A giant piece of Ice breaks off the Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina. Experts say glacier and sea ice is becoming increasingly brittle. (Black Press File)

Scientists warn warmer and more acidic oceans threaten marine life

‘Kids are having their future stolen,’ says environmental researcher with University of Victoria

As any middle–schooler knows from science class, the scientific consensus is that climate change is happening and without intervention will likely get worse.

Many B.C. students, and some of their teachers, feel so strongly about the issue they are preparing unprecedented strike action on Friday.

With the latest UN report predicting the death of all coral reefs, 15–37 per cent of all species’ extinction and climate poverty hitting hundreds of millions of people, just how much the environment is likely to change is the urgent focus of scientists around the globe. The Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS), based near Sidney and part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), has been tracking changes in the seas.

Jon Chamberlain, acting manager of the Ocean Sciences Division at IOS, explains that his organization produces world-class, hyper-accurate science. He won’t comment on how their findings should be interpreted by politicians, but is happy to talk facts.

“There are changes that are being seen, that is without doubt. We’re perhaps seeing the signals faster in the arctic, but if you look around the [B.C.] coastline you will find them.” he says.

From an oceanic perspective, “The two evil twins of climate change are temperature and ocean acidification.”

With an abundance of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere, some inevitably enters the ocean. When it does, it reacts with the water, dissolves and changes the PH level, making the water more acidic.

The IOS uses a combination of scientific studies, researchers in the field, super computer data and some of the brightest programmers in Canada, to create finely calibrated computer models that simulate how the earth is likely to change.

“We’re expecting the North Pacific to become fresher [less salty] and warmer. With an increased temperature, freshwater run–off and snow melt from glaciers will increase,” says Chamberlain.

With stronger sunshine and increased nutrients, ocean plants and phytoplankton are likely to proliferate rapidly. If they abound, oxygen levels will drop in seas that are turning increasingly acidic. The warmer, oxygen–poor oceans will present an immediate existential threat to many animals.

ALSO READ: 1858 Naval maps combined with satellite data helps researchers map kelp bed health

“By creating accurate models we can see what the future environment is really likely to look like. We’re now trying to overlay: ‘What does this mean for other species further up the food web?’” says Chamberlain before adding, “Running these models to see what conditions are like in 30, 50, 100 years gives us an indication of which species are likely to do well and which ones aren’t.”

Political critics of climate change say that the world’s climate is cyclical and climate change doesn’t exist.

Andrew Farris, previous lead researcher at EnergyBC, with UVic’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, is frustrated scientists’ findings aren’t being treated more urgently by some politicians.

“Kids are having their future stolen and being condescended to. It’s a disgrace. Opponents just don’t want to adjust their lifestyles, but the longer we wait the more painful it will become.”



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Climate change

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The side of a department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) boat used to research climate change and the warming oceans. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Just Posted

Oak Bay deputy police chief and family cut Guatemala vacation short to return home

Belize border, punctured gas tank part of the adventure

Program makes a connection with isolated Victoria seniors

Phoning Seniors Together program lines up volunteers with seniors at Luther Court

West Shore businesses bring fitness online during COVID-19

At-home workouts offered to help community keep fit

Mental Health: Fractured services leave community to fill gaps

Greater Victoria service providers working together to help youth

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Most Read