Climate change and it's detrimental effect on our oceans
Climate change is one of the most significant challenges of our time, and its effects on the environment can be devastating. A main area in which we are seeing significant change is in our ocean, effecting the marine life that calls it home. As the ocean absorbs heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide, it's chemical environment changes, damaging our sea life. As the world continues to warm, the effects of climate change are becoming more apparent, and it is essential that we take action to protect our seas and the creatures that inhabit them.
What is climate change?
The main cause for this is the increasing release of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, into the earths atmosphere. This is mostly a result of human activities such as burning fossil fuels, agriculture and deforestation. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, raising Earth's temperature and effecting climate patterns. This change in climate patterns (climate change) has a range of impacts, including rising sea levels, severe weather conditions, often causing hurricanes and droughts, and changes in ecosystems, affecting food and water availability. The impacts of climate change are expected to worsen if action is not taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, causing controversy and becoming a global issue.
What is happening to our oceans?
The effect of rising ocean temperatures on marine life is profound, and the impact is not limited to only a few species. Many marine creatures, from tiny plankton to huge whales, are affected by the rising temperatures of the oceans. As the waters warm, species are forced to migrate in search for cooler waters, which can be problematic for those unable to travel long distances. Additionally, the movement of species can also disrupt the balance of the ocean ecosystem, potentially leading to the extinction of some species and the overpopulation of others.
Firstly, climate change is causing a rise in sea levels. As the earth's temperature increases, polar ice caps begin to melt, and glaciers start to shrink. This process leads to an increase in sea level, which has a significant impact on sea life. In some cases, the rising sea level can cause severe flooding, which can displace animals from their natural habitats. Additionally, the freshwater expelled into the ocean as a result of melting ice caps, can reduce the sea's saltiness which affects currents, this is developed on below.
A species significantly impacted by climate change are sea turtles. The rising temperatures of the water affects the sex of turtle hatchlings, leading to the birth of more females in comparison to males. This adjustment can cause a decline in sea turtle population as having a greater number of females makes it harder to find male mates to breed with. Additionally, these rising sea temperatures also impact the turtles nesting habits, once again contributing to a population decline.
Coral reefs are a vital aspects of marine life that are being impacted by climate change. Coral reefs are home to countless species of fish and other sea creatures, and are essential for protecting coastlines from storms and erosion. However, rising ocean temperatures cause coral bleaching, leading to the death of the coral. This not only impacts the coral, but it also affects the entire ecosystem that relies on the coral reef. The loss of coral reefs could have devastating consequences for the world's oceans and the creatures that inhabit them.
In addition to the direct effects of climate change, there are also indirect effects that impact sea life. As the ocean warms, it becomes more acidic (acidification), which makes it difficult for creatures that rely on shells or exoskeletons to survive. This is because the acidity of the water causes their shells to dissolve, making them more vulnerable to predators and other threats. This can impact a wide range of species, from small mollusks to larger creatures like crabs and lobsters.
Climate change is also impacting the food sources of many marine species. Changes in ocean temperatures and currents leads to changes in the distribution and abundance of certain species, which impacts the food sources of others. For example, if a certain species of fish is no longer found in a particular area due to changes in the ocean, then predators that rely on that fish as a source of food will also be impacted.
When does this stop?
As previously mentioned, the impact of climate change on sea life is not limited to just a few species or areas of the ocean. It is a global issue that is impacting marine life across the planet. It is essential that we take action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and limit the warming of the planet. This can be done in a variety of ways, including reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, increasing the use of renewable energy sources, and promoting sustainable practices in agriculture and industry.
We must also take steps to protect and preserve the habitats of marine life. This can be done by establishing protected marine areas, reducing plastic pollution in the oceans, and promoting sustainable fishing practices. By taking these actions, we can help to ensure marine life can adapt to the changing conditions of our planet and continue to not only live but thrive.