Regardless of what the current president says about global warming, there is cold hard facts that proves climate change is prevalent. The EPA has over forty data contributors from different government agencies that provide indicators of the cause and effects of climate change. These indicators effect the oceans in detrimental ways like thermal stress, (“stress in a body or structure due to inequalities of temperature”), and the warming of the oceans.
Green House Gasses
Green house gases such as carbon dioxide have contributed to the warming of the oceans and increased in the world sense the industrial era. From 1990-2010 gas emissions cause by humans have increased by 35%. Electricity generation is the worlds largest contribute of emissions followed by transportation. Climate forcing, which is a change in the earth’s energy balance that results in a warming (in this case) or a cooling effect on the climate. This warming affect heats up the ocean and leads to a negative result.
Increased green house gases cause something called the “green house effect“-when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from earth toward space, which results in warming of the oceans and melting glaciers. When the glaciers melt, it increases the sea level which adds to the ocean that is already expanding.
Tropical Storm Cycling
Tropical storms like hurricanes arise from heat energy that is obtained from the ocean. Because there is so much heat energy from the warming ocean, the past 20 years tropical storms have increased in the Carabbean, Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico. The intensity of the storm is related to the sea surface temperature specifically in the tropical Atlantic.
The figure above shows the Global Ocean Heat Content Pentadal, Atlantic, Indian,and Pacific oceans and the increase of Ocean content measured in the energy unit of Jules versus year. This long term trend shows that that the oceans have increases the heat energy sence 1955.
How is the warming ocean impacting the marine life?
One of the most vulnerable organism that is impacted is the coral. Higher temperatures cause coral bleaching, which results in disease, lack of nutrients and even death of the coral. The zooxanthellae’s enzyme systems are effected from rising temperatures which makes it hard to protect the coral from toxicity. Even an increase of 1-2 degrees Celsius can cause bleaching.
When the ocean temperature increases, this can cause a bottleneck in the food chain, which can result in an interruption in the marine food web. The higher the temperature, the higher the growth of zooplankton. Zooplankton reproduce faster then what they feed off of like phytoplankton and end up eating all of this plankton in an area. This reduces the amount of phytoplankton and can have a drastic effect on any organism that feeds off of them.
Rising sea levels are a result of the ocean expanding from warming. When the sea levels rise, they interrupt ecosystems and habitats of thousands of organisms such as sea turtles and seals. A rise in sea level results in coastal flooding, which has had an increase on the east coast of the United States on coastlines such as the Carolina’s, New Jersey, and Maryland. Floods are now 10 times more likely to happen then they were years ago. These floods are endangering species and ruining coastline habitats.
Other animals that are effected from the high temperatures of the ocean are polar bears, penguins, sea birds, fish and many more.
What can we do to stop rising temperatures?
One of the most effective things to do is to lower your carbon footprint. All the fossil fuels that are used day to day increase the carbon and green house gas percentage in the atmosphere. By lowering your usage of fossil fuels such as oil and gas can have a positive effect on saving the ocean. Some examples can be to lower the energy use that is used everyday. To do this a clothesline can be used instead of a dryer, electronics not in use should be unplugged from outlets, energy efficient lights should be replaced, and different forms of transportation such as riding a bike are ways to lower your footprint.
Preserving what marine life we have left obviously has a positive effect on the ocean. When taking a beach trip, being careful on what is living in the sand (ex. sea turtle eggs). If you are in the water, snorkeling and diving, being aware of what is around you and making sure not to touch any marine life and disrupt habitats. If you are out in the ocean in a boat, making sure the area is clear of animals to prevent hurting them. And of course do not over fish!
Also check out Haley Zanga’s blog for more information on global warming! https://haleyzanga.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/is-global-warming-real/