Ocean acidification. (Photo Credit: UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme)
Critical state of world oceans' acidification, scientists alert
Friday, October 04, 2013, 00:20 (GMT + 9)
An international panel of marine researchers is demanding drastic measures to stop the growing global acidification of the oceans, which is far more serious than previously thought.
In the latest study published by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO)/IUCN, the scientists have brought to attention the serious problem of the world oceans' acidification and have stressed the need for urgent remedies to stop the oceans' imminent deterioration.
The group's findings, which were published in the scientific journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, are part of a continuous IPSO assessment in which experts from various marine disciplines have taken part.
The study found that the speed, rate and impacts of change in the world's oceans are faster, greater and more imminent than formerly considered.
What's more, the effects of the oceans' acidification are cumulative, the scientists warn.
Speaking about this issue, Professor Alex Rogers of Somerville College, Oxford and IPSO Director said: “The health of the ocean is spiraling downwards far more rapidly than we had thought. We are seeing greater change, happening faster, and the effects are more imminent than previously anticipated. The situation should be of the gravest concern to everyone, since everyone will be affected by changes in the ability of the ocean to support life on Earth.”
The study explains that the decrease of oxygen content in the oceans (caused by climate change and nitrogen carried by runoff), combined with rampant overfishing and other environmental contaminations, are weakening the oceans and reducing their ability to deal with the so-called ‘carbon perturbations’.
IUCN's Professor, Dan Laffoley, pointed out that: “What these latest reports make absolutely clear is that deferring action will increase costs in the future and lead to even greater, perhaps irreversible, losses. The UN climate report confirmed that the ocean is bearing the brunt of human-induced changes to our planet. These findings give us more cause for alarm – but also a roadmap for action. We must use it."
The report pleads for the international governments to urgently reduce the global CO2 as present targets for carbon emission reductions are ineffective as this has been dissolving in the ocean for decades. Other environmental disasters include methane release into the ocean originating from melting permafrost. All this put together means that acidification consequences are far worse than previously thought.
The scientific community is also urging the world to implement international community and ecosystem-based management in order to favour small-scale, artisan fisheries.
Finally, the researchers are asking for the implementation of an international agreement for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction under the auspices of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
IPSO's previous 2011 report brought the subject to the world's attention, since it warned of 'globally significant' extinction threats of several marine species, having since been cited in hearings at the United Nations, the European Parliament, the US Senate and the UK Parliament.
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By Gabriela Raffaele