How does climate change affect the oceans?

The aggressiveness of the consequences of global warming also hits the oceans, where the increase in temperature could end marine life as we know it today.

The origin of the problem

The problem of global warming, caused by the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, is also affecting the seas and oceans. Changes in temperature cause alterations in meteorological systems, in ecosystems, in animal behavior and in the disappearance of many species.

The warming of the waters, together with that of the terrestrial temperature, entails thawing the poles and increasing the level of the sea . This means that many species are losing their habitats and are heading for extinction, as is the case with polar bears or seals. Another consequence is the alteration of the general patterns of migration , which lead the poles to those species that require a colder temperature for their survival.However, living beings accustomed to warm climates die , because they do not get their adaptation mechanisms to develop at the same speed at which the degrees rise. In turn, the warming of the surface of seas and oceans also modifies the global meteorological system , facilitating the formation of strong storms and large waves that cause incalculable damage.

The disappearance of the species

Polyps, colloquially called corals, are animal species that live in symbiosis with algae. Its growth in groups gives rise to the reefs, where a large part of the marine ecosystems are developed .

Some of the coral reefs on Earth began to form more than 50 million years ago , so this species has survived the numerous climate changes that the planet has experienced.However, can it survive the human species?

By living in symbiosis with algae, any problem that affects them will also cause negative consequences in corals. If the algae disappear, the polyps will stop receiving most of their nutrients and will die too. By estimating their importance, almost 25% of existing marine creatures live in ecosystems established on coral reefs .

If corals die, the habitat of 25% of sea creatures disappears. These creatures, in turn, are foods of other majors, reason why, when disappearing first, the alimentary chain is broken that includes to us like predators.

It is evident then, that the disappearance of the corals would entail the disappearance of many other species and would imply a change in the seabed as we know it today. This would be the worst of the consequences.

According to scientists, it is estimated that by 2050 almost 90% of the ecosystems established in reefs could be extinct.

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The meteorological changes

The warming of the seas and oceans directly affects the melting of the poles. This means that the levels of salt water increase greatly, causing the flooding of land areas and the contamination of aquifers, wells and freshwater rivers. In addition, it must be taken into account that the higher the sea surface temperature, the more easily storms and torrential rains will form . These precipitations have been deeply aggravated in recent years, highlighting the terrible floods, material and even human losses.

As if these meteorological consequences were not enough, according to a recent study by the University of Cantabria, wind patterns are also affected by the warming of the seas.The wave energy , contained in the waves transmitted from the wind, would be enhanced by the high temperatures of the water and would cause a more powerful and habitual wave in the oceans.

“The waves are a new indicator for global climate change, as was already the case with rising sea levels, rising temperatures or the concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases,” says Borja Reguero, one of the researchers who developed the study.

Other consequences

In addition to environmental changes, the restructuring of ecosystems and the disappearance of species; another consequence is the proliferation of invasive species and marine diseases. In the same way that some animals migrate to colder areas, heat attracts foreign species or bacteria, such as jellyfish. This fact is a reality in coasts like the one of the Mediterranean Sea, where the pests force to close beaches in summer time.

It must be borne in mind that the changes in maritime temperature will also determine a change in ocean currents, altering even more if possible, the migratory processes.

The reality of the situation

It is undeniable that the consequences of climate change are taking their toll. The average temperature of the planet has risen over the past century by 0.6 ° C, and although in the oceans it is somewhat lower, 0.1 ° C, it is estimated that by 2050 it can reach 1.5 ° C.

The ocean acts as a filter or cushion for the effects of climate change, trapping 30% of carbon dioxide and 80% of the heat generated by greenhouse gases. This produces atmospheric relief, but severely impairs the seas, which experience an increase in temperature. The warming affects from the surface to a depth of about 700 meters, where most of the marine flora and fauna live.

In addition, it is worth mentioning the acidification of seawater due to the absorption of environmental carbon dioxide. The PH of the oceans is changing, at frenetic and uncontrollable rates.

By establishing a social conscience, involving everyone in the problem that our oceans also face, we should be able to carry out all the changes requested by the experts.Although we can not reverse the consequences, they can be reduced and we must anticipate when the point of no return occurs.