Study concludes climate change will wreak havoc on oceans by 2100

Oct 17, 2013
Study concludes climate change will wreak havoc on oceans by 2100
A scarred coral reef. While coral reefs are not among those habitats that will experience the most overlapping stressors, it only takes one to cause large impacts on coral ecosystems including massive bleaching events, as shown here. Credit: Andrew Thurber, Oregon State University

(Phys.org) —A new study looking at the impacts of climate change on the world's ocean systems concludes that by the year 2100, about 98 percent of the oceans will be affected by acidification, warming temperatures, low oxygen, or lack of biological productivity – and most areas will be stricken by a multitude of these stressors.

These biogeochemical changes triggered by human-generated greenhouse gas emissions will not only affect and organisms, the researchers say, but will often co-occur in areas that are heavily used by humans.

Results of the study are being published this week in the journal PLoS Biology. It was funding by the Norwegian Research Council and Foundation through its support of the International Network for Scientific investigation of deep-sea ecosystems (INDEEP).

"While we estimated that 2 billion people would be impacted by these changes, the most troubling aspect of our results was that we found that many of the environmental stressors will co-occur in areas inhabited by people who can least afford it," said Andrew Thurber, an Oregon State University oceanographer and co-author on the study.

"If we look on a global scale, between 400 million and 800 million people are both dependent on the for their livelihood and also make less than $4,000 annually," Thurber pointed out. "Adapting to climate change is a costly endeavor, whether it is retooling a fishing fleet to target a changing fish stock, or moving to a new area or occupation."

The researchers say the effect on oceans will also create a burden in higher income areas, though "it is a much larger problem for people who simply do not have the financial resources to adapt."

"What is really sobering about these findings is that they don't even include other impacts to the world's oceans such as sea level rise, pollution, over-fishing, and increasing storm intensity and frequency," added Thurber, a post-doctoral fellow in OSU's College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. "All of these could compound the problem significantly."

Study concludes climate change will wreak havoc on oceans by 2100
Deep-sea substrate. Deep sea hard substrate are among the areas that will be heavily impacted by climate change, even though they host some beautiful and bizarre creatures such as these Sea Lily's (Crinoids). Credit: NOAA HURL Archives

In their study, the researchers used global distribution maps of 32 marine habitats and biodiversity hotspots and overlaid that with climate models developed for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, presented in Stockholm, Sweden, this fall. They then compared the results with the latest available data on human use of marine goods and services to estimate the vulnerability of coastal populations worldwide.

The models had a range of outcomes, but all agreed that most of the world's oceans would suffer negative impacts of varying intensities from the four major stressors. Only a small fraction of the oceans – mostly in Antarctica and to a lesser extent, small areas of the Atlantic – will see potential increases in oxygen or , the study noted.

By 2100, nowhere in the world are ocean waters expected to be cooler or less acidic than they are today.

"When you look at overlapping stressors, the Northern Hemisphere appears to be in real trouble," Thurber said. "The same grim outlook is apparent for the strong upwelling zones off Chile and southern Africa. Another 'red spot' is the Pacific Northwest of the United States, which already is seeing the impact of low oxygen and rising ."

It is the combination of stressors that makes upwelling areas – where deep, nutrient-rich water is brought to the surface to fertilize the upper water column – of greatest concern, the researchers noted. The models also suggest that marine food webs based on the production of euphausiids and other krill, or tiny marine crustaceans, are highly at-risk.

"A lot of marine animals, including many whale populations, are dependent upon krill or the other organisms that consume krill, for survival – and krill habitat has some of the greatest overlap in all the stressors we looked at," Thurber said. "On the other hand, coral reefs – even though they didn't rank as high as other areas for stressor overlap – are in trouble due to just two of the stressors, acidification and temperature. So a low score doesn't necessarily mean these areas are unlikely to be affected."

Thurber and three colleagues originally conceived of the idea of the meta-analysis of data to forecast the impact of climate change on the world's deep sea, an idea that was re-cast when they organized an international workshop that drew many principal investigators of recent climate change studies. Notable among the researchers was Camila Mora of the University of Hawai'i at Mañoa, who spearheaded an effort to include shallow water and the human elements into the data analysis.

Study concludes climate change will wreak havoc on oceans by 2100
Antarctica surface. Only 2 percent of the world's oceans won't face multiple stressors from climate change during the rest of the decade - and most of them are in Antarctica. Credit: Andrew Thurber, Oregon State University

"The consequences of these co-occurring changes are massive," Mora said. "Everything from species survival to abundance, to range size, to body size, to species richness, to ecosystem functioning are affected by changes in ocean biogeochemistry."

The study is unusual because of its scope, and the analysis of multiple factors. Most previous studies have looked at one variable – such as ocean warming or increasing acidification – but not multiple stressors, or they focused on one geographic area. It also brought the human dimension into play, which few studies have attempted.

"One of the real highlights of the study is its inclusion of the deep sea into our understanding of human impacts on climate," Thurber said. "We often think of this vast habitat as immune to human activity, but we found that this largest and most stable area of our planet is likely to see multiple impacts from our activities."

Among the possible biological responses to the four stressors:

  • Although warming off the surface waters in polar regions may lead to enhanced growth and productivity of some species, in a vast majority of the world it likely will lead to species loss, reduced animal density, and enhanced risk of disease;
  • Acidification will increase mortality of calcifying marine invertebrates and likely lead to species loss;
  • Hypoxia, or low oxygen, will cause mortality in many species and could enhance dominance by other species that are hypoxia-tolerant;
  • As productivity declines, many food web structures will be altered and reduced abundance may lead to dominance shifts from large to small .

Explore further: World ocean systems undermined by climate change by 2100

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mememine69
1.5 / 5 (24) Oct 17, 2013
"Fear Mongering" is: Saying a crisis will happen when science has only agreed it "could" happen for 30 years.

Not one IPCC warning has ever said; "inevitable" or "eventual" for the worst crisis imaginable, a climate crisis. Deny that fear mongers!
Neinsense99
2.7 / 5 (21) Oct 17, 2013
"Fear Mongering" is: Saying a crisis will happen when science has only agreed it "could" happen for 30 years.

Not one IPCC warning has ever said; "inevitable" or "eventual" for the worst crisis imaginable, a climate crisis. Deny that fear mongers!

The one-note orchestra regurgitates another masterpiece again... and again...and again.... It's almost as if a monkey had discovered the copy/paste key combo....
https://www.googl...2Bcrisis
Mr_Science
2.7 / 5 (23) Oct 17, 2013
@mememine69
With that one statement alone you have proved you have no understanding of science or how the world really works. You have been informed of this many times and yet you still repeat the same thing. Every time you copy you one statement you show more evidence of your anti-science standing. Playing word games will not dispute science. All responses you make to this comment will be ignored as I do not engage in word games.

Back to the article – This information has been available for some time now. Nothing new has been claimed or found. This article is pointless in regards to a scientific study. As general public information this article is acceptable. It does bring a few different pieces of information into one place for easy consumption.
beachy
5 / 5 (3) Oct 17, 2013
Did I miss the information on where to find the actual study? I'm not sure why the "journal reference" links to a page on this website rather than the study about which this article is written (and it is one of the reasons I usually avoid this website), but it would be nice to not have to run around to find the studies that phys.org writes about.
Jonseer
2.4 / 5 (20) Oct 17, 2013
Manmade global warming is a fact.

This study is NOT a fact.

The conclusions border on the absurd, not because the science is at fault, but because so much of their conclusion rests on assumptions that rest on assumptions that rest other assumptions made from the original data.

The original conclusion that support the theory of man made climate change have been used and abused and stretched beyond the breaking point to imagine this as the ultimate scenario.

This could happen true, but things end up completely different from the way they envision should any of their main underlying assumptions/conclusions prove to be off.

As idiotic as global warming denialism is, no less idiotic is the opposite default that many choose in assuming science know so much it can speak so certainly as this article does.

Along with the worst predictions made 50 years ago came similar alarmist predictions. Yet while the science proved itself, the predicted outcomes have NOT.
Howhot
4.4 / 5 (13) Oct 17, 2013
From the article;
By the year 2100, about 98 percent of the oceans will be affected by acidification, warming temperatures, low oxygen, or lack of biological productivity – and most areas will be stricken by a multitude of these stressors.

That sounds about right. There is already a number of stressors (effects on the environment) that apparent from global warming, that will obviously effect the oceans. Average sea surface temperatures have ticked up a 1C. That will certainly ripple through marine biology.
@Jonseer says;
The conclusions border on the absurd, not because the science is at fault, but because so much of their conclusion rests on assumptions that rest on assumptions that rest other assumptions made from the original data.

Have you ever kept fish in an aquarium? Gold fish? Have you ever tried keeping a Saltwater aquarium alive? It is so so touchy it doesn't take much imagination to project that experience out to the oceans. So yeah; 2100=dead fish.
Sinister1811
3.4 / 5 (17) Oct 17, 2013
Well, 2100 is a long time into the future. By then, they'll also be struggling with other major problems as well i.e. lack of resources, lack of useable land, overpopulation, mass extinctions, radioactivity etc. You can just imagine the future world.
Neinsense99
2.6 / 5 (19) Oct 17, 2013
Did I miss the information on where to find the actual study? I'm not sure why the "journal reference" links to a page on this website rather than the study about which this article is written (and it is one of the reasons I usually avoid this website), but it would be nice to not have to run around to find the studies that phys.org writes about.

From a link on that second phys.org page:
http://www.plosbi...0540C343
The Alchemist
1.2 / 5 (18) Oct 18, 2013
2100 huh?
A bit of propoganda that says "don't worry" even to an alarmist. We have seen the effects in the major oceans, right-? I don't have a globe handy, but aren't they all connected.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (21) Oct 18, 2013
More fodder for the hungry AGW Alarmist Chicken Littles.
Jim Steele
1.3 / 5 (23) Oct 18, 2013
Pure speculation that cherry picks every conceiveable nightmare. Most curious are the inherent contradictions, as CO2 advocates claim heat is being taken from the surface into the deepest oceans and that is why the global average has stopped rising, they simultaneously claim that CO2 warming will stratify the upper layers of the ocean. AS that warm layer sits on the surface it prevents oxygen from being carried to lower depths. These models are "stupefying". Heat can be carried from the surface but not oxygen. To be called science, hypotheses must be rigorously tested. But the scientific literature is being spammed by untested earful speculation passed off as science.

As Mark Twain remarked "There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."
goracle
2.6 / 5 (17) Oct 21, 2013
More fodder for the hungry AGW Alarmist Chicken Littles.

Boring. Do you even bother to put the verbiage back on the shelf between posts?
triplehelix
1.1 / 5 (15) Oct 22, 2013
Oh look. A prediction that none of us will be alive to actually see. So when this prediction becomes bullshit in 2100, I wonder who's going to remember the bullshit spouted throughout the early 21st century. Of course. By 2100, the politicians and carbon credit companies will have made their money so won't give a shit anyway.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (11) Oct 23, 2013
Have you ever kept fish in an aquarium? Gold fish? Have you ever tried keeping a Saltwater aquarium alive? It is so so touchy it doesn't take much imagination to project that experience out to the oceans. So yeah; 2100=dead fish.


And yet, the oceans have (likely) survived a snowball Earth, the Siberian traps, six mile wide meteor strikes and a HOST of other things. If it WASN'T a robust system we wouldn't be here discussing it.

Oh, and I'm quite sure when you compare an aquarium with 30 to 55 gallons of water to a planetary ocean with 326,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons I THINK you might be comparing apples and oranges....

beachy
5 / 5 (5) Oct 23, 2013
Oh look. A prediction that none of us will be alive to actually see. So when this prediction becomes bullshit in 2100, I wonder who's going to remember the bullshit spouted throughout the early 21st century. Of course. By 2100, the politicians and carbon credit companies will have made their money so won't give a shit anyway.


2100 isn't that far away. Many people alive now will still be alive the, especially given increasing life expectancies. Also, changes won't suddenly happen when the ball drops for 2100, it's already happening, and will continue to progress, up to that point.
Howhot
5 / 5 (5) Oct 23, 2013
Have you ever kept fish in an aquarium? Gold fish? Have you ever tried keeping a Saltwater aquarium alive? It is so so touchy it doesn't take much imagination to project that experience out to the oceans. So yeah; 2100=dead fish.

And yet, the oceans have (likely) survived a snowball Earth, the Siberian traps, six mile wide meteor strikes and a HOST of other things. If it WASN'T a robust system we wouldn't be here discussing it.
Oh, and I'm quite sure when you compare an aquarium with 30 to 55 gallons of water to a planetary ocean with 326,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons I THINK you might be comparing apples and oranges....

That is the dumbest thing I've read. You have no sense of how fragile the environment of the Earth is in places. I don't think you would have survived a 6 mile wide asteroid strike even if you where on the opposite side of Earth! Not much did in that time. So your comparison needs to be re-thought.
Indeed, your views needs to be re-thought!
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (11) Oct 23, 2013
That is the dumbest thing I've read.


Coming from someone who would say such a dumb thing I'll take that as a compliment :)

You have no sense of how fragile the environment of the Earth is in places.


I just gave you several examples of how robust the ecosystem is. Can't you read, or did you not pass the high school science class where they discussed them?

I don't think you would have survived a 6 mile wide asteroid strike even if you where on the opposite side of Earth!


No, but...I'm sorry were we talking about individual human beings or the fish in the ocean? Can you stick to one topic or concept please.

Not much did in that time.


And yet we and the environment are still here ;)
Howhot
5 / 5 (5) Oct 23, 2013
@Modernmystic says;
Oh, and I'm quite sure when you compare an aquarium with 30 to 55 gallons of water to a planetary ocean with 326,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons I THINK you might be comparing apples and oranges....

In my earlier comment, all I wanted note was how fragile ocean environments can be to temperature, Salt, PH, Oxygen levels and bacteria levels. Saltwater aquariums are really tricky to maintain. The analogy is oceans and how subtle changes from global warming could wipe out thousand of square miles of reefs, breading grounds, etc. that fish survive in. If the masses can't survive it's an extinction, and if that is globally it's an extinction event!

If you understood the nature of an eco-system you would immediately see how dangerous the collapse of coral reefs is to the health of the ocean ecology!
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (9) Oct 24, 2013
In my earlier comment, all I wanted note was how fragile ocean environments can be to temperature, Salt, PH, Oxygen levels and bacteria levels. Saltwater aquariums are really tricky to maintain. The analogy is oceans and how subtle changes from global warming could wipe out thousand of square miles of reefs, breading grounds, etc. that fish survive in. If the masses can't survive it's an extinction, and if that is globally it's an extinction event!


No, I got the analogy. My best friend has a salt water aquarium. It's still apples and oranges :)

The sheer scale of the difference is beyond staggering, that's why I wrote the entire number out. The oceans can take one hell of a pounding, believe it...or don't I really don't care ;)

That's NOT to say we shouldn't be doing something about the problem to be clear...

Neinsense99
1.6 / 5 (7) Oct 24, 2013
Oh look. A prediction that none of us will be alive to actually see. So when this prediction becomes bullshit in 2100, I wonder who's going to remember the bullshit spouted throughout the early 21st century. Of course. By 2100, the politicians and carbon credit companies will have made their money so won't give a shit anyway.

You know we'll all be dead by then how? Planning something?