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13-June-2024-Special-Article

June 13 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm

STATE OF THE OCEAN REPORT, 2024 

The UNESCO State of Ocean Report 2024 emphasizes the urgent need for enhanced oceanographic research and data collection.  

The report underscores the critical gaps in data and research and calls for immediate action to support healthy and resilient oceans. 

Key Highlights 

Inadequate Data and Research 

  • Critical Gap: The report identifies a significant shortfall in data and research on accelerating ocean warming. 
  • Urgent Need: Regular data collection is necessary to monitor ocean warming and its impacts to support the health and resilience of oceans. 

Ocean Warming 

  • Warming Rates: The upper 2,000 meters of oceans warmed at a rate of approximately 0.32 Watt/m² from 1960 to 2023, which has increased to 0.66 Watt/m² in the past two decades. 
  • Future Trends: This warming trend is expected to continue, causing irreversible changes over long timescales. 

Earth Energy Imbalance (EEI) 

  • EEI represents the equilibrium between solar energy received by the Earth and the energy emitted back into space. 
  • Ocean Uptake: About 90% of EEI is absorbed by oceans, leading to a cumulative increase in ocean heat content (OHC) in the upper 2,000 meters of water. 
  • Impact: This warming may hinder ocean layer mixing, reducing oxygenated deep waters and causing deoxygenation, which can negatively impact marine ecosystems and coastal communities. 

Ocean Acidification 

  • Global Increase: There has been a global increase in ocean acidification across all ocean basins and seas. 
  • pH Decline: The average global surface ocean pH has declined by 0.017-0.027 units per decade since the late 1980s. 
  • Coastal Waters: Natural processes and human activities contribute to acidification in coastal waters, but limited long-term observations hinder a complete understanding. 

Sea Level Rise 

  • Rising Rates: The global mean sea level has been rising at a rate of about 3.4 mm/year from 1993 to 2023. 
  • Monitoring Needs: Improved space-based and in situ observing systems are needed to monitor sea level rise at global, regional, and coastal scales. 

Marine Carbon Dioxide Removal (mCDR) 

  • Growing Interest: There is increasing interest in mCDR technologies aimed at capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. 
  • Examples: Techniques include altering seawater chemical composition and adding nutrients to promote plankton growth for carbon sequestration. 
  • Challenges: Limited use and understanding of mCDR’s interaction with the ocean carbon cycle could cause unintended long-term consequences for marine life. 

Impacts of Global Warming on the Indian Ocean 

Cyclones and Marine Heatwaves 

  • Warming Trends: The Indian Ocean is warming faster than other oceans, leading to potential irreversible changes like cyclones and heatwaves. 
  • Cyclones: The Indian Ocean influences monsoon and pre-monsoon cyclones affecting South Asia, East Africa, and West Asia.  
  • Marine Heatwaves: Increased frequency and intensity of marine heatwaves cause coral bleaching and harm marine life. 

Altered Ocean Circulation and Marine Life 

  • Upwelling: Warming can weaken upwelling, affecting fish populations that depend on nutrient-rich waters. 
  • Ocean Acidification: Increased carbon dioxide absorption leads to ocean acidification, harming organisms with calcium carbonate shells and skeletons. 
  • Oxygen Depletion: Warmer water holds less oxygen, and increased stratification prevents deep ocean mixing, leading to dead zones. 

Human Populations at Risk 

  • Food Security: Disrupted fisheries, cyclones, and droughts threaten food security for millions relying on the Indian Ocean. 
  • Coastal Vulnerability: Rising sea levels threaten coastal communities with inundation and erosion, particularly in low-lying areas like Mumbai and Kolkata. 
  • Tourism Impact: Coral bleaching and coastal degradation negatively impact tourism and recreation industries. 

Way Forward 

Enhanced Forecasting and Warnings 

  • Weather Forecasts: Develop and utilize real-time weather forecasts and cyclone warnings for coastal communities. 
  • INCOIS Capabilities: Enhance the capabilities of the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) for accurate and timely predictions. 

Geo-Engineering Techniques 

  • Techniques: Utilize geo-engineering methods like stratospheric aerosol injection and marine cloud brightening on a large scale to combat ocean warming. 

Sustainable Coastal Development 

  • Practices: Promote sustainable coastal development practices, such as building seawalls and levees to minimize damage during extreme weather events. 
  • Case Study: The initiative by the Odisha government to plant casuarina trees along the coastline effectively reduced the impact of Cyclone Fani. 

Public Awareness and Preparedness 

  • Campaigns: Conduct public awareness campaigns and regular evacuation drills to educate coastal communities about cyclone risks and evacuation procedures. 

Marine Protected Areas 

  • Conservation: Establish marine protected areas to conserve coral reefs and other fragile ecosystems. 

International Collaboration 

  • Global Efforts: Collaborate on international efforts to address climate change and limit global warming, benefiting the Indian Ocean and beyond. 

Conclusion 

The UNESCO State of Ocean Report 2024 highlights critical knowledge gaps and the need for improved data collection to understand and address multiple threats facing oceans globally. It explores potential solutions like mCDR and coastal habitat restoration, emphasizing the need for further research to address associated uncertainties. Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts from global communities, governments, and organizations to ensure the health and resilience of our oceans. 

Mains Question: 

  1. Describe the key findings and implications of the UNESCO State of Ocean Report 2024, emphasizing the urgent need for enhanced oceanographic research and data collection to address global ocean crises. (150 WORDS)

Details

Date:
June 13
Time:
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
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