The ocean plays a significant part in our planet’s environment. Oceans cover almost 70% of the surface of our world. It protects our planet and all living beings that live on the earth in several ways. It provides food and shelter to countless fish, plants, birds, mammals, etc. Besides, this ocean (water) has excellent power to soak up and store heat. Oceans also can absorb carbon dioxide from the air. As we all know, carbon dioxide is one of the major greenhouse gases that cause global warming and climate change. By soaking up the heat and carbon dioxide, oceans reduce the severity of global warming and climate change.
How Does Climate Change Happen? How Do The Oceans Absorb Heat From The Atmosphere?
Water has an excellent heat storing capacity. Before it starts to become hot, water soaks up lots of heat. On the other hand, the air is not good at storing heat. The climate of the earth is changing because of human activities. Since the beginning of industrialization, insensitive human activities have done a lot of harm to the planet. Unplanned urbanization gave birth to a utilitarian mindset in humans. They stopped taking care of the environment and started burning many fossil fuels.
Because of the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gases, etc.), harmful greenhouse gases are produced, which cause global warming and climate crisis and contribute to the formation of acid rain and smog. The greenhouse effect caused by those greenhouse gases prevents the sun’s heat from directly returning to space, resulting in the warming of the earth’s surface. As a result of global warming, weather pattern changes, the pattern of rain changes, glaciers start to melt, droughts become frequent, storms become severe, and many plants and animals become extinct.
Ocean tries to minimize these consequences of the greenhouse effect. When the temperature of the earth becomes hot because of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, oceans absorb the extra heat, and thus they play a vital role in delaying the effects of global warming.
How Does Climate Change Affect Coral Reefs?
Oceans may have tremendous heat capacity. But when oceans become too hot due to extreme global warming, the living organisms, including all plants and animals, become sick and often die.[ Coral reefs are the beauty of the underwater ecosystem, and these reefs are formed by corals that are living creatures. Coral reefs are the favorite places of many fishes and aquatic creatures to stay and hide in. When the temperature of the oceans rises beyond a limit, it puts the coral reefs under serious threat.
In oceans, coral reef ecosystems can thrive because of the mutual relationship between corals and a certain type of colorful algae. Corals provide the algae with a safe environment to live in. In return, the algae provide food for the corals. To make food, algae use sunlight (the process is called photosynthesis). When the water of the oceans becomes extremely warm, algae cannot carry out their food-making process. It eventually results in the death of algae and corals. Losing the sources of their food, corals become weak. Then they expel algae from their tissue. It turns corals white (this is called coral bleaching). Coral bleaching is a serious problem. It harms sea creatures and fishes, compels them to change their habitats, and creates barren underwater landscapes.
How Do The Oceans Absorb Carbon Dioxide?
Carbon dioxide is one of the major greenhouse gases. This colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas is naturally produced during respiration and other organic decomposition. A lot of carbon dioxide emission happens due to human activities like the combustion of fossil fuels. Like land plants, ocean plants also produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. The water in the oceans is also excellent at absorbing carbon dioxide from the air. The ocean soaks up almost 25% of the carbon dioxide humans produce by burning fossil fuels. But when oceans uptake a lot of carbon dioxide, the pH value of seawater decreases, resulting in ocean acidification.
Due to human-caused global warming, global sea levels are rising. A lot of glaciers are melting because of the increased temperatures of the world. Flowing from lands, melted ice adds water to the ocean. On the other hand, when oceans get warmer, the expansion of seawater happens. As a result of the rising sea levels, seawater is invading coastal regions. It causes severe floods, soil erosion, and threats to human inhabitation. It also results in the loss of habitats for fish, plants, birds, and many other living creatures.