Tag Archives: marine life

The Impacts of Climate Change on the Global Ocean

 

The global ocean covers about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and acts as its primary reservoir of heat and carbon, absorbing over 90 percent of the surplus heat and about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) associated with human activities, and receiving close to 100 percent of fresh water lost from land ice.

With the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, notably CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, the Earth’s climate and its oceans are now changing more rapidly than at any time since the advent of human societies. Society will increasingly face complex decisions about how to mitigate  adverse impacts of climate change such as sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and species loss. Our publications explore the science, policies, and infrastructure needed to understand, manage, and conserve coastal and marine environments and resources.

 

Understanding the Long-Term Evolution of the Coupled Natural-Human Coastal System: The Future of the U.S. Gulf Coast

The U.S. Gulf Coast provides a valuable setting to study deeply connected natural and human interactions and feedbacks that have led to a complex, interconnected coastal system. The physical landscape in the region has changed significantly due to broad-scale, long-term processes such as coastal …

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Approaches to Understanding the Cumulative Effects of Stressors on Marine Mammals

Marine mammals face a large array of stressors, including loss of habitat, chemical and noise pollution, and bycatch in fishing, which alone kills hundreds of thousands of marine mammals per year globally. To discern the factors contributing to population trends, scientists must consider the …

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Marine Protected Areas: Tools for Sustaining Ocean Ecosystems

Although the ocean-and the resources within-seem limitless, there is clear evidence that human impacts such as overfishing, habitat destruction, and pollution disrupt marine ecosystems and threaten the long-term productivity of the seas. Declining yields in many fisheries and decay of treasured …

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A Research Review of Interventions to Increase the Persistence and Resilience of Coral Reefs

Coral reef declines have been recorded for all major tropical ocean basins since the 1980s, averaging approximately 30-50% reductions in reef cover globally. These losses are a result of numerous problems, including habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing, disease, and climate change. …

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A Decision Framework for Interventions to Increase the Persistence and Resilience of Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are critical to ocean and human life because they provide food, living area, storm protection, tourism income, and more. However, human-induced stressors, such as overfishing, sediment, pollution, and habitat destruction have threatened ocean ecosystems globally for decades. In the …

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Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth’s Climate

The ocean is an integral component of the Earth’s climate system. It covers about 70% of the Earth’s surface and acts as its primary reservoir of heat and carbon, absorbing over 90% of the surplus heat and about 30% of the carbon dioxide associated with human activities, and receiving close …

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Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico

Gulf Coast communities and natural resources suffered extensive direct and indirect damage as a result of the largest accidental oil spill in US history, referred to as the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. Notably, natural resources affected by this major spill include wetlands, coastal …

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Responding to Oil Spills in the U.S. Arctic Marine Environment

U.S. Arctic waters north of the Bering Strait and west of the Canadian border encompass a vast area that is usually ice covered for much of the year, but is increasingly experiencing longer periods and larger areas of open water due to climate change. Sparsely inhabited with a wide variety of …

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The Use of Dispersants in Marine Oil Spill Response

Whether the result of an oil well blowout, vessel collision or grounding, leaking pipeline, or other incident at sea, each marine oil spill will present unique circumstances and challenges. The oil type and properties, location, time of year, duration of spill, water depth, environmental …

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Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean

The ocean has absorbed a significant portion of all human-made carbon dioxide emissions. This benefits human society by moderating the rate of climate change, but also causes unprecedented changes to ocean chemistry. Carbon dioxide taken up by the ocean decreases the pH of the water and leads to a …

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Antarctic Sea Ice Variability in the Southern Ocean-Climate System: Proceedings of a Workshop

The sea ice surrounding Antarctica has increased in extent and concentration from the late 1970s, when satellite-based measurements began, until 2015. Although this increasing trend is modest, it is surprising given the overall warming of the global climate and the region. Indeed, climate …

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Critical Infrastructure for Ocean Research and Societal Needs in 2030

The United States has jurisdiction over 3.4 million square miles of ocean in its exclusive economic zone, a size exceeding the combined land area of the 50 states. This expansive marine area represents a prime national domain for activities such as maritime transportation, national security, …

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Future Science Opportunities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean

Antarctica and the surrounding Southern Ocean remains one of the world’s last frontiers. Covering nearly 14 million km² (an area approximately 1.4 times the size of the United States), Antarctica is the coldest, driest, highest, and windiest continent on Earth. While it is challenging to …

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A Strategic Vision for NSF Investments in Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research

Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientific research has produced a wide array of important and exciting scientific advances. Spanning oceanography to tectonics, microbiology to astrophysics, the extreme Antarctic environment provides unique opportunities to expand our knowledge about how our planet …

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Understanding the Connections Between Coastal Waters and Ocean Ecosystem Services and Human Health: Workshop Summary

Understanding the Connections Between Coastal Waters and Ocean Ecosystem Services and Human Health discusses the connection of ecosystem services and human health. This report looks at the state of the science of the role of oceans in ensuring human health and identifies gaps and …

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Innovations in Interventions to Save Coral Reefs

Did you know that corals are animals, not plants? Coral reefs are beautiful, diverse, and essential to ocean and land life. However, these species are dependent on the stability of an increasingly unstable environment. Ocean life is vulnerable to destructive rises in ocean temperature, acidity, and sea level. This vibrant species now faces bleaching events, hindered growth, and a decreasing rate of calcification, in addition to persistent stressors that have threatened coral reefs for decades, such as overfishing and pollution. Climate change compounds these preexisting challenges. It is more important now than ever to reevaluate actions to protect our extraordinary and unique coral reefs before it is too late.

The National Academies recently released two reports that, in conjunction, describe, review, and contextualize different approaches to coral protection. A Research Review of Interventions to Increase the Persistence and Resilience of Coral Reefs (2019) explores and assesses 23 different interventions, ranging from genetic, ecological, and environmental approaches. Our latest report, A Decision Framework for Interventions to Increase the Persistence and Resilience of Coral Reefs (2019), builds upon our previous examination of coral reef interventions. It elaborates on the specific uses of different interventions, responding to questions regarding how, when, and where to use particular interventions for local reefs. These reports offer critical resources for coral managers and communities as they evaluate their specific needs and adapt a localized plan for the future. Both are free to download.

A Research Review of Interventions to Increase the Persistence and Resilience of Coral Reefs

Coral reef declines have been recorded for all major tropical ocean basins since the 1980s, averaging approximately 30-50% reductions in reef cover globally. These losses are a result of numerous problems, including habitat destruction, …

[more]

A Decision Framework for Interventions to Increase the Persistence and Resilience of Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are critical to ocean and human life because they provide food, living area, storm protection, tourism income, and more. However, human-induced stressors, such as overfishing, sediment, pollution, and habitat destruction have …

[more]