Warming oceans are causing marine species to change breeding times and shift homes with expected substantial consequences for the broader marine landscape, according to a new global study.
The three-year research project, funded by the National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in California, has shown widespread systemic shifts in measures such as distribution of species and phenology – the timing of nature’s calendar – on a scale comparable to or greater than those observed on land.
The report, Global imprint of climate change on marine life, will form part of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change Assessment Report due for publication in 2014, and is published in this month’s Nature Climate Change. It was undertaken by eminent scientists at 17 institutions across the world, including the University of Queensland, Plymouth University, Aberystwyth University, and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS).
One of the lead authors of the report, Professor Camille Parmesan, National Marine Aquarium Chair in Public Understanding of Oceans and Human Health within Plymouth University’s Marine Institute, said the study offered a “very simple, but important message”.
Professor Parmesan said: “This is the first comprehensive documentation of what is happening in our marine systems in relation to climate change. What it reveals is that the changes that are occurring on land are being matched by the oceans. And far from being a buffer and displaying more minor changes, what we’re seeing is a far stronger response from the oceans.”
The research team assembled a large database of 1,735 changes in marine life from the global peer-reviewed literature which helped them investigate impacts of climate change. The team found that 81% of changes were in a direction consistent with climate change.
The evidence showed that the leading edge or ‘front line’ of some marine species, such as phytoplankton, zooplankton and bony fish, is moving towards the poles at the average rate of 72km per decade, which is considerably faster than the terrestrial average of 6km per decade – and this despite the fact that sea surface temperatures are warming three times slower than land temperatures.
They also found that spring phenology in the oceans had advanced by more than four days, nearly twice the figure for phenological advancement on land. The strength of response varied among species, but again, the research showed the greatest response in invertebrate zooplankton and larval bony fish, up to 11 days in advancement.
Professor Mike Burrows at SAMS said: “Most of the effects we saw were as expected from changes in climate. So, most shifts in the distributions of, say, fishes and corals, were towards the poles, and most events in springtime, like spawning, were earlier.”
Some of the most convincing evidence that climate change is the primary driver behind the observed changes could be found in footprints that showed, for example, opposing responses in warm-water and cold-water species within a community; and similar responses from discrete populations at the same range edge.
Dr Pippa Moore, Lecturer in Aquatic Biology from Aberystwyth University, said: “Our research has shown that a wide range of marine organisms, which inhabit the intertidal to the deep-sea, and are found from the poles to the tropics, have responded to recent climate change by changing their distribution, phenology or demography.
“These results highlight the urgent need for governments around the globe to develop adaptive management plans to ensure the continued sustainability of the world’s oceans and the goods and services they provide to human society.”
The Latest on: Ocean warming
In the Philippines, Dynamite Fishing Decimates Entire Ocean Food Chains
on June 16, 2018 at 11:41 am
The effects of climate change — warming waters and acidification that cause coral bleaching ... one of the fishermen sank 30 feet into the water after the bomb went off. He lurched along the ocean floor, collecting stunned and dead fish among the ... […]
The Ocean Is Getting More Acidic—What That Actually Means
on June 15, 2018 at 11:56 am
“Most chose the shark,” Wright-Fairbanks said. To these scientists, it’s clear that the world’s ocean is changing from both warming temperatures and rising acidity. Their work might help answer questions about which species will survive, which will ... […]
Warming oceans will affect sharks' brains
on June 15, 2018 at 6:13 am
Rising ocean temperatures due to climate change will not only be felt by smaller organisms like coral, but will also impact apex predators, according to new research. The study from the Macquarie University Fish Lab found that increasing water temperature ... […]
Guest post: How global warming is causing ocean oxygen levels to fall
on June 15, 2018 at 3:06 am
Prof Andreas Oschlies is head of the marine biogeochemical modelling group and speaker of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 754 at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR) and Kiel University, Prof Peter Brandt is professor of physical ... […]
Antarctic Ice Shelves Compromised by Combined Effects of Ocean and Atmosphere Warming
on June 13, 2018 at 11:13 am
AUSTIN, Texas — An international team of scientists has discovered that the world’s ice shelves are being destabilized by forces from above and below, and have documented for the first time how these forces can work together to carve off enormous ... […]
Global warming has melted over 3 trillion tons of ice in Antarctica since 1992, and it's only getting worse
on June 13, 2018 at 10:59 am
Global warming has caused over 3 trillion tons of ice to melt from ... The total is equivalent to over 2 quadrillion gallons of water added to the world's oceans, making Antarctica's melting ice sheets one of the largest contributors to rising sea levels. […]
Study reveals missing drivers of ocean deoxygenation
on June 11, 2018 at 2:05 pm
One of the biggest drivers of ocean deoxygenation is global warming. As increases in the amount of CO2 have encouraged a greenhouse gas effect, heating the atmosphere, the ocean has warmed, too. Warmer water can't absorb as much gas. Rising ocean ... […]
Coral Might Be Adjusting Its DNA to Survive Warming Oceans
on June 11, 2018 at 12:16 pm
Coral across the globe are facing tremendous challenges due to climate change. Scientists in Saudi Arabia have begun looking at a process that changes the regulation of genes called DNA methylation to see if coral can adapt to changing waters. Methlyation ... […]
Further drivers of ocean deoxygenation identified
on June 11, 2018 at 8:04 am
It is certain that global warming is the main cause of marine oxygen loss. But warming affects the ocean in several ways. Among other things, it influences the solubility of oxygen in the water. The warmer the water, the less gas it can take up. […]
Antarctic Ocean Discovery Warns of Faster Global Warming
on June 11, 2018 at 7:30 am
The crew of the N.B. Palmer used satellite imagery to avoid large fields of sea ice during a mission to deploy and recover floats, which remotely monitor ocean conditions, but sometimes encounters were unavoidable. The research vessel can break through ice ... […]
via Google News and Bing News