Worse climate risks predicted for the future of marine ecosystems

According to the journal ‘Science’, climate change and overfishing are causing serious damage on marine life
Global warming caused by humans is a growing threat to marine ecosystems, and, according to the results of a new international study on ecological modelling, its negative effects on marine animals are expected to intensify, including increased natural mortality, reduced calcification of the tissues of the organisms, and a change in the distribution in the ocean, interactions among species and their abundance, and a general reduction in their biomass. Societal benefits from the ocean and marine conservation efforts are threatened by climate change, not only by other human pressures such as fishing.

“Projections of climate change impacts on marine ecosystems reveal long-term decline in global marine animal biomass and show that the impacts on fisheries are unevenly distributed,” authors said. Researchers found that the new simulations, which are much more advanced and accurate than previous ones, “show that elevated warming and changes in the availability of nutrients and food will lead to a more marked decline in animal biomass in the world’s oceans than previously assessed”.

Reducing uncertainty on how marine ecosystems will respond to climate change will support more effective adaptation and mitigation planning, say the 36 researchers based in 7 countries who have contributed to this important study. Two Spanish researchers, Jose A. Fernandes and Marta Coll, experts in big data and ecosystem modelling from AZTI and CSIC, respectively, are among them.