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Humans are continuing to have an adverse affect on the world's oceansImage: Marine Megafauna Foundation, Elitza Germano

EU-backed study shows alarming state of oceans

September 22, 2021

Ocean temperatures and water levels are continuing to rise as a result of human intervention. This is having a widespread impact on sealife and weather patterns.


The state of the world's oceans is worsening, according to an environmental report released on Wednesday by a European Commission-funded marine monitoring service.

Oceans cover over 70% of Earth's surface and are crucial in regulating the climate.

Key findings from the report

The Copernicus Marine Environmental Monitoring Service report highlighted the speed of change in oceans due to human intervention.

The warming of the world's oceans and melting land ice caused sea levels to rise by 2.5 millimeters (.1 inches) per year in the Mediterranean.

Worldwide, levels are rising by up to 3.1 millimeters each year.

Although this seems like a small figure, the report pointed to the flooding of Venice in November 2019, when the water level rose up to 1.89 meters, as an example of the impending consequences.

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The report showed that marine life is migrating to cooler waters. Warmer waters are also causing the populations of some sea-dwelling species to shrink.

It found that sole, European lobster, sea bass and edible crabs were being adversely affected by extreme heat fluctuations in the North Sea.

The report found that Arctic sea ice reached its lowest levels in the last two years.

Between 1979 and 2020, the report found the Arctic lost an area of ice about six times the size of Germany.

Loss of Arctic sea ice could contribute to regional warming, erosion of Arctic coasts and changes in global weather patterns.

'Unprecedented stress on oceans'

"Climate change, pollution and overexploitation have caused unprecedented stress on the ocean," Karina von Schuckmann, chair of the Ocean State Report, said in a statement accompanying the report.

How much impact will the report have?

Schuckmann said accurate and timely monitoring is crucial to better understanding the oceans and responding to changes.

The Copernicus Marine Service is designed to serve EU policies as well as international legal commitments related to ocean governance.

It provides inputs that support major EU and international policies and initiatives concerning the environment and oceans.

The findings of the report will likely contribute to these areas.

The report follows almost two months after a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the key 1.5 degrees Celsius  (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) threshold in the fight to stop climate change will be crossed within the next 15 years.

kmm/sms (dpa,marine.copernicus.eu)

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