AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: ocean warming

Climate Change Threatens Drastic Changes to the Food Chain

     Climate change has been an ongoing issue for several decades now, yet there seems to be little improvement and far worse consequences than we could have ever imagined. Aside from the devastating impacts global warming has had on our atmosphere, it has also threatened wildlife that rely on certain habitats and prey for survival. The most crucial changes that have occured are regarding the ocean. Ocean warming specifically has impacted marine environments and ice in the arctic that many animals rely on for breeding and raising their young. This has subsequently transformed the food chain.

     A recent study at Princeton University gives a “specific timeframe for when ocean changes will occur” as a result of atmospheric carbon dioxide due to human activity. The ocean has helped slow global warming because of its ability to absorb heat and carbon from the atmosphere, but we can now see the harmful effects from this, namely ocean warming, and how it will continue to increase in the future. The warming of the oceans has a major impact on the food chain because it causes species to either die out, look for more favorable environments, or look for another food source. Through this recent study, scientists were able to isolate the direct impacts of global warming on the oceans from the more natural changes. Scientists used the Earth System Model which has an interactive carbon cycle to see changes that are likely to occur in the future if ocean warming is not prioritized right now. 


     However, these predicted changes in the oceans have already been affecting marine life starting from the smallest organisms to gray whales. All of these species are a part of the food chain and suffer as a result of changes in the ocean. When the ocean temperatures rise, the population of smaller prey decline and larger predators must search North for alternate food sources. It also causes the amount of arctic ice to become sparser, which affects the population of animals that use the ice to breed and raise their young, as seals do, or use as a tactic for hunting, as polar bears do.  The higher the ocean temperature rises, the more difficult it is for many species to survive. It is also important to note that rising ocean temperatures affect our atmosphere. As permafrost melts, it releases the 1,600 billion tonnes of carbon frozen within it. Similar to the food chain, global warming affects us all, and it is our duty to take action now. U.N. representatives stated that “if we act now, we can reduce carbon emissions within 12 years,” a goal we should all be striving for. 


Warming Up This World

      The article,Oceans Are Warming Even Faster Than Previously Thought” by the University of Berkley adds to the ongoing conversation about global warming and our world’s future. This research expands on the idea that scientists must look at ocean temperatures in order to fully understand this phenomenon instead of using data that is susceptible to yearly changes like El Nino. Evidently, it was estimated that ninety-three percent of excess solar energy is in the world’s oceans, thanks to greenhouse gases.

     Models like the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 state that the temperature of the top two thousand meters of the ocean will rise .78 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Thermal expansion, because of this rise in temperature, will cause sea levels to rise 12 inches without the addition of melting glaciers and ice sheets. In addition, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report accumulated that research models have shown that there has been a faster increase in the excess heat from the oceans. Moreover, around four thousand “diving robots” called Argo have been monitoring many of the oceans conditions like the temperature, pH, salinity as well as other data. Before this exciting new technology, most of the data was collected using a technology called expendable bathythermographs. However, this only collected data on water temperature only once. The updated research techniques use the atmosphere’s oxygen content to determine the speed of global warming while taking into consideration burning fossil fuels, of course. This is because warming oceans release oxygen.

     Overall, I believe the path that global warming scientists are beginning to explore is crucial to understand the necessary changes we must take to take care of planet earth. From this research, it is obvious that actions even as simple as recycling initiatives are crucial to reduce greenhouse gasses and hopefully prove the CMIP5 model and other models wrong by slowing down or even preventing global warming and climate change.

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