Oceans at high risk of unprecedented Marine extinction scientists warn

A report issued last week from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) has strongly warned of the damage to the health of the world's oceans and marine life from several factors including the impacts of climate change. The report warned that if the current business as usual trajectory of damage continues "that the world's ocean is at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history."

Related: International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) | The Ocean in a high CO2 world | Frontline - World's oceans in crisis: What can be done?

The predominant three factors damaging the ocean are associated with human caused climate change: ocean warming, ocean acidification and anoxia (oxygen depleted dead zones). The three primary factors have been important factors in previous mass extinctions on the earth that have occurred in the past 100 million years. Added to these are the stressors of overfishing and pollution which undermine ocean resilience creating negative feedback of accelerating damage to marine ecosystems.

The impacts of climate change on the ocean have been documented since the 1970s, and if anything are accelerating.

The report comes out of a workshop convened of world experts on the ocean that met between 11-13 April 2011 at the University of Oxford. The Workshop was led by International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg , Director, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland outlined in Case study 2 (PDF) that coral reefs are facing major stress from overfishing and pollution and now ocean warming and acidification.

“It is very clear from the workshop that we are seeing an unprecedented rate of change in the world's oceans. This is being generated by climate change, population pressure and an increasing extraction of limited resources such as fisheries. The impacts on the ocean are becoming extremely serious. If we continue on our current pathway, many of the ecosystem services which humans depend on will disappear with extremely dire outcomes for people in every country of our planet. These changes will take thousands of years to reverse.“ Professor Hoegh­‐Guldberg said at the conclusion of his case study.

Key scientific points from the workshop included:

  • Human actions have resulted in warming and acidification of the oceans and are now causing increased hypoxia.
  • The speeds of many negative changes to the ocean are near to or are tracking the worst-case scenarios from IPCC and other predictions. Some are as predicted, but many are faster than anticipated, and many are still accelerating.
  • The magnitude of the cumulative impacts on the ocean is greater than previously understood
  • Timelines for action are shrinking
  • Resilience of the ocean to climate change impacts is severely compromised by the other stressors from human activities, including fisheries, pollution and habitat destruction.
  • Ecosystem collapse is occurring as a result of both current and emerging stressors
  • The extinction threat to marine species is rapidly increasing.

The workshop participants also suggested the following recommendations to both citizens and governments to undertake to change how humans manage, govern and protect the ocean:

  • Immediate reduction in CO2 emissions along with better management of coastal and marine carbon sinks
  • Urgent actions to restore the structure and function of marine ecosystems in both national waters and the high seas by:
    • reduce fishing to a sustainable level;
    • close unsustainable fisheries;
    • establish globally comprehensive marine protected areas to conserve biodiversity;
    • prevent, reduce and control toxic substances and nutrients into the marine environment;
    • avoid, reduce or stringently regulate oil, gas and mineral extraction
    • assess, monitor and control other uses of the marine environment through spatial planning and comprehensive impact assessment, such as on underwater cable and pipelines, marine based renewable energy.
  • Proper and universal implementation of the precautionary principle
  • Urgent introduction by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly of effective governance of the High Seas. The workshop put forward detailed proposals for a new Global Ocean Compliance Commission.

In several video explanations and case studies the scientists outline the dire state of the world's oceans, the rapid rate of change and impacts on the ocean and marine ecosystems.

Professor Charles Sheppard, Warwick University gives further perspective to the extinction threat facing coral reefs — and stresses that the knock-on effects are already being felt on land. He points out that about a third of reefs have died, and another third are in imminent danger of following suit. Coral reefs are being tipped beyond their resilience with acidification, ocean warming, pollution and overfishing.

Professor Jelle Bijma, Marine Biogeosciences, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. Watch his explanation, beginning with the growing problem of anoxia, or dead zones, in the ocean.

Chemical pollution in the oceans is now impacting marine life, reducing their resilience argues Professor Tom Hutchinson, Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS). Read his Case Study 3 (PDF) on Pollution and Marine Species: new challenges of an old problem.

Overfishing is examined in Case Study 4 (PDF) by Dr William Cheung, Lecturer in Marine Ecosystem Services, School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia. Up to 63% of assessed fish stocks are over-exploited or depleted according to a recent study, with over half requiring reductions in fishing for stocks to recover. He warns that the extinction threat for many species is increasing due to the multiple pressures on marine life. Reducing fishing is one way to build some species resilience to combat the multiple threats of pollution, climate change, habitat destruction and invasive species.

The speed of change is far greater than most scientists predicted even in worst case scenarios argues Professor Chris Reid, Marine Institute, University of Plymouth and Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science.

Watch the video presentations embedded at the IPSO website - Multiple ocean stresses threaten "globally significant" marine extinction

Background and Further Information:
My articles covering climate impacts on the oceans and marine diversity:


What oceans are warming? I hope you dont believe the rigged information that the Paid off scientists at the IPCC lay on us

The ocean is a huge heat sink and carbon sink.
But the cost of moderating global average atmospheric temperatures is that the oceans are warming and absorbing CO2 becoming more acidic.

I'd rather rely on CSIRO scientific research than your opinion.
“Following the review of millions of ocean measurements, predominantly from expendable instruments probing the upper 700 metres of the ocean, we were able to more accurately estimate upper-ocean warming, and the related thermal expansion and sea-level rise. We show that the rate of ocean warming from 1961 to 2003 is about 50 per cent larger than previously reported,” said CSIRO Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship scientist, Dr Catia Domingues, from the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research.., "The new estimates also more closely agree with the models used in the IPCC 2007 report."
CSIRO, June 18, 2008 - Ocean warming on the rise

A MESSY public quarrel between the CSIRO and one of its employees came to a dramatic conclusion yesterday, with the ecological economist Clive Spash resigning and calling for a Senate inquiry to examine claims of censorship at the science body.
Dr Spash yesterday lashed out at his former employer, saying it had treated him ''extremely poorly''. He said the organisation had gagged his views on emissions trading schemes.
The spat centres on a paper Dr Spash wrote, The Brave New World of Carbon Trading, which criticised cap and trade schemes, such as that proposed by the Rudd Government.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/scientist-quits-csiro-amid-censorship-...

Stephen McIntyre — discovered, there was a very curious omission in one of the CSIRO graphs. It showed the rise and rise of concentrations in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and its fellow greenhouse gas methane. It was an almost perfect replica of the infamous (Michael) Mann Hockey Stick. After being virtually stable for 900 years, concentrations of both CO2 and methane went almost vertical through the 20th century. But as the eagle-eyed Quirk noticed and wrote about on Quadrant Online, methane was plotted only up to 1990, while the plots for CO2 continued to 2000.Why so, when the CSIRO measures methane concentrations and has data up to last year?

Did the answer lie in the inconvenient truth that methane concentrations have plateaued since the mid-1990s? Yet here is the CSIRO, the organisation dedicated to scientific truth, pretending — even stating — that they’re still going up, Climategate style. This is bad enough, but just as with Treasury, real policies are built on this sort of “analysis”. The first version of the so-called carbon pollution reduction scheme included farming to address the methane question. But as Quirk has shown in a peer-reviewed paper, atmospheric methane is driven by a combination of volcanos, El Ninos and pipeline (mostly dodgy old Soviet) leakage.

A second curious, and even dodgier, thing happened after Quirk’s Quadrant report. CSIRO “updated” its main graph to include the more recent methane data. No admission was made and the graph’s scale made it all but invisible and did not show the plateauing. Further, the CSIRO published a more detailed second graph showing what has happened in the past 30 years, as opposed to the first graph’s 1000 years. But only for CO2, despite the fact that it had exactly the same data for methane.


Takver you would rather rely on the gagged CSIRO scientists would you?Takver you seem like a smart person can't you see what is going on?

Global warming to shorten ski season: CSIRO
Updated May 28, 2008 09:02:00

Scientists say Australian skiers should prepare for shorter ski seasons because of global warming.

A report published in the New Scientist magazine has found the average number of days of snow in the Swiss Alps is lower than ever before.

CSIRO climate change expert Dr Penny Whetton says Australia's mountain snow cover could be reduced by up to 54 per cent by 2020.

"The probability of any precipitation falling as snow rather than rain is going to decrease, and any snow lying on the ground is going to melt more quickly," she said.

"So the outcome of that is, there's going to be shorter snow seasons, not as much depth of snow on the ground, with that situation deteriorating further as we go through the century."

Lets check the CSIRO's prediction

Bumper ski season in Australia 2011

Ski season is a cracker but where are all the people?
It’s been a bumper ski season in Australia this year: one of the best snow falls in years.

Ski bunnies who have been to Falls Creek tell Ski The World that the skiing is truly wonderful. And good for the skiers and snowboarders, the runs are not crowded. Disappointing for the resort businesses who have been needing a great season for a while. Seems that many Australians are keeping their hands firmly in their pockets in these times of economic uncertainty.


Just as I thought the CSIRO are not looking good on their 2008 prediction of less snow for Australia

And yet not one of those 50 scientist quotes you used were relevant or contradicted the subject of this story: the wide impacts of climate change on the ocean environment as stated by marine scientists.

Read Dr John Everett's Quote Blind eye's

Dr John Everett: “It is time for a reality check. The oceans and coastal zones have been far warmer and colder than is projected in the present scenarios of climate change. I have reviewed the IPCC and more recent scientific literature and believe that there is not a problem with increased acidification, even up to the unlikely levels in the most-used IPCC scenarios.”

While I respect Dr John T Everett's past leadership roles in NOAA and contributions to the IPCC up to 2000 especially his Fisheries and climate change: The IPCC second assessment on impact on fisheries report (within his area of expertise), Dr John Everett's presentation on the impact of ocean acidification to the US Congress Committee in April 2010 was a minority view and contained a number of errors, misrepresentations and specious claims. You can read two scientific analysis of his presentation at Skeptical science and by Charlie Soeder in a 30 page booklet on CO2 Trouble: Ocean Acidification, Dr. Everett, and Congressional Science Standards (PDF)

Watch this 56:46 youtube video from the University of California Television. This is a lecture by marine chemist Dr Andrew Dickson from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego on Acidic Oceans: Why Should We Care?, uploaded to Youtube March 12, 2009. It goes into ocean Chemistry a bit, and how it has changed in the last two hundred years and the predictions and possible impacts in the future. The last ten minutes he talks about the Monaco Declaration before taking a few questions from the audience. Worthwhile watching.

Dickson is a marine chemist with academic expertise in ocean chemistry, CO2, and ocean acidification. (Dickson's bibliography) He is far more knowledgeable in this field than Dr Everett, whose academic expertise is in fisheries and ocean resources management. (Everett's Resume)

In 2008 155 marine scientists from 26 countries, who research and work in marine biology and marine chemistry, signed the Monarco declaration (PDF) which warned that: Ocean acidification is underway, Ocean acidification is accelerating and severe damages are imminent, and Ocean acidification will have socioeconomic impacts.

Read this scientific review - Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification (PDF) - published in Science in 2007 by 17 prominent climate and marine scientists

or this more recent scientific review in Science from 2010 by Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and John F. Bruno - The Impact of Climate Change on the World’s Marine Ecosystems (PDF).

While Everett has some expertise in ocean sciences, he does not have the academic expertise of Hoegh-Guldberg in coral reef ecosystems or AG Dickson in marine chemistry whose views on ocean acidification are supported by 155 international marine scientists and 50 Australian marine scientists.

Fantastic research Takver. I respect writing that is so thorough in reviewing the research for the main argument. Better to understand it in it's entirety than to glibly use isolated quotes that may or may not represent the views of the researcher quoted.