While many people talk about global warming and its effects on the overall planet, what some do not realize is that the oceans play a big role in the issue. This is because the oceans are designed to absorb much of the heat that is put out into the atmosphere. But did you know that the oceans are heating up at a faster rate than ever before?
The rising temperatures in the oceans have become a major concern for scientists who have been watching this for many years. The greatest concerns have been the effect this ocean warming has or will have on marine life as well as the overall climate for the Earth.
To discover the effects of ocean warming on the planet, you first have to understand what it is and what is causing it. Keep reading to learn more about ocean warming and its effects on the weather and marine life.
What is Ocean Warming?
Since the Earth is about 70% covered by oceans, it is easy to see why they play an important role in regulating climate and mitigating the effects of global warming. Because of the rise in various greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide, the oceans are heating up at an alarming rate.
Most of this warming, which is caused by the use of fossil fuels and other emissions released into the atmosphere, is happening at the surface levels of the ocean. Unfortunately, this is where much of the marine life happens to live.
When the emissions are released into the atmosphere, much of the carbon dioxide is comes back to settle into the oceans. This occurrence is what is causing ocean temperatures to rise at such a steady rate.
The rise in the ocean’s temperatures has been tracked by scientists for many years in a variety of different ways. From their research, they have uncovered that the ocean waters have taken in almost all of the extra heat that has been in the atmosphere because of excess emissions.
The biggest problem with this phenomenon is that although the ocean and water, in general, can take in more heat than land and air, it still has their limits. Because of this, the result could mean that the heat cycles back into the atmosphere causing the climate to change.
Why is Ocean Warming a Concern?
There are many concerns that scientists have when it comes to ocean warming, even though the temperature change itself seems small. The effect of even a small change in temperature can have catastrophic effects on life as most people know it today.
Much of the findings from researchers have discovered that many ecosystems could be, and some already are, disrupted by the rising temperatures in the oceans. Since most of this is occurring near the surface of the ocean currently, scientists have great concern.
Some areas that could be affected by ocean warming include marine and plant life, sea levels, weather outcomes, as well as the overall makeup of the ocean itself. As the ocean heats up, more changes could be on the horizon.
When it comes to the rise in temperature in the ocean, scientists have a concern about thermal expansion which causes the sea level to rise. This happens most likely because the increased temperature causes the ice sheets to melt which increases the level of the water.
Additionally, researchers have stated that when seawater is heated up, it causes the water to expand. This results in an additional increase in the level of seawater.
If this continues over time, coastal cities could find themselves underwater more and more, which could mean major changes for many people. While this is not an immediate threat, it is still causing concern for many researchers.
Additionally, one of the bigger concerns with ocean warming is that due to many reasons including the currents and areas where ice sheets are located and are melting, the rising heat is quite unevenly distributed. This means that there may be hot spots and cold spots in various parts of the ocean, which can result in various problems.
What Affect Does Ocean Warming Have on the Weather?
Ocean warming can also affect the weather, especially when it comes to more extreme weather conditions around the world. This means that as the ocean heats up, the possibility of increased weather conditions during extreme weather events will also become more severe.
Since the heating of the ocean has a direct effect on the water cycle system, this can cause more severe weather conditions such as heavier or more frequent rainfall. Hurricanes, already damaging storms, can occur more often and have a greater impact on the affected areas.
Because of the warming of the water in the oceans, the patterns in which the currents flow can become affected thereby creating more instances of instability which then, in turn, creates a greater chance of more frequent storms that can be catastrophic in nature.
As stated previously, when the ocean water rises in temperature, this causes a higher rate of evaporation which results in more moisture that sits in the atmosphere. Once this occurs, more precipitation gives rise to heavier rainstorms.
While areas near the ocean are affected by more chance of precipitation and greater storms, drier regions will experience longer periods of dry weather leading to drought-type conditions. This is because of the change to the water cycle that causes more moisture in wet areas.
It is easy to see that when one thing is affected, everything else is affected in some way or another. While it is due specifically to ocean warming, the truth is that since the ocean is not warming in an even pattern, this can wreak havoc on various ecosystems that currently exist.
Overall, if the ocean temperatures continue to rise, scientists predict that the world will continue to see many changes in weather and climate patterns that it has never seen before. This could result in many catastrophic events around the world.
What Affect Does Ocean Warming Have on Marine Life?
Unfortunately, the warming of the ocean not only affects the weather and climate patterns around the world, but also the marine and plant life that lives beneath the surface. This is because, with the warming, many species of animals living in the ocean are having a hard time adapting to the change.
The biggest three problems that exist for marine life due to the rising temperatures are ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and marine heatwaves. These three things are responsible for directly endangering not only the species population but also the food supplies of many economies around the world.
Ocean acidification happens when carbon dioxide emissions from man-created sources are released into the atmosphere, most of this settles into the oceans around the world. This results in changes to the pH levels within the ocean caused by carbonic acid.
This process results in the overall makeup of the ocean’s chemistry becoming altered in a way that some marine organisms cannot adapt to. The organisms that are affected the most are the ones that other sea creatures feed on, thus disrupting the food chain of the ecosystem.
If this ocean acidification continues to occur, the problem with the food chain will become much worse and will be at risk of possibly cutting off food supplies and incomes for many people in various locations around the world.
Coral bleaching occurs when temperatures in the ocean rise even just a small amount, which causes the entire process of the algae which gives the coral its color, to be rejected. When this happens, the coral loses its color which can affect the rest of the process and ecosystem that is dependent on it.
In most cases, even prior to the ocean warming crisis, this is something that occasionally happens, however, it is recovered within a few weeks which can return the ecosystem to normal. However, if the warm temperatures stick around, this can wreak havoc and most likely result in the death of the coral.
If ocean warming continues, this could be extremely detrimental to the coral population around the world. Species that feed and rely on this ecosystem for their survival could also be massively affected.
Marine heatwaves are another concern of scientists and oceanographers who have been keeping an eye on the issue of ocean warming. These heatwaves occur when high temperatures occur and stay in an area for a long period of time. The result of these long heatwaves causes marine life such as fish to look for other areas of the ocean.
When fish and other marine life start seeking out new areas of the ocean to live, this affects the ecosystem and economies where they were before. If fishermen who rely on daily catches can no longer bring in what they need, they will not be able to survive. This begins a domino effect that could affect many people.
Although a fairly recent area that has gotten more attention as of lately, marine heatwaves are expected to be experienced more and more often as time goes by. This is because the rate at which the oceans are warming will continue to create more heatwaves across the world.
How Can Scientists Help with Ocean Warming?
Although scientists for many decades have been measuring the heat of the ocean in various ways, more technology has been developed to help this happen with more precision. This could explain why researchers have more information about what is happening in the ocean today.
Between various probes, robotic floats, and satellites, scientists have more data than they can compare to discover problem areas and to help identify what is happening with the oceans and their inhabitants. As more data is collected and understood, more technology will be developed to help with the studies.
Many groups of scientists have banded together to create projects that are focused on gaining additional knowledge about ocean warming so they can begin making some decisions about what needs to be done.
Although the data collected thus far has not been widespread enough to cause a lot of changes, some are coming about. Since more knowledge is being discovered about the causes of ocean warming, more and more people are attempting to make changes.
Scientists do believe that while making changes, especially with carbon emissions that are constantly being released into the atmosphere, the likelihood of the warming problem will not end overnight. It has taken decades or longer for the problem to become an issue as it has now, but it will take many years to reverse the damage.
As more of these research teams come together to create more proof and guidance, the more society as a whole can come together to find solutions to the continued problem.
Overall, ocean warming has become an issue that is not only affecting those who live in coastal cities but also citizens around the world. This is because of the butterfly effect that says that if something happens in one part of the world, it has an effect on other parts of the world.
This is especially true for ocean warming because the challenge is not only affecting people, but also marine life. This disruption, if it continues the way researchers expect, has the potential to obliterate certain species altogether, which in turn can change ecosystems that are dependent on them.
There are many things that will have to change in society if there is any hope of slowing down or even stopping the issue of ocean warming. Although some changes are beginning to occur, there are many more things that will have to be put in place before real change can begin.
Since research is still taking place to determine the long-term effects of this phenomenon, there are many things that scientists will need to learn before coming up with effective solutions. In the meantime, many environmentalists and scientists around the world are attempting to bring light to the situation of ocean warming and at least educate people on its effects.