Studies: Climate Change, barren oceans, potentially irreversible

Posted by Samantha Rose Hunt

Copenhagen (Denmark) - A recent simulation of warming trends on earth has deemed that a failure to reduce greenhouse gas pollution within the next 50 years could cause the Earth's oceans to become barren for the next 100,000 years.





The warmer the temperature, the harder it is for the oceans to absorb oxygen thus disrupting oceanic food chains and causing lifeless bodies of water.



The belief according to climate scientists is that it will take at least 50 years for natural processes to begin removing fossil fuel emissions from the Earth's atmosphere, thereby causing long term issues on Earth.



Gary Shaffer of the University of Copenhagen modeled two different but likely sets of emissions, as it has been forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.



The initial scenario (deemed B1) shows nations moving relatively quickly towards a carbon-neutral world economy in which greenhouse emissions peak by the year 2050. The result would be that temperatures in the year 2100 would be 6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they are currently. A rise at this rate would produce long-term ocean warming, which at a 2 degree Fahrenheit rise would fall within the range of ocean adaptation.



If countries continuously burn fossil fuels until they are ridiculously expensive, then the other model (deemed A2, also known as "business as usual") would result in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increasing until the end of the century. The temperature on the planet would potentially rise by 12 degrees Fahrenheit triggering a rise in ocean temperatures by 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next several thousand years, thusly causing ocean ecosystems to crash.



As with any and all models there is uncertainty around the ability of the model to accurately anticipate the outcome of the planet processes.



Shaffer's model makes the assumption that ocean circulation would be weakened by increases in high-latitude temperatures and rainfall. As water warms it becomes less dense, and the surface layers will sink slowly delaying the normal cycle of surface turnover and the absorption of oxygen.



This is not certain, and Shaffer and his team acknowledged this. But it does remain true that even without a slowdown in ocean circulation the warmer temperatures of the water will force it to absorb less oxygen thus causing catastrophic effects.



A depleted life at the surface would cause the deeper waters to receive less nutrients, therefore the food chain of the ocean would be seriously disrupted.





Climate Change Irreversible?



A separate finding reported on Monday that many of the damaging effects of climate change are pretty much irreversible. Researchers are warning that even if carbon emission can be slowed somehow all around the globe, temperatures will remain high until at least the year 3000.



Most individuals have the idea that if we stop emitting carbon dioxide that the climate would simply return to normal quickly, and that is not true.



Susan Solomon of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder Colorado is a lead author of an international team's paper which reports that the damage from climate change is more than likely irreversible.



Her definition of irreversible is that a change will not be seen for 1000 years even if humans were to stop adding carbon to the Earth's atmosphere instantaneously.



These findings came simultaneously as President Barack Obama ordered reviews which would lead to greater fuel efficiency and cleaner air, claiming that the future of our Earth depends on the reduction of air pollution.



Solomon's belief is that climate change is both slow and unstoppable, meaning that we must, as humans, react quickly so that the situation doesn't worsen. But we have to keep in mind that we will not see changes overnight.