High ocean temperatures lead to coral bleaching. Image: Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey / Richard Vevers
Greenhouse gas levels, ocean heat, ocean acidification and sea level rise all hit new records in 2021, according to a new report released by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
The report, examining the state of the global climate, found that previous records were smashed for four out of seven key climate indicators in 2021, underlining the need for urgent action on climate change.
The WMO said the report was “yet another clear sign” of human-induced changes to the planet, with “harmful and long-lasting ramifications”.
The ocean is a vital absorber of the CO2 which humans release into the atmosphere, but this comes at a cost to the health of the ocean.
When too much CO2 is absorbed, it reacts with seawater and leads to acidification of the oceans, threatening ecosystems and the vital services they provide us.
As the pH of the ocean decreases, its capacity to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere also declines.
In a recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that “there is very high confidence that open ocean surface pH is now the lowest it has been for at least 26,000 years and current rates of pH change are unprecedented since at least that time.”
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