According to a new study by American scientists, by the end of the century, up to 95% of the Earth's water surface will change catastrophically if humanity does not take control of carbon emissions.
We are talking about changes in water temperature, acidity and concentration of the mineral aragonite, which many marine animals use to form bones and shells, writes Phys.org. All these factors are significant for the development of life in the seas, oceans and other water surfaces.
Experts have figured out the impact of carbon pollution on the ocean surface since the mid-18th century and predicted the impact of emissions up to 2100. To do this, they modeled the climate of the World Ocean for three time periods:
- the beginning of the 19th century (1795-1834);
- the end of the 20th century (1965-2004);
- the end of the 21st century (2065-2114).
The scientists then ran the models for two emission scenarios. The first, known as RCP4.5, envisions a peak in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, followed by a slow decline over the remainder of the century. The second scenario - RCP8.5 - is an approach where humanity will leave everything unchanged and emissions will continue to grow over the next 80 years.
So, in accordance with the first, that is, the favorable scenario of the two, 36% of the water surface will change catastrophically by 2100. In a scenario with high emissions, this figure rises to 95%.
Scientists have also found that while the world's oceans' surface climate has remained virtually unchanged over the 20th century, by 2100, up to 82% of the ocean's surface may be facing a climate not seen in recent history. These include hotter and acidic seas, which contain fewer minerals vital to the development of marine life.
Lead author of the study, Katie Lotterhoes of Northeastern University's Center for Marine Science, said changes in ocean composition due to carbon pollution would affect all aquatic life (and those who live near the surface of the water). “Already, many marine species have shifted their ranges in response to warming waters,” the expert noted.
Scientists say national governments need to keep an eye on future changes in the habits of sea surface species. In the coming decades, these changes will become more frequent, which cannot be overlooked.