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Why This Matters: The mixing of ocean layers is crucial to sea life and human life. When ocean layers interact enough, they transfer nutrients and oxygen from upper layers to lower layers, supporting life in both the depths and the shallows. When they don’t, it prevents animals at lower depths from getting enough oxygen to breathe, and it prevents salt from deeper waters from migrating upwards, harming ecosystems and wildlife that humans rely on for food and trade. In addition, currents rely on movement between layers of ocean water; as those layers stabilize, it may threaten shipping routes and travel.The warmer layers are also losing their ability to hold CO2, which experts predict could cause atmospheric CO2 to triple by 2100 and raise the global average temperature by eight degrees Fahrenheit.
Experts have found a direct connection between the warming of the ocean and the increased number and power of hurricanes and storms. Ryan Truchelut, the chief meteorologist at WeatherTiger, said of the onslaught of Atlantic hurricanes in 2020, “The culprit is much warmer than average waters in the western Atlantic, coupled with generally lower than average wind shear in the same area driven by the tilt into La Niña.” Strong storm systems once churned ocean water, bringing cooler water to the surface, weakening storm development. But as historically cool layers grow warmer, that churning could actually empower storms further.
The warming of the ocean and subsequent loss of them as a carbon sink would prove catastrophic to the planet, and it’s only one of the many carbon sinks that could be lost in the near future. Paul Durack, a research scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, thinks experts may still not know the full scope of ocean warming, saying “I would not be surprised if this study underestimates the observed change.”
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Last summer, Florida created its first aquatic preserve in over 30 years. The Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve protects about 400,000 acres of seagrass just north of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf coast. These are part of the Gulf of Mexico’s largest seagrass bed and borders other existing preserves, creating a […]
A new study has found that whale songs can be a powerful tool for mapping the ocean floor. Seismic testing done by humans can harm whales and other marine life, but by using whale songs instead, scientists believe the practice can be adapted to be much less harmful to marine populations.
Why This Matters: For years, the fossil fuel industry has hauled “seismic guns” behind large boats, blasting loud, harmful bursts of sound that disturb sea life and impair the sonar of animals like whales and dolphins.
Much as our national parks on land are some of our greatest natural treasures, marine national monuments safeguard precious ecosystems and protect them now and for future generations. The National Marine Sanctuary System encompasses more than 600,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters, and contains amazing cultural and historical resources, as well as […]
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