Thursday, March 08, 2018

Fisheries Output to Plunge Unless Global Warming Reeled In

A man stands on his fishing boat in the harbour of Ajaccio on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica January 30, 2018. Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier/File Photo) Click to Enlarge.
Global fisheries output will slump by 20 percent by 2300 and by 60 percent in the worst-hit North Atlantic region if governments fail to slow long-term global warming, a U.S. team of scientists said on Thursday.

Most studies of climate risks extend to 2100 and overlook extra “catastrophic effects” such as the projected slump in ocean life that would only emerge in coming centuries, they said.

Unchecked long-term warming would thaw sea ice around Antarctica and disrupt ocean currents, winds and the growth of tiny plankton, the report found.  Worldwide, ever more nutrients would sink to the ocean depths, away from fish near the surface.

“Marine ecosystems worldwide will be increasingly starved for nutrients,” lead author J. Keith Moore of the University of California, Irvine, told Reuters of the findings published in the journal Science.

The shifts would cut the productivity of fisheries in 2300 by an average 20 percent and by 60 percent in the North Atlantic, where a normal upwelling of nutrients from deeper waters would be most reduced, according to computer simulations.

Exceptions would be the Southern Ocean near Antarctica and in the Arctic Ocean around the North Pole where higher temperatures and shrinking ice, allowing more sunlight to reach the water, would boost the growth of tiny plants.

Moore said such long-term projections involve many uncertainties but add to existing concerns about more heat waves, downpours and droughts that mainstream scientists link to a build-up of man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“We need to be thinking 1,000 years into the future, not 100 years,” he wrote in an email.  “Global warming isn’t a problem our children can solve - it will be too late.”

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