MBARI creates and globally scales the visionary technologies required to explore, map, and understand our changing ocean.
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MBARI is a non-profit oceanographic research center advancing marine science and engineering to understand our changing ocean.
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Climate change has serious, long-term, and far-reaching negative consequences for our ocean.
Burning fossil fuels, raising livestock, and clearing forests are just three examples of human activities that release billions of tons of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases into our atmosphere every year, making our planet warmer. The ocean has buffered us from the worst impacts of climate change—absorbing more than 25 percent of the excess CO2 and more than 90 percent of the excess heat. But these climate services come at a significant cost for marine ecosystems and result in harmful impacts including:
These and other negative impacts are documented and summarized in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate—released on September 25, 2019, in Monaco. It is the first IPCC report to focus specifically on the marine realm.
In order to protect the ocean and slow the impacts of climate change, the science indicates we need to take action on two fronts:
From the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate:
It is very likely that the ocean has taken up between 20 to 30 percent of total anthropogenic carbon since the 1980s.
The open ocean is losing oxygen overall with a very likely loss of 0.5 to 3.3 percent between 1970 and 2010 from the surface to depths of 1,000 meters. The oxygen minimum zones are likely expanding by 3 to 8 percent, most notably in tropical areas.
The ocean has taken up more than 90 percent of the excess heat in the climate system since 1970. The rate of ocean warming has more than doubled since 1993.
In many regions, declines in the abundance of fish and shellfish stocks due to direct and indirect effects of global warming have already reduced fisheries catches.
Nearly 50 percent of coastal wetlands have been lost over the 20th century since pre-industrial time, as a result of the combined effect of localized human pressures, sea level rise, warming and extreme climactic events. Nearly 50 percent of coastal wetlands have been lost over the 20th century since pre-industrial time, as a result of the combined effect of localized human pressures, sea level rise, warming and extreme climactic events.
Harmful algal blooms show range expansion and increased frequency in coastal areas since the 1980s in response to both climatic and non-climatic drivers. The observed trends are attributed partly to the effects of ocean warming, acidification, and loss oxygen as well as eutrophication and pollution.
The surface of Monterey Bay has warmed about 0.8°C (1.4°F) since 1930.
10 percent increase in acidity near the surface over the last 20 years.
The minimum oxygen zone is getting bigger.
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