Oceans play a very important role in moderating
climate change by helping in the regulation of both heat and carbon dioxide
levels. It is therefore very important to understand interrelationship between
the oceans and climate change so as to come up with better climate change policies.
The Oceans are vulnerable to adverse impacts from human emissions of greenhouse
gases. These impacts majorly include: air and water temperature changes, rise
in ocean water levels, increased levels of ocean acidification, coastal erosion
and seasonal shifts. Ocean acidification is brought about by rise in
atmospheric carbon and makes survival harder for planktonic organisms that
depend on calcium carbonate to form their shells.
The effects of acidification have been happening since
the start of the famous industrial revolution, where pH levels of the ocean has
dropped. This has led to coral bleaching where the organisms that help make up
the coral die (Buchheim, 1995).
It is important to note that it is from these unicellular organisms that the
coral feed from for proper nutrition. As a result, they are left so weak and
malnourished hence unable to offer protection and shelter to other marine
organisms. This poses a threat to the marine food chain and ecosystem.
Rise in ocean temperatures is another change of
concern because increased warming in the ocean enhances ocean stratification.
Ocean stratification hinders important processes such as photosynthesis and so
constraining primary production hence disrupting the marine food web. As the
ocean water warms, many species will be forced to migrate so they can maintain
the temperature conditions they need for feeding and reproduction. This affects
the people and industries that rely on the ocean for food and other natural
resources. The upwelling areas, for instance, provide some of the richest
fishing grounds. It is known that the coral reefs provide habitat for fish and
other protein-rich food sources for people as well as tourism attraction sites.
Ocean currents play an important role in the supply
of the necessary nutrients required to sustain lives in the marine ecosystem.
The currents result due to varying temperatures associated with the changing
latitudes. Slow currents means fewer nutrients are brought for ocean life
sustenance and this in a way alters the marine ecosystem. Slow ocean currents
also means that there is excess carbon stored in the ocean because there is no
enough fresh water brought in to
neutralize the excess carbon.
High concentration of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere leads to increased global temperatures. This results in thermal
expansion of ocean water as well as melting of ice sheets and so rise in sea levels
(Nicholls, R; et al. (2010)). It is therefore important to come up with
policies that have an upper hand in carbon dioxide reduction.
Observing the change in the heat content of the
ocean is important so as to understand how exactly the ocean is changing is
with global warming. A rise in sea level is a notable change in the oceans. Due
to global warming, glaciers and ice sheets are melted and water flows to oceans
adding to the amount of sea water (Titus,
1989). This in turn may lead to erosion of beaches, flooding or even
increased salinity of aquifers and estuaries. The increased salinity threatens aquatic
animals and plants that cannot tolerate high levels of salinity.
Buchheim, Jason “Coral
Reef Bleaching”, Odyssey Expeditions Tropical Marine Biology Voyages
Titus, James G.
(December 1989). “The Potential Effects of Global Climate Change on the United
J.; Cazenave, Anny (18 June 2010). “Sea Level Rise and Its
Impact on Coastal Zones”