Today marks the 43rd Earth Day and this year the focus is: Face of Climate Change. Since 71% of the earth is covered by the ocean – let’s take a quick look at what climate change is doing to our oceans.
Did you know the ocean absorbs a lot carbon dioxide? In fact the daily intake is approximately 22 million metric tons. If you guessed that this is creating a problem, you are correct. Often nicknamed “global warming’s evil twin,” ocean acidification is the changing of the pH balance of the ocean. The fundamental changes in seawater chemistry occurring throughout the world’s oceans is drawing more attention. An important case study on the effects of ocean acidification can be seen in the Pacific Northwest oyster hatcheries, which in the past few years had serious decline in production in an industry that accounts for more than $84 million of the West Coast shellfish industry and supports more than 3,000 jobs. Learn more about ocean acidification and how scientist and fisherman are working together to be able to keep the oyster industry running. Also read our past ocean watch essay on Ocean Acidification.
Climate change impacts have been identified as one of the greatest global threats to coral reef ecosystems. As temperatures rise on land, our sea temperatures also get warmer. Particularly in tropic zones this has caused coral bleaching to become an all to common occurrence. When water becomes too warm, corals will expel the algae living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white. When a coral bleaches, it is not dead, however they are under more stress and are subject to mortality. To learn more about coral reef’s in crisis, visit coralreefsystems.org and read our past Ocean Watch Essay, Assessing the Health of Coral Reefs.
What can you do?
While these problems can be daunting, an easy way to help reduce climate change is reducing your carbon footprint! Asses your carbon footprint and learn how you can help make a difference!