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Ocean
Politics

Protecting our
Ocean and 
Sea life

More than half of the oxygen in the planet is produced by the ocean, which also absorbs 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere. 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered by the ocean, which moves heat from the equator to the poles to control our temperature and weather patterns. 

 

The Ocean Conservancy, a prominent advocacy organisation based in Washington, D.C., was established in 1972 with the goal of protecting unique marine habitats, restoring sustainable fisheries, and, most critically, minimising the effects of human activity on ocean ecosystems.

Sea level rise

While melting sea ice does not increase the volume of the ocean, it does add freshwater, reducing the local salinity of the sea. Ocean currents that transport heat and nutrients all across the world are driven by salinity and temperature. These currents can be disrupted by melting sea ice and warming temperatures, potentially altering regional climates in addition to the wildlife that depends on them.

Oceans have mitigated the impact of humans continuing to release greenhouse gases into the sky. More than 90% of the heat from these gases has been absorbed by the oceans, but it is having an adverse effect on them.

Water expands as it warms up. Warmer oceans simply take up more space, which accounts for around half of the sea level rise over the past 25 years. Mountain glaciers and other large ice formations naturally melt a little each summer. In the winter, snowfall—primarily from seawater that has evaporated—is typically enough to counteract melting. Recently, however, greater-than-average summer melting as well as less snowfall due to later winters and earlier springs have been brought on by continuously rising temperatures brought on by global warming.

Similar to mountain glaciers, the vast ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica are melting more fast as a result of rising temperatures. Additionally, scientists think that seawater seeping from below and meltwater from above are lubricating the ice streams beneath Greenland's ice sheets, speeding up their flow into the sea. While scientists have focused a lot of attention on melting in West Antarctica, particularly in light of the 2017 breach in the Larsen C ice shelf, glaciers in East Antarctica are also displaying signs of destabilisation.

When sea levels rise as quickly as they have, even a slight rise in sea level can have disastrous repercussions on coastal habitats farther inland. It can result in damaging erosion, wetland floods, salt pollution of aquifers and agricultural soil, and lost habitat for fish, birds, and plants.

The occurrence of more hazardous hurricanes and typhoons, which move more slowly and dump more rain, is correlated with rising sea levels. This is leading to storm surges that are more strong and can completely destroy everything in their path. 

According to the majority of forecasts, global warming will persist and probably pick up speed, resulting in continued ocean rise. This means that hundreds of coastal cities could experience flooding, while it is still difficult to predict how quickly and how much the waves would rise.

The sea level would rise by 216 feet if all the glaciers and ice sheets that are now present on Earth melted. From Florida to Bangladesh, entire states and possibly some entire countries could vanish beneath the waves as a result of this. Scientists do not believe that scenario to be probable, and it would probably take many centuries, but if the world continues to burn fossil fuels carelessly, it may someday come to pass.

Marine life

International concern is rapidly increasing as evidence of issues resulting from the noise produced by ship engines, seismic surveys, oil drilling, and military sonar rises. Short, intense bursts of sound can harm the body; chronic background noise, such that from shipping, can change a variety of processes and behaviours, from feeding to communication.

A requirement to ensure that undersea noise does not "adversely affect" marine life is part of legislation the European Union established to promote healthy marine systems by the year 2020. A guideline on decreasing ship noise was released by the International Maritime Organization in 2014 since shipping organisations are also concerned.

Noise is so pervasive, it is hard to study the impact as it ramps up. It isn’t clear whether marine systems can work around or adapt to it — or whether it will drive crashes in already-stressed populations. So researchers are becoming acoustic prospectors, searching for quiet zones and noisy habitats in efforts to chronicle what exactly happens when sound levels change.

 

Efforts range from natural experiments on the effects of a plan to re-route shipping lanes in the Baltic Sea, to investigating the impact of a trial scheme in Canada to reduce ship speeds in coastal waters off Vancouver.

Similar to climate change, there is adequate data to support action about the harm caused by marine noise, although disagreement persists on the severity and urgency of the issue. Fortunately, reducing noise is simpler and quicker than, say, combating ocean acidification or burning fossil fuels.

Before and during the slowdown, when ECHO monitored a location significant for killer whales, noise levels fluctuated between 75 dB and 140 dB depending on the weather, fauna, and passing ships. However, the noise decreased by 1.2 dB on average during the 2017 slowdown, a reduction in sound intensity of 24%.

The good news is that noise pollution can be quickly addressed, and there are practical strategies to reduce the danger.

when German regulators impose restrictions on the noise produced by pile driving for offshore wind turbines. The business swiftly adopted more sound-absorbing techniques, such covering heaps in a bubble curtain. Instead of hammering the piles in, businesses are increasingly devising ways to sink them.