Archive for the 'Newsletters and reports' Category

The December WIOMSA Newsbrief is out!

We are delighted  to announce that the December issue of the WIOMSA Newsbrief has been published. This issue of the Newsbrief  features WIOMSA at COP 27 in Egypt  where we unveiled the Report on Ocean Acidification monitoring in the Western Indian Ocean. Other key features  include a spotlight on our newly elected Board members and the resolutions passed at WIOMSA’s 7th General Assembly in October. The Newsbrief highlights the cutting edge science outputs from our research projects, regional news, new publications and recently published papers . Also featured are WIOMSA’s affiliate networks.

Download the December Newsbrief.

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Review predicts big climate change impact on some marine mammals

A new DOC report predicts that climate change could have a major impact on some of New Zealand’s marine mammals.

Read the report

Co-authored by Jim Roberts, Anemone Consultants, and Hannah Hendriks, DOC’s Marine Technical Advisor, the research paper examines climate change in relation to marine mammals’ habitat, distribution, food sources and predators.

It looked at how specific climate change hazards, such as increasing sea temperatures, rising sea levels, changes in ocean circulation and effects on prey species, would impact marine mammals around New Zealand.

The report identifies changes in food supply as the biggest threat to marine mammals in New Zealand waters.  

“This is likely to impact populations including kekeno/New Zealand fur seal in the Westland region and blue whales foraging at the South Taranaki Bight,” says Hannah Hendriks.

“Māui dolphins also appear vulnerable, based on their location at the warm end of the species’ range and an apparent low availability of prey species.”

Projected changes to the New Zealand environment include sea surface temperatures rising more than 3oC, changes in atmospheric climate and oceanographic circulation, rising sea levels, and widespread ocean acidification.  

“As a result, it is possible species normally living in warmer subtropical waters like the dense-beaked whale, dwarf sperm whale, pan-tropical spotted dolphin, short-finned pilot whale and pygmy killer whale, will become more common around New Zealand, and potentially outcompeting some of the marine mammals we currently see,” says Hannah.

“Similarly, species that live in cooler subantarctic waters could become sparser around New Zealand as they move south.”

This review shows changes to the environment won’t be felt equally in all parts of New Zealand.

Department of Conservation: The Papa Atawbai, 16 September 2022. Press release.

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Ocean acidification assessment

This report summarises data and analysis methods for ocean acidification data from the Munida Time Series over the period 1998-­2020 and the New Zealand Ocean Acidification Observing Network over the period 2015-­21. Analysis of the trends and variability is also provided along with discussion on the implications of this for the New Zealand marine environment.

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New edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights”, March – July 2022

The new edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights”, our newsletter, summarizes the project’s main activities and achievements over the period March – July 2022. This newsletter features a training for early career scientists, OA-ICC activities at the UN Ocean Conference, the upcoming 5th Annual Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World, and two new OA-ICC publications, including a policy brief and protocol on measuring pHT. Previous editions can be viewed here.

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OA-ICC publishes new policy briefing based on latest IPCC reports

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s OA-ICC (Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre) published a new resource today, titled “Ocean Acidification: The Evidence is Clear. The Time for Action is Now.” This policy briefing highlights the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group I, II, and III reports and details policy actions that can be enacted now.

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Ocean acidification in the Arctic: scientific and governance responses


  1. Noting the early response of Arctic environments to global environmental change, this Fact Sheet outlines high rates of ocean acidification experienced in Arctic waters and resulting threats posed to Arctic communities and ecosystems.
  2. The Arctic remains at the forefront of ocean acidification research and governance. In addition to nation actions, the Arctic Council and its working groups engage in ongoing scientific research and governance initiatives addressing ocean acidification throughout the region. The Arctic Council additionally promotes the integration of Indigenous knowledge in research and governance, which may further advance understandings of ocean acidification and other marine stressors.
  3. While scientific and governance attention towards ocean acidification has increased in the Arctic, the issue of ocean acidification remains largely peripheral to global discussions of environmental change. It has therefore been argued that more explicit and specific efforts are need to effectively address ocean acidification, both globally and within the disproportionately vulnerable Arctic environment.
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Ocean and climate synergies – from ocean warming to rising sea levels

This working paper compiles major impacts of climate change on the ocean, focusing on ocean warming, rising sea levels and ocean acidification. It compiles the reports and projections about ocean and climate in the Asia-Pacific region, emphasizing on extreme weather events, heatwave, coral bleaching, fish migration, degradation of the marine ecosystems, and biodiversity. It also provides sea-level calculations based on satellite data and statistical tools with Asia and Pacific regional examples.

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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


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 – 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 –

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.


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


  • 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.


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.


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.


Arctic essays: ocean acidifcation


  • 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 (, 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.


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.


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


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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