Ocean heat, deoxygenation and acidification are “alarming”

Climate change is inflicting a devastating toll on the world’s ocean, which are increasingly “hot, sour and breathless.” Record ocean heat, acidification and de-oxygenation have major implications for marine life, ecosystems, food security and socio-economic development, the 2022 UN Ocean Conference heard today.

“There is no way to deal with the climate problem without the ocean, and no way to deal with the ocean problem without the climate,” said US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry.

Speaking at an Interactive Dialogue on ocean acidification, deoxygenation and ocean warming, Mr Kerry said that the rate of change was “alarming even the most neutral scientists.”

“These consequences will affect every single human being on the planet,” said Mr Kerry.

Jamaican minister Matthew Samuda said Small Island Developing States faced an existential threat.

The theme of the Conference in Lisbon is “Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions.” This is in line with the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, stresses the critical need for scientific knowledge and marine technology to build ocean resilience.

The ocean absorbs more than 90 percent of excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases; absorbs 23 percent of carbon dioxide emissions; and is the source of more than half of the oxygen we breathe.

According to the World Meteorological Organization’s State of the Global Climate in 2021 report, sea level rise, ocean heat, ocean acidification and greenhouse gas concentrations set new records in 2021.

Ocean acidification, which threatens organisms and ecosystem services, and hence food security, tourism and coastal protection. As the pH of the ocean decreases, its capacity to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere also declines.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recent report concluded that “there is very high confidence that open ocean surface pH is now the lowest it has been for at least 26,000 years and current rates of pH change are unprecedented since at least that time.”

World Meteorological Organization, 29 June 2022. Full article.

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