An international panel of marine scientists is demanding urgent remedies to halt ocean degradation based on findings that the rate, speed and impacts of change in the global ocean are greater, faster and more imminent than previously thought.
Results from the latest International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO)/IUCN review of science on anthropogenic stressors on the ocean go beyond the conclusion reached last week by the UN climate change panel the IPCC that the ocean is absorbing much of the warming and unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide and warn that the cumulative impact of this with other ocean stressors is far graver than previous estimates.
Decreasing oxygen levels in the ocean caused by climate change and nitrogen run-off, combined with other chemical pollution and rampant overfishing are undermining the ability of the ocean to withstand these so-called "carbon perturbations", meaning its role as Earth's "buffer" is seriously compromised.
Professor Alex Rogers of Somerville College, Oxford, and Scientific Director of IPSO, said: "The health of the ocean is spiraling downwards far more rapidly than we had thought. We are seeing greater change, happening faster, and the effects are more imminent than previously anticipated. The situation should be of the gravest concern to everyone since everyone will be affected by changes in the ability of the ocean to support life on Earth."
The IUCN's Professor Dan Laffoley said: "What these latest reports make absolutely clear is that deferring action will increase costs in the future and lead to even greater, perhaps irreversible, losses. The UN climate report confirmed that the ocean is bearing the brunt of human-induced changes to our planet. These findings give us more cause for alarm - but also a roadmap for action. We must use it."
The findings, published in the peer review journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, are part of an ongoing assessment process overseen by IPSO, which brings together scientists from a range of marine disciplines.
For a full copy of the report interviews with authors and workshop contributors go to: http://www.stateoftheocean.org