Climate Change: Ocean and Marine Life

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The ocean makes up 71% of the planet and provides many services to human communities from mitigating weather extremes to generating the oxygen we breathe, from producing the food we eat to storing the excess carbon dioxide we generate. However, the effects of increasing greenhouse gas emissions threaten coastal and marine ecosystems through changes in ocean temperature and melting of ice, which in turn affect ocean currents, weather patterns, and sea level. And, because the carbon sink capacity of the ocean has been exceeded, we are also seeing the ocean’s chemistry change because of our carbon emissions. The ocean plays a fundamental role in mitigating climate change by serving as a major heat and carbon sink. The ocean also bears the brunt of climate change, as evidenced by changes in temperature, currents and sea level rise, all of which affect the health of marine species, nearshore and deep ocean ecosystems. The degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems threatens the physical, economic and food security of coastal communities – around 40% of the world population.