Even though the world’s oceans and seas aren’t warming up as fast as landmass, there is still cause for concern for marine life. A new study published in the journal Science presents evidence that the speed and direction of climate change as well as the timing of seasonal shifts are moving just as fast in large bodies of water as in land, and these point to serious conservation problems for regions rich in marine biodiversity.
Scientists led by Scottish Marine Institute ecologist Michael Burrows calculated two metrics — the velocity of climate change and the shifts in seasonal timing — that they argue are more accurate gauges of biodiversity, or the health of ecosystems, than traditional temperature records. Using 50 years of global temperature and climate data, they made detailed predictions on the ability of organisms to cope with warming, including biogeographic range shifts and life-cycle changes, that involve much more than simple migration toward the Earth’s poles and earlier springs coupled with later autumns. They found that some marine reserves, such as the Coral Triangle in Southeast Asia, may be in danger of losing their ambient temperatures rapidly.
“What we have done is think about warming from a different perspective: If I started off at one point experiencing a particular temperature, how fast and in what direction would I need to walk or swim or crawl to remain at exactly the same temperature?” says co-author David Schoeman. “This takes the idea of warming and turns it from a question of time to a question of space.”
We will soon bring to your attention a gallery so that you can all get a glimpse of species and regions that may be threatened by climate change.