Recent report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed that the ocean level could rise more than 3 feet within 80 years due to continuous heating up.
Compiled by more than 100 experts from 36 different countries, the assessment focuses on the changes going on the world's ocean and its frozen parts—the cryosphere. Major findings include a projection of 3 feet higher sea level by 2100 if Earth's temperature will continue to increase by more than 3 degrees Celsius.
But what alarms the experts more is the rapid acceleration. Seas rose at least twice faster from 2006 to 2015 than between 1901 and 1990.
The major contributor to sea-level rise is the melting ice sheets and glaciers. According to the report in April, Greenland's ice melting rate has increased by six times compared in the 1970s. The same case is happening in Antarctica. From 40 billion tons annually in the 1980s, it had jumped to 252 billion in the last decade.
Margaret Williams, managing director of the World Wildlife Fund Arctic Program, said that the biggest takeaways of the report are the people who will be threatened by this phenomenon. The report suggests that by the end of the century, this could displace 745 million citizens that are living in low-lying coastal zones and small island states. She described it as "extraordinary" and the warming of the oceans and the cryosphere presents a "double whammy".
Impact on food security
The ocean absorbs about 93% of the extra heat trapped in the atmosphere. Yearly from 2016, the amount of heat absorbed has been increasing continuously, and there is no sign of improvement yet. According to the IPCC report, assuming global warming would not exceed 2 degrees Celsius, the ocean would absorb two to four times more heat by 2100 than it deeds between 1970 and 2018.
This is problematic, as warm water affects the longevity of coral. Known as coral bleaching, coral tends to expel any algae in its tissue, causing it to turn white and die. The same scenario is what killed half of Great Barrier Reef in 2018. It is projected that 60% of coral reefs around the world will be threatened by 2030.
Corals may be a tourist attraction for some, but it is common knowledge that many fish species spent a portion of their life cycle in the reef. Coral loss has dire consequences on the economy of the coastal community, as it will affect their livelihood.
Coral reef fisheries contribute $6.8 billion annually to the global economy. According to the World Wildlife Organization, about 3 billion people in the world also consume seafood as a primary source of protein.
Aside from the coastal communities, the warming also disrupts herding, hunting, and fishing activities of Arctic residents, especially the indigenous people.
Becca Robbins Gisclair, senior director of Arctic programs at the Ocean Conservancy, described the connection between the scarcity of fish and human life in the region a "short, fragile link." For that, she urged everyone to act so that the food security for billions of people would not be at risk, low-lying islands would not submerge under the sea, and all people will have the same opportunity to glorify the beauty of nature under the ocean.
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