The Earth, from space, looks peaceful,
but a closer look shows a very different
Photograph by John Stanmeyer/VII www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/images/www.inc.com
What is climate change?
Climate change refers to the long-term trend of
documented changes that have occurred over
hundreds and thousands of years.
Weather, however, is what we hear about on the
news, what is happening now.
• Our climate has always been variable.
• Glacial periods and warmer periods have
occurred throughout Earth’s history.
• This variability is natural and is caused by
• Global temperature change (between glacial and
interglacial periods) occurs normally at a rate of
0.05 – 0.005 C every 100yrs.
• In the last 50yrs the global average temperature
has increased by 0.5 degrees
• This is between 20 and 200 times the normal
rate, and it’s accelerating
Atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa Observatory
Increase in storm activity.
Increase in frequency and
dist. of hypoxic events.
Sea level rise
Water column stratification
OCEANCIRCULATION Climate change alters the mechanisms that impact
ocean circulation , like wind, rain, temperature, and
Stronger winds will propel
such a rapid and intense
upwelling of nutrients
that in turn, the
distribution of hypoxic
events will increase.
Fortunately…… corals can often make a complete
recovery if unfavorable conditions abate
quickly enough. Bleached corals have the
ability to recapture zooxanthellae that are
more tolerant of high temperatures.
The ocean has a better
chance of resiliency when
its systems are healthy.
We can help by reducing
the stressors that we can
control at a local level,
such as nutrient pollution
Coral reefs are particularly sensitive to ocean acidification; corals are
unable to form their skeletons as quickly as they used to and reefs
are starting to crumble and disappear. We may lose those
ecosystems within 20-30 years. In those structures live an estimated
million species; one in every four species in the ocean lives on a coral
reef. ~Ken Caldeira, Ph.D. – Carnegie Institute
o The absorption of sound in seawater changes with
the seawater’s chemistry.
o Changes in ocean acidity will affect how sound
o When the ocean absorbs less sound, the low
frequency background noises of military sonar,
shipping, and seismic exploration may interfere
with whales’ ability to communicate.
“We have two sea levels: the sea level of today, and
the far higher sea level that is already being locked in
for some distant tomorrow.” ~Ben Strauss, climatecentral.org
• The cities of Newtok,Alaska, and Kivalina,Alaska are
losing ground to the sea at a dangerous rate. Exile is
inevitable for its inhabitants. They will become the
first climate refugees of the U.S.
Greenland Melt Days
Earth gets warmer,
causing arctic ocean
Dark ocean reflects
less sunlight, absorbs
White sea ice melts,
exposing dark ocean
THE ALBEDO FEEDBACK LOOP
Warmer surface waters are less
dense and float on top of
denser, colder waters. The
boundary between warmer and
colder waters is called the
A reduction in upwelling and mixing can result in local or
widespread biomass loss and changes in species composition.
Coastal zones are
likely to be
by the higher
CO2 levels predicted
for the open ocean
in the future.
WHYTHE OCEAN MATTERS
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – OCEANS
WhyThe Ocean Matters
Through education about the
cultural and ecological heritage of
the Gulf Coast region that is at risk,
we can raise awareness and
understanding of global climate
change. This education must
include the fundamentals of
ecology and climate, and
what drives them to change.
“Ignorance of the things that we understand
we should know but do not leaves us vulnerable
to unintended consequences of our actions.”
U.S. Geological Survey
10 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO
PROTECT THE OCEAN
Make Safe, Sustainable Seafood Choices
What is important to you?
What do you want your ocean to look like?
More Information and Resources• Grist Climate Denier FAQ
•Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) http://www.ipcc.ch
•World Glacier Monitoring Service
•UCAR – University Corporation for
Atmospheric Research www2.ucar.edu
•Mission-blue.org (Sylvia Earle-HopeSpots)
•Center for Ocean Solutions
•Union of Concerned Scientists
•Monterey Bay Aquarium
•Nature Conservancy: Coral Reefs
•WoRMS – World Register of Marine Species
•Climate Interactive www.climateinteractive.org
•Center for Biological Diversity