APR 10, 2024 4:00 PM PDT

Climate Change and Marine Life: Worse Scenarios Than Hypothesized

Climate change can have drastic consequences for marine life resulting from warmer and more acidic seawater. But is it really as bad as has been previously hypothesized? This is what a recent study published in Nature Communications hopes to address as a team of international researchers used a new research method to challenge previous studies discussing the impacts of climate change on marine life, specifically fish and invertebrate animals. This study holds the potential to help scientists, conservationists, and legislators better understand the long-term consequences of climate change on marine life and the potential steps that can be taken to combat it.

Previous studies have focused on a limited set of parameters in ascertaining how climate change impacts marine life, including survivability, metabolism, and skeleton integrity, while this study focused on physical development, behavior, reproduction, and physiology. Using climate models to simulate increasing levels of carbon dioxide, which is a primary contributor to climate change, the team found some alarming results.

“Our new approach suggests that if ocean warming and acidification continue on the current trajectory, up to 100% of the biological processes in fish and invertebrate species will be affected, while previous research methods found changes in only about 20 and 25% of all processes, respectively,” said Dr. Katharina Alter, who is a marine biologist with the Royal Netherlands Institute of for Sea Research (NIOZ) and lead author of the study.

In the end, the researchers concluded their new strategy demonstrates that the effects of climate change on marine life could result in worst outcomes than speculated by previous research.

How will climate change impact marine life in the coming years and decades? Only time will tell, and this is why we science!

As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!

Sources: Nature Communications, EurekAlert!, NIOZ 

Featured Image: Image of redfin needlefish (Strongylura notata) "hiding" just beneath the sea surface near the Caribbean Island of Curacao. (Credit: Juliette Jacquemont (co-author of the study))

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Laurence Tognetti is a six-year USAF Veteran who earned both a BSc and MSc from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Laurence is extremely passionate about outer space and science communication, and is the author of "Outer Solar System Moons: Your Personal 3D Journey".
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