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SIMPLIFIER: UNESCO’S STATE OF OCEAN REPORT 2024



  Jun 10, 2024

SIMPLIFIER: UNESCO’S STATE OF OCEAN REPORT 2024



WHAT ARE THE KEY FINDINGS OF THE UNESCO STATE OF OCEAN REPORT 2024?

The report highlights significant gaps in research and data on ocean warming, deoxygenation, acidification, and sea level rise. It calls for the need for regular and comprehensive data to support efforts towards healthy and resilient oceans.

WHY IS OCEAN WARMING A CONCERN?

The upper 2,000 meters of the ocean have warmed at a rate of 0.32 ± 0.03 watt per square meter (W/m2) from 1960 to 2023, with an accelerated rate of 0.66 ± 0.10 W/m2 in the past two decades. This warming leads to irreversible changes over centennial to millennial time scales and affects the Earth’s energy balance.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF INCREASED OCEAN HEAT CONTENT (OHC)?

About 90% of the Earth’s energy imbalance is absorbed by oceans, increasing the OHC. This prevents ocean layers from mixing, causing deoxygenation (reduced oxygen levels) in deeper waters. Deoxygenation negatively impacts marine ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal communities.

WHAT IS OCEAN ACIDIFICATION?

Ocean acidification refers to the decrease in pH levels of ocean waters due to increased carbon dioxide absorption. The global surface ocean pH has declined by 0.017-0.027 pH units per decade since the late 1980s. This data is based on limited long-term observations, indicating the need for more comprehensive monitoring.

HOW IS SEA LEVEL RISING?

Global mean sea levels have risen at a rate of 3.4 ± 0.3 mm per year from 1993 to 2023. Improved monitoring systems are needed to track sea level rise accurately at global, regional, and coastal scales.

WHAT ARE MARINE CARBON DIOXIDE REMOVAL (mCDR) TECHNOLOGIES?

mCDR technologies aim to capture carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the ocean. Techniques include altering seawater chemistry to increase carbon dioxide absorption and adding nutrients to promote plankton growth. These methods face technical, environmental, and regulatory challenges.

WHAT ARE COASTAL BLUE CARBON HABITATS?

Restoration and expansion of habitats like mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and tidal saltmarshes aim to enhance carbon sequestration. However, their effectiveness and impact require further research.

WHAT ACTIONS ARE RECOMMENDED BY THE REPORT?

The report emphasizes the need for:

• Enhanced and continuous ocean monitoring systems.
• Longer-term data sets for both open ocean and coastal areas.
• Support for research on mCDR technologies and their impacts.
• Strengthened efforts to address deoxygenation, acidification, and sea level rise.



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