An international team of researchers has found that around 90% of all marine life on Earth will be at risk of extinction by 2100 if greenhouse gases are not reduced.
In the paper published in the journal Nature Climate Changethe group presents its study of thousands of marine species and how greenhouse gas emissions could affect them in the future, indicates Phys.
Greenhouse gas emissions impact the world’s climate in two ways. They raise the temperature of the atmosphere (and by extension, Earth’s surfaces and water bodies) by retaining heat, and in the case of carbon dioxide emissions, make waters more acidic, like carbonated soft drinks.
Consequences of greenhouse gases on marine life
And as emissions continue to be pumped into the atmosphere, despite dire warnings from scientists around the world, more research is being done to learn about their possible impact. In this new effort, the researchers took a broad look at the impact of greenhouse gases on ocean life.
The work involved estimating the impact of certain levels of greenhouse gas emissions on marine life in the future. They specifically looked at 25,000 species, including fish, bacteria, plants and protozoa that live in the top 100 meters of the world’s oceans.
They found that in the worst-case scenario, where emissions increase the global temperature of the atmosphere by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius, about 90 percent of all marine life will disappear.
90% of all marine life could disappear by 2100
They also found that if emissions are reduced to the extent required by the Paris Climate Agreement, which would keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, then the risk of extinction would be reduced by around 98%.
The researchers found that larger top predators are more at risk than smaller predators, as are fish species in areas heavily fished by humans. The lowest risk, on the other hand, belongs to small, short-lived species.
Remarkably, Earth has not seen an extinction as large as these projections from the Dead Sea 252 million years ago.