The world’s oceans are deteriorating more rapidly than scientists had thought due to rising carbon dioxide levels and associated warming, according to a new analysis by European scientists. By many indicators, ocean conditions are even worse than outlined last month by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assessment report on the physical effects of global warming, the researchers say. Sinking oxygen levels, which could decline by 1 to 7 percent by 2100, increasing ocean acidification, and overfishing of more than 70 percent of marine fish populations are among the biggest threats to ocean ecosystems, the scientists report in Marine Pollution Bulletin. Mollusks and other sensitive marine organisms are increasingly being found with corroded shells, a result of rising dissolved CO2 concentrations; within 20 to 40 years ocean acidity levels may reach the point where coral reefs are eroded faster than they can regenerate, the review said. Also alarming is the potential release of the powerful greenhouse gas methane from seabed sediments — something the latest U.N. report did not account for, the scientists note.
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In a Yale Environment 360 video, photographer Pete McBride documents how increasing water demands have transformed the Colorado River, the lifeblood of the arid Southwest. Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland. © Google & TerraMetrics. The Warriors of Qiugang, a Yale Environment 360 video that chronicles the story of a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant, was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).
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South African photojournalist Adam Welz documents the harrowing relocation of six white rhinos to a region that has lost all its rhinos to poaching. View the gallery.