background briefs for 2020 Ocean Pathways Week: Impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine biodiversity

At the forefront of various threats to the ocean and its organisms, habitats and ecosystems is climate change, which interacts with other human-induced pressures such as pollution, eutrophication and over-exploitation of marine resources.

Climate-related drivers impacting the ocean include so-called ‘slow-onset events’ such as ocean warming, acidification, deoxygenation, sea level rise and glacial retreat, alongside extreme weather events such as marine heat waves and increased frequency of storms. These are all likely to drive biodiversity shifts in different ways, particularly in biodiversity hotspots such as coral reefs and other ecosystems that provide important services for coastal communities. The overall impact of climate change and ocean acidification on marine biodiversity is difficult to predict, as it involves complex interactions between organisms. Different species may either struggle or thrive in response to changing ocean conditions, depending on their specific tolerance limits or indirectly due to changes in species interactions and habitat loss. While precise predictions are currently not possible, it is certain that marine ecosystems will change and marine biodiversity will decrease, at least in the short term.

Hansson L., Isensee K., Herr D., Osborn D. & Dupont S., 2019. Background briefs for 2020 Ocean Pathways Week: Impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine biodiversity. Background briefs for 2020 Ocean Pathways Week pp 32-37. Article.

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