Archive for the 'Newsletters and reports' Category

State of the ocean report 2022: pilot edition

This pilot edition of the State of the Ocean Report (StOR) was proposed and developed to demonstrate the feasibility of keeping the world up to date on the current state of the ocean. Building on examples from IOC-led or joint initiatives, the report is structured around the initial Challenges of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, 2021–2030.

The StOR reveals a lack of reliable benchmarks in many aspects of ocean knowledge. Most sections in the report tend to be descriptive and qualitative, consistent with the recent seminal Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Assessment (IPBES, 2019) that stated: ‘human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before’. The IPBES further elaborates: ‘marine ecosystems, from coastal to deep sea, now show the influence of human actions, with coastal marine ecosystems showing both large historical losses of extent and condition as well as rapid ongoing declines (established but incomplete)’. Indeed, a key conclusion from the pilot StOR is that ocean knowledge is generally able to identify (‘establish’) issues but falls short of these being comprehensive and, hence, actionable (‘incomplete’) – ‘one cannot manage what one cannot measure’.

There is, therefore, an urgent need for a quantitative description of the state of the ocean, with established benchmarks and the capacity to report changes. The overall aim remains – to produce (probably annually) a brief, accessible, one-stop overview of the current state of the ocean, and to mobilize global society to act towards ‘the ocean we need for the future we want’ as a contribution to sustainable development, and in particular to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14. To achieve this, the StOR must be more encompassing. So, for subsequent editions, the IOC will invite contributions from UN agencies and professional organizations, turning the StOR into a pan-UN publication.

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The United Nations Ocean Conference, 27 June -1 July 2022, Lisbon, Portugal, briefing

Pollution, ecosystem decline, climate impacts and overfishing threaten the health of the world’s ocean. The 2022 Ocean Conference provides an opportunity to strengthen synergies among stakeholders to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, ‘Life Below Water’. The targets set under SDG 14 have largely not been achieved on an international level. Marine pollution remains a major issue, while increasing deoxygenation and acidification is putting marine species and coastal communities alike in danger. Existing and emerging economic activities (such as shipping and seabed mining) are competing for the use of marine space and are threatening ecosystems and biodiversity. Fish stocks continue to be overexploited. The economies of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and many Least Developing States (LDS) depend on the health the ocean.

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Ocean and climate synergies: ocean warming and sea-level rise recommendations

Summary

This policy brief provides an overview of the major impacts of climate change on the ocean in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on ocean warming, sea-level rise and acidification. The policy brief brings together recommendations for better policymaking in ocean and climate synergies for sustainable development.

Policy pointers

  • Urge all member States to step up national efforts to join international efforts to restore the environment. Better adaptation and mitigation efforts can be aided by increased regional collaboration through treaties and conventions.
  • Invest in research and development to plan different strategies to adapt to sea-level rise, fish migration and extreme weather events. For instance, investing in blue carbon.
  • Conduct assessments on sea-level rise, especially in low-lying coastal zones and small island developing states (SIDS), to prepare evacuation plans and strategies to prevent international migration and internal displacement.
  • Increase the adaptive capacity of fisherfolks through early warning systems and satellite technologies.
  • Encourage partnerships between the government, the private sector, and all stakeholders to respond to climate change impacts.
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New edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights”, September 2021-February 2022

The new edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights”, our newsletter, summarizes the project’s main activities and achievements over the period September 2021-February 2022. This newsletter highlights Marine Science during Covid-19, a virtual annual meeting with the SOLAS-IMBeR Ocean Acidification (SIOA) Working Group to discuss OA-ICC activities, the participation of OA-ICC and partners in COP26 and the release of a policy brief from OA-Africa and OA-ICC. Previous editions can be viewed here.

OA-ICC, 30 March 2022. Article.

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Policy brief: Deep ocean climate intervention impacts – ocean alkalinity enhancement

The Concept:

The ocean contains 50 times as much carbon as the atmosphere and acts as a natural thermostat. Based on natural weathering that occurs on geological time scales, ocean alkalinity enhancement is intended to speed the process of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and reducing ocean acidification by increasing seawater alkalinity, the capacity of a solution to neutralize acid. This approach transforms CO2 into bicarbonate (HCO3-), carbonate (CO32-) and to a much smaller extent hydroxide (OH-) anions. The former are charge balanced by cations other than H+ (GESAMP, 2019), increasing pH and causing more drawdown of CO2 from the atmosphere (Gagern et al., 2019; Fig. 2; NASEM, 2021; Fig. 1). Ocean alkalinity enhancement aims to increase the alkalinity of the oceans by either:

  • adding calcium carbonate (CaCO3) to the ocean from limestone rocks (Renforth and Henderson, 2017); calcium silicates (Ca₂O₄Si) from rocks, construction waste or desalination waste, slaked lime (calcium hydroxide Ca(OH)2; e.g., Caserini et al., 2021; Butenschön et al., 2021) as well as magnesium hydroxide (Mg(OH)2)) (Ocean Visions Road Map – https://www2.oceanvisions.org/roadmaps/ocean-alkalinity-enhancement/) or
  • using electrochemistry – technologies for carbon dioxide removal from seawater, sometimes called “direct ocean capture” (House et al., 2007; Rau, 2008; Rau et al., 2013; Lu et al., 2015; La Plante et al., 2021). These techniques capture and remove dissolved inorganic carbon from seawater (either as CO2 gas or as calcium carbonate), and/or produce a CO2-reactive chemical base, e.g., sodium hydroxide (NaOH), that can be distributed in the surface ocean to ultimately consume atmospheric CO2 and convert it to long-lived, dissolved, alkaline bicarbonate (Ocean Visions Road Map –https://www2.oceanvisions.org/roadmaps/electrochemical-cdr/).

Alkalinity enhancement approaches will likely start in coastal areas more affected with ocean acidification, and will capture and store carbon dioxide predominantly in the form of bicarbonate. This will result in increases in pH and alkalinity as well as the aragonite saturation state.

Fig. 1. Approach and impact of ocean alkalinity addition. From NASEM, 2021

Key Points

  • Using silicate or carbonate minerals to achieve gigatonne scale CO2 removal would require very large quantities of these materials to be mined, crushed and distributed across the ocean.
  • While mineral-induced changes in the form and flux of surface production might be reflected at the deep-sea floor, effects on the deep sea would mainly be in the long-term due to the ocean over turning circulation unless materials were directly placed in the deep sea. However, deep sea biota that have near-surface-dwelling larval stages could be adversely affected.
  • The environmental effects of electrochemical alkalinization techniques on the deep sea is unclear except where acid material would be discharged directly into the deep sea. This could result in potential lethal and sub-lethal effects on organisms close to the discharge zone.
  • Deposition of alkaline material into the ocean could be governed by the London Protocol.

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DOSI, 15 March 2022. Policy brief.

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The physical ocean – current issue

To kick off the new year, we are exploring the world of Oceanography. In this Spring issue, the Physical Ocean, we uncover new insights into how changes to the ocean’s physical and chemical properties impact marine life and the planet. Discover new ‘wild card’ solutions, such as ocean-based carbon dioxide removal technology, and why we need to change how we conduct ocean science. We also examine the challenges humankind faces monitoring the most physically and chemically active environment on Earth – the ocean’s surface.

Current Issue

Articles

  • Why are some stony coral species better at surviving ocean acidification? (page 24)
  • Championing the issue of ocean acidification (page 27)
  • Compact, flexible and easy-to-use sensor technology for ocean measurements of pH and oxygen (page 30)
  • Equipping scientists and communities (page 32)
  • Impacts of ocean carbon dioxide removal on ocean acidification monitoring (page 33)
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Contributions of regional seas conventions and action plans to a healthy ocean

Cover page

The report, Contributions of Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans to a Healthy Ocean, draws on a series of case studies that examine the cumulative impact of these conventions and policies over the past 45 years. Through a robust body of evidence, the UN-led Regional Seas Programme convenes and coordinates countries and institutions, and undertakes ecosystem-based planning and management to progress towards a healthy ocean and healthy people.

The Regional Seas Programme aims to bring all relevant stakeholders together to address the accelerating degradation of the world’s oceans and coastal areas through a “shared seas” approach; since its establishment in 1974, 146 countries have joined 18 Regional Seas. Through cultivating joint scientific research, policy development, and implementation, this network of regional policies has become one of the cornerstones of the protection, conservation, and restoration of marine and coastal environments. 

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The UN’s latest climate change report is clear: we must act fact to avoid catastrophic impacts

IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations’ chief climate science body, confirms that we are not on track to secure a climate-resilient, livable future. It provides the most in-depth assessment yet of the impacts of climate change, our vulnerabilities to it, and our efforts to adapt thus far. Keep reading for our climate experts’ key takeaways on some of the report’s most significant — and sobering — findings in several critical areas: climate finance, oceans, food, equity, urban areas, and governance.

MAIN FINDINGS FROM THE IPCC’S NEW CLIMATE REPORT

This report, the second major installment in the IPCC’s current assessment cycle, paints a somber picture of the widespread and severe climate impacts that our planet — and all of the humans, animals, and other species who live here — are already experiencing. Not only does the report confirm that climate change has had an adverse impact on billions of people around the world — and none more so than marginalized communities — but some species and ecosystems have suffered irreversible losses, especially those people and natural systems affected by melting glaciers and rising sea levels.

The report further finds that the world has not acted at anywhere near the pace and scale needed to meaningfully adapt to current and future impacts of climate change. While the report finds that adaptation efforts can be extremely effective in minimizing climate-fueled impacts and damages, they are not being implemented quickly or widely enough. The IPCC also outlines options for adaptation, underlining ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) in particular as a highly impactful strategy that can help people and nature cope with the impacts of climate change while also reducing current and future risk. (EbA is a set of strategies that use natural ecosystems, such as restoring mangroves to protect coastal areas from storm surge, to both benefit nature and protect people.)

This report also contains regional chapters for the first time, and the IPCC produced accompanying regional fact sheets to give people even more tools to understand how the climate is affecting their corner of the world. The science in this report has implications for all of the natural world, from individual species to entire ecosystems. Our climate experts have unpacked several of the key findings for climate finance, oceans, food, equity, urban areas, and governance and lay out what we can — and must — do in light of their implications.

PROTECTING THE OCEAN

The findings: Climate change has had severe and lasting impacts on the ocean, many of which will persist for decades. Impacts include widespread and increasingly irreversible destruction of marine ecosystems. The ocean also faces more intense tropical cyclones, more rapid sea level rise, and ocean acidification. Impacts to the ocean are expected to worsen. For instance, at 1.5°C of warming above preindustrial levels, 70-90% of tropical coral reefs are expected to disappear; at 2°C of warming, over 99% of coral reefs could be gone.

The implications: Both coastal communities and marine ecosystems will face irreversible impacts from climate change, including loss of coastal habitats, ecosystems, and infrastructure. Warming and ocean acidification have already negatively affected water, energy, food, and nutrition security. Long-term risks from sea level rise for coastal ecosystems, people, and infrastructure are expected to increase substantially.

A teenage boy stands on a seawall that protects his family home from the rising seas in Jenrock village in the Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Photo: Vlad Sokhin/ UNICEF

The response: Governments must act quickly to implement policies that limit warming to 1.5°C in order to limit the severity of climate impacts on the ocean and on the people and communities that depend on it. In addition to cutting emissions, governments must act now to prepare for sea level rise, ocean acidification, and other impacts that will continue for decades. Such measures include ensuring that future coastal development and infrastructure planning account for increasing sea levels and more frequent weather events.

For more information, see the report’s Chapter 3: Ocean and coastal ecosystems and their services

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The effects of elevated temperature and acidification on the biodiversity of coral reef cryptobenthic communities that recruited Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures placed within mesocosms at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology between July 2016 and June 2018

The data described here includes cytochrome oxidase I (COI) DNA metabarcoding data collected from modified Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures deployed in mesocosms at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology as part of an Ocean Acidification Program funded project granted to NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC), Ecosystem Science Division (formerly known as the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division). Treatments in this fully factorial mesocosm experiment included present-day pH and temperature (Ambient treatment), ocean acidification (-0.2 pH units – Acidified treatment), ocean warming (+2°C – Heated treatment), and future ocean combined stressors (-0.2 pH units and +2 °C – Acidified-Heated treatment). ARMS were placed in replicated mesocosms for each treatment on July 2016 and removed June 2018. Upon removal, the ARMS units were individually scraped clean, contents homogenized, and 10 grams were subsampled from each unit for COI DNA metabarcoding.

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Arctic report card 2021: rapid and pronounced warming continues to drive the evolution of the Arctic environment

About Arctic Report Card 2021

The Arctic Report Card (hereafter ‘ARC’) has been issued annually since 2006. It is a timely and peer-reviewed source for clear, reliable, and concise environmental information on the current state of different components of the Arctic environmental system relative to historical records. The ARC is intended for a wide audience interested in the Arctic environment and science, including scientists, teachers, students, decision-makers, policymakers, and the general public.

ARC 2021 contains 14 essay contributions prepared by an international team of 111 authors from 12 different countries. As in previous years, independent peer review of ARC 2021 was organized by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) of the Arctic Council. ARC is classified as a NOAA Technical Report and is archived within the NOAA Library Institutional Repository.

ARC 2021 is organized into three sections: Vital SignsOther Indicators, and Frostbites. The Vital Signs section is for annual updates on seven recurring topics: Surface Air Temperature; Terrestrial Snow Cover; Greenland Ice Sheet; Sea Ice; Sea Surface Temperature; Arctic Ocean Primary Productivity; and Tundra Greenness. The Other Indicators section is for topics that are updated every 2-4 years, many of which have appeared in previous ARCs. The Frostbites section is for reports on new and newsworthy items, describing emerging issues, and addressing topics that relate to long-term observations in the Arctic. People occasionally ask questions such as “How are essay topics selected?” or “Why is topic X not in the Arctic Report Card?” The short answer is that each ARC strives to include some recurrent topics as well as new topics, and thus covers many subjects over a period of years. In this way the ARC achieves a comprehensiveness over time that is not possible in any given year. A complete list of topics covered since the first publication of the ARC is available at the Report Card Archive.

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Arctic essays: ocean acidifcation

Highlights

  • Recent work has shown that the Arctic Ocean is acidifying faster than the global ocean, but with high spatial variability.
  • A growing body of research indicates that acidification in the Arctic Ocean could have implications for the Arctic ecosystem, including influences on algae, zooplankton, and fish.
  • Cutting-edge tools like computational models are increasing our capacity to understand patterns, trends, and impacts of ocean acidification in the Arctic region.
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SWINGS Cruise report MD229- N/O Marion-Dufresne- Jan 11th -March 8th 2021

Introduction and objectives

SWINGS is a multidisciplinary 4-year project dedicated to elucidate trace element sources, transformations and sinks along a section crossing key areas of the Southern Ocean (SO). Major French contribution to the international GEOTRACES program (www.geotraces.org), SWINGS involves ca 80 scientists (21 international laboratories, 7 countries2). As core action of SWINGS, the SWINGS cruise (R/V
Marion-Dufresne, MD229, Geotraces section GS02) started from La Reunion on January 11th 2021 and ended at La Reunion 57 days later (March 8th, 2021). This cruise explored a large part of the South Indian Ocean (Figure 0-2) in order to tackle the following objectives:

1) establish the relative importance of sedimentary, atmospheric and hydrothermal sources of TEIs in the Indian sector of the SO
2) investigate the drivers of the internal trace element cycles: biogenic uptake, remineralization, particle fate, and export, and
3) quantify TEI transport by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the numerous fronts at the confluence between Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

Cruise Strategy

SWINGS strategy relies on the strong coupling between physical oceanography, biogeochemistry and modeling. During the cruise, a major and original focus has been put on the characterization of the physical, biological and chemical particle speciation in suspended and sinking particles that have been collected during SWINGS.

We realized a high spatial resolution sampling of the dissolved (<0.45 μm) and particulate (>0.45 μm) pools, from the surface to the seafloor. This harvest of data will allow a major step forward in the understanding and quantification of dissolved-particle exchanges, a major recognized bolt for the element cycle modeling. Moreover, samples to analyze dedicated tracers (e.g Th and Pa isotopes) were collected in order to better characterize the particle dynamics. Ra isotope analyses will support the quantification of land-ocean transfers while Nd ones will trace the origin of the dissolved and particulate matter. Both tracers will also help identifying and characterizing hydrothermal source occurrences. Indeed, specific attention was paid to the ocean interfaces: atmospheric and land contacts, and a segment of the South West Indian Ridge suspected to be the home of active hydrothermal sites were explored. Combined with the other suite of trace metals, we will be able to provide an estimation of the lateral and vertical transport of key trace metals from the different sources investigated along the section. We also collected samples in order to describe the taxonomic diversity of heterotrophic microbes, their metabolic potential, gene- and protein expression patterns as well as samples necessary for the enumeration of heterotrophic prokaryotes and small (up to 20 µm) autotrophic phytoplankton, 2 SWINGS PARTNERS: CNRS_UPS_LEGOS (PI, TOULOUSE), CNRS_UBO_LEMAR (PI, BREST), AMU_MIO (MARSEILLE), CNRS_UVSQ_LSCE (SACLAY), CNRS_SU_LOCEAN (PARIS), CNRS_SU_LOMIC (BANYULS), CNRS_UPS_GET (TOULOUSE), CNRS_SU_AD2M (ROSCOFF), CNRS_CECI (TOULOUSE), CSIR-SOCCO (CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA), SU-DEAS, ULB_BRUXELLES (BELGIUM), WU-SO (WASHINGTON UNIV, USA), WHOI-MBC (WOODS HOLE, USA), FU-DEOAS (FLORIDA STATE UNIV AND FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY, USA), GEOMAR (KIEL, GERMANY), PEO AND ETH (ZURICH, CH) 10 the concentration of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and major inorganic nutrients (nitrate and nitrite, phosphate and silicic acid). Finally, dedicated biology experiments, such as nitrification, calcification or iron uptake experiments were conducted throughout the cruise.

The cruise track –at the Atlantic-Indian boundary- did cross up to 6 currents or fronts, among which the 3 majors are reported in Figure 0-2. These jets are major pathways of the general circulation, critical for chemical specie transport: our navigation strategy was regularly adapted using the SOS (Scheduler for Oceanographic Samplings), an interactive navigation tool for adaptive cruise scheduling in order to characterize these current dynamic (geostrophic calculation) as well as their trace element and isotope contents.

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IAEA brief: nuclear and isotopic techniques help assess ocean acidification and climate change impacts

  • 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.

INTRODUCTION: THE LINK BETWEEN THE OCEANS AND CLIMATE

The global carbon cycle describes the fluxes of carbon between different environmental compartments (atmosphere, ocean, terrestrial biosphere and sediments). This carbon may be for example in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) or methane (CH4), both prominent greenhouse gases. It is essential to quantify these changes and stocks of carbon accurately in order to construct the climate models used to predict the impacts of climate change.

At least one quarter of the CO2 released into the atmosphere by anthropogenic activities such as the burning of fossil fuels is taken up by the ocean. Some of this CO2 returns to the atmosphere, and some is exported from surface waters to the deep ocean, where the reservoir of carbon is 50 times larger than that stored in the atmosphere. The ocean provides a vital service to nature through this capacity to regulate atmospheric CO2 emissions.

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

The absorption of CO2 by the ocean is not without consequences for marine life. It causes ocean acidification: a change in oceanic carbonate chemistry sometimes referred to as the ‘other CO2 problem’. Ocean acidification has emerged as a key global issue in the last decade because of its potential to affect marine organisms and biogeochemical cycles.

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State of global climate in 2021 – WMO provisional report

State of Climate in 2021

Geneva, 31 October 2021 (WMO) – Record atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and associated accumulated heat have propelled the planet into uncharted territory, with far-reaching repercussions for current and future generations, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The past seven years are on track to be the seven warmest on record, according to the provisional WMO State of the Global Climate 2021 report, based on data for the first nine months of 2021. A temporary cooling “La Niña” event early in the year means that 2021 is expected to be “only” the fifth to seventh warmest year on record. But this does not negate or reverse the long-term trend of rising temperatures.The report combines input from multiple United Nations agencies, national meteorological and hydrological services and scientific experts. It highlights impacts on food security and population displacement, harming crucial ecosystems and undermining progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. It was released at a press conference on the opening day of COP26.

Global sea level rise accelerated since 2013 to a new high n 2021, with continued ocean warming and ocean acidification.

The report combines input from multiple United Nations agencies, national meteorological and hydrological services and scientific experts. It highlights impacts on food security and population displacement, harming crucial ecosystems and undermining progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The provisional WMO State of the Global Climate 2021 report draws from the latest scientific evidence to show how our planet is changing before our eyes. From the ocean depths to mountain tops, from melting glaciers to relentless extreme weather events, ecosystems and communities around the globe are being devastated. COP26 must be a turning point for people and planet,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

“Scientists are clear on the facts.  Now leaders need to be just as clear in their actions. The door is open; the solutions are there. COP26 must be a turning point. We must act now – with ambition and solidarity – to safeguard our future and save humanity,” said Mr Guterres in a video statement.

The provisional State of the Climate 2021 report is released at the start of the UN Climate Change negotiations, COP26, in Glasgow. It provides a snapshot of climate indicators such as greenhouse gas concentrations, temperatures, extreme weather, sea level, ocean warming and ocean acidification, glacier retreat and ice melt, as well as socio-economic impacts.

It is one of the flagship scientific reports which will inform negotiations and which will be showcased at the Science pavilion hosted by WMO, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK Met Office. During COP26, WMO will launch the Water and Climate Coalition to coordinate water and climate action, and the Systematic Observations Financing Facility to improve weather and climate observations and forecasts which are vital to climate change adaptation.

Key messages

Ocean

Around 90% of the accumulated heat in the Earth system is stored in the ocean, which is measured through Ocean Heat Content.

The upper 2000m depth of the ocean continued to warm in 2019 reaching a new record high. A preliminary analysis based on seven global data sets suggests that 2020 exceeded that record. All data sets agree that ocean warming rates show a particularly strong increase in the past two decades and it is expected that the ocean will continue to warm in the future.

Much of the ocean experienced at least one ‘strong’ Marine Heatwave at some point in 2021 – with the exception of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean (due to La Niña) and much of the Southern Ocean. The Laptev and Beaufort Sea in the Arctic experienced “severe” and “extreme” marine heatwaves from January to April 2021.

The ocean absorbs around 23% of the annual emissions of anthropogenic CO2 to the atmosphere and so is becoming more acidic. Open ocean surface pH has declined globally over the last 40 years and is now the lowest it has been for at least 26,000 years. Current rates of pH change are unprecedented since at least that time. As the pH of the ocean decreases, its capacity to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere also declines.

1960-2020 ensemble mean time series
1960-2020 ensemble mean time series and ensemble standard deviation of global ocean heat content anomalies relative to the 2005-2017 climatology. Von Schuckmann et al., 2020.

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New report shows ocean acidification (OA) in Puget Sound waters continues as our understanding of patterns grows

New Report Released: Automated buoys and volunteers helped gather critical Puget Sound data during pandemic

On October 27, the Puget Sound Marine Waters Work Group of the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program released the tenth annual report on marine water conditions in Puget Sound providing a comprehensive long-term view and current assessment of the Puget Sound marine ecosystem. There were few extreme weather or ecological events in 2020, but overall, conditions in Puget Sound were generally warmer, sunnier, and wetter than in typical years. The report further reveals patterns and trends in numerous environmental parameters, including plankton, water quality, climate, and marine life. The observations in this report collectively provide both a comprehensive long-term view and current assessment of the Puget Sound marine ecosystem.

Calm water on a cloudy day with some blue in the sky with an empty ferry terminal and a ferry in the distance
New Puget Sound Marine Waters 2020 Report Released:  Automated buoys and volunteers helped gather critical Puget Sound data during pandemic. Photo Credit: Puget Sound Partnership 2021

In Puget Sound, ocean acidification (OA) continues as does our understanding of patterns. Annual average atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) values over Hood Canal were high relative to globally averaged marine surface air, yet were at the same level as in 2019. OA in Puget Sound is of particular concern as estuarine processes, both natural and human-mediated, can also increase the CO2 content and lower the pH of marine waters. Moreover, coastal upwelling brings deeper waters with naturally higher CO2 concentrations upwards and into Puget Sound via the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Thus, Puget Sound is influenced by a variety of drivers that exacerbate the growing OA signal, making our waters particularly sensitive to these conditions. All of these changes have ramifications for marine food webs and are areas of active current research, including PMEL’s  Moored Autonomous pCO2 (MAPCO2TM) system collecting on atmospheric and surface seawater xCO2 (mole fraction of CO2) at the Ćháʔba· mooring off of La Push, WA and at the Cape Elizabeth mooring

Having high-quality observations of carbon in the coastal environment is important for understanding coastal ocean carbon and its impact throughout the water column and the ecosystem. Learn more about PMEL’s Carbon and Ocean Acidification Research.

Read the full report here.

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Climate-smart decisions in our changing world

NOAA delivers the science, data, services and solutions that help the world address the climate crisis.

An integral part of the Department of Commerce, NOAA observes and predicts our changing environment from the depths of the oceans to the surface of the sun, shares that knowledge with others, and is responsible for conserving and managing America’s coastal and marine resources, all with a focus on science, service and stewardship.

NOAA’s climate science, services and decision-making tools—everything from greenhouse gas measurements to sea level rise projections—are used in communities in the U.S. and around the world to keep people safe during extreme weather, drive business decisions for industries like agriculture and transportation, and help build infrastructure for the future.

Demand for NOAA’s information is increasing, as the world sees more frequent and more costly extreme weather and climate-related disasters. Investments in NOAA’s climate research, data, tools, and capacity-building are a key part of the United States’ whole-of-government response to the climate crisis.

NOAA is centering equity in all aspects of our work in order to produce better science, deliver better services, be better stewards of the environment and economy, and build a more inclusive workforce.

Learn about NOAA’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis at: www.climate.gov/COP26

NOAA is committed to helping the world respond to climate change through its mission of delivering climate science, service, and stewardship.

Science
Advancing the state of the science for sea-level rise. Collaborating with several U.S. agencies, NOAA will publish updated sea-level rise and extreme coastal water projections for every U.S. state and territory, filling gaps for rural and underserved regions. This data is key for advancing how we plan for coastal resilience, infrastructure and emergencies.

Enhancing the World Ocean Database. NOAA will develop and deploy a new tool within the World Ocean Database to help ocean data users easily discover and access immense volumes of globally distributed ocean information. Partnering with the International Oceanographic Commission, this investment will increase timely, high quality input for climate forecast models, as well as seasonal and longer time-scale monitoring.

Opening a Pacific Islands ocean acidification training center. NOAA and the U.S. Department of State are partnering with the South Pacific Community, the University of the South Pacific, and The Ocean Foundation to launch a new training center in Fiji to expand capacity for ocean acidification monitoring and research across the Pacific Islands. Understanding how ocean acidification affects local coral reefs and fisheries will enable better protection for the ecosystems, livelihoods, and economies they support.

Launching the NOAA Blue Carbon Inventory. In partnership with the U.S. Department of State, NOAA will provide technical support to countries to incorporate coastal blue carbon into their National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (NGGI). NOAA will focus on 3-5 geographically-diverse countries, amplifying the impact of this investment through regional partnerships, interagency collaboration, and activities such as the development of guidebooks, workshops and training materials. This metric is an important way countries track progress towards achieving their climate ambitions.

Establishing a globally operational Surface Ocean CO2 Reference Network. The network will integrate established and proposed national and regional surface ocean carbon dioxide (CO2) research and monitoring efforts into a global framework, enabling countries to track changes in global ocean uptake of CO2 over time. Through international engagement, NOAA will facilitate the development of the global network and produce high-value products, such as observation-based annual updates of ocean carbon uptake and changes in ocean acidification, that are critical for decision making about ocean-based mitigation options and marine ecosystem health.

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Ocean acidification in Africa

A major food fish in African coastal communities, parrotfish such as these rely on healthy coral reefs that could disappear in an acidifying ocean.

Ocean chemistry is rapidly changing

A healthy ocean provides many human services: food, medicine, cultural practices; income from commercial fisheries and tourism; and, coral reefs for coastal storm protection.

In an acidifying ocean, corals are struggling to maintain skeletons that create reefs. Lobsters, oysters, urchins, and many phyo- and zoo-plankton species that build skeletons also suffer from this stress, disrupting the marine food web.

Coastal communities in Africa are being impacted

Many African countries rely heavily on the sea for economic, social, and nutritional services. However, ocean acidification has the potential to negatively affect those marine ecosystems. The losses would be alarming for the African continent. Fisheries and aquaculture currently contribute USD $24 billion to the economy in Africa, employing more than 12 million people across the continent. The fisheries sector is particularly important for rural coastal African populations, which are among the most vulnerable in terms of both food and job security. Due to the growing population and per capita income, demand for fish in Africa is expected to increase 30% by 2030. Ocean acidification, combined with other climatic drivers, may make it difficult to satisfy this need.

Ocean acidification research demands unique local, national, and regional responses

Addressing and mitigating ocean acidification will require a drastic decrease in global CO2 emissions, but it is possible to develop local adaptive solutions to increase ecosystem resilience by addressing specific societal coastal community priorities. Strategic ocean acidification data are critical for the development and implementation of such solutions, including the identification of ocean acidification hot spots.

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State of Hawai‘i ocean acidification action plan 2021 -2031

The State of Hawaiʻi Ocean Acidification Action Plan was developed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) with support from the Hawai‘i Department of Health, Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, the State of Hawai‘i Climate Change and Mitigation Commission, the University of Hawai‘i – School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program, the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, and many other partners and stakeholders.

This Ocean Acidification Action Plan for the State of Hawai‘i is based feedback from state departments, local experts, and partners on local Hawai‘i issues, and from the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification’s “Action Plan Toolkit”, which was developed through the West Coast Consortium, a partnership of the States of Washington, Oregon, California, and the province of British Columbia.

The State of Hawai‘i activities, projects, and programs that have related to ocean acidification are jointly done by a number of departments and partners. This plan outlines existing activities that State Departments and partners are involved in, as well as forecasting future needs for activities projects, and programs from collaborative partnerships. For this reason, there was effort to put a stand alone plan together as well as integrate ocean acidification and climate considerations into other state plans.

DAR held several webinars to share the recent scientific understand of ocean acidification in Hawai‘i and talk about the ways different states have built their Ocean Acidification Action Plans, and some pathways forward the State of Hawai‘i could take. COVID-19 changed the way that we were able to host meetings and workshops, and so DAR hosted meetings with the contributors with a focus on each Goal related to their expertise to develop objectives and actions. DAR brought the 5 overall goals developed to the State Climate Change and Mitigation Commission for approval as part of the plan development process.

This Ocean Acidification Action Plan is the first of an iterative planning document that provides a strategic vision for developing and coordinating action around ocean acidification and the ocean-climate nexus. The State’s actions will include ways to be understand, adapt, and mitigate, communicate, and network to combat the impacts of ocean acidification in Hawai‘i. In future years, more comprehensive progress reports will include updates of actions implemented by this plan, and edits or changes to suggested actions can be made.

It will be important for State Legislature to create a formal working group of State and County that can guide the implementation and updates to this plan.

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Ocean acidification (OA) in the Baltic Sea from a Swedish perspective

Background
This report is produced as part of the project “Baltic Sea Acidification Mitigation” (BALSAM), supported by the Swedish Institute. The aim of this report and other, corresponding reports (produced for the other countries participating in BALSAM) is primarily to inform environmental NGOs and other stakeholders interested in environmental issues. The aim of this country report is to provide information on Ocean Acidification (OA) in the Baltic Sea with special emphasis on Swedish waters, and to provide an insight into the research and monitoring that are the basis of the current understanding of OA in these waters. This is done as support for campaigning towards mitigation of greenhouse gases and protection of the seas. Whereas this document is not a comprehensive literature review, it is intended as a timely guide to the concept of OA, and does contain key publications and links to further indepth reading and sources of additional information.

Introduction
Ocean acidification (OA) comes in the wake of climate change as the result of increased atmospheric CO2, which is taken up by the oceans. About 30 % of the CO2 that is emitted to the atmosphere because of human activity ends up in the waterbodies. Part of the CO2 reacts with water, and forms carbonic acid. Some of the carbonic acid dissociates, resulting in bicarbonate and in hydrogen ions. This process leads to acidification (lower pH, i.e. higher concentration of hydrogen ions). Organisms in the oceans are adapted to the pH-conditions that have prevailed in the seas prior to this human driven acidification-process. Especially calcifying organisms are sensitive to acidification, but the physiology of many other organisms can be affected as well, as can the complex ecological interactions between organisms. In a global setting, ongoing and projected effects of OA have been extensively described in several IPCC reports (e.g. IPCC, 2018, 2019).

In Sweden, an interdisciplinary review on causes and consequences of OA in the Swedish Seas (including both the Baltic Sea and the more saline waters of Skagerrak at the Swedish west coast), as well as knowledge gaps, was published relatively recently as part of work supported by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Havenhand et al. 2017). Additionally, in the same context, a scientific review focusing on the ecological consequences of OA was published by Havenhand et al. in 2019. A policy brief1 on OA in the Baltic Sea was furthermore published in 2020 by The Baltic Sea Centre of Stockholm University (Gustafsson & Winder 2020). This policy brief provides a general view of OA as support for policy making.

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Ocean State Report 5

ABOUT THE OCEAN STATE REPORT

The Ocean State Report is an annual publication of the Copernicus Marine Service and Mercator Ocean International [3] providing a comprehensive, state-of-the-art report on the current state, natural variations, and ongoing changes in the global ocean and European regional seas. The goal of the Ocean State Report is to provide reliable and scientifically-assured information, drawing on data from the 1970s to present. The report is written by over 150 scientific experts from more than 30 European institutions.  

There is particular emphasis on European seas, as the Ocean State Report is meant to act not only as a reference for a global audience, but more directly for the activities of the European Union.  

The Ocean State Report 5 Summary is now available online from the Copernicus Marine Service and Mercator Ocean International (the full report from the JOO will be available in the next 24 hours). This annual publication provides a comprehensive and state-of-the-art report on the current state, natural variations, and ongoing changes in the European regional seas and global ocean, particularly in 2019. Available in a concise, illustrated, and easily accessible format, the Summary (available in English and French) is intended to act as a reference for the scientific community, policy-makers, and the general public to better understand the importance and impacts of a changing ocean.  

The Summary is divided into four chapters, presenting the data of a changing ocean from several angles. Chapters one, two, and three present the state and key observations of a changing ocean, examine the evolving impacts of these changes in line with climate change, and discuss the importance of sustainable ocean governance for managing impacts. The Summary concludes with chapter four which highlights new tools developed using Copernicus Marine Service products and illustrates how accurate and timely information is key to monitoring, understanding, and adapting to a changing ocean.  The sections below highlight the key points discussed in each chapter.  

1 A CHANGING OCEAN

2 IMPACTS OF A CHANGING OCEAN

3 MANAGING A CHANGING OCEAN

4 MONITORING A CHANGING OCEAN

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New report shows impacts of climate change and extreme weather in Latin America and Caribbean (text & video)

LAC State of the Climate 2020

Climate change and extreme weather are threatening human health and safety, food, water and energy security and the environment in Latin America and the Caribbean. The impacts span the entire region, including Andean peaks, mighty river basins and low-lying islands, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It flags concerns about fires and the loss of forests which are a vital carbon sink.

The “State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean 2020” provides a snapshot of the effects of increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, storms and retreating glaciers. It includes transboundary analyses, such as of the drought of the South American Pantanal and the intense hurricane season in Central America-Caribbean. It provides a detailed regional breakdown of worsening global climate change indicators.

The report and an accompanying story map show how marine life, coastal ecosystems and the human communities that depend on them, particularly in Small Island Developing States, are facing increasing threats from ocean acidification and heat and rising sea levels.

The report was released at a high-level conference on 17 August, “Working together for weather, climate and water resilience in Latin America and the Caribbean” under the auspices of WMO, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC), and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).

It follows the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science basis, which said that temperatures in the region have increased more than the global average and are likely to continue to do so. It also projected changing precipitation patterns, more sea level rise, coastal flooding and marine heatwaves.

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