How climate change affects the oceans

Last edited 11 January 2007 at 4:45pm -

The oceans and their inhabitants will be irreversibly affected by the impacts of climate change, which include higher sea temperatures, rising sea levels, and changing currents.

The sea temperature has already increased and it will continue to rise. Scientists are beginning to predict that the world's coral reefs, which are showing signs of bleaching, have no chance of surviving the change.

The temperature rises are impacting on the entire marine food web. For example, phytoplankton, which feeds small crustaceans including krill, grow under sea ice. A reduction in sea ice implies a reduction in krill - and krill feeds many whale species, including the great whales.

Whales and dolphins strand themselves in high temperatures. The great whales also risk losing their feeding grounds, in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, because of the melting and collapse of ice shelves.

Whole species of marine animals and fish are at risk due to the temperature rise because they simply cannot survive in warmer waters, and an increasing occurance of disease in marine species is also linked to rising ocean temperatures.

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