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New IPCC report warns of dire threat to ocean

Published: 5th Oct, 2019

New IPCC report warns of dire threat to ocean

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its special report underlined the dire changes taking place in oceans, glaciers and ice-deposits on land and sea.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its special report underlined the dire changes taking place in oceans, glaciers and ice-deposits on land and sea.


  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the apex referee for scientific evidence on the impact of global warming, in its ‘Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ found that over the 21st century, the ocean is projected to transition to unprecedented conditions with increased temperatures, further ocean acidification, marine heat waves and more frequent extreme El Niño and La Niña events.
  • The report was prepared following an IPCC Panel decision in 2016 to determine the impact on the world’s oceans and ice-covered regions.
  • Rising seas are already threatening low-lying coastal areas that today are home to 680 million people, about 10 percent of the world’s population.  
  • The Southern Ocean accounted for 35%–43% of the total heat gain in the upper 2,000 m global ocean between 1970 and 2017, and its share increased to 45%–62% between 2005 and 2017.
  • Since the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report came out in 2013, scientists have learned a great deal about the impacts of absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide on the oceans and their denizens, as well as in coastal areas. Unfortunately, the ocean has largely been left out of the discussion on climate.

    About IPCC

    • Created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
    • Headquarter: Geneva
    • Objective: To provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC reports are also a key input into international climate change negotiations.
    • Composition: The IPCC is an organization of governments that are members of the United Nations or WMO. The IPCC currently has 195 members.
    • IPCC Studies: Thousands of people from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC. For the assessment reports, IPCC scientists volunteer their time to assess the thousands of scientific papers published each year to provide a comprehensive summary of what is known about the drivers of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and how adaptation and mitigation can reduce those risks.
    • IPCC Reports













Evidences of Impacts of Global warming on Oceans

  • Since 1993, the rate of warming in the oceans has more than doubled. Melting of the two great ice sheets blanketing Greenland and West Antarctica is speeding up as well, accelerating sea level rise. And West Antarctica’s glaciers may already be so unstable that they are past the point of no return.
  • Warming ocean waters are yielding fewer fish and are fueling more intense, rainier tropical storms.
  • Ocean heat waves are increasing, threatening corals and other sea life. 
  • Arctic sea icecontinues to dwindle

Concerns for India

  • Global Warming is a concern for all the nations in the world including India.
  • A major impact is in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Regions. Floods will become more frequent and severe in the mountainous and downstream areas of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra river basins, because of an increase in extreme precipitation events... the severity of flood events is expected to more than double towards the end of the century.

How to mitigate impacts of global warming on oceans? 

  • The ocean isn’t just part of the problem; it should be a key part of the solution.
  • The 1.5°C report was a key input used in negotiations at Katowice, Poland in 2018 for countries to commit themselves to capping global temperature rise to 1.5°C by the end of the century.
  • Researchers find five ways to harness ocean resources to reduce or mitigate global greenhouse gas emissions
  • Build offshore wind farms and other ocean-based renewable energy to shift away from dependence on fossil fuels;
  • Eliminate carbon emissions from the shipping industry;
  • Restore coastal ecosystems such as mangroves and salt marshes, which not only store carbon but also provide myriad benefits, including serving as buffers against tropical storms, filtering pollutants and providing habitat for fish and other wildlife;
  • Harvest more ocean-based protein sources, which have a much lower carbon footprint than any land-based animal protein;
  • Store carbon in the seafloor, which theoretically has high potential for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, but also a lot of uncertainty in terms of its environmental impact.


  • None of these potential solutions are new concepts, but there has been little political will to invest in the necessary research and development to move them forward.
  • These actions may finally get some traction in December, when nations head to Santiago, Chile, for COP25, the annual meeting to review progress of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • At the COP21 meeting in Paris in December 2015, 195 nations signed on to the 2015 Paris climate agreement, pledging to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming to “well below” 2 degrees C above preindustrial times. The United States was one of the signing nations, but President Donald Trump has said he plans to withdraw the country from the accord in 2020

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