The report, titled Explaining ocean warming: Causes, scale, effects and consequences, describes the phenomenon as 'one of the greatest hidden challenges of our generation'. The analysis report has been compiled by 80 scientists from 12 countries.
According to this scientific review, fundamental changes to the ocean's chemistry, physics and the wealth of life it supports are already evident with human food security and health under threat along with dangers from more extreme weather events and reduced crop yields. 'Ocean Risk' describes the potential impacts these changes may have on businesses, society and ecosystems around the globe.
The report also identifies other changes to ocean health including acidification and de-oxygenation which will impact every level of marine life from the smallest plankton to mammals.
These impacts include:
- Coastal communities at greater risk of inundation from storm surges, more intense tropical storms and rising sea levels.
- Compromised food security from shifting fish populations and depleted fish stocks. Harvests from marine fisheries in
South-East Asiaare expected to fall by between 10% and 30% by 2050 relative to 1970-2000, as the distributions of fish species shift, under a high 'business as usual' greenhouse gas emission scenario
- Reduced crop yields in key regions will be affected, including
North Americaand the Indian sub-Continent, from increased rainfall in mid-latitudes and more drought patterns in sub-tropical zones.
- Human health is endangered from the spread of viruses, diseases and pathogens in the warmer ocean and passed to humans directly or through the food chain. These include the bacteria causing cholera and the neurological disease ciguatera.
- The cost of ocean change is steadily rising. All negative impacts will have a cost. As an example, the loss to tourism from recent widespread coral bleaching is calculated to be
$23 billion. The cost by 2100 of losing coral reefs could amount to $1 trillionper year.
Amongst the recommendations highlighted in the report is a call to prioritise closing the gaps in scientific knowledge about the impacts of ocean warming which are evident, prevalent and expected to alter our way of life. Amongst the recommended actions to be taken is a continued cut in greenhouse gas emissions and a move away from attempts to protect biodiversity to a more active management and even restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems.
XL Catlin has been involved in supporting scientists' work on ocean change since 2009. It invested in research expeditions to the
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SOURCE XL Catlin