A team of international scientists have conducted the first worldwide investigation of the impacts of climate change on life in the oceans. The study complements 28,586 similar observations carried out on land.
The study analysed 208 reports on marine life and fisheries, covering 857 different marine species or groups from around the world for changes in their normal distribution, abundance, breeding cycles, community composition, shell formation and age structure. It is the biggest marine study of its kind so far and fills an important blank in understanding of global change.
Marine species – including fish, shellfish, crustaceans, plankton, mangroves and seagrasses – are now shifting the areas they inhabit at an average rate of 72 kilometres per decade as a result of one degree of planetary warming.
In fact, some marine species have moved as much as 470kms in the past decade according to the journal “Nature Climate Change”. Compare this with the movement of land species which is only an average of 6km in a decade and it becomes very clear – we need to look after our oceans.
Did you know?
The ocean regulates our climate by absorbing carbon dioxide, and it supports the greatest abundance of life on earth.
In economy terms, the ocean is worth an estimated $31 trillion dollars
An Australian scientists and co-author of the study, Professor John Pandolfi explains, “The results were quite a shock. We found that changes in sea life attributable to a one degree increase in the Earth’s overall temperature appear much greater than those seen in life on land so far.”
“When you see changes as large as these, life generally has three options – migration, adaptation or extinction. In the case of migration and extinction, these can directly affect industries like fishing and tourism which depend on local sea life,” he explains.
What can you do to help from home?
Check these tips from 1MW ambassador Laura Wells, on the ways we can help the ocean from miles away.
Don’t forget to head over to our website! We are daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers getting on with practical climate action to live better for us and the planet. Join the movement at www.1millionwomen.com.au