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Wednesday, August 22

Climate change will bring unprecedented marine life extinction in near future, says scientists

As the impact of a gradually growing climate change is secretly creeping into our life, a group of leading scientists point out that it is the marine life on earth that will be hard hit with maximum number extinctions due to climate change. As per a review published in the Trends in Ecology and Evolution Journal, the climate change will cause unprecedented levels of mass extinctions in marine life.

Map showing that the Earth is getting warmer
Note: Image not relted to the reserach mentioned in the report
Image courtesy: Wikimedia commons

By analyzing the causes and patterns of marine extinctions and extinction risks with the help of fossil, historical and modern records, the paper argues that many periods in the past had similar climatic conditions estimated to take place in the future. Apparently, the effects also could be the same. 

“Even if the ultimate drivers of extinctions have changed over time, the proximal effects experienced by organisms might be similar”, says the paper. 

For instance, the increase in atmospheric CO2 in the Permian era was due to volcanic activity but now it is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Both ways, it has taken the toll on the marine organisms. However, it makes the extinction rates in the Permian era a better indicator to that in the immediate future. 

Lessons from the past
By analyzing geo chemical data and fossil records in the past, the researchers have found that three among the five largest extinctions in the past were related to global warming and ocean acidification. Similarly, the study has also found that loss of oxygen, habitat loss due to human intervention and pollution have also contributed to large scale extinction rates in the past. 

History of carbon dioxide concentrations
Note: Image not relted to the reserach mentioned in the report
Image courtesy: Wikimedia commons
Based on the lessons they learned by joining the jigsaws of data from fossil, historic and modern records, the study estimates that the marine organisms with a restricted geographical range will be more prone to extinction risk from habitat loss due to climate change. 

“As such, extinction risk in the future might shift from larger-bodied species to those with restricted geographic ranges as marine ecosystems respond increasingly to habitat loss and the environmental disturbances associated with climate change.” says the study.

Though over-exploitation and habitat loss were major reasons for extinctions in the past, acidification and warming will become more important drivers of extinction in the present times, despite cases of over-exploitation still existing, says the review. 

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