The unpredictable changes in the climate is a concern to the overall health of the ocean and all of its species. Global warming causes many negative impact to the ocean such as destroying habitat of marine life and increasing water temperature.
In this article, there are 18 Impact of Global Warming on Marine Life. All of the various impacts threaten the marine life of the ocean up to a point where they may never be able to recover.
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1. Destructions from Worsening Storms
The scientists have predicted that due to global warming, storms will become worse to the point where there is going to be a high chance of even more devastating destructions. This prediction have been proven to be true in the form of recent storms such as hurricane Irma and typhoon Damrey. Strong storms can cause the ocean waves to destroy the coral reefs. They can also cause the death of many species by carrying them to land and stranding them to die.
2. Increasing Amount of Coral Bleaching
A huge concern on the impact of global warming is its effect on the health of corals. There have been many reports of corals bleaching at a faster rate than what was predicted before. Some are even declared to be dead. Corals are highly sensitive to the slight changes in the ocean temperature. They are easily stressed when the temperature turns high and eventually die. The lucky ones could recover but it will take years for that to happen.
3. Increasing Level of Ocean Acidity
The ocean is a large, natural system of circulating the heat of the world. It absorbs a huge amount of carbon dioxide in the air. But, it is overwhelmed by the carbon dioxide that it takes. As a result, the ocean becomes more and more acidic. Once the ocean is too acid, many marine creatures will find it hard to breathe since all the oxygen are gone. Creatures with hard shells like lobsters and crabs will no longer be able to build their shells due to calcium carbonate being dissolved.
Also read: Characteristics of an Ocean Ridge
4. Depleted Growth of Phytoplankton
Phytoplankton is an important plants that thrive in the surface of the ocean. Many marine creatures consume this phytoplankton as their diet. Phytoplankton continues to grow through photosynthesis. However, since global warming warms up the ocean, phytoplankton will find it hard to survive. It might even be completely wiped out. This plant thrives better at cooler temperature.
5. Destroyed Algae
Algae is also an important plant to the marine life just like the phytoplankton. Algae serves as food for many marine creatures. It carries out photosynthesis so it could grow in the ocean. But the warm temperature of the ocean makes it difficult for nutrients to travel up the shallow parts of the ocean. Thus, the algae cannot grow in a healthy way. Some algae have even been reported to have completely disappeared.
6. Disturbed Migration
The increase in most oceans temperature because of global warming affect the migration movement of many marine species. The marine species that cannot withstand the warmer ocean will migrate to new oceans with cooler waters. These species include flounders and clams. The disturbed migration will cause a change in the food chain. If the species still find it hard to adapt in the new ocean waters, then they will eventually die.
7. Altered Marine Life Reproduction
There is another negative effect of the temperature rise in the ocean. It can affect the way some marine lives carry out their reproduction schedule. The temperature of the ocean is an important factor on giving the signal to carry out reproduction. If the signal gets mixed up then there could be less chance for successful breeding.
8. Destroyed Ideal Condition for Habitat
As the world continues to heat up, the ocean becomes a vulnerable habitat for marine species. The warm condition destroys the ideal condition for marine habitat. Many move away from their habitat and search elsewhere for a new one. An example of this are the penguins who live in the Antarctic. They are always in search for a new place where they can flourish because the ice keeps melting away.
9. Disrupted Vertical Mixing
Vertical mixing is when the surface water becomes heavier and denser that they move down. In exchange, the water below flow up to the surface. This process is important for the health of the ocean. Vertical mixing helps to bring up nutrients from the deeper parts of the ocean to the surface.
The mixing also helps in carrying oxygen accumulated from the surface to the deep parts of the ocean. When the temperature gets warmer and warmer, the vertical mixing gets disrupted. This highly reduce the distribution of nutrients and oxygen.
10. Rising Sea Level
Due to global warming, there is a significant rise on the level of sea each year. It is estimated that within 100 years, the sea level would rise by 69 centimetres. The cause of this rise is the continuous melting of ice and glaciers. The rising sea level will impact the amount of sunlight that can reach different species and algae. These species need sunlight to carry out photosynthesis. Without photosynthesis, they will die.
Also read: Types of Ocean Storms
11. Appearance of Disease
More marine diseases are starting to appear as the pH and salinity level of the ocean water are altered. There has been an increase of epizootic shell disease that can highly kills lobsters. The disease makes it hard for lobster to shed its shell in order to grow. Another disease often kills the starfish or seastars in the waters around Mexico.
Read more: Facts About Starfish
12. Drowning Wetlands
Wetlands are valuable habitat for many birds as well as for many species of fish. Unfortunately, a lot of wetlands are experiencing the effect of increasing ocean level from the worsening global warming. The more water there is in the wetlands, the more difficult it is for them to gain sunlight in order to photosynthesise.
13. Reduced Number of Phytoplankton
There is growing numbers of zooplankton due to the increase in temperature. The phytoplankton does not grow as fast and as much. As a result, the zooplankton consume more and more phytoplankton. A huge reduction of phytoplankton means less food for marine creatures. It also means less absorption of carbon dioxide.
14. Nesting Failure
The sea turtles are already endangered creatures of the ocean and global warming threatens their existence. The ocean water is not the only thing that’s getting hotter. Sands on beaches and shorelines are also receiving more heat than usual. The sands increase the chance of nesting failure for the sea turtles. It also mess up the sex ratios since heat would mean more female baby sea turtles more than the male ones.
15. Reducing Marine Diet
Many marine species are becoming endangered creatures due to global warming. This can heavily impact the food web because it means that there is a reduction in the marine diet of certain animals. An example of this is the endangered population of seals. Seals are very good source of diet for polar bears. However, the polar bears might no longer be able to eat a lot of seals because their numbers are getting lower. The polar bears will have to find other food sources to compensate for the seals.
Also read: Types of Sea Lions
16. Species Extinction
Species extinction is an unavoidable impact as the condition of the world continues to get worse. When the marine species’ food webs and habitats are disturbed, they might find it difficult or even impossible to quickly adapt. Deep ocean creatures which are already so rare can eventually become extinct. Those creatures will find it harder to find food source that have been keeping them alive for so long.
17. Negative Change in Marine Biodiversity
Global warming has caused many marine species to go somewhere else that can keep them alive. This wide distribution introduces a lot of new marine species into different regions. This marine biodiversity may sound like a good thing but it’s not. The native species of the region will become threatened by the newcomers. The invasive species could attack the native ones and cause death.
18. Death of Polar Bears
There is not a lot of polar bears left in the world. There are increasing reports of polar bears losing weight because they are unable to find food. Some of those bears eventually die from starvation. Another threat to the polar bears is the rising sea water. Even though polar bears can swim to find their food source, the vast amount of water may cause them exhaustion. The tiredness from swimming will cause them to drown when they can’t even find any ice surface to rest on.
Global warming is a serious condition that could alter the the whole ecosystem of the ocean. The many species of marine life are at huge risk of becoming extinct. The unpredictability of global warming makes for an unpredictable future for the marine life.