Ocean Climate

We need to confront the challenge of climate pollution together to keep our ocean healthy.

climate

Ocean and Climate

The glass of water you drank this morning. The air you’re breathing right now. Every moment of your life is touched by the ocean, even if you can’t see it. That’s because the ocean generates half the oxygen on the planet, creates the rain that feeds our crops and forests, provides our fresh water and feeds millions of people around the world.

Life began in the ocean, and today, all life continues to depend on a healthy ocean to survive. That’s why the health of the ocean is so important for all of us.

But the ocean provides another life-sustaining service that you may not be aware of. The ocean has absorbed more than half of all the carbon emitted into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. That means that without the ocean as a buffer, the worst impacts of climate change would already be devastating for us all. So the question is, can the ocean continue to protect us?

I want to do everything that I can to make sure that people can have good lives into the future, that we avoid the negative effects of climate change and that we do as much now as we can to make sure that the ocean remains healthy and that ocean life survives.

– Anna Zivian, Senior Research Fellow, Ocean Conservancy

The ocean is resilient, and right now we have a window of opportunity to help it heal. We can’t wait until the impacts of climate change are irreversible. We need to confront the challenge of climate pollution together to keep our ocean healthy.

Take action for the ocean today

Make a pledge to our ocean—a promise that you will do whatever you can to preserve, protect and defend the ocean. Enforce accountability of legislators, decision makers and regulators as they make choices that impact ocean health.

Take Action

The Problem

Combating Climate Impacts

As carbon emissions increase, our ocean faces a combination of stressors. Warming ocean temperatures, melting sea ice and ocean acidification are affecting our ocean, wildlife and coastal communities right now. In fact, we’re changing the ocean’s acidity 50 times faster than ever before.

But the real problem is how unpredictable these impacts are. We know how ocean acidification—the increase of ocean acidity due to excessive carbon emissions—is affecting shellfish and coral. We know that climate change is warming the Arctic at unprecedented rates. But what we don’t know is how acidification and other changes—like increasing temperatures and decreasing levels of oxygen—interact and respond together.

George Leonard

“The ocean is a complex system. So what happens to it when complex problems like climate change and ocean acidification are introduced?”

George Leonard
Chief Scientist, Ocean Conservancy

These impacts aren’t always just additive—they’re interactive, meaning the resulting effect can sometimes be much worse than solely the sum of the stressors. And this poses the biggest problem for our ocean.

If we want to prepare for the future and find solutions, we need to first understand how all these ocean stressors, like pollution, overfishing, development, acidification and climate change will interact together. Because right now we face uncertainty.

One Solution

Modeling the Future

Ocean Conservancy doesn’t shy away from complex problems – we tackle them head on. That’s why we’re using innovative technologies and working with the world’s top scientists to understand what is happening to our ocean. Because we can find a solution if we know what’s coming.

Andreas Merkl

“Our vision is to understand and incorporate ocean climate change in science, policy and management.”

Andreas Merkl
President, Ocean Conservancy

The Ocean Futures Initiative (OFI) at Ocean Conservancy brings together interdisciplinary experts to understand ocean climate change and craft strategies for policy solutions. Alongside our partners at Oxford University, we’re working on a model to understand the interaction of multiple stressors on our ocean like acidification, other climate change effects and overfishing. The OSIRIS (Ocean Systems Interactions, Risks, Instabilities and Synergies) model will allow us to better understand future scenarios and the kinds of policy decisions we need to make on adaptation and mitigation to ensure the health of our ocean and human communities now and into the future.

This work is indispensable, because climate change threatens to undercut so many of our conservation gains and efforts unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and we adapt ocean policies to the new realities in our ocean.

Now more than ever, we’re about adaptive approaches and learning how to best incorporate ocean climate change in science, policy and management decisions on all scales.
Knowing, understanding and sharing our ocean’s future means we’re going to be prepared for whatever comes next. And you can bet all of us here at Ocean Conservancy are working as hard as we can to ensure a healthy, productive ocean for us and all inhabitants that call the ocean home.

Take action for the ocean today

Make a pledge to our ocean—a promise that you will do whatever you can to preserve, protect and defend the ocean. Enforce accountability of legislators, decision makers and regulators as they make choices that impact ocean health.

Take Action

Be a part of our solution

Donate now to help us continue our research into the impacts of global warming on our ocean systems. Or even better, consider becoming a monthly donor, and support our ongoing efforts best incorporate this insight into advocacy, policy and mitigation strategies.

Donate Today

Recent Posts

Protect the Arctic from future oil spills

Take Action
Search Previous Next Facebook Instagram Snapchat Twitter Email Waves