The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is a United Nations organisation specialising in ocean sciences. Listed here are some of the challenges that marine science needs to focus on in the coming years according to IOC.
● Global average temperature will increase by 2ºC – Research should be encouraged to evaluate the effects of extremely high sea surface temperatures on marine life, especially on the stability of some proteins.
● Stratification and oligotrophy – More frequent and spatially dense observations are needed to understand the causes and implications of water-column stratification and oligotrophy in temperate waters and ocean gyres.
● Ocean acidification – Decreasing pH levels will reduce the ocean’s capacity to absorb future carbon dioxide, leaving more emissions in the atmosphere. Further research on ocean acidification is needed as the consequences of these changes for marine ecosystems are still unclear.
● Carbon cycle and ocean productivity – Accurate estimates of regional and global sources and sinks of carbon are essential to coordinate better management practices and to assess the environmental sustainability of the use of some new carbon-based fuels (e.g., gas hydrates).
● Geo-engineering – Intensive research is needed to evaluate the efficiency, risks, and consequences of these interventions and to assess their viability to mitigate impacts of climate change without creating new undesirable environmental consequences.
● Bio-physical impacts of climate change – Biological effects of climate change, such as changes in the distribution of species, migration patterns, and habitat location of fish stocks, need permanent efforts to monitor and validate model predictions and scenarios for sustainable management of living resources.
Excerpt from: Looking into the Future of Ocean Sciences; Luis Valdés, Luciano Fonseca, and Kathy Tedesco; Oceanography, Volume 23, Number 3, The oceanography society. © 2010.