As we struggle to curb global warming, we must also look at the ecological overshoot that threatens our most vulnerable ecosystems, such as those that host fish and birds, which are the main drivers of ocean acidification, according to a new study.
The findings, from the Carnegie Institution for Science (CIS) and the University of Bristol, suggest that the risk of overshoot for marine species could be reduced if we reduce CO2 emissions and improve ocean health.
“The results from this study show that while CO2-induced changes to ocean health are real, overshoot is a relatively rare problem,” said lead author and University of Bath research fellow Dr. Tim Moore.
“The problem of overshooting is one of the major drivers of the loss of fish and marine species to climate change.
We need to address the underlying drivers and work towards more efficient solutions.”
The paper, published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined a network of 13 marine species that depend on the ocean for food and habitat.
Researchers found that the majority of these species are on average 1.3 times more likely to be impacted by CO2 than they were a few decades ago, when global emissions were only about 1 percent of the global carbon cycle.
These species were also found to be at risk of extinction, as the carbon dioxide in the ocean can change the chemistry of the water and cause acidification.
This acidification results in the loss or alteration of species diversity, and it is a problem that affects all marine ecosystems, including marine mammals and fish.
“We find that the threat to species is greater than previously thought,” Moore said.
“Many species are already at risk from overshoot and the study shows that we need to reduce the impact of CO2 on these species.”
Moore’s research focuses on how CO2 and other greenhouse gases, such that CO2 can cause a change in the chemistry and physical properties of the ocean, could be harmful to marine organisms.
“Overshooting of the CO2 system is an urgent problem,” he said.
Moore said that many species are at risk because they rely on ocean currents to feed and migrate.
“If CO2 levels in the atmosphere exceed those of other marine ecosystems in the sea, fish and other marine species would die.”
“As these marine ecosystems change and CO2 increases, the effects of over-shoot will become more severe.””
The Carnegie Institution is the nation’s oldest and largest scientific society. “
As these marine ecosystems change and CO2 increases, the effects of over-shoot will become more severe.”
The Carnegie Institution is the nation’s oldest and largest scientific society.
It is the world’s largest scientific research organization, with more than 500,000 researchers and more than 100,000 publications in more than 40 languages.
It publishes the prestigious journal Science, the peer-reviewed journal Nature, and other leading scientific and technical publications.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation and environmental organization with more one million members and supporters around the world.
CBD is dedicated to the protection and future of Atlantic salmon, Atlantic cod, bluefin tuna, herring, seabirds, sea turtles, and much more.