No good news for oceans (part 1): questions

Click on the words or phrases in the article that answer these questions:

  1. What journal does the research appear in?
  2. How many humans might suffer?
  3. When might the effects take place?
  4. What kinds of experts did the research?
  5. What particular variable was required?
  6. How many possibilities did they consider?
  7. When was there much less carbon dioxide in the air?
  8. What will cause the higher rate of carbon dioxide?

We often hear about melting sea ice, rising tides and bleached coral reefs, but climate change is poised to reverberate through a broader swath of the marine environment than these headline issues alone might suggest.

According to a new study published in PLoS Biology, “the entire world’s ocean surface will be simultaneously impacted by varying intensities of ocean warming, acidification, oxygen depletion, or shortfalls in productivity.” As the ocean’s biogeochemistry shifts, the paper reports, so too will its habitats and the creatures living there. This could mean hardship for some 470 to 870 million people – many of whom live in poverty – who depend upon the bounty of the sea to support livelihoods and fill dinner plates. And these impacts are not predicted to occur centuries down the road, either: according to the study, they may transpire as soon as 2100.

Nearly 30 scientists from around the world – including climate modellers, ecologists, biogeochemists and social scientists – co-authored the study. They built upon computer models from the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change by compiling data from 31 Earth System Models that included at least one ocean parameter. All told, 27,000 years’ worth of data of the various overlapping, aggregated variables were compiled into their new model.

With those data compiled, they then modelled two different future scenarios: one in which atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increase to 550 parts per million, and another in which they hit 900 ppm (the planet currently stands at about 400 ppm, as compared to pre-industrial times, when that measurement was 280 ppm). The former model represents values predicted if mitigation efforts are undertaken, while the latter is predicted for a “business-as-usual” scenario where we maintain current levels of greenhouse gas emissions into the future.